The start of a new year is an exciting time full of new opportunities. Studies show that people who write down their goals have a higher rate of success than those that don't. If goal writing is new to you, the following tips below may help get you started:
1. Define your dream: Ask yourself, what is it that you are trying to accomplish? For example; if you are looking for more work/life balance, does that mean you are wanting to take more vacations, spend more time with family and friends, or leave work after an 8 hour work day?
2. Take action: In order to accomplish anything in life, you need to take action. Develop an action plan outlining the steps you will take to achieve success. Whenever possible, keep your plan simple and consider developing a plan with no more than three or four steps. Give yourself a deadline to complete each step to keep yourself on track.
3. Be realistic: If your goal is to lose weight, it would be unrealistic to set a goal to lose 30 lbs in one month. However, it would be realistic to set a goal to exercise twice a week and switch out the night time ice cream with fruits or veggies. By keeping your goals attainable, you set yourself up for success and increase your drive to achieve more.
"The first step towards getting somewhere is to decide you are not going to stay where you are."
- J.P. Morgan
The main ingredient of Thanksgiving is not turkey, but gratitude. It has been scientifically proven that people who practice gratitude daily are better able to cope with stress, sleep better at night, and are more likely to reach their goals. Below are three ways you can incorporate gratitude into your day:
1. Write thank you notes: Do you have a co-worker, old friend or mentor who has made a difference in your life? When is the last time you told them? Sit down and write a thank you note for the difference they have made in your life. The more you do it, the more it will become habit.
2. Give a compliment: Give at least one compliment daily. It can be to a person or it can be asking someone to share in your appreciation of something else. For example "I love that we have casual Friday, don't you?"
3. Make a promise: Vow to not complain, criticize, or gossip for 5 days. At the end of the 5 days, take note of how much energy you were spending on negative thoughts and actions.
"Gratitude turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity...it makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow." ~ Melody Beattie
Employees who are well trained have more confidence -- and confident employees typically are more motivated and empowered to deliver excellent service and care. Everyone benefits when companies invest in solid training programs. So how do you know you are developing training programs that engages your employee? Below are a few tips to consider when developing your training material:
1. Work backwards. What end results are you looking for? What do you want your employees to gain? If you focus on the end results, you will be able to develop a goal-based training program which will increase the likelihood for success with your employees.
2. Active opportunities. Adults learn best in environments in which he or she is able to participate in the experience. Not only does incorporating case study review, group and hands-on activities engage a variety of learning styles, but it also keeps the focus on the participant. Allowing the employee to ask questions, share experiences, and participate in problem-solving changes their role from passive listener to active participant.
3. Keep it real. Employees are most receptive to learning what is relevant to their real-life working and personal experiences. Incorporating real-life examples and situations should be included in training lessons; if your employees are able to relate to the material, it will be clearly understood, easily learned, and easily applied to the workplace.
There is some advice that applies to every job. Recently I was cleaning out a bookshelf and came across the July 2014 Entrepreneur magazine. This particular issue featured an article entitled "The Best Advice You Will Ever Get." Below are three bits of wisdom that resonated with me:
1. "Stop being so scared, and jump." - Rehan Choudhry, founder, Life is Beautiful : "What makes an entrepreneur is not knowing everything about business, but rather being passionate and fearless. There is no 'right time' to take the leap; you can take it at any point in your life, and should."
2. "Trust yourself." - Nick Lazaris, president and CEO, Coravin : "In business, you have to act on your instincts because, ultimately, you will be the one who is responsible. If your decision fails, it ought to be something that you really believed in. You want to be able to own up to it and learn from it."
3. "Focus on what makes you different." - Khajak Keledjian, co-founder and chief executive, Intermix: "Creativity is to see what everyone else sees but think of what nobody else thought of. Focusing on what makes you different, really is the most important way to stand out..."
Let's start the conversation - what is the best advice you have ever received?
Dealing with criticism positively is an important life skill. At some point in your life you will be criticized. You can either use criticism in a positive way to improve, or in a negative way that can lower your self-esteem and cause stress and even anger. Below are a few tips that may help you to respond positively the next time you are offered criticism:
1. Calm yourself: Always. Responding to a critic in anger is never a good idea and results in strained communication and relationships.
2. Ask yourself why?: Ask yourself why the criticism was made. Is the person genuinely trying to help, make things better, or avoid mistakes? Is there good reason for the criticism?
3. Respond rationally: Thank the person offering the feedback. Respond rationally, calmly, and honestly. Share your reasons, and acknowledge the person's points if they are valid. If you are unable to remain calm and rational, it is best to silent.
"If you have no critics, you will likely have no success." - Malcolm X
Great leaders work in all professions and come in all different shapes and sizes with varying life experiences. I have taken a moment to reflect on the leaders I have encountered in my life so far, and despite the vast differences in professions and backgrounds, there are characteristics that these leaders have in common.
1. Genuine: To be a leader, trust and integrity must be present. Leaders are not recognized for what they do, but for who they are.
2. Grit: Failures and set backs will happen. Leaders understand this and think logically and react calmly to lead even through the tough times.
3. Accountability: Mistakes get made and leaders take responsibility for them, learn from them, and move on.
4. Gratitude: Leaders boost employee morale by expressing gratitude and appreciation often. Gratitude fuels potential within your employees and is a gift that never stops giving.
"Leadership is practiced not so much in words, but in attitude and actions." - Harold S. Geneen
Do you greet each day with a groan as soon as you hear the alarm clock? If you hate your job, there are things you can do to make it more manageable. First you have to change your perspective. You have a choice on whether you are going to hate the moments in your day, or have gratitude for them. Learn how to love your job by practicing following:
1. Focus on the people: Invest in the work relationships around you. Shared experiences help you find more common ground with people you might not "click" with naturally. Arrange for an after-work activity or schedule a pizza party with your fellow co-workers. Research has found that even having just one buddy in the office is key to feeling more positive about your job.
2. Leave!: Not your job, just the space you are in. Take a break from the day by getting outside for a 10-minute walk or even a 3 minute stretch break. When you get your body moving it not only improves your productivity but also your happiness.
3. Do what you love: Focus on your strengths and do those things first and last in your work day. Starting your day out by doing something you love will help to keep you engaged in your work and allow you to leave your day feeling energized and more rewarded.
"The only way to do great work is to love what you do."
It is normal to resist change. Let's face it, most people prefer predictability and stability in both their personal and professional lives. People typically avoid situations that upset the order of things, threaten self interests, or involve risks. But change is inevitable; leaders can make the transition from one situation to the next less stressful by considering these three tips:
1. Forgo surprises: When change is implemented without warning, it can cause people to push back due to their fear of the unknown. Allow for the people impacted to process and understand a change prior to implementation.
2. Build trust: If people respect and trust their leader, a team will be more accepting of change. If a leader is new and not yet earned the trust of a team, then mistrust can occur along with resistance to change.
3. Timing is everything: Initiating too much change in a short period of time can cause resistance. If change is not implemented at the right time, or with the right amount of empathy, resistance will occur.
Be prepared to communicate the what, why, when, and how of a new idea so that people feel more comfortable with the concept, resulting in the willingness to give it a try.
Do you ever wonder what your employees are really thinking? Conducting an employee survey can provide you with insights on a variety of issues within your company such as pay and benefit compensation, opinions on working conditions, employee engagement, or the quality of a supervisor. To gain the most from your employee survey, consider the following points:
1. Focus your topic: Know what you are looking for and keep your survey focused on those issues. Don't try and cover all elements of the workplace in one survey.
2. Consider the questions: Keep your questions clear and concise. Ask only what you have the power to change.
3. Commit: Publish the results and make a realistic promise to your staff that you will do what you can do address the survey results. Communicate your progress as it is made and be up front and honest with your staff if you are unable to solve problems and explain why.
A well thought out and implemented employee survey can provide you with a wealth of information and insight regarding your employees perceptions of the workplace. Just the fact that you conducted an employee survey sends a message to your employees that you value their opinions.
Successful leaders are lifelong learners. These are leaders who view gathering information as just as important as eating and breathing. These are leaders who understand that learning is essential to developing new ideas that directly impact business growth and also impact the development of their team members. There are many different forms to learning, below are a few examples that may interest you:
1. Listen: With technology at our fingertips there are many different ways to get information such as YouTube videos, podcasts, webinars, and audio books. Not sure where to start? Google a topic of interest to you and listen to it on your way to work.
2. Ask & Engage: Next time you are at a presentation, ask questions and engage in the conversation. Engaging with speakers allows your brain to problem solve from a different viewpoint.
3. Refresh: Think about the last time you took a class in school. How much do you remember from that Excel or Marketing class? Taking a refresher course is a great way to fine tune skills that may have gotten lost along the way.
Pushing yourself to continue to learn requires dedication, time, and a change in your daily habits. Those who don't continuously push themselves to learn new activities or skills become stagnant in the work place and over time, find it difficult to bring new and creative ideas to the table. Take the time to invest in yourself, it pays off in the end.