Motivating yourself and your team is a huge part of managing. Often, organizations offer uniform rewards, incentives or money as motivators for a job well done. That works some of the time. But the key factor here is that sustained motivation comes from within.
How does that affect your role as a manager? One thing it does is to cause you to look at your and your team’s intrinsic motivations. What motivates you? Do you know what motivates your team members?
It is worth the effort to find ways to motivate each team member individually and to know what drives your and their performance. There is no reason for organizations to look at incentives as “one size fits all”. Motivation is an inside job and the best and most productive organizations know this.
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The Urban Dictionary defines Dumbing Down as:
The act of taking a product and watering down elements of it to make it appeal to a broader mass market. This often damages or destroys the very elements that gave the product any appeal in the first place.
As managers and leaders, we sometimes dumb down our work and products without direct intention to. How does this happen? I think a central reason is that we allow outside influences to trump our own commitment to quality and excellence. For example, there may be too much to do and you scrimp on quality, just to meet your deadlines. Or, there are “politics” involved in a project and you feel you have to please the various parties (watering down) to make the outcome palatable to them. Sometimes choosing to dumb down in this way is about being lazy. Instead of maintaining your commitment to quality and excellence, you take the easy road, detach from the project and decide to diminish the quality of the product, rather than hassle with others or find elusive solutions.
Dumbing down never serves you as a leader or manager. Have you dumbed down any of your work this year without intending to? What does your answer tell you about how you are leading?
photo: Stuart Miles, FreeDigitalPhotos.net
In my previous posts on Free Flow Management we’ve looked at letting go of structure and visioning. With the freedom involved in free flow management, what happens when collaboration is required and team dynamics come into play? Perhaps one team member’s flow is in one direction and another team member’s flow is in the opposite one. For example, one team member needs quiet and open space to create effectively, while another needs group brainstorming.
There are no set answers to how best to integrate free flow management with collaborative projects. One approach is to allow collaboration to slightly trump the free flow. Using a free flow approach, work with the team to create a process for working together. The starting point is honoring the aspects of each person’s free flow. Then, you can move to a team discussion (with no wrong answers) on how to proceed with the project. Even within free flow, there is a need for some structure. The key is to allow the structure to evolve organically, depending on the particulars of each situation.
If there is power in numbers, collaborative free flow management can result in innovative and effective results for you and your team.
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You can gain a lot of insights by observing what you gravitate to. Your natural inclinations often reflect what you want to be doing.
What do you gravitate to? Here are some questions you can ask yourself, to get started:
• Are there any members of your team you are drawn to more than others? What are the reasons you are drawn to them? What does this tell you about your own preferences in people?
• What aspects of your work, as a manager, do you like doing? What don’t you like doing? Anything you detest doing? What does this tell you about the work you are doing now?
• How do you like to be rewarded for a job well done? What does this tell you about what matters to you?
• What emotions do you exhibit most often when you are under stress? What feelings you generally “default” to? For example, anger, feeling like a victim, resentment, overwhelm, inadequacy. What does this tell you about the underlying emotions you carry with you in life?
Your natural inclinations can tell you a lot about what you want to be doing. They can also tell you about what you do not want to be doing. Examining what you gravitate to can move you forward on the road to happiness and fulfillment in your work.
photo: Dianamower, Dreamstime.com
Do you ever take one day off? Your immediate answer may be, “yes, of course I do”. The last time you took a day off, was work completely absent from that day?
With the fast pace of today’s work world, “hard stops” often are one of the best ways to assure balance. By “hard stop” I mean completely disconnecting from work and focusing on relaxation and other aspects of your life.
There are many ways to make hard stops. One way is to take a day off from work each week. Another way may be taking one weekend a month and getting away. Yet another, may be allowing yourself to make some outside commitments that require your time away from work, such as coaching your son or daughter’s sports team or volunteering time for something you are passionate about.
It is not always easy to make a hard stop. You may run on autopilot, with no room for stopping. Your mind may tell you that you have to continue running or you will never keep up at work. A good way to get started is to try making a hard stop just once. Pick a day in the next two weeks and completely disconnect from work. Fill the day with relaxation and things you enjoy. Let the experience inform you about your own need to balance. My hope is that there will be enough pleasure and benefit from your one day off, that you will do it again!
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Recently, I was coaching with a manager who encountered a serious business situation. Her response would have significant affect on her future and the future of her company. She was wise enough to know that a hasty reply to the e-mail she received would not be the best way forward. At the same time, she was concerned and wanted to get the situation under control quickly. She decided she needed to sleep on it and give herself time to determine the best strategy in the situation. She did exactly that. I was impressed with her self-control and acumen in a difficult situation. The next day she responded to the e mail in a very powerful way and knew clearly how she wanted to proceed.
Centering is the focusing of your attention and also the alignment of mind, body and emotion to a specific purpose. When you are in your center, you are at your best. The process of regaining your center when you have lost it, often takes some time. The time you take is well worth it. Centering is good business strategy. When you operate from your center, your decisions, communication and performance have the best chance of succeeding and serving your interests.
photo: Serge Bertasius Photography, FreeDigitalPhotos.net
1. Stop what you are doing and walk away for a few minutes
3. Draw something whimsical with colors
4. Look at a few photos or a short video that makes you happy
5. Take a walk outside
6. Close your eyes and shut the world out
7. Breathe 20 times in and out, focusing only on your breaths
8. Tell yourself a joke, or recall something that really made you laugh
10. Eliminate distractions
photo: Stuart Miles, FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Is there something beckoning you that would be a stretch to pursue? Sometimes opportunity calls quietly; sometimes it calls louder and louder. To respond effectively, you need to have confidence. Confidence is belief in your ability to handle challenges and to grow.
Take a moment to consider if there is something worthwhile beckoning you now. It could be a new opportunity, the chance to improve a skill or the opportunity to innovate. How are you responding?
Do you have the confidence to go for it? Sometimes you have to take a leap. You may not have all the elements you think you need to feel safe. If you analyze the opportunity carefully and assess your level of readiness, you can identify what you need to get in place and go for it. Sometimes, you may be doing these things after you take the leap. That’s okay. What’s most important is believing in yourself, making a commitment and knowing “I can do this!”.
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We’ve all had experiences of being given near to impossible deadlines with aplomb, as if what was being asked for was reasonable. Have you ever been told, “Do it yesterday”? How can you respond to such a request? Run fast. Just kidding. ☺ Being fully present in the moment is quite important here. You need to be at your best to figure out what to do. From the present, you can assess the situation and determine what is possible. You may have to say it cannot be done, but before you do, think it out and come up with some options.
If the person asking you persists, roll with them awhile. But, be very careful not to let them put you in a position where pressure and stress build and you lose your ability to deal effectively with the situation. One approach that can work is to assume their ownership of the situation, suggesting you collaborate and come up with a solution together.
Shield your team as you can. Certainly, there will be times of crisis, need or opportunity where you all have to push and go the extra mile. Look for wins and avoid impossible demands like “Do it yesterday!”.
photo: Stephen Vanhorn, Dreamstime.com
Speaking up is an art. Anyone can talk loudly and often. The art of speaking up is about speaking in a way that makes a difference and accomplishes your intentions. Here are some ways you can develop your skill in the art of speaking up.
• Never speak while your emotions are out of control – when you do, it always ends up wrong
• Choose your words intentionally to maximize others’ understanding of what you are saying
• Let your words reflect your emotional intelligence regarding the people you are communicating to
• Think out the possible ramifications of speaking up before you do – weigh the risks and benefits
• When something is important to you, believe in yourself and in your reasons for speaking up
• Be clear regarding what you want to accomplish by speaking up
Speaking up is an essential component of leadership. Do it wisely and well.
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