Happy New Term!
It’s that time again when the children go back to school, it starts getting cooler and the next Bank Holiday seems a long way away. Last week I had various conversations with people who want to break their habits and are looking to ‘start the new term’ with a fresh mindset. The last two years I’ve given some suggestions on Banishing Post-Holiday Blues and How to Create that Back to School Feeling.
Here are the most common basic recommendations we made last week in response to some key development areas:
- Stressed out: If you haven’t taken a holiday, book one! No one is indispensable and it is counter-productive to keep working without a break as your mind gets duller, your reactions become slower, you can become negative and can even end up with burn-out. When you return from your holiday book your next one if you can. Even if you are self-employed, take a few days off.
- Lack of Focus: Break down your vision and strategy in to SMART Action Plans. Identify what you need to achieve and by when. Then prioritise key tasks and objectives. Work on no more than 5 or 6 priorities, but preferably have 2 key ones. If you’re unsure what you should be prioritising ask your Line Manager. Stay focused on your goals by revisiting your plan every day and reviewing progress and success every week.
- Heavy Workload: Plan and prepare and try to work from home more often. If your workload is unrealistic create a business case for more resources. If you can delegate then keep analysing your team members, checking their skills and workload to be able to empower them.
- Message not getting through: Try being more succinct in your verbal and written communication; practice Active Listening and check understanding – you’ll be surprised and inspired by what you hear and learn.
- Lacking Executive Presence and Composure: Check your Body Language and work on being more measured. Stop, think, breathe, listen and ask an Open Question before you react to anything, especially if it is potentially controversial or critical. Ask for feedback from a friendly peer or colleague in order to continually improve.
- Interpersonal Conflict: Try to put yourself in the other persons’ shoes and take the emotion out of any written or verbal communication. In any negotiation always aim for agreement not confrontation.
- Managing Poor Performance: If you have any direct reports who are not providing discretionary effort, deal swiftly with any issues, give instant constructive or positive feedback and don’t reward poor effort.
- Lacking Confidence and Assertiveness: Build your confidence levels by listing your key achievements and re-reading them before key presentations or meetings.
- Putting Things Off: Stop procrastinating! If you want something, go and get it; act now. Make quicker decisions, making sure you assess risk and problem solve.
- Being stuck: In order to be able to change your behaviour and stick to new ways of working and acting, you need to understand what is working or not. Ask for feedback and decide what aspects of your behaviour you would like to change. Take small steps, learn from your mistakes and commit to changing one thing every day. Enlist the help of a colleague or Coach to hold you accountable:
‘Over the past year I had lost any sense of a work-life balance. After our Executive Coaching Session, coupled with 45 minutes of my homework, I realised what a rut I had fallen in to and how unproductive my days had become. I now have complete clarity on what are my priorities and have put the tools and techniques in to action: I have questioned everything I do, dropped all the unnecessary meetings and tasks and am back on track! We’ve booked a holiday in 12 weeks’ time and I am using your ‘work backwards’ technique to diarise what goals I need to achieve beforehand. Thank you for helping to rescue me from poor health, inefficiency and general unhappiness.’ Senior Manager