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Taming Your Meeting Calendar To work for you…. Not everyone else

My grandfather used to say: The older you get, Nancy, the faster time flies. I must admit I thought this was an early sign he was losing his marbles. That is until recently when glimmers of his reality arose as half a year of my life sped by in a blink of an eye.

I began examining my work life, attempting to identify where my time was being sucked away without ever giving it permission to do so.

Would it astonish you that my number one top of mind issue was meetings?!

Are you one of the mid-level managers who spend 35 percent of your time in meetings?  Or perhaps you’re in upper management where the number can be a humongous 50 percent.

Do you find many of your meetings an incomprehensible waste—as in what did I accomplish—as I discovered?

A McKinsey survey confirms your sense, revealing, 61 percent of executives said that at least half the time they spend making decisions was ineffective—most in never-ending meetings.

Ask, “In which of the meetings I have attended has my presence advanced the discussion or made a difference to the outcome?” These are your keepers.

Now, challenge yourself regarding the rest:

  • Think contribution: Could I have added value if I came to the meeting with ideas or spoke up more? Then, commit to becoming a key player at every meeting you attend.
  • Think expansion: Is there someone I can delegate the meeting too, so they have an opportunity to be a more significant player in the company and/or expand needed skill sets for their future career development? That’s who you want to attend in your stead.
  • Think streamline: Introduce efficiencies to the meetings you attend: be sure agendas clearly define objectives (discussion, decision, etc.); set predetermined time limits on each item with real-time stops; challenge attendees by verifying everyone is essential (because their time is valuable too); and send off-purpose topics to the “parking lot” (to be scheduled for a future meeting). These are just a few techniques that will save time.
  • Think Network: More decisions are resolved through off-book discussions thrashed out before a meeting than are made in one. These conversations have a two-fold purpose:
    • First, planting seeds as to why I’ve concluded my proposal or position is beneficial;
    • Second, gain a clear-cut understanding of opposition to aid me in crafting an approach to counter the differences. And if you don’t have a valid argument to convert mindsets, rethink presenting your project.  
  • Think Enrollment: Broach eliminating the meeting from your division’s calendar with your boss. Or if you’re the boss, be brave by slashing any meetings, which do not connect to improving the bottom line. Be bold and specific when sharing your reasoning. Everyone has to understand you intend to gain much needed time to work on larger, impact projects for your organization.
  • Think Next Steps: Once a decision is made solidify the group’s “Yes” doesn’t become a “No” or a “Maybe” during the after meeting dialogue by identifying everyone’s stake in the outcome. And it doesn’t hurt to create clarity over next steps. 

Your life has significance. If you believe this, commit to having time work for you. The more you allow time to own you, the less joy you’ll experience, and the less effective you’ll be. You were created with a purpose. Don’t allow inconsequential busyness to rob you and the world of all you’re intended to be.

 

It’s A Hot Topic Around The Water Cooler—The Gift and Curse of Stress

Stress is no laughing matter. The statistics spotlight a troubling tale.

The Center for Creative Leadership’s survey reveals that 88 percent of leaders feel work is their primary source of stress. And stress-related factors account for over 40 percent of job turnover. While the American Institute of Stress reports American’s say:

  • 63 percent feel stress over the future of the nation;
  • 62 percent regarding money;
  • 61 percent over their work;
  • And 51 percent with the violence and crime in our country.

Wow! It does look as though stress thoroughly messes with your life.

After all, stress not only takes a massive toll on you but the company who employs you as well. According to the America Institute of Stress, employee stress-related issues impact businesses to the tune of $300 billion a year.

It’s a hot topic around the water-cooler. The non-stop murmurings regarding how overstressed everyone is and the harmful effect it’s having is almost as though a one-ups-man-ship challenge is occurring. The prize for this competition is lousy health, sleepless nights, a joyless life leading to an early death.

The message is clear. Stress is an enemy to eradicate—yet, this isn’t the entire story.

There is beneficial stress which many of us don’t spend time nurturing. This aspect of stress even has a name—Eustress—which produces positive energy that charges you up. It keeps you tuned in, creative, productive, and successful. So, some stress is good. If you spend time recognizing, orchestrating, and embracing Eustress, you’ll end up saying: Thank you stress! 

How?

  • Personal Barometer: Stress is an early warning sign. You do not become stressed over something unimportant. As your stress alarms begin blaring warning signals to your brain, it should have you paying attention to and prioritizing the changes you need to make to the destructive course you’re traveling. Start by identifying the root cause. Ask yourself: What can I do to mitigate this particular stress? Then, take a new action. Such a formula may sound easy. It isn’t. For you to triumph—commitment and persistence need to become your best friend.
  • Laser Focus: Have you noticed by putting a project on your “to-do” list it leads almost immediately to a surge of energy that drives you toward completion? This intense laser-like focus gets your creative juices flowing and improves your results. All of which leads to pushing yourself into a productive high-gear where you complete your tasks quicker and more effectively than you might otherwise have achieved.
  • Brain Booster: It may surprise you to know that stress in small doses stimulates your memory and thinking power as it boosts your concentration and productivity. Such a level of stress often creates the “flow experience” where the awareness of time dissolves, and nothing remains except tapping into your passions and strengths.

Consciously initiating these Eustress suggestions will aid you in functioning at your best. So, eliminate those stress rounded shoulders and sleep the sleep of a child at peace with your world as you learn to bring more Eustress into your everyday work and life. And then, begin reveling in the gift you have given yourself!

If you found this article interesting, you’ll value this resource “The Stress Factor–24 Powerful Tips to Conquer Stress in Your Day.” Click Here 

Tracking Down the Flame of Your Calling

Something is wrong when so many in our workforce don’t look forward to going to their job—especially as they spend at least one-third of their life there!

It appears that work has turned more into drudgery than joy for most of the population! Why?

I have a couple of thoughts. If this is you, I believe in some part of your mind and heart you’ve bought into the quest, yet haven’t fully figured out Joseph Campbell’s advice: Read More→

Every Action Has An Equal And Opposite Reaction

It appears business believes they have a special dispensation from the effects of Newton’s Third Law. You can’t get around it though. That old crafty law is always operating, whether companies or leaders—or even you—want it to or not.

Let’s follow the trail of this law weaving its way through the unrest, dissatisfaction, and resentment building in women executives as they’ve been unable to obtain equal ground in the marketplace.

Through the years, women have attempted to make their mark by assuming more male-like attitudes—no noticeable results with this approach. They endeavored to be valued team players though rarely did they gain victory on that front either. Women took on working harder and longer hours, but that only dug them deeper into low-level work. Women have watched men achieve positions they hoped for, only to be told how they do their work was holding them back rather than to be measured on the results they create as men are.

In fact, LeanIn and SurveyMonkey report 66 percent of a women’s performance evaluation comments were on style; whereas less than 1 percent of men received behavior comments. This statistic isn’t unexpected when many senior managers still seem stuck in archetypal thinking of “women take care” whereas men “take charge.”

While the top leaders of a company profess the need for equality yet as Catalyst illustrates, the statistics for women at the top haven’t shifted dramatically—with a slight decrease reflected between 2017 and 2018.

Along with women feeling they’ve been held back in their workplace, many have been harassed and taken advantage of by more powerful men in their organization.

Is it any wonder the unexpected consequence of all of this negative energy was the #MeToo movement?

The domino effect of this feminine outcry is high-profile, high-powered men in entertainment, education, media, business, politics, sports, and technology have been brought down. There is no doubt this charge has created a massive shift ousting 201 powerful men. So far, nearly half of the filled positions were by women.

The unexpected consequences are still reverberating throughout the marketplace, so we don’t know the long-term results. But let’s take a peek at one of the fallouts. The recent LeanIn research brings to light 60 percent of male managers in the US are afraid of having a one-on-one meeting with a woman in 2019 a giant step back from 2018’s 28 percent.

As Sheryl Sandberg admits: “Women are in a bad place. No one’s ever gotten promoted without a one-on-one meeting—I feel confident of that!

Additionally, of concern to women intending to move up in their organization, the senior managers say: They’re

nine times more likely to hesitate traveling for business with a woman;
• six times more likely to hesitate to have a work dinner with a woman.

Wow! The unconscious consequence of these statistics has a massive impact on both genders. For men, because they don’t only manage women, but also report to female bosses and have customers who are women. The big, hairy question for them is: Who do I need to be moving forward? And for women, it’s evident that the road to the top has narrowed yet again. The big, hairy question for them is: How do I breakthrough yet another layer of barriers, so the power players in my company know me?

Even as we follow this thread through the machinations of our organization, the lesson is every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Don’t leap without calibrating your decision as well as whether you’re ready to handle the cost or not.

Engagement “Whataboutism” Could This Be You?

As I was considering writing this article, Grammarly sent the word for the day (No surprise is it I’m hooked on this app?) which was “whataboutism.” I’d never heard the term before, but then I’ve found there’re no coincidences in my world. The definition is a conversational tactic in which a person responds to an argument or attack by changing the subject to focus on someone else’s misconduct, implying that all criticism is invalid because no one is completely blameless. Excusing your mistakes with “whataboutism” is not the same as defending your record.

The business world is running amuck with engagement “whataboutism” even with all the research, attention, time, and money thrown at the issue.

Of course, it’s tempting to point fingers at your company. They do have a responsibility to generate an atmosphere conducive to producing work commitments. But an engaged workforce also demands commitment from every employee—not a fast, impulsive “yes”—but steadfast, everyday attention.

Ask yourself the following question to see how culpable, or not; you are in the engagement crisis. Read More→