Managing Work/Life Balance

 

o-WORKLIFE-BALANCEI recently began a new job. Yes, I said a new job. The last two years have been very challenging, but that is a topic for a future blog. Man, I wish I could keep a job like I keep my wife (we’ve been married for 32 years).

With a new job comes the need to re-balance the commitment to work with the commitment to life. That takes a lot of effort. Let’s face it, a new job not only takes a lot of effort to build relationships, learn the job and become familiar with the organization, but it creates a desire to make a great first impression.

However, our personal life is the most important. Whether you are married, dating or simply just like your alone time, work-life balance is essential to your physical and mental health.

As leaders, we want to set the pace and set the expectation. If you are a true leader, the best way to do that is to exceed your own expectations. I find many leaders do this by coming to the office early and staying late. In fact, if I come to the office and someone is already there, I find myself questioning my commitment and leadership. Even though I know better, I will fall into this thought process sometimes.

I think the challenge of work-life balance is one of perspective and mindset. I heard someone say,

In order to change the way we work, we must change the way we think.”

I agree, to achieve balance we must think like the leader we are and not the doer we want to be.

I’ve heard it said that being “busy” is the badge of honor among leaders.”
I used to model that saying. However, I realize I was merely wasting time. There is a time within the end of a day (for me about 9-10 hrs) where my concentration and focus lacks. I only exist at the office to create a perception. Longer days don’t generate accomplishments.

As a leader, here is what is needed to create a fair work-life balance:

  1. Make a list of things you need to do. And make a list of things you want to do. Create a combined list based on both “need” and “want.” This will generate a desire to accomplish both while creating a more enjoyable work environment.
  2. Identify your priorities each day. Priorities change, so it is essential to take time in the morning, and afternoon to re-evaluate and make adjustments.
  3. Schedule time in the early morning to give you an opportunity to achieve items on your priority list before people start interrupting.
  4. Look for ways or opportunities to overlap projects.
  5. Limit emails, answering calls or checking voice mail.  Set aside an hour in the morning and an hour in the afternoon to answer emails and voicemails. In fact, I have a code for my staff and family. If there is an emergency or critical situations, they are instructed to use the code, and I will immediately answer.
  6. Assign appropriate roles and responsibilities to your staff. This will reduce your workload and free up time to accomplish your priorities.
  7. Trust your team. Some of you will say this is easier said than done. If that is the case, I suggest you reevaluate your team members. Give them a challenge and the freedom to perform and succeed. I use the approach of “Ready, Fire, Aim.” Meaning I let them do what they do, and we course correct as needed.
  8. Learn to say NO! It’s ok to say no. People will respect you more when you do. When we figure this out, we free up time to accomplish other things and spend more time with family or taking care of ourselves.

Creating a healthy work-life balance doesn’t just happen. It takes commitment and persistence every day. However, seasons do come and go. There will be situations where the balance is off, however, be persistent in trying to maintain and create the balance because a good work-life balance will create a better you and stronger relationships.

balance

 

PERSONALITY BASED GOAL SETTING

Our personality impacts everything we do; how we respond to pressure, how we network, socialize, and react when there is an emergency. Our personality is something that we cannot escape. When I reflect upon those who are successful, I see bold individuals who are assured within. They know what they are good at and they maximize upon those strengths. Successful people, regardless of their industry, are always boldly self-aware.

With the beginning of 2019, the New Year provides us with an opportunity to build upon the experiences and lessons learned from the previous year. I don’t believe we ever truly start over, instead; we build upon our achievements and/or the lessons learned from past failures and shortfalls. In retrospect, one of the things I’ve gleaned over the past couple of years is that our personality identifies our strengths and weaknesses. It directly affects our ability to achieve our goals and meet our objectives.

As a DISC Behavioral Consultant, I’ve learned to identify personality types through consultation, and help others develop goals that coincide with their character. In doing so, individuals maximize their opportunity for achievement.

These 3 actions will help individuals streamline their personal goals:

  • Tailor your conversation based on personality traits. This gives you the ability to make adjustments within the discussion to lead the path forward.
  • Generate goals that motivate the person to put in the necessary effort to achieve each one.
  • Identify areas to stretch the individual and achieve things that will take a focused effort.

By successfully implementing these 3 things into the development of goals, I believe we give people the ability to be successful and achieve more than they might expect.

So how do we set goals based upon a person’s personality? To answer this question, I will identify methods that reflect the DISC personality styles in general. I’ll use the behavioral traits and the typical strengths and weaknesses of each personality style. Let’s take a look at how to set goals for each personality style.

Dominant

People with dominant personalities are direct, decisive, problem solvers, risk takers, and self-starters. People with a strong dominant personality are hard-charging, get-it-done kind of people! I identify with this particular personality type. I tend to set very ambitious, lofty goals. However, if I don’t see immediate results, I’ll quickly lose motivation.

People you identify as having a dominant personality need to have goals that meet the following parameters;

  • Identify a few more than required. If you want 3-5 goals, a dominant person will set 7-10.
  • Make the majority of the goals short-term. This serves as motivation to accomplish many things.
  • Set a couple of long-term goals with the expectation to endure until the end.
  • Each goal must be clearly identified and the timeline for completion well established.
  • Establish regular one-on-one follow-ups and progress meetings.

When developing goals for a dominant personality consider the following:

POSITIVE CHARACTERISTICS

  1. Autocratic in teams and will rise to the top in a crisis
  2. Good at providing direction and leadership
  3. High assertiveness
  4. They have a clear idea of their ambitions and goals and will push hard for accomplishment
  5. Function well with heavy workloads
  6. Very competitive attitude
  7. Welcomes new challenges
  8. Tend to follow their own ideas

AREAS FOR GROWTH

  1. LEARN TO LISTEN MORE AND SPEAK LESS
  2. Gather consensus on decisions
  3. Don’t act alone
  4. Learn to answer the question “why” when asked about decisions and proposals
  5. Work on body language and tone of voice when dealing with frustration
  6. Focus on developing sincere personal relationships
  7. Can intimidate others
Influential

People with an influential personality are enthusiastic, trusting, optimistic, persuasive, talkative, impulsive and emotional. They are just pure FUN! They are the life of the party and are typically the ones we talk about after the Christmas party. They love to set goals and dream about the things they want to achieve.

These fun-loving social characters need to have goals that meet the following parameters:

  • Harness their enthusiasm when identifying goals
  • Identify goals that will move the company forward and acknowledge their value
  • Clearly define the steps to achieve each goal and have them focus on each stage before moving onto the next
  • Set smaller goals
  • Identify the timeline for each goal
  • Prioritize each goal for the company and the individual
  • Establish regular one-on-one meetings to verify progress and determine the next steps for successful performance

When developing goals for those with an influencing personality style, consider;

POSITIVE CHARACTERISTICS

  1. Great communicators who are both influential and inspirational
  2. Have the ability to motivate others
  3. Great advocates of change and deal well with change themselves
  4. People are drawn to them, thus creating a great opportunity to lead others
  5. Positive attitude
  6. Great at brainstorming and visionary projects

AREAS FOR GROWTH

  1. Impulsive in decision making
  2. Can be slow to action (a lot of talk, but little action)
  3. Need to exercise control over actions, words, and emotions
  4. Need to talk less and listen more
  5. Tends to over-promise
Steady

The steady personalities are good listeners, team players, possessive, steady and predictable. They are understanding and friendly relationship-based people. Goal setting usually means change is coming, which immediately causes tension for a steady personality—because they don’t like change.

If you see yourself as a person with a steady personality or will be working to set goals with someone described above, consider:

  • Goals that establish step by step directions with a clearly defined plan for achievement
  • Establish the benefit for achieving each goal
  • Needs more time to develop their goals
  • Set timelines for each goal and hold them to it

Consider the following when developing goals for the person with a steady personality:

POSITIVE CHARACTERISTICS

  1. Supportive and natural relationship builders
  2. Grounded in reality and common sense
  3. Talented multi-taskers
  4. Patient
  5. Loyal
  6. Even-tempered
  7. Peacemakers in groups and teams

AREAS FOR GROWTH

  1. Struggles with change and making adjustments
  2. Can be overly agreeable
  3. Tends to put other’s needs before theirs
  4. Need to be more direct in their interactions with others
  5. Their pace tends to be slow, thus causing them to miss deadlines
Compliant

A person with a compliant personality is accurate, analytical, conscientious, careful, precise, meticulous and systematic.  Those with a complaint personality are very focused on procedure and making sure things are done the right way. They don’t have a problem with setting goals, but they do need help prioritizing. A compliant personality wants to accomplish EVERYTHING!

To set effective goals, a person with a compliant personality must consider:

  • Start the process early!
  • Focusing on goals that are important to YOU!
  • Ensure each goal is practical and detailed
  • Create clear, identifiable goals that establish their role within the group, department, and organization
  • Establish data-driven goals that focus on details others may not see
  • Stretch the person by developing one or two visionary goals

As you consider developing goals for the compliant personality, consider the following:

POSITIVE CHARACTERISTICS

  1. Instinctive organizers
  2. Excellent at creating and maintaining systems and processes
  3. Consistent in their approach
  4. Will see projects through until completion
  5. Strive for a diplomatic approach
  6. Strive for a group and team consensus

AREAS FOR GROWTH

  1. Tend to be critical of others
  2. Consider other’s ideas and methods
  3. Need to speed up to help the team or group accomplish their goals
  4. Work on focusing more on building strong relationships
  5. Make faster-informed decisions
  6. Take more risks

Final Thoughts

Each one of us has a unique personality style. Sure, we can put people in “personality” buckets, but that only helps to identify our approach. As leaders, we must know our coworkers and ourselves well enough to understand what motivates them and how they react to different situations. Knowing a person’s personality style can proactively help you and your employees make adjustments. Consider the information presented and strive to achieve your personal best and the best from your employees in 2019!

Denis is an Executive Director at the John Maxwell Group, is a certified leadership coach, trainer, keynote speaker, and DISC Behavior, Consultant. He is a passionate person of influence committed to teaching and communicating practical and relevant influencing techniques.  His unique passionate and emotionally driven style resonates with many, creating a desire to become an effective leader.  

You can contact Denis at dbaker@leaderinfluence.net for information on coaching, training, DISC Behavioral consulting or to be an inspirational speaker at your next event.

To Improve Performance, Change Your Attitude

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Life has its ups and downs, its turbulence and its smooth flying. We sometimes stall, but hopefully, we change our attitude and recover to make a smooth landing.

I love flying. I am not a pilot, but I have been interested in flying for most of my life. I love watching pilots perform their pre-check routines. I study every move they make and try to identify every instrument on the panel; altimeter, airspeed indicator, vertical speed indicator, magnetic compass, attitude indicator, heading indicator, turn indicator, etc. If you ever see a nerdy guy sitting up front watching the pilot(s) perform their pre-flight checks, it’s probably me.

I’ve had the privilege of flying in private planes and charters. One of the coolest things is most of these planes have open cabins. You can watch out the front window and every move the pilot performs. I notice that pilots are always watching their instruments. While we gaze out the window trying to identify landmarks or enjoy the scenery, the pilot is intently focused on his instrument panel. One particular instrument, the attitude indicator, seems to be one they refer to and watch most often. In fact, it is placed in a prominent position within the panel, typically right in front of the pilot. While there are other instruments of importance, I believe the attitude indicator is placed in the most prominent part of the panel, because of its significance to the safe operation of the aircraft.

attitude indicatorThe Attitude Indicator depicts the position of the airplane in relation to the real horizon. It shows whether the wings are level and if the plane is climbing or descending, or flying straight and level. A pair of wings represents the attitude of the aircraft in relation to the sky (blue) or ground (brown). Basically, if the wings are in the blue, the plane is climbing, if they are in the brown, the plane is descending. The attitude of an airplane indicates its performance. To modify the performance of an airplane, you must change the attitude.

Through my recent studies on personal attitude, I realize there is an analogy between the performance of an aircraft to the performance of a person. Just as an airplane’s attitude determines its performance, the attitude of a person will determine their performance.

What happens when a person attitude dictates unfavorable results? How can that attitude be changed? I believe the key to having a good attitude is the willingness to change. To change, one must choose to change.

If you want to achieve and maintain a good attitude, do the following:

  1. Evaluate your present attitude – Identify your problem feelings, behavior and thinking. Clarify the truth, secure your commitment and act on your decision immediately and often.
  2. Realize faith is stronger than fear – To succeed, one must have faith from the beginning knowing he/she will succeed.
  3. Want to change – When all else fails, desire alone can get you on the right track and keep you there.
  4. Live one day at a time – Success and failure follow us. Forget yesterday and focus on today. For what we do today, has an impact on tomorrow.
  5. Change your thoughts – What we focus on and remember, determines our actions. Our attitude is developed through our thoughts and feelings. Change your thoughts and feelings, and you will change your attitude.
  6. Develop the right thoughts – Our attitude is nothing more than our thoughts. It is as easy to form a thoughtful habit of success as it is a failure. Work to develop the habit of success through positive thinking.
  7. Choose to have the right attitude – The choice of a good attitude is just the beginning. Attitudes have a tendency to revert back to their original pattern. You must deliberately choose to have the right attitude.

The only way a person’s attitude can change is through their personal desire to change. As leaders, we can influence those we lead to change, but ultimately they make their own decisions. Just as an airplane’s performance changes with a change in attitude, so will the performance of an individual. But remember, attitudes can be bad or good. Make the wrong attitude adjustment in an aircraft and the results can be catastrophic. The same could be said for people. Make a bad attitude change, and the suffrage can be devastating.

Airplane Attitude.jpg

 

TO COACH IS TO LEAD, 6 Principles to Effective Coaching

 

It was a scorching Thursday. Sweat was pouring down my face, and my shirt was soaked. As I was leaving the location, I overheard a supervisor having a conversation with an employee.  I stood by (without being noticed) and listened to what was being said. It seemed to be a one-sided conversation from the supervisor to the employee. I overheard the supervisor insult the employee over 5 times within 8 minutes. He kept telling him how “stupid” he was and how a 10-year-old could do the job better and more efficient than he would ever be able to.  The conversation and subsequent insults continued for another five minutes before the supervisor finally stopped and told the employee to go back to work.

As the supervisor began walking back to his trailer, I called him over and said I overheard his conversation with the employee and that I wanted to ask him a few questions. I started off the conversation just stating that I only wanted to know if he felt his discussion would effectively improve the employee’s performance?  The supervisor looked at me with his head slighted tilted and his eyebrows raised and stated, “I don’t know, if not, I will fire him.”

I continued my questioning:

  • Will firing a person solve the overall performance issue?
  • What action (or lack thereof) generated the conversation?
  • Did he feel his approach was effective?
  • Have you had previous conversations with this employee over similar circumstances?
  • Do you feel you clearly and more effectively communicated your expectations to this employee?
  • What could he have been done to involve the employee in identifying why he is not meeting your expectations?
  • Do you feel you are an effective leader?

Our conversation went on for quite some time.  I could tell the supervisor was frustrated and had no idea where I was going and why I was asking so many questions. Typically, no one would question what a supervisor was doing and why. However, after some time and many questions, he finally admitted that he could have handled the situation differently.  I asked him what brought him to that conclusion?  He said he realized that embarrassing a person and threatening their job was not very effective. He also stated that he now figured out why his crew will not talk to him or interact in conversations. He went on to say that he realized they were not interested in a relationship and they were afraid to say anything.  The next question is obvious, “What did he think he needed to do to change or correct the situation?” The supervisor looked at me and then the ground and back at me and said, I need to have a talk with the whole group and maybe start over.  I agreed, shook his hand and walked away.

As I was walking back to my vehicle, I realized something. Regardless of position, coaching is critical to effective leadership. If one can’t coach employees, are they able to influence? We know leadership is influence, John Maxwell made that clear. I believe the answer is no.

If you want to become an effective leader, then you must become a competent coach. What is coaching? Coaching is a conversational process that aims to improve performance by focusing on the current or immediate performance and not the past or future performance. The coaching process is designed to allow a person to arrive at their own conclusions or solve their own problems by just honestly answering the questions from the coach.

To become an influential leader, the supervisor or manager must transition from a controlling, intimidating or monitoring role to one of a partnership between the manager and employee(s). This will create an atmosphere of shared understanding about what needs to be achieved and the process for obtaining it.

Don’t let the word “coaching” confuse you. The coaching process doesn’t mean there is a hands-off approach, but rather an environment of involvement in the employees or groups progress.  One must move from a “checking and monitoring” philosophy to a progressive process for encouraging improved performance.  Employees are not free to do as they wish; but are held accountable for their overall performance and meeting the established goals, plans, and timelines. To be active in the coaching process, you must become familiar with the basic principles of coaching and how it works. To get a better understanding, I’ve identified six principles you should remember when coaching.

  1. Ask Don’t Tell.  A coach is NOT an expert who gives advice, but rather someone who asks practical questions to bring the individual to their own conclusions.
  2. Answers are Within. The answers are ALWAYS in the individual, the person is just not conscious of them at the time.  The coaches job is to bring the solutions forward.
  3. Power is the Process. The power is in the process NOT the coach.
  4. No need for Experts. You do NOT need to know how to do something OR be experienced at it to coach someone to greater performance.
  5. Answers Inform, Questions Transform. The more non-directive you are (in questioning), the more powerful your influence. Asking a particular kind of question is the key to achieving the answers.
  6. The Process Works. Realize that coaching brings self-discovery, awareness, clarity, responsibility, and choice, it makes the unconscious, conscious.

What will coaching do? It will build stronger bonds between you and your employees. It will also help them improve their performance by learning to identify and solve problems and issues before they affect performance.

Coaching is an excellent way to increase influence and improve employee performance, thus strengthening your leadership.