Never Miss Twice – Cultivating High Performance Habits

Image created by Bristol Artist Rachael Johnson – Instagram @rachael.johnson20art

Building high-performance habits into your routine and working environment can serve both you and your team professionally and personally. Different leaders need and want different things from their schedules, so this post will look at how you might incorporate reflective activities into your routine to ensure greater long-term productivity.

Looking from the outside in

Dedicating time to planning your business strategy will allow you to establish productive parameters going forward. This is what we call working ‘on the business’ rather than ‘in the business. An effective way to approach this, is to make a list of the activities that you might deem ‘in the business’ which will often be delivery of services, sales and marketing, administration, and direct managerial work.

Working ‘on the business,’ however, might involve thinking about where you are going next, to ensure you are headed in the right direction and have the best tools to get you there. Assessing the processes your business runs on and thinking about streamlining them will help here.

Bringing your team in to work ‘on the business’ is a fantastic way to pool ideas, although be sure to keep your vision at the front of your mind, and to ensure your long-term plan fits with your employees’ wants and needs. This might be done by building in a regular monthly 1-1 with the team, a wonderful way to encourage inter-team communication at the same time.

Working on you

Taking time to work on self-development tactics will also benefit your productivity. A personal habit that comes up a lot in my client sessions, for example, is building in certain routines. Incorporating exercise or meditation into your day will benefit you on a personal level and begin to flow into your working productivity. Having a repeated morning routine is also likely to bring clarity to your day. Taking regular breaks through the day is important to keep your mind focused on the task at hand. Using a habit tracker can be a useful tool to make sure you carry out these activities every day, and after a while they will have become instinctive and routine. Having an accountability buddy who is either trying to cultivate the same habit or another habit but also wants to be held accountable for embedding it – you can buddy up and keep each other accountable for your progress.

Scheduling time

It is important to block time out in the diary for these reflective activities and the building of high-performance habits. It is extremely easy for tasks that are not short-term priority to be pushed behind those that produce immediately visible results. In the long-term, however, building strong routines based on habits that take a bigger picture approach, both to the business and to yourself, will be of great benefit. Establishing patterns is the most important thing here.

Joining one 20-minute yoga session or spending a lone hour thinking about your business strategy is not likely to make any difference. Practicing yoga every morning and blocking out a few hours per week to working ‘on the business,’ however, will ensure these positive activities are conducted. Of course, days are busy and adding anything more to the to-do list might seem overwhelming. But often, even small chunks of time dedicated to activities that are frequently repeated in a regular way, can make it easier for the rest of your time to fall into structured place.

A recent quote that resonated with me concerning habits was from a new book entitled High Performance – Lessons from the Best on Becoming Your Best – Jake Humphrey & Prof Damian Hughes https://amzn.to/35lgleq “Above all remember this simple motto: Never miss twice. Yes, on some days your habits might slip. But if high performers miss one day, they never miss a second.” Page 183. This quote was originally from Atomic Habits by James Clear https://amzn.to/3hw4Jr A another excellent book on this subject. Also check out The High-Performance Podcast https://bit.ly/3HBgYxo – listening to inspirational podcasts another habit to embed into your week.

Fostering A Healthy Team

Image created by Bristol Artist Rachael Johnson – Instagram @rachael.johnson20art

As the new year begins, we are often encouraged to ‘start afresh’ and overhaul previous modus operandi. By internalising this mentality, leaders can often make their employees feel that they too must change their attitudes and approaches. This, in turn, could demoralise staff who feel may feel undervalued and unconfident just being who they are.

Instead, beginning the new year with a positive focus will support the fostering of healthy workplace cultures where staff feel inspired. A great way to do this is to develop processes which allow employees to think confidently about their unique skills and abilities.

Encourage reflection

Whilst one-to-ones are often embedded in managerial strategy for the purpose of encouraging reflection, an environment which builds employees self-worth can also be developed in other ways. Where teams are asked to reflect as a group, individuals are provided with the opportunity to consider where their skills lie and have their abilities further attested to by peers. Peer validation is an important element in the building of confidence, so consider about hosting a group feedback session to promote mutual admiration amongst colleagues and highlight individual strengths.

Think beyond binaries

Often, feedback from managers is provided within the framework of ‘what went well’ and ‘what could be improved’. The connotations of this are that employees contribute well in some ways, and less well in others. This in turn leads to an understanding that some skills are superior to others. Helping employees to think beyond the binary of ‘positive’ and ‘negative’ attributes often allows them access assets that are traditionally undervalued, and in turn improve their self-confidence at work.

Encouraging peer group reflection might also help employees to understand that skills they might undervalue within themselves are just not being deployed in the right context.

Considering how certain attributes might contribute differently to certain areas of work will allow individuals to value all parts of their performance. It also draws attention to how working with peers can help individuals to bridge gaps in employees own ways of working, which might have been hindering their contribution.

Use reflection tools

The Creative Type quiz (https://mycreativetype.com/) by Adobe is a great tool for facilitating this way of thinking. Though a set of abstract questions, this software aligns the quiz-taker with a working personality type and highlights their strengths. In addition, however, it identifies which other ‘creative type’ you might work well with to maximise your potential. Undertaking this quiz as a team, and reflecting on it together, introduces non-hierarchical ways of thinking about ability, beyond the binary of positive and negative. This activity therefore reinforces the value of employees both as individuals and as a team

This was my creative type

Equally the VIA Strength Finder ( https://www.viacharacter.org/survey/account/register) could be used to encourage group-based reflection on what each employee brings to the team via their natural strengths, helping the collective group to leverage of the skills of each other and in turn create a positive working environment which boosts confidence and morale allowing each member to contribute in areas where they naturally excel.

Find out your top strengths using this free online tool

Reframing Imposter Syndrome

One phrase that has come up in many of my coaching conversations over the past few months is “I think I am suffering from Imposter Syndrome”. This has been mentioned by leaders who are looking for new roles, individuals who have been in their existing role for some time, and people who are new into their current position.

One of the main barriers to leaders reaching their full potential is not a lack of skills and experience, but instead a perceived lack emanating from low self-confidence. In a 1970s study on the impact of this work-centred around self-doubt, it was coined ‘Imposter Syndrome’. From here on this phenomenon has been understood as a limitation by which skilled workers doubt their competence and believe they are not talented enough to belong in their position. In 2014 study of 116 executives, 60% stated that imposter syndrome had an impact on their leadership.

When understood in this way, as a disadvantage, imposter syndrome can have huge consequences on peoples’ attitudes towards and behaviours at work. Some might overwork and refuse to ask for help to meet impossibly high standards, with the aim of combatting imposter syndrome by gaining proficiency in the workplace. This response often leads to burnout which can have hugely detrimental effects on wellbeing. Others lean into the insecurity and begin to avoid feedback and opportunities for promotion, believing that they don’t deserve to be given any merit.

First step to moving forward – open up communication

To tackle this exhausting feeling, opening up communication around imposter syndrome will allow the insecurity to be humanised and understood as a necessary and universal part of professional progression. Self-doubt can lead to rich and valuable reflection but should be balanced with positive reinforcement regarding what you have already accomplished and using this to move forwards and build self-belief. Changing the focus from the feeling of Imposter Syndrome as being a limiting factor, look at the evidence of what you are good at and can bring to your role and move towards a reframing of your situation as a natural phase of personal growth which you can easily move through.

A huge barrier to overcoming imposter syndrome is the feeling that you don’t belong in comparison to others. Breaking the silence on these thoughts, therefore, can help you understand how widespread they are. But this can only start with you, and openly acknowledging these feelings will give colleagues the opportunity to do the same. Imposter syndrome has been found as one of the top fears for executives, so there’s no chance that you’re feeling them alone. Take the first step by talking to a trusted peer, line manager or external coach/mentor and move forwards from here.

If you need any further help please reach out using sandra@sandrawebbercoaching.com for an initial free consultation.

Sandra works as an executive coach for a multitude of businesses and private clients. She has over 30 years of experience to draw from in her work and has a particualar focus on creating high performing leaders.

Why Am I Not Happy In My Job?

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When someone initially approaches me to explore coaching the phrase I often hear is “I don’t like my job anymore or a version of this such as  “I think I am in the wrong job can you help?” 

This isn’t a good place to be, wondering whether you are on the right path or worse dreading going into work every Monday morning. I always vowed from early on in my career that if I ever got into this position I would take action to change it as life is too short to be unhappy in our work especially as we spend so many hours of our week doing this.

So if this is you thinking any of these thoughts then it’s time to set time aside to explore what is going on ,either through your own self reflection process or with the help of a mentor or coach who has no vested interest in your final decision. This is why your line manager or a relative may not be the best person to work with on this.

It is not always the case that you need to leave your job ,so the setting aside the reflection and evaluation time doesn’t necessarily mean you will end up job hunting.

Once you have found some dedicated time ask yourself the following questions and note your responses

  • How long have you felt unhappy… sometimes there is a specific date, event or person that it can be traced back too. If you are a feelings person (see some of my posts or listen to podcasts regarding Myers Briggs  personality types ) then there may be an underlying resentment that needs to be processed through so you can move forwards. This might mean your acceptance of what happened or you being assertive enough to have a follow up discussion with those involved to understand what could have been done differently and to make others aware of the impact their actions may have had on you.
  • What is your ultimate career goal short and long term? Is being in your current role helping you achieve this or have you got enough from the role and need to find the next step on your journey.
  • Does the current role match your motivational mix ( again you may need to work out what this is) if it doesn’t there may be other projects or responsibilities you could take on to make it more enjoyable or you may indeed need the challenge of a change in role or organisation or type of employment.
  • Are you working for an organisation or leader that “ fits” with your value set? Do you like what they stand for and can you get behind the overall direction and what you are being asked to do in your role? 

The bottom line is to find out what would need to change to make you happy in your role and is this something in your control or not? 

Sandra works as an executive coach for businesses and also has a private coaching practice for career/life and business coaching. More information can be found at http://www.sandrawebbercoaching.com. She is also author of Own It – regain control and live life on your terms available from Amazon Check book out here and a recently launched series of Own It Podcasts which gives inspiration and tips for professional and personal life Own It Podcasts

Young Minds

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I have just finished watching a programme on TV where a group of celebrities undertook an experiment where they tried to reduce their physical and mental ages over a period of three weeks 100 years younger in 21 days

It was fascinating to see how the aging process was affecting them all very differently due to either current habits or prior lifestyle bad habits having taken their toll. Throughout the three-week period some individuals needed to focus on their mental capacity while others had more health and physical challenges.

The physical challenges where they were encouraged to exercise more and eat better weren’t surprising as most of us know what we should and shouldn’t eat and that we need to keep moving. What I learnt most were the changes that occurred that radically improved some of the participants mental health scores in such a short period of time.

There were dramatic improvements in mental ageing in fact reversing the effect resulting in three key activities the celebrities were made aware of

  1. Meditation
  2. Learning new skills
  3. The sense of belonging that came from being part of a group

If we take each I turn there were just a few take home messages that I think are useful to us all.

Meditation doesn’t appeal to everyone and certainly in the programme the person that benefited the most initially demonstrated a lot of resistance to even the idea let alone the practice of it. It took another person in the group who had personally benefited themselves from the practice to buddy up with the individual and persist gently through the initial reservations and difficulties to the point where it started to become an enjoyable habit with huge quick positive effects that reinforced the new habit further. The correlation between the habit of regular meditation and improved sleep quality was amazing and without question a good reason to continue.

When it came to learning new skills, the key point was it doesn’t have to be a particular type of skill. Initially the group were introduced to learning a new language however if anyone struggled with this challenge then other more practical rather than cerebral activities were suggested to get a similar result. The key message here aww keep the brain active by exposing it to new challenges.

The final factor was the sense of belonging and the obvious communication involved from being part of a group or team was evident. The mutual support they gave each other at various stages of the process especially when an individual was finding part of the regime tough was an equally important bi product of the process.

  • So, are you continually learning?
  • Do you actively engage in a community/group that provides support and encouragement?
  • Have you explored a meditation practice? maybe just try for 5 mins a day for a couple of weeks see if you find it beneficial

 

Sandra works as a coach for both businesses and private clients. She is also author of the book Own It – regain control and live life on your terms. More info can be found at www.sandrawebbercoaching.com

 

Personal Wellbeing – Two Critical Lists

goodandbadfaces

 

In the last post I mentioned meeting a lot of people recently who were running on empty, in danger of becoming ill and being stopped in their tracks.

I am much more aware of recognising key signs in both others and myself now than I was in my earlier years ; this is as a result of both personal experience and watching when others have been stopped in their tracks, forced to take corrective action and start looking after themselves better.

Sometimes it is at exactly this point that potential clients pick up the phone and come and see me for the initial coaching conversation when they realise they need to do things differently and make some changes in their lives either professionally, personally or sometimes both.

There are two books that I have read that I totally recommend on this subject when it comes to either recovering from burn out  or ideally preventing from happening in the first place

  • Adrenal Fatigue – James L Wilson
  • The Body doesn’t Lie – Vicky Vlachanis

Both of these take a completely holistic view and encourage us to take care of ourselves mentally and physically on an on going basis along with recognising when we are going off course as early as possible.

A practical exercise I get clients to do and I also practice myself is to generate two simple lists that we can regularly look at to ensure we are following the right one

  1. List one – things that make me feel good
  2. List two – things that make me feel bad

These are obviously going to be very unique to the individual and could contain things like activities that make you feel good or bad, places that make you feel good or bad, food that makes you feel fantastic or rubbish, people that make you feel downbeat and negative or make your laugh and bring your energy up.

You can start making these lists immediately however what happens is that when you get used to using them you find yourself adding things to both lists on an on going basis as you discover new people, new ways of eating,  new activities, new places and to reflect changes you make in your life.

How you use these lists practically is in partnership with the signs and signals you identified in the last post so for example if you find yourself going down the low energy, no patience with anything, not thriving route you look at the “things that make me feel good list” and schedule time for these things. Also take a look at the “things that make me feel bad list” and make a note of anything that you have been doing too much of on this list and stop doing it to reverse the trend.

If you feel you are heading down the “burnt out” route then check out the books above and start creating your lists based on the holistic approach , add to both lists at least monthly for the first couple of months. Keep them to hand in case you need then.

If you are feeling good at the moment create the lists anyway as a preventative measure and out of interest it should reflect the reason you are feeling good is that you are doing stuff list number one – keep doing what you are doing.

 

Sandra provides coaching for both Businesses and Private Clients. More information about coaching can be found at http://www.sandrawebbercoaching.com

 

 

 

 

Spot The Signs

oldpetroltank

Over the past few months I have been struck by the number of people I have met who are running on empty! When meeting these people, they are physically exhausted and mentally drained

From my own experience I have been in such a similar position about twice in my life and both times have been fantastic learning opportunities to add tools to my own kit bag that will hopefully prevent returning to that territory. It’s a place where if you find yourself entering you need to quickly act before the feeling of exhaustion becomes your norm and then if left for long enough often results in the body saying enough is enough and stopping you in your tracks with a serious enough illness where you need to take time off to recover.

Some possible signs to watch out for in either yourself or team members are

  • Do you wake up and feel tired routinely?
  • Are you living off endless cups of coffee, sugary snacks or processed convenience food?
  • Loosing or putting on weight we all react differently some people emotionally eat more when feeling stressed while others forget to eat under pressure
  • Are you thinking about work all the time even during leisure hours?
  • Would you struggle to be away from your phone or email for a few hours or the weekend?
  • Are frequent colds or headaches now your norm?
  • Is it difficult to concentrate?
  • Have you given up any hobbies or exercise routine you previously enjoyed
  • Are you forgetting or missing deadlines?
  • Are you making mistakes?
  • Do you have little time or patience for those around you?
  • Do you feel guilty about taking time out for yourself?
  • Are the people who know you well worried about you or making comments that you look tired or unwell?

We will look at what corrective and preventative action you might consider in the next blog post.

Hopefully you won’t be experiencing all of these at once and you will know yourself well enough to know what  your normal state of wellbeing is. It is important to recognise what do you feel like when you are thriving and completely aligned with what you are doing and what you feel like when you are moving in an unhealthy direction in need of corrective action. Learn to recognise your own personal signals.

 

Sandra works as a professional coach for both Businesses and Private Clients. More about coaching can be found at http://www.sandrawebbercoaching.com . She is also author of the book Own It – regain control and live life on your terms which is available from Amazon http://bit.ly/1JhAkst

 

Use Your Natural Strengths More

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The next technique to learn is to ask yourself what strengths do I naturally have that I can use to solve any problem or challenge that comes my way and move towards a solution orientation? Do you know your natural strengths?

You may have received some 360-degree feedback over the years in various forms formally or informally so this is a good source of information especially in identifying what other people think you are good at.

To add to any existing feedback in your possession and to give a fresh perspective there is a very useful free resource online that could be help, go to  www.viacharacter.org and click on the survey tab where you go and take a free test that identifies your top natural strengths. The report looks at strengths very differently and has more of a value internal perspective. When I did the test my top one is “love of learning” and this is so true and linked to my top motivational factor.

Either use the test above to identify what you naturally do well or use your own self-awareness to ask “how can I use my natural strengths to solve this problem?”

If I use myself as an example I am a resource investigator (I found this out using Belbin team types diagnostic tool many years ago in my corporate career). What this means is I can normally find someone to help either myself or anyone else and I don’t mind asking people to help share their expertise. When faced with a tricky problem I can’t solve myself I would pull on this skill to look at my existing network to access expertise or experience of similar problems to help me explore possible options for the problem in front of me.

It might be worth listing down a summary list of “ What I am naturally good at and love to do” so that when faced with a challenging situation you can look at this list and it might spark off an action or approach that will help you move forwards and because it is capitalizing on natural strength then the action wont feel too hard it will come to you easily.

 

Sandra works as a professional coach for both Businesses and Private Clients, More information can be found at www.sandrawebbercoaching.com

 

 

 

Taking The Lead In Adapting

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Adapting behaviours in order to build better relationships with others is a subject that regularly comes up in both the coaching work I do and also the training workshops.

Regardless of the originating subject matter the topics of relationship building or improving communication between specific individuals is routinely discussed as one of the challenges faced by people in and outside of work regardless of age, gender, sector or situation.

So why is it we often need to take the lead and adapt our approach to improve our interaction with others?

  •  The first thing to realise is that, unless the other individual has done a lot of self-development work in the area of understanding and respecting the individual differences, we can’t rely on the other person in the equation to change or try a different approach
  • If they do then great but we have to assume the adaptation has to be down to us.
  • The second thing after realising some changes are necessary is that you have to WANT to experiment with a different approach and you have to WANT to try and improve the relationship. If this isn’t genuine then any adaptation from your standpoint might come across as false or inauthentic.
  • The third thing is be prepared to experiment with a few different approaches until you find one that works. It helps if there is a strong reason as to why you want to improve the communication or relationship so that the persistence in trying a few times or with a few different techniques is worth the effort in the long run.
  • Try looking at any situation through the eyes of the person you are trying to improve the relationship with. If you were them what might you be thinking, what would you want to change?

I have seen many times relationships between two parties that initially have been very strained and difficult move to a completely different harmonious level once one person has taken the initiative to either be very brave and confront the situation with a very honest and open discussion or tried a different approach (often a few) until a breakthrough was achieved. Often having worked through this initial difficult beginning strong partnerships are forged with much greater appreciation of the differences each party brings to the relationship.

 

Sandra works as a coach in businesses and with private clients. For more information look at http://www.sandrawebbercoaching.com

How Well Do I Lead My Team?

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For some companies the end of the calendar year also coincided with the annual appraisal process in which, if done well, each person comes out the other end of the process having had a really good discussion with their line manager on areas in which they are doing well, some areas where improvements need to be made and with a new set of very focussed goals that are both meaningful and motivational for the individual and to support business strategy.

Conducting a meaningful appraisal is just one of the skills any leader needs to learn. A leader should also have as part of their appraisal a discussion about how they are performing in the leadership role and ask the question of themselves throughout the year “how well do I lead my team?”

In some of the companies I work with we go out and collect feedback for leaders prior to the annual appraisal process and ask both direct reports, peers, customers, senior managers and other key stakeholders. This feedback is summarised and then discussed with the individual leader to ratify things that are working well and areas of development.

If you can get this type of feedback either via a systematic online generated questionnaire and report (360 degree feedback) or a more informal process it is hugely valuable. I have seen leaders transform their leadership ability based on such feedback as they didn’t realise how important their behaviour was on a day to day basis and what their team expected of them.

The type of actions that can result from a critical review of your leadership style on a regular basis can range from instigating  or reinvigorating regular team meetings, scheduling meaningful 1-1’s on a monthly basis with each member of your team to redefining entire team structure and clarifying roles and responsibilities.

The important thing to realise that it doesn’t matter if you are a leader with years and years of experience or if this is your first leadership role there are always areas where improvements can be made and also its nice to know what you are doing well!

 

Sandra works with numerous businesses across the UK and runs workshops on Leading and Developing High Performing Teams. Find our more information from either http://www.thekudosgroup.com or http://www.sandrawebbercoaching.com