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 

 

 

 

Career Health Check

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As we are still at the start of the year it’s a good time to take some time out to review career health alongside any lifestyle or well being audit you may have already done.

In my work as a career and performance coach my discussions with clients often centre around how they can either

  1. Change careers
  2. Get more enjoyment out of their work
  3. Get better at their work
  4. Minimise the amount of stress they are experiencing at work
  5. Hand some difficult characters at work
  6. Raise their profile at work
  7. Progress to the next level in their company, industry etc
  8. Be brave and make some drastic changes e.g. like number 1 above or setting up their own business

The people who I love to meet are those people who really love what they do in both life and work. As most people spend a large percentage of the week at work its important that if there is something not quite working right in this aspect of our life that you first identify it and then put in place some actions to make improvements

So, in this first month of the year ask yourself the following questions?

  • Looking back at 2017 how happy am I with my work out of 10 (1- not happy at all, hate it to 10 – happy and enjoy it a lot)
  • Which bits of your working life do you love? Make sure you keep doing this.
  • Which bits are you unhappy with – what action can you take?
  • Do you feel you are using your full potential at work? If not, which skills are you not using? How can you plan to utilise these more?
  • Did you undertake any training or development work for yourself in 2017? Have you got anything else planned for this year? Often leaders spend so much time developing their team they forget about themselves.
  • Do you have clear goals or areas of focus for 2018? If not identify at least one
  • How is your work/life balance and stress levels – any work needed here in 2018 – what small habits can you change.

Take an hour out this month and conduct a mini career health check on yourself, pick a couple of actions and then repeat the process half way through the year.

 

Sandra works as a coach for Businesses and Private Clients. More information can be found at http://www.sandrawebbercoaching.com. She is also author of the self development book Own It available from Amazon http://amzn.to/2m3l8Vl

 

 

 

New Challenges Mean New Frustrations

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Anyone who knows me or has read my book Own It will know that I always like to be working on a new challenge however sometimes I do wonder why I do this as it is not always easy.

 I love the initial phase when a new idea bubbles up or just comes completely out of the blue in what I call a moment of clarity! It’s happened to me many a time e.g. Deciding to qualify as an accountant in the 1980’s, setting up the business in 2000, doing my first triathlon and then an Ironman! Well the challenge that came up from nowhere this April while on holiday in Lanzarote was I want to learn Spanish and be above average.

 So, the familiar pattern starts, and I secured a Spanish teacher before the return flight landed at Bristol airport and I was telling everyone this was my new “non-work” project. I discovered a brilliant app Duolingo thanks to a client who recommended it and initially everything was great.

 Now nearly eight months later reality has hit learning Spanish is hard and requires a lot of time and effort. I keep meeting an amazing amount of people who I didn’t realise can speak Spanish well some who did A levels or degrees in it. I have also met a lot more people who have embarked on a similar project, maybe with a different language, who have given up when they got to the stage I am currently at. It’s not as easy as I thought it was going to be. I am myself at that decision point, how much do I want this? Is my reason for doing this strong enough?

 Well at the time of writing yes, I am still fully committed to learning this language even though it’s not going to be as easy as I originally thought. I am going to have to put more effort and time into this if I want to achieve my goal however you will notice I didn’t put a timeline on this challenge and this was for a reason I wanted it to be a fun, non-work-related pastime. I certainly know an awful lot more Spanish than I did in April of this year and I need to remember this. My understanding and recognition of words is much better however there is still a lot more work to be done in pronunciation and understanding what is been said by the natives rather than a slower paced Spanish lesson.

 So, it’s a challenge you bet it is and it’s tougher than I thought but that is ok it just might take a bit longer than I originally thought and I have now got great respect for those people who can fluently speak a second language.

 

 

 Sandra works as a coach or Businesses and Private Clients. She is also author of the book Own It regain control and live life on your terms available from Amazon http://amzn.to/2m3l8Vl

 

 

Inspirational First Impressions

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We are all familiar with the phrase “first impressions are important” and it is so true still. What is it that creates that positive first impression when we meet someone that means we go away from this initial encounter saying how inspirational this person was to anyone we meet. Over the past few years I can vividly remember a few people I met briefly that left this impression on me and I have been trying to work out what were the qualities these folks had.

Firstly, the people I have in my mind were all very passionate and knowledgeable about their profession or had a clear purpose to their enthusiastic about wanting to share their experiences, knowledge and expertise with others.

The other trait these people had was they looked after themselves and took time to do this. They were all varying ages and physiques however they had healthy habits prioritising their self-care and daily wellbeing regimes. A saying “you can’t give what you haven’t got” comes to mind here as these individuals were helping others in some way by being of service, teaching or helping develop students and clients.

They all showed genuine interest in me from that first encounter, they went out of their way to try and work out areas of difficulty or subjects that were important to me. They weren’t in a “one solution fits all” mode, their approach and their listening skills enabled them to tailor their offering to my circumstances.

Continual learning was a priority, and this was evident quickly in that they weren’t standing still, they all had new projects they were working on or new countries they planned to visit. In each of their chosen professions they knew there was a lot more to learn and they were hungry to first take on this learning themselves and then share it with others.

Finally, they were all generous with their time and their knowledge demonstrating the ability to identify people, books or resources that they thought might help each individual and they then facilitated those connections which demanded their own personal time and commitment to action,

None of this stuff is difficult however rarely is it all packaged together which makes this a winning cocktail of behaviors that creates such a positive first impression. Think back over the year who has created this impression with you? Any other qualities to add to the above list?

Sandra is professional coach working with Businesses and Private Clients http://www.sandrawebbercoaching.com

My Love of Reading

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When we were creating the “what are we thankful for in 2017 list” last month and I was asked for “an activity that I can become absorbed/lost in the answer came very quickly. I have always loved reading from about the age of 10 and now having recently been introduced to podcasts this is becoming an equally absorbing and enjoyable activity.

 I remember always having a book on the go initially Enid Blyton with the famous five and Secret Severn series and then from my early teenage years I graduated to detective novels when my grandmother introduced me to Agatha Christie which I proceeded to devour. Reading is a way of spending time by myself and I find it incredibly therapeutic and time does disappear when caught in a book that grabs me. I now love nothing more than a recommendation from a friend or colleague for a good book and I am straight onto Amazon to order. I must admit to still preferring a proper paperback book although for ease of travel the kindle versions are useful it’s just the added screen time that I try to limit at the end of the day, that is a dilemma for me on this.

 My reading challenge in 2017 was to add a bit more variety into my reading, as for the past few years most of my books have been related to either business or self-development. It took a conversation with another lady in the office who always relaxes by reading fiction that made me realise that I had neglected this area and wanted to add it back in. Having made that decision, I am pleased to have read around 6 novels in 2017 from very different authors and have thoroughly enjoyed them so I think in 2018 I will continue to alternate my pile of books in waiting between fiction and non-fiction.

 Podcasts are also becoming important and my initial introduction to these was via my Ashtanga Yoga Practice when some of the teachers started sharing stories via this method. I must admit I now listen to a variety of podcasts but mainly these are work related maybe there is another challenge for me to expand the subject matter wider here next year?

 My additional challenge is to encourage our little grandchildren to read, I always try and buy them books whenever possible in the hope that they might get the same pleasure I have from this pastime.

 

Sandra is a coach to Business and Private Clients and also the author of Own It available from Amazon http://amzn.to/2m3l8Vl

 

Celebrate Success

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As we are about to enter the season of festivity and celebration it reminded me of the need to ensure we celebrate success, achievements or just continuous hard work throughout the year rather than just at set times.

In the work I do coaching leaders at all levels of the organisation I encourage them to routinely catch people when they do the right things and behave in the right way as this has a dual benefit. Firstly, everyone feels good when they get some positive feedback and recognition plus when we acknowledge that we have noticed someone getting good results, behaving in line with company values or in a professional way it reinforces the message that we want to see more or similar in the future. Most of us have experienced the way that if you laugh or acknowledge a small child behaving in a certain way they keep doing it to get a similar response. As adults it is no different we still like to please those around us.

The way in which you choose to celebrate success however must be individual and meaningful to the recipient and this is where the skill lies. It takes time for leader to get to know each member of the team especially if they have a wide span of control. In my experience this is time well spent understanding each person’s individual personality, building a picture of what is important to that person’s life inside and outside of work plus also identifying their motivational mix; what makes them tick. Once you have built a pen picture of each person it is much easier to work out what type of reward or recognition would likely work for that person when it comes to celebrating success or a period of hard work and dedication. Some people will like to be publicly recognized in front of their peers or senior management while others would like a simple thankyou behind closed doors.

This type of tailored approach is equally important regardless of the size of the team or business. In my work across all sectors and size of company it is most often the individual leader that makes this happen and it becomes part of their leadership toolkit they can take with them throughout their careers.

So, I challenge you how good are you at recognising the efforts of others? is this something you are naturally good at and just need to continue in the way you are or is this something you could do a better job of in 2018. We need to look after our high performers and encourage the growth of future high performers

 

Sandra is a professional coach who works with both organisations and private client. More info can be found at www.sandrawebbercoaching.com

Which Career Are You On?

 

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Someone many years ago told me “there are three careers in each one of us….”. Talking to people a lot, as I do as a career coach I am now thinking this needs to be changed to “there are 5 careers in everyone” People are definitely getting more comfortable with the idea of changing roles if they are not happy and consider changing sometimes to completely different professions or ways of working.

 The world of work is definitely becoming more fluid my parents were of a generation where they were encouraged to stay in a job, especially if it paid ok and had good prospects with a generous pension scheme. I remember they were horrified when I resigned from a “job for life” role in the civil service because I was bored and everyone there spent many hours a week complaining about their roles and cutting out adverts from the local paper to apply for different jobs but never did.

 Depending on how you define career I am definitely on my third one if not my fourth and each one of these has been good serving me well for eighty percent of the time. Getting used to making changes and having the confidence to take sometimes a leap of faith into the unknown is hard. The easy option is to carry on doing what is comfortable and if the individual is truly happy with their work and the environment they work in then that is fantastic. If not however and your working life has become mundane, if you are not feeling passionate about what you do each day then maybe there are still some more careers out there for you?

 Look at what you enjoy doing, ask yourself the question if money was not important what would you love to do? What are you passionate about? What are your best days and what is it about those days that make them good… The answers to all of these questions may lead you to your next career…

 

Wellbeing

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There seems to be a new buzz word around the business community currently, everyone is talking about – Wellbeing.

There isn’t anything new about this term and the NHS were researching it again last year

http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/Pages/improve-mental-wellbeing.aspx#Evidence

However having attending a number of workshops and talks on this subject recently they have got me thinking about this subject.

The NHS identified 5 steps to mental wellbeing

1) Connect

2) Be Active

3) Keep Learning

4) Give

5) Be mindful – in the present moment

This proves to be a really good simple checklist which can be used to assess how you are spending your time.

On a recent Yoga workshop I was able to tick 4 of the 5 boxes (Connecting with other new people, being active – see picture above, learning and being in the present moment) It was an enjoyable but tough workshop which yielded learning both physically and mentally. It takes time out of our non working time to tick all of these 5 boxes but having tried to keep the 5 elements alive for a few months it it feels much better than just sitting in front of the television for hours so I think I agree they are good steps to mental wellbeing.

Assess yourself – how are you doing?

Do you need to make improvements in any areas?

What specific action are you going to take this weekend?

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Different Approach

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Over the Christmas and New Year Period the annual discussions always include the topic of New Years Resolutions and goals. This sparked a debate in our circle about the difference between setting a goal and making a resolution. Does it matter that if you set a goal there is an end point so what happens when you get there or if you don’t achieve it. There is an interesting argument that we should set resolutions to embed new habits at New Year (or indeed this can be done at any time in the year) instead of a more goal setting approach. This was inspired by having also recently read a book “The Happiness Project ” http://www.gretchenrubin.com/

Having reflected on this idea we are trying a new concept this year. Each month identify some new habits that you want to embed and an overall theme for the month. E.G January could be “Clean out “month with four new habits for the month 1) Eat healthy clean food 2) Drink 4 large glasses of hot or cold water or herbal tea each day 3) Clear out a bit of clutter each day either a drawer, a closet, a part of the office 4) Attempt 10 mins meditation. So looking across these 4 initial habits each day both the physical body, the environment and the mind is hopefully being de-cluttered. A daily checklist is in the diary to record progress each day by either a tick or cross.

The same approach will be used for each of the remaining 12 months with the hope that some of the new habits will prove more beneficial than others and as a result will be embedded into lifestyle permanentl

Watch this space for future themes and process evaluation comments.

Current status on day 5 of 2015 is estimated at 50%

How Healthy Is Your Network?

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We all apparently know 250 people….. some of you may be responding “yes of course I do?” or “really I don’t even know 10!”. Well when it comes to networking it doesn’t really matter how many we do know it is how we manage the connections we do have. It is also important to continually manage your connections in a strategic way to keep your network current and alive.

When was the last time you sat down to take a strategic look at your current network to see if this is in area you need to do some work on. For most people it becomes important when they find themselves job hunting. Suddenly we start picking up the phone or sending emails to people we haven’t connected with for a very long time in the hope they might know of some suitable roles. This is far from ideal.

A high performer (job hunting or not) continually manages their network, keeps connected with everyone but in different ways and in different timeframes. The skilled networker is just as keen to help others grow their networks and put people in touch with each other as they are to make new connections themselves. There is nothing more rewarding than putting two people in touch with each other that can help both people achieve personal or work goals.

When you sit down to strategically review your network do you have any gaps? Do you have people who challenge your thinking, do you have people who you can go to who inspire you?, do you have people in your network who you can contact when things get really tough and you need some advice? Do you have people in your network who have an equally good network when you are looking to hire people or get specific expert advice on a subject?

What sort of person are you in other peoples network? Its a two way street networking when it works well…….