Archive for February, 2007

In Good Company at Third Tuesday….

February 25, 2007

Last week I was in good company with well over a hundred other communications types at an event called: Third Tuesday. It’s a monthly gathering of PR folks interested in social media and other emerging developments within the communications field. For those that know me from my coaching work, I’ve been a communication/PR professional for 17+ years (see the bio) and that area is still part of my work-life.

 The event was hosted by Joe Thornley who managed to capture mugshots (including one of yours truly) of the attending bloggers. I barely had a chance to say “Big Cheese and ‘snap!’ – he caught me with a goofy grin promoting this very blog. You can check this out further on his blog post.

The featured speaker was Anthony D. Williams who co-authored with Don Tapscott the new book Wikinomics. It’s all about how mass collaboration is changing everything. Think YouTube, Myspace, Wikipedia, Linux, etc.

I’m reading the book now and have to say – it’s speaking to me!! I’ve always been hugely interested with issues that relate to social change and particularly, as a communicator, the new ways people are connecting. Well, now as a coach, I’m very interested in what Wikinomics is saying because these issues/developments are profoundly changing the way we work and live.

In fact, the authors liken this shift to the industrial revolution…..and say that in 20 years (maybe less) we’ll look back at this period (early 21st century) as a pivotal time in our economic and social history.

What does that mean for you? Particularly for your work life? Well consider just these few excerpts for starters:

“As with all previous economic revolutions, the demands on individuals, organizations, and nations will be intense, and at times traumatic, as old industries and ways of life give way to new processes, technologies, and business models. The played field has been ripped wide open, and the recurrent need to reconfigure people and capabiliteis to serve an everchanging market will require individuals to embrace constant change and renewal in the careers.”…………”Companies accustomed to comfortably directing marketplace activites must contend with new and unfamiliar sources of competition…”

Sounds like a wake-up call…..join in or perish.

I had a chance to chat briefly with Anthony Williams at the event after his remarks and asked him if he thought there was an underlying need to support people in this shift. This isn’t just about new technology and new processes. Companies and individuals that survive — and/or thrive — will need a new MINDSET…..with a whole new range of competencies (intellectually and within the emotional realm).

He agreed. There are some companies (even older established ones) that are developing those new ways of being (competencies, skills, mindset) and actively shaping this  evolution (read the book – tons of examples). But in the years ahead, there will likely be many that struggle….

The world is indeed changing. Yet again. And always. 

The question isn’t really do you like what’s happening? The question is are you ready?

Sounds like a great coaching opportunity. More to come from me on this……you can count on it!

 Eileen 

That Balance Thing…oh yeah….when I have more time.

February 22, 2007

The funny thing about that phrase “Time Management” is that it technically makes no sense at all.  You can’t manage time — i.e. you can’t change it; manipulate it; add or delete it. It’s pretty much a done deal. We each get the same amount doled out: 7 days a week; 24 hrs; 60 minute per hour….you get the point?

You can, however, manage yourself in time….i.e. what you do with your time; how you feel about your ‘time’; how you ‘be’ in it (mindset; energy level; focus of attention, etc.). We really should be calling it ‘Self Management’ but that wouldn’t be as appealing a ‘brand’. So ‘Time Management’ it is……

 In any case, the topic is of interest to most people today who are working hard and trying to squeeze in as much as they can in their time. One of the top complaints people have is ‘not enough time!” In fact, I was just quoted in an article  in Investment Executive (trade publication for financial industry and advisors) on this issue. They did a whole section called: Time Out with articles about balance; life outside of ‘work’; wellness; etc. It was a great report and relevant for anyone – not just advisors.  Check out the full report here.

So how are you managing yourself in time? A few thought-starters to consider:

  • To do or not to do lists? Addicted to your list? Is your life one big list of ‘to do’s’? What about doing a ‘to not do’ list? What would that look like? What can you stop doing that will free up some more time to do stuff that really matters to you?
  • Speaking of what really matters – when was the last time you took some time to clarify that for yourself? Our priorities shift as our life evolves…..
  • Which of your priorities make it on your ‘to do’ list? Often we use lists (or scheduling/agenda) for the stuff ‘we have to do’ (responsibilities, errands and appointments we don’t want to forget). Ironically, what is often missing is the stuff that we really want to have in our life. How come those things aren’t on your list or scheduled in the agenda? Why aren’t they a priority? What difference would they make in your success and fulfillment factor (TGIM!) if you did make them a priority?
  • Pay yourself first or last? The ‘pay yourself first’ idea is actually a financial planning tip (put away savings right away otherwise there will be no $ left at the end of the week). Well, same goes for time. If the stuff that makes the ‘good life’ (to you) isn’t on your list upfront – how do you ensure it happens? Do you give away all your time servng everyone else first and hope some is left over for you? Or do you make sure you put some aside right away?
  • Action item: make a ‘priority’ list of everything that is truly important and meaningful in your life (and work) and compare it to your ‘to do’ list. There might be some editing needed to re-work your ‘to do’ list and ensure more of those priorities get actualized. 
  • Balancing your energy or burning out? This point probably deserves its own post (or blog for that matter!). But the point is that how you ‘be’ in your time (mindset, attitudes, focus) and what you do with it will either energize you, deplete you or, if you’ve got it balanced,  it will be “just right” (as Goldilocks would say).  The energy factor is huge and lots goes into this piece (nutrition, exercise, mindset, sleep, flow, etc.). More another time……
  • Sigh…there’s so much more to say about this topic but I’m noticing the time…and I’m all out of it.  For tonight anyways.

Till next time…. Eileen

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Coaches Corner: Corporate values….walk the talk

February 19, 2007

Charmaine asks: How do you begin to make the culture apparent to have people high and low notice it?

Charmaine – thank for the question!

Well my first reaction is to say that this notion of developing a Corporate Culture really is an inside-out exercise. People have to ‘be’ the culture not just notice it

Corporate values are the foundation for an organization’s culture. Not all organizations declare a set of core values but for those that do – it’s essential that the values are authentic and are reflected in the organizations deepest beliefs and attitudes — and then expressed consistently in terms of its behaviours and actions. Not just at the overall corporate level – but consistently among its employees.

Distinction worth repeating: values are just words until they are actually expressed in attitudes, behaviours and actions.  

Often companies take a lot of time articulating fancy statements with core values but they make the mistake of thinking that’s all there is to it. Discovering and then declaring your values is just the beginning. It’s not enough in itself. For values to be alive and authentic it’s essential that the internal community understands and demonstrates the appropriate behaviours and actions that align with the values.

Sometimes we may slip….it’s not unreasonable to expect that from time to time there may be some actions (or individuals) that don’t align with values. It is human nature to occasionally ‘forget who we are’ and in corporate settings not everyone will be a ‘fit’. What’s important is that we do show up consistently(enough of the time) in a way that reflects our deepest beliefs and commitments. Paying attention to values on a consistent basis does build character – and for organizations – ultimately corporate culture. Many great companies build a strong enough character with a solid sense of knowing who they are – which steads them well, especially during the tougher times or during change. With that comes a very low tolerance for behaviours that are ‘out of character’.

For most companies that are just starting to ‘transform’ it’s important to respect pace. Building character from the inside out takes time. But what’s essential is that one starts with the seeds of authenticity. I.e. the declared values are at least somewhat (ideally significantly) reflected in part of their reality ….and very much reflected in what really matters.

Back to your question: how to get more people noticing it….to reinforce values and expected behaviours (i.e. build character within a company), takes intention and commitment .Here are just a few ideas:

  • Encourage everyone to be ‘ambassadors’ of the core values: There will always be leaders from all ranks of seniority who might carry the torch of character from the get-go — leverage those folks and do encourage everyone to be an ambassador of the company’s values. That speaks to building an ‘internal brand’ (more below).
  • Recognition programs. Find ways – informal to formal and large or small – to recognize behaviour that expresses the company’s values. I work with a company that now asks employees to share a ‘core value’ moment in many of their team  meetings. It may only take 5 minutes but it’s a worthwhile exercise. Other ideas might be recognition announcements in newsletters/award programs; etc.
  • Pervasive: Core values must be pervasive throughout an organization. There is no one individual or department that should be ‘off the hook’ in terms of respecting and exemplifying the corporate culture. That means – include everyone — in programs, communications, etc.
  • Coach and develop for senior-level support: The character of a company will be greatly influenced by the captain of the ship (and her/his team at the top). There must be full ‘buy-in’ with the senior team exemplifying and consistently modeling core values.  Support and coach your management team in becoming ambassadors of the core values. They may not inherently have the skills but if these folks are worth developing then do so. Remember they will have a direct impact on many others in the company. See my article from Canadian HR Reporter “Is HR Ready to Keep the Keepers” article for more.  
  • Communication:  Effectively communicating – consistently and meaningfully, with the organization is imperative to keep core values and build a positive culture. Posters and taglines are great but not enough. Communications happens across and within all levels. From the top, to and within teams. Again, formal and informal methods are key.  There’s a huge wealth of tactics to support this – but it’s essential to start with the commitment of communicating regularly and meaningfully to your internal community. This group is ultimately your most important brand lever.For those of you that don’t know this – I have 17 yrs communications experience and bring this piece to my corporate coaching work. Call me if you want to explore further…

I’m sure there’s much more that I’ll want to add to this piece – it’s a big part of the work that I do. And as always – I’d love to hear from others.

 What do you think?

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Bored at Work or in Life? Wake Up Your Curiosity!

February 16, 2007

I woke up this morning to CBC’s Metro Morning as I always do – and Andy Barrie was sharing a quote from Dorothy Parker: “The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.”

Well, I couldn’t agree more! Curiosity is one of my top Via Signature Strengths (you can do a free online assessment to find out yours).  Exercising your curiosity is a great way to keep work and life interesting. Most of us were born with a natural sense of curiosity….. think of all the questions you used to ask as a kid…..and if you have children, you’ll appreciate this level of curiosity even more. 

But something happens along the way to and in ‘adulthood’ – some of us fall asleep at the wheel and over time some of that curiosity muscle atrophies.  Which can lead to boredom (which is a very bad word in my books).

The good news is you can wake up your curiosity! Here are a few questions to get you going – followed by some curiosity quotes that I thought were inspiring:

Questions:

  • What are you curious about today? How can you engage that curiosity further?
  • What in your life and work inspires a sense of wonder?  
  • What used to inspire your curiosity and wonder? What if you woke up those passions again?
  • What questions are you needing to ask yourself that you haven’t asked in a long time?
  • Sometimes old questions become new again as our life/work experience evolves — some of my faves are simply: What is it to love your work and life? What conditions must be present for that fulfillment? What of my core values are being honoured – where do I need to ramp them up? Notice how the question remains but the answers could change over time…..

Worth Repeating: Quotables….

  • The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.  (Albert Einstein)
  • I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious. (Albert Einstein)
  • Millions saw the apple fall, but Newton asked why. (Bernard Mannes Baruch)
  • Curiosity about life in all of its aspects, I think is still the secret of great creative people. (Leo Burnett)
  • We keep moving forward, opening up new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths. (Walt Disney)
  • One of the secrets of life is to keep our intellecutal curiosity acute. (William Lyon Phelps.
  • There are no foolish questions, and no man becomes a fool until he has stopped asking questions. (Charles Proteus Steinmetz).

So, with Monday morning only three days away and a brand new week ahead of you – I invite you to get curious this week and bring this to your work and life. Then see what happens.

 As always – I’m hugely CURIOUS to hear what you have to say. Bring it on!

Eileen

Second City Improv taught me to “Yes and…”

February 13, 2007

Those of you who have read my earlier post “Five Things You May Not Have Known About Me” already know that I’m enrolled in a Second City Improvisational class. I initially signed up simply for the joy of fun. I work hard and if I don’t pay attention, I can easily lose myself in the gamut of work and other areas of responsibility (sound familiar?). I have a gazillion interests so it’s not hard to think of what activities to pursue – but like many of you, if I don’t intentionally carve out the time and make the commitment to play and have fun it may not happen often enough for my version of my TGIM work-life.

Lesson #1:  Make the time and the commitment for stuff that’s important to you (for your fulfillment) outside of your work – otherwise it may not happen.

But a funny thing happened on the way towards fun….I learned a few things that are hugely valuable for my work and life outside of Improv.

 The first thing we learn in Improv is the importance of “Yes and…” in moving scenes forward and making them work.

In Improv, there’s no defined script. We play with other players and work together to co-create something. It flows when we truly do collaborate, respect other people’s contributions; listen and observe; stay present — and stop trying to ‘own’ or control the outcome.

 “Yes and….” is anchored in accepting ‘offers’.  What’s an offer? In Improv it might be a provocative line; infusing a new idea; a character or plot suggestion; an intense emotion; really anything that we can work with to move the scene along in a meaningful way.

The anti-thesis of  “Yes and…” is “No but..”.

Where “Yes and’s…” inspire, energize, invite collaboration, instill trust…..”No but’s” take the air out of the scene or the possibility.

 If you’ve read this far, you might already be relating this to your own work and life. Afterall, isn’t life and work filled with Improv opportunities? Think about your interactions and relationships in all contexts of work and life: partners, team members, peers, employees, bosses, clients, family, friends…neighbors, board members, etc.

“Offers” in life and work come in so many shapes and sizes: Proposals, suggestions, ideas and even casual remarks…..they aren’t always ‘obvious’ — you have to pay attention and notice when an ‘offer’ is being made.

What would be possible if we paid more attention to how we respond to the offers we get daily from our relationships? What would open up if we framed our interaction in a “Yes and…” vs. an automatic “No but.”?

Distinction: I hope you trust that the ‘Yes and…” is not about making you a “yes person” — i.e. passively accepting full-out every suggestion, idea, remark, proposal that comes your way. Absatively not! Rather, “Yes and…” is about accepting the premise that someone has made an offer. You can use that as a starting point….then either:

  • Build on it — adding your ideas, perspective, etc.
  • Add a twist or new angle…
  • Deepen it…and engage…..with a question, hypothesis, emotion, etc.
  • Or if  you must ‘reject it’ – start by first acknowledging the ‘offer’ and the inherent good parts (come on….there’s something you can find!)

“Yes and’s…” have tremendous ability to help inspire engaging conversations, collaboration, trust and respect – and more…all leading to TGIM Work-life. They put way more ‘wind in our sails’ in a purposeful direction than those automatic “No but’s..”

DEVELOP YOUR ‘YES AND…” HABIT: I gotta tell you, it sounds easier than it is — especially in Improv class. We are so quick to respond….and often don’t even notice when we “No but”…or shut down the offers we receive. In fact, more often than not, we don’t even notice when an ‘offer’ has been made!

Developing an authentic and meaningful “Yes and” habit that serves well takes presence and practice. The best place to start a new habit and break an old one is to begin with NOTICING and PAYING ATTENTION.  Here are a few ideas to get you going:

  • In the next week, simply notice how often you hear an “offer” from anyone. Start  paying attention and see if you notice more “offers” being made?  
  • Then notice what you do with it. What tends to be your first instinct? What do you do when the offer initially feels counter-intuitive to your idea or perspective.
  • Pay attention to the offers you make (informally and otherwise). How often are you getting “Yes and’s…” and how many “No but’s…”? In what form do they come in…..i.e. pay attention to the different ways we do ‘yes and’ and do ‘no buts’.
  • How do you feel with each? Notice your energy difference? The attitude it inspires, etc.

 Now I’m going to sign off before I’m late for my Improv class. And as always – I’d love to hear from you!

Eileen

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Introducing Coaches Corner at TGIM Work-Life!

February 11, 2007

I co-author a coaching column for an online career newsletter for CICA (Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants) and it occurred to me maybe it would be a good idea to start one here too.

So I hereby declare the “TGIM Work-Life Coaches Corner” is open for questions!

Hmmm.

Waiting…

Wondering….

Oh yeah…this is where YOU come in. You send me your question(s) and I and/or other guest coaches/professionals will write a response and post it here at TGIM Work-Life.

There are plenty of ways to get in touch:

  1. Email me directly (Eileen@BigCheese-Coaching.com) — with the following in the subject line: “TGIM Work-Life Coaches Corner Question“.
  2. Or Comment directly on this post
  3. Or Go to “Coaches Corner” page and send comment there.

Not sure what to ask? Ask about something important to you that relates to creating a TGIM Work-Life experience for yourself and/or others in your workplace or life. Check out the Coaches Corner page for some thought-starters.

Come on – don’t be shy…. I look forward to hearing from you.

Monday Morning Moment: Questions for Reflection…

February 5, 2007

Hey – Good Monday Morning!

Before you dive into the frenetic pace of your week, I thought I’d offer up a few questions for you to consider. No need to rush them….or even answer them…simply pick one or two (or more) that inspires….reflect and stay in the questions as you start and work/live your way through this new week.

  • When was the last time you did something for the first time?
  • What do you want… really want for yourself this week?
  • What will you do to get it?
  • How will you balance your work-life – starting today?
  • Where are ‘you’ and your highest life priorities placed on your ‘to-do’ list (if you have one)?
  • If you had a ‘to be’ list – what would be on it?
  • If you don’t have all the things you want (yet) – how grateful are you for all the things you do have that you did want?
  • How grateful are you for all the things you don’t have that you didn’t want?
  • Who in your work and personal life do you want to acknowledge and thank because they make your work/life better?

Have a great day! TGIM….Eileen

RESPECT: An Essential Ingredient for Employee Engagement

February 4, 2007

No one size fits all when it comes to engaging your people at work. But there are a few key ingredients that are essential if you are to keep the keepers. One of them happens to be respect.

Ignore it, fail at it or skimp on it – at your organization’s peril. Without respect, especially in a strong economy, you can count on the high performers and high potentials to walk out the door. And for those that stay for a while longer, they may do their job but don’t expect they’ll be going that extra mile or inspiring others along the way.

People work hard and want to be respected, appreciated and acknowledged for what they bring to their work – and for who they (not just their work title). This is true not just for employees in traditional work -but also for consultants, the bosses, and really most anyone who works.

Respect happens to be one of my top core values. I soar when I feel appreciated and respected. When I’m not, be it intentional or otherwise, it takes some of the wind out of my sail — I feel less enthusiastic and certainly less energized.  

Like Aretha Franklin said: Just gimme a little bit of R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

Hmmm. It sounds so obvious and, for many people, simply the right thing to do.  Yet, in just the last week…… (more…)