by Laurie Sudbrink on August 22nd, 2017

Jeff shared his frustration about one of his supervisors in a recent coaching session. He has 6 supervisors that report to him, and Veronica constantly tests his patience. When I asked what Veronica was feeling, Jeff immediately responded: “how would I know what she’s feeling?”

Some of us don’t naturally think about other people’s emotional states. In fact, it can be hard enough to be aware of your own feelings.

While we shouldn’t assume that we know what someone else is feeling, it is important to be aware of their emotional state, and it’s imperative to effective leadership (take a look at this previous article with 9 Practical Reasons Why Managers Need Emotional Intelligence). It starts with knowing ourselves and knowing why emotional intelligence is important.

Consider these 4 parts that make up emotional intelligence:
  1. Self-awareness (and motivation)
  2. Self management
  3. Social awareness
  4. Relationship management

Last week we shared daily practices we can put in place that help us with self-management. This is the second piece to emotional intelligence and a necessary step before leaders can be effective with their teams.

Social awareness is all about connecting with others by being aware of their emotions.

You might be wondering, how did Jeff make out? Jeff realized rather quickly that he hadn’t even thought about Veronica’s feelings because he was consumed with being frustrated with her. After only a couple of weeks working on some self-management techniques, Jeff began practicing these techniques for being aware of other people’s emotional states:
  1. Slow down and think about the other person.
  2. When things aren’t going well, take personal responsibility.
  3. Set the expectation that you’ll be checking in with how they are doing from time to time.
  4. Practice watching non-verbals, listening to tone, pitch and volume, and checking in. For Jeff and Veronica, Jeff practiced saying “You ok with this?” or “How are you feeling about this?”
  5. Listen, Acknowledge and Follow up (you can remember this easily by using the acronym LAF with your staff).
  6. Be available.
  7. Have a system for providing feedback.

Is there anything you do to practice social awareness? Share it here so everyone can benefit!

Cheers, 
Laurie

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​How Emotional Intelligence Impacts Leadership
In this free 20-minute webinar, Laurie Sudbrink explains how leaders can improve their emotional intelligence (EQ)! Do you have questions for Laurie? She'll answer questions LIVE at the end.
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by Laurie Sudbrink on August 15th, 2017

A doctor with bad bedside manner.
A boss who explodes at people.   
A partner who refuses to talk things out.  

What do they all have in common?  A lack of emotional intelligence.

Last week, we started talking about emotional intelligence. One reader, Michele, emailed to ask “but what is causing this behavior?”  This is a great question Michele - acknowledging the cause is the best place to start when you’re looking to improve your emotional intelligence!

We can imagine the dozens of reasons why the doctor doesn’t take the time to connect with his patients, or for the boss exploding, or why the partner won’t talk things out. If it is a pattern of behavior, and not just an isolated incident, it’s time to look inside.

Just visualize this scenario for our blasting boss. His kids left Legos on the floor this morning. Again. He stepped on them with bare feet. Again. He missed his window for a clear drive to work and got caught in a traffic jam. His assistant wears a scent that gives him a headache. He bottles all these things up and, combined with a lack of sleep, when one of his team makes a mistake that triggers the memory of a colossal client catastrophe… BOOM, he explodes! Again.

​Emotional intelligence is a reflection of our own thoughts and beliefs about the situation at hand and/or the past experiences we’ve had.

Remember the definition from Dictionary.com? Emotional intelligence is the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one's emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically.

It takes self-awareness to even begin working on our emotional intelligence. Being mindful of what we’re thinking and how we’re internalizing is so important because that is what is driving our actions.

We could even go deeper and consider things that impact our state of mind - what we eat, our sleep, our exercise - all have an impact. Although we’re not going to dive into this aspect, it’s good to realize that without a certain level of self-care, it will be difficult to be in the mindset it takes to have a healthy EQ.

Managing our thoughts and beliefs helps manage our emotions. When we put daily practices in place, it helps us be more resilient and raises our emotional intelligence. A few things anyone can start practicing immediately:
  • Gratitude – every morning and every evening, list a couple of things you are grateful for.
  • Writing your intentions every morning and every evening. What do you want? How do you want to feel. Write them in the present tense so your mind starts to think that way.
  • Be aware of your own intent – is it helpful or hurtful?
  • Change your perception of others – start believing in people and visualizing them successful.
  • Deep breathing to reset and recharge. Pause and look at something in nature. Clear your thoughts.
  • Move – stretch, dance, or walk while you practice gratitude, or listen to great tunes, or focus on your intentions.
For more on this topic - self-awareness and increasing our EQ - I recommend a couple of my favorite books that help us shift our thinking:
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It’s easy to point a finger when it comes to our emotional reactions, but remember, there’s four pointing right back at you! Join Laurie and her team LIVE on August 30 at 2:00 p.m. EST to delve deeper into how you can improve your EQ! This session is FREE, but there are limited spots to attend. Don’t miss out on your chance to participate in the live Q&A!  

Save my spot!
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​Do you have a practice or intention to help you manage your thoughts and beliefs – We’d love to hear and share these!

by Laurie Sudbrink on August 9th, 2017

​Organizations are feeling the pain of people leaving due to the way they are mistreated by their bosses. Many studies are chalking this up to the manager’s lack of Emotional Intelligence (aka EQ).

But what is emotional intelligence, and why is it so important?

​“Out-of-control emotions can make smart people stupid.”

​- Daniel Goleman, Working with Emotional Intelligence
According to Dictionary.com, emotional intelligence is the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one's emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically. The definition goes on to explain that "emotional intelligence is the key to both personal and professional success."

It’s pretty evident why we need emotional intelligence just by that definition!

And I couldn’t agree more. In the majority of the executive coaching, leadership development and management workshops that I facilitate, emotional intelligence is where we focus most of our time! It is the key to higher employee engagement.

Let’s look at nine very practical management reasons why having emotional intelligence (EQ) is so important:
  1. Keeping control of your emotions so you don’t spread the toxicity
  2. Not flying off the handle and adding to the already high disengagement percentages
  3. Better at connecting and relating to your people
  4. Avoid backstabbing and power struggles and it builds trust
  5. Can better notice and probe when a person is giving non-verbal signals
  6. Helps make your people feel understood and appreciated
  7. You get more loyalty and productivity from your people
  8. Gets the team to better gel and creates efficiencies
  9. It is much easier to inspire your team to be accountable
Managers with higher emotional intelligence have more optimism and perseverance (aka GRIT), and this has a direct impact on their teams.

Like any management skill, some people are just naturally good at EQ. But the majority of people need to hone their emotional intelligence.

Stay tuned over the next few weeks for more on emotional intelligence!

Want to get started right away? Check out Leading With GRIT on Amazon, in Kindle or hardcover format).

Let us know what leadership topics you think would help managers the most - just share in the comments!

Cheers,

by Laurie Sudbrink on August 1st, 2017

Did you know that 1 out of every 2 managers is terrible at accountability?

In an article for Harvard Business Review, more than 5,400 upper level managers were researched around the world, and guess what? Holding people accountable is the single biggest thing that managers avoid doing!

If we want our teams to be accountable, we’ve got to walk the talk. If we don’t hold people accountable, how do we expect people to be accountable, for themselves and to their teams?

Top 10 things you might be doing to prevent your team from being accountable:
  1. You’re too casual with your team - Are you hanging out having drinks, talking about other people, complaining, venting? Maybe you’re used to being “one of the guys” and the transition is tough. Perhaps you’re trying to connect with people. Maybe you just like hanging with them. Regardless, if you’re too lax with your team, it will be very hard to hold them accountable. 

  2. Micromanaging - Are you worried things aren’t getting done properly, looking over everyone’s shoulders and putting in your two cents? When you’re too involved, people don’t feel like you trust them. In fact, the more people are watched, the less productive they are. 

  3. Too vague with your expectations - You have an idea in your mind what the outcome should be, but you fail to communicate it. It’s like when you ask your teenager to clean your car and when you inspect it, it’s not even close to your expectation. Their idea of clean was completely different than yours!

  4. Allowing people to come vent about something without having them take responsibility - It’s good to be that ear for your people, but are you letting people vent without turning it around and helping them take responsibility? 

  5. Getting mad about mistakes, or bringing it up over and over - Do you have a tough time accepting mistakes? Maybe you just can’t get it out of your mind and you keep bringing it up? Not being realistic about people making mistakes, and not being able to let go of it is sure to keep your team from being accountable.

  6. Allowing people to get away with the little things, not checking in on a regular basis - Maybe you’re afraid of being that micromanager, so you decide to be hands-off. The problem is, you’re not checking in enough. Finding the balance of checking in and micromanaging will be critical to accountability. 

  7. Not giving feedback often - whether you’re avoiding giving constructive feedback, or you don’t give enough recognition and praise, you are missing the opportunity to help your team learn accountability. 

  8. Solving their problems for them - We’ve all seen this in helicopter parenting! Well, guess what, it’s happening with management in the workplace too. Probably not for the same reasons, but we are enabling our teams to rely on us for problem-solving if we’re not teaching them to solve the problem. 

  9. Doing things yourself because you’re impatient and/or you don’t like the conflict - When you just do it yourself, you’re robbing your team of the chance to grow and develop. 

  10. Making excuses for not being accountable yourself - Most of the time this is masked pretty well. “I changed the date because I had to take another meeting.” Just remember the poem “Children Learn What They Live” by Dorothy Nolte. Replace Children with people and hang it on your wall! 
Do you ever find yourself or someone you work with somewhere in this top 10?

If you want to get your team more accountable, join me Wednesday, August 2nd at 2:00 p.m. for a FREE 20-min webinar! Here’s the link to sign up: From Blame & Complain to Accountability & Ownership for Teams. (the webinar is over, but you can email Laurie at laurie@unlimitedcoaching.com to request a copy of the recording!)
 
Just for showing up to the webinar, I’ll give you a very handy accountability tool you can easily share with your team. No strings attached! 

I have two other resources that will help you with accountability! Everything DiSC® 363™ for Leaders combines the best of a 360-degree assessment with the simplicity and power of DiSC. Plus, Commentsmart™ takes the sting out of the 360 experience with its guaranteed useful comments.
Jessica.Gorrell@UnlimitedCoaching.com In addition, you’ll get three strategies for improving leadership effectiveness. The result is a 360 experience that’s more productive and satisfying! Contact Jessica at Jessica.Gorrell@UnlimitedCoaching.com to learn more about this 363 assessment.

You can also discover everything you need to know about inspiring action and accountability in my book, Leading with GRIT! It’s available on Amazon in hardcover and Kindle versions. 

And stay tuned for the Get Your GRIT Together Planner coming soon! 

Cheers!
Laurie

by Laurie Sudbrink on July 26th, 2017

Laying blame can defeat teams and ruin relationships.

When we blame someone, that person being blamed typically feels hurt or threatened. Reactions can range from shutting down to lashing back.

Ultimately that person who was blamed loses trust in you, and we all know trust is the foundation of relationships.

A past coaching client and I were having coffee a few weeks ago when she told me how angry she was with the way her business partner recently treated her. They are involved in a major project with a tight deadline. They both committed to it, but now that things are getting stressful and they're not sure they're going to succeed, her partner is "freaking out" she said. The partner told her "I only agreed to these deadlines because you said it was possible. I knew I shouldn't have." My client interpreted it as "this is all your fault!"

My client went on to explain how she could get past the fact that her business partner was emotional and probably just needed someone to blame because he was feeling out of control. The thing she was having the most difficulty with was trusting him to be truthful. Was he really feeling that way in the beginning? Then why didn't he say something? And if he wasn't feeling that way in the beginning, but just blaming her now, what is that all about?

When we play the blame game, we're not dealing with the real issue.

We're trying to scoot around the problem.

Sometimes we're not even aware that we're acting this way! The real issue is usually much deeper than that which you are blaming someone for. In this case, her business partner might be fearful of the financial impact, or mad at himself for not speaking up, and/or he could be feeling guilty for not doing his part. Or maybe he has a habit of not taking personal responsibility, or he may be afraid people will judge them as unsuccessful. The point is, there's something else going on. And it can be easier to blame someone else then take ownership of your own part in it.

Just think about when blaming happens within your team at work. Not only does it damage the relationship, but it causes significant problems on the entire team. I've heard countless stories of how employees felt their manager threw them under the bus, or took credit for something they did. Team members complain and blame others when they can't finish their project, or the quality is sub par, or there wasn't effective communication.

By the way, when managers tell people to stop blaming someone else, it's almost useless because the issue is deeper.

If managers don't get to the real issue behind the blaming and if they don't continue to deal with similar problems then ultimately the team will erode.

And if managers are not giving credit where it's due, or they're throwing people under the bus, the damage is enormous. The scariest part is that it's very difficult to measure, but what it's costing your bottom line is greater than any other liability!

So, how can we go from a blaming mindset to a mentality of "owning my part, and how can I help?"

Join me August 2 for a free webinar to find out what managers can do to get their teams fully accountable! Here's where you can sign up: From Blame & Complain to Accountability & Ownership for Teams Webinar

And hey, just for attending the webinar, I'll give you a very cool self-awareness tool that helps you identify when you're in blame mode! Perfect for team discussions on the topic! I hope to see you there!

Cheers,
Laurie

by Laurie Sudbrink on July 18th, 2017

One morning, I was trudging into work in the rain when the wind whipped my umbrella inside out and I dropped all of my important work papers in a puddle. Ugh!

Maybe you’ve had a similar experience? That morning, as I trudged into the office, a colleague (known for her positivity) asked me how I was and I told her I was having a bad day! She replied “oh wow, and it’s only 7 a.m.!” I was about to carry the frustration of that 30-minute event dropping my papers in the rain into my entire day...

Then, I had my AHA moment.

Before we get to that, let me tell you a little about how my career started that led me to do the work that I do today.

My first taste of so-called leadership was not so great. The first manager I had was a hard-driving supervisor in a manufacturing company. I was 17 years old working 9 hour days in a summer job inspecting undergarments. If that wasn’t bad enough, my supervisor didn’t allow talking, frowned on us listening to our headsets, and constantly paced in back of us like a drill sergeant! She never seemed satisfied with our output.

The second manager I had was in a restaurant environment. I was 18 and in college. I was in the position for 30 days when he promoted me to assistant manager - I was so excited! He taught me to do everything he did, increased my pay by 25 cents an hour and then pretty much disappeared, for hours and sometimes days at a time. It wasn’t long that I discovered he threw people under the bus, took credit for their ideas and hard work, and constantly misrepresented himself to upper management (um yes, that’s the nice way of saying he lied!).
My next job was in a corporate environment and lasted almost 15 years. I held many positions as I advanced, and I had a number of managers.,Some were ok, most not so good, and one or two were pretty decent. Those are not very good odds!

I remember thinking, it doesn’t have to be this way! What was going on inside of these managers that made them treat people this way? And even when they were “ok managers”, why couldn’t they be great?

Early on when I landed the position of trainer, I started to see that you could help people change their thoughts and beliefs about things, and this, more than anything else, shaped their behavior. I first saw this in myself. I noticed my negative thinking and dwelling, and I asked myself, “what good is this doing?”

Rewind back to my day with the inside-out umbrella and wet papers and I had this epiphany moment of life-changing awareness and inspiration. I remember being aware of the negative feeling and realizing I was creating it, and I could create something different!

I knew I wanted to continue to work on myself, and to also help people free themselves to be who they really long to be. Too many of us feel trapped in our jobs, rather than inspired by them. It doesn’t have to be that way. I’ve seen people turn it around countless times now over my years of work.

That is what inspires me to do the work that I do. I absolutely love helping people find those AHA moments that make a difference in the rest of their lives!
​Coming from environments where I felt stuck and helpless, I get it. Because leadership positions are the most influential positions, this is where I find the most opportunity to help others.

Developing intentional leaders is my life’s work, because it frees people to live authentically, and to truly be happy and successful, at work and beyond! It’s all about changing lives through leadership!

Most of the managers I’ve worked with over the past 20 years have said one of their biggest struggles is with changing people’s behaviors. While we all know we can’t change another person, we do have the responsibility in leadership to get results through people. Creating that change in people requires changes in behaviors. How we go about changing behavior is crucial.

​​Leadership is a position of influence. And it is certainly not simple. It is complex. But Leadership can be simplified - with the right tools.
Most people who are promoted into leadership positions are not given the tools they need to be successful. Very few people naturally get it all on their own and become excellent leaders.

But just like any tool you use, you need the best tool if you want the best results. I’ve attended too many training classes to count and most were mediocre at best. They always focused on the behaviors that needed to change, providing you scripts and specific steps to take. Yet it rarely if ever worked.

Because focusing on the behaviors is not going to make a lasting impact on people.

​Until people shift their thoughts and beliefs, they will not change their behavior, or if they do, it won’t last long!
​We’ve all seen it in the countless people we’ve sent to training classes and they come back starting strong but soon back to their old habits. We see it in ourselves when we start diets and exercise programs (New Year’s resolutions ring a bell?). It doesn’t last!

​I’ve been studying people and behaviors for over 20 years and the one and only thing that will inspire lasting behavioral change is when people change inside.
Whether you own the business, you’re in the C-suite, you’re a mid-manager or front line supervisor, who you are inside has the greatest influence over who are to other people. When you shift inside, you can then lead intentionally. That’s when you get real results.

That is why I wrote the book Leading With GRIT, and it is why I’m so passionate about developing leaders.

​I believe in the potential of human beings.

​Perhaps you’d like to start feeling differently about your job, your career, your life? Imagine feeling like you have enough time to do the things you WANT to do, you’re not stressed out, you feel confident, positive and courageous! You’re getting so much accomplished through your team, and you have mutual appreciation and respect. Imagine not feeling trapped and constantly out of time.

You can stop imagining those feelings and make them a reality. Join me for this unique leadership experience, Lead With GRIT! Immerse for 3 days with a focus on developing yourself so you can lead intentionally. Your transformation begins immediately.

Will you join me?

Cheers!
Laurie

by Laurie Sudbrink on July 13th, 2017

Nothing wastes time or frustrates people more than someone hijacking a conversation, whether it’s at work during meetings, or in our personal lives.

It happens too often. You know how it goes. Your friend wants to get together to share all about her recent vacation. A few friends decide to meet for dinner and drinks so you can all enjoy your friend’s pics together. As your friend begins to share a photo, she mentions a really cool gift that she found for her son while she was there. Another friend jumps in with, "Oh how is Harrison, is he doing ok after the separation?" and bam, just like that, the conversation is about her son, the kids, the custody battle, which leads to a discussion of the unfairness of custody laws, and another friend’s story of her marital issues and before long it's time to go home and you have only seen 2 photos of your friend's trip to Italy.

This kind of sidetracking happens often in conversations. We joke about ourselves or others who have a tendency to do this, “oh look - squirrel!” Although the intent isn't bad, for most of us who experience this, it usually isn’t a funny matter. In all seriousness, at some level, it doesn't feel like our friend really cares about our vacation. Just think of how often this happens, whether with friends, with your children, your spouse, or your siblings, or at work.

People easily get distracted and forget the purpose of the conversation. A simple question leads the speaker away from where they were going, to where we want to go. Even if the listener is genuinely interested, they can still end up taking the entire conversation off course. The speaker might even feel the departure, but they usually still follow because it feels too awkward or difficult to stop it. Feelings get hurt, people get frustrated, and time gets wasted.

Just consider the impact conversation hijacking has on workplace productivity. A room full of people spend an hour in a meeting. If we tracked the cost every time the conversation went astray we would pay much more attention to this costly sidetracking. Many of us have probably been the culprit at one time or another. So what can we do?

As soon as you notice you've taken the discussion off-course, just bring it back, with a simple statement like "It was good to catch up on Harrison, and I didn’t mean to take us off-course, so tell me more about Italy! I want to see those pics and hear all about it!"

Or as soon as you notice someone else has taken the conversation astray, you could say “Harrison’s fine, and I’d love to tell you all about him but I really want to share these awesome vacation memories with you tonight!”

Especially in workplace conversations, whether you're the listener who took it off-track, or the speaker who is being led off track, it's important to course-correct as soon as possible. "OK, that's a good topic we need to discuss. Let's table it until we get through our agenda, and then we’ll come back to it, or schedule time for it later." In team meetings, use “The Parking Lot.” When a topic comes up, write it in the parking lot. At the end of the meeting see what’s on the list and then either schedule another meeting or task things out. Build in time on your agenda for managing the Parking Lot.

Think of ways you can build in awareness of conversation hijacking. Giving people our full attention and staying on course during conversations is not just a nicety in our personal relationships. If we care about the relationship, we need to take care of it. In our workplace, it’s a cost of doing business and needs managing if we want to improve productivity.

Have you been in this situation before? Do you think these tactics will be helpful to redirect conversations in the future? Let us know in the comments!

Cheers, 
Laurie

by Laurie Sudbrink on July 5th, 2017

​We are free, right?

We are all free to think, feel and do what we like, when we like. But there are always consequences. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, as Newton’s Third Law of Motion taught us in elementary school.  Most of us learned this, but how many of us apply it to our own lives?

Freedom isn’t about skirting our responsibilities. It’s not solely about what I want in this moment without regard to the future, other people, or the environment. There are other people whom our actions affect. And what we do today will have an impact on our tomorrow.

GRIT paves the way to freedom. Generosity, Respect, Integrity and Truth. To genuinely be free, it starts with our own Truth. Freedom starts with self-awareness.

So often, people feel trapped. They can’t say what they want to say, or be who they want to be. They stuff down their emotions and hide their true thoughts. They gossip about others to avoid a confrontation. They rant about the President, the millennials, their partner, or any other thing they can find as an excuse. They feel stuck in the town they’re in, the relationship they chose, the job they have. I wonder if they know how close they are to being happy, to being free from all the negativity.

Freedom is about choice. It’s about what we set in motion, and how we react - even to the things that we didn’t set in motion but still affect us today. When I started to understand this, although it was tough at first, I really began to enjoy catching myself in the negativity, because I knew how close I was to stopping the madness!

But we can’t even choose if we’re not self-aware and self-accepting.

The only way to true freedom is to take ownership of what we’ve set in motion, and how we’re reacting.

We can start with looking at our own Truth; by noticing if we are:
  • Taking things personally
  • Complaining
  • Blaming
  • Numbing out with drugs, television, or any other escape
Then we can use GRIT to pave the way to Freedom:

Truth
  • Practice self-awareness: How are you feeling? What are you thinking? Is it true? Are you complaining or blaming? Are you taking it personally?
  • Use your emotions to help you be aware of your thoughts and feelings.
  • Accept where you are right now.

Integrity
  • Choose what you want to think, feel and do.
  • Take ownership of what you think, feel and do and how it impacts yourself and others, now and in the future.
  • Choose your actions. Align your behaviors to what you want.

Respect
  • Respect yourself by getting the sleep you need, practicing self-reflection, eating the food that makes you healthy, moving your body, nourishing your spirit and your soul.
  • Respect others. Don’t assume you know what someone else is thinking, feeling, believing, and even doing. My grandmother used to say, believe nothing of what you hear, and only half of what you see. That includes your own thoughts!

Generosity
  • Be generous to yourself. Don’t just give, give, give and then feel resentful.
  • Allow the flow. Receive from others.
  • Have gratitude. Give from your heart, not for ulterior motives.
  • You decide where and when you want to give. When it’s genuine generosity, the reward is far greater.

Freedom is living the life you want, not the life you think others want you to live. It’s taking full responsibility for your choices and your reactions. It’s enjoying your journey, and accepting the full spectrum of being human.

While we’re celebrating our freedom in early July, let’s be mindful of the freedom and happiness we can create for ourselves and for those around us.

by Laurie Sudbrink on June 28th, 2017

People often ask me, doesn’t travel get old? For the most part, no. I love it. Travel for me is like opening the floodgates of creativity! Some of my best ideas and productivity came during or immediately after my travels.

Where I travel doesn’t always have to be to somewhere glamorous, but it does help. I’ve had many business trips that weren’t to any special exotic place and still had very creative and inspired moments. However, one of the things I focus on is where I want to be, when I work and when I play. My environment is very important to me. A killer view is more valuable to me than the inside of my house!

“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” – Henry Miller

When I was lucky enough to go to New Zealand on a business trip (by the way, my definition of luck is when preparedness meets opportunity), I tacked on 10 extra days to explore this magnificent country. Hiking a mile up a remote ravine that hardly anyone knew about to get about 6 feet from little baby seals playing beneath a pool with a waterfall backdrop was one of the all-time highlights of all my journeys.  Talk about recharging my battery! To this day when I think of the trip it makes me happy and inspired.

One of my goals is to visit at least one new place every year. Usually it’s a lot more than that! I highly recommend exploring and experiencing new places. If you have a team retreat, consider going somewhere new, somewhere beautiful. It may be tough to measure, but there’s no doubt your team will get more inspired and creative.

I just got back from Cleveland, and I hadn’t been there in 20 years. Wow, what a cool place. On my drive back, listening to Tony Robbins and some other podcasts, I was so inspired by the time I got home I could hardly wait to get writing and strategizing!

Next month I’ll be going on a family vacation to Newfoundland where I go every year. I usually explore a new place each time - the island is massive with beauty everywhere. I’ll also be visiting Costa Rica for the first time in July. This is my kind of business trip! I’ll be collaborating with a resort owner and expert physical trainer to design and schedule our first retreat together.

And sure, do I run into snafus when I’m traveling? Of course I do. But we can remember this:

A journey is like marriage. The certain way to be wrong is to think you control it.” – John Steinbeck

Whatever happens, it’s more about how you react to it. We can’t change a lot of things - - weather, what other people do, certain situations… the only thing we can change is the way we think about things. Because it’s the thinking that creates the stress and the undesirable behaviors.

Stress is resistance to something. When something happens in your travels (or in your life!), it’s much better for you to go with it, rather than resist it. I’m not saying you should ‘put up with crap.’

​You can be persistent without being pushy!

^ tweet that and tag @lauriesudbrink!
So wherever your travels -  remember, this is a great opportunity for yourself and your team to be creatively inspired and more productive!

I’d love to know where and how you like to get creative and inspired! Leave me a comment!

Cheers!
Laurie

by Laurie Sudbrink on June 20th, 2017

​Your Employee Engagement Roadmap - Part 3
Last week in part two of Your Employee Engagement Roadmap, we looked at the reasons for disengagement and the common connection. Remember Tom and how his employees felt he just wasn’t approachable, and he compounded that issue by reacting poorly? He fell into the common pitfall of getting frustrated and barking orders (Part 1).  We concluded that many managers are not connecting with their people enough.  

If we’re looking to build a truly engaged team, it cannot be done without genuinely connecting with people.

To feel that we are part of a community is a basic human need. We want to feel cared about. We want to be able to trust in leadership. When people feel this way, they’ll do just about anything for you. (Well, within reason!) Just turn it around and think about someone that you feel connected with, who genuinely cares about you, a person you can really trust. Would you be more or less motivated when working for that person?

Trust is an important part of those basic human connections, and connecting with people really doesn’t take that much time. It really doesn’t take that much skill either! But it does take self-awareness, genuine interest in your people and self-discipline to stay consistent with these activities and build trust. These are the three main pillars of building an engaged team.

Master these three pillars, and just like everything else you do to engage employees, like giving those expensive perks, creating a fun place to work with slides, and even giving recognition - it will all be meaningful and impactful. And even if you don’t spend a lot on perks, just by genuinely connecting with your employees, you will immediately boost employee engagement.

The First Pillar - It starts with Self Awareness. How engaged are YOU? What are you doing (or not doing) to show your engagement level? What are you doing to engage with your people?

The Second Pillar - Take a genuine interest in your people. A lot of us are conditioned to think that work is only about work and we should leave personal things at home.
But people can’t leave it at the door – they are still bringing the energy, low self-esteem, sadness, and/or anger with them from the things happening in all aspects of their lives. And as leaders, we are too!
While this is not about becoming an armchair psychologist, it is about connecting in a meaningful and authentic way so people feel that you care about them.

The Third Pillar - It takes self-discipline to stay consistent with these activities. When we start something and we don’t follow through, people stop trusting in us. If we say we’re going to have regular one-on-one meetings, and we keep changing the date or cancelling the meeting, what message do you think that sends to your employee? I can tell you what I’ve heard from people on the receiving end – they think they are not a priority, not really cared about, and not respected.
 
Let’s take a look back at Tom’s situation. Tom really wasn’t doing much to engage with his employees (and it came out in coaching he had his own engagement issues). His employees didn’t feel like he cared about them - it seemed that he only cared about the work. Tom would have a moment or two when he connected, but he didn’t do anything to make this a part of his leadership routine.

Once Tom started working in the three pillars, that’s when things began to really change.

These three pillars immediately boost employee engagement. But we’ve only just scratched the surface of the topic of employee engagement in this series of blog posts. We’ll dive much deeper into how you can master these three pillars in toomorrow’s LIVE webinar at 2:00 p.m. EST!

You will get clear action steps you can take to create a plan for turning your team from disengaged employees to dedicated team members. Attendees can ask anonymous questions about your own challenges in leadership and get advice from me to help you overcome them.

There’s still time to sign up to join us to Boost Employee Engagement Immediately - Without Spending a Dime! Sign up to join us here!
I hope to see you at the webinar tomorrow!

Cheers, 

Laurie

by Laurie Sudbrink on June 13th, 2017

Your Employee Engagement Roadmap - Part 2
Remember Tom (from last week), and the common pitfall he fell into while attempting to improve engagement on his team?

Counterintuitive to Tom, and many leaders facing any one of the common pitfalls is before jumping to action or assuming there’s nothing you can do, just stop and reflect.

That’s right - the single most important step to increasing employee engagement is to stop and reflect for a moment.  

Ask yourself why. Why do you think people are disengaged? What might be causing it?

Refrain from blaming the millennial generation, or whatever else it might be easy to default to. If the majority of people are disengaged at some level, then we have to look at the bigger cause. (When it’s one or two people, then we deal directly with those individuals.)

By reflecting, we’ll get to the root of it, instead of reacting poorly and causing more disengagement!

In my work over the years, I’ve heard these reasons for disengagement (in no particular order):
  • My manager is too busy to listen or follow through
  • People don’t feel connected to the vision/mission; they don’t have their own “why” or purpose.
  • Lack of trust in their leader and/or the organization’s leadership
  • They feel that they are treated condescendingly; too much negative attention on mistakes
  • People don’t feel like their managers care about them
  • Their manager is self-absorbed and not developing them
  • There is no team reward - only individual goals
  • Other team members get away with poor performance
  • Everyone gets treated the same, or some of us are rewarded with more work
  • There is a lack of meaningful communication
  • My manager throws people under the bus or takes credit when she shouldn’t

Can you see the common connection in these things? Yes, the person’s manager is the link to all of these. In the majority, there is a lack of effective interpersonal connection.

When asking Tom’s direct reports what they perceived, they summed it up as Tom was just not approachable. He compounded that issue by reacting with barking orders.

Many leaders are seen by their employees as being unapproachable.

Just take a look at research from Gallup which you can see in this chart:
While there could be some systemic problems, most of the time most of us are not connecting with our people enough. And no I don’t mean micromanaging and interfering. I mean connecting on an interpersonal level.

If you are connecting with your people, then they will begin to feel that you are open and approachable.

In next week’s blog post, the last part of this series on your employee engagement roadmap, we’ll share what it takes to connect with your employees and explain why that’s so important for building a truly engaged team.

We’ll dive even deeper into your employee engagement roadmap in my upcoming FREE webinar on Wednesday, June 21 at 2:00 p.m. EST.  

In this LIVE webinar, Boost Employee Engagement Immediately - Without Spending a Dime, you’ll have the opportunity to learn more about how to be a truly engaging leader within your organization (and in your life!). You can also ask anonymous questions during the webinar specific to the challenges you’re facing with your employees.

Sign up to join us!
Cheers!

Laurie

by Laurie Sudbrink on June 7th, 2017

Your Employee Engagement Roadmap - Part 1
​2016 engagement statistics released by Gallup revealed that we’re at 69% either not engaged, or actively disengaged(1). That means 2 out of 3 of your team members might be doing just the minimum to get by, or worse yet, showing up and actively working on other things, or even working against you!

Of course, statistics vary by company size. In most cases, the larger the company, the higher the percentage of disengagement. The smaller the company, the lower the disengagement percentage.  Regardless - most of us do have employees who are not highly engaged. They are showing up to work, but they’re not really putting themselves into the work.

So what do we do when we realize there are disengaged employees in our department, or on our team, or in our company?

Many leaders fall into one or more of these classic pitfalls:
  • Get irritated, start pointing the finger and blaming something or someone.
  • Get really frustrated and start barking more orders.
  • Resign to the fact and not even do anything.

About 10 years ago I was working with a professional services organization that had what they diagnosed as “minor employee engagement issues.”  After some discussions and questions with a few employees, it was clear what was causing employees to disengage. You probably already guessed that it was a person. Yes, it was their direct manager, Tom.

Tom fell into the classic pitfall of frustration and barking orders.

You see, Tom was told by his Sr. Leader that people were not as engaged as they could be, and he needed to do something about that.

So he did what he thought was the best thing to do.

He did what he had learned was effective - and maybe it’s what you’re doing too...

Tom started barking more orders.

And the situation got worse.

Counterintuitive to Tom (and many leaders in this situation), was a very simple but critical step he was missing. In fact, this step is necessary to avoid any of the classic pitfalls!

We’ll cover this simple and very important step next week in Part 2 of Your Employee Engagement Roadmap - The Single Most Important Step to Improve Employee Engagement.
And, we’ll go much more in-depth in a FREE webinar on Wednesday, June 21 at 2:00 p.m. EST.  
​In this LIVE webinar, Boost Employee Engagement Immediately - Without Spending a Dime you'll learn the secrets to becoming a truly engaging leader within your organization (and in your life!). You can also ask anonymous questions during the webinar specific to the challenges you’re facing with your employees. Sign up to join us here!

Seating is limited so register today!
Cheers!,

Laurie
​(1) 2017 Gallup State of the American Workplace Report

by Laurie Sudbrink on May 31st, 2017

Picture this - you've just finished up a huge project at work or at home and you're looking forward to spending some time kicking back to relax and take some time for yourself. 

Then, WHAM - you get sick. 

I remember having this pattern in my life, and admittedly it took me quite a while to figure out that I was the common denominator!

Often, we’re causing our own illnesses, and stress is the culprit.

If you break down the word disease to dis – ease you can see where the problem is!  While stress isn’t always a bad thing, if it is not managed correctly it can be detrimental to our health, and cause us unhappiness.

Recognizing the signs early, and taking proactive measures is the best way to prevent damage from stress. So how can we recognize stress before it causes the damage? Try these tips:
  1. Pay attention to your thoughts. Are you being kind with your words to yourself, or are you beating yourself up about things? As Don Miguel Ruiz shares in The Four Agreements, “don’t go against yourself with your word.”
  2. Know yourself and pay attention to your physical body. We all hold stress in different ways. When you pay attention regularly, you’ll catch yourself grinding your teeth, scrunching up your shoulders, or tensing your muscles. Listen to what your body is telling you and try to make an effort to release that tension.
  3. Think about situations that could cause stress. Set yourself up to flow through that stress rather than resist it. Resistance is what makes negative stress. Having unrealistic expectations can set us up for stressful situations. Create a plan for yourself for what will happen when you get to the other side of your stress and envision yourself there to help you get through the stressful moment.
  4. Be mindful of your emotions. Your emotions are great triggers! Most of us simply react when we feel frustrated, disappointed, or angry, rather than using it as a way to look inside and see what’s going on.

Realize that stress is bound to happen – the important thing is how you react.

Take ownership of your tension and stress before the collateral damage takes its toll. Proactively take care of yourself so you’re better equipped to deal with it. Eat healthily, get sleep, exercise your body and your mind. While there’s no way to guarantee that you'll prevent every illness or negative situation, you’ll undoubtedly decrease a lot of unnecessary illness, and you’ll absolutely enjoy life more! 

Do you have any tips for managing stress in your life? Share them in the comments so others can benefit from your suggestions!

Cheers,
Laurie

by Laurie Sudbrink on May 23rd, 2017

Words can trap us or empower us. And it’s the words we are telling ourselves that are the most influential.

Consider this.

I am going to try to write a book.
I am writing a book.  (Hint - even if you haven’t put pen to paper; you are incubating it in your mind. These words will propel you to action. The former will hold you back.)

Which feels more empowering to you?

I am trying to change.  
I am changing.

I am trying to lose weight.
I am losing weight.

I am trying to be a better listener.
I am listening more fully.

Often we don’t notice the language we’re using and how it is controlling us. Our words are simply a reflection of what is going on inside of us.

Reflecting back on when I wanted to write my book, I held myself back by saying “I’m trying to write a book.” I was trapped for years by this one little word! Once I shifted this, I remember feeling it was happening. I am writing a book!

Try allows us to hesitate, to not take ownership of it.

It can be difficult to recognize when our language is constricting us rather than enlarging us. A trusted friend can help you be more mindful of this. Just by sharing this with someone, you will become more aware and start doing rather than trying.

Our bodies can help us if we pay attention. How do you feel when you say that? Do you feel constricted and smaller, or do you feel open and more liberated?

Sometimes just the awareness of how we’re feeling will be enough to release us from the stranglehold of our words. Other times we may need more. If you are still feeling hesitation once you change those words, it’s a great opportunity to dig deeper. Why am I hesitating? What is holding me back? (Pay attention to your energy and emotions and you’ll know if you can work on this on your own, or if you need help going deeper. Many of us use professional coaches or even our therapists to help us go deeper. Contact me if you need help finding a resource.)

Trying keeps us from taking ownership and taking action. What are you trying to do?  How can you make a change to empower yourself? Share your feedback in the comments so others can benefit from learning what works for you!

by Laurie Sudbrink on May 17th, 2017

Being present in the moment doesn’t come naturally to all of us. In fact, with our busy lives and so many distractions available, it’s tough for most of us to stay present! We get hooked by something that pops up on our screen, or a text that comes in, or a car that cuts us off, or a thought of something that we had forgotten to do! We soon learn the habit of becoming reactive, rather than present and mindful - a place where we can make better choices that align to what we really want.

If it’s not a physical distraction, it’s typically our own thoughts that get in our way. Our minds are usually in one of two places. We’re either in the future, worried about everything we need to get done; or we’re in the past, fretting or regretting what we didn’t get done.

Of course, we have to spend some time in the future - planning, dreaming, visualizing what we want. And it’s good to reflect on the past to learn and grow. But we need to just take quick trips to the future and the past, and then spend most of our time being mindful in the present moment.

In addition to helping us make better choices, being present brings many other benefits:
  • We listen more fully, which builds trust and much better connections with people.
  • We have a calmness that spreads positive energy.
  • We are more productive and effective with our choices and solutions.
  • We are more creative.
  • Our memories improve.
  • We are happier.
  • We are less stressed - take a look at just one of many articles on the benefits on mindful.org  

The good news is we can all improve and be more present in the moment. It just takes practice.

And it really is pretty simple because you can practice being present in the moment on any daily activity, so you don’t even have to build in extra time for this. The hardest part will be to remember to do it. So you may need to set yourself some reminders.

Here are my favorite 3 simple ways to practice being present:
  • When you’re brushing your teeth, do your best to just be mindful of the act of brushing your teeth. This one can be particularly challenging because most of us have learned to brush our teeth really well and we don’t need to think about it. That’s why it’s a great one to practice with. Every time your mind wanders, just catch it and bring it back. In the 2 minutes you spend brushing, see how long you can stay completely present on brushing. I ground my feet first, and this helps me remember to stay in the moment.
  • When you’re driving, do your best to stay completely present and mindful. How many of us get to our location and then think “wow, how did I get here?!” We were so deep in thought. This is another good practice opportunity because we’ve learned to drive well and think at the same time. You might also get angry at someone in traffic and create a lot of stress for yourself. Emotions are a great awareness opportunity. When you feel yourself getting angry, frustrated, irritated - turn your thoughts inward and see what’s happening with you, rather than focusing outside on what someone just did. Choose how you want to be.  
  • Find a plant, look at the sky, a pond or a stream - anything in nature. Take a full minute to just be with it - no other thoughts. Every time your mind wanders, just bring it back. If you can’t have the real thing, get a great picture that makes you feel like you’re with nature.
These are just three simple practice suggestions. I’m not saying you need to do this to have better teeth or drive better (although you might!). But if you practice this, you will start to notice yourself being more mindful and present in other areas of your life, without even trying. And just like any exercise, it will get easier and feel more natural.

I’d love to hear other ways that you practice being present in the moment! Please share your best tips in the comments!

Cheers!
Laurie

by Laurie Sudbrink on May 10th, 2017

​Do you ever feel frustrated because you want to tell your manager something but you just don’t know how to go about it?

This came up recently in a leadership class I was facilitating. Donna was expressing her frustration with her boss for not giving team members the opportunity to weigh in on things in the meeting. What Donna noticed was a lot of venting and complaining after meetings because people don’t feel heard.

Most often what happens in this situation is instead of going to our manager we get irritated and start to vent to other people. Or we get a sarcastic or edgy tone when we are speaking about the situation. Sometimes we actually speak that way to our manager. We feel powerless, discouraged and even resentful.

Guess what? This behavior never helps the situation, it makes you look like the problem, and it almost always makes things worse.

How can you become the solution, rather than the problem? How can you influence, and manage UP?

It all starts with one little shift. You might have guessed it - it’s in the way you’re thinking about it. (Remember, in this article from a couple of months ago, I wrote about how thoughts and beliefs drive our actions).

What do you imagine your conscious or even subconscious thoughts might be around this situation?
  • “I can’t tell my boss what to do.”
  • “It’s not my role. She ought to know this in her position.”
  • “I’ll be seen as negative and even disrespectful.”
  • “My boss will hold it against me.”

It’s true, these thoughts may have stemmed from past experiences. However, let’s be really objective for a moment. We probably played a role in those past experiences, perhaps with an edginess to our tone of voice, or just not being direct enough. And even if we didn’t play a role, realizing that everyone has their own issues and not taking it so personally will help us to not let that deter us from doing the right thing.

Changing our thoughts and beliefs will allow us to be open and helpful:
  • “I can help my manager see things from a different perspective.”
  • “One of my roles on this team is to contribute with feedback and helpful solutions - up, down, and across!”
  • “I’ll be seen as helpful.”
  • “I won’t take my manager’s behavior personally. I’ll continue to help with potential solutions.”

When we think positively about helping our manager to realize something, sharing this information will come across much better.

“Hey John, I noticed something the other day I think might really help the team. I’m not sure if you noticed it too - it seemed that people needed a little more time to respond in the meeting?” [pause, and give time for your manager to reflect and respond].  

If he’s open and agrees, you might offer a solution:  “Maybe we could have them jot their ideas down, then take a few minutes to hear them. I think we might be missing some good input.”
If he’s not in agreement or not interested, you might back it up with why it’s important to him. “I’m telling you this because we might be missing some good input, and it might save us time later because people leave the meeting and talk about everything they would have said - and then it turns into excuses and complaining.”

If we truly believe our role on the team is to help, our intent stays in a positive place. Most managers appreciate your input when you show them how it helps. If your manager does not appear to be open to input, you may decide to help that person see that and the impact it has. In private, you could say something like “Julie, I felt like you didn’t want to hear what I was bringing up about the team meeting. I know it’s tough to get through everything in that meeting, and the impact of not getting people’s input is hard to see because they’re careful to keep it concealed. I just felt you deserved to know this and I’m willing to help with it if you like?”

Our role on a team is to contribute and help.

Whether we’re a mid-manager and report to a senior leader, or we’re a supervisor reporting to a manager, or we’re a customer rep, in sales, a project manager or any position at all - we can influence others and manage up to help make a positive impact. It all starts with believing our role is to help the team.

What other ways can you help inspire growth with your team? I’d love it if you shared your ideas in the comments!

Cheers,
Laurie

by Laurie Sudbrink on May 3rd, 2017

So often I’m asked in my leadership classes about what books I recommend. I love reading books in the leadership field, but I also enjoy reading books that are a little more in the self-help realm. To be successful in leadership, we need to be healthy and whole ourselves first. So the books I’m recommending are a combination of topics, from leadership to spiritual to fiction and even eating healthy– all of which impact your leadership!

Since there are so many books I’ve loved, I decided to list the ones that just popped into my mind right now, some that I’ve read many years ago and probably picked up and read many times since. Some that I just recently read and really enjoyed. So yes, there are some really great ones that are not on this list, but these are my favorites today!
  1. The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom by Don Miguel Ruiz
    This book might be my top favorite of all time, so far. For me, it shifted my thoughts and beliefs and changed my life. It played a big role in improving my relationship with my late father. I read this book back in 2000, and have since gone on multiple retreats and apprenticed with Don Miguel Ruiz. He is a dear friend and a beautiful soul, and continues to inspire me.
     
  2. The Only Little Prayer You Need: The Shortest Route to a Life of Joy, Abundance, and Peace of Mind by Debrah L Englert
    This is my favorite recent spiritual/self-help book. I read it last year. I almost didn’t read it because of the title, because I didn’t think it was going to be practical. It is amazing, and simple, and fun to read! It shifted my thoughts and beliefs even further.
     
  3. The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Really Are by Brené Brown
    This book delves into shame and the impact it has on us, and how sharing vulnerabilities not only benefits ourselves, but helps those with whom we interact. Another great book that spoke to me at my core. I also highly recommend her TED Talks.
     
  4. The Shack: Where Tragedy Confronts Eternity by William P. Young
    I read this book back in 2010. It was recommended to me by Ken Blanchard. Ken said it was his favorite spiritual book. Of course this intrigued me so I had to read it. Wow. I think I gave that book to more people than any other (besides The Four Agreements). I haven’t seen the newly released movie yet. I hope they did it justice!
     
  5. Wired to Resist: The Brain Science of Why Change Fails and a New Model for Driving Success by Britt Andreatta
    I just read this book. Ms. Andreatta spoke at a conference I attended. The book really delves into the process of change in a way I hadn’t quite articulated! Everything she said resonated with me. I really appreciate her approach. Anyone in leadership should read this book!
     
  6. Transformational Speaking: If You Want to Change the World, Tell a Better Story by Gail Larson
    I’ve been reading this book in preparation for a speaking retreat I am participating in. We will be immersed for four days to learn how to deliver a transformational message. I love the book. Ms. Larson’s philosophy on speaking definitely aligns with mine. I knew she was the teacher I needed for the next step in my journey.
     
  7. Whale Done!: The Power of Positive Relationships by Ken Blanchard
    It’s been so long since I first read this book I can’t tell you the year (maybe 18 years ago). Ken Blanchard’s books are great. Always a story you can relate to, leaving you truly inspired to take action.
     
  8. Harvests of Joy: How the Good Life Became Great Business by Robert Mondavi
    My first trip to Napa about 6 years ago took me to the Mondavi winery and I had a wonderful tour with Inger. Inger’s story of Mondavi and his vision for Napa with all the trials and tribulations was a perfect example of what I taught in my leadership classes.  When I read the copy of Harvests of Joy that Inger gave me, I was blown away at how the story almost exactly mirrored the flow of the class: getting a group of people to a desired outcome, starting with a compelling vision, then aligning the team, and championing execution!
     
  9. The Seat of the Soul by Gary Zukav
    I only recommend this book to those who are open to going much deeper on a spiritual level. I read this book in 2000 and it opened my eyes to possibilities I hadn’t ever considered. It has inspired me to live happily and give generously.
     
  10. Crazy Sexy Diet: Eat Your Veggies, Ignite Your Spark, and Live Like You Mean It! by Kris Carr
    I participated in Kris Carr’s Crazy Sexy You Cleanse 21-day online class in September 2016. She is simply amazing. There are so many people who have influenced me with healthy eating but something in her message really connected with me. When my father was diagnosed with cancer in 2011, I, along with a few of my siblings, looked frantically for something to help him heal. It didn’t work out for my dad; we couldn’t find a good solution for him at the time. But he’s inspired me to keep pursuing a healthy diet and healthy life. When I eat clean, my mind is better, my body is better, and I really think my spirit is better!

I hope you enjoy this list and find it useful for your leadership! I’d be happy to recommend others for anyone who’s looking for something that might help you overcome a specific obstacle. Have you read any of these books? I’d love to know your thoughts in the comments! Please also feel free to offer other suggestions!

Cheers,
Laurie

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by Laurie Sudbrink on April 26th, 2017

Individuals can only handle so much change, and we usually don’t even realize that too much change is what is causing some of the problems we’re experiencing.

Until people reach their breaking points.

Last month I received one of those calls. The CEO of a fast-growing IT company called at 7 am. “You got a minute?” he tentatively asked. I could tell by the tone of his voice it was important. After a quick glance at the clock and my task list, I decided I did have a few minutes.

“What’s up?” I asked him (we’ll call him Pete). Pete went on to explain that a third employee gave his notice yesterday. Better opportunity. Three really good people in six months. Pete rattled off all the benefits he was providing, the new and exciting projects, and he mentioned that the salaries were above average for the positions.

After a little probing, it was starting to look like there was just too much change at once, and people were starting to check out. All the classic signs were there:
  • Multiple changes in management in a very short time
  • New products and processes, and new people
  • Increased interpersonal conflict on teams
  • It appeared there were some who were emotionally checked out (just putting their time in)
  • More complaining and blaming
  • Sick time and tardiness had also escalated
  • Lack of clarity and accountability

But Pete and his leadership team were focused on fixing each issue, rather than looking at what might be causing these issues.

Pete and I scheduled a time to meet to start looking at what was happening, and what could be done - quickly. He knew if this was a lack of engagement issue, it would take time and effort to turn it around.

Pete didn’t realize how critical it was for his Sr. Leadership Team to be managing change, which would prevent many issues. Not only is everyone different when it comes to how and when they embrace change, but the amount of simultaneous change also impacts a person’s threshold for change. Combined with the fact that we all have personal change scenarios to manage as well, it gets even messier.

Since most of us are hard-wired to resist change, and resistance causes stress, it’s no wonder we’re seeing the fallout.

To prevent the fallout from people resisting change, we need to carve out time and attention so the change process can be respected. A few tips to get started:
  • Take a good look at all the major change that is happening in your organization.  How many new projects or products, IT system changes, reorganizations, new employees, etc.
  • Have a clear vision for each major change initiative, and help people believe in it.
  • Provide as much information as early as possible.
  • Respect the change process. People progress from the current state to the future state differently
  • Understand DiSC styles and how they impact change.
  • Knowing and caring about each person will help you be aware if they have a lot of personal change happening that might also be impacting them. Divorces, marriages, moves, babies, breakups, family member issues all add to the change threshold.
  • Be realistic about the time it will take to go from the current to the future state.
  • Be mindful of your desired culture and don’t sacrifice it for short term gains.
  • Measure people’s engagement levels. The method you use will depend on your company size.
  • Provide training and development in change management, leadership, emotional intelligence, and effective teams.

The only thing that’s constant is change.

And the amount of change seems to be compounding. The only way to sustain the change we’re trying to make, and to save time and money in the long run, is to intentionally lead people through that change.

I can recommend a few good books to help you with change management:
I’d love to hear your change management stories!  Feel free to leave those stories in the comments along with ideas or questions about managing change.

Cheers!
Laurie

by Laurie Sudbrink on April 18th, 2017

Managing multiple generations in the workplace doesn’t have to be as complicated as we’re making it out to be!

These different generations working together has been a topic for over a decade now. It’s obvious that every generation has it’s strengths, and it’s limitations!

While there are certainly differences worth noting, we need to be careful not to get caught up in stereotyping, ostracizing and creating bigger issues.

While these generational differences can be real, they do not apply to every single person that was born within that generation’s time frame. You may have experienced this yourself. Someone starts describing the Millennials and you just don’t see yourself fitting in there.

There are so many other things that also shape a person’s behaviors - your socioeconomic status, the region you grew up in, your birth order, your gender… I think you get the picture!

What research has found is that across all generations, there are three things we all want:
  • Respect
  • Recognition
  • Rewards
Where it can get a little tricky, is knowing how to give respect, recognition and rewards to people in each of the generations. Understanding some of the differences between the generations is a great starting point. But the variation within each of these generations is greater than the variation between the generations.

In other words, we must customize our approach for each individual. If we spend a little time getting to know our people, rather than making assumptions about them, we’ll be able to connect in a meaningful way. And we’ll avoid a lot of misunderstanding.

One of the easiest ways to begin connecting with your people is to start meeting with them both formally, on a regular basis, and informally throughout the week. Think of questions to engage them. Be fully present and genuinely listen to them. Allow no distractions. Make it a point to circle back with them, checking in on the things that are most important to them.

Making this small time commitment might prove to be your best leadership move yet!

One of my favorite tools to help us begin to learn about these differences within the generations and across the generations is DiSC. For example, depending on your DiSC style, you may prefer to be recognized in public, or only in private. What you want to be recognized for will vary, as well as the amount of recognition you prefer.

DiSC provides a safe and fun way to open up the dialogue about the preferences and tendencies we have. I’ve seen teams really come together after having this dialogue, and managers start to understand why there were so many miscommunications!

I’d love to help you start bridging the great generational divide in your team. Send me an email and let’s get to work!

by Laurie Sudbrink on April 11th, 2017

​Have you ever found yourself in a highly emotional state, and you’re aware - but you’re just not quite able to control your reactions?
 
You know you should react a certain way, but as you watch yourself yelling at your child, or snapping at a coworker, or being sarcastic to a direct report - you just can’t seem to stop yourself!  And then you judge yourself, because you know better!
 
Keep in mind that just by being aware you have dissipated it a bit. Bringing light to a situation allows you the opportunity to choose. What we do with it next is super important!

What we tend to do is resist. Carl Jung said “what we resist persists.” 
Accept it. Accept that you are human and you will have these reactions from time to time. It doesn’t have to define you. You can choose differently, and believing that you can choose differently is key!
 
If you’re like me, you don’t want to allow someone else to control you. So it helps me to think that when I react to someone emotionally (in a way I would prefer not to react), I’m allowing that person to control me. When we do this, we usually end up blaming them, and becoming mad or resentful.
 
Take ownership. You control yourself. You really do get to choose!
 
Take a moment to visualize what it would look like if you reacted differently next time. How might it affect the other person. What would it feel like? Rather than yelling at your 5 year old, talk calmly in a way you want him to talk. The more consistent you are, the more he will mirror your behavior.
 
Visualizing helps train your brain. It’s almost as good as practicing the action itself! Feeling the emotion along with the visualization is like taking steroids to change your behavior (without any adverse effects!). We remember emotions more strongly than actions. So it definitely makes the action feel more natural the next time you need to use it.
 
Instead of being upset with yourself that you behaved this way, use it as an opportunity to train yourself to act the way you want to next time. Visualize how you want to behave and imagine the emotion you and others will feel. If you have the opportunity - do a “rewind”! You might say to your 5 year old, or your boss, or your coworker, “Hold on. I need to rewind and try that again… “ And model the way you should have spoken.
 
Learning to choose our emotions and our reactions will serve us well in any area of our lives! 
​Get a more in-depth understanding of this topic - stream the podcast that inspired this blog post on my Leading with GRIT podcast: How to Control Your Emotions
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Cheers!

Laurie





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Forbes Coaches Council Member
Forbes Coaches Council Member