5 Essential Elements for Successful High-Performance Teams

September 28, 2019 by  

Teams, be it sales or distribution, are one of the most important entities within an organization because they are instrumental to its success.

Here are some key elements common to those successful high-performance teams.

1. Committed to a common cause: Strong teams spend time identifying their purpose, in other words collaboratively defining the common objectives that define their existence. They are committed to achieving their common goals and are responsible individually and collectively. Teamwork is the sum of individual efforts.

2. Focused on goals: Strong teams focus on what needs to be achieved. They may debate and disagree on various aspects related to the attainment of a goal but they do not lose sight of the task at hand. With the synergy of purpose, the team works collaboratively to be on track so that they can attain their predetermined aims and goals.

3. Complement each other’s skills: In order for teams to be successful, the members require good technical or functional expertise. They need to have good decision making and interpersonal skills. Strong teams understand individual strengths, leverage those to the benefit of everyone and complement each other to build on the various strengths necessary to accomplish the outcomes they desire.

4. Share interests and core values: Teams that have interests and core values that are aligned are more likely to meet their objectives than teams whose members have little in common. When team members enjoy each other, appreciate, respect and acknowledge individual contributions then the team will be successful and more likely to accomplish whatever they set out to do.

5. Possess positive energy: High-performance teams possess positive energy and excitement in whatever they do. They possess a strong sense of determination which propels them to accomplish their tasks efficiently, productively, and creatively.

A high-performance team has members who are engaged and involved with their jobs and enable others to do the same. Together, they provide positive reinforcement to each other and because of this synergy, they are able to attain their common goals and enjoy great success.  In addition they employ effective communication skills in order to work effectively and collaboratively together with clear instructions and directions between the team members.

4 Elements a Speaker Can Use To Improve Their Presentation

September 6, 2019 by  

We all want to be good speakers. We all want to feel comfortable, look credible, and mostly, have people follow our advice when we speak. After all, the reason we make presentations is to change behaviours, attitudes, or beliefs. There is no magic to improving your presentations, just time and effort. All speakers, regardless of their abilities or level of nervousness, can improve if they follow these 4 steps.

Make Time To Prepare – There is simply no way around this: it takes time to create a strong presentation. It is easy to procrastinate thinking that since you know your subject and will just be talking; you do not need to prepare. To have a strong presentation, you must allow adequate time to think, create visual aids, and practice. One of the most important keys to a successful and impactful presentation is your preparation, so practice, practice, practice.

Organize Your Presentation – A good presentation has a beginning, a middle, and an end. When it is constructed in this manner you make it clear to the audience where you are going and what you hope they will do when you are done. Taking the time to plan your talk ensures you will cover all the appropriate and necessary material while avoiding confusing and irrelevant side stories or information.

Create Compelling Visuals – While it is easy to create text-heavy slides and bulleted lists, all they compel the audience to do is space out. No one remembers bulleted lists so better to create more interesting slides with less text and more pictures. Design your PowerPoint programs so that they show the audience more images of the ideas they are hearing and explain with your words rather than inviting them to just read the slides. Besides, if all you are going to say is on your slides, what do they need you for? In fact, they can read the slides faster than you can speak them and will disengage because they will get ahead of you and be waiting for the next slide.

Involve Your Audience – Audiences want to be active participants in the conversation, not passive receivers of information. Engaging and involving the audience makes it easier for them to pay attention and retain the relevant information. Asking questions, eliciting comments, and dividing the audience into small discussion groups are effective ways to engage your audience more fully in their learning experience and it will result in a more retentive outcome as well.

The net result of doing the four items listed above is that you will feel more confident as a speaker and audiences equate confidence with credibility. The more confidence you exude as a speaker, the more relaxed the audience will be, and the more they can listen to your words. Confidence alone is not enough to carry your talk – you still need to be organized, deliver your talk well, and have good subject matter expertise.
Your presentation will be more compelling, you will feel more comfortable, look more credible, and your audience will be more likely to take the action you are suggesting. It is not magic, it is not rocket science, rather, it is just four key elements you can employ to improve your talks.

The Harassment-Free Workplace

August 17, 2019 by  

The #Me Too movement has a lot of organizations very nervous, and with good reason. In Canada, the Canadian and Provincial labour codes, as well as our Human Rights Act, stipulates that employees are entitled to a safe, comfortable, and respectful work environment. So, if an organization is not providing that, they can be at risk for a lawsuit. Not only does the leadership have to model respectful and appropriate behaviours but those behaviours must also become a part of the company’s culture so that everyone behaves in the same respectful manner. If that does not happen, and some employees feel disrespected or unfairly or inappropriately treated, they can file a complaint against the company. Besides, poisonous work environments are not very good places to work and can cause a lot of stress, turnover, sick days, underachievement, and ultimately unmet goals…..none of which is healthy for any organization.

As a result of this current fear, I have been providing a lot of Harassment Workshops for clients, educating their employees on what behaviours are acceptable and working with them on appropriate procedures to deal with situations that arise. The aim of the sessions is to make the employees more aware of what they should be paying attention to when they are with others.

I always start the session by explaining that today, one needs to be more sensitive to and aware of how what we say and do is being perceived by those around us. If we notice that someone looks or seems uncomfortable with a comment or remark, then you should ask them if you have offended them in some way so that you learn not to repeat that remark or action. If you apologize and do not repeat that behaviour, this issue is over. However, if you do continue to “harass them” you will have crossed the line and they can bring a complaint against you. Also, when someone feels disrespected, it is up to them to either tell the person how they feel, (because we are not mind-readers and may honestly not realize that we offended them) or to report the incident to the manager or HR person or whomever the company has designated as the appropriate person to speak with about such issues. It is best to do this as quickly as possible so that you remember all that happened. If anyone else witnessed the incident, perhaps they could come with you and support you.

This really speaks to emotional intelligence and common sense, however, it appears that today there does not seem to be much common sense or emotional intelligence any more and so we do need to make people more aware of the consequences of not practising these two very basic human behaviours.
In addition, every organization needs to have policies and procedures in place to deal with such situations and all employees must be aware of what they are so that they know what to do and who to contact. Finally, the process must include warnings and consequences that matter to the employees or the behaviour will not stop.

Employees need to be aware that verbal, physical, and visual forms of harassment are all dealt with in the same manner. One needs to be careful of screenshots, posters, racial or religious jokes or remarks, physical contact or gestures, and what is sent in emails as they can be seen by others or sent to others, even by mistake.
In the area where I live, for example, we probably have one of the most diverse communities in North America, maybe even the world so we have to be especially self-aware around co-workers from other cultures, religions, backgrounds and even education. The reason is this, just because something is not offensive to you or your Caucasian buddies, it is not necessarily okay with someone from another country or culture. As a result of this situation and because most of us would have no idea that we were doing or saying something offensive, that is why we need to observe the reactions of those around us in case we have done something that upset them……we need to be very observant of the non-verbals being demonstrated to know when we have possibly made a misstep.

For example, several years ago, we went on a Safari to Kenya. On our trip, we were taken to a Masai village to meet some of the local people. Our guide warned us that in their culture it was most offensive to pat small children on their heads. That is a very common practice here and likely any one of us might have done it as the kids were very cute. Not wanting to be offensive, we thanked the guide for her advice and were very careful not to touch the children. Again, we would not have known that what we were doing was something offensive if she had not warned us.

In many ways, this is probably a good thing as we have the opportunity to learn about and be more respectful to our co-workers so that everyone can enjoy a positive work environment. When people are happy they are more productive, efficient, creative, and healthy which is a win/win for everyone. I encourage everyone to employ more emotional intelligence in your daily life so that we can all get along better and be respectful of each other.

5 Reasons Why Women Make Great Entrepreneurs

August 1, 2019 by  

If you have ever doubted your ability to start a business, I’m here to tell you that you absolutely can! As a woman, you have already got several built-in qualities that will help you in starting a business and running it successfully.

Here are some reasons:
1. You Know How to Multi-task
Sure, you read articles saying that multi-tasking is bad, but that doesn’t stop entrepreneurs from doing it every day out of necessity. In addition, answering the phone, balancing the business bank account, making coffee, and meeting with clients will be a breeze after everything you already manage in your household. It is nice to know that acting as your kids’ chauffeur, serving as the family chef, and being your own maid service can come in handy elsewhere!

2. You are a Fierce Negotiator
As mothers, we have all been there: it is bedtime, you are exhausted, and your child wants to stay up just 15 more minutes. Rather than creating World War III, you compromise with 10 more minutes, if he/she folds the laundry first. Any client who thinks he is going to take advantage of you has another thing coming because you are on top of this.

3. When You are Passionate About Something, You Work Harder
Whether it is putting together Halloween costumes for the family or building a business doing what you love, you have drive when it comes to your passions. That is a quintessential characteristic of all successful entrepreneurs. After all, when the going gets tough, you need the stamina to make it through, and if you are genuinely doing what you love, that won’t be an issue. Besides, think of how much fun you will have turning that passion into a viable business.

4. You are Not Afraid of a Little Hard Work
Don’t be scared off when people tell you how much time and energy it takes to start a business. Of course, it does! As the saying goes, anything worth doing is worth doing well. You wouldn’t leave the gym halfway through your workout, or half-cook a meal. Just like with anything you do, running a business takes effort, but that won’t throw you. You are used to hard work and have no trouble exerting the necessary effort to make things happen.

5. There is No Separation Between You and What You Do
I once heard the analogy that men’s brains are like oranges. They’re able to compartmentalize every part of their lives: work, home, and friends. But women’s brains are more like a tomato: everything’s kind of jumbled together. I say that is great, especially when you are building a brand and representing it yourself. Rather than leaving the office and shutting off your mind completely from your company, you will live and breathe that brand. In addition, that will show to your customers, who will admire you for it.

We are well past thinking that women can’t do things as well as men. But you as a female need to embrace your strength and realize that if you want to start a business, the only thing holding you back is YOU!

Want to Reduce Work Stress?

July 9, 2019 by  

Letting go is not just a therapeutic lesson in healing negative emotional experiences but also an effective management skill. The ability to say ‘no’ shows that you know how to prioritize. This management skill is necessary for workplace success. While a myriad of responsibilities competes for your attention, discerning which to refuse is crucial for reducing work stress.
While it’s easy to say no to an alternative that is a bad idea or unappealing, picking between two positives is obviously more difficult. We often live in fear of the dark side to productivity: everything you accomplish comes at the expense of not accomplishing something else. If you have said yes to a great opportunity, you have also said no to whatever would have come as the consequence of refusing this opportunity.

Children learn the word ‘no’ to teach them self-control. Letting them do whatever they want without limits creates selfish, reckless adults. Saying no is a healthy practice for the development of responsible leaders who can follow through on their commitments.
Work stress happens when realities and expectations overwhelm our abilities. If you over-commit yourself, you run the danger of producing low quality work. Saying yes to everything can actually be the source of your work-related stress. When you accept every opportunity and the responsibility of managing every project, all the positives together can create a negative situation. To reduce work stress, you will have to learn how to let go.

Follow these three tips to make saying no a part of your daily routine:
1. Prioritize
Make a ranked to-do list of everything you must accomplish. This will give you a wider perspective of the demands on your time. You will be able to see which projects need the most time and where saying no is not an option. Creating a list helps you give the right value to each task and also helps prevent you from falling into the productive procrastination trap. Prioritize at the start of your day to easily discern which commitments will come at the least loss to refuse. You can also further organize your to-do list into categories of what you can delegate and what you must accomplish yourself.

2. Delegate
Sharing your responsibility is not the same as losing your authority. Delegating is actually the one time when saying no to some opportunities and tasks can still mean saying yes. You can lessen the burden of your personal demands by sharing responsibility with your hardworking team. The most effective managers delegate as much as possible. Micromanaging increases workplace stress, but careful delegating helps your company operate more smoothly. The necessary tasks will still get done but with more time for you to focus personally on what is most important.

3. Focus
Stressing over external factors is a waste of your time. The ability to let go of what you cannot control frees up your mind to focus on what you can. Effective managers recognize the specific purpose of their roles. You are a manager of something and do not bear the responsibility for everything. Even if you operate your own business with yourself as the only employee, external factors will still affect your company’s success. Relax with the knowledge that it is not always your fault when plans fail or projects derail. Focusing on what you can control gives you clarity in analyzing your success and makes productivity a tangible concept.

In the workplace, letting go means relinquishing your controlling grasp in exchange for long term success. Committing to what you know you can accomplish will reduce your stress and boost your confidence. Delegating what you cannot do alone compliments your team and reminds you that you do not have to go at it alone. Only partially completing multiple projects will not help your company move forward. Your future success will depend upon doing the best you can with every project you take on, so it is in your best interest to only commit to what you can actually accomplish.

5 Keys for Captivating Your Audience

June 25, 2019 by  

Would you like to actively engage, captivate. and motivate your audience?

If you answered yes to that question, here are 5 simple approaches for making what you say memorable to your audience.

1. Make Direct Eye Contact. If you are going to be a persuasive speaker you need to look members of your audience in the eye. When you do that they will then think that you are actually speaking directly to them and it will make you seem more honest, likeable, and believable. This means maintaining eye contact for 5-10 seconds with as many audience members as possible during your presentation.

2. Have Fun. Now I realize that sounds pretty basic, but many speakers act like what they’re doing is painful and that makes the audience uncomfortable. A speaker with passion and energy tells the audience that there is something worth listening to because look at how much the speaker is enjoying talking about it. Passion and excitement are contagious so if you show that you feel that way about your topic, the audience will likely end up feeling that way, too.  You set the tone for your audience so if you are excited and can share that successfully, they will be excited, too.

3. Smile. Smiling helps to build trust with the audience. When you smile you look like you are happy and that is a good start to building a positive relationship with your audience.

4. Energize & Project your Voice. Speakers who talk too quietly make listeners work too hard. So when you speak, you need to generate enough vocal power and energy to reach every listener in the room, especially people in the back and those who are hard of hearing. The larger the speaking venue, the more you must project your voice.  In a very large venue, you may need a microphone to accomplish this so be sure to request one if necessary.

5. Be Aware of your Stance & Gestures. What your body is telling the audience is no less critical to your success than what your voice and words are saying. Generally, spend as much time on the content of your presentation, as practising how you look when you are speaking. If you have any annoying habits like adding “ah’s” or “ums” after many words or tugging on a ring on your finger or some other distracting habit, the audience will get uncomfortable and distracted by those behaviours because you will look uncomfortable to them. Be sure to practice either in front a mirror so you can see what you are doing, or use your phone to record your practice or if you have a friend or family member who will give you feedback, then do that, because you need to see and hear yourself as your audience will. That important process is a crucial step in knowing how to speak with enough confidence and energy to captivate your audience.

If you follow the five suggestions described above you will be much more likely to captivate your audience and enjoy your presentation.  If you enjoy it, it is very likely that your audience with also enjoy what you are sharing.

I wish you every success in your presentations and so just relax, practice ahead of time, and just have fun!

Five Tips for Impactful Messaging

May 15, 2019 by  

Getting your intended message across can often be more difficult than you might think or expect. Most of you probably think that you know how to communicate because you have been doing it for so long. However, unless you get some honest feedback from the listener you cannot be sure that the communication was received and processed as desired. In addition, if the message was not heard, you will not enjoy the expected outcome. So, unless you are a mind reader it is a good idea to ask the listener what they heard so that before you depart you are sure that the message you sent was indeed what was heard.

Here are some tips to help you be more effective in your exchanges so that you can reduce conflict, disappointment, resentment, confusion and stress.
1. Consider the needs of the person with whom you are having the conversation so that the “packaging” of the message will be enticing, as this will make it more likely that they will listen more intently and take away what you wish.

2. Clearly outline the benefits of what you wish the listener to do because if the reasons for changing behaviour or following your instructions make sense in a compelling manner to the listener/s, once again they will be much more likely to follow your directions.

3. Always tell the truth, that way you will truly be authentic, and honesty is the very best policy as your listener/s will sense your sincerity. This approach will also give you more credibility which will speak to a better chance for the generation of voluntary compliance with your wishes.

4. Have a clear goal in mind so that you can style your message appropriately to achieve that end you wish to achieve. Be able to clearly state that goal in a way that resonates with the listener so that they will be more likely to accomplish it.

5. Practice, practice, practice…new skills require the implementation of strategies and tools that will provide you with the desired outcomes, however you can only accomplish those goals when you have mastered the techniques necessary to become an impactful communicator. The most successful leaders are the most effective communicators and practice those skills all the time. Remember, the most important communication skills is Active Listening and the more you practice that skill you will certainly have fewer miscommunications and unexpected outcomes.

The most successful people are those who communicate with impact, clarity, and influence and so have fewer disappointments or unexpected results from their colleagues and co-workers……even from their family members and friends. So hone your communication skills!

3 Steps for Managers Preparing for Difficult Conversations

April 30, 2019 by  

During times of budget challenges, uncertainty in the industry, and changes in procedures or systems, supervisors might be experiencing an increase in the number of difficult conversations they need to have with their staff. These could include delivering bad news about an employee’s job, informing staff about work restructuring, describing changes to current procedures or systems or discussing other complicated and stressful work situations. In order to ensure that these exchanges are handled as well as possible and generally result in good outcomes, the following steps should be considered.
1. Prepare for the conversation
• Before opening the conversation, ask yourself several key questions. You may also want to consult with your Human Resources person, peers, or other appropriate resources to be sure you are comfortable with the answers.

Key questions include:
‐ What is the purpose of having this conversation?
‐ What do I hope to accomplish?
‐ What would be the ideal outcome?
‐ What assumptions am I making about the other person’s reaction to the conversation?
‐ What “hot buttons” could exist – for me and for the other person?
‐ How is my attitude toward the conversation contributing to the intended outcome?

Practice the conversation. You can mentally rehearse it in your mind, or practice it out loud with your supervisor, Employee Assistance Program, or Human Resources Manager. Get feedback on how they think this will play out with the approach you are using.

2. Arrange the conversation
• A successful outcome will depend on two things: what you say and how you say it. How you approach the conversation and how you behave will greatly influence what you say and how it is perceived. You must stay calm, honest, and respectful during the conversation.

• Acknowledge any emotional energy that might be fueled by the conversation. The emotional content is as important as the facts and must also be addressed.

• Keep aligned and focused on the purpose of your conversation. Don’t be distracted by side tracks.

• Suggestions for opening the conversation might include:
‐ I’d like to talk to you about. . .
‐ I want to better understand your point of view. Can we talk more about. . .
‐ I’d like to talk about ________. I think we may have different ideas on how to ______.

3. Working Toward a Successful Outcome
• Approach the conversation with an attitude of inquiry and discovery. Set aside assumptions and try to learn as much as possible about the other person’s point of view.

• Let the employee complete what they have to say without interruption. Then give them feedback to show that you respectfully listened and understood their point of view. You don’t necessarily have to agree however, you need to remain open-minded regarding their perspective. Saying “it sounds like this issue is very important to you” doesn’t mean that you have to decide the way they would like you to.

• Advocate for your position without diminishing theirs. State your position concisely and clarify points they may not have understood.

• End with problem-solving. Try to find mutual areas of agreement on solutions and identify what steps need to be taken to reach the desired outcome. If there seems to be no common ground, then return to the inquiry and ask more questions about their perspective.

If you take this honest, open and respectful approach to the difficult conversation you will be much more likely to end up with a satisfactory outcome for you and the employee.

5 Characteristics of the Perfect Leader

April 1, 2019 by  

Some leaders inspire and motivate, but many fail miserably to engage their employees. Some run a highly effective team, yet their team members live and work in fear. Some are just simply absolute disasters. From the man-eater to the psycho, many industries seems to have created the ultimate formula for the “bad boss” character. With millions of books, DVDs, research papers, and solutions in the business world today, leaders need to figure out how to be effective and successful.

Here is a truth: people quit people, not jobs.
The best leaders became great by taking a genuine interest in each and every team member. Not only do they want their organization to succeed, but they want the individual employee to fulfill their potential because that is a win/win for everyone. Happy employees are hardworking employees who are more efficient, productive, and creative! In addition, because happiness actually enhances one’s immune system, they are also sick less often.

Here are the key skills for the “perfect” leader:
1. Be an Effective Communicator
Effective communication is the most important ability! You need to be able to talk to your team; help them with their goals and the goals of the organization. You need to be able to define what success means to your department and the organization. This can be done daily, weekly, bi-weekly, or whatever suits your team and task list. Weekly meetings keep people tuned in and engaged on what they as a team have to accomplish each week. Apart from team goals, you need to be able to communicate the needs for your employees’ development. There is nothing greater in this world than constructive Encourage them when they do something well, help them when they have a problem and let them know what they need to work on in the future. Your support, encouragement and acknowledgement are key to their success and ultimately to the success of the team as a whole.

2. Lead the Way: “walk the walk”
Often, companies promote a top performer because of previous successes, without ever determining or assessing if that person is actually capable and suited to manage a team. True leaders are able to instill trust, provide appropriate direction, and delegate responsibility. Just because an employee reached a sales goal of one million last quarter does not mean that he or she can manage or lead a team successfully. The perfect leader will be a combination of a top performer with the skills and attributes to lead a team effectively.

3. Be Passionate
The ideal leader should be excited about the organization’s mission, what we are trying to accomplish, and will instill these aims and goals in their team members. This is done with effective communication and modelling of the behaviours necessary to carry out those aims appropriately and successfully.

4. Be a Relationship Builder
Effective leaders spend a significant amount of time and effort building trust, respect, and rapport with their team members. Doing this builds loyalty with employees, makes them feel valued, and in turn, valued employees work harder. Offer a rewards programs, offer to teach them new skills, feed them, and always treat everyone respectfully.

5. Be a Hard Worker
No organization can run like a smoothly operated machine unless everyone knows what is expected of them, what they are responsible for and how to accomplish that. A great leader understands the flow of operations and must be willing to do just as much work as their team members. A successful leader should not ask a team member to do something they would not do themselves. If you model this behaviour you will certainly earn the respect of your team.
Some people are more natural leaders than others, however, anyone who wishes to become a “perfect” leader can do so by learning the skills and behaviours necessary to achieve success as an effective and successful leader.

9 Steps to Prepare for a Difficult Conversation

March 12, 2019 by  

These 9 steps can provide you with a viable structure that will offer you the opportunity to have more meaningful conversations which will have a better chance to result in win/win outcomes. However, as with any system, please consider these steps to be general rules, and try to choose your words carefully in preparation for the exchange. Having a difficult conversation is no easy task, however, if you are going to become accountable and take back control of the situation, you must at least try to resolve the issue.

Here are the steps:

1. Prepare and practice your opening statement so that you can anticipate the possible comebacks and objections of the person with whom you are having this conversation.
2. Have this conversation in person, and best to choose in a neutral location where there will be few or no distractions.
3. State your intentions. Be clear on what you wish to have happen.
4. Clearly identify and describe the issue. Do this objectively and honestly.
5. Describe your emotions due to the experience. Again, try to do this objectively and honestly.
6. Objectively state the current outcome and how you would prefer to have a different one.
7. Identify how you may have contributed to this problem and how you will act differently in the future.
8. Indicate your sincere wish to resolve the issue in a satisfactory manner for both of you.
9. Invite your partner to respond, however, do not react if they take offence to this discussion. Remember, you are “criticizing” their behaviour and requesting a change. They may “attack” you for taking this approach. Stay honest and respectful in all your responses.

Once you have employed these guidelines, you will begin to feel more confident to speak your mind in the future. In addition, remember that having this difficult conversation once, may not solve the issue which means you may have to broach this subject again at a later date.
Being assertive is not a bad approach to difficult situations, however, it can be challenging to stay measured, honest, and calm when your “listener” is upset.
Be sure to thank them for hearing your side of the situation and if they do not concur with your expected outcome, offer to follow up later once they have had a chance to consider what you have offered.
You can also say that you wish to resolve this in a satisfactory manner because you feel that a good and respectful relationship is so important for high performance in the workplace.
We cannot make people change their behaviour, however, when we change ours, there may be a positive reaction to that change. In any event, you will feel better for trying to deal with this in an honest and respectful manner.

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