The power of a circle

The power of a circle

When you find yourself wanting team dynamics to change, or wanting a specific relationship to improve, what do you do? Probably a lot of things. I’m guessing you work hard to brainstorm and apply many different approaches to drive growth.

But have you tried the circle trick? We tend to forget this strategy—or ignore it—for many reasons. Though somewhat painful to implement, it’s typically the most effective. And I promise, it will become more encouraging than painful after some practice.

Healthy relationships are the backbone and lifeblood of a strong organization. Let’s do everything in our power to foster them. 

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What gets recognized gets repeated

What gets recognized gets repeated

Though free and immensely impactful, giving thoughtful praise is one of the most untapped management resources out there. Let’s change that. Giving meaningful positive feedback boosts employee engagement and performance—what gets recognized, gets repeated.

On high-performing teams, the ratio of positive to negative feedback is 5:1. What does your feedback ratio look like? In this video, I share examples of how to give specific (vs. generic) praise.

I admit that this video is a bit longer than most, but if you stick with me after the two-minute mark, you’ll get an entertaining glimpse into my marriage that further illustrates this important practice.

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Better group brainstorming

Better group brainstorming

How readily do your employees speak up in meetings? I mean ALL team members, not just the few who comfortably share great (and even not so great) ideas often. 

Unfortunately, simply asking the team to “share their thoughts” doesn’t always ensure we’ll hear all their ideas. Especially in a remote environment. In this video, I suggest a few small tweaks you can make to your group brainstorming process that will get you better results and ensure everyone is engaged.

 

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A better way to give employee feedback

A better way to give employee feedback

As a leader, providing feedback to your team is an essential part of your role. However, doing it poorly can backfire. This quick analogy illustrates a different approach to giving feedback—one that exercises the power of asking them to go first

Instead of eagerly sharing your insights and feedback, focus on asking thoughtful questions that create space for your employees to identify their own reflections and insights. Chances are their ideas may be very similar to your own. By allowing them to articulate and own the insights themselves, you also increase their ability to absorb and apply any additional feedback you may have to share.

Here are a few sample questions to get you started:

  • What went well?
  • What did you accomplish?
  • What did you learn?
  • What didn’t go well?
  • What was your biggest challenge?
  • What would you change? 
  • What is one thing you will do differently next time?

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A strategic planning process that actually works

A strategic planning process that actually works

It’s that time of year for your team’s annual strategic planning meeting. While incredibly important, many of your team members likely dread strategic planning meetings because of a few common challenges. Let’s see which ones plague your team through a quick round of “Have you ever?” 

Have you ever…

  • Spent more time wordsmithing than actually planning in the meeting?
  • Been enticed down a rabbit trail, only to realize you spent 80% of the meeting on 5% of the team’s goals?
  • Set brilliant goals, then forgotten about them until next year’s planning meeting? 
  • Felt so drained by the meeting that your brain could hardly retain what was discussed? 

Don’t worry. I’ve got you covered. Continue reading or download your copy of the comprehensive “Strategic Planning Simplified” guide for step-by-step instructions and corresponding editable templates.

We often overcomplicate strategic planning. Perhaps we think a complex process leads to more sophisticated results. In reality, a planning process that’s too complex results in lower execution rates. Simple is better. A clean and easy process drives the ownership, clarity, and action you want from your team.

There are many stellar frameworks out there. I’ll share one that we used on my team at Boeing that worked amazingly well for a team with numerous divisions and programs: horizon charts. They are simple, easy to update, even easier to interpret, and faciliate a balanced focus on near- and long-term goals.

Follow this simple process to drive thoughtful reflection, ambitious planning, and productive discussion:

1. Prework: Before the all-team planning meeting, each individual program, division, or sub-team is responsible completing prework. Intentional prework is the key to driving a meaningful, engaging strategic plannign meeting—one that informs and excites the team.

Celebrate progress: Review prior year horizon chart and highlight all accomplishments. We want to see the power of planning in action!

Dream big and smart: Update program/division strategic plans and corresponding horizon charts for the coming year. Goals are set in three phases—adjust timeframes, as needed (but keep them consistent across the team).

Throw in some fun and creativity: Complete a “Year in Review” slide, noting highs and lows, lessons learned, lives impacted, new practices established, the year’s theme song, and more. Download the slide template here.

2. At the all–team strategic planning meeting: Program representatives take turns presenting horizon chart slides (prior year accomplishments, plus coming year) and “Year in Review” slides. 

3. Team discussion: After each report out, use the three qeustions below to facilitate further discussion and feedback. To engage all voices, provide a few minutes for individual or small group reflection on these before full-team discussion.

– What are you most excited about?

– What questions do you have?

– Is anything missing?

4. Review regularly: Establish a process to visit horizon chart progress every quarter.

That’s it. Horizon charts are like my current, basic coffee maker. We’ve tried investing in fancier machines over the years, but each time they break. They’re overcomplicated, make weaker coffee, and are unreliable. Strategic planning is the same. Stick with simple if you want consistent, strong results.

To make it extra simple and easy, download your copy of the “Strategic Planning Simplified” comprehensive guide now. It includes step-by-step instructions and corresponding templates.

Now go plan AND execute the best year yet with your team.

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Leadership advice from a kindergartener

Leadership advice from a kindergartener

Thanks to quarantine, this week’s Two-Minute Tip is brought to you by my five-year-old as she shares some thoughts on effective leadership, based on her classroom experience with the incredible Mrs. Gormley.

With a focus on how to effectively teach employees new skills, here are a four key takeaways from the interview:

1. Be patient. We tend to underestimate how long it takes to learn a new skill when sitting in the teacher’s seat. Tip: think back to how long it took you to learn the same skill to level-set expectations.

2. Tailor your teaching to the individual’s learning style. Do they learn best by watching first? Trying it with oversight? Diving in autonomously and learning from mistakes? Reading step-by-step instructions? Etc.

  • Note: Research suggests that regardless of one’s primary learning style, most individuals learn best through a blend of approaches (i.e., visual, auditory, kinesthetic, etc.).

3. Remember that the learning sticks over time, not the first time.

4. Most importantly, make it fun. Sadly, the love for and joy in learning can fade with age if we’re not careful. Our five-year-old guest specifically recommends incorporating songs to make it engaging :). I will add that this is not only fun, but also effective—after all, who doesn’t sing the ABCs to recall what letter comes next?!

 

Though often neglected, developing your employees and elevating their capabilities to the next level is a foundational leadership responsbility. Leaders, don’t simply benefit from what employees can deliver today; instead, inspire and influence what they will do and who they will be in the future.

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