Live and Lead for Impact with Kirsten E. Ross


Recently Kirsten was working with a client and, as is often the case, they began sharing about a challenge with an employee.  The employee was missing deadlines and it was becoming a problem. They talked through some strategies and then…….there it was………

“I feel bad.  He’s my friend.”

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Direct download: DTD_103__Hiring_a_Friend__Be_Real_About_Your_Reasons.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:44am EDT

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I often say that I have a lot of bandwidth. I juggle, manage, keep track of many different projects at once. And it’s not just the number but also the breadth of tasks. I am often juggling wildly varying tasks between my professional and personal responsibilities.

I worked my way through college waitressing and you really have to think ahead and be efficient to do well. I think I honed many of my multi-tasking skills there.

Then I became a mom and that definitely adds some volume and breadth to your list of responsibilities.

As a single mom and business owner for 8 years I became a multi-tasker on steroids, wearing all the hats and taking on many tasks and responsibilities alone.

I used to carry the full weight of any project from start to finish for the entire duration. So, the multitude of tasks and breadth of responsibilities sat as a weight on my shoulders, sometimes for long periods. At times the burden was too much. The stress of so many unfinished tasks all at once could feel overwhelming.

Over time I learned a new way of dealing with large projects that serves me better and has increased my bandwidth even more. Now, I’m not talking about the logistics of how I captured the multitude of individual tasks leading up to any finished project.

This isn’t an episode about project management techniques or the latest software that tracks your progress. As an aside you I do recommend Toodledo, an app and web destination tool, but I digress.

No, this is about how I’ve learned to handle a multitude of tasks mindfully.

You see, even once I had effectively captured all of the tasks in a system the entire responsibility sat as a weight in my mind until fully complete. At times there were projects with many moving parts that would not be finished for months. In my mind the sense of urgency to get the long term project done was equal to that of a project that needed to be done that day.

It was a lot of stress. The push and pressure was constant. I did not give myself the “ah it’s done feeling” until a project was fully complete.  It didn’t matter that a project would be unfinished for months. I felt the full weight of the entire thing for that period.

Over the years, and out of necessity, I have learned the art of setting aside the sense of urgency around the entire task and have learned to compartmentalize the sub tasks, not just in my project management system, but in my mind.

If you are a person who struggles with the pressure of the full weight of long term projects you know exactly what I’m talking about.

To achieve the desired result and defeat the drama of overwhelm you must set aside the full project as if it’s not there. Trust in whatever system you are using to capture all of the elements of your full project. Let that be the repository for the list.   And then release your mind to focus only on the next step. No worrying about the activities you don’t have time for yet. Feel the sense of urgency for only the next deadlines. Experience the sense of accomplishment or relief as you finish each step.

Releasing a focus on the full project is similar to freeing up RAM on your computer. There is more usable space for what you must do now. You can fill the extra “now” capacity to increase productivity or capture the capacity for things like rejuvenation or personal growth.

It takes practice but you’ll be amazed at the positive impact!

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Direct download: DTD_102__The_Secret_to_Increasing_Your_Capacity.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:30am EDT

Kirsten teaches on the power of having a positive attitude.

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Direct download: DTD_101__Power_of_a_Positive_Attitude_-_Lessons_from_a_Teen.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:30am EDT

Episode 100...Time to CELEBRATE!

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Direct download: DTD_100__Celebrating_Milestones.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:38pm EDT

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Recently, I was at an event and overheard someone talking about how bored they’ve been over the last few months.  It really made me stop and think.  I absolutely cannot remember a time when I have felt bored.

I must admit I’ve definitely been unproductive, lazy, tired, procrastinating, overwhelmed and many other things that have kept me from getting into gear, though these are rare.  But, bored has never been one.  That feeling that I have nothing to do.

I had to stop and think, “what would that be like?”

I must admit that at first a part of me felt a little jealous.  Wow, to just be done with all of the pressing tasks.  No deadlines weighing down, no pressures, no “I really should’s”.

But, as I thought further, I really became sad for this person.  Because the flip side of “I’m bored” is the missed opportunities for excitement, a sense of accomplishment, fulfilling your passion, living life on purpose, making it happen, getting it done, the exhilaration of hitting a big milestone, or that Ahhhh feeling of rolling into bed after an exceptionally productive day.

I’ll take overwhelmed, stressed and driven any day.  I am blessed to live the full life that I am living.  It’s how we are meant to live. To live any other way means to deny the world of our unique gifts, talents and skills.

Yes, I’m sure I push myself a bit too hard at times.  But the fire in my belly, the energy in my step, the smile on my face and the joy in my life are what it’s all about.  And it’s how you are meant to live too!

What will you do today to make it happen?  Your life is waiting and so is the world!

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Direct download: DTD_099__Are_You_Bored_.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:01am EDT

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When I work with clients they are often in the midst of change.   Whether they started to transform before our work or it comes out of some new found awareness through the work I find myself helping them maneuver through transitions big or small.

At some point during the process I usually find myself saying, Just Get on With it!

You see, we humans are change avoidant. That lizard part of our brain experiences fear from the thought of anything new and it says – Stop! Danger!

It is our nature to go into tuck and cover. Maintain status quo. Keep safe.

So, transformation can be difficult and my get in action clients like to feel like they are making progress so they begin to research. They read, they web surf, they talk to people, they make a plan, they get feedback on the plan, they think about the plan, they tweak the plan, they do a bit more research, they find another book, they order it from Amazon. They wait for it and then dive in. They put together some numbers, they shuffle them around. They look at all the possibilities and visualize the change from different angles, they talk to a few experts, they speak to a few friends, they journal.

Then they do a bit more research and consider a couple different angles.

It’s at this point I have to stop them and say – The Research portion of this transformation can no longer be considered action.

Just Get on With it!

You’ve heard the term analysis paralysis. Some are plagued with it for even the smallest task. Others get stuck only when it’s a big transformation.

Does change require research and knowledge?


But at a certain point you can learn nothing more about the change unless you make it!

Years ago I was helping to launch a new program. We had done the research, put educated guesses together about how we should launch. Many on the team thought we should wait 6 more months or a year before launch.

I asked the question, “What more can we learn without actually doing what we plan?”

“Many of our questions can not be answered without actually doing.”

We’ll gain new knowledge as we go. We’ll never launch perfectly. We can always tweak after the fact.  Let’s just go!

And we did! And it was great! Did we make some changes after the fact? Yep!

But there was nothing more to be learned by sitting in a room taking guesses about the unknown.

So, where are you stuck in analysis paralysis?

Where have you gathered a satisfactory amount of information?

Where must you begin to act to get the rest of your questions answered about what it will be like? How will it go? Will this work?

Today, where will you stop researching and take at least one actual action towards your goal or transformation?

It will feel great!

If it’s not perfect, and it won’t be, you’ll adjust.

Just Get On With It!

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Direct download: DTD_098__Just_Get_On_With_It.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:23pm EDT

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Let’s face it, life is better if we get what we want. If the world, circumstances and other people would just cooperate life would be grand!

If you’ve had a toddler or have at least been around one you’ve seen that innate desire live out. During those early years there is really no sense of others. All they know is what they want and they will pull out all the stops in their limited bag of tricks to get what they want.

They might try cute first and then move to whining and pleading. From there they’ll head straight for the full out temper tantrum, throwing themselves on the ground, crying, kicking, and screaming like their world will come to an end if they don’t get that toy or candy.

Luckily, most toddlers are taught that that’s not an appropriate response. They learn to accept delayed gratification and sharing becomes easier.

When my boys were little and they’d start to whine I would tell them, “I can’t understand you when you talk like that.” Or, “you are just getting farther and farther away from getting what you want.”   And I did my darndest to do nothing to reward them during a rant.

We had sitting time outs in the middle of grocery stores, left restaurants.

As I think back I must say, I do NOT miss those times!!

It was sometimes very inconvenient to follow through with consequences or not give in but I wanted them to learn that whining and temper tantrums were not the route to getting their way.

As adults, we still have that innate desire to get our way.  Most of us have learned to consider the needs of others in addition to our own. Or, have learned the art of delayed gratification, understanding the need to set goals and work for things we want. Others have learned to put their own wants and needs aside choosing, instead, to focus on helping others get what they desire.

And, there are those who still work to get their way. Sometimes it’s okay. We have an opinion or perspective that has helped us make an informed decision about what we think is best. We seek to have our opinion known and understood through assertive communication.

Still others will use more manipulative tactics. Work the politics of the office, start gossip, stay quiet in a meeting and then campaign for your agenda. Or use the stay stuck strategies I talk about in episodes 50 through 53, as a for instance,

They are denial, defensiveness, deflection and defriending. Here are the links:

Episode 50:
Episode 51:
Episode 52:
Episode 53:

Or perhaps you’ve seen a grown up throw an adult sized temper tantrum.

And, do I even need to say it? All of this creates drama!

I have seen through my work that some people will deploy manipulate tactics to get their way for a short period while others will keep going, pulling out all the stops and using multiple manipulation tools. Most will have a stopping point where they throw in the towel and quietly give up.

I recently shared the results of a cultural assessment with a client and felt compelled to emphasize more than usual that the information contained in the report must be kept confidential.

I shared that normally I see a person’s end point. They use manipulative tactics and then give up the fight, realizing they must succumb.

In this instance, however, I was up against someone who continued to use manipulative tactics and covert operations with me during the entire evaluation. This person lied, changed appointments a gagillion times, was a no call no show for a couple of appointments, tried to avoid me during our scheduled times when he did show up by continuing to take phone calls and then dragging them out, telling me had to leave suddenly. And when all of that didn’t work, this person became condescending.

When that failed he got incredibly defensive, belittling, and arrogant. Then there was badgering and trying to block me from key documents I needed to review.

During the entire process, this person, who knew I’d be providing a report to his superiors, never backed down. Instead he continued to escalate his tactics; like a toddler, but in an adult way.

I never did see his end point. What else was he capable of? Thus, the extra emphasis on keeping a report confidential.

It got me thinking. We all have the capacity to try some tactics to get our way. Some overt and some covert, some professional and above board and some not.

It’s time to do some reality checking. My question for you today is:

  • Are you aware?
  • What actions, behaviors, conversations, tactics do you use to try to get your way?
  • Do you use different tactics in your personal life than you do in your professional one?
  • Are you passive, aggressive or assertive with your tactics?
  • Are you engaging in covert operations, working behind the scenes gossiping or working the politics of the office in your favor?
  • Are you sitting quietly in a meeting and then campaigning for your position afterwards?
  • At what point are you willing to concede?
  • Do you take it too far? Do you need to let go sooner?
  • Are you retaliatory after the fact if you don’t get your way?
  • Are there areas where your desire to get your makes you blind to the perspectives, desires, ideas of others?
  • Where are you igniting drama rather than defeating it?

Take some time to really think about these questions and get real. Are there changes you need to make in this area?

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Direct download: DTD_097__What_Do_You_Do_To_Get_Your_Way_.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am EDT

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As I’ve shared before, many of people I work with struggle with people pleasing. Often they feel overwhelmed and resentful. They struggle to get things done on time because they are always over committed.   No matter how busy, they continue to say yes to all the requests people make of them.

If you haven’t mastered the art of saying no this is probably you.

So, let’s look at some key reasons why some people have such a hard time saying no – do you see yourself anywhere?

And here’s one I hear from many of my Christian clients. “God wants me to serve others.”

I do believe this is true. We are all given gifts to use in the service of others. But, here’s the thing, if you are a follower of God, He is supposed to guide your actions, your service. If people are taking up 100% of your time you don’t have the capacity left to follow God’s lead. He does not call us to serve 100% of the people who come asking, regardless of the request.

So, if you are a people pleaser who has used this as your excuse I ask you to stop.

Here are six strategies to help you say no. Use them, practice them, take back some control of your time.

Buy Time: “let me check my calendar, or I”ll get back to you in a couple of days, or let me think about that, or check with my partner

Policy Statement: sounds office –cast in stone, out of your hands. “I have a policy not to volunteer in the evenings.

Shift the Focus – this is not about you, I need to say no for me. – said with empathy for the other person’s situation and with eye contact

Know Your Priorities: If you set a priority of the family eating together then say no to all intrusions to this.

Keep It Simple: no long-winded explanation or excuses – just sounds more defensive.

Tackle Easy Situations First: start by saying no to the paper boy or the phone solicitor first – build the muscle on the easy ones and then tackle your overbearing relative

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Direct download: DTD_096__6_Tips_to_Help_you_Say_No_without_Guilt.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:30am EDT

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Taking swift action can be very rewarding and fruitful at times. You get an idea and put it into action. Or you jump on the bandwagon for a new product and it works out well for you.

I am definitely a fan of action and forward momentum. If you are like me you feel the same.

A too Swift analysis with a final verdict can sometimes lead you astray, however. So many of my clients suffer the affects of jumping to conclusions too quickly. I call it Living in the World of Assumption.

Our assumptions generate ideas and feelings about a situation and these drive our actions.

We make assumptions about what others want from us and why, we take guesses at what our boss meant by that, we decide what the look on a co-worker’s face means about us.

I love the poem, “The Cookie Thief”. It illustrates what can happen when we assume. I first heard it read by Wayne Dyer years ago.

Here it is:

The Cookie Thief

by Valerie Cox

A woman was waiting at an airport one night,
With several long hours before her flight.
She hunted for a book in the airport shops.
Bought a bag of cookies and found a place to drop.

She was engrossed in her book but happened to see,
That the man sitting beside her, as bold as could be.
Grabbed a cookie or two from the bag in between,
Which she tried to ignore to avoid a scene.

So she munched the cookies and watched the clock,
As the gutsy cookie thief diminished her stock.
She was getting more irritated as the minutes ticked by,
Thinking, “If I wasn’t so nice, I would blacken his eye.”

With each cookie she took, he took one too,
When only one was left, she wondered what he would do.
With a smile on his face, and a nervous laugh,
He took the last cookie and broke it in half.

He offered her half, as he ate the other,
She snatched it from him and thought… oooh, brother.
This guy has some nerve and he’s also rude,
Why he didn’t even show any gratitude!

She had never known when she had been so galled,
And sighed with relief when her flight was called.
She gathered her belongings and headed to the gate,
Refusing to look back at the thieving ingrate.

She boarded the plane, and sank in her seat,
Then she sought her book, which was almost complete.
As she reached in her baggage, she gasped with surprise,
There was her bag of cookies, in front of her eyes.

If mine are here, she moaned in despair,
The others were his, and he tried to share.
Too late to apologize, she realized with grief,
That she was the rude one, the ingrate, the thief.

How many times in our lives,
have we absolutely known
that something was a certain way,
only to discover later that
what we believed to be true … was not?

So, yes,

Jump on the bandwagon

Jump for Joy

Do Jumping Jacks

But do NOT jump to conclusions!

All I can say is clarify, clarify, clarify! When in doubt, ask clarifying questions rather than jumping to conclusions!

Once while working with a client he exclaimed, “since I started working with you I feel like I’m constantly asking, ‘can you clarify that for me?’”

I laughed and told him there are all kinds of ways to start a clarifying conversation. I’ll make you a list.

That list become a .pdf with 50 different ways to ignite clarity. If you’d like me to send it to you shoot me a message. Go to Click on the podcast site and then go to the submit your drama challenge form.

I’ll happily email you a copy!

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Direct download: DTD_095__Jump_But_Not_to_Conclusions.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:30am EDT

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Today I want to share a quick problem solving strategy that can work with your team.   It works nicely with the simple process improvement strategy I shared in episode 13. Here’s the link if you haven’t listened to it already or need a refresher:

I once had a client with a major problem. They ran out of boxes and were unable to finish their work. At first glance it would seem that they just needed to order more boxes. Upon analysis, however, they learned that the real issue was that people were moving the boxes and not scanning them in or out. There were plenty of boxes they just weren’t in the right spot and no one knew where to find them. Totally different solution is required to fix this problem.

Often a problem has many underlying issues or challenges causing it.

So, the first step to problem solving is to bring your team together with all of their wonderful perspectives and knowledge to brainstorm causes for the problem.

Once you have a list of possible causes discuss briefly and then vote.   Vote until you have it narrowed down to the top 2 or 3.

Next, it’s time to brainstorm solutions for the top 1 to 3 main causes.

Repeat the same process. Use multi-voting to narrow the list to the seemingly best solutions.

Once you’ve narrowed it down it’s time to put a game plan in place to implement the proposed solutions.

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Direct download: DTD_094__Learn_a_Super_Simple_Team_Problem_Solving_Strategy.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:30am EDT

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If you’ve been listening to this podcast you already know that I spend a lot of time helping people overcome their drama challenges.

Often drama between people boils down to a lack of trust. You can have little or no trust for someone based on your experience with them; they’ve proven with their words or actions that they should not be trusted. Or you can lack trust because you don’t know them.

Either way, when we don’t trust someone we are more apt to assume the worst or assign mal-intent to their actions.

Of course, a history of bad behavior warrants less trust. The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. In businesses, however, I often find that lack of trust comes from a lack of knowing. Sometimes leaders don’t give their employees time to connect.   And this creates negative assumptions and drama!

Over the years I’ve had a unique perspective into so many relationships and can say with certainty that often these assumptions are not accurate. I would even hazard to say that rarely are the assumptions driving these negative relationships true.

When communication and connection happen trust can build quickly. Assumptions are replaced with facts and relationships are transformed.

I worked with a group of 4 people who knew little of each other personally but had to deal with each other often to complete their work. The company called me in because the poor relationships were decreasing productivity.

I spent exactly one and a half hours with them and it that time they had many aha moments. “Oh, I thought when you were asking me that you trying to pass your work on to me!”

“No, I’ve already tried 4 different times to get the numbers right by the time I’m asking you to clarify some things.”

“I thought you were just coming in early so that you could leave early and find things to complain about.”

“No, with the work changes I now have to come in early to get everything set up and do the inventory. I’d actually prefer not to start so early!”

On and on it went.   Gaps in fact filled in with negative presumptions overcome with truth.

Each had painted a picture of the other like a paint by number gone wrong. The little assumptions all added to a perception of co-workers trying to avoid work, get each other in trouble and wreak havoc. Recent changes in roles and workflow had put them all together feeling uncertain and wary.

They needed to work together but had had no opportunity to build trust.

I am very visual so I almost always end up describing concepts with physical items.

I started using the term Trust Bucket to describe the level of trust we have with others. It’s just a nice visual.

So, an empty trust bucket means little trust.

A full trust bucket is like a full bank account of trust.

A full trust bucket and we are assuming the best of each other. If my co-worker of 10 years is late and I have assigned a full trust bucket to her I will assume she got held up. An empty trust bucket and I’m assuming the worst. “He doesn’t value my time or is disrespecting me.”

I find that people assign empty or full trust buckets to new people in different ways.

Some people tend to start new relationships with a full trust bucket.   “I will trust you unless you give me good cause not to.” At that point, they will have an empty trust bucket.

Others are more cautious and begin relationships with an empty trust bucket. “I need to see who you are first. Prove that you deserve my trust. You have to earn it. Then I will fill the trust bucket.”

At work it is so important to bring employees together so they have an opportunity to know each other as people and fill those trust buckets!

Drama happens when trust buckets are low. As I often say, in the absence of fact, for some reason humans fill in the blanks with negative assumptions. A process falls apart and the first instinct is for employees to blame co-workers they don’t trust, “they’re just trying to make my job harder!”

Bring those employees together and give them the chance to know one another and trust will develop. They will assume the best of each other instead.

So, a few thoughts and action items for you today.

  1. How full are your trust buckets with people? Do you start with a full bucket and empty with negative experiences or do you start empty and make them work their way to trust?
  2. Are there people in your life or work with empty trust buckets out of assumption rather than fact? How can you get to know them to learn their true character?

  3. If you are a leader, where do team members have empty trust buckets? How can you bring them together to meet, connect and build trust?

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Direct download: DTD_093__How_Full_Are_Your_Trust_Buckets_.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:53am EDT

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Most in the workforce are being asked to produce more and more. In the mean time technology has kept us connected 24/7. Co-workers and clients expect quick turn around for their questions or issues whether big or small. I’ve heard it more than once, “how can I get any work done when all I do is go to meetings and deal with issues!”

The reality is, you need uninterrupted time to focus to do your best work! Here are a few strategies that have worked well for my clients over the years:

  1. Pay attention to the interruptions. What do people need? Are there reoccurring questions? Create an FAQ or contact list. Let the past questions predict their future needs and provide the answers in another way. Get those answers out of your possession and accessible without your time.

  2. Inundated with emails? Ask coworkers to adopt a subject line phrases to clue you in on the contents.   Also ask that they include a deadline where appropriate. It will make prioritizing your emails much easier.
    1. FYI
    2. Deadline
    3. Decision
    4. Discussion

  3. Feel Like You are Always in Meetings? When you first started working it probably felt like a privilege to be included in a meeting. The farther you travel up the ladder the more your time is monopolized by them. Start asking what the purpose of the meeting is ahead of time. Do you really need to be there? Is there another way to get the update? Are the topics they will be discussing relevant to you? Do they need you for a decision? What value can you add? If you aren’t adding value or someone else can go in your place don’t go. Keep that time for more important things.

    If you’re the one calling the meeting listen to episode 91 if you haven’t already. Evaluate whether you need to keep having the meeting.

  4. Carve out Focus Time Each Week. Put it in your calendar and hold it sacred. Create some sort of visible cue for your co-workers to let them know they cannot interrupt you unless there is a true emergency. I’ve had clients make signs for their doors placed a flag on the side of a cubicle if they were working in an open work environment.
  5. Schedule Time for Emails and Voicemails: If possible answer emails and voicemails at certain times rather than letting it punctuate every moment of every day.   There are some roles that won’t lend themselves to this, I get it, but, if you can, check emails 2 or 3 times per day. You can let people know that that’s what you’ll be doing so they know not to expect an immediate response. Most people understand that you are doing it to create focus.
  6. Create specific office hours for ad hoc questions. If you’ve made yourself 100% convenient people will just pop in at all hours of the day with their questions. Often they are not urgent issues it’s just something they need to discuss. By creating office hours for questions and conversations you will train people to hold the non-urgent matters to those specific times. You’ll enjoy more focus time!

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Direct download: DTD_092__6_Strategies_to_Stop_Interruptions_and_Find_Your_Focus.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:30am EDT

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Many of my clients struggle with the drama created by meetings. Either they have too few and there’s constant chaos. No one knows what’s going on, miscommunication is rampant, the world of assumption is thriving and none of the employees know or trust each other.

Or, they have too many meetings. They read a book or blog post once that said they should have a meeting once a week so they have it. They come up with an agenda last minute, struggle for content, hope people will go on tangents so the time will be filled up, spend lots of time complaining or eating cake but little time doing anything productive. The team grumbles about the waste of time or relishes the “free” time the ineffective meeting represents.

Do either of these sound familiar?

Meetings are essential! You just have to do them well. The key to a great meeting begins with its purpose. Never meet just to meet. Know the purpose so you can evaluate whether or not you need to have it. Some things you are doing in a meeting now could be done more effectively another way.

Here’s some motivation for you. Have you ever stopped to think about how much a meeting costs? Look around the room and estimate the hourly rate of each employee. Divide by 60 to get the rate per minute. Now multiply by the number of unproductive minutes. Yep, it’s costing you or your employer a pretty penny! And if they are causing drama that extends beyond the meeting it’s really a waste of money!

So, ready to evaluate your meetings now?

Look at the reason for the agenda item. I’m going to share a list of what I think are good reasons to meet…….at times. It’s not a 100% comprehensive list but I think it covers a lot of the most popular reasons for meeting. And your objective should drive the content, the feel, the flow, everything. A meeting can have several objectives. Just make sure they are clear to you and your participants.

  1. Connecting: you want employees to know one another as humans. Trust comes form time spent together. Time to connect and know one another is a great reason to have periodic meetings.

  2. Sharing information: you may need to have a meeting to share information but you might be able to share in a more efficient way. Often I find my clients are sharing basic information in a meeting as a way to hold assure they are receiving it so they can be held accountable. There are other ways to achieve the same objective. Send via email with a deadline for reading. Create a subject line that alerts them and put the deadline right there. Have them reply back or fill in a poll or initial a document once they’ve read it over and KNOW what’s there.

    If the information will require a Q & A period, extensive explanation, might be met with some push back then, yes, pull everyone together so that all hear the same facts and can benefit from the same Q & A.

  3. Decision making: this is a great reason to have a meeting if you need to negotiate, discuss, share perspectives. You can explore digital idea generation and opinion sharing but in person or digital meeting is usually a great way to go. Just make sure that the actual decision makers are in the meeting so you don’t have to rehash a conversation to make something happen.

  4. Creative Planning: if you need input, differing perspectives, idea generation I would call this a great way to spend time in a meeting. You get that added collective brain as people bounce ideas around. Whether your pulling together during a project or coming up with the next great product for your business, pulling the team together for this work is a great use of time. I just caution that you always want to end a generative discussion with a plan for action after. How will you assure some momentum forward. It’s fun to brainstorm but then make sure you do something with it. Who needs to make a decision or take some action after the meeting?

  5. Resolving Challenges: whether they are process or people challenges, yes, you need to pull people together for some good communication that includes verbal and nonverbal cues. A meeting is key to resolving issues.

  6. Questions: if there are indications that your team is confused, bringing everyone together is a great way for all to benefit from hearing the information together. Many will share the same question. If, as a leader, you can anticipate the questions, an FAQ emailed out or placed on your intranet might also do the trick without a meeting.

  7. Education: this is another great way to spend meeting time. Whether it’s pulling everyone together for a webinar or to have a co-workers teach a new technique, learning with your team is an important activity. Let everyone hear the information together and benefit from questions, participation and group practice activities.

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Direct download: DTD_091__Do_You_Really_Need_a_Meeting.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:30am EDT

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It’s time to take an inventory. How often is it fear that stops you in your tracks? How many excuses do you make to avoid doing what you fear?

We all have them, some activity, conversation, task that we don’t want to do. What would your life look like if you started busting through those fears? How different would it be? What have you missed out on, avoided that could have been great? What avoidance tactics have altered the course of your life and not in a good way?

Fear can be big an overpowering. And, as humans, we will take the path of least resistance unless there is a catalyst.

I share a story about my son to illustrate what fear can look like in our lives. Left unchecked it has a tendency to grow.

When he was young, my son had a fear of thunderstorms. Not unusual. He was too young to understand what was going on so to him it was a lot of noise. At first, he just needed to be cuddled or expressed concern when there was a storm. Over time he began to head for cover in our basement when he heard thunder. Once when we were camping in our RV I woke to find him sleeping in a storage area under the couch. He was trying to shield himself from all the noise.

As he grew so did his fear. Soon he was feeling afraid when it rained. Rain might bring thunder.   He would hide in the basement.

Then clouds began to scare him. Clouds might bring rain and rain might bring thunder. He would hide in the basement.

Then he became fearful when there was wind. Wind might bring clouds, clouds could bring rain and rain might mean thunder. He would hide in the basement.

I watched as this fear grew and grew. It was painful.   Thankfully, he has worked his way back through the fears and does fine during storms now. And he understands the science behind the noise.

Where is fear doing something similar in your life? It might not be storms but something else. In the show notes I have a graphic of all kinds of different fears that often plague adults.

Where is fear shifting the trajectory of your work or life?

Where is it growing like a blob?

What impact is it having?

Today I am asking you to commit to one Risk per day.

Not a physical risk like skydiving or a roller coaster

Not an Adrenaline Rush risk.

No, I am asking you to get out of your comfort zone. Do that thing that you’ve been avoiding. Begin to expand your life one action at a time.

  • Make that call,
  • take that class,
  • go to that event,
  • have that conversation
  • Go it alone somewhere
  • Admit the wrong
  • Ask for help
  • Read a chapter in the book
  • Make the investment
  • Make that presentation
  • Ask for that raise
  • Make that request
  • Set that boundary
  • Share your opinion

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Direct download: DTD_090__Is_Fear_a_Factor_.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:30am EDT

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As you listen to conversations in a restaurant or a conference room doesn’t it seem like people everywhere are in competition to see who is busier? Technology is wonderful and has created efficiency and mobility. However, too many of us are filling every moment with value add activities, eeking out every morsel of output from every minute of every day.

Joshua Becker Website Becoming Minimalist Best selling author “Simplify and Clutter free with Kids”

In a recent blog post he shared the “9 Hidden Lies that Keep our Schedules Overwhelmed”

  1. Accolades will bring fulfillment.
  2. Money will bring happiness.
  3. I don’t have a choice.
  4. I’m more productive if I’m busy.
  5. I am needed.
  6. Everything is important.
  7. I need to be busy to keep up with everyone else.
  8. Busy makes me look more important.
  9. Quietness is laziness. 
  10. Accolades will bring fulfillment. As he describes, people believe that busy means accomplishment and accomplishment equals accolades and fulfillment.I remember years ago seeing an illustration of a very busy maze and one that had a pretty straight shot to the center. At the top it read something to the effect that busy doesn’t always mean productive. And that’s the thing, being busy doesn’t mean you are getting anything done. Or, perhaps you are getting things done but not the important things. Anyone can stay busy 24/7 but what are you really achieving? If you aren’t using your time effectively you won’t accomplish much no matter the effort. And, even achievement doesn’t guarantee the accolades or gratitude of others. Do your work well and find a why that doesn’t include seeking out the approval or validation from others.

  11. Money will bring happiness. We get caught up in the double misconception first that money will solve all of our problems and make us deliriously happy and second, that there is a direct correlation between busyness and money. Unfortunately, neither is true. As a former single mom I can vouch for this for sure! I was busier than I’d ever been but most of what I did was not to earn money. Constant motion does not guarantee wealth.

  12. I don’t have a choice.Many of us live over-busy lives because of the expectations and demands of others. Some of us create the chaos ourselves thinking there are no other options. I teach my clients that the mere fact of living from the belief that you have no choice, that victim mentality, will create more stress and overwhelm. You always have options. Are there negative or unpleasant consequences to the alternative? Possibly. But you are empowered to choose a new path. Avoid the phrase “I have to” to see how different it can feel. From an empowered place of other things are possible see what creative changes you can make.

  13. I’m more productive if I’m busy.I always say you can full tilt for a sprint but not a marathon. Yes, getting in the zone fully focused you can be very productive. But you must have periods for rest and rejuvenation. Check out the book “The Power of Full Engagement”. They help business people adopt the strategies used by world class athletes. Key to success, full focused action with built in periods of rest.

  14. I am needed. Some people need to be needed and that desire drives them to say yes to any request. I always tell my clients, “others will fill up every moment of your life if you let them.” If you always say yes you will be known as the go to person and more people will follow. Be intentional about where you give your time and serve from the heart rather than to fill that void of I am needed.

  15. Everything is important. I still love the illustration that Stephen Covey used years ago in his “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” videos. He had a container with rocks, one with sand and one with water. He asks participants to come up and fit everything in one container. Adding the large rocks to the sand does not work but start with the rocks and fit the smaller stuff around it and more is accomplished. If you take the time to figure it out some things are much more important than others.   Unless you are intentional with your time, however, the little stuff that comes at you monopolizes all of your time. Emails, phone calls, people stopping in, other people’s agendas. In this age of technology we are plugged in 24/7. We have more requests and information coming at us constantly. And its presence doesn’t make it important. You must decide ahead what takes precedent.

  16. I need to be busy to keep up with everyone else. We get constant, edited windows into each other’s lives. Facebook and reality television make it feel like everyone else is doing more, enjoying more, earning more. That “reality” isn’t real. They are specially selected tiny windows into other people’s lives. You aren’t competing with their truth.

  17. Busy makes me look more important.I just covered this topic in my last episode. People sometimes concoct or create busyness to appear important. Meanwhile they just looked frazzled and disrespectful. Being intentional with your time, prioritizing well and handling what you choose to take on with grace is far more impressive.

  18. Quietness is laziness. It seems like the entire world is in a competition for who can be busiest, he or she who gets the most done wins. The goal is efficiency and effective use of time.   We forget that effective use of time can be about sleeping, reading, contemplating, being. How often do we forget to just be in the moment? I often coach clients through periods of transition, which require times of quiet contemplation.   In our active society this can breed guilt so I encourage them to give themselves grace and allow for those necessary times of quiet. I’ve coined a phrase that helps them realize that the quiet is actually doing. I call it the cocoon phase.  Quiet is not lazy. Quiet is necessary.

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Direct download: DTD_89_Are_You_the__I_m_too_Busy__Bee_.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:30am EDT

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Are you one of those chronologically challenged people? The ones constantly running into meetings exclaiming “sorry”, as you move to find a seat? Or, do your friends and family just roll their eyes as you explain, once again that “traffic was terrible” or “I got lost” as you maneuver your way through the group?

Tardiness creates drama and is a sign of disrespect. And don’t underestimate the negative impact that chronic lateness creates! You need to do all in your power to be on time! I have coached people with this affliction and found varied reasons for it.

Here are some of the main culprits I’ve helped clients overcome. Do you struggle with any of these? As always, get real. You have to acknowledge something before you can change it.

  1. You don’t gage time well. You aren’t realistic about how long things will take or how much travel time is required.
  2. You get lost in a current task and time slips away. You look up to see that there is zero possibility of arriving on time.
  3. You like to seem important and arriving late to a meeting or gathering proves that you have many things on your plate. People should just appreciate that you’ve blessed them with your presence at all.
  4. You are completely disorganized with your calendar and have no idea what’s on it or when. It has totally gotten away from you.
  5. You don’t say no appropriately so are constantly overscheduled. Maybe you don’t even bother to check before you say yes yet again.   You’d feel bad saying no. You’ll just figure it out later.
  6. You just don’t care. You are a Type B personality to the Nth degree. You’ll get there when you get there. You have no idea why so many people let time rule their lives.

Unless you are of the just don’t care variety you are probably experiencing drama yourself as you try to maneuver through a too full calendar. If you’re the ego later your stress might be in finding things to do to continually appear busy.

And the people who are waiting for you are feeling stress. If you are an important part of the meeting you may be wasting everyone’s time. They can’t finalize a conversation or make a decision without you and have to wait and then spend additional time summarizing what’s already happened. Or, your family and friends held up dinner or waited to cut the cake or started without you but missed your presence once again.

It’s a sign of disrespect too. You are saying that you are more important than other people. Anyone can be late for a meeting or can over schedule. It takes intentional action to avoid it.

When I work with leaders who are chronically late I give them these strategies.

  1. You don’t gage time well: Reality check your time estimates. Create your initial estimate and then tack on some extra time. If you have repeating tasks keep track so that you have a reference for next time. Have a colleague or friend who is notoriously on time review your estimates. Or, if you have an admin give them more control over your schedule.

    For travel times add 10 to 15 minutes additional for every half an hour the travel should take. If you’re in an area with extra heavy traffic or it’s rush hour you will need to tack on more. And make sure to factor in time to get into the building. If you have to hit the 20th floor you’ll need time to park in a large lot or structure, wait for the elevator and take the ride up.
    Getting places early feels REALLY good! I’m an efficiency junky and also a freak about being on time. How do I deal with the extra time I have when arriving early? I always travel with portable, quick tasks to do. I can still be efficient with my time without the stress of running just on time or late.

  2. You get lost in a current task and time slips away: if this is you there’s a super quick fix. Just set an alarm on your phone. Determine what time you need to be done, pick a catchy tune, utilize the self discipline to stop when you need to and you’ve got it.
  3. You like to seem important: get over yourself. The truth is, everyone in that meeting or event had many other things they could have been doing with their time too. You don’t look busy and important you just look rude.

    It is way more impressive to juggle many things well. Be intentional about what you commit to and follow through on your word.

    I remember the year I was getting married. I was a single mom, business owner, Board member and helping to start a non-profit. I made it to my kids’ activities and arrived early to all of my professional commitments while still managing to plan a wedding. I said no where I needed to and honored the commitments I made by juggling my calendar. You can get a lot done while still respecting yourself and others!

  4. You are completely disorganized with your calendar: Find a system that works and stick to it. If you have an admin who can own this for you give up the fight. Or, perhaps he or she is the one creating the chaos by overbooking you. If this is the case, get in control. Create specific rules about the number of appointments, after work obligations, breakfast meeting per week, etc. And then, get in the habit of checking it before you add anything to it.   And you must check it throughout each day or at least first thing in the morning. And, again, be intentional about to what you commit.

    Years ago when I was just starting my business I did struggle with this a little bit. I had been a stay at home mom for a few years with just a few play dates and an occasional pediatrician appointment on the calendar during the day.   I remember missing a very important phone conference call.   It was the very early stages when I still maybe had one meeting to track every couple of weeks. I was not yet back in the habit of checking my calendar everyday nor keeping track of time for anything other than nap or snack times. I had to re-learn. That one miss and I was back on track!

  5. You don’t say no appropriately so are constantly overscheduled:   focus on the stress and overwhelm this causes in your life. You need to build the motivation to start saying no appropriately.

    Here’s one strategy I teach. Buy yourself time by telling someone you need to check your calendar. You should be doing that anyway! This will give a quick phrase to help you breathe and be intentional.

  6. You just don’t care. If this is you, you need to find a way to care or you will never be motivated to change. Since being late is probably not causing you any stress can you think about what it’s doing to other people? Are they feeling disappointment or stress? Can you think back to important events you’ve missed? Have you lost any jobs or professional opportunities? Have any of your relationships been negatively impacted?

    If you can muster the motivation then you can deploy some of the strategies I’ve included here.

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Direct download: DTD_088__6_Key_Causes_of_Chronic_Lateness_and_How_to_Overcome_Them.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:30am EDT

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Too many of us spend our lives saying, “I’ll be happy when…..”

Fill in the blank:

  • I get in shape,
  • My kids get a little older
  • I find a husband
  • My business is bigger
  • I have more time
  • I lose weight
  • I have a bigger house
  • I take my dream vacation
  • My family stops being so dysfunctional
  • My employees listen better

I have a teen son who spends every season wishing for the next season to hurry up and get here. I worry that he’ll never take the time to enjoy the moment, feel gratitude for what had him excited for the winter, summer, spring or fall to get here.

And it’s not just happiness that eludes us. You could fill in the blanks with other similar statements. I couldn’t add them all in the title. It would be WAY too long!

  • I’ll feel successful when
  • I’ll be complete when
  • I’ll feel good about myself when
  • I’ll be fulfilled when
  • I’ll celebrate when
  • I’ll focus on me when
  • I’ll have life balance when
  • I’ll vacation when
  • I’ll get that education when

What is that elusive positive emotion you are waiting to experience? What can you focus on to get there in this moment?

If you’ve been saying I will feel happy when…..what can make you happy now? What have you achieved that should help you feel successful today? Listen to my gratitude episode. Shift your focus in a moment to what can make you feel fulfilled, successful and happy. Feel content and positive where you are and then set your sights on the next adventure:
Episode #60 – You Can Choose Gratitude Everyday

Are there at least some small steps you could start making right now?

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Direct download: DTD_087__I_ll_Be_Happy_When.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:55am EDT

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As always, In the Defeat Your Drama segments, I will provide solutions based on the information provided. I will obviously not have full details so will provide customized strategies based on what you share. Always consider your own specific circumstances before taking any action. These are suggestions not guarantees.

Emily, it sounds like you are in a tough and frustrating spot. So sorry for this! There are still some strategies that you can try. It does seem like you and your team have tried everything within your control to help her change. If she’s staying then we need to identify what is still in your control.

#1 Make it as Small as Possible

If your co-worker is going to stay and continue behaving the way she is then all of that is out of your control at this point. You want to stay in your job out of a passion for the non-profit’s work. The goal is to see if you can make this situation at all palatable. You want to stay but can not with your current level of frustration. You can only change what you can control and your focus is something you can control.

Right now it sounds like there is a constant focus on your coworker and her negative behavior. Both from you and your team. You can’t control your team but you can control you. In your mind, make her as small as possible. Put her in a circle in your mind. You can literally visual her as a tiny, tiny little being. Make her smaller and smaller and quieter and quieter. See her inside a tiny, tiny little contained circle.

Now, make the mission of the non-profit and the important work that you get to do as big as possible. In your mind visualize that getting bigger and bigger and bigger. Put it in a giant circle.

Now visualize that giant circle next to the tiny, tiny circle that contains this woman. She’s a tiny little ant next to a universe.

Practice that visual.

Now, bring it into real life. In every moment you get to choose what you focus on. Everyone is in an uproar over this woman, understandably. You are sharing stories, cleaning up her messes, wishing she weren’t there, wanting her to behave differently, collecting her issues, thinking about them, talking about them.

She his monopolizing your focus.

I’m not saying it will be easy, but it is doable   Just STOP.

Ignore her. Make her small. Stop getting frustrated when you have to clean up her mess. I’m not saying it isn’t frustrating. But the reality is whether you are focusing on it and frustrated or ignoring it she is the same. Your frustration does nothing to solve the problem anyway. Pass over that thought and move right on to the work at hand. Visualize the big difference you are making in the world through your work. Place your focus there. Place your focus where you CAN and ARE making a difference. Ignore her and her actions. Place no focus there.

#2 Stop Cleaning up Her Messes

Someone is making the decision to keep her. Is this same person suffering the consequences of this co-worker’s mistakes? Or, is the team doing all of the clean up. I know it is hard, especially when you feel so strongly about the work you are doing. Cushioning a decision maker from the full consequences and dealing with all of them yourselves can sometimes prolong a tough decision. Pain is what moves humans into action. If there is pain on both sides of a decision people have a tendency to stick to the actions that create the least amount of pain or consequences.

There is a reason someone is deciding to keep this employee. I am assuming it’s not about her work ethic. It sounds more like they have guilt or fear. Maybe they fear her defensive response. Perhaps they have guilt because they know she needs the job. The pain of that guilt and fear is bigger than the consequence they are experiencing from her bad behavior. Is that because you guys clean it all up so the organization does not suffer? Does the boss have to deal with the team complaints but not the clean up?

Do what you can to help decision makers feel the full brunt of consequences. Stop being on the clean up crew.

You may even tell them that you can no longer do it. You will do your job to the best of your ability but will no longer clean up her messes. You are overwhelmed, resentful and frustrated. Share what is true. What do you have to lose? You are at your wit’s end. The only chance that you can stay is if something changes. Your change may be the catalyst that makes that transformation happen.

#3 See Her in a Different Light

Part of your frustration is in wanting her to be different. Perhaps you assume she is doing what she’s doing on purpose. Chances are the outcomes she achieves are not what she intends. Instead they are the fall out for the false beliefs, fears, lack of self esteem, whatever is actually driving her. And it might be a sense of entitlement and a desire to do as little as possible. There are some who have that mission.

The truth is, life can’t be very fulfilling for her. She knows she’s not doing a good job. She knows she’s trying to stay stuck and hanging on by a thread where she is. She’s working hard and expending a lot of energy to control what she can and keep things status quo.

I’m not trying to help you excuse away what she’s doing. It is a shame. But for your own level of satisfaction and nothing more, can you feel sorry for her or find her actions ridiculously funny? Is it possible for someone to be this delusional?

If you can find humor or empathy rather than frustration the situation may begin to be more palatable. And this can help you stay in a job you otherwise love.

#4 Leave

If all else fails, you can’t make the issue small and focus on other things, you can’t find empathy or humor, you can’t ignite the desire for change in the leaders by allowing them to feel the consequences. If the frustration is at a level that you can no longer tolerate then the option for your sanity and enjoyment of life is to leave. Use your gifts and all that you have to offer to an organization that values hard work and a focus where it should be. An organization that does not tolerate drama.

It is possible that your resignation would ignite a fire in the leaders who are allowing the behavior to continue. I wouldn’t suggest giving an idle threat but if you are truly at that point and find no other options let the leaders know. And maybe, just maybe, they’ll do what they must.

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Direct download: DYD_086__I_Have_to_Babysit_My_Coworker_and_Fix_Her_Mistakes.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:30am EDT

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We often have a tendency to be so hard on ourselves. Many of my clients begin sessions lamenting a failure or missed deadline. And time and time again my request to them is, “Give yourself grace!”

If there is something to be learned, a change you are working towards, or a repeating pattern certainly feel the pain for a bit, muster some of that motivation to do what you must. Beyond that, however, you are just wasting time and energy that could be used to strategize a solution or create a new game plan.

First, perfection is rarely achievable. They celebrate the perfect bowling score for a reason. It doesn’t happen that often – or does it? I certainly wouldn’t consider myself a bowling expert. I know I celebrate when I hit a score over 100. But I digress.

Waiting to celebrate only when you’ve achieved perfection is a tough way to live. Give yourself grace!

Sometimes our wiring gets in the way. You can’t change how you are wired you can only create work arounds when how you are wired doesn’t’ serve you. Give yourself grace!

For instance, if you are a type A personality, this probably serves you well in many situations.   You get things done, you are on time for meetings, you have lots of bandwidth so can handle lots of projects at once. Your energy can seem endless at times. Great!

Now, what if you are a Type A personality who has to wait to make a big deal happen. You have to wait through the process of due diligence, wait through the process of negotiation……….all while your desire for instant gratification gnaws at you.

Your Type A wiring can make things difficult under this circumstance. Don’t beat yourself up, Give Yourself Grace! You can’t change how you are wired. And you don’t want to drive yourself crazy. You’ll have to come up with some creative work arounds to keep your mind off things while you wait for the process to unfold.

Sometimes things happen that are out of our control and can cause us to miss the goal of perfection.

If you are a regular listener to my podcast you may have noticed that I did not publish episodes on my normal schedule recently. I missed one……..Yep, I did!

Recently, many things happened that were out of my control. One on top of the other.

Hard drive crashed causing lost time taking it to the Apple store.

Lost productivity from being without it for a few days

Time to re-load everything and get re-organized

Searching for a lost file that I will talk about in a minute

About the time I got it back up and running my son got sick.

He had a temperature over 104. This took lots of my time as I dropped everything else to care for him, created worry and lost sleep as the spike happened late in the evening, as they always seem to.

I did hate to miss. But I am giving myself grace! I made choices that led to this outcome but I wouldn’t change them. I could do nothing about the lap top and I would never put publishing a podcast ahead of taking care of my sick son. So here I am. The reality is I can beat myself up or I can be okay with it. Neither changes the reality. Either way, the time has past and I didn’t get it done. Nothing I can do about it now. Time to move on.

And speaking of that crashed hard drive. It contributed to a flurry of activity that served to shift my focus. During the crash I lost a very important file. I am normally so careful about where I save things. I backup and double back up. Especially when it’s a very big project. And this one was. I’m working on a new book, my third. I used to constantly email myself the file so that I’d have it saved on my computer, backed up on an external hard drive and alive and well in the cloud as an email attachment.

I’ve been using Google Drive for a few years now and that has made things much easier. The file lives in the cloud, on my laptop and my PC. That’s still not enough, though! I also periodically copy and paste the entire drive to the desktop of my PC which also backs up to Mozy every night. And then, just for good measure, about once a month I back up my Macbook Pro to an external hard drive. My files are quadruple backed up. And yet, somehow, this file, this very important file, is lost. Thankfully, not totally. However, the most recent version I could find is months old. Somehow, I must have inadvertently saved that important file directly to my laptop rather than to Google Drive. Something I have not done with anything else, to my knowledge.

I must admit, I am not totally there yet. It is still really fresh. But I’m about to stop wracking my brain trying to figure out how it could happen, about to stop beating myself up for a foolish, foolish error, fully give myself grace and move on. I need to muster all of my creative energy to re-construct what I’ve lost and move on to completion.

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Direct download: DTD_085__You_Failed_to_be_Perfect____Give_Yourself_Grace.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:00am EDT

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The way we process our life experiences and build relationships is through our use of language. The words we use create vision, emotion and sometimes even physical reaction. That’s whether they are spoken or just live within our thoughts. I recommend that you pay close attention to the language you are using and modify where necessary.

When you are communicating your goals or just thinking to yourself about your future, what words do you use? Do you say, “I will probably get that done”? Or, “I should do that”? If you speak like this you might as well be saying, “I won’t get that done.”

And shoulding on anything creates a victim mentality. Own it! Do you need to do that thing or not.

Watch the language you use around your choices. For instance, if there is a networking breakfast at 7:30 am you could say, “No, I can’t go, I have to get my kids to school in the morning.” Over time, however, the concept of “can’t” may add frustration, or worse, could build resentment against your kids! Your language is taking away your power and creating the illusion that you have a life of boundaries outside of your control. And the truth is, you could go to the breakfast. There would be SOME way to work it out. It might be very hectic, you would have to ask a neighbor for a favor or pay additional money to a child care provider of some sort.   But, if you really needed or wanted to go, and the benefits outweighed the costs, you could make it happen and get there. So, really, you are choosing to prioritize that time with your kids or want to avoid the extra navigation or expense. Use language that is consistent with this fact. “I choose not to attend the networking breakfast at this time.” Now you are empowered. I have many choices, and this is the one I pick.

And stay away from the term “I will Try” altogether! There is no action in trying. This is one of my favorite illustrations.

Hold your pen up in the air and try to put it down. If you actually put the pen down you are not “trying”. You actually did it. Trying to put your pen down means holding there continuously.

This exercise shows that trying is no action and that sometimes it takes more effort to “try” to do something than it does to actually do it. You are expending more energy holding your pen up when you “try” to put it down than you would if you just set the thing down.

Using tentative language carries no power. No sense of certainty. You are letting yourself off too easily. Playing life to win requires persistent determination. The language you use needs to mirror this.

Instead, use words of action, certainty and ownership. Say, I will do that. And be specific. What will you do and by when. Or, “I procrastinated”, rather than, “procrastination happened.” And, my personal favorite, “I commit to that.” Or, “that is my commitment.” We feel commitment in our bodies. So much more powerful than I will try, yes?

Words of action, certainty and ownership are winning words and will move you forward as a winner in your life. They will move your forward towards your goals and will transform your relationships. Communicating authentically will build trust and connection.

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Direct download: DTD_084__Use_Tenacious_Language_to_Create_Ownership_and_Action.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:11am EDT

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Tom from Michigan Writes:

My employee, I’ll call him Bill, is causing a ton of problems. He’s rude, he’s spending a bunch of time on the internet doing who knows what everyday. He’s barely getting any work done. The problem is he’s the only one who knows the software he uses to enroll people in our program. He also handles some really important billing stuff.   What can I co?

As always, In the Defeat Your Drama segments, I will provide solutions based on the information provided. I will obviously not have full details so will provide customized strategies based on what you share. Always consider your own specific circumstances before taking any action. These are suggestions not guarantees. 

Tom, I’m so sorry that you are in this situation. Let’s get you some customized strategies.

I actually see this issue often. A client tells me that no one else knows the job or has the passwords. You are in a predicament. There are some solutions. It just might take a bit of time to solve.

I preach the importance of documenting processes and information often! As a matter of fact, in episode 25 the topic was Document for Ease of Mind, Teaching Tools and Freedom.   Here’s a link if you haven’t already heard it

But, shoulda, woulda coulda – here you are.

Employees usually are very aware that they are not doing a good job. Some who want to continue their poor behavior will use strategies to create the opportunity to continue without negative consequence. One common strategy is to garner power by hoarding information. You can become indispensible if no one else knows your job.

It sounds like this is exactly what you are experiencing.

I have three strategies for you. The first two will actually help you avoid this circumstance in others for the future.

#1 Team Documentation

I recommend that you begin an initiative to have everyone in the office begin documenting their work processes, creating FAQ’s, organizing passwords.   You can’t single out just Bill. He’d get skittish and avoid this project like the plague. However, if everyone is engaged he might make some progress.

#2 Job Shadowing

Begin a job shadowing program with a goal of providing back up for everyone in the office. Again, you can’t single out Bill. His job security comes from his unique knowledge. He’d be tipped off if you focused on his job only. Emphasize the benefits to employees; ease of mind while on vacation, uninterrupted sick days, for instance. This might give you a fighting chance to get it done.

#3 Terminate and Figure it Out

This one might be too brutal to make happen.   But, I’m throwing it out there because it might be a possibility. I don’t know your full circumstance. It is possible that you are telling yourself it is impossible to terminate “Bill”. But is it? Stop and consider life without him. Would it be glorious? How difficult will it really be to try to figure out what he does and what he knows without his participation? Sometimes we create an obstacle bigger than it really is when we have discomfort from guilt or fear.

The first two strategies will take some time. If he is creating enough collateral damage you may not want to wait. Get real about the full impact you would experience by letting him go immediately. Then weigh the pros and cons. Negative impact from having to figure it all out against the positive impact of no longer dealing with his antics and the full fall out he creates for your team, your business, your customers. How would it feel to no longer have to waste money paying someone to surf the internet rather than work?

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Direct download: 83_How_Can_I_Fire_this_Employee.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:30am EDT

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Recently I was meeting with the COO for a client company to discuss some issues I had identified. The company had a stated desire to improve productivity numbers and yet the manager charged with the responsibility had been unable to generate improvement. Why? Because his boss wanted to approve any changes in the department prior to implementation. Okay, a bit micro-managy potentially.

The bigger problem, however, every time the manager shared a recommendation the boss said, “Sounds good, we’ll talk about it.” And then there was NEVER time to “talk about it.”

This manager was beyond frustrated to say the least!

Ummmmm……if you want to insert yourself into the process as a leader you have to make the time to make things happen. You must create the foundation to support your constant involvement. You can’t have it both ways. The boss was a brake system. Nothing was moving forward.

As I shared the situation with the COO I got the visual and shared, “You’re telling him you want the water to boil but his boss is blowing out the flame!”

Accountability with no opportunity is one of the worst positions to be in as a leader. This company has a passionate loyal manager with the knowledge and desire to do a great job but his hands are tied.   And he’s getting the double whammy affect, the frustration of not getting to implement the ideas he has and the hand slap of not meeting his prescribed objectives.

It’s not a novel problem. I have seen it many, many times.  So, today I ask you to consider, where are you stopping the forward momentum of fired up employees? Where have you given your team specific objectives but put on the brakes before they could make any change?

Where are YOU blowing out the flame?

Where must you remove yourself from the process to ignite forward momentum? A key to great leadership is to become a resource that allows others to succeed.

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Direct download: 82_Are_You_Blowing_out_the_Flame.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:30am EDT

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Bust the 4 D’s = in there share a simple mindset tweak and some phrases to use –

One of my managers had to do a conversations the same evening as the webinar!  She was very pleased to report that she handled the deflection and denial and was ready for it! -Mary

Bust the 4 D’s of Discipline Avoidance

6 Simple Steps of Great Delegation episode # 2

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Direct download: 81_Often_A_Simple_Tweak_Is_All_It_Takes_To_Overcome_A_Challenge.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:30am EDT

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I live in an area that occasionally receives lots of snow in a short period of time. This weekend was one of those occasions. We got dumped on for hours causing many schools and businesses to close. Now, I live on a court that is situated off of a side street that horse shoes a semi-main road. In other words, I am a bit off the beaten path. No road that I’m on or near is considered a priority. I tell you all of this to say that usually when we get a lot of snow like we did this weekend, we end up being snowed in…….for a while.

In my years living here I have seen garbage trucks get stuck in the court, some utility trucks and one time a plow that scooped it’s way a bit too far into the court got stuck. He was trying to plow the road and steer clear of the court but missed. My neighbor helped dig him out and so, out of appreciation and possibly a bit of guilt, he ended up plowing us out much earlier than he would have.

Last year we had historical amounts of snow and might have spent weeks snowed in if it weren’t for the efforts of my husband and a neighbor who used their large snow blowers to circle the court again and again and again to create a path large enough for a vehicle to travel in our out of the area. They worked hard to help out all of the neighbors living on the court.

Today we received the best gift! A pickup truck owner with a plow on the front spent about an hour plowing us out. He maneuvered and pushed snow. It was a tedious task.

What does all of this have to do with drama and attitude, you might ask?

Well, it relates to drama because we, unfortunately, have a neighbor not well versed in the art of gratitude. As a matter of fact, he becomes quite negative when receiving a favor. He creates negative outcomes for himself and I think he is completely oblivious. His negativity generates drama and I thought perhaps others could learn from his story.

You see, he seems to live with a fear or paranoia that people are out to get him. He looks for the negative in a situation and reacts with anger and aggression. I watched it happen last year during the big snows and again this week.

As I said, last year my husband and a neighbor spent hours snow blowing a path for the 5 families who live on the court. It was tough, tough work. They were drenched in sweat as they leaned in with all they had into their powerful snow blowers. My neighbor probably should not have even been out there! He’s in his 70’s and has had knee replacement surgery. He walks slowly. It was surprising and a bit concerning to see him working that hard.

As they worked, the wind blew and some snow continued to fall. They blew the snow into the center of the court so had to constantly adjust the machines to aim the snow to the right spot. Occasionally the wind picked up and sent snow flying.

My angry neighbor came outside. Did he say thank you for all the hard work they were doing? No! He yelled at them, stopping them in their tracks, to tell them that a bit of snow was blowing in his driveway as they worked.

Ummmmm…..not nearly as much snow as was present EVERYWHERE around us! They listened, tried to explain that the wind was out of their control, promised to do their best and then got back to work,

Shortly after the twenty something year old son from that house came out, got in his car and got stuck in the court. Great!

My husband and neighbor stopped their work and went to try to help. The son stayed in the car while his 70 something father, 70 something neighbor and my husband all tried to push. The neighbor continued to yell.

The result, my husband and neighbor left them to deal with the stuck vehicle and got back to snow blowing. Who wants to work that hard to get yelled at?

This year as the man in the truck plowed our court that same neighbor stood in his snow-filled driveway, arms folded, waiting for a bit of snow to end up in his drive. I had just returned from running out to give the man a plate of brownies and sat inside thinking, “now what!” I was also thankful that I had shared the brownies. This angry neighbor wouldn’t be the only spokesperson for the court.

The truck owner was taking great care to situate the building piles of snow in between driveways. A tough task in a court lined with houses!

The angry neighbor walked into the street to flag the truck owner down. I could hear his voice and see his gestures but couldn’t make out what he was saying – but it appeared to be……..don’t get anymore snow in my driveway. And his tone was aggressive.

Well, the driver didn’t push snow in front of his driveway but sure wasn’t as careful in that area.

I wouldn’t call the truck driver vindictive. I would say that he just wasn’t as inspired to do his best on that side of the court.

After the brownies, the area on my side was wonderful.

The lessons for you today……..ask yourself, where are you forgetting to acknowledge the intended good deed while focusing instead on a small inconsequential negative outcome?

Did someone bring you coffee but forget the sugar?

Have one of your employees taken initiative to re-organize the supply closet and moved an item to a spot you can’t reach?

Did your team work super hard today but still get a complaint from a disgruntled customer?

An attitude of gratitude takes you farther than a negative one. No, don’t ignore what must change but make sure your focus is on the right place for the best outcomes. You might end up with a pile of snow half covering your driveway….just sayin…….

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Direct download: 80_Is_Your_Attitude_Generating_Drama.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:33am EDT

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Your plugging along working and feeling productive with a vision of an on time exit from work when you look up to see the Workplace Whiner standing in your doorway.

Oh No!! Not now! Not today!

The energy-zapping, soul-sucking minutes that can drag into an hour. Time you can never get back. You want to scream or slam the door in their face but you don’t want them to feel bad……or walk around complaining about you!

Years ago when I worked in an office full time we had an employee who walked around with a coffee cup for hours every day. We called the mug his “decoy”. He’d make it appear as though he was just out on a quick jaunt to refill but this was obviously not his true mission.   Office by office he’d stop to chat, sharing tidbits he’d heard along the way. He was also known as the department spy. The workplace whiner can take many forms. They can be frustrated about co-workers or personal injustices. Whatever the topic, they are breading drama wherever they go.

Many of my clients struggle to avoid the workplace whiner. Here are some of the key strategies I share with them. Pick the one that feels right for you and your circumstance.

1. This one is the least direct but usually yields a good result. A quick excuse stated as you focus intently on your screen or head out the door. “I’m so sorry. I’m on a deadline so can chat for 5 minutes but no more. What’s up?”

I don’t condone lying. So, I’m not really suggesting that you say you are on a deadline when you aren’t. I just think it’s safe to assume that there is always a priority looming when you are at work. You are there to be productive, after all. And just fill in the blank with the actual time frame or leave it out altogether if you prefer to make an instant get away.

2. This option is one that will achieve your end result over time. Ultimately, the workplace whiner is looking for the sympathetic ear. That person who will commiserate with their opinions and validate their misery. They are intentional about their targets. It’s no fun to whine to someone who is coming back at you with butterflies and sunshine. They aren’t looking for a new perspective they seek someone to join them in their funk. So, I suggest that you begin sharing ideas about the more positive perspective they might consider as they describe their negative view. Or, share how wonderful you think that situation sounds or how they might improve the situation with a proactive approach. You won’t be the chosen one for long if you don’t empathize or commiserate.

3. No beating around the bush with this one. The more direct approach that will earn you the quickest retreat is to simply state that you have made it your personal goal to remain focused on all things positive. You’ve given up watching the news and will be happy to engage in problem solving activities but are committed to steering clear of complaining or any other negative, low energy inputs.It will be immediately obvious to even the most self-absorbed whiner that you are not the ideal target. Some will put up a bit of a fight but stand your ground. ‘If you have any positive news to share I am all ears. If not, I need to stop you right there and get back to my work.”

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Direct download: 79_3_Tactics_You_Must_Use_to_Thwart_the_Workplace_Whiner.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:30am EDT

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Frank Zappa once said, “without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible.”

And then Victor Kiam added a humorous spin, “Even if you fall on your face you’re still moving forward.

My original thoughts about this episode were to encourage forward momentum. Make sure that you are working on something.

But then I started reading up on the well known proverb, “a rolling stone gathers no moss.”

I had assumed that the origin of this proverb was all positive – keep going. Don’t be stagnant. However, the original meaning had a negative connotation; if you keep moving you don’t lay down roots anywhere. You aren’t attached. You won’t be as prosperous.

It got me thinking.

As I thought more I realized that some of my clients suffer from not enough motion while others from too much.

Constant motion brings chaos and chaos creates drama.

Without intentional and targeted action you can have turmoil and be busy but not successful.

So my new insight for the episode is that, as with all things it’s finding the happy balance. You want momentum in moderation.

I’ve had a magnet stuck to the front of my fridge for years that encourages a goal for raising kids, “first you give them roots and then wings.”

I think that’s what we need to do for ourselves too. Create your foundation. Find those things that will be constant; a location, vocation, some friendships, a business, core values, rules of engagement for your life, a general focus or target to work towards. Let one or all of these be your roots. But be sure to sprout some wings. Where do you need to transform? Where is there opportunity to soar, where do you need to learn new strategies or transition your way of thinking or being?

Where do you need to create a goal and stick to it? Where must you invest some time, energy or resources?

The answer to these questions should be aligned with the roots you’ve grown unless it’s time for a complete overhaul of life. And that’s beyond the scope of these insights.

They say you can’t learn to ride a back by sitting in a seminar. And that’s true! So if you’ve been learning some new things aligned with your roots make a commitment to implement!

Create that goal and begin to roll!

Spend even 15 minutes per day learning something new and 15 minutes per day implementing. Let’s see where those wings can take you!

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Direct download: 78_A_Rolling_Stone_Gathers_No_Moss_but_Maybe_You_Want_Some.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:30am EDT

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When your team member is employing stay stuck strategies where is their focus?

During a leadership training participants had a big aha moment. It certainly wasn’t on the success of the organization!

Busting Stay Stuck Strategies Episodes: #34, #35, #36, #37

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Direct download: 77_Are_Your_Correction_Conversations_Igniting_Change.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:30am EDT

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1. People want to Feel Acknowledged & Appreciated
2. Intentional Positive Focus
3. Celebrate Progress
4. Unite as a Team
5. Gratitude
The Gratitude Episode: #60

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Direct download: 76_Use_Celebration_to_Energize_Your_Team.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:05pm EDT

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I recently had a little snafu with my schedule and showed up for my son’s Dr. appointment 30 minutes late. Bummer! The earlier time would have been much nicer, actually.

How did it happen?   It was a combination of things.

First, I somehow added the appointment incorrectly in my calendar. I was actually about 10 minutes early for the time I had documented.

Second, the Doctor’s automated appointment reminder system malfunctioned. My phone showed a missed call from the office but there was no message. That message would have brought the error to light in time to make an adjustment in our arrival time. All would have been well.

Okay, so I own my error but did the Office Manager own their error? No.

As a matter of fact, she was a bit ticked at me when we arrived.

Now, I get it. It’s always frustrating when a client, customer or patient is late or misses an appointment altogether. It can throw off your day.

However…….do I think I deserved the greeting I received? No!

And not for the reason you think…….even if they hadn’t also made an error, I believe we still should have arrived to a friendly greeting.

Here’s why.

We’ve been going to that office for years! Lately we’ve been there every 4 to 6 weeks. They know us. And we know them.

We have NEVER missed an appointment and have never been late. In fact, we are almost always 10 or 15 minutes early. It’s a small office so they know this.

We should have a little trust bucket filled to the brim with them. They know that we are respectful of their time and honor our commitments with them.

Think about your personal relationships. Over time, don’t you get to know people? There’s the friend you know you can count on in a pinch, there’s the one you know shows up late no matter what but who has so many other redeeming qualities you love them anyway.   How about the friend who will listen to your problems and offer sound advice?

Isn’t each relationship unique? Don’t you love a relationship where you are known? Where there is a positive history that offers you the chance to receive the benefit of the doubt when make a small mistake?

Food for thought for the day. Are there interactions in your business where you are forgetting to treat your customers individually?

Get to know your customers. If you have a client who is always on time who suddenly arrives a bit late show concern not disdain.   They have a history of respecting your time. Something has probably gone awry.

Acknowledge that customer who comes in every day around the same time to pick up a sandwich or a newspaper. They should be filling up a loyalty bucket with you.

I used to bank with a company that never acknowledged me as a known customer. A colleague who was also a business owner used to laugh about it with me. Between she and her office manager they were in there at least 3 times a week and yet the tellers never knew their names or greeted them any differently than they would a complete stranger.   It wasn’t a very busy branch. No one was looking for preferential treatment. We just wondered what it would take to be treated as a repeat customer? How could we establish a warm teller/customer relationship? What could we do to feel known?

The answer for both of us in this instance was to switch banks. And we did.

If you’ve watched the Today Show over the past 10 years or more you have probably seen Linny. He gained notoriety simply by standing in the crowd outside the studio. They called him the Today Show Super fan. Over time he became known by Today Show staff members and viewers. All he did was show up on time everyday and smile. They began to talk to him during outdoor segments. He was really just a Today Show fan but generated a relationship through his loyalty. They treated him in a special way as a result. When he passed away in 2013 it was a big deal. There was a relationship, he was known.

Let the experiences you have with your customers generate a relationship based on that history.   Have they been a good, loyal customer or a high maintenance one? Get to know a bit about them. At a minimum notice and acknowledge their patterns, tell them it’s nice to see them again or thank you for coming in again.

Acknowledge and appreciate those who respect your business and remain loyal over time. Loyalty means longevity! You want your business to succeed.

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Direct download: 75_Each_Customer_has_a_Unique_Relationship.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:30am EDT

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Jane from the US asked:

I am being interviewed on the 6th of January for a Director position that will oversee a team that has been full of drama for the past year and a half. I have been informed that some on the team believe I am the reason for the previous directors dismissal, and that if I am to take the position, they won't work for me.

When asked in the interview, "How will you handle or deal with the current "drama" "unstructured" situation in the area?, what is the best way for me to answer?

Hear Kirstens solutions in this episode of Defeat YOUR Drama.

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Direct download: 74_I_Need_A_Defeat_The_Drama_Strategy_For_My_Interview.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:30am EDT

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Direct download: 73_Providing_Service_that_Ignites_Loyalty.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:30am EDT

How to Lose a Customer:
A True Tale of a Courtesy Call Gone Awry

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Direct download: 72_How_to_Lose_a_Customer_True_Tales_of_a_Courtsy_Call_Gone_Awry.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:30am EDT

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Direct download: 71_Squirrel_Lessons_Are_Your_Resources_More_Bountiful_than_You_Know.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:30am EDT

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In theory working with friends seems like it would be great. And, at times it does work out well. However, over and over I find my clients struggling with the negative impact of work friendships.

We spend a lot of time at work so it’s bound to happen. We become friends with people at work. There are many ways you can end up supervising a friend:

  • You worked together, became friends and then you got promoted to their manager
  • You hired a friend thinking they would be great in your department or business
  • You blur the lines with direct reports and start spending time together outside of work. Friendships blossom and so does the drama.

The problem these friendships often breed drama. Here are some scenarios I’ve seen:

  • The line between friend and boss becomes blurred and you let them get away with too much.
  • Or, your employee begins to take advantage of the relationship, expecting preferential treatment and is angry with you for treating them as an employee at work.
  • You spend a lot of time at work rehashing the fun you had over the weekend and planning your next escapade. Other employees become frustrated with your lost productivity.
  • You do play favorites and plan to continue but are becoming annoyed with the jealous or frustrated displays of the rest of the team.
  • You overcompensate and tend to be harsher with your friend/employee, causing tension between the two of you.
  • Perhaps the two of get distracted talking, goofing around or playing practical jokes on each other at work.
  • You have a fight with your friend outside of work over a personal issue and have to work together the next day.
  • The rest of the team has the inaccurate perception that your friend gets preferential treatment despite your best effort.

How do I define drama? If you’ve been listening to this podcast for a while you know that I define it as anything that shifts focus from where it should be; on providing great service.   Friendships will happen at work and you can have friendships without generating drama but you have to have good boundaries and solid ground rules.

  1. No preferential treatment
  2. No extra harsh treatment
  3. No goofing around or re-hashing the weekend’s shenanigans
  4. Treat all employees with respect
  5. Where it may appear that there is preferential treatment be prepared to share a bit more detail.
  6. If the relationship causes too much drama and you are not able to work through the cause, one of you must move or go. I’m talking the extreme scenario here. I hope it’s not necessary but I’ve seen it happen. One of you is interested in keeping the professional relationship and friendship separate while the other is not. Drama ensues. All efforts to minimize the impact fail. The business must win. And if you are the one in the leadership role or are the business owner you don’t want to compromise your position. The threat of job loss must be present and real. If you’ve entered the work/friend zone you have to be willing to go to the mat for your business and hope that the friendship can survive.

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Direct download: 70_Defeat_the_Drama_of_Supervising_Your_Friends.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:30am EDT