Craft Your Team Action Plan

Remember: Before embarking on a team task, it is of utmost importance that all team members agree to a systematically laid out action plan. A concise, unambiguous plan that is fully supported by your team mates will help you avoid disappointing outcomes as well as provide a definite line-of-sight for the project.

A good action plan must provide answers to the following questions:

  • What is doable? How much improvement activity can we manage over the next few weeks?
  • What is fair? How can we ensure that everyone on the team is an equal partner in our improvement project?
  • Where do we need help? For what areas will we need the help of other work groups or managers or external resources? How will we go about getting the help we need?
  • What could go wrong? What obstacles are we likely to face and how can we prevent or work through them?

Ensuring that all these questions are answered before embarking on any project creates buy-in from all team members while also securing participation on all fronts. An action plan will also serve to lay a realistic framework before work is embarked upon.

Embarking on a team project this week? Create a mutually agreeable team action plan before kicking off the project… … …Today!

Learn to Listen

Remember: It was Larry King who said – “When I’m talking I’m not learning anything.” Listening helps you learn, while encouraging other people to talk. Also, saying the right things to the right people at the right time requires good listening skills.

To draw people out, you have to do a little more than just stop talking yourself. You want to make them feel comfortable. If you feel a smile is inappropriate, at least look alert and interested. Ask a question and then make supportive sounds or movements as they continue talking. Encourage them to expand on their ideas or opinions.

Getting other people to talk can pay some rich dividends for you. Not only do you learn facts and observations you might not otherwise have known, you are showing the other person that they are valued.

The art of listening indeed is an invaluable and often ignored skill in the workplace. As you start this new week, make a conscious effort to practice active listening, starting… … … Today

Why Bother With Ethics? (2)

Remember: Over the past two weeks, we started discussing the concept of ethics and we also began exploring the pay-offs of ethical business behaviour.  Today we shall conclude on this series, with the final three ways by which operating ethically can yield great gains for your organization.

Why bother with ethics?

3. Employees are more loyal to an ethical company.

If you’re working for a company that lies, cheats, and steals, you’re apt to think that the company will do the same to you, and you’ll probably be less loyal to them as a result.

 

4. Ethical companies are more productive.

At one time or another, most of us have taken a sick day when we’re really not sick. This is, in essence, lying to and stealing from the company. Studies have shown that employees in ethical offices take less time off and are more productive when they’re in the office.

 

5. An ethical office means less legal costs.

If your staff are in the habit of lying to, cheating, and ripping off their customers, someone is going to get caught eventually and it could likely mean a big legal headache for the company. For a company, nipping unethical behaviour in the bud can reduce your chances of a lawsuit, boost your company profile and save you some money.

As we conclude this series, one major question you must always ask is – “Can our company really influence customers with the way it conducts its business?” Ponder on this… … … Today!

Why Bother With Ethics? (1)

Remember: For any organization serious about sustainable growth, ethical business behaviour must be a firm part of the organization’s day to day activities. We shall therefore reveal to you, five ways in which operating ethically can result in huge pay-offs for your organization. We will explore the first two today and conclude on the topic next week.

So, why bother with ethics?

  1. Customers choose ethics.

Customers will base their decision on whether or not to do business with you partially on ethics. Think about it this way – if you had a choice between two car salespeople, one who has a reputation for selling stolen vehicles and one who has a reputation for ensuring that the customer gets all the information about a vehicle’s past, which would you choose?

2.  Customers appreciate ethics.

Let’s say you’ve purchased a television from an electronics store. The company then calls you back the next day to let you know that you actually overpaid for the TV and that a check for the overcharged amount would be sent to you. You’d probably be amazed, wondering “who admits their mistakes, especially when it costs them money?” The next time you want to make an electronics purchase however, you would probably remember that incident and go back to that store. Customers reward ethical companies with loyalty.

It becomes clear that loyalty and a higher repeat customer rate are but a few of the benefits of ethical business practice. In whatever way you  find your ethical standards waning,  fix them and begin to tap into the benefits of ethical behaviour… … …Today!

Giving Feedback: The BIA Model

Remember: The art of giving feedback in such a way that it comes across as constructive and non-threatening is an art that can be learned. Today, we will close off our discussion on feedback with a summarized model that provides you an avenue to pass across your message correctly, objectively and in a non threatening manner – the BIA Feedback Model.

BIA is an acronym for Behaviour, Impact, Action. What this means is that when giving feedback, you start by spelling out the specific BEHAVIOUR of the receiver which you would like to address.  (What I liked / did not like about what you did is…). You then move on to explain the IMPACT of the behaviour exhibited (What I was concerned about was…). Finally, you offer the receiver an alternative ACTION to rectify or further improve the called out behaviour for future cases (What you might do instead is…).

Let’s take an example: You have noticed that Feyi has been habitually late to work and you would like to give her feedback on this using the BIA model. You could deliver your feedback in this manner:

“Good morning Feyi. I would like to give you feedback on something that I’ve noticed a couple of times, yesterday most recently, Feyi. I’ve noticed that when we start work at 8am, quite often, you might not be there. (Behaviour) My impression about that would be the signal that it might be sending to other members of your team who might need you to start their own morning activities.  I wonder whether you might not have people needing you as part of their own start- of- the-day process and thereby giving them a challenge. I also wonder whether this does not impact on the profile that you are building for yourself which is one of reliability because if people are going to describe you as reliable, my impression is that they might also look at how consistently early you come to work. (Impact) I would encourage that whatever the reason for this, you look at the examples I’ve given of the impact that this consistent lateness could have and maybe fashion out some actions that you might want to take to address this, be it leaving home a little earlier to avoid the morning rush, or taking a different route to work.” (Action)

 

The beauty of the BIA model is that it enables you clearly spell out the impact of the behaviour exhibited by the receiver while offering suggestions to remedy or further improve upon the called out behaviour. Next week, we would be exploring another interesting topic – Ethics. Till then, model your feedback using the BIA Feedback Model to pass your message across clearly… … … Today!

Giving Constructive Feedback

Remember: There is no such thing as “negative feedback” as the motive for all feedback should be to improve the performance of the receiver. Therefore, if one party comes out of a feedback session disgruntled, it is either of two things: a) The feedback was wrongly presented, or b) The feedback was improperly received.

 

There are structured methods to both giving and receiving feedback, which we shall be exploring over the next few weeks. Note though, that for feedback to be effective, it must never be forced. There must always be an identified need or a prompt from the recipient, asking the giver for feedback. A situation where this does not exist is bound to be one where the receiver goes through the session with a defensive demeanor because then, even the best of feedback would sound like criticism.

 

Establish the clear need or prompt for feedback, from the receiver, to aid the proper receipt of your feedback… … … Today!

‘SMARTS’ GOALS FOR GOOD PLANNING – (2)

Remember:  Last week, we began examining the importance of setting SMART goals as a basis for effectively executing projects. We touched on how good goals must be Specific and Measurable. This week, we shall conclude on this topic by looking at the A, R , T and S of SMARTS goals.

Good goals should also be:

A = ATTAINABLE

We sometimes think that we should set high targets or goals for ourselves, in order to grow and stretch. Well, while you do want to grow and stretch, if you set goals that aren’t doable, you are bound to soon get discouraged stop trying. The really high achievers in the world know this. They set goals that they know they can reach, with a little stretching, and when they get there, they set another goal they know they can reach. They climb the mountain one foot at a time.

 

R = RELEVANT

Goals have to make sense, and have some importance, or they will soon be discarded. Set goals that make sense to you. Another word that is often used for the R in this acronym is Realistic.

 

T = TIMED

Put a deadline on your goals. Incorporate a visible end date into your planning and work towards hitting it. Deadlines are great for getting things done.

 

S = SHARED

The trick to shared goals is finding out who your goal dependencies are and collaborating with them to see those goals as common goals. Make your goals shared and they immediately become more attainable. This also fosters effective collaboration and consequently, increases the speed of getting results. The bigger the shared goal, the bigger the virtual team.

 

Now that you know how, begin to set SMARTS goals for yourself – both personally and professionally –   to chart the course towards reaching them… … … Today!

‘SMARTS’ GOALS FOR GOOD PLANNING – (1)

Remember: Goals and objectives are the basis for planning. As the Cheshire Cat said to Alice, “If you don’t know where you are going, then any road will take you there.” The first element in planning is knowing what you want to achieve, and the way you word your goals is the biggest factor in helping you achieve them.

Lucky for you, there is an acronym to help you remember these characteristics. Good goals should be SMARTS. This week, we will examine the S and M of SMARTS goals and we shall conclude on this topic next week.

 

S=SPECIFIC

When you make your goals too general, you aren’t able to visualize them, and if you can’t see them, you have a hard time devoting your efforts toward reaching them. For example, you are more apt to do a good job of redesigning the company’s recruitment template if you have a picture in your mind of how it will look when it’s done. Are your goals specific enough?

 

M=MEASURABLE

If you can’t measure a goal, you have no idea how close you are getting to reaching it, and that can be de-motivating. For example, you have decided to give a cold call to customers to meet up with your target this quarter. But if you don’t set a total number to call each week, and you don’t have the overall number of customers you expect to reach, you are less apt to make the calls. Take your goals through a measurability test.

 

What projects are you contemplating taking up at the moment? What goals are you setting for the successful completion of your project? Decide if the goals / steps you intend to take are Specific and Measurable enough to effectively bring your project to life… … … Today!

PREPARING FOR MEETINGS

Remember: Every meeting you attend is your opportunity to shine as meetings are a central part of communication and cooperation within any organization. This week, we bring you the APP steps you can take to ensure that you are on top of your game before and during meetings:

  1. Anticipate

If you receive an agenda ahead of time, take a few minutes to look it over. If you see areas where you may have an opportunity to take the lead or to provide information to others, make a mental note to use that opportunity.

  1. Prepare

Do your homework. If you plan to speak on an issue, know what you are talking about. Make notes. Plan to keep your comments positive and speak with enthusiasm. The direct, relaxed approach works best. Get quickly to your point and stay with it. Busy people have little patience with more than they want to know. However, clarity and conciseness takes preparation.

  1. Participate

Show high level energy and involvement during meetings by speaking up in these instances:

  • When you know you can clarify a point.
  • When you can supplement pertinent information or convincing statistics.
  • When you can correct an error.
  • When you wish to ask a question.
  • When you can give credit that is due.
  • When you have a good idea or an original suggestion.
  • When someone else has taken your idea and presents it as his/her own.

Become a respected participant and contributor during meetings, by using the APP Meeting Preparation Steps starting… … … Today!

BODY LANGUAGE (WHAT IS YOUR BODY SAYING?)

Remember: When we are delivering any message, only 7% of that message is our words. The rest is our tone of voice and our non-verbal body language. Your body speaks volumes. You are always sending signals to others, whether you like it or not. Body language combined with vocal tone can override or even cancel the meaning of the words you say. Make sure your mouth and your body are sending the same signal.

Here are some things to keep in mind about body language:

  • Your eyes, eyebrows, and mouth send out the signals that can make a world of difference.
  • Smiling releases a chemical in your brain that makes you feel good. It’s a great way to establish a rapport with listeners.
  • Eye contact helps you carry your message to each person in the audience. It builds trust.
  • Learn to speak with your hands. Draw lines in the air, make a point, count on your fingers, and emphasize length and width. Using it makes you seem animated, thus natural when you talk
  • Work on appearing sincere and comfortable.
  • Let your hands do what they want to do, as long as they don’t get in your pockets, fiddle with an object, or make obscene gestures to your audience.

 

Your body posture affects your emotions and how you feel determines your posture. If you are confident, happy and ready, your body will show it. Basically, learn to watch for these, and then adjust your approach… … … Today!