Decision Point

Last Friday afternoon I was in the middle of finishing a major task when a colleague who happened to work for the same company I was doing the project for called me.  I picked up the call assuming the discussion would be about the project. 

As we started to chat, I sensed he was going through a personal issue that he wanted to talk about. At the time, I was so consumed with finishing my task at hand that I rushed through the conversation, set a future date to get together, and ended the call abruptly. After hanging up, I started to feel disappointed in myself that I didn't take the time to listen to my friend in need. 

We all have experienced similar situations where we make a choice that serves our needs in the moment but leaves us with an uneasy feeling of regret later that we should have done something differently. 

Our chaotic days require us to make instant decisions but sometimes we need to take a step back and consider the consequences, especially when it comes to relationship-building. Relationships, after all, are a key building block in our professional and personal roles.

On-the-spot decision making can be the most challenging.

  • Not taking the time to help a fellow co-worker when they are overwhelmed.
  • Raising your voice and yelling at someone during a meeting when an issue irritates you.
  • Feeding into the negative conversation about your boss with colleagues. 

When the situation occurs though, try to take a brief moment and ask yourself how you will feel after the decision. Will it make you feel good or bad?  

When we move away from the motive of "what's in it for me" to "what's it it for us?" this enables us to make better decisions. When we do the next right thing, we will feel inner peace and ultimately enrich all of our relationships.

Difficult Conversations

What is the key to organizational success?   Most individuals would say having effective performance management processes in place and having the right people in the right jobs.  While both may have an impact, research studies have shown that the key to creating a high performing organization is how people handle communication.

Daily conversations, whether supervisor to employee, employee to employee, or employee to customer, are the crux to operating any business.  Successful companies foster good, honest, and healthy conversations at all levels.  Crucial conversations---defined as a discussion between two or more persons where stakes are high, opinions vary, and emotions run strong---are the most challenging conversations.  When faced with this challenge, we can: 

  • Avoid them and pretend the situation goes away.
  • Face them head on, but handle them poorly.
  • Face them head on, but handle them well.

Avoidance and poor communication will only exasperate the situation and create unwanted consequences. The ideal is to handle them well. How then can we have honest, healthy, and productive conversations?

First, we need to be self-aware.  We need to identify our motivations and the desired outcome of the conversation.  Assess if you are having the conversation from a point of ego, a need to be "right" or a desire to repair the relationship.

Next, we need to have an effective dialogue:  ask good questions, clarify others' facts and feelings, listen effectively, and maintain emotional control throughout the process.

Finally, the conversation needs to be mutually beneficial - problem resolved and relationship strengthened.

High-performing organizations realize that the path to productivity is not through processes and procedures (they do play a part), but rather through successful face-to-face conversations at all levels. Find the courage to have that dialogue to foster trust and enhance your credibility.

Doing It Daily

Summer brings us long days and warm nights, outdoor picnics and road trips---unstructured and spontaneous.  August flies by in a flash and September hits us hard with work projects, appointments, school schedules, and family events---structured and stressful!

How can we ease this transition and maintain our sanity?  By taking each day, one at a time.  We all have good and bad habits when it comes to managing our day, but the key to getting it all done (or enough done) is to simplify and stick to three easy rules!

First, identify all that needs to be accomplished and list in order of importance.  Begin each day with a good cup of coffee or tea and determine what must get done today. Don't make other people's urgencies, your priorities. Develop your plan and stick to that plan no matter how many people attempt to get you off track.

Social media is fun, but do you really need to know that your friend Karen is having a bad day? Eliminate time-wasting activities that don't bring value or quality to your life. Keep disciplined throughout the day focusing only on your goals.

And thirdly, delegate. At work, don't take on responsibilities that belong to others; trust them to do their jobs. At home, kids are very capable of small simple tasks and spouses are more agreeable with the words "will you?" and "please".

Summer's easy pace doesn't have to end on August 31.  By practicing good habits - identifying, eliminating, and delegating, it will be a breeze to maintain that Summer mood all year round. 

Quote of the Month

"Some people dream of success while others wake up and work hard for it."


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