Challenges, Empowering Women, Family, Leadership, Tips, Work/Life Balance, Working Women

Thoughts on Work Life Integration Part V

Vacation time is an important employee benefit – it is critical for people to have time away from work to relax and disconnect from the pressures of the job. You won’t earn a promotion or get an achievement award for working on your vacation. If you manage people, just imagine the pressure you put on them if you are working most of the time while you are on vacation – you are setting/modeling the expectation whether you realize it or not. Rest, relaxation, and recovery of your resources are important to ensure you are bringing your best to your job. So take that vacation – delegate accordingly, let go, and relax……you have earned the right!

If you manage people, be the person who “walks the talk.If you encourage your team to disconnect on vacation or days off, do the same yourself. As my colleague did so well, if you are leaving work to be at an event that is important to youvolunteering, a child’s event, taking a parent to the doctor, whatever it is, say it – out loud. It gives others “permission” to do the same and know that an integrated life takes commitment and practice.

Take small steps in your commitment to create an integrated life and build on them over time. Be an example to others around you. Being always on/always connected in a global economy means that you become the gatekeeper for your life because the intricacies of this global work world will not allow for “operating rules”.

Make it work for you to ensure you are your best integrated self – your best professional and personal YOU!

Challenges, Empowering Women, Family, Tips, Work/Life Balance, Working Women

Thoughts on Work Life Integration Part III

With no clear cut rules” in place on how to operate in a work life integration model – we need to create our own models. Models that serve us well – let’s consider starting with some simple things. 

Have you ever observed the moms of little ones at the playground? Looking down and tied to their smartphone? Missing the precious moments of fun at the playground. Now I am not saying it is easy but perhaps 5 minutes of smartphone and 30 minutes of fun. The children will grow and be out of the playground stage before you know it – be present for every minute.

Putting that smart phone with company email away at the dinner table and never bringing it into the bedroom. 

Taking that call from your child’s school or your partner during the day – that 10 minute break goes a long way! 

Taking time to be at an event (volunteerism; your child’s activity; a doctor appointment or getting your hair done) and NOT be frantically tied to your work email for that hour. 

Be there – be present in whatever activity you have committed to. And perhaps commit 30 minutes or an hour to your work email to make up for it later and be fully committed at that time.

Empowering Women, Leadership, Tips, Working Women

Professional Success

“Success looks different for everyone.” Professional success for me is:

• Building a team – a strong connected team

• Living with kindness and transparency – being my authentic self

• Respecting the business and operating like an owner

• When someone tells me I impacted their life; their career

What does professional success look for you?

What are some words of wisdom you can provide to both women and men concerning women working in a male dominated workforce?

Challenges, Confidence, Diversity and Inclusion, Empowering Women, Leadership, Tips, Working Women

Women Having a Voice in a Male Dominated Workforce

I had the opportunity to serve on a panel last week and share my insights on Women Having a Voice in a Male Dominated Workforce. The authentic and grounded conversation…..as well as some of the questions from the audience reinforced the need to continue these conversations. Over the next few blog posts I will share some of the conversation with you in hopes that you find the conversation helpful/insightful and meaningful. Perhaps to share with others as well! The panel structure was interesting – there were three women and two men on the panel which provided some interesting and balanced perspectives.

With 20 years of leadership experience in the network and field operations industry across the country – network operations; construction; plant maintenance; dispatch and field operations – it was interesting for me to reflect on my experience as an operations leader as I prepared for the panel conversation. I have come to appreicate the unique opportunities I have had throughout my career. And I also have come to understand my responsibility to others in support of their career journey. #payitforward

The first question from the moderator was: “As a female in the cable industry, what are some challenges you were faced with throughout your career and how did you overcome some of those adversities?” Kind of awkward for the men panelists but generated a laugh. I jumped in to share my response to the question along with some potential steps the audience could apply:

The challenges and the steps to address the challenges:

Having my voice heard

o Learn to project your voice and speak with confidence

o Always sit at the table and sit strategically at the table

Being taken seriously

o Never offer to take notes

▪ Don’t allow yourself to be delegated as note taker

o Review agendas for every meeting

o Practice before presenting and ask for feedback

o Anticipate difficult questions

Being “tested” and having to always prove myself

o I never felt like there was anything I couldn’t do while I was growing up. My parents believed in us and often told us …..”You can do anything you want if you put your mind to it and work hard.

▪ No promise of being the best. No easy way to achieve your goals. Hard work. Focus. Commitment. Simple, practical advice

o Trust your instinct and understand if you are being tested

▪ Seek time with the tester – ask for coaching/feedback/support

Challenges, Empowering Women, Personal Branding, Reflection, Tips

Spring Cleaning

We have all heard about “spring cleaning” – our homes; our yards etc. The process of refreshing one’s home décor; clothes; gardens and getting rid of old things and welcoming new is typical of the change of season from winter to spring.

I am challenging myself this year to “spring clean” professionally. I am realigning some goals and working on some brand repositioning. It is interesting to consider “spring cleaning your professional life”. We have the opportunity to clean up and refresh our personal and professional brands; tidy up our networks and networking goals; and perhaps refresh our goals for the rest of the year (most peoples “New Year’s goals” are either already done or they forgot about them by now).

This is a great time to stop and pause and fine tune the job search for those on the job search. A great time to pause and consider your personal/professional development for the next leg of your career journey.

Just as important as it is to spring clean your house, spring cleaning your professional life can be just as rewarding and crucial to success.

Empowering Women, Reflection, Tips, Work/Life Balance, Working Women

#3. Create Good Habits

Creating good habits…so much easier to say than to do, but it certainly depends on one’s definition of good habits.

From last week’s blog I would share that for me a priority good habit is being kind to myself. Taking it easy and letting go of angst, anger, and drama. Balancing my time and being less focused on work outcomes and more focused on defining who I am and searching for the definition of my new future.

Eating well, exercise, reading more are all part of what I try to incorporate into each week. But I am also creating a positivity practice whereby I can see goodness, kindness, and love in the world. Starting most days with a positive intention of how my world will be and what the universe will bring forward.

Many of us start each New Year with resolutions – a strict practice of what we will do (diet, exercise, school, etc). Let’s begin the journey differently this year with a focus on good habits. Creating good habits is a journey – not an act of perfection or rigid focus. Be kind as you bring a new habit into your life – be healthy and choose wisely. Celebrate yourself and your progress…….

Remember Goal #2 – Let Kindness Rule – especially when it comes to YOU.

Challenges, Leadership, Tips, Working Women

Dealing with Change: Action, Reaction, Pause

As we all know, the ever changing landscape of the work environment can cause angst at times. New leaders, an organizational shift or restructure, changing priorities and projects – all of these things can create feelings of uncertainty within the organization. During these times of flux, leaders have the responsibility to ensure that there is crisp, clear, and consistent communication on what’s important, what’s the focus and the roadmap – even if it’s a short term road map.

In my experience, people respond to organizational changes in three distinct ways – they either take action, they react, or they pause. The people that take action are the most agile – they quickly adapt and embrace the change. The action people ask what needs to be done and quickly get into a “move forward” mode.

The reaction people spend a tremendous amount of energy worrying about the change and the impact to them, the organization, and the work they were doing up until the change. This group of folks can spend a great deal of time in turmoil and this is harmful to both their well-being and their brand. There are degrees of reaction people – some process in a few days and are back on course quickly. Others spend forever in the turmoil – seemingly resistant to come out of it. 

The final group are the pause people – they wait and neither act nor react. They wait and take a pause in their work until someone gives them new direction. This is the most interesting group, as they seem to manage the change cycle well personally (no stress; no angst) yet they pause professionally – not willing to jump in or, at the very least, continue on the journey they were on prior to the change.

We have all experienced playing any one of the above roles at times during our career. The fast pace of business today requires agility and ability to be in the action space. As leaders, we need to demonstrate the best and most positive approach to action. 

Change is not easy – it certainly is not easy when it recurs. Change management is an organizational discipline and a behavioral discipline that can support people and organizations through the ever changing business climate. Leaning into change requires leaning onto one another – as leaders, as colleagues and as friends. As I always say – it takes a village!

Empowering Women, Leadership, Tips, Working Women

Your Work Journal: the art and benefit of taking notes

Seems silly right? Who doesn’t take notes? Go to a meeting – take notes. Join a conference call – take notes. Meet with a client – take notes. We try and listen to the call, pay attention in the meeting, and ensure engagement with a client. Add in the rigor of taking notes – well each of us is likely to miss something in the discussion and conversation. We all listen for what is important and what matters to us specifically. That information we capture.The meeting ends and someone inevitably sends out a follow-up from the meeting – you scan your notes. You don’t even recall that follow-up, never mind that topic of conversation. Yikes – now what?

I have found this occurring recently and have identified a “meeting buddy” (unbeknownst to them) and after the meeting (or call) will ask to share notes or to validate what I captured and if I missed anything. This has been a tremendous help as we hasten the pace of business actions and initiatives – assuming everyone captures every item.

I like the discipline of taking notes. I like capturing the experience in words and phrases that mean something to me and that can easily generate recall. But again, like many of us, I miss taking notes on certain parts of a call or a meeting.

My next experiment in this art of capturing information will be to ask someone overtly to be a “meeting partner” so we can debrief and fill in gaps we may have each missed during the conversations.

Challenges, Empowering Women, Leadership, Tips, Work/Life Balance, Working Women

Is Your Glass Half Full?

Is your glass half full? Is it half empty? Might it be time to fill your glass?

I was going to blog about this for the week and had some thoughts planned in advance. During my week at Wharton last week, I got some in-depth knowledge into Emotional Contagion – which reinforces the beliefs and conversation I wanted to share.

Don’t you find it interesting that when you interact with certain people they approach life with the “glass is half empty” mindset? Critical about everything in a negative way? No solution to whatever the challenge is before them? We try and avoid these people and if we are on a team project with them – well, it can be disheartening. These types of colleagues, friends, leaders can literally suck the joy out of the room and drag down a project or initiative.

I have always been a glass is half full type of person and when I have moments of my glass is half empty, I immediately jump to a solution space. My energy shifts to the solution and I become positive, engaged and full of possibility. When I talk to teams and people about leadership, I always talk about putting on our game faces – suit up for the game! Our teams deserve this from us and frankly, who wants to follow a leader who is always critical, in a bad mood, frustrated, and on the verge of throwing in the towel?

We all have those moments in our lives when our glass is depleted – half full: we have a fight with our partner, forgot to fill the car with gas, spill coffee on our work shirt, hit every red light when we are already late for work, the project we are working on lost 30% of its funding but still needs to get done on time and with high quality……and all of that happens on one morning. Yes – our glass is half full, if not empty.

If you are expecting an answer on how to best fill your glass – I am sorry but I don’t have the market on that solution set. I believe that the solutions are as different as we are as people. Music works for me, some quotes of inspiration, and I think my general viewpoint of life’s challenges – “Okay, how do I turn this around.” I also know that as a leader – people watch EVERYTHING that you do and will create their own stories around your actions and behaviors.

Then, this week I learned about Emotional contagion which is the phenomenon of having one person’s emotions and related behaviors directly trigger similar emotions and behaviors in other people.

We learned (and truly we all already know this) that emotions, both positive and negative, actually spread among employees like viruses. Ever wonder why you’re happier around happy people and annoyed around annoyed people? The concept of emotional contagion influences employees’ moods and significantly influences business decisions as well…..and no one typically knows that is happening (sometimes until it is too late).

 

A couple of examples to consider:

• Walk into many Registry of Motor Vehicle locations and you can feel the impact of the prevailing mood instantly — dreariness, irritability, and listlessness.

 

• Walk into almost any Apple store and you’ll experience the opposite — a sense of aliveness and excitement that raises your energy (and makes you want to buy something).

 

Thinking about our actions is critical to leadership efforts and the atmosphere of our teams!

 

Fill your glass and then raise your glass!