TGIF - sooo much homemade jam

TGIF – 5-Minute Daily Preview. Sweet!

Oh, what a beautiful day.  It’s Friday and TGIF – Trust, Gratitude, Inspiration, & Fun!

Trust

At the beginning of each day most days,  I take five minutes to think of the people with whom I will be connecting during that day.  I am trusting in how these few moments change me.

When I approach an encounter with fine-tuned expectations and a productive attitude, the exchange we have later in the day benefits.

Previewing the day

Here is what I review in those brief minutes:

  • How do I feel about meeting with them?
  • What might they be anticipating?
  • What result would I like from our exchange?

AND

  • What attitude do I need to have to make it a positive encounter?

These five minutes boost the pleasure and the efficiency of my time with these folks.

I might have taken a person’s work as a given and take time to recall and appreciate the effort they invested.  Or I realize that I need to clarify the desired outcome of a meeting.

These 5-Minute Previews also make me mindful of and grateful for the unplanned encounters during the day.  It’s a gift when

  • At the coffee machine, we meet the person we were trying to track down
  • We were able to connect with someone by text and get the needed information or support

I am trusting in applying respectful communication tools and to staying respectful even especially when it’s tough.

Gratitude

It’s bee-thanking time again.  We harvested our hives and put the honey in jars.  And thanks to those buzzing beauties, the fruit trees were pollinated, and I was able to make a TON of jam.

The grocers at our local market must be thankful for me.  My “jamming” keeps them in business!

Honey and homemade jams

Inspiration

I am hoping to be inspired by Marie Kondi, the tidying specialist.  The first chapter into her book prepared me to be inspired.  She speaks of changing mindset which then, naturally, leads to altered behavior.

This is what I teach in my constructive communication classes!

And yet, I feel (fear?) that reading the book implicates work.  Effort.  Part of me prefers to take life easy AND not deal with the consequences!!!!!  Sooner than later, reality checks in.

That’s what my trainees must feel (fear?) too!

I’ll read the book…or watch the Netflix.

Tidy up and spark joy

Fun

The exchanges of our family WhatsApp group have been particularly fun-filled this week.

When used well, WhatsApp groups can create community and bring people close together despite long distances.

Warning:  Especially when the group is large, it’s good to set ground rules.  Twenty “😍” and “👍” get redundant.

Here is a glimpse of our family “discussion” when one son took his driving test…

Fun family conversation

What fun are you planning for this weekend?  We all benefit from some nice, clean (tidy) fun!
😀😀😀😀😀😀 ….

 

Wishing you a great week.

A bientôt (next week), Denise

Neat & New Stuff

4 Gifts Colleagues Crave…and Never Make the List

Birthday Wishes for adult

What do you offer your team members for their birthday?  Chocolate? Nothing!  

Try these gifts which build belonging and confidence.

Read on…

The Million Dollars Birthday Chair

Boys blowing out birthday candlesGet lots of bang for little buck with this fun way to celebrate birthdays.  Works with kids of all ages, those at home and folk at work.

Read on…

 

Trust Gratitude Inspiration Fun

TGIF – Practice What You Preach

Oh, what a beautiful day.  It’s Friday and TGIF – Trust, Gratitude, Inspiration, & Fun!

Trust

This week I’m trusting in what I preach.

I train in conflict resolution and constructive communication skills and carefully design curricula around neuroscience-inspired group activities.  These generate Aha! moments, (“Yikes.  I sound like THAT!  It’s demotivating!”) and participants then open to learning new ways to interact.

Not the group I led this week. Some of the participants were assigned (they did not choose) to attend and they tested the limits.

The two people that created havoc in work relationships were at it in our group too.  They were on the phone and then interrupted the group to catch up.  They crossed their arms and refrained from partaking in the group activities. Yes, these were adults!

Yet such resistance also creates the opportunity to practice what I preach.  All eyes were on me to see how I would handle the situationThrough this challenge, everyone realized that one can still respect people while correcting unhelpful behavior.

(Find out more about these trainings here.)

I am trusting in applying respectful communication tools and to staying respectful even especially when it’s tough.

Gratitude

Calm reigned in France and the US this past September 11.  It remains a somber date.  It’s the day we remember what we were doing when we heard the news of the Twin Towers ablaze.

Even in a world with strife, we can still be thankful for the countries that are at peace.

Image from Landlopers, not your ordinary travel site

Inspiration

We welcome a gorgeous Swiss woman in one of my classes.  Here was her training take-away which is today’s inspiration.

“I feel like a Swiss cow.”

cow with bell in Alps

The men (who had been ogling her) and the women (who had been envying her beauty and charm) looked at her even more avidly.

“Yes, I need to chew on this stuff.  And then some more.  And afterwards, just as a cow produces creamy and delicious milk, I will help create a fruitful and engaging work environment.”

I have a new liking for cream!

Fun

Have you too heard that “great” parents spend one-on-one time with each child?

We have four boys.  Do the math.  More kids renders individual attention more challenging…and more rare.

We created the ritual of Two-on-One time.  For his 5 year birthdays (10, 15, 20 years…), Mom and Dad take the child out to dinner.  For one evening, each kid benefits from the full attention of BOTH parents.

“Every five years!  Can’t they do better?” you may wonder.

We created a ritual that we could fulfill with our finite energy, time, and budget.

Tonight, we are on our 16th Two-on-One dinner.  Looking forward to this opportunity to learning more about and from my grown and growing son…and having fun with a night on the town!

Check our birthday rituals below.

It is good to be back.  Wishing you a great week.

A bientôt (next week), Denise

Neat & New Stuff

4 Gifts Colleagues Crave…and Never Make the List

Birthday Wishes for adult

What do you offer your team members for their birthday?  Chocolate? Nothing!  

Try these gifts which build belonging and confidence.

Read on…

The Million Dollars Birthday Chair

Boys blowing out birthday candlesGet lots of bang for little buck with this fun way to celebrate birthdays.  Works with kids of all ages, those at home and folk at work.

Read on…

 

TGIF - Girl Power Female soccer

TGIF – Girl Power

Hello for the weekly rendez-vous on Friday.  TGIF – Trust, Gratitude, Inspiration, and Fun.

Trust

I’m trusting in womens’ leadership and in the business case for diversity (gender and more) in executive teams.  Female soccer is a key player in this game.  Our family is cheering for the French in 2019 FIFA Female World Cup.  Are you watching the matches too?

Wendie Renard and Amandine Henry on French female soccer team
The action! TOGETHER. That’s teamwork.

Thought-Provoking Facts:

Twenty years ago, women and girls represented less than 2% of the soccer-playing population in France.  Today, close to 8% of the players are female.

Whereas the number of total French soccer players grew 15% from 1999, the number of women players multiplied fivefold!

What’s the big deal?  According to CEO Magazine, 95% of Fortune 500 CEO’s played sports in college.  I am trusting we can get more women into the boardroom by getting them on the field.

Les Bleues

The French fashion magazine Elle has added an entire section “Les Bleues” (The French women’s soccer team) to their website.  Great pics and daily updates.  That’s where this photo of “Les Bleues” comes from.

(Trivia: the men’s team is called “Les Bleus” without the second “e”)

Gratitude

This week in France all high school seniors are taking the Baccalaureate test.  It began on Monday morning with Philosophy.

On Sunday evening, around the dinner table, our boys tested each other on philosophy quotes. Here is a quiz for you:

Who said, “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants.” ? (scroll down for the answer)

Seen further standing on shoulders of giants

Food for thought:

On who’s shoulders are YOU standing?

My parents, among others.

What have you been able to see that you could not have envisioned without him?

The world.  They took us traveling as kids and I have not stopped since.  We now live on different continents!

How will you thank them?

I call them…try to do so weekly.  In several decades, I want my kids to call me too. 🙂

Inspiration

Of course Isaac Newton (quote above) inspires me…and I wanted to share wisdom from a woman too. Please, in the comments, share what woman inspires you!

I had the pleasure of hearing Leymah Gbowee speak in Paris after she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011.  As leader of the Women in Peacebuilding Network in Liberia, thousands of Christian and Muslim women prayed together for peace and held DAILY non-violent demonstrations.  Their efforts contributed to the end of the Liberian civil war.

Leymah Gbowee Nobel Peace Prize 2011
from LeMonde

“We are tired of war. We are tired of running. We are tired of begging for bulgur wheat. We are tired of our children being raped. We are now taking this stand, to secure the future of our children. Because we believe, as custodians of society, tomorrow our children will ask us, “Mama, what was your role during the crisis?”

– Leymah Gbowee speaking to dictator Charles Taylor and officials.

Food for thought:

What are you tired of? 

For what will you take a stand?

Leymah Gbowee, Nobel Peace Prize 2011
from the Personal Development Café

“You can tell people of the need to struggle, but when the powerless start to see that they really can make a difference, nothing can quench the fire.”

– Leymah Gbowee

Food for thought:

Where do you feel powerless? 

What is One. Thing. YOU can do TODAY to make a difference?

Fun

It’s a double graduation year.  Here I am with our son graduating with a Master in Management from HEC Paris and with our youngest who is passing the Bac. (He’ll have his eyes fully glowing when the baccalaureate exam is over!)

HEC Paris graduation

Great memories of lots of work and lots of fun.

Wishing you a great week.

Sincerely, Denise

P.S. PLEASE share what woman inspires you in the comments below.  Thanks.

 

Neat & New Stuff

Insights from Vice-Dean of Sciences Po Management School

Vice Dean Sciences Po ManagementIn this interview, Olivier Guillet of France’s prestigious Sciences Po School of Management and Innovation addresses the 21st century leadership needs.  The Internet has revolutionized the management criteria and requires new skills for success.  Read on…

How to move from Book-Wise to Street Smart

There is knowledge to gain AFTER the degree.  It’s the wisdom of applying what we learn.

At work that translates into changing habits, like disciplining ourselves to gain a fresh perspective.  Tips to open our eyes, ears, and minds.  Read on…

Looking for Interview Suggestions

Can you recommend a wise leader with a message related to building constructive conversations at work?  Many of you appreciate the interviews I led with tried and tested leaders who overcame challenging conditions.

It would be an honor to know about them and to possibly interview them.  Please send me an email.

New Year Opportunities ahoy

How to make a New Year’s Resolution you WANT to keep all year long?

 

Do you know?

  • People are more likely to keep a resolution made at New Year than at other times of the year
  • Resolutions that stick are those that come from the mind, the heart, and the gut

Therefore…

The time is NOW for a simple AND deep activity to create a meaningful, do-able, and helpful New Year’s Resolution.   That’s what this series of short videos does for you.

Click here to get the free video series.

Why New Year’s Resolutions Don’t Stick

Here are two reasons for the numerous well-intentioned yet short-lived resolutions

Founded on our Mis-Conceptions, not our Reality

You and I and every human being finds it easier to identify the speck in our friend’s eye than to notice the beam in our own.  We are not great mirrors of ourselves.  We are taught to move forward, to be active, to make progress…and not necessarily to pause, step back, and assess our situation.

self misconception

Many of our resolutions are set from where we hope our life really is.  Oh-oh.  That gap is no fun to admit or review. 

From the Head, not the Heart

“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” – Ben Franklin

If your alarm goes off at 5:00 am, your mind tells your body that’s it’s time to get up.  Your body wants to forget.

On the other hand, when your sick child coughs with choking sounds at any time of the night, you are likely to bounce out of bed.  Your heart is involved.  And that generates ACTION.

It’s easy to make (very positive) resolutions centered on our behaviors – our eating style, our exercise habits, our listening practices… These are often intelligent and helpful thoughts.  We are proposing a process that involves your mind, heart, and gut to come up with a resolution that really fits and helps YOU.

Setting a New Year’s Resolution that Sticks: The Pizza Plan

The Pizza Plan introduces a simple process for engaging your intellect, your emotions, and your gut reactions into creating a resolution that fits your life now and helps you grow as you desire.

It involves 4 simple actions steps.  There is a short video for each.

  • Identify the facets of your life that are most important to you NOW
  • Identify your satisfaction level in each of these
  • Observe your gut reaction and understand the corresponding emotional signals
  • Focus on a constructive belief to reinforce for the upcoming season

Try it for free and benefit from your resolution all year long.

On a sampan in the Mekong river

Express Your Values and Give Them Purpose

There is a difference between saying the right words to talk about organizational values and culture and giving meaning to words through actions.

How can we identify an organization’s values?  Listen for phrases that get repeated in daily life.

What describes your culture?  How are these values translated from words into actions that help the community thrive?

Organizational Values Revealed

– Examples from Traveling Abroad

During a recent trip to Vietnam I learned much about their culture and, through my reactions, I also discovered more about myself.  These insights are revealed through essential words: some that are important to me (expressing my values) and others that specifically apply in Vietnam (a country is an organization too).

(Scroll to the end for photos.)

Thank You

When traveling abroad I make the effort to master the local version of “Thank you.” 

In Vietnamese it is written cảm ơn.”  I’m still uncertain how to pronounce it since, in their tone-based language, there are five different ways to articulate the letters C.A.M.  Each of these pronouciations represents a unique definition ranging from feeling to chin to forbidden.

Instead of sharing appreciation I often mumbled an embarrassed, “cmmmmn”.

My reaction contradicted my values!  My life objective is to learn and I express openness to growth with words of appreciation.   My mumbling focused on me rather than learning from others.  In Vietnam I found my way to express gratitude for growth:  a “thumbs up” or a handshake did the job.

Hello, Young Man

We visited with expat friends who each spontaneously expressed their you-need-to-know-this-word-in-Vietnamese.  These are culture-specific terms which make sense in the culture and which help those on the outside make sense of the culture.

“I hear ‘em oi’ (pronounced ‘aim oy’) 100 times a day to get someone’s attention,” reported a friend working in a male professional environment.

“Em oi” means “May I have your attention, young fellow.”  “Em” refers to the youthfulness which even more mature gentlemen consider a compliment.  “Oi” refers to creating a connection.  I see you and please see me too.

“Em oi” launches an exchange.

Enough!

Another friend, a woman who faced the daily price negotiation for bananas, school supplies, and even medicine expressed her appreciation for ways to stop an exchange, to set limits.

“KHÔNG” (pronounced “hong” with a severe tone of voice) means “ENOUGH!”  No more haggling over prices.  No more following me around.  Let. Me. Be.

 

Isn’t it fascinating how these chosen words speak volumes both about ourself the culture in which they are used?!

Behind each of these selected lies individual and cultural values

  • life-long learning through appreciation
  • the search for attention
  • a desire to stay young
  • keeping boundaries

Organizational Values Revealed

– Words at Work

Let’s explore some common words heard in organizations.  We all agree on their worth, and yet many people experience a gap between the concept and the context (implementation).

What values describe your corporate culture?  How do they impact members’ actions and decision-making?

Teamwork

Everyone believes in teamwork.  And yet some colleagues miss feeling a sense of belonging.  How is commitment to teamwork expressed in your organization?  Test yourself with these questions:

  • How often are team meetings held?
  • How much of the agenda is set by team members…or is it controlled by the manager?
  • What element of compensation relies on individual performance vs. on team results?
  • How do you learn and celebrate together?
  • Do team members eat together?… or do colleagues limit their interactions to work-related issues?

“The team that eats together stays together.”

Innovation

Many corporate mission statements include the word “innovation.”  Let’s unpack that.

Creativity and discovery require experimentation.  Testing the unknown means experiencing failure.  ERROR?!  MISTAKES?!

  • When was the last time an error occurred in your team?
    What happened before, during, and after?
  • How long are you willing to keep trying before reaching desired results?
  • How is learning from errors shared throughout the organization?
  • What is the career path of the top managers? How do the C-Suite leaders model learning from mistakes?
  • What happens to the manager who only shares successes?

“Never get discouraged if you fail. Learn from it. Keep trying. Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.”
– Thomas Edison

Open-minded

When a culture favors open minds, there exist safe spaces for people to express different points of view without fear.

  • What is the role of brainstorming and of laying out ideas without judgement in your team?
  • How well do people listen to each other…or are most folk preparing their own response before seeking understanding?!
  • What benchmarks are used to keep you and your team oriented towards growth and improvement?
  • How diverse is your team: in gender, race, nationality, age, and more?
  • Whose ideas get selected?

“A bend in the road is not the end of the road…Unless you fail to make the turn.”
Helen Keller (blind, deaf, & dumb.  Prolific author.  1880 – 1968)

 

Teamwork, innovation, open-mindedness, and every one of our corporate values gains meaning by how it is put into practice.  What a leadership opportunity!

Organizational Values Revealed

– Practices in Personal Life

Just as your team at work thrives on belonging to a group and contributing to a purpose with values, your family and personal entourage do too.

Teamwork & Togetherness

If you seek family togetherness, how often do you enjoy family time?  Is it regularly planned and marked on the family calendar? When do you eat together? How does each person help with chores?

Put into practice.

Are your parents ageing?  Plan a weekly phone call. Every week.

Does your household include teens?  Schedule a smart-phone-free family meal.  Generate interest by inviting them to choose the menu.  Make it a time to coordinate calendars so that you can prevent misunderstandings (“Where is the party and what time will you be back?” rather than correcting them (“Where were you until the wee hours last night?”).

Innovation & Creativity

Transmit creativity and a spirit of experimentation in the kids through your response to their mistakes, whether it’s spilled milk, leaving a mess, and (mis)use of money.

Teach them calmly (!) to clean up.  No lound voices needed.  The kids will learn a valuable skill and, if they don’t like it, they’ll find ways to make cleaning faster or more fun … or how to avoid making a mess in the first place.

As a family, brainstorm ways to keep the living room welcoming…and ways to enjoy it together!  When did you last sit down for a card game or a movie night?

Help kids find ways to earn money: bake cakes to order for the neighbors, take care of younger kids or keep company to elderly folk, tutor younger children in schoolwork.

(FYI, we did not pay children to do regular chores.  Helping with the family is part of togetherness.  We all participate in making home a nice place to be.)

Open Kids’ Minds

Opportunities abound to stretch children’s comfort zones.

  • Invite adults to join in a family meal. The children will learn more about you and the world.
  • Try a discovery menu. Have you tasted Moroccan tagine, Vietnamese spring rolls, Indian curry, or French steak tartare?  They don’t have to like it.  The purpose is to discover something new.
  • Plan a vacation in an exotic country!

Next Step

“We have found that companies need to speak a common language, because some of the suggested ways to harness disruptive innovation are seemingly counter-intuitive. If companies don’t have that common language, it is hard for them to come to consensus on a counter-intuitive course of action.”
– Clayton Christensen, professor Harvard Business School

Identify those most important words for your organization and translate them into every day actions.

This is constructive communication in practice and it is my area of expertise.

Can I help you transmit teamwork, innovation, openness and other values throughout your organization?   Discover the culture-strengthening workshops here or contact me directly to discuss your specific situation.

“Hẹn sớm gặp lại.” (Vietnamese)

“A bientôt.” (French)

Let’s be in touch.

 

Photos from our Trip to Vietnam

Gorgeous and diverse scenery.  “Em oi!  Cảm ơn!”  (Young fellow, Thank you)

  • Thanks FOR the opportunity to discover these treasures, sufficient business success to finance travel and family memory-making, the beauty of the earth and its energizing impact…
  • Thanks TO the generations past that labored to level the rice paddies and discover the caves, the creative force in the universe, the resilient Vietnamese people who warmly welcome visitors from previously warring nations…

Sapa rice terraces in Vietnam
Terraced rice paddies in Sapa.

Phong Nha Paradise Cave in Vietnam
Ginormous Paradise Cave goes on for 30 km underground.

Ha Long Bay in stormy weather
Ha Long Bay in the rain. Monsoon season.

 

Delectable foods and culinary adventures at the market, some of which I could only handle from a distance.

“Không!”  No squiggling squid from a bucket for me today…no matter what the price.

Outdoor food market in Vietnam
No fixed prices. We negotiate with fingers, showing cash, or typing numbers on smart phones.

“Không!” Enough trying new foods.  We ordered boneless chicken and were served chicken feet (albeit deboned)!  “Em oi!  Beef please! Cảm ơn!”

Boneless chicken claw Vietnames delicacy
Trying to be local. We have a looooong way to go before savoring chicken claws!

Birthday Wishes for adult

4 Birthday Gifts Colleagues Crave…yet Never Make the List

If your birthday gets celebrated at work it probably looks, tastes, or smells like

  • a box of chocolates,
  • an invitation for drinks,
  • a bouquet of flowers, or
  • a bottle of whisky.

It’s nice…yet is that what they really desire?

Studies abound highlighting the link between quality performance and recognition of a job well done and a sense of belonging to a team.  Why not offer a gift that truly matters for your colleague?

Offer the Gift of Listening

We all have feedback to give and many of us wonder how and when to express it.  When it comes to sharing an insight with hierarchy, the time never seems right.

Make it easy for your team member and offer them openness to their viewpoint.  Seriously, present it as a gift.

One CEO invites the employees with birthdays in that month to join her for lunch.  It’s their time to ask her questions about the company.

Another manager schedules a one-on-one meeting with two agenda items:

  • one behavior the team member appreciates in the manager and that he hopes the manager will continue doing
  • one behavior the team member finds challenging. They discuss a specific time this behavior occurred, and the employee expresses what he would have preferred as an outcome.

Be the Gift – Offer to Help THEIR WAY

I am regularly asked to help unblock relationship challenges and one of the common culprits is assumptions.

To assume makes an A.S.S. out of U and ME
– my brother

To assume makes an A.S.S. out of U and ME.  Like when we assume our team member wants our advice…when, really, those wise words sound like a command (yet another one).

Or when you do your colleague a favor and your efforts are not appreciated to their “just value.”  Maybe he really wanted the manager to stop interrupting him with busywork so that he could complete the task himself.

If you want to be a gift, let your colleague choose how.  “I notice the deadline is approaching and there still is much to do.  How can I help? It’s your birthday.  Ask whatever.”

(re)Celebrate a Success on the
Million $ Birthday Chair

“Effective managers build on strengths.”
– Peter Drucker

Relive a Success

Are you too looking for ways to get big bang out of less time, energy, and funds? The Birthday Chair does it every year.  For less than $1, the birthday person feels like $1 Million!

Give them an opportunity to relive a moment when they succeeded and were proud of themselves.  Designate a chair as the Birthday Chair and decorate it if you lifke.  Then, together, discuss one of their achievement, focusing on

  • the feelings generated by the success
  • the conditions that contributed to the achievements

This is a powerful tool to encourage employees and allow them to connect with the purpose of their work.

It can seem out of place to revisit an “old” event.  That’s where the Birthday Chair can create the occasion.  It’s a moment that is out of the ordinary.

Explore Success with all the Senses

I like to focus on each of the senses when reliving a success.  It’s like adding muscle and tissue to a skeleton.  The achievement comes to life in multiple dimensions and feeds the desire to achieve further.

Here is an example of helping a team member revisit their great presentation

  • What did it look like?
    Team member (TM): “It was motivating to have everyone’s attention and not to have people perched on their phones!”
  • What did it sound like?
    TM: “During the Q & A, people asked relevant questions that moved the discussion forward. They were clearly interested.”
  • What did it feel like?
    TM:
    “I know now that I can overcome the butterflies in my stomach when speaking in public.”
  • What did it smell like?
    TM: “Sweat! From now on, I’m keeping a travel size bottle of my fragrance with me to freshen up before making a presentation.”
  • What did it taste like?
    TM: “Champagne!”

Uncover the Conditions for Success

You can even dig further to understand the conditions that helped create the success and to explore how these conditions could be replicated.

Recognize their Unique Gift to the Team

Birthday card for work colleaguesWhen do you discuss your team members’ qualities with them?  Usually during the performance review, which is also when people are stressed and wary of critique.

When do you focus on the capabilities you seek to transmit?  Try intentionally creating occasions to recognize qualities.  Birthdays present an excuse to experiment with a positive approach.

Here is a birthday card offered by the team to one of their colleagues.  Each person wrote something they appreciate about the birthday person’s contribution to the group.

Download your card here.

Apply to Life

Million $ Birthday Chair at Home

Boy blowing out birthday candles

We love this big bang for little buck method to make a child feel special and belonged.

We decorate one chair BIG TIME:  at least 6 balloons and as many streamers.  The chair goes in the middle of the room where the kids (or all ages) gather for the presents.  It’s also the throne on which he reigns during the Birthday Story Time.

The Birthday Story Time

Share a story to encourage your child to grow in confidence, character, and responsibility.

  • What happened the day they were born?
  • What quality have you observed them develop this past year?
  • What is a sign of growing confidence?
  • How have they helped you become a better person or parent?
  • What do they do that makes you feel loved by them?

About YOU

When did you feel appreciated at work for your birthday?  Share it with us in the comments.

Diversity at work

How Diversity-Friendly are You?

Even though diversity is a much talked about subject, many of us wonder how it impacts our work.  Does it really matter?

This is the third article in a three-part series on diversity inspired by Steven Sels, the CEO of Primagaz.  His first message addresses the bottom-line benefits of integrating 19 different nationalities in his Parisian offices.

Read: 12 Riches of Diversity – Insights from Steven Sels, CEO of Primagaz France

In the second post, Sels broaches the prerequisites to a successful diversity strategy and describes his company’s collegiate decision-making which enables Primagaz to innovate and to act quickly.

Read:  Embracing Differences Without Conflict

As we concluded our interview, Steven Sels thanked me for the opportunity to step back, put a framework around his thoughts on diversity, and challenge himself to explore new ideas.

It’s a gift to step back, put a framework around our thoughts on diversity, and explore ideas further.

How Diversity-Friendly Are YOU?

When did you last step back and clarify your thoughts on diversity? 

Take this SHORT quiz.  I just timed myself; it took 2 minutes and 8 seconds.  Consider it a gift to help you step back and structure your thoughts.

Click here to get answers to the Diversity Quiz.

Woman doing pushups in Pilates class

Lead Constructive Meetings – Tips from Pilates

For many of us, meetings are a necessary evil.  We need team ressources and support, so we have to meet.  And yet many meetings feel unproductive.

How does one organize and run a meeting for optimal teamwork and productivity?

Contrary to popular believe, efficient and effective meetings rarely start by jumping right into the meat of the matter.  That’s expecting everyone to have thinking, listening, and creative caps donned.

It’s rarely the case.

Here is inspiration from one of my most envigorating weekly meetings:  a Pilates class.

1. Define the Mindset

Tips from Pilates

Our teacher begins every class the same way.

“Breathe.  Stand straight.  Feet hip-width apart.  Shoulders above hips.  Tummy muscles squeezed tight. Let your chin drop towards the sternum and feel the stretch…”

Every time, I am caught by both surprise and familiarity.

Surprised because I’m slouching, am disconnected with my body, and don’t even realize it!

These regularly repeated words prime both my spirit and my body for stretching and muscle-building. It takes 10 seconds.

Positive Mindset in Meetings

How do you prime your team members for alignment during your meeting?  Model the behavior you seek.

For connectedness: Take 10 seconds to smile and look each person in the eye.

To tackle a challenge regarding the competition: Link your fingers and stretch your arms out in front of you.

To foster listening: Stay silent until the room quiets down.

2. Engage the Core Muscles

Tips from Pilates

“Tighten your abs. Squeeze the inside of your thighs …”

Engage the Core Muscles in Meetings

What will constitute a “firm core” for your meeting?  Let the group know the intellectual muscle you expect.

“Let’s put those creativity caps on!”

“We have a full agenda.  We want to hear from everyone who has something new and relevant to add.”

“Disagreement is OK. When we present our viewpoint, let’s stick to facts. I may request a moment for each of us to write our thoughts down before continuing the debate.”

3. Clarify Expectations

Tips from Pilates

“Feel the stretch in your lower back…”   It’s our cue for success; if we only feel the legs, something is out of whack.

Clarify Expectations with a Meeting Agenda

A shared written agenda helps keep the meeting on track.  It’s an agreed-upon tool to refocus.

“The decision we have to make today is ___________. You have a valid point and we still need to move ahead.”

Time indicators on your agenda adds yet another element of accountability.

“We had spent 15 minutes debating this issue.  Are we getting ready to decide or do we need to come back to this topic with additional information?  If so, who will do what?”

4. Maximize Results in Minimum Time

Tips from Pilates

“Let’s tone triceps.  For these push-ups, place your hands facing forward with arms next to your body.”

Standard push-ups build upper body strength.  This particularly positionning tones triceps.  Our goal is fit-looking arms to show off our summer wardrobe.  These forward-facing pushups get us the results easier and faster.

Stay Focused

Less is more.  Avoid distraction that generate lengthy, somewhat-related discussions.  Aim to define several concrete steps to move forward and assigning who does what.  That’s HUGE and motivating to all.

5. Self-Evaluate

Tips from Pilates

Between exercises, our Pilates instructor reminds us to align our body, to strengthen our core, and where to feel the stretch.

Oops!  I squeezed those glutes five minutes ago and then shifted my concentration to the movement.  In that short time span, I forget to keep those butt muscles engaged!

Invite Re-Alignment throughout the Meeting

In the same way, it’s helpful to return to meeting’s posture, purpose, and schedule to check in.

To avoid putting someone on the spot, invite self-evaluation.

“How are we doing on creativity/timeliness/mutual respect/?  What could you do to help us be more imaginative/productive/effective listeners?  Let’s continue…”

Read Turn Good Intentions to Great Teamwork for an example of self-evaluation during meetings.

 

6. Nourish your Brain

Tips from Pilates

Between exercises we rehydrate with water infused with lemon, ginger, or cucumber.

Serve Water during Meetings

Do you know that the brain contains 80% water?  Studies show that hydration contributes to memory and clear thinking.

Serving water also creates a pause in the meeting dynamic.  Try relieving tension between participants by offering a glass of water.  These nanoseconds allow the brain to receive nourishment AND to process emotions which boosts the ability to reason and rationally weigh alternatives.

The humble act of service demonstrates your care for the participants.  It’s a basic human need to seek belonging and significance.  A glass of water with a smile allows you to connect one-on-one with a person, even during a large meeting.

7. End with a Closing Routine

Tips from Pilates

“One last stretch before we go.”

Stretch the Value of the Meeting with One Word to Recap

“Let’s go around the table with a take-away from each of you.”

This is a gentle yet firm way of securing buy-in….at least on something.  Peer pressure encourages even the reticent participant to contribute.  It could be eye opening for them to realize the meeting held value to their colleagues.

If the closing comments fall below your hopes,consider how to prepare or manage your next meetings differently.  Take stock:

  • What went well?
  • When were the less productive moments?
  • How well did your respect the schedule (ie and respect the value of your participants’ time)?

Want to participate in a business meeting with these tips in action?  Contact me about organizing a conference in your workplace.

Apply to Life

These techniques work marvels with children around the kitchen table.  It’s the opportunity to address an elephant in the room and get the kids involved.

“I noticed that we have trouble getting out the door on time in the morning.”

Define the Mindset – Smile.  Reassure the children this is a time for solution-finding, not blaming.  “Around this table I won’t tell anyone to ‘Stop dragging your feet.’”

Clarify Expectations “Let’s come up with ideas to make mornings calm and joyful.  From our list we can choose one to try this week.”

Invite Self-Evaluation“Yes, your brother could ______.  What could YOU do?”

Stay Focused – When the kids squabble among each other, reframe.  “Hum. How is that pinching helping us get out the door on time? (Pause. Eye contact. Smile.) Another idea?”

Finish Strong“Let’s each say one phrase to share what you thought of our meeting.”

  • “I felt like a big person.”
  • “I know how to help.”
  • “We have great ideas!”

Cover photo from Unsplash

Boys in teamwork. What collaboration!

Turn Good Intentions into Great Teamwork

Who among you works with youth or young employees?  How do you help the next generation to transform good intentions into teamwork, collaboration, and positive results?

That’s what I had the opportunity to put to the test this past week when teaching a class in Introduction to Management to university students, youth with several months of corporate work experience.  The university called me in to pick up a class in the middle of their curriculum; I began with the topics of Motivation and Leadership.  How appropriate!

Personable and polite students entered the class with good intentions.  In theory, they were motivated.  In practice, they quickly lost focus by chatting with a colleague or scrolling on their mobile phone.  Bye bye, teamwork.

Professor colleagues lament the young generation’s lack of attention and most respond in either of two schools

  • to carry on whether the students are listening or not
  • to walk over to the students’ desk and close their computers for them

Motivation 3.0

My area of expertise is Motivation-in-the-Era-of-Internet which expounds that employees are most motivated when they find autonomy, mastery, and purpose in their work.  Ignoring students or treating them like a child lies contrary to this Motivation 3.0 approach.

“Management is about creating conditions for people to do their best work…And what science is revealing is that carrots and sticks can promote bad behavior and encourage short-term thinking at the expense of the long view.” – Dan Pink, from Drive

Additionally, my experience with Millennials confirms their search for authenticity and connection in relationships.  Neither of the above teaching/leadership styles convey either genuine interest in or an engagement with the students.

Here was my dilemma:  How to teach/lead and engage these students in a way that

  • ensures results (the material is covered qualitatively=
    AND SIMULTANEOUSLY
  • creates a sense of belonging and desire to contribute among the students?

In other words, how to help these Post Millennials transform their good intentions into positive teamwork?

Team-Generated Collaboration Guidelines

We used a tool that works wonders in my workshops: Co-Developed Group Guidelines

This tool helps both create and maintain a constructive work environment.

CREATE COLLABORATION

1. The first step entails putting the good intentions into writing.  Here is how.

Invite your group to share, “What can we each do to work together as a great team?”

Folk respond right away with, “To respect each other.”  And the list continues.

2. It’s helpful to break down vague or over-used words. 

  • “What does respect mean exactly?”
  • “What will it sound/look/feel like?”
  • “What is an example of lack of respect that we should avoid?”

3. Once the brainstorming complete, invite the group to prioritize three to five of these great team behaviors.

The process of making the list together brings the success-criteria to top of mind.  It’s like hearing the reminder to drink 1 liter of water a day.  We know these are helpful behaviors AND we benefit from remembering to do so.

The process of having built these teamwork criteria together builds belonging to the group and accountability.  “It’s the rules I made.  It’s normal that I should keep them.”

Here is our class’ list.Teamwork collaboration guidelines

MAINTAIN TEAMWORK

As humans, any rule is hard to follow, even the great ones we make ourselves!  We need help yet even well-intentioned positive reminders can sound like nagging.  Invite self-evaluation as an effective means of follow through.

Half-way through my class I invited our group to review our team ground rules.  “How are we doing? Thumbs up (good teamwork), side ways (OK job), or down (need improvement).”

In our class, thumbs were all over the place!  That’s an opportunity to address the elephant in the room.

“Well…it looks like some people think we are listening while other people talk, and others don’t.”

That’s where I appealed to everyone to think of one or two behaviors to change so that our listening improved.  Some students closed their computers on their own accord.  We reshuffled the break-out groups which had the effect of separating chattering partners.  People sat up straighter in their chairs…

And we smiled (!) and continued with class.

And for our next session on Communication and Teamwork, we’ll begin by reviewing those same co-developed ground rules and setting a personal goal to be 1 Great. Team.

How do you engage your young employees?  Please share in the comments.

Apply Teamwork Guidelines to Your Work

What is your challenge with teamwork?

  • People arrive late in meetings
  • Folk repeat what has already been said or done
  • Meetings have no agenda
  • Lack of trust

Try setting a new stage.  Instead of focusing on the challenges, brainstorm together about great teamwork and, TOGETHER, set yourselves some clear guidelines.

Apply Teamwork Guidelines to Your Life

Easter is this Sunday.  In France, it’s customary to celebrate over a looooooong meal with extended family.  You love the food, wine, and company.  The kids get bored à table for an eternity.

Try this activity “en famille.

“Sweethearts, what can we do to make the big family meal a great experience for everyone?”

Everyone can brainstorm:

  • “We could get up and play between courses”
  • “We could get up and help (!) between courses!!”
  • “We could have Easter Egg drawings and color them while the adults finish eating”
  • “We could make an Easter Egg hunt for the adults!!!”

Once the brainstorming juices have flown free, then select one or two options that’s acceptable to everyone. 🙂

Photo by Robert Collins on Unsplash