The Buzz

The right apps are invaluable organizing tools

November 13, 2015
Filed under: Coach's Corner — Tags: , , , — jonimar @ 11:46 am

Q: I’ve just moved from a large organization to a small startup without an executive assistant to keep me organized. What tools would you recommend?

A: Productivity Apps that sync your smartphone, tablet and laptop may rival your EA because they manage details and information with people anywhere anytime.

Google Drive is a must have. This cloud storage system enables you to share just about any kind of file from recordings and photos to spreadsheets and word docs online 24/7. It’s a premier collaboration tool that allows multiple users to work on a single document separately or simultaneously and the Drive captures every update immediately.

OneNote is an intuitive note-taking app that can be used to capture random ideas or as searchable notebooks for a host of topics with sub-sections. Colour-coded tabs make it simple to sort, retrieve and review. Notes are easily shared with others by email. Meeting notes, video and recordings can be added to your notebook by emailing OneNote. A handy bonus is when clipping website information the URL is automatically saved.

Rated the best to-do list app, Wunderlist is great for managing accountability. It allows you to create multiple to-do lists, assign tasks to others and sort by priority or due date. Collaborators receive an email notification when assigned tasks and you receive one as they are completed.

Who can remember all their passwords? LastPass is the most popular password manager because it auto populates log-in information from all of your devices, alerts you if there is a security breach and allows you to give others log-in access to sites without ever revealing your password.

These apps can help you squeeze more time out of your day. Next time, useful travel apps for the mobile professional.

Reprinted from The Province, November 22, 2015.

Defeating ‘impostor syndrome’ is a must

June 8, 2015
Filed under: Coach's Corner — Tags: , , , — jonimar @ 12:34 pm

Q: I’ve been the COO for three years, yet I still question how I got here. To avoid being discovered as a fraud I work 14 hours a day, six days a week. It is draining and I’m burning out. How do I stop this crazy cycle?

A: Your fear and self doubt are both common and especially prevalent with high achievers who strive to give their best to every endeavour. Research shows that even with evidence of competence or capability, 70 per cent of people suffer from a phenomenon called the ‘impostor syndrome.’

Unfortunately, running to stay ahead of your anxiety will never allow you to savour your successes or feel a sense of satisfaction.

A common mistake is to attribute your successes to external forces, and blame yourself solely for every failure.

Reprogram your thinking by identifying what you did to create the win and acknowledge yourself for it. Rebalance your thinking. Focus your attention on what you are doing well. Stop fixating on the one small item you did wrong that is likely now magnified out of proportion. End the self-defeating comparison game. How can that even be fair when you downplay your successes and elevate others? You automatically lose when measuring other’s outsides to your insides. Their appearance of confidence is no match for your feelings of anxiety.

Acting as if you are confident can lead to actual confidence by altering your brain chemistry. Psychologist Amy Cuddy explains this in her 2012 Ted Talk, Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are.

The gift of the self doubt to date is it has motivated you to accomplish great things, however at a great cost. Self awareness is the first step to managing the syndrome. Now observe when it is running you and apply the steps above to thwart it.

Reprinted from The Province, June 7, 2015.

New position overwhelms manager- Too much feedback can lead to information overload and cause poor decision-making

May 11, 2015
Filed under: Coach's Corner — Tags: , , , — jonimar @ 10:22 pm

Q: The senior manager I just promoted is highly capable but needs direction. When I start giving her feedback in our weekly one-on-one meetings she shuts down. I use a supportive and empathetic tone when I am being constructive but I feel like I’m walking on eggshells. How can I be more effective?

A: It is possible your manager is overwhelmed adjusting to the new responsibilities and would benefit from less well-intentioned advice in favour of more encouragement and space to find her own footing. Spend time being curious about how she thinks things are going. Ask her to share her views and ideas.

Celebrating successes together will cultivate a trusting collaborative partnership. When you observe the ‘deer in the headlights’ staring back at you, chances are the person is emotionally flooded therefore unable to take in any new information at the moment.

Slow the discussion down. Pay close attention to their body language. Stop the feedback at the first sign they are withdrawing from the discussion.

When a normally high-functioning individual is second guessing or questioning their abilities that’s a cue that they are overstressed.

The brain shuts down and the fight or flight response takes over.

In this reactive state the person loses their capacity to focus, struggles to remember and makes poor decisions.

To help the executive brain centre come back on line pause the discussion, talk about something neutral, offer water, or go for a walk with them so the person can recover and re-engage.

Your readiness likely exceeds your manager’s capacity right now. Pull back. Check in with her regularly using a ratio of three-to-one of acknowledgment to redirection. Support her to engage a peer, coach or mentor as a sounding board and impartial ally.

Patience will pay off in faster integration.

Reprinted from The Province, May 10, 2015.

Travel for work, family life clashing

April 27, 2015
Filed under: Coach's Corner — Tags: , , — jonimar @ 6:46 pm

Q:  The travel my job requires is creating conflict with my wife, who has a demanding leadership position in addition to all the responsibility for our five- and eight-year olds when I’m away. How can I make peace at home and still be a top performer?

A:  You’re not alone. Roughly 70 per cent of Canadian households have two income earners trying to balance career and family. With time pressures, competing priorities and conflicting obligations, more than half of all employees report that the demands of their job interfere with their personal responsibilities. Here are some ways the other half succeeds:

Create a compelling family vision together. Check in regularly to ensure you are both on the same page, on track, or need to revise. Openly weigh the potential implications of new assignments, travel or roles.

Isolate the items where you compete and complain. Have an honest conversation about collaborating on them for a win/win/win. Keep in perspective that you are both on the same team for the sake of the entire family unit not just your careers.

Borrowing from work, intentionally define roles and responsibilities. When couples slip unconsciously into traditional gender roles these unspoken expectations can create misunderstanding, disappointment and resentment.

The division of work does not need to be equal, only feel equitable. Delegate anything below your position at work. At home, hire out household tasks so you are free to spend quality time with your family.

A great leader regularly checks in with an employee to avoid disengagement. A great spouse sets private one-on-ones with their partner or risks relationship burn out. Feeling taken for granted when giving your best is demotivating.

Reprinted from The Province, April 19, 2015.

Coaching helps employees achieve their goals

April 8, 2015
Filed under: Coach's Corner — Tags: , , — jonimar @ 9:37 am

Q: One of my managers is alienating his team with his harsh approach and is in jeopardy of being moved out of his role. To bring his style in line with expectations, is making coaching mandatory the best option?

A:  Executive coaching is an excellent method for developing valued high-potential employees and high performers — to grow their leadership skills, create constructive behavioural change and enhance performance. It focuses on leveraging capabilities and inspiring the coachee to maximize their professional and personal potential.

Frame the coaching as a value-add to support the manager’s success in their current role, rather than a punitive process. When an under-performing employee is sent to coaching to ‘fix’ them, they often resent and resist the intervention.

The employee must perceive a positive benefit for them to fully engage in the process. Ensure the employee knows that even though they and their supervisor create leadership goals linked to the employee’s performance plan, the coaching is confidential. Coaching is never a replacement for a supervisor’s responsibility to set clear, specific and descriptive performance expectations, provide detailed ongoing feedback and conduct regular quality appraisals.

It is the supervisor’s role to identify and reinforce strong performance and redirect where improvement is needed so the employee has the framework to achieve their goals.

Augmenting the supervisor’s role with professional coaching increases the employee’s ownership of their performance, improves their capabilities, meets their current goals and develops them for the future.

Reprinted from The Province, March 15, 2015


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