Over the past few years, I’ve been writing a blog inspired by everyday situations my executive coaching clients and network are facing. In each article, I intend to share valuable strategies that enhance your well-being as a leader and inspire you to action.
In a world where news, ads, stats, and more bad news is coming at us from all directions, what’s it going to take for us to focus, connect, and deliver quality output?
My friend Cindy who coaches teens and parents and I discuss this topic often, especially as it relates to the impact that this phenomenon is having on our children.
In the digital age, are we all developing attention deficit? Moreover, what are the implications for our roles in the workplace and our home?
What I’ve noticed in myself and others when we tend to multiple demands at once is that the first thing that goes out the window is our self-awareness. We lose track of “how” we’re operating, skipping from one item to the next, skimming the surface but not focusing on any one thing and giving it the attention it deserves.
Unfortunately, operating from this state of diffused awareness, most likely, we’re not equipped to distinguish when we’re neglecting to pay attention to things, e.g., reading an email carefully before firing off a response, vs. people—not seeing, hearing, or sensing when a client, team member, manager, direct report, and others, need our attention and support.
The price we pay is losing connection and missing out on the opportunity to cultivate healthy professional and personal relationships.
I often recall the now 80-year longitudinal study conducted by Harvard which found that people who are the happiest at the end of their lives are those who have healthy relationships--with other people! Waldinger, the director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development, said in a viral 2015 "TED Talk" released in 2015, that "good relationships keep us happier and healthier."
So what are we busy professionals and leaders to do?
In complex work environments where fast-pace is the norm, we certainly can’t stop people from requesting, asking, demanding what they need.
Also for some of us getting something done as fast as possible is a sign that we’ve “got it” and are being productive.
Unfortunately, at that speed or level of unconsciousness regarding our approach, we may neglect to provide the depth that we’re capable of and overlook the value of nurturing and forging interpersonal relationships in our work community.
In this article, I invite you to explore three simple strategies with a significant ROI for your team and your well-being.
Pay attention to your demands and plan accordingly
Make sure that what you’re asking for, in the timeframe that you need it, is realistic. When you consider the challenges you currently have managing competing demands, the people around you most likely face similar issues.
Be cognizant of avoiding creating a team ecosystem that’s driven by constant fire drills, lack of planning, and last millisecond requests. You may not have the luxury to plan everything weeks ahead of time. However, not everything has to be a last-minute urgent request.
Incessant “emergencies” create a state of chaos for yourself and your team, internally and externally, and deplete productivity.
Take a second to examine the part that you play in building a peaceful ecosystem at work and in your personal life.
Start your day with a clear sense of “critical” decisions or activities that you must address.
Regardless of your level, create a system to categorize and prioritize requests to gain clarity and direction, e.g., Tier 1 — Critical, time is of the essence; Tier 2 – Normal, can schedule to occur; Tier 3 – Should I be working on this at all?
This approach will boost your focus for each item, including the people who are involved in delivering the results, while minimizing diffuse awareness and mental overload.
Master communicating expectations clearly and set healthy boundaries.
Are you being clear about the expectations you’re setting for your team, or what others expect of you with each request you receive?
If you’re not, be explicit about the specific needs and requirements from anyone you ask, as well as ensuring to establish clear guidelines about what the stakeholders expect from you.
You may surface that existing communication mechanisms create unnecessary confusion and vicious request loops.
Setting boundaries around your expectations, your time, and your ability to deliver will help you increase your focus, the quality of the outcomes within your purview, and enhance your personal brand—how people perceive you and the qualities they associate to you.
In the process, you can use the extra mental space you created to forge stronger, healthier relationships.
In a Nutshell: How to Maximize Your Relationships and Productivity
It can be tough to keep your eye on the big picture and develop and support relationships while also managing a significant number of minor, medium, and large detailed, urgent matters.
Every single day and every moment we have an opportunity to at a minimum create a neutral workplace for our teams, one that’s productive but not riddled with chaos.
At best, we can be influencers to not only keep the peace, but elevate and cultivate the team spirit, boost productivity, and a healthy sense of relationship within the work community.
If you do nothing else, increasing your self-awareness about how you’re currently dealing with competing demands, in your thought process, behaviors, and attitudes, is an excellent micro-step.
Once you lean into your awareness and discover any patterns that aren’t serving you because they make you feel unproductive, disappointed with the quality of your output, misunderstood, or any other negative emotion, then consider implementing another micro-step to improve the situation. Also, the same applies to your home life.
Give these three simple strategies a shot and let me know how they work out:
Pay attention to your demands and plan accordingly
Start your day with a clear list of “critical” decisions or activities that you must address
Master communicating expectations clearly and set healthy boundaries
Do you have a specific career question or a topic that you want me to address in the blog? Reach out and let us know.
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In the meantime, be fearless! (act despite the fear)
With love and appreciation,
Dr. Ginny Baro is a certified, international executive coach, motivational speaker, and #1 bestselling author of Fearless Women at Work.
Ginny specializes in helping executives develop leaders, maximize performance, and increase profits. As a career strategist, she partners with talented individuals who are navigating a corporate hierarchy or transitioning into an entirely new phase of their professional careers.
Where do you want to be 12-months from now? Schedule a Complimentary Strategy Session and learn for yourself how she can support you to begin creating the results you want.
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