Your team and that unreasonable deadline!

bad-bosses1Are you a good manager? Let us assume you are a confident and competent professional interested in your staff as people. You want to do your very best to help your team succeed in the widest sense. That means not only helping them meet their immediate work goals but developing them beyond so they fulfil their potential. And, if they can, you want your team to feel happy in what they do.

Of course, life is rarely simple. And, certainly, life at work can get very complicated indeed. As the boss, even if you are a very good manager, you find yourself sometimes dealing with conflicted emotions. Suppose you know you have an unreasonable deadline to meet. You have done all you can to change the decision that led to the deadline. Despite that, it is there: it exists! You have to meet it and you know it is going to be hard on the team. You’ve done your best to get extra resources but they are rarely available in the present climate. You doubt there is going to be any kind of financial recognition for the extra effort. You are just going to have to ask your team to do their best, even though it mean lots of stress on them.

What do you do?

Well, first, share the news. As soon as you are clear yourself about what needs to be done, tell them. If you can, tell them why the decision was made. If you want them to stay motivated, you will need to do this with care, if you, yourself, don’t think it is a good decision. Telling them your own manager is crap is not going to inspire them – as their manager that is your problem. Ask for their ideas on how best they want to approach the job.

Be prepared to help. People remember the senior manager who, when necessary, was prepared to labour beside them over a hot photocopier or to stuff envelopes.

Be clever in how you share the work out; remember to be scrupulously fair. Don’t overload your best person. Stay flexible and caring but be realistic. Ask people if they can make special arrangements to allow them to stay on at work, exceptionally.

Don’t take their good will for granted. Say please and thank you when you should, and mean it. Make the environment as pleasant as you can. Be present and engaged with people as they work. Do not be the boss who slopes off site at 6, leaving the team to finish the work. Ship in the doughnuts and ice cream if you can and be prepared to get people lifts home after work, if necessary.

Share the praise when those up the line praise you for getting the job done. Make sure you mention the contribution your team made. Remember a good team reflects well on you as manager.

If you can’t give the team formal recognition for what they have done, then make it informal. May be this is the time to think about planning that evening out that you have all talked about for a while. When review time rolls round remember the contribution people made, when you under pressure and you needed them most. A good memory goes with being a good manager.

Wendy Smith is a personal coach and writer at Wisewolf Coaching. She is a qualified coach and a member of the Association for Coaching as well as being a member of the Institute of Consulting and a graduate of the Common Purpose leadership programme. She is the author of “The WiseWolf Job Search Pocket Book: How to Win Jobs and Influence Recruiters” as well as two novels and a number of articles on management and well-being. Her latest publication is a little eBook; “How to Get on With the Boss.”  You can contact Wendy at wendy@wisewolfcoaching.com

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Do you have an ability to bounce back?

motivational-quotes-the-harder-you-fall-the-higher-you-bounce-backA quality that marks out many successful people is their resilience. They seem to have an outstanding ability to bounce back.

Psychological resilience is about how well you deal with stress, resolve problems and handle misfortune. No one goes through life without set-backs. Issues that test your ability to bounce back can emerge at work or outside. Health problems and financial pressures may require great resilience to handle. With resilience you can usually bounce back from misfortune.

Some people seem born with this natural ability to bounce back. But, if you are not so lucky, resilience is a skill that can be learned by virtually anyone. It is strengthened by an optimistic outlook and a positive approach to life. Resilience is about coming out of a deeply stressful situation strengthened and having learned from the experience.

Resilience is best understood as a process. This includes;

  • Knowing how to analyse what is going on around you
  • Making plans to handle the situation
  • Having confidence in your ability to carry out your plans
  • Knowing how to communicate and get support when you need it
  • Handling your strong feelings and emotions.

People who look for the best in any situation, are prepared to be flexible in their approach and focused on solving problems, seem most resilient. A sense of humour in the face of adversity always helps; humour seems to improve the immune system. People with perseverance and passion for their long-term goals often manage to overcome huge obstacles on the way.

The American Psychological Association suggests “10 Ways to Build Resilience.” These are:

  1. Maintaining good relationships with family and friends
  2. Avoiding seeing crises or stressful events as unbearable problems
  3. Learning to accept what cannot be changed
  4. Developing realistic goals and moving towards them
  5. Taking decisive actions in adverse situations
  6. Looking for opportunities for self-discovery after a struggle with loss
  7. Developing self-confidence
  8. Keeping a long-term perspective and considering the stressful event in a broader context
  9. Maintaining a hopeful outlook, expecting good things and visualizing what is wished for
  10. Taking care of your mind and body, exercising regularly; paying attention to your own needs and feelings

Unfortunately, there can be many circumstances in life which militate against the development of all these characteristics in early life. Luckily you can take steps to develop your resilience at any time. It is never too early or too late to start learning to bounce.

Wendy Smith is a personal coach and writer at Wisewolf Coaching. She is a qualified coach and a member of the Association for Coaching as well as being a member of the Institute of Consulting and a graduate of the Common Purpose leadership programme. She is the author of “The WiseWolf Job Search Pocket Book: How to Win Jobs and Influence Recruiters” as well as two novels and a number of articles on management and well-being. Her new latest publication is a little eBook; “How to Get on With the Boss,”  You can contact Wendy at wendy@wisewolfcoaching.com

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Danger – Red Light flashing. Toxic Manager About!

ArgumentHow well do you get on with your manager? Easy question really, isn’t it? You would be surprised how many people are not clear about the answer. They don’t know what the manager/team leader/supervisor really thinks about them, or the work they do. Sometimes, this is because they, themselves, lack the communication skills necessary to understand the message the manager is sending. Sometimes, it is because the manager doesn’t communicate well with the rest of the team.

Getting on well with the boss matters hugely in terms of your career success. Plus, the stress caused when things go wrong can have a negative effect on your health and well-being. Stress can lead to anxiety and depression which in turn affect life at home as well as at work.

You can find out how you’re doing by listening and watching how the person in charge behaves. You need to observe not only how they behave with you, but also how they behave with other people. It is easier, of course, if you have frequent contact with your manager. But, even if you do not, you can try to learn as much as possible about them and how they behave from others. Ask your questions with care, though, you don’t want it to get back that you think you may have a problem.

Here is a mini-health-check based on one in my little eBook; “How to Get on With Boss.”  It will help you get clearer about the relationship climate in your workplace.

Signs that all is well;

  • You belong to a happy team who work well together
  • You feel accepted by all
  • Each day your manager greets you and the others by name
  • Everyone feels at ease with him/her
  • You get regular and constructive feedback from your manager
  • You are not worried about asking for help when you need it
  • If something does go wrong you feel you can tell your manager about it and get a reasonable response.

If most of these things are happening for you, all is well and you are getting on well with our manager. Celebrate because, unfortunately, I suspect you are one of the happy few.

Signs that all is not well;

  • The team is generally unhappy
  • Everyone moans about your manager
  • The manager doesn’t seem to know who you are
  • The manager doesn’t seem to want to know anything about you
  • They don’t offer support
  • Feedback, if you get it, is definitely not positive
  • People are afraid to ask for help
  • Everyone is frightened of telling the boss when something goes wrong
  • People feel threatened
  • There is lots of gossip but no one really knows what is going on “up the line” or elsewhere in the organization

Signs like this mean that all is not well. Neither you, nor the other members of the team, are getting on with the person in charge. You need to take action to ensure your toxic manager doesn’t damage you, your career, your health or your happiness. You can find out more about my little eBook at this link.

Wendy Smith is a personal coach and writer at Wisewolf Coaching. She is a qualified coach and a member of the Association for Coaching as well as being a member of the Institute of Consulting and a graduate of the Common Purpose leadership programme. Wendy holds an advanced diploma in life coaching and a graduate certificate in confidence coaching. She is the author of “The WiseWolf Job Search Pocket Book: How to Win Jobs and Influence Recruiters” and her new eBook; “How to Get on With the Boss,” as well as two novels and a number of articles on management and well-being.  You can contact Wendy at wendy@wisewolfcoaching.com

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How to Get on With The Boss

DIGITAL_BOOK_THUMBNAILA helpful little eBook from Wendy Smith

You can buy this book at the links below

I have a new eBook available on Amazon. It is brief but wise. You really will learn how to make a great first and lasting impression at work.  Here is how to help your boss help you. Don’t be made unhappy, suffer stress and lose confidence because you cannot get on with the person in charge. Poor relationships at work can damage life at home as well as your career. There may be long-term effects on health and on your motivation. This little eBook by an experienced manager and coach can really help.

What it covers;
• What it means to get on with the boss
• Why it matters
• How to know whether you get on with your boss
• Getting it right
• What your boss really wants
• How requirements can change over time
• Making a good first impression
• Keeping respect once you are established in the role
• What to do when things go wrong
• Bosses with problems
• Demon bosses
• Putting things right
• Moving on when it is time to go
• Bullying

Buy in the UK

Buy in the US

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Talking about difficult issues!

difficult_conversationsTalking about difficult issues!

Talking to people about difficult issues is best done after careful thought and preparation. At home, you might want to talk to a partner about a change in your relationship. At work, it might be about negotiating a pay rise or dealing with a difficult colleague. Wherever you need to talk about a difficult issue, knowing how to prepare gives you a better chance of success.

Timing is critical

Raising a difficult issue is never easy but there are better and worse times to do it. If you know the person is dealing already with difficult things, it might be better to postpone if you can. At least, try to choose the best time in the day for them. We all have times when we are at our best. Don’t choose the morning for a night owl. Try never to talk about difficult things before your listener has had breakfast, or at least a coffee. In fact, don’t choose any time when they are likely to be hungry.

Speaking at a time when they are preparing for an important event, about to rush off to a meeting or watching their favorite television program, is not going to get you their best attention. Try to find an island of calm in their day, then speak to them in a quiet and private space.

Know what you want to say

Be absolutely clear in your own mind about the message. Know what you are asking for and why. Why is it important and why now? How does this fit in with everything else going on around them? Who is going to be affected most by what you say and in what way? How would you like your listener to respond? What would you like them to do next?

Get your information together beforehand.

Research the subject you want to discuss. Make sure you have all the facts or at least as many as possible. Be sure you know exactly what will be involved for them in meeting your request or receiving your news. Make sure you are clear about why it is worth them making a change. Have the evidence to support what you are going to say. How are they going to feel when they hear your news? If it is going to cause them pain, how can you keep that pain to a minimum?

Prepare to make your case

If it is appropriate, be ready to show why the change will benefit the other person as well as you. Can you highlight how changes like this have been beneficial in the past? How will you show the evidence and anything that will support what you are going to say? Choose the words you will use carefully and practice saying them. Imagine a positive outcome as you practice.

Be ready for the discussion

Think about the possible responses and how you will handle them. Be ready to be flexible; what changes are you prepared to make to your request? Think of solutions that will suit both of you. Be clear about what you want and why it makes sense. Know what is not negotiable.

Be ready to listen at least as much as you speak during your encounter. Listen carefully, watch their body language and prepare for your flexible response.

Each situation is different

Each situation is different and, however much you prepare, you may need time to consider their response. Be prepared to take time out. Whatever their response, don’t get angry or upset. Try to stay in control of the situation. The person needs to know this is important but don’t over react. Work on keeping options open and the relationship intact.

With careful preparation and consideration for the other person, you will achieve the best possible outcome from your discussion of that difficult issue.

try 2Wendy Smith is a life coach and writer at Wisewolf Coaching. She is a qualified coach and a member of the Association for Coaching as well as being a member of the Institute of Consulting and a graduate of the Common Purpose leadership programme. Wendy holds an advanced diploma in life coaching and a graduate certificate in confidence coaching. You can contact Wendy at wendy@wisewolfcoaching.com

 

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What do I do with the rest of my life? Some thoughts on career planning after “retirement.”

imagesWhether you chose to go or were pushed out, for example, as part of an organizational change, the time after retirement can feel like a yawning open space. Yes, you know these days retirement is supposed to feel like the start of something, and not an ending. But, for many of us, knowing we are expected to make a fresh start is quite daunting.

For some people it seems simple. They have spent years wanting to have more time for a well-loved hobby. Perhaps they have ideas about turning that hobby into a money-making activity. For others, the most important thing about the time ahead is an opportunity to be with family and grandchildren in particular.

Lots of us, don’t know exactly what to do next. Many need to continue to earn just to pay the household bills. Even, if we don’t need the money, we need a challenge and, perhaps, a new mountain to climb.

So, where to start? Well, ideally, you begin thinking about life after retirement, long before you actually retire. But, if you haven’t had that opportunity, you can still do the work to think through what is going to happen next, shortly after you retire.

Ask yourself these questions;

  • What has given me the most satisfaction in my life so far?
  • At work and at home, what did I really enjoy doing and why?
  • What was I really good at?
  • What did I dislike and would want to avoid in the future?
  • What was I not so good at?
  • In what kind of environment would I want to spend precious time?
  • What have I always dreamed of doing but never had the chance?

The results of this exercise are for your eyes only, so you can afford to be entirely honest.

Now, think about the constraints and how the choices you make may affect the rest of your life and those closest to you.

How free are you to retrain for something new? Do you have resources to pay for that training? Lots of people do retrain for new careers in later life but taking on a programme of training that is going to last several years in unlikely to make sense after 60.

You may want to consider working part-time. That would give you more time for family and other interests. It may also make long-term working more sustainable as it gives you recovery time.

Don’t be afraid to have big dreams and ambitions. Lots of us over 60 have achieved things we never imagined possible ten years earlier. And some of us feel more fulfilled in our work life now than we did earlier, even though we may not be earning quite so much.

Life after retirement is all about quality. Think about what that means for you in your particular circumstances. Now go out there and enjoy yourself.

10801706_10205372103244677_2990750892488570962_nWendy Smith (formerly Wendy Mason) is  a life coach and writer committed to helping people be happy and fulfilled at home and at work. You can contact her at wendy@wisewolfcoaching.com

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Change Management Isn’t Just a Work Thing

vision13Lots of us talk about wanting to make a change in our personal lives. We can feel frustrated with things as they are for all kinds of reasons. Some things we know we can’t change – we just have to find a way to accept and live with them. But other things we can change and it helps to know where to start.

Changing the Things You Can!

Having decided what can be changed, the next step is to sort out the issues associated with the change. This is to make sure your change is as successful as possible.

Ask yourself four questions:

  • Am I clear about exactly what I want to change?
  • How can I increase the likelihood that this change will take place?
  • How can I limit the risks?
  • What steps do I need to take to complete my change?

Thinking about these questions very practically, focussing on solutions, will help you feel less anxious about the change you want to make. It is important to be very realistic about your answers and your plans. Think through what is possible in your situation.

Start to think as clearly as you can about what life will look like after your change. Be very honest about what is to be gained but also what will be lost. This thinking should be done before you take the first step towards making your change a reality.

Make sure you understand the likely risks along the way and how you will manage them.

Now, break your change down into very small steps and plan for some rewards for yourself as you take the steps.

Throughout your change keep in mind how good life will be after the change and the benefits you will gain. You are ready now to make that change you have

thought about for years. Good Luck.

10801706_10205372103244677_2990750892488570962_nWendy Smith (formerly Wendy Mason) is  a life coach and writer committed to helping people be happy and fulfilled at home and at work. You can contact her at wendy@wisewolfcoaching.com

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Values and Why They Are Important Part 1 Introduction

values

Values and Why They Are Important

This is first post in a short series on values,;what are they, why are they important and how to understand your own values.

Understanding your own values is key to leading a happy and fulfilled life. Knowing your values is important in deciding the work you want to do and, for example, in choosing a life partner. Understanding them can help you deal with many challenges you will meet through life and how to make the best choice in difficult situations.

What Are Values?

Values are the important and lasting things you believe about life and the measures by which you will usually judge yourself and others. When you live your life in accordance with your values you will feel comfortable and at peace with yourself. That is if your values are positive and truly your own, not those you think you should have. When you don’t live according to your own values, you will usually feel miserably, guilty or angry. You will not feel fulfilled.

Values are usually fairly stable throughout life. We learn them young from our parents, teachers, our friends and, often, these days, from the media. But not all the values we learn when young are helpful. Times change! Think, for example, about the value that some people learned when young about the “separate” roles of men and women. Or the values that some people have adopted related to particular brands.

When you begin to understand your own values you can begin to make choices about which to hold on to and which to let go.

10801706_10205372103244677_2990750892488570962_nWendy Smith (formerly Wendy Mason) is  a life coach and writer committed to helping people be happy and fulfilled at home and at work. You can contact her at wendy@wisewolfcoaching.com

 

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Values and Why They Are Important

This is first post in a short series on values, what are they, why are they important and how to understand your own values. Understanding your own values is key to leading happy and fulfilled life. Knowing them can guide you in deciding the work you want to do and even how you choose a life partner. Understanding them can help you deal with many of the challenges you will meet through life and how to make the best choice in many situations.

What Are Values?

Values are the important and lasting things you believe about life and the measures by which you will usually judge yourself and other things. When you live your life in accord with your values you will feel comfortable and at peace with yourself. When you don’t you may feel miserably, guilty or angry with what is preventing you from feeling fulfilled. Values are usually fairly stable throughout life. We learn them young from our parents and teachers and sometimes from out friend. But not all the values we learn young are helpful to us. Times change and for example the value that some people learned very young and associated with the roles of men and women may no longer be appropriate in the 21st century. When you understand your values you can begin to make choices about this you hold on to. Next, we’ll begin to look at how to determine what your real values are.

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Mid-Career Dilemmas

qMid-Career Dilemmas

Many clients come to me for help handling decisions they need to make in mid-career. Usually, they are people who have done pretty well so far and they have at least one promotion under their belts. The junior technician or junior manager has become the trusted professional or senior manager. Now, it is time to think about their next move and they find themselves at a crossroads.

For some it gets even more complicated because there may be family choices to be made. For example, whether to start a family. Or, perhaps, whether to move the family to a new town or even a new country.

There may be lots of factors to take into account. But it is good to start by considering the experience you have had so far and what it has taught you about what really matters. Then, you can go on to consider things like the competencies you have. It is good to know what you have enjoyed and not enjoyed in the work you have done so far. What has made you feel stimulated and motivated? What has made you want to spend the next day under the duvet?

Thinking about those things, and the challenge of spending the rest of their lives doing the same kind of thing, leads some people to think about a complete change.

Usually, my work with those facing a mid-career dilemma starts with thinking about values and what really matters to them. For each one of us, values will be a little different and it takes honesty and trust to get to the real list.

Facing a mid-career dilemma can be challenging and the future can look very uncertain. You may not be clear for a while what the next step is going to be. It helps to have supporters with you along the way. So, I’m thinking of starting a monthly group coaching session for people facing mid-career dilemmas. If that includes you, feel free to get in touch. If one-to-one coaching is more your thing, I would still be very happy to help.

This post first appeared on LinkedIn

10801706_10205372103244677_2990750892488570962_nWendy Smith (formerly Wendy Mason) is  a life coach and writer committed to helping people be happy and fulfilled at home and at work. You can contact her at wendy@wisewolfcoaching.com

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