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Showing posts from January, 2011

Five Steps to Overcoming Procrastination

As January draws to a close, I can sum up the start of the new year in two words: Time Management. More than any other topic that I help my clients with (and the list includes Leadership, Communication, Managing Change, Engagement, Building Teams, Coaching, Problem Solving, and Stress Management), Time Management has been numero uno so far in 2011.

My clients are diverse, including food and beverage, home furnishing, information services, non-profits, and hospitals. But they all have one thing in common: they are suffering from overload and overwhelm.

It's a dire situation. I believe it is one of the after-effects of the Great Recession. While CEOs found that they could rake in millions by slashing headcount and expecting more productivity out of the remnant workforce, HR managers are seeing the underside: stress is up, engagement and morale are down, and people are starting to fray around the edges.

The answer? Time Management. It's more than keeping a To Do list, though that s…

Tossing the Baby Out

You know the old saying, "Don't throw the baby out with the bath water." It's a good one. Very cinematic. You can visualize a wee baby flapping its chubby little arms as it sails in slo mo through an open window with a shower of grimy bubble bath.

The essential gist of the saying is, When you decide to toss something, make sure you don't lose a thing that's worth keeping.

This is a message of the utmost importance to anyone in business who is trying to improve things. An individual improving their time management. A team improving a work process. A continuous improvement guru improving how an entire business unit operates.

In a nutshell: When you are improving things, be careful to preserve what is working well now. In other words, take good care of the baby.

What's tricky, sometimes, is when the baby is ugly. And you think it ought to be tossed right along with the dirty water.

When is an Ugly Baby worth keeping?

Over the years, I have often entered the arena…

Tips for Change Agents in 2011

Gradually recovering from a bout with the flu, my arms still aching and almost too tired to type this blog entry, I find myself thinking once again of what it takes to be an effective agent of change.

Right this second, as I write, a friend of mine, Ferdi, is being celebrated at a funeral Mass. He died last week after a long battle with cancer. By his living witness, he taught us about courage, perseverance, and hope.

Additionally, he was an agent of change.

Several years ago, he became aware of how many homeless families there were in our area. He also learned about a church-based network that existed to help such desperate families. He thought that our parish should join the network and become part of the effort. After patiently pushing the idea through the thick resistance he encountered, we finally joined the IHN, the Interfaith Hospitality Network.

If I were to distill some guidelines for change agents from Ferdi's example, I'd pinpoint the following:

F = Focus: Focus on the…

The 10 Habits of Engaging Leaders

Throughout 2010, as I delivered management training for my clients, I found that the topic of employee engagement kept surfacing.

As we are learning from recent research, the more engaged a workforce, the higher the productivity and profitability of the company. It also says that among the factors that most influence employee engagement, the quality and effectiveness of managers is foremost.

So let's revisit the question: What must managers do to become Engaging Leaders?

Here are ten practices that can make a big difference for you and your organization:

1 and 2 - Align & Appreciate: These two practices are about Focus. By Aligning, the Engaging Leader gets everyone focused on where the company is going (Goals, Objectives and Plans) and how each person can play a part (Roles) in getting it there. By Appreciating, the Engaging Leader gets to know each person on his or her team, especially their talents, their strengths, their aspirations, and their life concerns.

3 and 4 - Listen …