Stop Making Resolutions, Start Finding Solutions

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New Year’s Resolutions are one of the most maddening traditions that we take part in as a culture. Each year, millions of people around the world fail in their attempts to change something about themselves or their life, and this only compounds the negative feelings that were behind the resolution to begin with. There have been countless think pieces on the reasons why our resolutions continually fail, or most specifically, why we fail to reach them. These reasons include:

  • Our inability to set reasonable goals: Someone looking to lose weight might resolve to completely cut out junk food and go to the gym six days a week, when what they would be better off aiming to do is cut their junk food intake down, mix in some salads, and try to get to the gym three times a week.

  • The presence of external factors in our resolutions: While your resolution may be to advance your career by getting a promotion, this is not in your control. In this situation, your boss holds too much power over whether or not you achieve your goal, and thus your resolution, which is supposed to empower you, has been stripped from your hands.   

  • Emphasizing what we ‘should’ do, rather than what we ‘want’ to do: A major factor in failed resolutions is that we often push ourselves into things that we don’t want to do. Our idea of a better life involves things that we believe ‘should’ be done, without accounting for personal preferences. Instead of dreading your new, daily, 5 a.m. jogging alarm, go for a run when you feel like it, and create more positive associations with the experience.

Solutions Over Resolutions

When you look at all of these factors, plus the statistics behind the success of resolutions (~80% of resolutions are broken by early February), we clearly need to find a better way to go about personal growth. Our current situation leaves people even more disgruntled than they began, as not are are they still not exercising, still smoking, or stuck in their dead end job, but now they have evidence of their failure to change what they wanted to change.

As a professionally trained ‘Solutions-Focused’ Coach, my recommendation for the future is for people to find solutions, rather than making resolutions.

The main reason we make resolutions is because we are unhappy with, dislike, or want to improve something about ourselves, or our current state. This leads us to resolve to do something different in order to attain a future desired state.

Let’s use losing weight as an example, because 55% of resolutions involve people wanting to get healthier/lose weight/exercise more. The main problem with resolutions is that they are goal-based, meaning that we externally motivated to achieve them. External motivation is the desire to reach some goal because of what you get at the end, versus internal motivation, which drives us to do things based on our inner desires.

In this way, our resolutions will be a fight everyday, because we define success as reaching a goal that is often unreasonable. A solution to this, which is my preferred method for achieving goals, involves reshaping our attitudes towards the processes behind our goals. If you find a type of exercise that you enjoy, and learn to incorporate it into your routine, getting the recommended amount of exercise becomes much easier, and much less of a chore.

By applying this type of solutions-oriented, process-driven thinking to your life, you can say goodbye to your least favourite annual tradition: giving up on your resolution on February 1st.


Living in the Grey: How Can We Differentiate Between Black/White and Grey Communication?

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As we saw in the first installment of this series, The Grey is an area of uncertainty but it’s also an area that requires subtlety, compassion, and understanding. In part two, I’d like to explore how a lack of these qualities has pushed us to our current state of communication: divided, hostile, and lacking openness.  

It doesn’t take much effort to find examples of divided or ‘black and white’ communication going on these days. There are obvious places where the back and forth has always been testy, such as between political parties or sports team fan bases, but even these arenas are becoming increasingly polarized, with hostility and disrespect reaching an all-time high.

Let’s take a look at an example of this kind of communication, in order to lock down this abstract notion of ‘black and white.’

John: Who do you want to win the game tonight?

Jenny: I’m a Bears fan, and I think that they will beat the Rams.

John: Bears better than the Rams? Are you an idiot? The Rams will kill them.

Jenny: Only a Rams fan would be dumb enough to think that.

John: Now I know why your husband drinks so much. To drown out your stupid opinions.

Jenny: At least I’m still married. Unlike you.

Now this snippet of conversation may seem absurd, but it outlines many of the characteristics of a ‘black and white’ conversation.

  • A conversation about a benign topic is blown out of proportion

  • Associating with a specific group instantly demonizes those from other groups

  • Improper attacks on someone’s character

  • Line-crossing comments

What was supposed to be a simple sports conversation between acquaintances became a heated argument involving personal attacks. Both John and Jenny can’t unravel their identities as fans of their teams from the bigger picture, and this disagreement ensures that they won’t be able to see eye to eye on other issues, because of this one differing opinion.

Let’s look at another conversation, involving more complex subject matter, as an example of a ‘grey’ conversation.

John: Are you pro-life or pro-choice?

Jenny: Pro-choice. I don’t think that the government should be allowed to tell women what they can or can’t do with their bodies.

John: I’m Pro-life. While I agree that a woman’s body should be her domain, I think that life begins at conception, and thus purposely terminating any pregnancy is murder.  

Jenny: I understand. Determining the beginning of life is difficult and complicated, so I can see why you don’t support abortion. But thank you for respecting my position.  

John: Are we still on to go hiking this weekend.

Jenny: Of course!

Here, we see that a disagreement on a core philosophical topic doesn’t have to ruin your weekend plans or friendship with someone. Both John and Jenny understand and respect the other’s position on a difficult topic, and admit to some ignorance of all the facts on their own parts. They have successfully navigated a tricky conversation, while remaining cordial with one another. No name-calling, no personal attacks.

Let’s take a quick moment to recall some of the criteria for ‘Living In The Grey:’

  1. It's not about eliminating the black/white distinction, but about recognizing that not everyone sees the world through the black/white lens, at least not on all topics.

  2. We don't always have to take a committed stance on everything for the rest of our life. We don’t need to be prisoners of our beliefs.

  3. We must ask more questions and explore The Grey.

  4. The truth might have many colours so stop asking people to be in one camp or another.

The difference between these two conversations is striking, particularly when you consider the subjects of each. A sports conversation led to a huge blow-up, while an abortion conversation was civil and informed. However, there seem to be many more examples of the sports conversation, with just the topic changed, happening in and around our society.

Part 3 of this series will be out next month, and it touches on one of the reasons that we see this: social media and online echo chambers. We will look into how the selective bias and relative anonymity of our online lives has turned the tone of conversation to black and white, and made living in the grey more difficult.

Living In the Grey: A Six-Part Exploration of Living in a Polarized World

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Part 1: What Is ‘The Grey?’

There is a plague on our culture, and in our workplaces. You have undoubtedly noticed it, because it’s present almost anywhere you turn, in the office, or online. It has slowly been creeping into every aspect of the modern world, invading every crevice. What is this damaging force? It has many names: division, polarity, antagony, hate, conflict, hostility, inhumanity. And if we don’t recognize it, it will continue to tear us apart, past the point of no return.  

As the world and business have gotten more complex, more technologically-rooted, and more intricately connected, many people have become more and more set in their ways, with a refusal to consider the other side of an argument. There is a tendency to revert to primitive ways of ‘black and white’ thinking, us against them, right versus wrong, in areas that are no longer so cut and dry.

The social trauma and crisis that so many people are experiencing at work and at home is the result of applying this kind of either/or thinking to discussions that are much more subtle; they want black or white, when what really exists is grey.

‘The Grey’ will be the primary subject of this series, specifically, the importance of learning to ‘live in The Grey.’ Living in The Grey means many things, which is appropriate, because it is our best, and most necessary, technique for combating the personal, social, political, and technological forces driving us apart.

The most important thing to recognize about living in The Grey is that there is no rule book or instruction manual for you to follow in every situation, or no leader who can guide you perfectly through the modern world. It is a process that takes time, wisdom, experience, and most of all, compassion and understanding.

Living in The Grey is a return to communal principles, but applied to a globalized world and marketplace. It involves dealing with uncertainty, entertaining opposing viewpoints, and handling disagreement with civility rather than cruelty. The brain must sometimes take a back seat to the heart, and the ego needs to be tamed wherever possible, for an organization and its people to exist in this productive space.

By following principles like this, we can wrestle back some control over the dividing forces that we feel are out of our hands. We can use social media networks to build connections as they were intended, not spread hate and misinformation as they are doing. We can go to workplaces that function as supportive forces for everyone’s career, not just those in charge. We can use politics as a way to build up better communities and countries, rather than playgrounds for racism, xenophobia, and fear. Most importantly, we can establish closer, more meaningful human relationships, by recognizing that differences should be celebrated and embraced, not run from in terror.

One of the first steps towards living in The Grey is for us to become better communicators. There needs to be a return to thoughtful, earnest discussion, which values insight over insult, and respects the value of ideas, not the prestige of the speaker, especially in the workplace. In our next piece, we will outline how we got to this divided place in communication, and how we can fix our communication channels to enable healthy, productive conversations.   


A simple way to radically improve your performance

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While mindfulness isn’t the first association we make with high performance, entrepreneurship and innovation, you’d be surprised at how many successful leaders practice and prioritize it. Studies have found that mindfulness can help thicken grey matter in the brain and reduce cortisol levels, improving our ability to handle information. For anyone working hard and suffering from an intense daily routine, mindfulness is a great way to keep things together and prevent burnout, ensuring that you remain wired for success.

What Is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is a positive mind-altering approach to life, which, in practice, helps to encourage insight, tranquility, and focus. It is the essential human ability to be aware of the present moment, of what we are doing, feeling, and thinking, without getting overwhelmed or disturbed by external influences. Those who meditate as part of their mindfulness practice tend to have greater control over stress and anxiety, while also improving their energy levels and mental clarity.

The most common mindfulness practice is regular meditation. Meditation is a very personal matter, and the most important aspect of your practice is being consistent. For starters, meditate in the morning or evening. Then you can gradually move onto meditating before big meetings and challenging business decisions. This will help centre you and allow you to perform at your best.

How Can Mindfulness Improve Performance?

The benefits of mindfulness are plentiful. In the context of entrepreneurship, some of the key benefits of this positive practice include the following.

  1. Improved Focus

When you’ve got a lot of things on your plate and are unable to focus entirely, it is more difficult to wrangle your great ideas, and act on them. Mindfulness helps you gain a higher level of focus, and keep your thoughts more cohesive and sensible. By doing so, you can turn them into appropriate solutions. As you become more concerned with mindfulness, incoming emails, buzzes, vibrations, and other distractions will be less able to divert or jeopardize your trains of thought.

2. Deeper Creativity

Being a high-performing leader isn’t only about making smart decisions. It also involves understanding the creative process behind those decisions. When you unlock your creative potential and tap into your deeper creative self, you’ll experience a world filled with possibilities, solutions, and options you’d never considered.

3. Embrace Failure

No one likes losing, especially if they're mentally prepared to succeed. However, failures happen, and they occur often. The difference between real winners and losers is that winners understand that failure is a part of the process to improvement. Successful people and entrepreneurs alike turn the fear of failure (and the unknown) into motivators.

Failure doesn’t define them; it informs them.

Mindfulness helps train your mind to manage your emotions more productively, finding the positivity in failure. Such a mindset enables you to gain confidence and exhibit your perseverance – two main traits of every successful business person.

4. Communicate More Effectively Under Stress

Effective communication is one of the crucial traits of successful entrepreneurship, especially in stressful situations. Most professional success and personal growth comes with improved communication skills, and mindfulness can play a big role in this. By maintaining a mindfulness practice, you’ll learn to communicate effectively and keep yourself shielded from those predatory, mental threats that are actively making you stressed and anxious. When you're in the middle of an investor meeting or client negotiation that isn't going your way, mindfulness will help you stay calm and focused on solution finding.

Your emotions are bound to get the best of you...unless you are armed with tools to control them. Mindfulness is one of those 'in-the-moment' tools that is designed to help you calm down those nerves so you don't say something you later regret.

Although mindfulness has become somewhat of a buzzword in the last few years, that doesn’t negate its benefits to virtually all aspects of our lives, from feelings of inner peace and satisfaction, to growing business relationships, and everything in between.

I’ve been practicing meditation and other forms of mindfulness for the past four years and it’s been a game changer in my life, and my business. Give it a shot. You won’t regret it.

How to Spot an Uncoachable Employee

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The business world is challenging enough as it is, but what happens when your business depends on employees who might not be that open for cooperation? If you don’t react in time to stop a disaster, you are potentially looking at your business suffering a significant loss, both financially, and concerning your company morale.

If you’re looking to gather the best possible team around you, here are a few things to be on the lookout for when coaching your new employees, to help you avoid getting stuck with an uncoachable group.

They Can’t Take (Negative) Feedback

One of the first clues you are stuck with an employee who’ll give you headaches is that they get defensive in feedback situations. Usually, they’ll become overly emotional, tune out, and try to “explain” and “justify” their poor performance by finding excuses irrelevant to work (e.g., their cat got sick, and they’ve been so stressed lately.)

They Find Blame Elsewhere

Finding blame in everyone and everything outside yourself is usually indicative of a poor performer. They often aren’t interested in doing much for their personal growth, whether individually or as part of your team. They’ll won’t take accountability for their mistakes and, when criticized, they’ll take it as a personal offense, rather than an opportunity for improvement.

They Exploit Personal Relationships

Everyone has been in this situation. A friend’s daughter needed the job, so you were kind enough to let her join your team. After all, you’ve known the kid her whole life, so how could she not be right for the job, right? Ah, the naivete.

If the person you gave this opportunity to keeps ditching responsibilities and shunning the advice you give them, their work should speak louder than existing relationships. Furthermore, if you hear them acting superior with their colleagues because they know you, you’ll have a problem in the long run. If you want to hire someone you know, have a serious talk with them before they start working, and explain they’ll be treated just like any other employee.

They Are Unwilling to Be Vulnerable

To truly progress at work (and in life!) you need to be humble and vulnerable. This requires an openness to admitting your mistakes, asking for help, experiencing discomfort, and having difficult conversations. These are the ingredients that make up your professional and personal relationships. If your employees are too proud to communicate and show their true feelings, they most likely don’t have the potential for growth, and won’t be able to take your coaching seriously.

They Have a Hard Time Changing Their Perspective

As human beings, we are mostly driven by our unconscious mechanisms and “pre-programmed” beliefs. Employees who are open to “re-programming,” i.e., learning new ways of looking at a situation, or being wired for success, are real keepers! In opening up to new perspectives, knowledge, and information, they are expanding their overall understanding of things at work and outside of it, and learning to detect behaviors and beliefs that could potentially sabotage them. Employees who are stubborn in their views are likely the same employees that’ll give you a headache in the long run.

They Think They Are Better Than They Are

The job market is beaming with applications of people looking for jobs of all kinds. This means that plenty of “overqualified” employees take a job that pays rent, while hating every single moment of it. Such an attitude will lead to them feeling superior,not only to other employees, but their leaders as well. Letting these attitudes linger can cause uncomfortable situations and an unproductive work environment.

No matter how intelligent, educated, and smart your employee is, they also need to be adaptable to coaching. And for the C-suite leaders and managers reading this - that includes you. It’s important for companies to think twice before hiring a person who believes they are better than the job they are doing.

Building a team that functions like a well-oiled machine can be tough but if you have uncoachable, ego-driven and stubborn people on the team, you’re going to experience constant friction. When you spot the above signs in employees, you need to take a step back and do an honest assessment of the negative impact that this individual can have on the team, and the company’s growth. After all, your team is the foundation of your business, and one bad apple might just ruin the bunch.


3 Signs that Ego is Hurting Your Ability to Lead

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When was the last time your ego took over? Maybe before the conversation with an employee who did something wrong. Was it when you were arguing which political party truly deserves to be in power, and why? How about that conversation that “mysteriously” led to you talking (ahem...bragging) about all the rich and successful people you know?

At some point in time – we’ve all been there or at least we’ve known someone who has.

The ego is the part of our subconsciousness that craves control. It makes us feel safe, important and valued - something every human being needs right from the time they’re born.

The issue is when the egotistic voice starts to over emphasize our individual importance in the world.

If your inner voice is constantly telling you that you are better and more valuable than the people around you, that’s your ego creeping in.

We sometimes think the ego helps our self-identify but it might just be doing more damage. More importantly - it can hurt personal and professional relationships.

The Damage In A Leadership Role

Leaders need to have a sense of confidence that they know what they’re doing but when consumed with an overwhelming sense of self-worth, importance, and pride, they fail to inspire. Their teams can become disengaged and disconnected, and in extreme situations  - an ego-driven leader creates a toxic environment where staff try to sabotage that leader’s growth out of sheer frustration.

Egotistical leaders fail see the bigger picture and for a business that’s looking to thrive long term, a leader like this can be devastating.

If left unchecked, the ego can make the most intelligent individual seem like a complete jack-@#$. And no one likes to work for, or with one, regardless of how intellectually capable they are. No one.

What Are The Warning Signs That Our Ego Is Calling The Shots?

Here are just a few things to watch out for:

The need to be right

People who have an obsessive need to always be right are driven by ego, which will inevitably endanger both their personal and business relationships.

Unfortunately, most people are unaware of their “I’m right” syndrome. If you hear your friends, colleagues, employees, or supervisors call you on it, don’t get defensive. Instead, think about what they’re saying, and why they’re saying it.

Fixing this requires you to drop narrow-minded thinking patterns where things are either “right or wrong,” and “good or bad.”

Take a step back and consider all the facts. The moment you open your mind to other people’s opinions, suggestions, and solutions, you’ll see beyond your ego-induced judgment and criticism, to embrace a multitude of potential opportunities.

It will not only make you a great leader, but a better person, as well.  

Enjoying the limelight...a little too much

Examine this scenario between a leader, let’s call him Bob, and one of his team members, who we will call Kate. Kate had only been in the industry for a few years, and was looking for a leader and mentor. She hoped to learn from Bob and his impressive success in sales.

However, instead of offering her valuable support, Bob mostly bragged about the praise he received when starting out as a “young-gun” in Kate’s role. He was a serial name dropper, always reminding his team of his accomplishments and accolades.

On one project, Kate stayed late, working countless hours. In spite of this, she received little appreciation, only getting feedback on her mistakes. Regardless, her work and effort shown through on the project. When the CEO asked to meet with key members of the project, Bob told her and the others they “didn’t need to be there,” even picking a time when the team wasn’t available.

After the meeting, Bob continued his gloating, this time about the praise he received from the CEO. A few days later, the CEO spotted Kate leaving Bob’s office and thanked her. Before she could speak, Bob cut in: “I make sure my people are trained well. Kate has a great future under my wing.”

Being a ‘Bob’ will only lead to resentment and alienation from your team over time. Try focusing on boosting them up, instead of stepping on them to gain a brief moment of glory.

Stress, Tensions and Discomfort Feel Overwhelming

Ego can lead people to a place where individuals are planning a project to the last detail and then snapping if things don’t go as they “should.”

Every leader must understand that life is unpredictable and that you can’t control everything, no matter the level of planning. The stress and emotional discomfort inherently will result in intense vibes, causing entire teams to start feeling tense, leading to their distress and loss of productivity.

Try to focus on courage instead of fear, and practice letting go, possibly through meditation.

The ego won’t ever go away, as it is one of the layers of our being and psyche, but it can be tamed by noticing when it’s calling the shots. It’s possible to evolve, becoming more aware of the ego, and therefore more capable of shutting it down if it won’t serve us.

A little ego doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing. The ego prevents us from being pushed around, two-timed, or allowing others to use our kind heartedness for their benefit. As long as you know how to channel your ego, it won’t hurt your perception and decision making. Instead, you’ll be the type of emotionally intelligent leader everyone wants around.


Nike Just Schooled Us All!

Photo by Spencer Dahl on Unsplash

Photo by Spencer Dahl on Unsplash

I have a new appreciation for @Nike. With their recent announcement, I can see that they clearly understand something I often talk about: the importance of building a tribe rather than a customer base.

A tribe consists of people with shared core values, driven by a collective purpose, rather than just those looking for quality or a bargain.

By demonstrating their core values in such a strong statement, Nike has shown that a) they're not afraid to stand for what they believe is right, and b) that they aren't concerned about offending people.

Their stance is particularly relevant to Millennials who, as buyers and employees, are extremely concerned with a company's core values.

By giving this honest, authentic look into the soul of the company, Nike understood that, while they may piss off a few people, those who agree with them are going to gain a much greater appreciation of the brand.

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Taking a stance has shown that Nike is ready to be an active part in shaping social and political issues that brands have so often stayed away from, and it shows a very sophisticated understanding of what modern consumers are looking for from their brands.

Businesses need to start paying more attention to their purpose. Your WHY matters, and it's precisely what the young, cause-driven customer is attracted to.

Too many companies stand for nothing or everything. That yields mediocrity. Millennials want to know you're willing to stand for something powerful; something beyond profits. When a business makes the bold statement that Nike just made, they gain more of their ideal customers.

So, ask yourself - are you making bold enough statements that resonate with your core values? Do you even have a set of core values that inspires and motivates the people who work for you and buy from you?

Maybe it's time to burn the old mission and vision and start building something that matters.

As a quick note to all of those people burning their shoes, and cutting the emblems off of their clothing:

If this is your reaction to Nike's stance, keep your lighters and scissors close because you're likely going to have a lot more things to burn and cut up.

Nike won’t be the last brand to take a stance on an issue that matters, especially because of all of the support they have received after this move. Besides, they have your money already, so the only thing you're hurting with these actions are your closets.

Organizational Transparency: Why It Matters to Today's Employee

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Whether we’re talking politicians, CEOs, celebrities, or influencers, the world is losing trust in the leadership of people in power.

Of all generations in the workforce, Millennials in particular are having an adverse reaction to leaders who can’t disclose the whole truth to them. They’ve grown up watching disasters in corporate leadership, like Enron. They’ve seen corporate leaders say one thing and do another, which, for ages, they could get away with doing. However, this has created a significant loss of trust in corporate structures, and many unsuitable leaders.

With the power of Google reviews, Glassdoor and social media, this distrust is being voiced. It’s no longer easy for people to stay in the dark. Conversations are taking place, whether  companies like it or not. Today’s employees are changing how things are done in the workplace, and one of their key demands is greater transparency.

No transparency equals no employee engagement, but for some in power, the term ‘organizational transparency’ can feel like “fluff.” However, there are several reasons why it’s important for organizations to take charge and decide what narrative they want to create, by always being open and honest with their employees, particularly Millennials.

Getting Clear on Organizational Transparency

Beyond being a buzz word, there is a deeper meaning to transparency. However, some leaders still aren’t sure how to work through this, because they haven’t quite grasped the full meaning of it.

Simply put, organizational transparency is a company’s willingness-turned-to-practice to make its who, what, when, where, and how transparent to its employees.

An organization that’s transparent...

  • Lets employees in on the inner functioning of their company, not merely what pertains to the individual’s department

  • Informs everyone of the purpose and deeper WHY of the company

  • Includes team members in significant decision making (policy changes, compensation discussions, structural reorganizations, etc.)

  • Encourages communication between the employees and management, as well as among the employees themselves

  • Promotes honesty in every segment of business operations

  • Talks about their problems and seeks employee input when things aren’t going the way they expected

  • Makes its hiring process information available to candidates and employees

  • Promotes an inclusive and diverse environment

  • Challenges roles and focuses on the outcomes rather than output

  • Has an open hiring policy available to new candidates and current employees, respectively

  • Keeps employees regularly updated on the changes in the work structure as well as the new employee expectations that come with them

  • Is willing to talk about the good, the bad, and the ugly without giving people answers that seem like a coverup

Employees understand that some information should remain confidential, but when they aren’t told why this information is being withheld, that’s when they begin to become suspicious. If you have a legitimate reason for withholding, share it with your employees.

Not everyone might agree with the reasoning, but if you’re justified, they can’t claim you didn’t talk about the why. Saying something like “this doesn’t pertain to your department,” or “do what’s asked without questioning it,”just doesn’t cut it anymore.

Transparency and Millennials

Millennials have been perceived as the people who don’t settle. The truth- some are nonconformists because they are frustrated by smoke and mirrors. They merely want to understand why things happen, and what’s so wrong with that?

Old-school business structures have a reputation for being intolerant to change and the necessity of business upgrade. This is precisely why they consider Millennial employees their biggest rivals. As the generations who refuses to settle, Millennials are disrupting the known and, in doing so, are questioning structures and leadership methods that the old-school employees have tolerated for decades. When it comes to hiring and keeping Millennials in your company, honesty and transparency are vital. Things Millennials won’t put up with include:

  • Being manipulated or lied to by their managers

  • Being underestimated by senior workers and their leaders

  • Feeling unfulfilled with their daily tasks

  • Having no feedback on their work and being advised not to share their suggestions and opinions  

  • Getting nothing for something (and everything)

Is Transparency Equally Important to Millennials and Employees from Other Generations?

With the currently available studies on the value of transparency for Millennials, it is safe to say that Gen Ys value workplace transparency in everything from issues to objectives, and much more so than the majority of their generational cohorts.

If a Millennial is left out of a conversation about the significance of their role and the impact they can potentially make to the success of the organization, they’ll lose motivation, fail to participate and – as a final point – leave.

The more you cultivate the culture of honesty and shared information, the more will your Millennial engage. Why? Because Millennials perceive trust as the best reassurance of their importance within the firm they are employed in.

Sharing information and having open communication with their leaders and colleagues alike signals a Millennial that they have the opportunity to make a significant contribution to their teams and have their voices heard.

Transparency produces trust, and if you’ve got a Millennial working with you – make sure you openly share critical information with them.

Transparency, Loyalty, and the Generation Gap – Where Are Millennials in All That?

Classical management systems that worked for older generations are not effective ways of engaging Millennials.

Strict boundaries, micromanagement, limited communication with the management and lack of trust that used to be the norm in past business structures are no longer accepted by Millennial employees.  

Unlike the Traditionalists, Baby Boomers or Generation X, Millennials are less likely to see value in staying loyal to an organization that doesn’t value their participation at the office and/or doesn’t trust them with the firm’s operative dynamics.

The average Gen Y will be selling their skills to the highest bidder, and won’t find it disrespectful or perfidious to their current employer.

As opposed to Traditionalists, who were extremely loyal to their companies and lived by the "honest day's pay for an honest day's work" motto, Millennials don’t see themselves plowing through a job they are not satisfied in.

For the Gen Ys, job satisfaction plays a huge role in their level of engagement and their general business attitudes. Similarly, disparate to Baby Boomers and the Gen X (who used to find motivation in financial compensations), Millennials rather choose shared information and trust over monetary rewards.

This doesn't mean you can't motivate this generation with money, but Millennials don’t see why one has to exclude the other. Transparent communication, honest teamwork, time off, flexible schedules, and the usage of the latest technology to communicate are somewhat a norm of the healthy work environment for an average Gen Y.

Viewed as a sense of entitlement by some, and a relentless desire to make a difference by others, Millennial behavioral patterns speak for themselves: they won’t ever settle for disrespect or for less than they deserve. Gen Zs seem to have taken a leaf out of the Millennials’ book and have so far developed very similar behaviors to that of the Gen Y generation.  

Final Thoughts

Organizational transparency in the workplace is crucial to engaging Millennial employees. It helps improve communication, strengthen trust and encourage teamwork, solve problems efficiently, encourage people’s creativity, aspirations, ideas, and dreams, as well as their freedom to speak up. It even invites open discussions of unpleasant topics, fears, and conflicts.

Transparency helps join an arena of differences vocalized through fearless employee expression and engagement. The final result? Job satisfaction skyrockets and so does your ROI.

 

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Simone Brown is a performance coach who helps leaders and teams increase productivity. Her approach is grounded in behavioural and brain-based strategies. She believes success isn’t just about talents and smarts, it’s about the development of emotional intelligence. Simone is also a speaker, and talks about topics such as emotional intelligence, millennials, and the importance of purpose.

Why Your Team Needs to Stop Building Consensus

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It’s 2018 and some leaders still believe consensus being the ultimate give-and-take information-sharing method in the workplace.

While the idea of every team member calmly communicating their opinions does sound appealing, we forget that emotions drive what we say...and those emotions don’t always create rational arguments.

On the other hand, the inability to openly and healthily communicate your point of view leads to a lot of pent-up stress, and anger - the perfect recipe for an unsafe work environment.

So, is Consensus About Encouraging Conflict?

No. People need to have healthy conflict (and we can’t stress “healthy” hard enough) to stay on top of their emotions, and to identify solutions. Let’s stop glorifying  traditional consensus building, and encourage employees to share differing views without their colleagues taking it as a personal attack.

It’s much more productive to have a healthy dialogue that gives everyone a chance to communicate their point of view before a decision is made.

Here are some simple strategies to help you navigate your next discussion:

Focus on Satisfactory Agreements

Ask people to define consensus and most will say it’s a unanimous decision or one that the majority voted on.

Sometimes, what most want isn’t the best decision. Other times, it takes too damn long to build consensus. There are other things the team could be doing with their team.

It’s the leader’s job to give each person a chance to speak up as to why they agree/disagree and then identify if the following action/decision is satisfactory.  

Teach People How to Disagree

Healthy conflict is foundational but most people don’t know how to model it. It is important that people share what they stand for.

What people don’t know how to do - justify (objectively) what they stand for, and how to talk about it. Most also don’t know how to avoid taking things personally. Part of that responsibility falls on the person speaking and the person who feels like his/her idea is being rejected.

Investing in some basic training takes care of this. With a healthy dose of role-playing and strategies on what works, people will know how to healthfully share their point of view in future meetings.

Who Says What, Matters

Imagine a decision about the construction of a bridge. There are 10 people in a room - two engineers, either non-technical staff.

An engineer’s opinion should hold more weight. Sounds simple enough, yet teams and leaders forget this. They’re too focusing on team getting along or on being liked that they ignore who says what.

Some people’s opinions hold more merit. Period.

Set A Time

Consensus building can take forever, and sometimes all we end up doing is pleasing people without getting the organizational needs met.

When things require multiple perspectives, set a time and be open about it. This allows people to pick the most crucial points in their justification for or against something. It allows forces everyone to cut through the b.s. and get straight to what matters.

Shut Down Egos. Quickly.

Unless your team is open for honest, ego-free, and unprejudiced discussions, you can’t build a high performing functional unit.

It’s natural for the human ego to want some validation. Look for the egoic voice in the room that constantly interrupts and tries to force his idea/opinion without any merit.

If you’re that person, acknowledge that you do it and ask your colleagues to call you out on it.

Encourage Diversity

Research proves that diversity matters and it leads to better decision making. If you’re looking for creativity and innovation, make sure the room looks, sounds and thinks differently from each other.

Too much of the same and your team will generate very few new ideas. Growth happens outside the comfort zone and multiple perspectives will push people to see situations and ideas in a new light.

Everyone Speaks

The key to managing varying opinions is managing emotions - yours and those of the people you’re interacting with. Show up as an emotionally intelligent leader and try to encourage people to speak their minds without fearing any negative consequences as a result of their “different” attitudes.

Keep in mind - if someone is being just plain rude and loud, there should be consequences for that behavior.

Always watch for the person who’s waiting to speak and can’t get their turn. Look at body language and read if someone is agreeing or disagreeing and then push the conversation where it needs to go.

The way a decision is made can be just as meaningful as the decision itself. Consensus doesn’t always lead to good decisions so encourage healthy debate. If there’s one golden rule to follow, it is - make sure everyone is heard, while also being unquestionably respectful towards each other.

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Simone Brown is a performance coach who helps leaders and teams increase productivity. Her approach is grounded in behavioural and brain-based strategies. She believes success isn’t just about talents and smarts, it’s about the development of emotional intelligence. Simone is also a speaker, and talks about topics such as emotional intelligence, millennials, and the importance of purpose.

High-Performing vs. Mediocre Leaders: 5 Key Characteristics That Separate Them

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"The challenge of leadership is to be strong, but not rude; be kind, but not weak; be bold, but not bully; be thoughtful, but not lazy; be humble, but not timid; be proud, but not arrogant; have humor but without folly." - Jim Rohn

For decades organizations have been suffocated by mediocre, personal-interest-driven, questionably competent leaders, creating unhealthy work environments and leaving employees frustrated and unmotivated, and the workplace unimpressive.

For everyone who values an inspiring workplace, the 21st-century brought about a change in the overall business culture and attitudes towards all things work. Today’s high-performing leader empowers employees, and values healthy personal relationships, inclusion, and diversity. Respect and kindness matter to her, and they trump arrogance, ego and superiority.

If you are an aspiring leader, or are already one, here are some things to keep in mind if you want to avoid being a mediocre leader.

Drop the ‘My-Way-Or-The-Highway’ Manner

No one likes a smart a$$, especially not at the office. Instead of adopting the last-century-favored “I know this” attitude, try  something more powerful like “do we know this?” when talking to your team.

Take your employees’ suggestions, start a two-way conversation, and engage with the people you work with, instead of making them work for you. Everyone loves to be included in brainstorming and decision-making, and when your team starts feeling inspired by your knowledge, approach, and respect, you’ll get a team that functions like a well-oiled machine.

As Kevin Kruse, the bestselling co-author of WeHow to Increase Performance and Profits Through Full Engagement put it - “...it takes both the employee and the manager to create a thriving culture that fosters feelings of full engagement.”

Stay Grounded

The fact that you are a leader could mean you did something better than someone else. However, it could also mean someone in your team who hasn’t applied for the position is currently doing it better than you.

One of the crucial elements of being a high-performing leader is staying modest and grounded. You want to observe your team as a chance to build something together, challenge and inspire each other, and learn to work as one.

The more approachable and grounded you are, the more human you appear. And that means one thing: your people will treat you as a trusted leader instead of an annoying boss they hate.

Don’t Ever Stop Learning

Take a lesson from John F.Kennedy and understand that "leadership and learning are indispensable to each other."

The moment you stop learning is the time you consciously decide to end your journey to personal development, knowledge, and satisfaction.

To be the best in your field, and a leader whose judgment, advice and decision employees trust, you need to have experience that backs up your decisions. Keep learning things relevant to the technical aspects of your role, and the leadership end of the stick. Becoming better never hurt anyone.

Be Your Employees’ Support System

Employees everywhere are fed up with bully bosses who conveniently take out their frustrations on them by exercising the weird amount of power they’ve been granted by their positions. A mindful, respectful and understanding approach to handling your employees will go a long way. Give them a reason to trust you and come to you, no matter how delicate  the subject they want to initiate.

Employees who are not afraid of their bosses are the employees that build the foundation of a thriving business.

Encourage Growth

The most significant resource you’ll ever have are your people. Encourage their dreams, listen to their feedback, and be there to help them find a way (not necessarily your way). Empower everyone to give the best they can, and embrace innovation and freedom of expression as their primary business tools.

Growth happens outside the comfort zone, and it requires leaders to practice before they preach. Push yourself to grow from your successes and your mistakes.

If your actions inspire others to learn more, do more, dream more, and become more, consider yourself a great leader.

Being a high-performing leader means being there for your people through the big stuff and the everyday challenges. Mediocre leaders pretend to have the answers and end up with bruised egos when they’re challenged. Superstars find comfort in not knowing it all but in surrounding themselves with great people who do.

If you’re a superstar, you’ll accept that there will be times when you’ll be wrong or challenged, and learn how to navigate the roads on which you might not know the answers. Find inspiration in every team discussion, and respect varying perspectives.

Be the type of leader your employees would want to work for if you ever decide to move.

 

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Simone Brown is a performance coach who helps leaders and teams increase productivity. Her approach is grounded in  behavioural and brain-based strategies. She believes success isn’t just about talents and smarts, it’s about the development of emotional intelligence. Simone is also a speaker, and talks about topics such as emotional intelligence, millennials, and the importance of purpose.