Being Intentful and Reflective

Monday, July 30, 2012 posted by Kylie

Running from meeting to meeting and feeling like your time is being wasted? Why not slow down on your way to the meeting and set your intention for the meeting. Ask yourself a few quesetions? What is your intended role? Will you learn and observe others? Will you be open to different points of view? Will you seek to influence an outcome? Will you create dialogue rather than discussion?

Remember that we can influence our contribution and what we do. so don’t be led by others. Slow down and be intentful so that you are getting value from each meeting you attend? And if there is no value, consider who is the best person to particiapte in the meeting. Maybe there is someone else that should be attending?

We can also race out of one meeting into another and forget what value we obtained from the time we invested. So in the last few minutes of the meeting and as you leave, take a moment to reflect upon what you learnt or gained from being part of the meeting. Did you achieve your intent? This reflection can help you to increase the value over time and ensure that you are aware of the benefits of where you invest your time and energy.

So be intentful and reflective and grow the value from the time you invest in meetings.

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The Power in Words

Monday, August 8, 2011 posted by Kylie

The language we choose is instrumental to the outcomes we achieve. Often we can pose questions in a way that supports our needs and interests without much thought to the receiver of the message. With just a little time invested on planning we can maximise the effect of our words and use language to support positive results. Questions can be used to create ownership, ensure a decision, open up a conversation and avoid defensive reactions. So how do you do this? Well here’s a few tips for you to ponder and practice:

Lead with questions that begin with ‘what’ and ‘how’ to open up the conversation. For example, ‘what options did you explore in reaching this point?’ and ‘How would you manage this situation’ and ‘what are the challenges from your perspective?’ This approach supports people in sharing their thinking and the analysis they invested time in.

Take care with ‘why’ questions. We all remember back to our childhood when our parents asked us with a stern voice ‘why did you do that’. Often questions beginning with ‘why’ can lead us to feel defensive, challenged and that we need to justify our thinking. Rather then exploring a topic we can soon be in a competitive conversation. Why can be very helpful in an options analysis and can be very effective in the middle of a sentence rather than the opening word eg consider the three options and explain why each would be beneficial’.

Use a positive frame. Rather than mentioning what you don’t what, why not flip your words to share what you do want. For example rather than ‘please don’t be late …’ you could say ‘please be on time as we’re getting started at 6pm sharp’.

Mention the journey. Sometimes our message is diluted as the receiver doesn’t understand the background and context to the conversation. Similarly the conversation may be enahnced if the receiver knows the next steps your taking and where you’re headed.

Agree on an action. Be clear about what you want the person to do. By naming the action the person will understand your needs and see the role they can play.

Take time to reflect. Think about whether your words energise, enthuse and encourage the person. Even the toughest messages can be delivered in a way that supports growth and development of the person. Change your language if you need to so that you feel positive about the message.

Review backwards. That might sounds strange, however our mind is very good at reading what we intend to say. So bring fresh eyes to the situation and read your notes, written words or go back over your thoughts before you start the conversation. Are you sending the best message to the receiver.

So choose your words intentfully – they are a power that can help us each and every day. Hopefully they help you to reach your outcomes faster, at less cost and with an even better result.

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Taking your first step

Monday, August 1, 2011 posted by Kylie

When we decide to do something new or change something we can easily feel overwhelmed. There may be an enormous number of steps, a long process and it may require time and money. At this point our motivation might drop and we may even stop. Instead we can support the change and put some quick and easy actions in place to assist us in getting started. Here’s six tips to get you started:

- Identify the first step you can take to head in that direction. It could be as simple as reading a book, speaking to someone or researching on the internet. Make it simple for yourself and focus on just one thing.

- Share the news with a friend. By letting someone else know your plans you have made your commitment known and this will motivate you to keep going. Hopefully your friend will check in and support you along the way.

- Consider who could assist you in getting started. Is there someone you could talk to? Is there someone you would like to be part of your change? Maybe you can work on this together?

- Think about what might get in your way and identify how you’ll stop this from happening. If you struggle to get active in the morning you could ensure you’re tucked up in bed early. Maybe you find it hard timewise? If you do, why not book an appointment in your diary and set your alarm?

- Imagine what your life will be like when you’ve made the change. Ask yourself ‘what will it mean to me’ and ‘what will be the result for me and my nearest and dearest’. Spend some time considering the benefits – there’s usually so many that we don’t consider. These can help us feel even more motivated about the changes we’re making.

- Capture the journey by writing about it. We can become overly focused on the outcome or destination we want to achieve and can lose sight of all the wonderful steps along the way. By writing your thoughts and progress regularly you can remember and enjoy the journey. This will help you to see the benefits, motivate you about your progress and support you to see changes each day.

The time we invest in planning our change is fundamental to the results we achieve. So take 30 minutes to plan your approach and find easy first steps you can take – you’ll be glad you did down the track.

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Dreams to live for

Tuesday, December 14, 2010 posted by Kylie

Goals and our plans for the year ahead can dominate our thinking as we approach the New Year. As important as goals are, it’s also important to dream – to imagine yourself living your life to the fullest To visualise and imagine how your life would be if you were happy and successful. Or as the positive psychologists suggests – to be flourishing!

When we talk about dreams we’re not meaning daydreaming or of the images we have when asleep. We can dream simply by making time to imagine our ideal life. Picture your perfect life; your perfect world. Who’s in your ideal life? Where are you living? What are you doing, and also, what are you choosing not to do? How do you spend your days? What are you most passionate about? What are the things and people that make you happy? How do you feel? What do you love most about this perfect life?

A great way to dream is to invest some time in drawing our dream world and writing down how it looks and importantly, how it feels. We can do this by taking an A3 piece of paper and simply spending a half hour imagining and drawing our perfect life. Use as much colour as you can. Include all the words and pictures that motivate you, the quotes that inspire you, the people you look up to and respect. Once you’re drawn and written about your dream life, put it aside for a few days. Then come back to it and build upon your dreams again. Write and draw until you feel you’ve covered everything. Transform these words and images into something you can keep close by you throughout the year. It can be as simple as a few key words or pictures that you can see where you spend most of your time. Although we don’t notice these things consciously they are influencing us subconsciously.

These dreams they are what motivate us. These are the dreams that we build our goals and life vision around. Our dreams are what motivate us to live and enjoy life.

In the words of the amazing Eleanor Roosevelt “The future belongs to those who beleive in the beauty of their dreams”. Happy dreaming!

Climb high above the day to day and dream. Dream big!

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Improving Things That Are Great

Tuesday, August 10, 2010 posted by Kylie

“If we habitually focus on how to improve things that are already great, can you see how this spirit can transform ourselves, our organisations, families and communities”.
by Tony Robbins

Tony reminds us that we should also consider change in the areas we are doing well in, rather than focussing our efforts on challenges, threats and opportunities alone.

What things are you and your business doing well that you could improve upon?

For more inspiring words

Improving what we already do well

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Change Tool – Force Field Analysis

Tuesday, August 10, 2010 posted by Kylie

What are the drivers for change? What’s compelling us to change? What is the urgency? These are all great questions to ask during the development of a change strategy. Have you also considered, beyond the obvious obstacles, the forces that may prevent or limit change? These can often be process and practices we are proud of.

Force Field Analysis (FFA) was developed by social psychologist, Kurt Lewin. This tool will help you to identify ways to strengthen the forces that are supporting your new approach and also find ways to diminish the impact of any restraining forces.

According to Lewin “an issue is held in balance by the interaction of two opposing sets of forces – those seeking to promote the change (driving forces) and those attempting to maintain the status quo (restraining forces)”. Lewin viewed organisations as comprising a dynamic balance, or equilibrium, of forces working together in opposing directions rather than a static form. He believed that for change to occur, the driving forces must exceed the restraining forces to shift the organisation to a new equilibrium.

The tool can be used at any level – to consider an organisational change, a project, program or even an individual change. By creating a diagram we can visualise the tug-of-war that can occur between the various forces for and against change. Below are the ten steps involved in undertaking a FFA.

Creating your Force Field Analysis Diagram

Step One – Describe your current situation.

Step Two – Describe your proposed change, or ideal situation. Summarise this in the centre of the diagram in a large rectangle. What is it you are trying to achieve?

Step Three – Explore what will happen if nothing is done to change the current situation. What will the consequences and effects be?

Step Four – consider the forces that may influence your change – including the people, groups, customs, attitudes, behaviours, processes, systems, habits, rituals, culture and so on. Sit and reflect on all the different forces at play that may affect the move from the current to the desired state.

Step Five – List the Driving Forces on the left hand side. What forces within your organisation will drive you forward to the desired situation?

Step Six – List the Restraining Forces on the right hand side of the diagram. What forces may oppose the change from occurring or diminish its success?

Step Seven – Explore each of the forces. Are they real? Which are the most important? Can the forces be changed?

Step Eight – Rank the impact of the forces using an 11 point likert scale from 0 (extremely weak) to 10 (extremely strong).

Step Nine – Evaluate the net effect of the forces to determine whether the change is viable and achievable. Is it worth progressing any further with this change?

Step Ten – Analyse whether the restraining forces can be diminished and how. Similarly, can the driving forces be strengthened? Be sure to recognise that any changes to the forces may create new driving and restraining forces.

Once you have completed the Force Field Analysis and Diagram you are in a position to determine whether change is feasible and viable. If the answer is yes, the diagram provides you with a range of areas in which you can develop strategies to support you and your business to move to the new desired equilibrium.

6 Steps to Change Success

Tuesday, August 10, 2010 posted by Kylie

With so much change happening in all aspects of our work and personal lives we can sometimes lose sight of the key ingredients of success. What can you do improve your effectiveness and sustain the change you are seeking? Our six steps to success will help ensure your change efforts achieve your goals.

Review and Reflect – look back at previous change efforts. What can you learn from these experiences? What worked well? What would you differently? Ask yourself how this learning could be incorporated into your current change initiative.

This will help you ensure that previous change efforts are not overshadowing your initiative and also provide some additional input to the change strategy.

Employ a Fair Process – when seeking input from your internal and possibly, external, stakeholders use this fantastic process. Engage people and openly seek their input and feedback on the challenge or opportunity. Once you have gathered their input and made a decision Explain it to the stakeholders. Mention their feedback and how it contributed and why it may or may not have informed the current approach. Then most importantly, take the third step and provide clear Expectations. Make sure people know what they can do differently to support the change. Make it individual so they know their part.

This process has proven to gather significant support for the change, even when the stakeholder proposed an alternative or opposing way forward. You will be respecting them and their ideas.

Design with Implementation in Mind – once you’ve successfully diagnosed the situation and developed an effective strategy, invest some time in considering implementation. What can you anticipate as a driver or positive force for change? Similarly, what obstacles or constraints to change might arise along the way? Find ways to incorporate these insights into the implementation plan.

By thinking forward you may be able to anticipate ways to more effectively implement the change and hopefully reduce cost and time involved.

Develop and Assign Roles – many changes forget to consider the specific roles of the change leaders – from the CEO, to the Executive Sponsor and even the Change Project Manager. How will each individual role model, signal and reinforce the change. What key messages will they promote and where. Weaving these messages into any relevant opportunity is important. Are there key actions they could do that are symbolic of the new way? What stories could they share about their own journeys and why this change is important?

Not only will people relate to the situations they will also be reminded on a daily basis of the new way of working.

Active Exploration – identify ways for people to be part of the change; to feel what the new approach is like and to experience the benefits on a personal level. Rather than informing people of what the change will mean, help them to be part of the change. Find them a role and a way to relate their work and experiences to the change. Many change announcements inform people of the change, very few find ways to get people involved. The result is that people walk away thinking it’s your change and

As most adults learn experientially you will create greater ownership of the change through individual experimentation.

Aim for Internalisation – many change efforts only succeed in reaching compliance, where employees and other stakeholders perform the role you had hoped. Ticking the box. By aligning the change with personal values and individualising the change through stories you can appeal to the individual. You can help each person to move beyond compliance and past identifying with the change. When a change benefits us and supports our values we internalise the change. It becomes something we value and appreciate at a personal level.

When individuals internalise a change and feel good about the outcomes at every level – business, team and individual – they are significantly more likely to embrace, sustain and often, even promote the change to others.

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Focus and Productivity – working effectively

Thursday, August 5, 2010 posted by Kylie

Do you reach the end of the day and question what you have achieved? Are you constantly working on multiple tasks that leaves you questioning the quality of your outcomes? Is there a regular queue of people at your door or phone calls that interrupt your day? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then you may benefit from enhancing your focus and concentration at work.

So how can we increase our focus in the midst of so many competing demands? Well, we can start with you and the interruptions you allow. Do you have your email on and phone ringing when you’re trying to focus? Research shows that people who work with their email system running when concentrating lose 10 IQ points, the equivalent of losing an entire nights sleep. So why not turn off this interruptions and look at them periodically?

What about how you work? Do you work for hours on end and look up only for lunch or a visitor? By working for bursts of 60 to 90 minutes you could achieve more in a shorter period and possibly increase the quality. Think of some of your most productive moments, they’re often during bursts of focus. So why not create this intentionally and regularly?

Like physical athletes, business athletes need to invest in breaks, rest and re-energising. Scientists have shown that our concentration diminishes after 60 to 120 minutes. Do you actively refuel throughout your day? By doing this your bursts of focus will be even more effective. Try going for a walk for 15 minutes, getting a coffee, meditation, breathing or stretching exercises, some yoga poses, or even chat to someone who energises you. Break each burst with this 15 minutes to refocus and refuel.

Finally, do you think that stress is one of the most significant challenges for you? If yes, then consider the positive effects of stress. It is often what stretches and drives us. Could it be that the stress is helpful and that what is happening is a lack of time to recover between bursts? Are you resting enough to fuel your concentration?

So why not shift your thoughts and imagine you are a business athlete and try the interval training with deliberate time to refuel? Ideally you should be able to get more done in much less time and you may even enhance the quality of your work.

Yes AND versus Yes BUT

Tuesday, July 27, 2010 posted by Kylie

The word ‘BUT’ has crept into our language in a way that has now become overpowering and overwhelming. We use the word ‘BUT’ extensively; even to join sentences without realising the impact this might have on others. By using the word ‘BUT’ we focus on the exceptions to the point raised, rather than building on the conversation.

Imagine yourself sharing a revelation you’ve recently had with a friend or colleague; something you are very passionate about and keen to explore with a good friend. Then imagine your friend saying “Yes, BUT I think … “. How do you feel? What effect does this response have on the conversation? How do you feel about the topic you wanted to discuss? How do you feel about your friend?

A handy little exercise taught to me by the Institute of Executive Coaching helped me to change my ways. Stand facing a friend or colleague (let’s call this person Joe). Now imagine you are giving Joe a gift – whatever gift comes to mind. Pass the gift to Joe. Joe now is required to start his response with the two words “Yes BUT …”. From then on both of you must continue this conversation starting each sentence with the words “Yes BUT”. For example, I give Joe a brand new hat and say “Joe I have this wonderful hat to give you” and Joe replies “Yes, BUT I don’t really like to wear hats as they give me hat-hair”. Then I reply “Yes, BUT you can carry a comb in your bag to fix your hair after you take off the hat”. Then Joe replies “Yes BUT I rarely carry a bag and like to travel light” and then I reply “Yes, BUT maybe you can use the hat for those cold days when you walk your dog” and Joe replies “Yes, BUT I already have a lucky hat that I love to wear to the park” and so on. How does this feel? What happens to the conversation?

Now try this exercise again with one change – use the two words “Yes AND” instead of “Yes BUT”. What’s changed? How did it feel?

For me the ‘Yes BUT’ conversation was strained and somewhat combative, trying to prove my gift was a good one. While the ‘Yes AND’ conversation gathered energy, was happy, light and felt like we were spiraling upward. We were building on each others thoughts and respecting each others opinions. What was your experience?

So listen to the language you use each day. When do you use the word ‘BUT’? What effect does this word have on others? More importantly, when do you use the words ‘Yes AND’. When are you listening and building on the conversation of others?

In most organisations a new initiative is first announced with a rousing introduction from a senior executive. But is this the most effective way to introduce and lead change? Research suggests (Larkin & Larkin 1996) that the opposite is true. Employees are more likely to adopt or participate in a new approach when information is received from a credible and familiar source. In fact, introduction from the top can have the opposite effect – it can create resistance and frustration with employees and those managers that were unaware of the new approach.

What is the most effective method to communicate? Face-to-face in smaller groups is by far the most effective means. Employees are able to see the verbal and non-verbal communication clues. They can ask questions and they are in a setting that encourages discussion. This is not suggesting that businesses should avoid videos, emails, letters and large group presentations. These communication mediums can form part of any approach, however, sustained change is more likely when these methods follow frontline face-to-face discussions.

Think back to times when change was announced in your workplace. What changes were best introduced to you? Were they the large scale formal top-down led meetings? Or were they when new approaches were first raised with you by your direct Manager – the person that you have built greater trust and rapport with in the organisation?

So how do you lead this type of change? Here’s a few tips to get you started:

- Ensure that all managers are part of introducing a change.
- Brief the managers in smaller groups.
- Explain the individual, group and business benefits from doing something new.
- Explain why the current approach is less desirable and why the new approach is more desirable.
- Provide stories they can tell to explain the change and how it will affect them.
- Skill the managers with ways to communicate effectively – small groups, face-to-face, visual aids, sharing their own stories.
- Assist them in determining how the new approach will directly and indirectly affect each person.
- Identify ways in which each person can contribute and be part of leading the change. By acting they are more likely to be engaged in the change.

Considering your change communication options

So before you announce a major change think about involving the people that are most trusted and familiar to your employees. Take advantage of the trust and rapport they have developed with people and recognise that as Managers they are seeking to be part of leading new approaches.