Archive for the ‘Communication’ Category

Thank You (making it specific and genuine)

Thank you Projects by their very nature are often more like a marathon than a sprint. Having water stations along the way in a race creates smaller milestones to look towards and keeps everyone hydrated and less likely to quit from exhaustion. In projects, every win, every milestone, every little bit of progress should be acknowledged in some way. It helps to build momentum, keep everyone engaged and less likely to quit from exhaustion. It doesn't mean that the whole project has to be one long pep rally, but it's important to keep the focus on what has been achieved and on making sure that positive acknowledgement of those achievements is shared. Small, frequent acknowledgements are better than keeping it until the end. Acknowledging contribution and showing that you're grateful, shows acceptance and builds trust within the team, too. We start our internal meetings with a win for the week or gratitude. It's a really good way to create a positive footing on which to start the conversation. The psychology In positive psychology, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness, greater physical health, better sleep, greater resilience and a host of other benefits. “Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.” Expressing gratitude to your team for their efforts helps to build motivation and engagement with the task at hand. Laura Trice has a short TED Talk on the power of thank you, and of asking to be thanked the way that you would like to be, she is all about making it specific and genuine.  She shares a lovely analogy about ‘truing’ the wheels on her bike and how this made the bike feel like new. She shares a challenging idea that we can shape the way we are praised and thanked. True your Wheels, be honest about the praise you need to hear. ~ Laura Trice What’s refreshing about this approach is that it puts you back in the driver's seat (being at cause of your own acknowledgements). I try to acknowledge and thank people the way I would like to be thanked. How to say thank you If you’re short on ideas on how to say 'thank you' here are a few: You could send flowers. You can write a card or an email, and when you're writing a card or an email, you really need to be specific about what it is that you're grateful for. You can make a video. You can call out the person who's put in the extra effort and praise them in front of a group. You can buy them a chocolate bar or a coffee (or their beverage of choice) and just acknowledge the work that's been done. You can just say that you're really grateful to have that person on board. These are just a few expressions of gratitude. None of them requires a whole marching band or even a great deal of planning. The most important thing that you can bring to a thank you, that makes it memorable and powerful, is being authentic, which means you need to take some time out to think about it a little and reflect. When I have done this, it has always been that I have felt newly grateful for the person in question and their contribution. And that is something to be thankful for. And when someone thanks you I have a folder that I set up a few years ago, it contains compliments and thanks that I have received. Every now and then, when things seem to be going off the rails and when the series of plans we've made and re-made is not working - I read through these compliments and thanks, and I'm reminded of the positives that I have contributed and the differences that I have made. It’s a wonderful way of lifting my mood and often prompts me to reconnect or say hello to people that I may not have spoken to for a while. Some of the messages are personal, and some are more business and project-focused. I've been thanked for things that to me, seemed like very little, but to the other person made a difference. You never know what a thank you or a compliment can mean to someone else, so be generous with them. With that in mind, thank you....for listening, for sharing and for being part of the conversation about projects, life and everything. If you’ve received a wonderful thank you, I’d love to hear about it and what made it special.

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Leading by Example: Actions Speak Louder than Words

It was the first project I had ever worked on. New to Sydney and the company, I was seconded to work on the ERP project as a Subject Matter Expert. Maybe they thought to have someone new would be good for the project? This project was hard work, and I loved every minute. Every day brought new challenges and things I had not done before. One of those was to develop training plans and materials to train the entire business on how to use the new system. Thinking that the job was done once I finished the documents and plans, it was another ‘rise to the challenge’ moment when the project manager told me I would be delivering the training. Not only was I to deliver the training, but the CEO and MD of the business had both insisted that they were coming to the very first session. Intimidating? Yes, yes it was… I was a junior member of the team, and here were the CEO and MD sitting in the front row of the first training session, asking questions.  But the months of immersion in the system held me steady, and I came through the training session in a good place. Reflecting on it now, I know that they were sending a clear message to the rest of the staff by showing up, being interested, and engaged and being in the first session. They were leading by example. They didn’t understand the system, nor would they likely ever use it. But they did know the power of leading by example. They were demonstrating the behaviour of being willing to learn that we needed at that point in the project. Leading by example means leading yourself first. 1. Showing up (physically and mentally) I have consistently advocated, over the years, for being ‘on-site’ and co-located when we are working on projects. The little things that as outsiders we glean from being in the client space and seeing how they communicate - what gets priority, who gets heard, how the kitchens and bathrooms are kept - help us to navigate the organisation and steer the project successfully. At the moment, it’s really hard to re-create the physical part of this. Building that rapport and understanding of the nuances of the business are much harder. Not impossible, but harder. What are we doing? How are we making this work? Well, to start with I’m actively managing MYSELF. Taking a moment, I remind myself before every conversation that I have no idea what each person's working environment or day is like. Some don’t have the work from home set up that I have. They maybe have small children, sick parents, foster pets or other challenges that have made their way into work life. Parts of our lives that used to be compartmentalised are now all on top of one another, and that can seem overwhelming. This practice reminds me to bring empathy. Taking myself for a walk (even a short one) when I find myself getting emotionally plugged in. If I can’t go for a walk, I’m doing a five-minute burst of push-ups, crunches or something else that gets the blood moving and the energy focus back in the physical rather than the emotional. If you have online calls or meetings back to back, taking a walk and finding a way to shift the energy stops you taking baggage from one conversation into the next. 2. Being interested/ engaged. We don’t have the incidental interactions that we used to so we’re focusing on shorter conversations and meetings. I’m trying to make them more focused and frequent. I’m reminding myself to call on each person who is in the call/group (if that’s possible); it's not possible if you’ve got 20+ people on a call but entirely feasible if you’re in a smaller group. Making time for the informal catch-ups with little/to no agenda. Connecting with people via phone as well as via screen (where relationships are already established sometimes, the phone just takes the constant feeling of ‘on show’ load off). Extending that connection to not just the project team but the broader context of what’s going on in the business and more often, what’s going on in people's lives. In many ways, this working experience has brought more of our ‘whole selves’ into the light in our work lives. Often it’s the casual conversations, that yield valuable information. Insight about someone’s workload, or personal circumstances that potentially impact their capacity or focus on what the project needs from them. Keeping informal connections helps us connect the dots on what else could be going on. 3. Being first A lot of project work is new work. At 6R, we have often worked on ‘the first’ Australian implementation of software, so being first is more familiar territory to us than most. Typically, in software, no one wants to be ‘first’ – being first means you’re learning all the lessons that those who come second will benefit from. Just about everyone wants to be that ‘close second’, gaining the benefits of early adoption without the painful lessons of first, where it’s everyone’s first time. This is everyone’s first pandemic. I hope that there is no ‘close second’. Just like the start of the pandemic, learning new ways of doing things is hard, but some looked for the silver lining, it is the same with projects, be the first to find the silver lining. You can also be the first to take your team through what you have learnt. The first to test the system. You can be first to encourage a colleague, to acknowledge the work someone has put in or to notice an improvement. This all builds your own positive mindset and exercises the self-leadership that we all need to bring to the table right now. What you want to ignite in others must first burn inside yourself ~ Charlotte Bronte   OMNICHANNEL FREE 5-PART VIDEO SERIES We at 6R Retail have been working with retailers for over a decade connecting stores to back-office systems and rolling out eCommerce sites that help retailers and their customers bring the digital and physical closer. In our 5 part video series, we share insights we’ve learned from implementing omnichannel retail features and look ahead to what might be next for retailers. We’ll cover: Ship from Store Click & Collect Endless Aisle Redemption & Refunds Transition Service [mailmunch-form id="796490"]

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Communication in Confinement

Communication. How we describe events and experiences shapes our attitude to them. The word language comes from the Greek word logos, which means category or concept. With language we categorise, we distinguish and we create our reality. Whilst there are different opinions about to what extent this works, the way we describe things is a powerful contributor to the way that we experience them. But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought ~ George Orwell In projects, it’s one of our guiding principles in the '6R Team Playbook' that we name things plainly. Avoid jargon We try to avoid jargon where possible (at least until everyone has learned the new terminology). If we mean people, we say people rather than the very dry and somewhat demeaning project terminology ‘resources’, which can refer to either people or other resources (financial, technical or physical). For our projects, we look to name meetings in a way that gives the meeting meaning. For example, we used to have a meeting called ‘State of the Nation’, which was about where everything was up to and what state it was in. Having a meeting name that describes the meeting and hopefully makes it easy to remember. I like names that also describe what happens in the meeting. The way we describe our meetings and our experiences, particularly right now, shape how we see what's going on. The words we choose matters One of the descriptions I keep reinforcing with my daughter is that we're in confinement (at our house at least, I do not speak for everyone). We are not in quarantine because no one at our house is sick; we are not in isolation because we have each other - our friends and our family are there on video, and phones and apps. We have not been locked up (or down) because we are still able to go and get the essentials or do things that keep us from going completely bonkers. We are physically distancing from one another, not 'socially' distancing. We need to be more socially connected now than ever in order to help one another through this. My daughter's school have been very clear that they are in ‘temporary off-campus learning’. Whilst it has resulted in eye rolls from teenagers, it does describe what’s going on. It’s temporary, which is not forever, although I am sure for many students and parents who are working in the same space, that it probably feels interminably long. It’s off-campus - meaning that we’re not at school campus but where students are might not be at ‘home’. It’s still learning, and my are we learning; to adapt, to accept and to be creative about our new circumstances. Remain visible Nothing really replaces face to face exchanges. There is something very useful about being able to ‘read the mood’ of a room. We know that up to 10,000 non-verbal cues can be exchanged in one minute of face-to-face interaction, so turn on the camera! It’s not quite the same as being in the same room, but it really helps to be able to at least see another face. Video meeting tools will be the new essential for building relationships with teams. I know that learning new things is hard and re-share some tips to smooth the way. I have worked some days from home for a while, and whilst I used to cherish this time at my desk, I am now getting a bit sick of the same view. So mix it up, working some days from the kitchen table and some on the couch and finding the best light for zoom calls around the house. Whilst it sounds silly, it is really important for me to get dressed in work clothes and put in a bit of effort to create the right mood for myself. It’s been weeks since I’ve done makeup but I’m embracing lipstick, at the moment, as a way to feel like I’m ‘at work’. Energy matters If you, as the meeting facilitator, are flat or come across as ‘over it’ - it makes it hard for the team to bring the right energy to the table. When we show up as team leaders with positivity and empathy for our teams, then they can tell we care. Better listening can help improve project outcomes, which I share here. Even if you’re not on video, smile when you speak. People can hear it in your voice 😊 Tips for communication in confinement: Apart from the obvious (make sure if you’ve got the camera on that you’re dressed 😉). Choose language carefully (avoid jargon, people are people not resources). Name meetings and milestones in a way that makes them memorable. Turn the camera on – you need the visual cues as much as possible right now. Make a bit of effort on the presentation side of things, it will give you a bit of a lift. Energy is contagious, empathy and care are part of what your team needs. And if all else fails, move your 'desk' around to give you a lift and a change of pace; it might well improve the way you communicate with your team. If you or your team are struggling with the best way to navigate during this time, get in touch.  We work with retailers to equip internal teams for the project efforts ahead. Our project management tools are light and flexible for retailers. The 6R team work behind the scenes, leading through project management, testing, training and team building to deliver project success.

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