Archive for the ‘Kindness’ Category

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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Project and Role Transition Requires Kindness to Self First

Transition projects and role transition both require kindness to self first. When in transition, there are 5 pointers to look out for and to help manage the transition process. From Doing to Managing: Mentoring Through the Transition Career transitions often mimic corporate change. We don’t always know what lies ahead in the future, and that can be scary. Also, we need to time to navigate these uncharted waters, so we can settle into a new phase, whether as an employee moving up to managing or as a work team opening another channel or bringing a new product to market. Mentoring employees who are going from “doing” jobs to management requires finesse and most of all, kindness. Let’s take a look at how to make the process as painless and successful as possible, including how to encourage a culture of kindness. Clear Is Kind Have you ever avoided a difficult conversation or assessment because you felt it was unkind? We’re not talking about telling a friend her new frock is less than flattering but the kind of situation where a work colleague or direct report needs honesty, and you’re avoiding it. Whilst you may feel like you’re doing the other person a favour, in the long run, you’re not. According to research professor and champion of courage in leadership Brené Brown, being clear is the kinder option, even if it’s harder in the short term. “Unclear is unkind,” she says, and can foster undesirable behaviours in the workplace, such as back channelling, passive-aggressive actions, and decreased performance. Encourage Feedback To help with those challenging conversations, encourage your mentee to solicit frank feedback from various corporate tiers, especially as they work through the transition period. This can help to prevent them from being blindsided by opinions that may disagree with their own and to recognise when they have made mistakes. Encouraging feedback will also engender self-determination in the people reporting to the new manager. It sends a message to employees that their thoughts are valued and appreciated, which further supports intrinsic motivation, improved productivity, and even worker retention. Help your mentee develop a plan to address feedback, so they feel proactive rather than pinned down by it. Guard Against Burnout When moving up the ranks into management, employees may be particularly susceptible to burnout. There’s a temptation to feel they need to work longer and harder, in case they miss something. And of course, there may be new tasks or software programs to learn, and some work environments expect managers to handle those on top of their day-to-day duties. If you’re mentoring new managers, encourage them to constantly assess where they can best spend their time. Often, they are still doing things they could be delegating; delegating is one of the hardest things new managers may have to learn. Also, remind them to eat at regular times, not to stay at the office late into the night, and to use weekends to recharge for the coming week. This is good advice for mentors as well! Support a Kindness Contagion Fostering a culture of kindness in the workplace can help with all of the above. Although that may seem a gargantuan task in some organisations, due to size or existing zeitgeist, it is possible. Mercedes-Benz USA decided to do that, originally as a customer service initiative, but it trickled down beautifully to its employees as well, who were given opportunities to drive a Mercedes vehicle for 48 hours at a time of their choice, such as an important occasion. Then, when these employees experienced kindness in the work environment, they reflected it back to their customers. The human brain is much more connected to the heart than many people believe, as a result of our ancestors’ fight-or-flight mechanisms. Furthermore, we now know the brain possesses the neuroplasticity to change, to rewire itself and create new connections. A workplace that is committed to kindness can create change and watch it take off in a kind of viral contagion that benefits employees at every level. As a mentor, you may not be in a position to affect company-wide change at first, but you can still remind your mentees that kindness will help them when they practice it. Eventually, if enough members of any organisation engage in kind behaviours, the company can’t help but see the change their employees want and are willing to demonstrate themselves.

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