Struggling as a New Manager? Here are 5 Life-Saving Tips

Struggling as a New Manager? Here are 5 Life-Saving Tips

You finally became a manager – congratulations! 

However, now that in you’re in your first few weeks with your nifty new title, you’re realizing that maybe you hadn’t put enough thought into what you would actually do now that you’re in charge of people.

Don’t worry – you’re not alone. Lots of new leaders (and even leaders who have been in their roles for awhile) can struggle with how to best manage their teams.

Luckily, I’ve got a few tips for you. Try these out and you will be well on your way to becoming a competent and confident leader of people.

1.  Own your new position

Sometimes new managers can feel a little reluctant to take on the role of being a leader. Even though they dreamed about having a bigger job,once they are in it, the responsibility can feel overwhelming. Because of this, they can be too apologetic or lenient when dealing with their team.

While a dictatorial approach doesn’t work in the long-term, the people on your team should know you are the boss. And, they can only truly feel comfortable following you if you feel convey comfort and confidence in your new position. So recognize you were given your title for a reason, and truly own it!

2. Set clear expectations

As a leader, part of your role is holding people accountable for the results they achieve. However, if there was no clarity about goals in the first place, you haven’t agreed on a standard to which they will be held accountable.

To combat this, make sure you are as clear as possible in setting expectations. Thinking of 4 of the 5 W’s (who, what, when, why) can be really helpful when delegating tasks. Who is responsible? What exactly are they responsible for? When is it due? Why is it important? A lot of managers can overlook the why, but I have found that when people have a sense of how the work they are doing ties into the bigger picture, it can give them additional motivation in that it lets them know how their contribution ties into the success of the organization.

3. Focus on coaching

This one would seem to be a given, but based on my discussions with employees of various levels across the years, people don’t get as much coaching and feedback as they would like. When someone has done a good job, be specific with your praise (e.g. “You did an excellent job on this report. I particularly liked how you built the rationale for our initiative).

Also, while many leaders can be reluctant to give constructive criticism, remember that it is important for helping people to grow. Again, make the feedback specific, and be empathetic as you provide it. When delivering it, your intention should be to help the other person’s development. (Think of the analogy of a coach giving a player some pointers on how to have a better jump shot – you are giving tips to help the person to be more successful). If people are only hearing feedback from you during performance appraisals, you are not coaching them enough.

4. Make sure to delegate appropriately

When people transition into management, they sometimes forget that they actually have a team to whom they can assign tasks. So, they continue business as usual and try to take everything on themselves. Not only does that approach set you up for burnout, it also deprives your people of valuable opportunities to grow.

To combat this, make sure to delegate with two concepts in mind. First, delegate tasks that others can complete easily so you can free up your time to engage in higher level activities. Second, delegate tasks that will stretch people. While this will require more ongoing coaching from you, it will benefit you in the long-run as your people develop new skills (which will then free up your time in the future).

5. Develop regular routines

While it is great to be flexible and have an open-door policy in which people can connect with you whenever they need to, it can also be helpful to have the structure of regular routines. Have regular staff meetings, and have an agenda for them, so people know what to expect. Have one-on-one meetings with your team members (if appropriate) so you can have conversations about what’s going well, what’s not going well, and ongoing coaching and career conversations. For people who are less inclined to take the initiative to reach out to you, these structured meetings can provide a helpful opportunity to communicate with you.

While these tips are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the characteristics you will need to become an outstanding leader, they will give you the fundamentals to effectively lead a team. Apply them in the work place and see what happens!
4 Simple Tips to Increase Your Well-Being at Work

4 Simple Tips to Increase Your Well-Being at Work

“I wish I had more time to focus on my health – but my job gets in the way.”

For a lot of people with demanding jobs, their work responsibilities can seem to get in the way of self-care. Between long hours spent seated, cravings for sugary snacks in the afternoon, and stress, they can feel at a loss for how to have a healthier lifestyle.

If you find yourself in that camp, read on for a few simple tweaks that can help you make your time at work a lot healthier.

1.  Get a meditation timer

Whether you are an entrepreneur running your own show, or someone who works for someone else, professional responsibilities can sometimes be overwhelming and all-consuming. However, to stay at your peak, it is important to give yourself moments to recharge, re-center, and get grounded.

To address this, I recommend taking a brief meditation break at least twice a day. Download a meditation app for your smartphone (I’ve just discovered Sattva) and set the timer for 5 minutes. Close your eyes and focus on your breath. This practice will leave you calmer, refreshed, and in a more clear-headed space when dealing with your daily challenges.

2.  Put up artwork, posters, and/or pictures that give your mood a boost

Whether you choose an inspirational saying, picture of a loved one, or sculpture that makes you smile, having a beautiful environment can give you a greater sense of well-being. And, research shows that when you are in a positive mood, you are more effective in a variety of realms.

As an additional tip, due to a process called habituation, we can become accustomed to our surroundings. Therefore, the poster that gave you a boost on day one, might not even register 4 months later. So, it can be helpful to change up your artwork periodically so that you can notice them anew (For that reason, I like using a digital frame which rotates through hundreds of pictures of loved ones).

3.  Stock your environment with healthy snacks

While people like candy dishes, there is actually research that shows that eating more fruits and vegetables is associated with a more positive mood. Healthy food will also help to avoid the sugar comas that junk food can induce.

When you are under stress, your level of willpower declines, making you more prone to make unhealthy choices. To combat this, keep nuts, fruit, vegetables, herbal tea, and other nutritious snacks on hand. The easier you make it for yourself to choose healthy options, the more successful you are likely to be.

4.  Get an activity tracker

I personally use the Garmin vivosmart to keep track of the number of steps I take each day, my heart rate during gym workouts, miles walked, and a host of other health-related behaviors.

One particularly useful feature for those who have sedentary jobs is the device’s reminder when you have been sitting still for too long. We know the dangers of prolonged sitting for our health, and so the device gives you a gentle reminder to move around by vibrating. Using this as a cue to move your body can help you to get the blood pumping, clear your head, or perhaps connect with a colleague also can renew your energy level and perhaps spark a creative insight.

Experiment with these tips and see how they work for you!
6 Tips to Unleash Your Authentic Self

6 Tips to Unleash Your Authentic Self

Here is a guest blog post I wrote for Tiny Buddha about my own journey to live with more authenticity. I hope you enjoy it!

 


“Being who you are is another way of accepting yourself.” ~Unknown

Years ago, I struggled to be authentic. I was a consultant who worked with very senior people in big organizations. As a Black female fresh out of graduate school, I was frequently the youngest in the room, the only woman in the room, and the only minority in the room.

Because on the surface, I was so different from those around me, I was very concerned about how I might be perceived. So, I put a lot of effort into portraying myself in ways I thought would increase the odds that others would accept me.

To make sure others wouldn’t underestimate me, I led with my intelligence—saying things to let them know how smart and knowledgeable I was, and playing down my fun-loving side.

To make sure I wasn’t seen as militant or overly sensitive, I stayed quiet in response to comments that ranged from a little “over the line” to blatantly offensive.

To make sure others felt at ease, whenever I was asked to talk about myself, I stuck with the most innocuous and middle-of-the-road stories that I knew were most similar to the other person’s life experiences.

And here is a small, but classic example—even though I had been yearning to own a snazzy smartphone case for years, I stayed with a neutral black one so I would be seen as suitably conservative instead of too girly or flamboyant. (Yes, I had it bad!)

The irony of all of this was that, although this approach caused me to be seen as someone who was bright, competent, and capable, it didn’t exactly forge deep connections with other people.

 

Click here to read the rest of the post!
5 Time Management Hacks To Help You Get More Done

5 Time Management Hacks To Help You Get More Done

If you’re anything like a lot of my clients, you have loads of competing priorities. Between work, family, household chores, friends, and hobbies, you have a lot of plates you have to keep spinning. As a result, during the time you devote to your work, you need to be as productive as possible.

Luckily I’ve got some solutions for you! Read on for some tricks to help you manage your time more effectively.

1.  Stop multi-tasking

Although a lot of people take pride in their ability to multi-task, multi-tasking is a myth.  We are really only able to focus on one thing at a time, and by trying to do several things at once, you actually decrease your productivity.  Give your full attention to each task on your to-do list as you are completing it, and you will find that you are more effective. (And if you need to work on your ability to focus, check out some of my posts on mindfulness).

2.  Take breaks or switch up activities

While forcing yourself to work on an activity for hours, have you ever noticed that you tend to get less and less efficient as time goes by?  That’s because most of us are only able to maintain sustained attention for so long.  By changing the stimulus you are responding to by switching things up every so often, you can refresh your attention and make the most of your time.

3.  Don’t be a slave to your smart phone

A lot of us can be distracted by the lure of a new email coming in.  Despite our best efforts, the flashing light on our smart phone sucks us in to a rabbit hole of checking emails, text messages, and Facebook posts.  To combat this, simply close your email program, turn off your smart phone alerts, or better yet, put your phone on the other side of the room.  This will help reduce the temptation to interrupt your work by checking emails, and instead, you can go through them at predetermined points throughout the day.

4.  Be honest with yourself about how you’re using your time

The internet can be quite addictive and a lot of us spend too much time on it during work hours.  You click on one article, and next thing you know, you’re clicking on suggested articles, click bait, and other links.  If you find yourself doing this more than you would like, set limits on yourself, and find your efficiency increase.

5.  Recognize the importance of self-care

Some of us put self-care far down the list of priorities.  However, research shows that activities such as working out, eating right, tending to relationships, and managing stress effectively make us more productive. Instead of leaving it to chance, make appointments to meet with friends, attend a workout class, meet with a personal trainer, or engage in a hobby.  That way, you will be less likely to blow off these important activities, and reap the rewards of your time investment, with greater productivity.

What are your favorite time management tips? Share them in the comments section!
4 Ways to Use Your Body to Boost Your Mood

4 Ways to Use Your Body to Boost Your Mood

By now, most of us have heard so much about the mind-body connection that there’s no question that the choices we make about how we use our bodies affect other aspects of our lives. For example,

In this latest article that I wrote for MindBodyGreen, I explore some additional interesting research about how paying attention your gait, facial expressions, and posture can have an impact on your emotional well-being.  They’re some really simple tips to apply that can make your life significantly better. Check them out!


Have you ever seen someone practically skipping down the sidewalk, exuding absolute joy? Did you ever think to yourself Wow, that person’s life must be great? Did you ever wish you had some of whatever that person possessed?

While it would be reasonable to assume that these Mary Poppins types of individuals are just naturally happy people who happen to show it in their enthusiastic walks, a research study out of Queen’s University shows that things could also work the other way around: the way people walk could also have a role in affecting their moods.

Click here to read more.

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