All posts by Nicole Dunn

No No Nancy Strikes Again

Season Two, Episode Six. Podcast recap! (And if you missed the podcast, you can find it here.)

Podcast Recap: Season 2, Episode 6

Every Office Has One

This week on the podcast we tackle that one person in the office that makes everyone groan. No, not Peter with all his horrible Dad jokes. No, we gave Peter the week off.  Instead we are talking about “No No Nancy”.  She’s negative. She hates change. She’s a downer. She doesn’t like new things.  She doesn’t even like old things.  She definitely doesn’t like you.  She says “No” a lot  – and her behaviour is a drag.

As always, our guiding principle here at Whiteboard is to seek to understand, so we should probably start with trying to uncover why some people have that negative style and others don’t.

Is the negativity a result of  personality preferences?

According to Myers-Briggs theory, people with a preference for Sensing (S) typically need factual, real, observable data in order for them to consider it trustworthy information.  Their personality opposites, those with a preference for Intuition (N), tend to trust information on the big picture and possibilities.

When our big picture thinkers (N) bring ideas/concepts/changes to our fact folks (S), the latter typically respond with a barrage of questions. These questions, used simply to get more data, information, and facts, are commonly interpreted by N’s as REALLY NITPICKY AND NEGATIVE: What’s the cost per night? Whats the weather that time of year? What was the data from last year? etc etc.

They aren’t meant to be negative, but that’s how they sound to their counterparts. As Ruth, Whiteboard’s resident S says, it’s “No for now, until you can prove otherwise”.

Similarly – S’s might start off proposals for change and meet with a similar perception of negativity from their N counterparts: What’s the big picture? How does this link to the strategy? Have you thought of other ideas? etc. And the perception is the same – a negative response that is a huge drag.

How to Deal?

If you’ve identified your No No or Negative Nancy as someone who just needs more data, BRING MORE DATA. As I (Nicole) mentioned, I deal with my seemingly super nitpicky, annoying husband who loves facts, data, and observations (love you babe) by always bringing facts and data with my ideas about which I want him to make decisions.  You know, like spreadsheets of vacation options with a zillion columns.

If you are the data driven realist trying to appeal to a big picture seeking N, can you give some thought to strategy and future possibilities to accompany your data and appeal to their thinking style?

This is all fine and dandy – but what if this isn’t a personality issue because there seems to be more going on?  Is it possible Nancy’s No’s are the result of some past experiences that are triggering a negative behaviour response? Or said differently…..

Once Bitten, Twice Shy

So this particular negativity comes from people who are impacted by past history/experience. Now the big question is how do we differentiate between the two sources of negativity, and more importantly does it matter? Let’s use Neville (Ruth’s Harry Potter obsession is really taking over…) as an example.

Every time Neville hears about a project he rolls his eyes, mutters under his breath, and is just generally grumbly.  Is he just being difficult because of past experience? Is he looking for the data? How can we find out?

Use open ended statements like:

Tell me more…..Help me understand…

to “peel back the layers of the onion” and find out.

You might hear:

  • I don’t understand it.
  • I don’t see the logic.
  • I don’t see the research.

Tell me about a time when this did work?

This is an Appreciative Inquiry technique that helps people focus on the art of the possible.

Either you’ll hear some positive ideas that you can work with, or, you might hear:

  • This always happens.
  • This never works.
  • I’m tired of all this.

This sounds like change fatigue, or previous examples of change that haven’t worked well or caused some workflow issues.

In this case you might want to find out where the person is in their journey for change? Maybe set some expectations about your topic.

But wait there’s more (like a great infomercial).

What if you hear:

  • I’m really mad about [insert unreasonable scenario that no one should be mad about here].
  • I can’t stand [insert really nice person who seems to just be driving Neville nuts].
  • Can you believe [insert really normal story that shouldn’t be alarming at all].

Sounds like maybe this is just a case of the MONDAYS. Sounds like this is just a grumpy day and will probably pass. Might be a good day to let someone just vent and be grouchy and not worry about this type of negativity bringing down the office culture too drastically.

BESPOKE COACHING

At the end of the day. Who’s on the “Bus to Change” with you? Who’s slashing the tires? Who’s grumpy in the back? And who’s gleefully singing songs at the front of the bus?

Deal with your negative Nancy’s/Neville’s/Nanette’s in respective order to their potential damage to your bus destination.  Before you come to a solution:

  1. Seek to understand,
  2. Then give info (if required), and/0r
  3. Then coach, and/or
  4. Give advice/support, and finally, if all else fails:
  5. Be directive.

The moral of this episode is….just because the symptoms sound the same (negativity), doesn’t mean the solution is the same.

You have to investigate and find the source of the negativity in order to deal with it effectively.  Listen to the podcast for Ruth’s Dog Bark/Tail analogy.

Next week on the blog we fire Peter.  Well not exactly – but we tell you what firing Peter might be like and how to prepare.

And we give you a sneak peek on Season 3 of the podcast! So keep on listening.

Until next time….

Nicole

 

How to Tell Peter He Smells

Season Two, Episode Three. Podcast recap! (And if you missed the podcast, click here.)

AWK-WARD….

Phil Collins, in case you’re too young to know who this is. Also click here to listen to SUSSUDIO.

This season on the podcast we’ve been focusing on awkward/difficult/uncomfortable conversations and helping everyone to get over their fears and just DO IT.  Now I believe that all difficult conversations are to some extent awkward, otherwise they’d just be conversations.

In case you don’t have time to listen to Ruth and my hilarious banter about body odour and low cut tops, this blog will give you three quick tips to having a conversation about a super uncomfortable topic.

(But you should listen, because otherwise the Phil Collins reference makes no sense.)

What Kinds of Conversations are we Talking About Here?

We’re talking about uncomfortable conversations like:

  • body odour,
  • bad breath,
  • food odours, or
  • work attire.

And to some, these might be no more difficult or awkward than not getting a promotion, not getting a pay raise, or just giving feedback.

Some of these are most difficult because they are subjective….what is “bad” body odour, what food smells “bad” versus not bad, what constitutes “appropriate” work attire.  They are also difficult because they are personal – it’s happening to your body, it’s on your body, or you’re putting it in your body. The reactions to this type of feedback can sometimes be more emotional and defensive and that can make having these types of conversations that much scarier.

3 Tips for Having Awkward Conversations

1. Prepare & Map it Out

We talked about this last on the podcast, but I’m going to add it here.  Do some prep work with your HR department, your corporate policies, or the good old interwebs.  Check out what current policies and labour laws are for the item you are approaching your colleague about.

Create a process map or decision tree of your conversation.  This helps you plan for reactions that you aren’t prepared for.  What if the recipient denies that they actually smell? What if the recipient bursts into tears? What if they get angry and walk out of the room? So your conversation process map might be as simple as this:

Opening: I have something awkward to tell you involving body odour.

Response:

  1. No I don’t smell.  You have no idea what you are talking about.
  2. OMG, really? I had no idea?
  3. Crying/Leave room/Somehow end conversation

Responses:

  1. Here’s what I’ve observed, others have described. Here are the impacts to the team/me/others.  What are your thoughts?
  2.  Same as above
  3.  Reschedule meeting and try again

And you can keep going down the line, what are possible responses to those….and what are your responses.

2.  Open Well

One of the greatest openings for this type of conversation is just laying it out there. “This is going to be a difficult conversation”.  This is such a lifesaver.  It sets the other person up to prepare for something awkward. It gives you, as the conversation leader a little bit of a pass on being “perfect”.  It eliminates the need for any pleasantries or diverting from the topic.  It prevents you from starting with distracting comments like “We know you are really great, we love your work, how was your weekend…..”.  You can move right to the meat of the conversation.

3. Follow-Up

Once it is over, make sure that you check in after this tough conversation and see how it is going.  Is the behaviour changing? Is it staying the same? Why?  You might need to have a second (or third or fourth) conversation before the impact really sinks in.

Awkward conversations are hard. With planning and practice they can become less difficult for everyone involved.

Give these tips a try, let us know how it went on Twitter at @whiteboardcons and check out the rest of our podcast series on our homepage at www.whiteboardconsulting.ca.

Until Next Time,

Nicole

 

 

 

How I used a process map to make a kid go to bed.

Ah Summer Vacation.  Rest, relaxation, sun, fun……and a screaming 5 year old. We had the pleasure of taking my stepdaughter on vacation just a couple of weeks ago.  Nine hours of driving to arrive in the stunning Virgina mountains at a family fun resort. Yay!

To be fair, let me tell you this kid is an angel.  She is most definitely the sweetest, kindest, most polite child I have ever set eyes on. And there is no bias there whatsoever. Bedtime, however, reveals a second more scream-ey personality.

As the evil stepmother, I try not to interfere with the nitty-gritty parenting details.  That’s for daddy.  I’m there for playing, cuddles, and using snapchat filters to make the kid laugh.  After a few days of nighttime screaminess (and not enough wine in the world to combat the effects), I decided to take matters into my own hands.  The kid needed structure – even if we were on vacation and things were a little less routin-ey. So I did what I know how to do best.  I facilitated a process mapping session (cleverly disguised as a “craft”).

Use Process Tools to Re-engineer your kid. Child’s Bedtime Process.

Step 1: Engage Them

So, first I said, would you like to do a “craft” with me? We can use stickers and markers and stuff?

Then we went to building a current state/ future state map simultaneously (which I wouldn’t do normally, but I had attention span issues to deal with).

I asked questions about her normal bedtime process at home:

  • What comes first?
  • What next?
  • What if…?
  • What it..?
  • How would you feel if we did this first, next, afterwards?

This made her feel like she designed the bedtime process, she knew what would happen next, and she had some consistency – everything should go in the same order every time.

Step 2: Map the ProcessIMG_5054

Since she can’t quite read, we added pictures and stickers.  Ok, and it’s not a true process map.  It’s a list.  But it shows the order of things and what is included, and we even made some notes for concurrent steps or other issues (sometimes I brush my teeth and hair at the same time, or sometimes I don’t want a show, I’d rather have a story). I will definitely be introducing basic process mapping shapes into the next version, don’t you worry.

Note: If you are alarmed by the term face mask – we found a sleeping mask helped her close her eyes and got to bed – so it became part of the process too.

Step 3: Execute with CONSISTENCY

The next step was to get all excited about the list and try it out.  We posted it on her bedroom door and said, “ok – what do we do first?”  Eureka! It worked.

The more we did the list, the less she complained about this step or that step.  She almost always had something to look forward to, and bedtime didn’t feel so imminent.

And now – we just stay with the flow.  We make adjustments as necessary, but try to stick to the process as much as possible.  Maybe in a month or two we’ll map it again- hey continuous improvement is just as important as the first improvement.

So process geeks rejoice!  You can now process map at home without fear of repercussion.  Even kids get into it.

Let us know if you try it out @whiteboardcons #bedtimeprocessmap.

Until next time,

Nicole

Why Leaders Should Download PokemonGo.

What the &$^# is a Pikachu?

It started with a few photos on Facebook.  Cartoons and acquaintances of mine were popping up in photos together on my newsfeed.  I figured it was random or a super geeky thing I didn’t need to know about and then the posts started getting more cryptic….friends were “hunting” Pokemon? Pokemon were screen-capped sitting on friends’ laptops and posted to social media and I was very very confused.

Even the University Health Network here in Toronto posted a chart on how to play safely. Wait what?

Then the naysayers started emerging. Nasty tweets and posts popped up about how stupid it was. While sending a text during my morning dog walk the construction worker doing road paving near my house said “Ugh.  Tell me you aren’t looking for Pokemon? That is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard of”.  News stories broke out about PokemonGo related injuries, accidents, along with the instant rise of Nintendo’s share price.

IMG_3076

My attempt at photographing Ruth holding a Zubat. 🙂

My husband came home that night, and described the concept.  “You walk around and there are things to collect and battle while you walk around.  And it is in real life. It’s weird, but kind of interesting, right?”

I thought, wow, I’m not really interested in phone games, but the concept sure does sound neat.

So I downloaded it.  Much like Snapchat I didn’t get it right away. (My good friend Jamie told me that it was so old people couldn’t figure out how to use it. Hmph.) But I figured a few things out. I caught a few Rattatats and Zubats.  Then Ruth downloaded it and we went for a little break.  We had quite a blast, and I learned a few things too!

So while I hate to admit it, it’s kind of fun.  It’s kind of social. It got me outside for a quick walk instead of glued to my laptop.

So why would a leader in an organization give PokemonGo a try? Shouldn’t we be keeping our minions in their offices doing work instead of looking for nearby Pokestops? I don’t think so. And here’s why:

3 Reasons Leaders Should Download PokemonGo

  1. It Will Help You Be Kind and Curious. Remember our famous coaching phrase? Kindness and curiosity leave no room for anger and resentment.  Instead of harbouring all that anger and resentment for those cute little cartoon characters, try playing it for 15 minutes.  If you hate it, at least you can say why and you can say you tried it, right? Get your kids to teach you, or get your employees to show you how it works.  They’ll get a kick out of it.  Trust me.
  2. You Will Find Something New to Talk about. Often when dealing with different generational types in the workplace, it’s hard to find some common ground in conversations. Instead of your team members jumping back to their desks and pretending to finish their TPS reports when they were actually out poke-hunting, you can ask them if they found that damn Zubat, and encourage them to relax. Start a conversation, ask them to take you for a hunt and show you how it works.  They will love getting to engage with you without having to have that same humdrum conversation about your weekend. (And they’ll respect you when you suggest it’s time to get back to work now.)
  3. It Will Help You Encourage an Active Work Culture. Maybe your office has a lunchtime plank session, or yoga class, or fitness or meditation group.  In large organizations that might be possible, but in smaller organizations it might be cost prohibitive to implement a large scale wellness program.  This is a great way to take 10-15 minutes out of your day, to get outside as a group, go poke-hunting together, and get some fresh air.

This all being said – boundaries are important. What I love about the UHN tweet is that asks people to be safe and considerate of others, but also jumps into the spirit of things and wishes players luck.  If you feel it necessary to set some boundaries in your organization, try to keep it firm and fun, instead of shutting the whole thing down and making people hunt in secret.

Tell us how PokemonGo is playing a part (or not) in your worklife. Tweet us at @whiteboardcons!

Until Next Time,

Nicole (@missNicoleNorth)

 

 

 

 

Sorry. Be Canadian and apologize at work.

Canada Day.

Tomorrow, July 1st, we celebrate Canada Day.  Sorry to say, it’s not with the same gusto as our neighbours to the South celebrate Independence Day, but we celebrate with a certain “Je ne sais quoi,” that only we Canadians have.  Mostly we celebrate with beer, swimming in the lake, and mildly dangerous home fireworks.

In honour of the birth of our country….wait, let me google that’s what we are actually celebrating to be sure.

Canada Day (French: Fête du Canada) is the national day of Canada, a federal statutory holiday celebrating the anniversary of the July 1, 1867, enactment of the Constitution Act, 1867 (then called the British North America Act, 1867), which united three colonies into a single country called Canada within the British Empire

(source: Wikipedia)

canada dayHmm.  Interesting.  Not sure I knew that explicitly. Thank heavens for the interweb.  Either way, the day off in the middle of summer where I always go to a cottage got me thinking about being Canadian and office culture.

Canadian Workplace Traits

What Canadian traits do we have in the office workplace (if any)? While I know you all want me to describe the intricacies of using “Eh,” I will not. Sorry.  Oh ha, there it is! What I am going to discuss is our use of sorry and how it impacts our business culture.

Compared to our English speaking neighbours, apparently we have a penchant for overusing the apologetic term.  Our friends to the South apparently don’t say it at all, and according to the National Post, our accented colleagues in the UK don’t mean it.

#sorrynotsorry

So presumably the theory is, when we say sorry too much we are meek, over-polite, and perhaps even admitting guilt that isn’t there (I won’t begin to tell you the number of times someone bumps into me and I say sorry!).

So in the work environment, we want to create a culture that is polite, respectful, accountable (meaning we are willing to say out loud that we bungled something up), but saying sorry for everything might undermine our career aspirations. Saying sorry might:

a) be perceived as excessive and unnecessary (particularly for the analytical types who may favour data to feelings),

b) create a perception that we’ve done something wrong, when we actually haven’t, and finally,

c) it might render the use of the word somewhat meaningless.

How to Say Sorry Just Enough!

  1. When you have hurt someone’s feelings. So, in yesterday’s TPS report meeting, you tell Cynthia that the new TPS reports are “THE DUMBEST IDEA EVER”.  Cynthia has been a little aloof lately, and you find out later she designed the new TPS reports.  This is a good time to admit that your statement was offensive.  “Cynthia, yesterday I said the new TPS reports were dumb. I realize that might have been offensive. I’m sorry. Can you help me understand them better so I can have a better appreciation of the work you did?”
  2. When you have made an error and are owning up to it. Once very early on in my career in the Ontario Public Service, I made a $150,000 procurement error.  I forgot to type over the system default date of April 1 with Mar 31.  We lost that money from our budget that year.  After creating a small wading pool of sweat in my cubicle and panicking to the point of fainting, lumberghI went into Lumbergh’s (not his real name…but there is a movie reference here) office and said: “I made an error in the system. This money is coming out of this years budget, not last years. This is how I’m going to fix it so this never happens again. I’m SO sorry.”  Lumbergh turned beet red with rage, and then immediately resumed his natural “public service pale,” and said – “thanks for owning up to it, not making excuses about the system, and for your apology.  Let’s move on”.  Now, I wasn’t normally a fan of Lumbergh, but in that moment I could’ve hugged him.
  3. When you have not acted politely. You interrupted Sally’s story during a meeting. You failed to notice Henry two-stepping it to catch the open door because he had two coffees in his hand and let the door crash into his face and his lattes. “Wow.  I’m sorry. I just interrupted you/slammed expensive coffee into your face. Please go on/let me hold the door.”

The Goldilocks of Sorry – Just Right.

My point here is that sorrys don’t have to become ubiquitous.  Use sorry sincerely and genuinely.  Don’t say “Sorry, but…..it was x,y,z’s fault” – that negates your sorry and says you aren’t sorry at all. Don’t say sorry unless you know what you are sorry for.  Don’t say sorry when someone bumps in to you (say excuse me instead – and honestly as Canadians we don’t want to be doormats!). canada sorryDon’t say sorry when you are late for the 100th meeting in a row. You clearly aren’t sorry because you aren’t fixing your complete lack of respect for others’ time.

Say sorry when you screw up, and you know it. Say it in isolation. I’m sorry {period}.  Let it sink in. Say it with passion, and if you must, add an “eh” on the end to seal the deal.  And as a major belieber, it is never too late to say sorry. 

Happy Canada Day!

Until Next Time,

Nicole

 

 

 

Process Mapping? I’d rather be Napping.

So I’ve heard a lot of people say they are so fascinated by what I do in the process improvement world, and how great they think it is , but how “it’s not for them”.  Using my coaching skills, I usually say something like, “Oh yeah?  Tell me about why it isn’t for you”.

Here are some of the responses I get:images

“Snore.  Processes are super boring. My company is really intuitive, and we just know exactly what to do and we fix it.” – my super annoying friend

“Processes, who needs it? I already know my team is garbage and as soon as I can replace them, things will turn around”. – a client who later realized her team was great because process mapping revealed a culture issue

“Ugh.  Sounds bureaucratic. I’m an entrepreneur.  There is nothing corporate about he way I run my business, and to be honest we don’t need it.” – my sister-in-law

PROCESS MAPPING3 Signs You Need Process Mapping STAT!

  1. Something is wrong and you “think” know exactly how to fix it.  How do you know what’s wrong?  What leads you to believe that?  What is the expected outcome if you make the change? You might be right. Intuition is super important.  Why not validate those gut feelings with some evidence in a process map? It’s a great way to get buy in from your stakeholders and employees!
  2. You “think” your employees are the problem. They suck.  While this is the first place many people look for solutions, it’s usually something else.  Why do you think they suck?  What tells you that? What could be inhibiting them? Have you asked them? Research shows that if you take great people and put them in a bad process, the process will win every time. Process mapping sometimes uncovers secrets that are hiding within a bad process.
  3. You “think” process is too rigorous.  Well, it can be, but it doesn’t have to be.  The right people, the right style, and the right moment can take you from being a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants entrepreneur to a being a strategic one.  Why not set the stage so you can pass the tasks that aren’t worth your time (or you aren’t great at) to someone who can actually add value (so you can go and be amazing). Process mapping identifies those tasks and lets you properly divide them up.

If you’re not a “process person,” or even if you are but don’t have a lot of time, we can help you. We are expert at coming in, talking with you and your team, and uncovering the hidden opportunities to improve your business.

Even better – why not build process improvement and process mapping capacity on your team? We offer public workshops that are fun, interactive, and relevant. Check them out by clicking here, and contact us if you want to know more.

#whiteboardworskhops #theyredifferent

Until Next Time,

Nicole

Screen Shot 2016-06-16 at 4.09.44 PM

Should you follow the pack or go rogue?

I’ve been thinking lately about our human tendency to follow the pack and my newfound tendency of “going rogue.” I’m a trusting person and easily influenceable. If you tell me this is the BEST HAND CREAM EVER, I will buy it.  If you tell me you tried a new workout and it was THE HARDEST WORKOUT EVER, I will go and try it tomorrow.  Ask me to smell this milk because it is the MOST EXPIRED MILK EVER, I will get my nose right in there.

So it’s a newfound habit for me to say, “That’s awesome that it is working for you.  Right now I’m doing this, and it is really working for me too. Yay us!”

But Everyone Says So!

People (and probably some science reports too) say that we MUST eat breakfast; doing so helps us consume fewer calories later in the day and maintain a healthy weight and may even improve our concentration and productivity. They also say we shouldn’t weigh ourselves every day because it could case us to become over fixated on what may be natural fluctuations rather than indications of weight gain or loss.

“They” say we shouldn’t look at our phones first thing in the morning – it can distract us from our morning routine and can decrease our productivity by focusing on external priorities rather than our own.

And we mustn’t work out every day, because our bodies won’t have adequate time to recover and we won’t get results.  

Screen Shot 2016-06-02 at 4.57.45 PM

Don’t get me wrong, I realize there are studies and science  that may back these statements up with statistical significance.  But here’s the thing: all of the “pack ideas” I talked about above don’t work for me.

When I eat breakfast, I’m starving all day and (after testing this theory out by tracking and monitoring the data) I consume more calories than are necessary for me to maintain my weight. So do I keep doing it because everyone else is telling me that is the right thing?

Similarly, weighing myself every day keeps me on top of fluctuations that could otherwise be more dramatic after a week.

And I LOVE working out.  Provided I balance my workouts, it is my stress relief and my time that makes me happy. So why should I be unhappy, provided I am being safe and taking care of my body, when my way works for me?

And finally, if I don’t check my phone before bed AND first thing – guaranteed I will miss a meeting, or miss a cancellation of a meeting and make an unnecessary trip.

Now statistically speaking these “rules” might be great for the majority of people, and the majority of people will see better results following these rules.  But, as we know, there is a great deal of human variation.  I am a sparkly unicorn and I am different.  These rules do not work for me.

The thing is, it’s easy to follow the pack.  It’s part of our human nature.

…social conformity is based on mechanisms that comply with reinforcement learning and is reinforced by the neural error-monitoring activity which signals what is probably the most fundamental social mistake – that of being too different from others

Read more: http://news.softpedia.com/news/039-Follow-the-Crowd-039-Tendency-Finally-Explained-102066.shtml#ixzz4ASKrOwCW

Follow The Pack? Or, Go Rogue!

Maybe your competition uses a certain process improvement methodology (like Lean or Six Sigma), or a particular sales tool, or social media strategy and you want to implement it to keep up with the trends. But what if it just doesn’t work for YOU (and your team, and customers, and stakeholders)?
keep-calm-and-go-rogue

  1.  Does it feel natural to do what the pack is doing?  Sure, good habits take time and consistency, but if the process is so difficult that you can’t get the habit to stick, maybe it isn’t the right strategy for you.
  2.  Have you experienced errors, defects, or problems using the pack’s idea? If you notice missed deadlines, faulty products, decreased employee engagement, or increased customer complaints – maybe you need to re-examine your plan.
  3.  Have you tried and tested any other options? If you haven’t tested and tried out alternatives, how do you know that this is the best for you?  How can you make a decision with out data – numbers or experience? Reflect on the past – was there a time that you were doing really well?  What were you doing?  Should you align with the pack, or “go rogue”.

Let us know how you follow the pack or go rogue @whiteboardcons #gorogue or #followthepack!

Until Next Time,

Nicole

3 Steps to take before you quit your job

It happens so suddenly.  Things seem to be chugging along and one afternoon you come to the drastic realization: “I want to quit my job”.   It may have been percolating for some time. Anger and resentment like to age like a fine wine (mmm wine. Is it Friday yet?).   Maybe something specific has triggered your sudden need for change. Perhaps you’ve had a sudden leadership shuffle or organizational realignment that just turned your work-life upside down. Either way, something has to change and you’re going with the all -or-nothing approach. You want to quit your job.

Okay, sit back and breathe.  This has happened to all of us.  The following 3 steps ensure that you are making the right move, and if the move is real – how to make sure you are prime interview material.

3 Steps to Take Before You Quit Your Job

Assess. Correct. Act.

1) Assess

First things first.  Let’s do some root cause analysis.  Some questions to ask yourself:

  • What do you love about your job?
  • What are you really good at?pablo
  • What could you be better at?
  • What makes you think you should be better at them?
  • What do you dislike about your job?
  • Which one in particular (there may be many, try to pick the one with the biggest impact) would you say is making you want to leave?
  • Why [insert answer to your last question here]? i.e. Why do you think your boss doesn’t know how to lead?
  • Why [insert answer to the last question here]? i.e. Why do you think your boss has no desire to help you to succeed?
  • Why….[you get the picture right]? i.e. Why do you think your boss dislikes you as a human?
  • What evidence do you have to support your beliefs/observations?
  • Is it possible these are assumptions?
  • Where do you want to go?
  • Why do you think it will be better?
  • What evidence do you have that supports that?
  • Is there a person/place/resource that you could use to determine if another agency/consulting firm/hospital etc. will be better?

*Note: This line of questioning will hopefully have you saying things like “Well, I just assume s/he dislikes me because x,y,z, but I don’t know this for a fact.”

2) Correct

Now, finding a job can take a while.  So maybe there are some opportunities in that big list above to make some course corrections.  Make things better.  Maybe they get so great you don’t need to leave, or maybe they just become more tolerable while you are on the hunt for that new dream job.

  • What can YOU change about your behaviours/habits/style that could help?
  • What skills/experiences do you need to develop to make the transition?
  • What tools, resources, people (mentors, colleagues etc.) do you have to help you make changes/get experience and skills?
  • What changes would help that YOU have influence over?
  • What things do you think can OTHERS change?  Are you willing to have a conversation with them about it/work together to solve it?
  • What things aren’t going to change/things you don’t have control or influence over (i.e. policies, organizational structure) ?  Can you come to terms with that staying the same during your transition?
  • What things might get in the way?

3) Act

Now do the things.   Make the changes.  Use your influence, tools, resources, and people to help you get what you need. Make the best of the situation.  Now is a great time to “SHINE”.  This will serve a couple of purposes: work will be more bearable, you will have overall better days that make you happier, you will be more confident, and you’ll have people who are willing to give great references. You may love it so much, you decide to stay.

Have you had the sudden urge to leave? Did you act on it? Did you use some of these steps? How did it turn out? What would you have done differently? We’d love to hear about it in the comments below or on Twitter @whiteboardcons #iquit.

Until next time!

Nicole

 

Public Speaking Tips for people who’d rather die than speak in front of a group.

Which scenario describes you best 1 minute before a presentation?

1) Heart racing.  Nervous, but antsy.  Alert.  Reviewing your notes for the umpteenth time. Worried you might forget something, but slough it off – they won’t know what they missed if you forget something.  You rock at winging it!  Step in to the room, find your light (or the nearest fluorescent fixture) and go! Clear loud voice, moving, engaging the audience.  See someone looking a bit bored, but immediately assume they are clinically insane because this presentation is AMAHZING. Redirect attention to the 9 people smiling and vigorously nodding. Become more alive and energized with every nod. Eliciting laughter and interaction. Cut to end of presentation. Fist-pump.  Nailed it.

Or does this sound more accurate?

download2) Heart racing.  Cold sweat. Also feel oddly hot.  Face is bright red, as is neck, chest, and….can’t look any further down.  Read notes again – DON’T FORGET to use the word gargantuan in the 3rd sentence you have planned for the 3rd slide.  It is the only word that is important and if you forget it, the whole presentation is ruined. ARE THOSE PIT STAINS? OMG.  This is going to be the worst. They are going to think I am stupid. I hate this. I’m the worst at this.  I’d rather be in a coffin right now.

Public Speaking is my worst enemy.

Anything sound familiar? If you said #1, thanks for stopping by. You are like me and totally get your jollies from presenting.  Share this with people who don’t get how you do it. Bye Felicia.

If you said 2, you are the MAJORITY.  75% of people have glossophobia.

3 Public Speaking Tips

1. Look for your person. There is always one person nodding and smiling and totally eating up everything you are saying.  Either they come naturally, or you plant them in the front row.  I’ve found that there is always one empathetic soul who “feels” your presentation pain, and does everything possible with their face to make you feel comfortable.  Look at them, trust that you are doing ok.

2. Recognize people intake information differently. The fact of the matter though, is that not everyone nods and smiles and looks so excited every time you speak.  Others take in information differently, they are seeking details, or are analyzing information. Their facial expression ranges from quizzical to what appears to be downright offended at what you are saying.  Look away and find #1.  Calm down.  Now – are you speaking with enough detail? Too much detail? Too high level? Not high level enough? Take stock of those furrowed brows, and make some adjustments – even better – call it out. “I see some quizzical faces out there – how can I help?”

3. The triangle of power. If you are one to get shaky hands, or in your aatrumphitler_thumbexcitement flail your arms around more than a bird in flight – this trick is for you. Activating pressure points while also giving your hands something to do.

Even the most confident and authoritative speakers use it. Not that I want you to harness the energy of these two.

We’d love to hear your public speaking nightmares and successes @whiteboardconsulting on Twitter.

Until next time,

Nicole

 

 

 

3 Questions to ask your potential new boss to avoid a toxic workplace.

Why oh why did I take this job?

You spent days perfecting your resume.  Days finding the right salutation for your cover letter.  Weeks ruining your manicure fretting about the interview process.  And if you happen to work in the public sector, you’ve spent hours rehearsing your presentation assignment with anyone who will listen.

All that hard work, and the phone finally rings – “We’d like to offer you the job!” download

Fast forward 2 goodbye cake parties, 12 transition meetings, and 17 emails about how lucky you are to “get out of here”.  You’ve got your big girl/boy suit on and it is week 3 of your new job.

You said the biggest challenge was going to be what?

You thought you did the right thing! You asked the golden end-of-interview question:

“What will be the biggest challenge you foresee for the winning candidate in this new role?”

This is a great question.  But they didn’t tell you that the office is the perfect example of a toxic workplace! You are dissapointed, demotivated, and think you may have made the worst decision ever!

Don’t get me wrong,  “a challenge” from one individual to another has a great deal of variability. For one it might be subject matter expertise, for another it is senior management support. Managers looking for a team member aren’t going to say things like:

  • The culture is super toxic, have fun!
  • I’m a really great operational manger, but I suck at leadership (oh and I hate team meetings FYI).
  • Your team is the worst performing team in our entire company.
  • My boss is even worse than I am.

3 Questions to ask your potential new boss (BEFORE you say YES!)

You might feelimages awkward asking these questions.  I guarantee that this moment of mild awkwardness is FAR less painful than arriving at TWCC (Toxic Workplace Culture Central). Read more on the signs of a toxic workplace culture here.

  1. How would you describe the culture of the organization? This is a great open-ended question that’s pretty hard to hide behind. If you have an honest hiring manager, they will be clear about the challenges and opportunities.  Be ready with some probing questions to help you out in case you get some tight lipped answers (i.e. You say “Great”, tell me more? How would employees describe the culture? How would another team describe the culture?).  I would be delighted with answers like: our branch does a bi-annual team building event offsite, we have a running club, we have a lunchtime yoga session that more than half of the team participates in etc.
  2. Can you tell me about the history of the team that I’ll be working with? Ooh.  This question is more loaded than a baked potato. Here’s where you can find out things like how new (or how established) your team is.  Perhaps you do some diagnosis on their stage of team development, or how you might apply the situational leadership model.  You can start to understand how resilient the team might be to change (based on their recent history with change).
  3. What kinds of systems/processes are currently in place in the organization to support open and transparent communication and team building? What I would want to hear in this answer are things like: we have weekly 1:1 coaching sessions with our team, we have a very rigorous performance review process, we believe strongly in training, coaching, and having difficult conversations…

Remember, the hiring panel is not only interviewing you, but you are interviewing them – to see if this job, culture, and environment is a great fit for you.  Otherwise, on to the next opportunity!

Now what if you’ve got the job and you’ve got the toxic culture blues? Not to worry, stay tuned and next time I’ll share the top 3 tips to dramatically improve your culture (even if you aren’t a manager)!

Until Next Time,

Nicole

P.S.  Looking for a new role?  Ruth is offering 3 coaching sessions to a select few volunteers, snag this $500 value before spots are gone! Ruth@whiteboardconsulting.ca/staging