I published You Need To Think Like An Astronaut To Crush It At Work on Medium.
I published You Don’t Have To Wear All the Hats In Your Business on Medium.
I published A Fail-Proof Formula For Networking When You Hate Networking on Medium.
I’m tired this morning.
For a lot of people in the Northern Hemisphere, this has been a long-ass winter. I live in Toronto, and we just came through a four-day spring storm involving, snow, ice, freezing rain, strong winds, and grey depressing skies.
My Twitter feed was full of this:
I don’t know about you, but I am strongly affected by the seasons, and I have been craving the arrival of spring like it’s my job. This last storm had me house-bound, unable to get out for activity, and cranky. I’m just exhausted.
Exhausted is the new parent who doesn’t get more than 20 minutes of sleep at a time. Exhausted is the young resident working a 24 hour shift in the ER. Exhausted is the power crew working around the clock to restore electricity after a winter storm. You get the idea.
I understand that I’m not really tired. I’m just suffering from Winter Crank (yes, I just made that up), and that has the same symptoms as fatigue.
So what’s a girl to do?
You know I’d rather curl up on the couch and close my eyes for a bit longer this morning, but my to-do list is calling.
Six Steps For Getting Your Stuff Done When You Have Winter Crank
I mean if you’re REALLY tired (see above), go lie down. Work you do in this condition is going to be crappy anyway. Take a nap, even 20 minutes if you can. Studies show a 20-minute power nap can work wonders.
But if you’re honest with yourself and you discover you have Winter Crank, here’s what you can do:
- Stand outside for five minutes and do some deep breathing. You don’t have to meditate. Just put your phone down and go outside. Stare at something and just breathe deeply for five minutes.
- Now go back inside and make a lunch date, coffee break date, or some other date that involves talking to people outside your usual circle. If you work from home and all your neighbours are at the office, then make a plan to go to a local store and chat with the people there. Talking to people outside your family or immediate work colleagues not only boosts your energy, but will also be something to look forward to.
- Next, make a list of the absolute essential things that you have to do, despite your Winter Crank.
- Make coffee or tea with caffeine. I know, artificial energy boosters are NOT the best, but desperate times call for desperate measures. If your are caffeine free, then how about a delicious breakfast cookie or protein bar?
Put your phone on silent. Turn on music you can work to, or put on silencing headphones if you need peace and quiet.
- Finally, choose the easiest thing on the list and just do it. I know a lot of people say that you should do the biggest thing first but we are dealing with Winter Crank and we need your dopamine levels to go up. It’s well known that crossing things off a list actually does that, so find the easiest thing, do it, and cross it off the list, and then go to the next easiest thing and so on until you’re done.
I guarantee that as you start crossing things off the list your fatigue will also start to fade. The little dopamine guy in your head will be making you feel so good you may even want to tackle some big project you’ve been avoiding!
OK, that may be too much to hope for, so don’t.
Just focus on what has to be done. Breathe. Talk to people. And do it.
Until next time,
Season Three B, Episode Four. Podcast recap! (And if you missed the podcast, you can find it here.)
Podcast Recap: Season 3b, Episode 4
In this week’s podcast we focused on tips for managers to impress the heck out of their new employee by having the most awesome and fantastic on-boarding program ever. I mean, ever.
It’s really not hard, and because it’s sometimes easier to start from the negative,
Here’s What Not to Do
That’s all. Just don’t do that.
Here’s What to Do
It may be a while since you were new on your job. Plus, you’re a manager and may not exactly know what your team feels would make a rookie feel part of the team. Remember, not only are you responsible for attracting and recruiting talent, but also for making them want to stay and be productive! If they don’t feel welcome, they may bounce pretty quickly.
So, one of the smartest things you can do is to ask your current employees to brainstorm and create an on-boarding plan – they will certainly know the good and the bad of your first day on the job, and they will want to ensure the “new guy/girl” wants to stay!
This collection of ideas should be written into some kind of process or standard operating procedure that can be triggered as soon as a new employee’s start date is made public. Remember, the goal is to make this person feel valued and special – like they are kind of a big deal.
The Steps for Amazing On-boarding
- Create a checklist for welcoming a new employee. Use your team to ensure it’s realistic and awesome and fun.
- Assign a role to “owning” the checklist. (It’s important that you assign a role, not a person. If you assign this to Bob, then Bob may own it forever, no matter how many times he changes roles.)
- Ensure the checklist includes:
- A buddy. There is NOTHING as good as being assigned a buddy to help you navigate the ropes. If you have nothing else in your on-boarding program, have this.
- A schedule for the first 5-7 days, that’s designed to slowly integrate the new person into the routine. (Pretend you are a “Cruise Director,” and you’re planning the week to be productive and also have time to recover from information overload.) This would include a meeting with HR to sign papers or security to get keys or pass cards.
- Somewhere to sit, and all the required trappings – computer, phone (either desktop or company-assigned smart phone), chair, basic stationery supplies. Oh and a nameplate, with their name spelled properly.
- A printed list of login information for any required systems.
- A link to “required reading.”
- Organizational Chart (with or without photos of people)
- List of acronyms
- On-boarding manual specific to the team
- Where to find answers to common questions
- Dress code
- Corporate policies
- Travel policies
- Expense policies
- Attendance / Illness / Vacation Policies
- Internal team processes
- Emergency processes
- Processes for Flexible work
- Expectations for hours work, being available, etc
- Who does what on the team
- Where to find answers to common questions
- A meeting with you, their new manager, on Day One. This is your chance to:
- Learn how they like to be managed, recognized, encouraged.
- Follow up on information gleaned during the interview.
- Set expectations.
- No, I don’t expect you to “hit the ground running.”
- Yes, I do expect you to get up to speed gradually.
- Yes, I know you’ll have lots of questions, and if your buddy can’t help you, come and see me.
- Come and see me even if you don’t have questions.
- Yes, you’ll have a performance plan and a learning plan, but let’s talk about that in a week or two, after you get settled.
- Yes, I check in with my team regularly – here’s when and what I expect during those check-ins.
- A formal, scheduled 30-day check in with you to ensure that their expectations have been met in their new job. You should also check in at a week, and even two weeks – it’s critical you have a formal meeting at 30/60/90 days – this is important to retaining the talent you just hired.
These days it is much easier than it used to be (even perhaps expected) to switch jobs if they don’t fulfill you and meet your expectations. Taking the time to make sure the new employee’s first day/week/month/quarter is AMAZING, will make it much less likely that all the work you did to hire someone will be wasted when they leave quickly.
Create the plan. Do the plan. Make the person feel like a rockstar.
Until next time,
Season Three B, Episode Three. Podcast recap! (And if you missed the podcast, you can find it here.)
Podcast Recap: Season 3b, Episode 3
In this week’s podcast we focused on tips for managers to be the most successful and effective they can be when conducting an interview.
Oh sorry, you thought it was just the job applicant who had to prepare for an interview? Nope. Wrong.
You’ve Got Some Work to Do
You may recall that we spent some time talking about how a job applicant needs to spend some time thinking about “their story.” How does their experience best answer potential interview questions? We coached people to learn to tell their stories in a way that ensures that you, the interviewer, is hanging on every word and seeing the obvious link to the skills and traits you are looking for.
That last bit, “the skills and traits you’re looking for,” is the key, and preparation is required to make sure that you remember, during those long hours of interview panels, exactly what it is you are hoping to hear. When you design your interview questions, consider,
“Do my questions:
- align with the both the skills and the character traits that were outlined in the Job Description and Job Ad that I posted?” (Remember, if you want to hire a Gen Z and you posted an awesome Gen Z job description, don’t slip back into tedious Gen X interview behaviours – be consistent!)
- help me uncover things that may not be on the resume?” (Behavioural qualities like emotional intelligence and comportment.)
- help me validate resume content?” (Sadly, some people hire others to write their resume, and have no idea what’s in it.)
You’ll also need to decide whether you require an assignment, and whether that should be pre-work (rare, since people can get help with these) or post interview work completed on site (more common).
Finally, consider the time available, the panel interviewing with you (do they have any questions to add or will you simply be reviewing your questions and goals with them), pare down your questions to the most important, and then create a scoring template to use in the interview.
This template can be as simple as a list of the questions, a number of points awarded to each one out of the total points available (a weighting factor), and a few words to remind you what you’re listening for. For example:
Q1: What is it about this job that encouraged you to apply? (15/100) [Listen for: passion, desire to transform things and make them better, well-spoken, confidence.]
Q2: Tell me about a time you had to get information from a variety of people in our global organization, and were not able to meet with them face-to-face? (10/100) [Listen for: problem solving skills, technology solutions other than email, seems to truly like people and talking with them.]
While I’ve Got You Here…
Asking the questions is the easy part. The hard part is listening.
Can you be fully present and engaged in what the person is saying? Is your phone buzzing in your pocket? Do you keep checking your watch? Are people tapping on your door, disrupting (even unintentionally) the interview?
Do everything you can to respect this person’s time, even if you can tell right away that they aren’t the right person. You never know who you will meet again in the future, or whether that person will be able to connect you to someone else. Also, it’s common courtesy.
Other notes on etiquette when conducting an interview:
- watch for cues you may be giving unintentionally,
- balance between serious and smiling/encouraging,
- demonstrate the type of manager you’re going to be – role model your expectations – be on time and make an effort to look like you’re excited about this,
- set expectations that the interviewee should mange their time, and
- be kind. Getting people to relax will enable you to more effectively gauge their soft skills.
Lastly, listen for the interviewee’s story, assess their behavioural qualities and how they carry themselves (making allowances for fumbles and word slips at the start due to nerves), and take notes.
Notes are important so you can have an informed discussion with the panel after the interview, so you can support your decision, and so that you can carry out a debrief, if asked, after the interview. They also give you something to focus your mind (it’s hard to think about tonight’s game or tomorrow’s presentation when you’re taking notes).
But Wait, There’s More!
Other than making your decision and bringing in your new employee (which we will cover in our next episode), there is one last thing you may need to do, if asked.
Smart people always request a debrief if they are the unsuccessful candidate. They seek to understand what they could do better next time, and even look for suggestions on how to improve.
Many managers are terrified to conduct debriefs, almost always because they are uncomfortable giving feedback. The best way to prepare to give a debrief (other than reading this blog post), is to take 5-10 minutes, and write down what you want to share with that person. There’s no need to go overboard and gush about how awesome it was to talk to them and how they did a great job but it just wasn’t the best fit and how you really liked them and it was a close call.
That’s garbage feedback and it would be better not to bother at all.
What you want to do is schedule a 15 minute phone call, and go over three things that you felt were missing from the interview, or that could be improved. Consider phrases like:
- I have a couple of ideas to share with you for your next interview.
- With respect to project management (or whatever topic you want to focus on), what I was looking for was a specific example of what YOU did, and I only heard about the team.
- We are looking for someone who has the confidence to take on difficult situations, and you seemed pretty nervous. Of course nerves are normal in an interview, but you didn’t seem able to get more settled and more confident as the interview went on.
- I think you could use some rehearsal / practice / experience.
The key is to give specific feedback that highlights what you DIDN’T see/hear, and how the candidate could take action and improve.
Lucky for you, we have a handy dandy template, and we are happy to share it with you:
You have done a lot of work to get to the point where you’re ready to interview someone, and (hopefully) so have they. Do that last little bit of preparation so that you can listen effectively for their stories and know without question whether they are a good fit for their team. Then be prepared to give feedback and pass on your expertise – you never know when that good karma will come back to you.
Until next time,