T.J. from Chicago, Ill. writes: Rebecca, Lately, due to delays and disruptions in our distribution channels, my co-founder has become more vocal about wanting to shift direction and try new ideas. His excitement is causing confusion and anxiety amongst our small team. I believe we have to stay steady on the track we’re on while entertaining options. Big shifts feel premature right now. How can I help him stay grounded?
The turbulence in the economy is a cause for concern among small and large businesses. As creativity has saved many a startup from extinction during troubled times, it can also be a danger to shift direction without careful consideration.
T.J., encourage your co-founder to seek out hard data to support his new direction, and to do in private without stressing out the team. His sleuthing may uncover a wealth of information that could justify a change in focus.
In his excitement, however, he may overlook the potential losses of staff, resources, customers and the costs of executing a new strategy. What is the competition up to? How does the new direction match up with the mission and values of the business? Compare that data with the advantages of staying on your present course. Get feedback from trusted mentors seasoned in the industry.
New ideas are welcome as long as all factors and perspectives are taken into account.
Having trouble managing a valued, but impulsive co-worker? I can help. Contact me at [email protected]
Nigel L., a student form an Ivy League entrepreneurship program, wrote:
Rebecca, I do my best to be a team player when I’m working on a project with other students. I do my share and often do more than my share of analysis. This can be a problem as I often find glitches and point them out to the group. 9/10 times my detective work pays off with a better grades for all of us. However, much of that time I get resistance to my observations from some other team members and that affects our relationship. What to do?
Nigel, you are truly COREageous! It’s too bad the others don’t appreciate your insights and what you do for their grades! But here are some things you can do to lessen the resistance:
Know when to speak up, and when not to. You are clearly to be relied upon to find problems. But once in a while, you might wait to be asked for your analysis until you’ve given the others time to find the glitch and be the hero for a change. Listen to others before speaking up. If someone else notes a glitch before you, thank them for their discovery.
Do you go into too much detail? Attention spans are short and people are impatient. Point out the problem, a couple supporting points and your suggestions. Keep your rebuttal short.
Perhaps a better choice of words or a bit of humor may pay off better for you? Phrases like, “I’d like your opinion on this one,” or “It may surprise you guys, but I have noticed something interesting!”
Speaking up is stepping up — a startup strength. We just try not to bruise more egos than necessary!
Finding resistance to your ideas? Step up and contact me at Rebecca @MindfulCommunication.com
Returning from vacation and getting back into a work routine can be challenging. Here are some tried and true ideas that help you get back in the groove faster:
Re-start your morning rituals –the familiar, seamless routines that set the tone for a productive work day; those that include exercise, meditation and making your bed, for example.
Gradually get back into your sleep regimen. 15 minutes earlier to bed every couple days until you’re back to your normal bedtime.
Sync up with people you see on a regular basis, at the gym, at the local coffee shop or at the office.
Resume a healthy diet and reduce the use of alcohol, etc.
When you sit down to plan your day, recall those revelations you had flying 30,000 feet over mountain and plain. Perhaps you resolved a vexing problem, re-aligned your priorities or made a decision on a relationship that was well overdue. Now back on earth, can you apply those revelations and make your life easier?
Overwhelmed with the 200+ emails, the to-do lists, bills, and the work you planned to finish before vacation? Break it into smaller tasks. Crank up some tunes or a podcast, get some snacks and take a small, but consistent bite out of each task every day until you get back in your groove.
Having more trouble than usual getting back in the swing of things, getting started and following through? Contact me at [email protected]
Len wants to leave his job to start his own design studio. As Len smartly assesses his entrepreneurial readiness, he wants to rid himself of one habit that could doom his startup — perfectionism.
Mark Cuban of the TV series Shark Tank said, “Perfectionism is the enemy of an entrepreneur.” It cannot be cured over night, but can be broken down gradually through coaching.
Frustrated with the indecisiveness and stress that come with perfectionism, Len agreed to apply a strategy to a current problem: Len owes HR five staff performance reviews (perfs) by the end of the week. They are six months overdue.
In light of other tasks that beg for Len’s attention, I asked him to describe what an “adequate” perf would look like. Would it sufficiently meet the expectations of the employee and HR? How much time would it take to do each one? Len could not identify any downsides to an adequate perf.
A “perfect” perf would include more flowery language and several links to training videos that would likely be ignored. Compared to an adequate perf, Len admitted that a perfect perf was excessive and a poor use of time with no upsides.
Contrasting the two versions in terms of time and benefit was a practical step towards tempering Len’s perfectionism. It eased the ability to get started and complete the task in time.
Perfectionism may require more than coaching, however. It is essential to manage this behavior efficiently before starting your own business. Contact me at [email protected]
Once you’ve hired your “A” team members, how can you keep them engaged and working to their full potential? Even if benefits and raises were available, they can’t be the solution.
As one VC told me, “There are many factors that contribute to an employee’s desire to work to their potential…the mindset they bring to the startup is one thing. The rest is up to the founder.”
According to an industry-wide SHRM survey of 14,500 workers in 2017, only 15% of workers claimed to be working to their potential on a regular basis. The survey found that employees work to their full potential when:
they are clear about expectations.
they feel safe asking questions.
they are not overwhelmed with rules and unproductive meetings.
their suggestions are taken seriously
there are rewards and recognition for jobs well done.
supervisors demonstrate a high level of emotional intelligence.
they see purpose and meaning in their work.
At your next meeting, get some feedback from your team on each point. See how you can ignite greater motivation and commitment by doing your part.
Notice how all those factors are related to communication? Need help? Contact me at [email protected]