Ed Evarts

Raise Your Visibility & Value: Use Grace Notes on a Regular Basis

I have a habit when I write or respond to emails from a client. Like most habits, I thought this was something everyone does and I did not pay a lot of attention to the habit, until recently.

When speaking with the boss of one of my clients, he mentioned how important “grace notes” were in crafting an email. I asked him what a grace note is. He said, “it is when you start a business email with a softer, more personal tone, rather than just jumping into business. It helps calm folks down and helps you build great relationships.” Not only did I tell my client’s boss that I thought grace notes was a brilliant idea, creating grace notes is something that I have done naturally for years. Here are some ways I use grace notes.

On Monday or Tuesday, I start every email with:

  • “Hi Bob. I hope you had a great weekend!” or “I hope you had fun with weekend” or “I hope your week is starting off well.”

On Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday, I start every email with:

  • “Hi Sarah. I hope your week is going well” or “I hope you are having a great week” or “Yeah! It’s hump-day!”

On Thursday or Friday, I start every email with:

  • “Hi Karen. I hope you’ve had a great week!” or “Another week has flown by! Can you believe it?” or “I hope you’ve got big plans this weekend.”

Regardless of the day of the week, to whom I am crafting the email, or generally the topic at hand, I always include a grace note in my emails.

Ed Evarts

Raise Your Visibility & Value: The Impact of Limiting Beliefs

Ego and inner critic stories create what leadership coaches commonly call “limiting beliefs.” A limiting belief is a story that you tell yourself, whether true or false, that does not help you.

Regardless of whether the stories that you tell yourself are coming from your ego or your inner critic, your limiting beliefs have the following characteristics in common:

  • You tell limiting beliefs primarily to yourself, although you may share your beliefs with others at a later time.
  • You create limiting beliefs to fill-in missing information.
  • You believe your limiting beliefs are true, whether they are true or false.
  • You make behavioral choices based on your limiting beliefs.

Since your limiting beliefs inform your behavioral choices, consider the impact that the stories you are telling yourself have on your behavior.

Essentially, you will make behavioral choices, based on information that you believe to be true. Whether your behavior is conscious (purposefully chosen) or unconscious (the natural way you react to something), some type of behavior will surface.

Ed Evarts

Stories Are Not Lies

How can you easily identify a story that you are telling yourself? You know you are about to create a story if you find yourself starting a sentence with one of the following:

·     “I think…”

·     “My guess would be…”

·     “Sounds to me like …”

·     “It seems to me that…”

·     “Well, if you ask me…”

For example, a colleague asks you for your thoughts about Pat being promoted to a new role. Your story may sound like one of the following:

·     “I think… they picked Pat because he sits right down the hallway from Susan (the hiring manager) and Pat sees her every day. We’re disadvantaged because we are all located in different parts of the country.”

·     “My guess would be… that Pat was threatening to leave and the company didn’t want to have to deal with that.”

·     “Sounds to me like… Pat’s been brownnosing the right people.”

·     “It seems to me that… this company likes picking men for key positions.”

·     “Well, if you ask me… Pat must have done someone somewhere a big favor.”

It is important to note that stories are not lies. We sometimes hear colleagues say, “He’s just lying to himself.” A lie is typically an untrue statement created with the intent to deceive or create a false or misleading impression. Since you believe your stories to be true and have not been created to deceive, stories are not lies.

Ed Evarts

How You Can Decide How to Decide

Many of my clients are faced with challenging decisions every day and the first place they jump to is making the decision. Many of them do not take the extra step of first figuring out “how to decide.”

Let’s say you are going to buy a car. Do you walk into a showroom, pick a car, and drive out of the lot? No, of course you don’t. You typically would check with other owners of the car you like, investigate research on the car in magazines like Consumer Reports, look at the car at multiple lots, and read online reviews. In other words, you are taking time to decide how you decide, before making the decision.

Leaders would benefit from this behavior a great deal. Next time you are faced with a decision, take a few moments to decide how you will decide, before you make a decision.

Some things you might do include –

  • Speaking with a colleague for her thoughts and insights. Colleagues are the most underused resource in an organization!
  • Find a colleague who had a similar situation and discuss the decision your colleague made.
  • Find an article that discusses your situation in greater detail. Sometimes an article may not be available, yet a book might. Either resource can be a great help to you.
  • Speak with other stakeholders to gain additional insights and ideas.

Take time to decide how you are going to decide, before you make a decision. This should make all of your decisions better and easier to make.

Ed Evarts

Leaders Own the Next Step

Many of the leaders with whom I work desire to lead more and do less. I don’t mean to create easier work; I mean to let their team make their own decisions and solve their own problems. By doing so, the leader builds the skill set of their team and find that they can lead more and manage less.

Yet, many leaders find this a hard thing to do. They have often risen through the ranks and one of their key skills has been to problem solve hands-on. “Solving problems takes up too much of my time. How do I let go of something that helped me be successful?” Here are a few key steps you can take to help you move from problem solver to leader.

  • When a team member comes to express concerns regarding another colleague, ask the team member if he has first spoken with the colleague to share the concern.
  • If the team member says yes, the leader should inquire how she can help. The team member may not feel that progress was made and is seeking additional help.
  • If the team member says no, the leader should instruct the team member to share his concern with his colleague first.
  • If the team member is worried about sharing his concern with his colleague, the leader should ask about the concern(s) and do what she can to ensure her team member that having a direct conversation with his colleague is a great place to start.
  • If the team member feels this is a great idea, this is where the leader still owns the next step. The leader needs to let her team member know that she is excited that the team member is going to speak to his colleague and to let her know once the conversation has occurred.
  • By closing this loop, the leader can ensure that the conversation has happened and the conversation has not “died on the vine.”
  • If the team member does not get back to her within 1 – 2 weeks, the leader should follow-up with her team member to assess the status of the conversation and craft next steps, if necessary.

By making sure an important conversation between team members has happened, the leader has helped to solve a problem by building the skill set of her team, while not attempting to solve it herself. That’s great leadership!

Ed Evarts

Your Boss is Your Most Important Relationship

In today’s ever-evolving organizations, the most important relationship you will have is with your boss. Your boss is accountable for the activities on which you focus. Organization leaders will come to your boss for feedback on your performance. Your boss is the author of your annual performance appraisal. Your success in your organization is dramatically impacted by the impression your boss has of you.

Your relationship with your boss is based on a series of interactions characterized by dependencies and expectations. For a variety of reasons, you often find yourself disconnected from recurring interactions with your boss, which prevents you from building a relationship. It will be difficult for your boss to have an impression of you, especially a positive one, if your interactions are limited. Your interactions with your boss may be limited due to one or more of the following reasons:

Time. It is not surprising that a significant hurdle to interacting with your boss is time. In an organization where business professionals are expected to do more, with less, and faster, time is at a premium. Many of your colleagues report that weeks may go by without a substantive conversation with a boss; and when a conversation does occur, it was usually due to a problem or a need for a quick piece of information. Successful business professionals find time in their busy day to connect with their boss in substantive ways and to overcome challenges in their bosses schedule by being persistent.

Personality. As individuals, we all possess personality preferences which differentiate us from each other. Recall the observations earlier in this chapter regarding nature or your natural interest to interact with others. Some of these personality preferences work in harmony and others create conflict. You may feel this at work when you express your feelings in ways such as “I can’t get along with Bob,” or “I don’t know what it is, but I just don’t like Karen,” or “Cheryl and I seem to be from different planets.” Conflicting personality preference differences between you and your boss may create a situation where you avoid spending time with your boss. For more information on the impact of personality preferences at work or to learn more about personality assessments, visit www.type-coach.com. The information and tools found at this website can help you understand personality differences in ways that help you work with colleagues effectively.

Geography. In today’s virtual and global workplaces, one of the biggest enemies of visibility is geographic distance. When you work in Tampa, Florida, and your boss is in Shanghai, China, or when you work from home and you are barely at the office, your ability to be visible is at significant risk. It can also be frustrating if your boss and your colleagues are situated in the same building and you are the only one working at a remote location. But successful business professionals have found ways to stay visible with their boss, regardless of geography.

These individuals realize that visibility is not just physical visibility (as in being seen), but focused more on interactions (whether physical or not).

Understanding Your Ego and Inner Critic

Imagine that you are on trial because you did not to attend an all-employee meeting. In our mock trial, your ego is your defense attorney and your inner critic is the prosecuting attorney.

Your defense attorney (ego) stands before the jury of your peers and makes an impassioned plea for your innocence. “Ladies and gentlemen of the jury – it is not my client’s fault that he was unable to attend the all-employee meeting. The announcement for the meeting was sent out too late for my client to change his schedule. On top of that, the last three all-employee meetings that my client has attended have been duds. With boring speakers and endless PowerPoint presentations, these meetings are a real waste of my client’s precious time. He’s far too busy! My client was fully justified in not attending this meeting and I demand you find him innocent!”

Next, the prosecuting attorney (inner critic), rises from his chair and makes his impassioned plea for the jury to find you guilty. “Esteemed members of the jury. What a great story the defendant is telling himself. The defendant is one of the most disorganized individuals this officer of the court has even seen. He forgot to schedule the all-employee meeting in his calendar. His organization skills are so bad, he does not deserve to be in this courtroom today. On top of that, he hates socializing with his colleagues – he never knows what to say and is always afraid he is going to say something stupid. What a loser! I demand you find the defendant guilty!”

What is the Impact of Stories on Participating with a Purpose? (part 3/3)

The stories that you tell yourself come from two places – your ego and your inner critic. In this blog, we will chat about your inner critic.

Your inner critic exists in your internal world and works to erode your self-confidence. Your inner critic is the part of your personality that tells you that you are not good enough, do not deserve something you received, or could have handled a situation better. Your inner critic thrives on questions like “What’s wrong with me?” or conclusions like “What an idiot!” The rallying cry of your inner critic is “It’s not them, it’s me!” Here are some workplace examples of inner critic stories that may sound familiar:

A hiring manager never calls you back after an interview.
– Your story – “I bet they found a better candidate. I must have interviewed horribly!”

You send an email to a colleague to follow-up on two previous outreaches that went unanswered.
– Your story – “Did something I write offend him?”

You do not join an industry association group.
– Your story – “I hate going to these meetings. I never know anyone.”

Do these inner critic stories sound familiar? Do you see yourself thinking these stories or stories like them? Do you have a sense of how frequently your inner critic corrodes your self-confidence?