Monthly Archives: September 2015

Prioritizing and Planning for Success

Time management is one of the popular topics we train our client organizations at Learning Dynamics. Managers and senior executives recognize their teams need the training and individual contributors and first-line supervisors realize they need it. Many feel overwhelmed by the demands of the day. They find themselves reacting rather than planning, responding to the latest crisis rather than investing their efforts into achieving important, lasting outcomes. Here are some ideas that resonate with our training participants.

Understanding the Difference Between the Urgent And the Important.

Reactive approaches typically find us on the work treadmill, sweating and straining to keep up while never getting anywhere. Urgency created in a reactive environment can burn people out and leave them frustrated as their goals never get closer. Good leaders should recognize when their people are simply responding, putting out fires, rather than working toward important outcomes. Coaching by leaders can make a big difference.

Taking Time to Plan

Less experienced employees frequently admit to not having a plan for their day and week. Instead, they show up to work and deal with things as they cross their desks. This might be appropriate in some roles, but for many working in our knowledge economy, one in which companies hire people for their ability to contribute at a level above the rote and routine, planning based on priorities must be part of the roadmap to success.

Knowing When to Say “No”

A critical skill among successful time managers is the ability to say “no” to certain activities. Typically the frivolous and distracting, these are time-wasters that deserve no time on the professional’s calendar. Managers can help their people think about and determine which items can be removed from the schedule and workplace by looking critically at the low-value tasks that can be eliminated or pushed further down in the organization (or out of it altogether).

Keeping Everyone in Their Pay Grade

A good indicator of whether a person is functioning at his or her level – and hopefully above – is the occasional check-in with that person’s job description. Is the employee fulfilling her roles and responsibilities, or is she spending time operating at a lower functional level? Frequently, this situation is the product of poor planning and prioritization, and a supportive manager can have the coaching conversation to keep that employee focused on higher-value functions that will help her or him and the entire organization reach its goals. (It could also uncover the need for additional resources to allow your talented thought workers more time to do what you are paying them to do.)

The sad truth is that many young professionals have never been exposed to the ideas of planning and prioritization and have no idea how to do it. With a small investment of a leader’s time, this next generation of your company’s managers can be working smarter by focusing on important, high-value activities to drive results, rather than low-value tasks that just fill the day.

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Learning Dynamics can help your company inspire better productivity and effectiveness with time management training. Ask us how today.

I Heard What You Didn’t Say

Your Smile Does a Lot of Good!

Your Smile Does a Lot of Good!

– By Bev Bahmanyari, Learning Dynamics Consultant

The next time you are waiting at an airport gate and passing the time by people watching, see yourself as a behavioral scientist conducting some research.  Check your thoughts for the first noun that pops into your head to describe your fellow travelers.  Even without the benefit of hearing them speak you’ll find you have no problem coming up with a descriptive noun for each person you observe.

A study of the communication process was written in 1972 by Albert Mehrabian, a behavioral psychologist, who determined that 55% of our communication is processed through nonverbals.  You will likely agree with this when you become aware of how strong your opinions of someone can be just by watching that person for a moment.

Our first impressions actually take only a few seconds.  Think of all the ways that happens: a handshake, appearance, walk, posture, hygiene, eye contact, gestures, and other traits.  All of these nonverbals are creating an instant turn-on or turn-off!

Most people are unaware of the importance of the unspoken messages they are sending.  The silent skills are critical; those who are aware of and hone their skills in this area are more likely to get the job, close the sale, establish strong relationships and create the needed networks for success.

So, how do we know how we come across to others?  You can do a self-check when you are walking through a mall or down the street and catch a glimpse of your reflection in a window or a mirror.  What do you see?  Do you look friendly and approachable?  Oftentimes, we are deep in thought, and we actually look a little mean and detached.

How are your handshake and eye contact?  There is an art and science to creating positive first impressions.  First of all, it takes awareness of what your reaction is to others (i.e. the airport experience) and the degree of your own self-awareness.  Remember, we rarely see ourselves as others see us.

Where can we start?  There is one universal nonverbal that seems to break down almost all barriers that many people don’t do often enough: a genuine and sincere SMILE.  That’s right; so simple, yet so powerful.  It’s the language that tells everyone “I’m approachable”, “I’m safe,” and “I’m kind.”  Sometimes we wonder why people don’t seem to be connected anymore.  How can we connect when we have our faces connected to technology the majority of our waking hours?  We appear cold and disconnected to our fellow humans.  Again, simple eye contact with a smile and perceptions can change in an instant.

When you are done with your airport experiment, be the guinea pig and try out the smile tactic.  See how it will resonate and change the atmosphere if only for a moment.  If you’re lucky, perhaps others will pay it forward.  In any case, it will do good things for you.  Scientists say that the muscles in our face that we use to smile actually release those good endorphins that make us feel better. Smiling actually creates a better mood; you can inspire your brain to be happier.  Give it a try.  What have you got to lose?

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Learning Dynamics can help your team communicate better by mastering the art of nonverbal communication. Ask us today how we can help your employees communicate more effectively to create better business results and teamwork with Learning Dynamics training programs.