Friday, December 2, 2016

8 Tips for Better Stress Tolerance

Well, it's that time of year again! Time for family, friends, food, and...stress. Just to keep things spicy, this holiday season has also arrived on the heels of a very tumultuous election.  If the ladle to your bucket of goodwill and stress tolerance is scraping the bottom, I have a few tips to replenish your stores.  

Believe it or not, having an entirely stress free life is not necessarily always a good thing. Stress keeps us in motion, nudging us out of our comfort zone and helping us grow. It serves as a motivator, prodding us toward positive change. Successfully coping with stress builds our confidence, too, so we're better prepared to face the bigger challenges that may come our way. Tolerating stress is important no matter what your life looks like right now, but especially when you are facing an exit out of your comfort zone, whether that exit has been pushed upon you or you've chosen it.  

Taking on risks, wrestling with challenges, and giving yourself the opportunity to succeed and to grow, is definitely where the stress occurs, but it's also where the magic happens. With challenge comes stress, and to be effective outside your comfort zone, you need to be able to handle that stress. Stress tolerance is a vital emotional intelligence skill because it provides you with a toolkit for coping. It gives you perspective, so you don't overreact when things go wrong. It helps you stay healthier, because stress tolerance helps control anxiety and its physical side effects, like high blood pressure. It helps you get comfortable with adversity, you widen your tolerance for stress - which, in turn, increases your ability to take on risks and meet goals.

How to Replenish Your Stress Tolerance

1. Use all your allotted vacation time.

2. Stop checking your work email after hours and working on weekends.

3. Remember you are not alone; don't be afraid to turn to others for help.

4. Get outside: The fresh air will help clear your head and give you a new perspective.

5. Prepare your body to handle stress by eating healthily and getting plenty of sleep.

6. Make exercising a regular part of your routine and increase the chances of sticking with it by doing something you love (be creative!)

7. Cultivate a hobby that you can enjoy on weekends or a few times a month.

8. Practice gratitude. Make it a habit to reflect each day on the good in your life and everything you have to be thankful for.

No one's life is free of stress. Maybe you have been caught off guard by a surprise crisis, or you are feeling the pressure of too much work, or maybe you're in a time of self-directed growth right now. Even if you've been fortunate enough never to have your world rocked by true crisis, isn't it better to build more tolerance now, so you're prepared when the unexpected happens? Stress tolerance also helps you navigate the regular day by day with more poise and joy. By building your reserves of stamina, you empower yourself to get through life's challenges more quickly and more effectively.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Hiring Fit-ness

Ask experienced managers “Have you ever made a bad hiring decision?” and most will confess to at least one. Ask “Why was it a bad decision?” and the answer is usually “They were a really bad fit.” But what is “fit” and why is it so important in hiring? Certainly one element of fit is identifying the right functional and technical skills, but even the most technically qualified employee can crash and burn (and take morale and productivity with them). Beyond functional skill - the ability to perform - fit requires personal motivation, stress tolerance, communication, social and other skills, - the motivation to perform.

In one study almost as many managers said fit and potential were the most important factor in hiring and promotion as those who cited functional competency. Poor job fit is the main reason for turnover and job dissatisfaction. It drains resources and negatively impacts organizational performance and profitability. Since managers spend 60% of their time resolving people issues, improving job fit in hiring directly improves performance.

To improve your hiring “fit-ness,” first, clearly define the job and the competencies critical for success in the role. One way to do that is to model your most successful performers in that role, or similar roles. Next, create behavior-based interview questions and use valid assessment tools to determine each candidate’s potential fit. Finally, train every hiring manager to objectively and consistently evaluate each candidate.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Feedback Without Tears

Managers often hesitate to give developmental feedback for fear of damaging the work relationship. Yet, at least one survey has shown that accurate and supportive informal feedback can increase an employee’s performance potential by over 30 per cent. The key to delivering feedback “without tears” is preparation.

Before offering feedback, prepare by answering a few questions, such as: 

  • What do you want the feedback to accomplish?
  • Is it related to work and if so does it benefit the organization? 
  • Is it something the receiver can fix, and if so, do they have the resources to fix it? 
  • Do you have all the facts? If not, do some research to clarify the situation. 
  • Does the feedback benefit the receiver? 
  • Will it help them produce better work? 
  • What’s in it for you? Don’t deliver developmental feedback just because “they need to hear it,” or to gain status, or avoid/displace responsibility. 
  • Is the feedback welcome?
  • Do you have the receiver's trust or just authority? 
  • Can you help? Do you have the expertise, information, authority, resources, etc. to help the receiver be successful now and in the future?

Answer these questions BEFORE offering feedback, and if there isn’t a big payoff for the receiver and for the business, it probably won’t benefit you either. When you do deliver developmental feedback, be prepared to ask more questions than you answer and to help in any way you can.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Month in a Minute

 Dress Rehearsal at the MGM Grand Convention Center for Rodan + Fields, that's a lot of chairs!

Fall is in full swing and we have been criss-crossing the country this month to do some exciting work. The whole team gathered in Las Vegas in the early part of October to spend some team building time and work with a new client, Rodan + Fields who asked me to be part of their Annual National Convention. What an event - I have never seen such long lines at a Starbucks in my life (about 100 people long!). I want to give a huge shout out to all the wonderful people in my breakout room who came up to speak with me and share your own stories of challenge and resiliency. It was an honor to be with you all! If you haven’t heard of Rodan + Fields yet, check them out. I can attest to the quality of their skincare products having been a customer for several years now and highly recommend them.

Clockwise from top left: CHG Healthcare Leadership Conference; Hangin' with my buddy Steve; AMN Workforce Summit; Me, Courtney Millspaugh, and Sharon Johnson from Nationwide Insurance
I also had the opportunity to work with UniFirst in Boston, Nationwide Insurance in Columbus, be part of the Healthcare Workforce Summit in San Diego, present at the CHG Healthcare Leadership Conference in Salt Lake City, and work with Alkermes in Boston along with Steve. It has been a busy but exciting month. I am looking forward to some upcoming events as well in Boston, Salt Lake City, Des Moines, and Phoenix. Hope to see you at one soon!

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Want to Raise Your Emotional Intelligence? Focus on These 3 Components

Written by Tamara Rosin for Becker Hospital Review
October 17, 2016

What was regarded in the past as a "soft skill" has emerged as one of the most critical determinants of career and leadership success: emotional intelligence.
"Most often, success or failure in a job comes down to how we manage ourselves and how well we manage relationships with our co-workers, not how much we know," Jen Shirkani, CEO of talent management solutions provider Penumbra Group, said at the AMN Healthcare 2016 Workforce Summit in San Diego.
The ability to manage one's emotions and relationships is tied to emotional intelligence, which is defined as the ability to recognize, understand and manage our own emotions and the emotions of others.
A leader's EQ — emotional quotient — has a direct effect on the way he or she communicates with others, approaches challenges and reacts during crises. It is also a significant influencer of employee engagement, which has hovered near 30 percent since 2000, according to Gallup.
While one could reasonably assume that those at the top of the corporate hierarchy have the highest EQs, this is not the case, according to Travis Bradberry, co-author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0. His research shows EQ scores increase with rank from direct report to manager, but steeply decline beyond that. On average, CEOs have the lowest EQ.
Why is that? "Once leaders get promoted they enter an environment that tends to erode their emotional intelligence," Forbes wrote of Mr. Bradberry's findings. "They spend less time in meaningful interactions with their staff and lose sight of how their emotional states impact those around them."
Ms. Shirkani argues emotional intelligence is largely garnered through experience, not learning. However, determining an EQ score and identifying problem areas can help leaders improve their communication and overall leadership techniques, she said.
Ms. Shirkani outlined three tenets of emotional intelligence, or what she coined the 3Rs.
1. Recognize who you are socially and emotionally.
2. Read people and situations accurately.
3. Respond appropriately based on who you are interacting with and what the situation calls for.
Each of the 3Rs can be applied when it comes to key EQ skills, according to Ms. Shirkani. For instance, one of the most important factors of emotional intelligence is self-awareness, which encompasses both emotional and social self-awareness.
"Social self-awareness becomes quite important to long-term career success, but it's a moving target," said Ms. Shirkani, who noted many professionals plateau or derail in their careers because of a lack of self-awareness. "People assume bad leaders are the way they are because they don't get any feedback, but sometimes just the opposite is true." In some cases, the leader is so beloved among their closest colleagues that they are shielded from candid feedback that could help them gain an accurate sense of self-awareness. In this scenario, leaders must recognize others' perceptions of them, read the particular situation at hand and respond appropriately, perhaps by asking a trusted co-worker for honest feedback.
When it comes to empathy, another major factor of emotional intelligence, Ms. Shirkani said it is easy to assume more is better. But in healthcare, "too much empathy in a physician isn't always better," she said. Physicians must keep some emotional distance between themselves and the patient to remain objective and make the smartest clinical decisions. However, there is a balance. Physicians with higher empathy scores tend to fare better when they are sued for medical malpractice, according to Ms. Shirkani. Here too, physicians must employ the 3Rs on a situational basis.
Self-control is a third significant factor of emotional intelligence. When we hear "self-control," we tend to think of employing meditative breathing or some other coping mechanism to prevent ourselves from displaying anger or having an emotional outburst. But like empathy, self-control must be scaled up or down depending on the situation. Ms. Shirkani gave the example of a meeting between a hospital administrator and the family of a patient who had a negative experience in the hospital. As the family members grew angrier and more emotional, the administrator deliberately became calmer in an attempt to pacify the situation. However, the administrator's calmness had the opposite effect — the family interpreted her calm tone as apathetic or not understanding the gravity of the situation.
While leaders may not be able to change the aspects of their personality that others find unappealing, adding communication and thinking strategies such as the 3Rs can help improve their interactions with others, and ultimately lead to higher career success.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Month in a Minute

Top: Steve, Me, and James Symons CEO of LockNCharge; Bottom Left: Me
with Lee Self; Bottom Right: Meeting room in Nashville at Alkermes
September was a whirlwind, but filled with a lot of fun. It included getting to work with Renaissance Executive Forums, at their Washington DC All Member meeting with Lee Self and her group of CEO’s. Another highlight of the month was working with a new client, LockNCharge who invited me and Steve to work with their global team convening in Madison WI.

I heard a story this month that I really enjoyed and thought I would share it with you. A man was on a white water raft trip, it was his first time and despite many places during the ride when he thought for sure they would tip and land in the water, their guide deftly guided the boat around the rapids and they never went over. Being quite impressed with the guide, at the end of the day the man asked him how he learned to be so skillful, assuming he had just been on hundreds of rides to learn the maneuvers. To his surprise, the guide said he hadn’t been on that many boat trips, but instead focused on “reading the water.” He mentioned to me that it was a great metaphor for EQ and the importance of reading the environment and adapt accordingly. 

Sounds exactly right to me!