Colin McLetchie – Ultimate Software's Blog https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com Thoughts on Putting People First in the Workplace Fri, 15 Sep 2017 10:00:51 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.1 Trivia Crack and the Power of “First Guessing” https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/leadership-and-the-power-of-first-guessing/ https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/leadership-and-the-power-of-first-guessing/#respond Tue, 30 Jun 2015 17:20:08 +0000 http://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/?p=318 By Colin McLetchie Colin is the Founder and President of Five Ways Forward, LLC, a leadership & life coaching and HR & Organizational Consulting Firm in Arlington, VA. He is a dynamic and powerful coach, speaker and facilitator, bringing passion, deep insight and his unique compassionate challenge as he helps individuals, managers, executives, teams and […]

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By Colin McLetchie

Colin Mc Letchie, President of Five Ways Forward LLC, on Getting at the Heart of Employee EngagementColin is the Founder and President of Five Ways Forward, LLC, a leadership & life coaching and HR & Organizational Consulting Firm in Arlington, VA. He is a dynamic and powerful coach, speaker and facilitator, bringing passion, deep insight and his unique compassionate challenge as he helps individuals, managers, executives, teams and organizations move forward to success at work and in life. Find out more at www.fivewaysforward.com  or  colin@fivewaysforward.com.

So there I was, taking a break from, well, whatever I should have been working on, and playing some Trivia Crack, as one does (Trivia Crack is the phone app version of Trivial Pursuit). I had yet to beat my friend Laura in a game, and I was oh — sooooo —  close. A question comes up…this is for the win, mind you…Entertainment, a category I’m pretty solid in:

How old were Jimi Hendrix & Janis Joplin when they died?

Ok, a bit before my time, but not outside the realm of my knowledge. Immediately, my finger – driven by my gut instinct – flies to “27.” “Press it,” my gut and finger tell me, “do it. DO IT. DOOOOOO IT!!!”

But no. Suddenly my brain kicks in with doubt, uncertainty and a different answer. “It’s 26, not 27. You can’t be right on the first guess. Think about it… THINK ABOUT IT! C’mon.”

Time’s running out. I can feel the pressure. My heart is beating faster: “You want to win! Get it right!!!”

So in a panic I go with my brain and press “26″ – final answer… and… Waaahhh wahhhh… wrong. Bust. Loser. Nooooooooooooooo! Sigh.

If I had I just stuck with my first guess…

And this of course takes me back to all those questions I changed and got wrong on various multiple choice tests over the years in school. How often did I second guess myself and get it wrong – so very wrong! The prevailing accepted wisdom is that we should go with our first instinct when answering multiple choice questions. Except research shows that when students have the time to go back and review their work on these tests, any answers they change are predominantly changed to the correct answer!  Whoa! What?!?!

The challenge is this: life and leadership are rarely multiple choice moments with one correct answer. Sure, we have multiple options in any given moment of how we could show up, what decision we could make, etc. But there’s no answer key available later on to check our answers definitively: “oh, yeah, choice C would have been the correct choice!” There’s rarely one “right” answer, and we are trying to choose from a myriad of possible courses of action – many of which might be good.

The key to getting more answers correct on a multiple choice test then is to leave time to review your work. What would happen to our leadership presence if we took more time to review our work? And how might we do that?

We have available to us, all the time, these three ways of knowing things. As leaders, as people, we have access to them in any given moment. But how do we use them?I would offer that within us there are three primary intelligences or ways of knowing things:

The Brain: the seat of thinking, logic, reason, facts, etc. It’s processing and deciding things for us all the time.

The Heart: where our emotions and feelings seem to live. Our desire to connect with others, our passions and purpose and spirit.

The Gut: the realm of intuition; “I can’t tell you why, but my gut tells me…”

We have available to us, all the time, these three ways of knowing things. As leaders, as people, we have access to them in any given moment. But how do we use them?

With purpose. With conscious choice.

The next time you are faced with a difficult leadership or life choice, try this 10 minute exercise:

  • Get a pen and open to a fresh page in your journal or notebook (don’t keyboard this – you won’t access the body nearly as well)
  • Take a minute to just sit and be quiet, focus on your breathing, get present with your journal; focus on the blank page of possibilities
  • Then, frame the question or situation: Today, I seek wisdom on… or… I want to find my best course of action on…
  • Send your awareness to your mind. And ask it the question you wrote. Do 2 minutes of free writing. No editing, no revising, just write whatever comes out in response to what you asked.
  • Take a few clearing breaths and send your awareness to your heart, and do the same thing.
  • Breathe some and then ask your gut the question and write.
  • Let it all sit for a few minutes. Get up and walk around. Talk to a friend or colleague. Work on something else for a bit. Eat.
  • Come back later and read what you’ve written.

Look for alignments, differences, themes, and pay attention to what you notice in your body as you do this. What feels good inside, and where do you feel it? What seems like the “most right” decision? If body parts aren’t in alignment, what shifts might you make in your action plan to bring everyone on board or closer?

Then take action.

Don’t forget to “review your work” though! Set a calendar item for a week, a month, three months, even a year later (depending on size/scope/impact of the issue) and reflect on the decision you made, the actions you took, the impacts and outcomes. Go back to what you wrote. How well did you create what you’d hoped? Which of your intelligences was helpful? Which are more familiar/unfamiliar?  Which got in the way? How might you balance them? What would you do differently next time?

Use this framework over time and you will tune in and become more adept at discerning what combination of brain, heart, and gut will work in a given situation and build the muscle of bringing them into fuller alignment.

So remember, sometimes your first guess is the right one. Sometimes it’s not. Trivia Crack doesn’t give you the time to go back and review your work. Life most often does, if we take the time. Take it!

 

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Getting at the Heart of Employee Engagement https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/heart-of-employee-engagement/ https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/heart-of-employee-engagement/#comments Fri, 17 Apr 2015 15:38:18 +0000 http://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/?p=264 By Colin McLetchie Colin is the Founder and President of Five Ways Forward, LLC, a leadership & life coaching and HR & Organizational Consulting Firm in Arlington, VA. He is a dynamic and powerful coach, speaker and facilitator, bringing passion, deep insight and his unique compassionate challenge as he helps individuals, managers, executives, teams and […]

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By Colin McLetchie

Colin Mc Letchie, President of Five Ways Forward LLC, on Getting at the Heart of Employee EngagementColin is the Founder and President of Five Ways Forward, LLC, a leadership & life coaching and HR & Organizational Consulting Firm in Arlington, VA. He is a dynamic and powerful coach, speaker and facilitator, bringing passion, deep insight and his unique compassionate challenge as he helps individuals, managers, executives, teams and organizations move forward to success at work and in life. Find out more at www.fivewaysforward.com  or  colin@fivewaysforward.com.

It’s everywhere. Everyone is talking about it. Consultants build entire practices and companies around it. You hear executives and leaders clamoring for it! “WE NEED EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT!” It becomes a battle cry around which we hope to rally the troops to get our employees’ heads in the game at work and keep the floodgates of unwanted attrition from opening wider than they already are.

And therein lies the problem. It’s not in their heads.

Yes, you heard me. It’s not in their heads.

Sure, we want people to give discretionary effort, to persevere through the hard march, to get their creative energy focused on innovation, to care for and about our customers and clients. And none of that lives in their heads.

Ask your HR people. They know. They know because they hear it in exit interviews all the time. And it sounds like this:

  • My heart wasn’t in it anymore.
  • It just got too hard to care here.
  • I just didn’t have the heart for it here any more.

The etymology for “engage” is “to make a pledge to.” And when we pledge something, particularly allegiance, where does our hand go? Over our heart. The key to employee engagement, to inspiring them to want to pledge allegiance to our company, our mission, our clients and customers, is to learn how to empower their hearts. Managers and leaders will be successful at doing this when they have real dialogue, real connection with their employees about what makes them inspired to come to work, what’s getting in the way of their passion for showing up at work, and what matters to them as people.

HR professionals getting at the heart of employee engagement

And how do you do that? Talk to your team members. Ask them. They’ll tell you if you take the time to nurture a relationship with them. One tool I recommend is a “stay interview,” which is simply a series of purposeful questions aimed at getting to the heart of the matter. Identify those key team members who are most critical to the success of your organization, and take them to coffee or for a glass of wine. Let them know, “you’re important to me, as a person and a team member, and I want you to have a successful and meaningful career here at ABC Corp. Would you be willing to talk with me about that?”

Construct questions that engage (see what I did there?) the person’s heart. Things like:

  • What are you passionate about?
  • What values are most important to you?
  • What makes you want to get up every morning and come to work here? Or if that’s not where you are, what would do that?
  • Where do you see conflicts with those here at ABC Corp.?

The key is to make sure this isn’t a one time conversation but a beginning of an ongoing dialogue / relationship. You must follow up on what you hear from your team members. A powerful close to this conversation is to recap with a summary of “here’s what I heard you say that matters most to you, and here’s what I heard you ask for us to work on. You have my commitment to doing so, and I will keep you posted. In return, my ask would be that if you start to disengage, get itchy to look outside or start answering those recruiters calls, that you will talk to me first so we can see what’s going on and what we might be able to. Are you willing to do that?”

When you begin having a real, honest, vulnerable dialogue with your team members, you will begin to cultivate greater trust, honesty, and connection.

Beyond that, if you nurture the heart of your employees by making sure they are taking care of their whole person, by having real commitment to and connection with your team members, you will begin to allow the heart to show up at work. It’s time we talk about the heart at work and not act like it’s a dirty word. We want their heart to show up in equal balance with their brain and their body.

My challenge to you is this: Find three ways in the coming week to begin to show your heart more at work. How, when and where will you do this?

Because the heart of employee engagement is the heart itself.

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Making Teleworking Work: The Magic Wand for Ensuring Success with Remote Team Members https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/making-teleworking-work-the-magic-wand-for-ensuring-success-with-remote-team-members/ https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/making-teleworking-work-the-magic-wand-for-ensuring-success-with-remote-team-members/#respond Tue, 10 Feb 2015 11:00:38 +0000 http://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/?p=193 By Colin McLetchie Colin is the Founder and President of Five Ways Forward, LLC, a leadership & life coaching and HR & Organizational Consulting Firm in Arlington, VA. He is a dynamic and powerful coach, speaker and facilitator, bringing passion, deep insight and his unique compassionate challenge as he helps individuals, managers, executives, teams and […]

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By Colin McLetchie

Making Teleworking WorkColin is the Founder and President of Five Ways Forward, LLC, a leadership & life coaching and HR & Organizational Consulting Firm in Arlington, VA. He is a dynamic and powerful coach, speaker and facilitator, bringing passion, deep insight and his unique compassionate challenge as he helps individuals, managers, executives, teams and organizations move forward to success at work and in life. Find out more at www.fivewaysforward.com  or  colin@fivewaysforward.com.

Time and again during my 20+ years in Human Resources, I heard the same plea from managers at all levels: “Colin, tell me the secret to managing remote employees effectively.” With varying levels of anxiety, fear, trepidation, confusion, and even whining, this was among the top 5 questions I encountered. The good news is, there is a secret. There is a magic wand, and it’s gonna blow you away.

Do everything you would do for/with people in the office; just do it with greater discipline and purposefulness.

Ta da! That’s really all it takes. Use the effective management techniques already in your toolkit and do them more frequently, with more thought, more planning and more purpose. Treat your remote employees BETTER than your in office employees. This may sound crazy at first, and yet deep down there’s a little voice inside of you saying, “I think he might be onto something here.”

The big difference between in-office and remote employees is one key thing: convenience. It’s easy to catch up with an in-office colleague spur of the moment, to pop your head into their office to ask a quick question, to call them into an impromptu meeting or brainstorming session. In-office employees will naturally feel more connected and in tune because it will organically happen just by being there. Therefore, you are called to up your game with the remote employees. How can you do this? Seven Simple Steps:

  1. Stick to your scheduled meetings. If you have to inconvenience anyone on your team with schedule changes, pick the in-office staff first. Don’t cancel or move your remote staff’s one on one time. Barring emergencies (real emergencies), just don’t. If you’re going to be a few minutes late, send a quick IM, text or email to let them know when to expect the meeting to start.
  2. Connect personally. It’s easy with remote staff to get away from this; don’t let it happen. Get to know your employees, make connecting part of your one on ones, figure out what interests them or what worries they have, and connect with them as people.
  3. Use technology to support the connection.Skype, FaceTime, something. Put a face to the person. Find common technology tools you can use with each individual and with the team overall so everyone is using the same tools.
  4. Turn off distractions. Shut down email, turn off your cell phone, close your door, do what it takes to be fully focused on the remote team member. Being present is harder and more important.
  5. Meet in person periodically. Budget for and get the team together once or twice a year for connection and growth. Even better, have the manager get on the road to meet with individual team members where they work; go see their home office and spend a day with them there. Visit remote offices on a periodic basis. This is especially important for new team members.
  6. Ask. Check in occasionally with remote staff during one on ones: How are we doing in terms of helping you feel connected? What can I and the team do to increase your sense of connection?
  7. Trust. Most of us have a good sense as to whether someone is getting the work done and at a high quality. If someone doesn’t answer your IM immediately, it may be for a very good reason. If you find that you’re losing trust with a remote employee, have a conversation about that and seek to understand what’s going on. Then partner with the employee on what you both can do to increase the level of trust.

All of this is assuming that the employee has the temperament and skills to be an effective remote worker. Some people just aren’t good at or wired to be successful when sitting in a home office day after day.

By doing these Seven Simple Steps, your relationship with your remote staff will improve, and you will see better results.

And here’s a bonus for you. We’ve all had occasion to be the lone wolf on the end of a phone when everyone else is in the same room together. It is almost impossible to not feel at a huge disadvantage. How do you level the playing field? Four things will make all the difference:

  1. If anyone is going to be remote, make everyone remote .Particularly for on-going standing meetings, this can be hugely effective. If one person is on the phone, have everyone be on the phone. Or on video conference. Everyone will then be having the same experience and side conversations and other distractions are eliminated.
  2. Remember time zones.Occasionally move the meeting time to make it easier for remote staff, even if it means 10 out of 12 people have to get up an hour earlier. Doing this once or twice is a huge deposit for the remote staff and reinforces the sense of team.
  3. Intentionally solicit opinions from remote staff by calling on them by name and using good “what/how” questions to draw them out:    – Tanika, what would you add or reinforce in the discussion?- Manuel, what haven’t we thought about?
      • – Tanika, what would you add or reinforce in the discussion?
      • – Manuel, what haven’t we thought about?
      • – Henry, what would make this even more successful?
      • – Tonya, how might we be more effective in implementing our idea?
        • – Jeanetta, what’s running through your head as you’re listening to us?
  4. Assign someone in the room to be the remote shepherd. Make this a rotational assignment for folks in the office to take ownership for ensuring the remote staff are in the conversation and having a good experience. It’s this person’s role to pay attention to whose voice isn’t being heard, to make sure technology is up and running, to call out “we’re on page 23 of the deck now” when someone doesn’t have access to technology, etc.

See, it’s simple really. Implement these practices in your workgroups and you will feel as if you’ve found the magic wand. Abracadabra!

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