Leaders: Help Your Team Manage Their Time

One of the most important things you can do as a leader is to help your team manage their time better. You’ll get more and better results, and your team morale will go up – it’s a virtuous cycle.

Want to be a better leader? Help your team manage their time. #leadbyexample #timemanagement #bettermeetings Click To Tweet

Set a good example

Arguably the most important thing you can do as a leader to help your team manage their time is to set a great example. Don’t answer email at 3:00 a.m., do use the tools and practices you’d like your team to use, and turn off notifications when you’re doing focused work.

Be clear (about the what and the when)

The clearer you can communicate what results you’re looking for and the delivery date, the more time you’ll save your team. Answer the question, “what does it look like when this project is done, and done well?”

Make sure you’re clear about timing for each stage of delivery, as well as dependencies on other projects or deliverables, and what kind of flexibility you have to move dates out (or in).

Get out of the way

Your job is not to do your team’s work, so create clear expectations and help the team understand how what they’re working on links to your overall vision, and then step back.

In almost all cases, your team will do a better job (and learn more while they’re at it) if you spend your time removing barriers to the team’s success rather than micro-managing their tasks. Oh, and micro-managing takes more time for you AND your team.

Protect “heads down” time

Your team needs time to get stuff done. Without interruptions. Allow them to schedule chunks of time where they’re not responding to phone calls and emails. And don’t interrupt them when they’re at it. You’ll see the payoff in their better results.

Don’t meet without a great reason to

Face it. We all spend a lot more time in meetings than we’d like. And some meetings aren’t even all that productive (shocking!).

While you won’t have control over many meetings your team attends, you can influence the ones you run. Simple things like having an agenda, taking notes, and keeping to the time allotted can help your meetings be time well-spent.

And, of course, if you don’t have anything pressing to cover, cancel the damned meeting!

Reward proactivity rather than diving catches

Some folks get a huge kick out of “diving catches,” where they get to swoop in at the last minute and save the day. These are your crisis junkies, and they can wreak havoc on time management for the rest of the team.

While some diving catches are unavoidable, rewarding – and celebrating – proactivity and great time management will give your team a better shot at bringing projects in on time with a minimum of thrash.

What’s made the biggest difference for you in helping your team manage their time? Tell us in the comments below!

Insider Secrets of Pay Negotiation

Ever wonder what’s going on inside an organization when you’re in the process of pay negotiation? Here’s my insider’s perspective, based on my many (many!) years of helping companies figure out how to pay people.

Get better at pay negotiations by understanding things from an insider point of view. #paynegotiation Click To Tweet

It’s not personal

It absolutely feels personal, because your pay impacts so many facets of your life, but it’s not. How much an organization is willing to pay says a whole lot more about the value of the job to the organization than about what you’re worth, personally.

I was talking with a woman the other day who was telling me that she had multiple job offers (yay!), but with wildly different starting salaries. She wondered why some places valued her more than others.

After getting more details, it sounded like the different companies wanted to hire her for different levels of jobs. They all valued her and her experience (enough to offer her a job!), but each organization valued the job they wanted her to do very differently. That’s an important distinction.

Companies are kinda mercenary (and you should be, too). Bottom line, the company’s job is to get the best talent (that’s you!) in exchange for a competitive pay package. Your job is to get the most from the company that they’re willing to give in exchange for what you’ll contribute to them. Business. Not personal.

So yeah, a bit mercenary-ish. But that said, recruiters and headhunters advocate better for people they have a connection with, and nobody likes to deal with jerks. If you can get into the mindset of negotiating on behalf of someone you like, and of curiosity, it can be easier to take the emotion out of the negotiation.

Some stuff just can’t be negotiated

(and that’s also not personal)

Especially in larger companies, salary & benefits elements can be policy-driven. This can include who’s covered with benefits, bonus percentages, 401K contribution, stock treatment, and stuff like that. Making exceptions to some policies can put the benefit plan itself at risk with government regulators, so that may be a reason you’re not able to negotiate on specific things.

Some companies are simply more flexible than others when it comes to pay, too. Smaller organizations can often have flexibility with the mix of elements in the pay package, trading more of one thing for less of another. But larger organizations often have more & different pay & benefits and less flexibility about mixing.

There will also be things at play internally that you don’t/can’t/won’t have visibility. Internal equity (how people are paid relatively to each other inside the organization) can often be a factor. If your salary requirements are higher than others doing the same job, that can be tough for the company to accommodate. If they’re higher than your new boss’ pay, it can be a dealbreaker. And that’s not saying you’re wrong about what you’re asking for, but it can make things a mismatch between you and the company.

Know, too, that with equal pay coming to the forefront, there may not be much wiggle room with starting rates, either. But that shouldn’t stand in the way of asking for what you want, because . . .

Lots of stuff can be negotiated

The most common things for folks to negotiate include:

  • Start date
  • What’s included in a relocation package
  • Base pay
  • Sign-on bonus or stock
  • Paid time off (especially in the first year)

When negotiating, start with the big/ongoing stuff first (base pay, bonus, annual paid time off) and move to the less important/one-time things afterward (sign-on bonus, relocation costs, vacation in the first few months). And when I say “important,” I mean “important to you” and what you stand for. It’s cool if you care more about vacation time than base pay, or vice versa, or something else. You do you.

And just because you could negotiate something, it doesn’t mean you should. Pay particular attention to how the negotiations are progressing, and remember that negotiation fatigue is a thing.

For more tips on how to negotiate pay and why your negotiations might not be working well, check out my blog posts.

What’s your big “aha” about an insider’s view of pay? Tell us in the comments below!

“Never Eat Alone,” by Keith Ferrazzi: Book Review

Want the ultimate guide to connecting with people at work? Read Never Eat Alone, by Keith Ferrazzi. There’s about 3 books’ worth of great advice here, but my biggest takeaways are:

  • Service first
  • Be authentic
  • Persist
  • Get creative
  • Follow up like a boss
Ever wonder how some people seem to be connected with EVERYBODY? Check my book review of 'Never Eat Alone,' by Keith Ferrazzi, and find out how they do it! #networking #communications #peoplegenius Click To Tweet

Service first.

Ferrazzi’s networking & communications foundation is built on service to others: we should seek to serve others before serving ourselves. If you’re just in a conversation for what you can get out of it, you’re missing the point.

By helping others, they’re more likely to reciprocate when you need it. Not to mention the fact that you’re generating a bit of positive cosmic energy. Woo, but true.

Be authentic.

Make sure any networking or other communications you do are rooted in what you stand for. People can tell when you’re being fake, and you can’t build trust with them from that space.

If you’re not a naturally exuberant glad-hander, don’t try to fake being one. You can still connect with people, no matter your personality dynamic.

Persist.

When people don’t respond to an email or call, it’s not because they hate you (!). Folks are incredibly busy, and with our 24/7 inflow of information, emails, social media, calls, meetings…well, you get the picture.

That said, Ferrazzi advises against being a pest, and the line between persistent and pest-y can get pretty fine there. Persist, and be self-aware.

Get creative.

With connecting, sometimes the easiest way in isn’t the front door, so to speak. Getting to know gatekeepers (like executive admins), connecting via a mutual friend’s introduction, or building a bridge through your kids’ Brownie troop can all be great ways to meet and serve.

And if there’s someone you’d like to get to know, make a plan on how to get to know them, don’t just leave it to chance. It won’t always work, but what if it does?

Follow up like a boss.

Since connecting is faster/easier/better when there’s trust between people, follow up is a crucial part of the equation. And in this crazy world, it’s a great way to differentiate yourself. Most people don’t because they’re super-busy & don’t prioritize it.

For those of us in consulting roles, being known as a “do-what-you-say-you-will” person is a critical piece of our personal brands. So follow up, say thank you, send a note when you think of someone, and for heaven’s sake, when you tell someone you’re going to do something, do that thing.

What’s your best networking/communications/connection tip? Tell us in the comments below!

p.s. Want even more tips on networking? Check out my blog post.

Network Like the Pro You Are

Networking – ugh! It can feel so fake and weird.  What to do? Network like a pro with these tips for:

  • Before the event
  • During the even
  • After you network
Up your networking game with a plan for before, during, and after the event. #networking #trueyou Click To Tweet

Before

Have a plan.

Know what you want to get out of the networking event. Is it a recommendation for a vendor (general contractor, anyone?), or a lead for a job, or an idea for a blog topic?

Know your elevator speech.

It doesn’t have to be long & involved (in fact, it shouldn’t be). Write it down, and practice saying it a zillion times until you get the words just the way you want them. Include what you do, who you serve, and the results your clients/customers get. This is a great approach, whether you work for a large firm, small organization, or you’re an entrepreneur.

Know what you’ll wear.

I know, I know, but it’s important. You want to wear something that’s comfortable and also is consistent with the personal brand you want to portray. Make sure it doesn’t require any major adjusting when you sit down or stand up or write on a business card (because you will be doing all of those things while networking).

During

Look at the person you’re talking to.

Nobody wants to see your eyes darting around the room, looking for someone More Important and/or Cooler Than You. Seriously. The person in front of you is the most important one at that moment, so treat them like it.

Be curious.

Ask interesting questions that will help you get to know your network-ee better. “What do you do?”: not interesting. “What’s the toughest problem your industry is facing right now?” or “What’s the best thing about working where you do?”: more interesting. And more likely to get authentic answers.

Carry a pen.

This will come in handy – you can write a little note on any business cards you collect with any follow-up action the moment you’re done networking with your person (who you’ve looked at, not annoyingly, the entire time you’ve talked with them). A side note, if you’re getting new business cards made, make sure they’re easy to write on.

After

Know how you’ll capture your information.

I have an app on my phone that lets me scan a business card, and it’ll automatically load it to my business software. That’s a huge time-saver for me! But you can also keep the paper cards in a file or hand-enter information into your address book. Whatever works for you!

Have a follow-up plan.

You won’t need to take action with every single business connection you make, but you’ll definitely have some. It might be sharing a link to a lecture you spoke about or an article you discussed, or it could be adding someone to your newsletter list (note: that’s only cool if you have their express permission). Maybe it’s setting up a phone call.

Whatever your little scribblings on people’s cards say, make sure you have time the day after the event – or the day of, if you can – to do your follow up. Being meticulous about your follow up will put you well ahead of most people, and will help you add “a person of their word” to your personal brand.

What’s your favorite networking tip? Tell us in the comments below!

Use the Power of a Mastermind to Supercharge Your Success

I’m in Asheville, NC this week for a mastermind group, and it’s SO awesome!

What is a mastermind, you ask?

Simply put, it’s a group of sort-of like-minded people who gather together with a shared purpose and help each other solve problems. My mastermind is a group of (mostly) women entrepreneurs who run their businesses with a focus on connecting with our clients on a deeper level.

Want to supercharge your performance? Join a mastermind, and expand your success through the power of your network. #mastermind Click To Tweet

I love coming to Asheville once a quarter to work on my business and myself! Here are the top 3 reasons:

  • Community
  • Development
  • Collaboration

Community

Since many entrepreneurs are solo practitioners, having a sense of community and belonging can be a rare thing. Masterminds, like the one I participate in, are a great place to meet up with folks who are in similar situations, and who face similar challenges and triumphs.

We share best practices, our favorite apps and systems solutions, as well as stories of our successes (and things that haven’t worked the way we’ve planned).

I mean, who, besides another entrepreneur, can appreciate the delight of putting an automated invoicing system in place? Or landing a first client? Our shared experiences help us build a strong community.

Development

Another common practice in masterminds is to provide development opportunities so members can learn new things.

Mine focuses on both the tactics and emotional perspective of running successful businesses, and while I have an MBA, there’s a “been there; done that” practical side of the things I’m learning in my mastermind that I haven’t found anywhere else.

Setting aside 3 days every quarter to learn, reflect, and reset my mindset has been invaluable as I’ve built my business.

Collaboration

Another feature of masterminds is the opportunity to use the power of the collective to solve individual problems.

In my mastermind, we take a half day of every retreat to gather in small groups, present our challenges, and get tips on how to tackle them from our peers. Getting diverse perspectives from entrepreneurs who run businesses that range from corporate innovation consulting, to yoga studios, to musicians, to tour guides can be highly productive.

And knowing there’s a group of people who really want you (and your business) to flourish…that’s priceless.

Have you participated in a mastermind? Or would you like to? Let us know in the comments below.