Wherever You Spend Your Days
You’ve heard us talk for years about our commitment to helping people have better workdays. But what does that mean, really? What is a better workday? Is it about productivity? Is it about what you get done? Is it about who you encounter or how those interactions go?
Yes, yes, and yes!
Better workdays are better because they’re more productive. It’s not just about time management, nor is it just about people management. It’s more than project management or product management, or self-management. It’s all of that together.
What characterizes a better workday?
- Communication flows freely and effectively
- Processes and projects run smoothly
- Collaboration and influence happen naturally
- Everyone is working in alignment with what’s best for the organization
Okay, so how do we do that? Let me offer three very specific and very tactical things you can do to help co-create better workdays where you work.
(1) Demonstrate humility alongside confidence.
This shows up for us at Your Clear Next Step as one of our four core values. The confidence part means to “go for it”, to take risks, to innovate and try new things, to do your work well with the confidence of someone who does good work. And the humility part refers to being willing to know your limits and ask for help, to embrace support, and to collaborate willingly.
How many people barrel through their days or moments with too much confidence and not enough humility? The unfortunate outcome of this is stepping on others, blustering through and creating a mess, getting it wrong, falling prey to the proverbial “drill twice” (instead of measure twice and drill once). When we do that, our workdays are eroded by our carelessness around others as well as the messes we have to clean up. It’s always faster to do things the right way than to have to redo them and fix mistakes.
On the flip side, how many people don't speak up or take risks or try new things, layering on humility but lacking in confidence? The risk here is that we miss out on opportunities to innovate or try more efficient things, we miss out on potential savings or chances to shine. When we don’t have enough confidence, we may wait to act or wait for someone else’s blessing or approval or input, when it would have been more efficient to move forward.
Demonstrating both humility and confidence together requires that we demonstrate self awareness of our own limitations and other awareness of who else is in our corner ready to help, and self-management to move from where we are to where we want to be.
Practice demonstrating confidence in what got you here and humility that what got you here won't get you there.
This is the first step in our proven process as an organization. We listen to our customers. I’ve actively and intentionally honed this skill as a business analyst, as a project leader, as a coach, as a wife, as a mother, and as a business owner. If I'm not listening to my customers, my employees, my industry thought leaders, I can't succeed, and my workday (and theirs) goes down the drain.
How do we do that? Here are some tactical tips:
- Listen in meetings. How much time could we save if when we were in a meeting, we were actually in the meeting - not distracted by other things or zoning off, but really listening and engaging. I assure you, if we all listened more, our meetings would be shorter.
- Listen to others. Listening is a whole-body experience! We listen with two ears and only one mouth (so twice as much as we speak), we listen to their nonverbals with our eyes, and we pay attention to what’s not being said as well as what is being said. When you make the time and energy to listen, in one-on-one interactions, it helps build relationships. They are more likely to open up, buy-in, engage more - and all of these result in better workdays.
- Listen to yourself. How many of us work past tired or fruitless, resulting in sub-par work, and extra time wasted? Instead, when we are mindful and listen to our bodies for wellness, our passion, our limitations, we position ourselves for better days and greater achievements.
Listening, like any form of communication, is an art: that means that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. If our listening isn’t beautiful to the other person, then it’s not good listening. But if it is beautiful to them, it turns out we can have a better workday.
(3) Put people first.
Every time I find myself saying this to a new audience, I’m always so surprised when there are folks that simply don’t know this yet. It turns out that putting people first is the kind and generous thing to do, but it’s also good for business and very good for workdays. Here at Your Clear Next Step, this shows up as one of our differentiators: “We love out loud” That makes us unique in our space. So what does it mean to put people first?
- Leading projects? I've tried since 1996 to get my projects to do themselves, and they simply don't. Projects don’t do themselves; people do projects. So what do we do with these people? Love ‘em, and show ‘em you love ‘em.
- Selling products or services to customers? Remember, regardless of which market you serve, that customers are not businesses...without fail, customers are people. And truthfully, we need them more than they need us. So what do we do?
- Leading a team? Employees are the people who make your organization tick. Without them, we can't do anything. Love ‘em, even when the day made that difficult to do.
You’ve likely read many quotes about putting people first;
“People who are appreciated always do more than expected.”
“People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
“People will never remember what you said, but they'll never forget how you made them feel.”
All of those share the common point that we need to put people first. When we put people first, we can connect with them, we can avoid cleaning up messes from accidental mis-steps, we can prevent messes by intervening with care and compassion.
I teach people how to do this through concepts like servant leadership or the languages of appreciation; and we demonstrate it daily through our promise to love out loud. And even if the person in front of you irritates you or gets under your skin, we still need to love them. We practice unconditional positive regard. What’s that? Unconditional positive regard means no matter what, I value you as a person with worth, and that’s what governs my words and my actions.
That's it my friends, 3 failsafe ways to improve productivity and workdays, regardless of where you work or what kinds of days you have.
- balance humility alongside confidence
- put people first
How about you? What would you add to the list?