Taking & giving feedback gracefully…is hard to do.

Perhaps you have heard of the expression ‘Feedback is a gift’? So why is it sometimes the type of gift you want to immediately return or feel like it really is anything but a gift? Possibly it is how the feedback was delivered, and the time and place you are receiving the feedback. When feedback delivery is delayed and you are not anticipating it, it can catch you off guard and potentially feel more negative and make you more defensive feeling initially.

Feedback is the type of information which needs to be processed, and cannot always be immediately done so. So, when it comes at you and you are either not prepared to accept it, or have time to process and then provide a graceful response, it can lose the essence of why it is being given in the first place.

Not all feedback is constructive, but when it is, and it can help more than hinder the recipient receiving the information. In this case, it could be a gift. However, when feedback is either given or you are the recipient of it, what are some techniques you can apply to ensure you are leveraging feedback from either side in a positive manner?

(Giving feedback) Here are some tips on how to provide constructive feedback:

  • Consider before you give the feedback if it is actually feedback. Make sure you are not subconsciously disguising the information with the intent of having it be harmful or derogatory.
  • Take a few minutes to step away from the situation you want to provide feedback about. When you do this, you will potentially deliver a higher level of constructive feedback which is well thought through.
  • Make sure the information is not coming across as a personal attack, and is focused on providing guidance on how to improve upon how the recipient could have instead conveyed their information or situation.
  • Ask the person if they are willing to receive some constructive feedback from you. If they do not want any, respect their decision. If you walk away, they may come back to you at a later point in time and be ready and willing to receive your feedback.
  • Don’t assume you always have to give feedback, even when you think the person can benefit from it. Sometimes it is best to let the person come to you when they are not getting the results they expected, and are then ready to hear your feedback. Let them drive the process.

(Receiving feedback) Here are some tips on how to gracefully receive feedback:

  • This is going to be hard, but you are going to have to try to remain in a non-defensive posture, both physically and mentally. When you do this, and allow the person to convey their feedback, you will be able to more clearly hear and think about what they are telling you.
  • When you remain, or appear not to be in a defensive manner, the person delivering the feedback will be able to do so in a more constructive way.
  • Allow the person to finish delivering the feedback without interrupting them. Once they appear to be done giving you their feedback, if it is not clear why they are giving you this feedback, ask them why they are providing you this feedback. Or, you can ask them if you can have some time to process what you have heard, and then talk to them at another time when you are ready to do so on your terms.
  • Do your best to consider the feedback being given, even if it is not constructive and feels more like a personal attack. Generally, people who are giving you feedback have good intentions. Although, sometimes their delivery is less than constructive. This isn’t your issue, it’s theirs, so try to keep this in perspective.
  • Thank the person for offering to provide you with feedback. You may not have considered it might be difficult for them to do so. They may also be more uncomfortable than you are receiving it from them.

Even after years of both giving and receiving feedback, there are still times I have to remind myself that I need to be a gracious giver and receiver of it. It takes practice to be good at both, and I want to share with you that feedback definitely is one of the two sided coins you will be handling throughout your life and career. The trick to mastering both sides is to keep in mind you will definitely learn something regardless of which end of it you are on.

Kathleen E. R. Murphy is the Founder, Chief Strategist and CMO of Market Me TooMarket Me Too has expertise in bridging marketing and sales teams and providing organizations techniques to accelerate their market growth and revenue numbers, regardless of the industry they are in, or the business stage they are presently at. We also work with individuals from students to executives and business and sports teams to coach them to learn how to leverage and apply their peak performance talents on a daily basis. Contact Kathleen at kathymurphy@me.com.

Announcement: Published last week, my first business book called Wisdom Whisperer, is now available via Amazon. Pick one up, or get one for your friend or colleague.

 

 

(5) Ways to Step Out of Your Comfort Zone. Yes, I’m talking to you.

By Kathleen E. R. Murphy

Someone once said that success begins at the end of your comfort zone. Do you believe that’s true?  Once most people finish something, they generally will take a break from whatever it was they accomplished. This is perfectly understandable and acceptable. However, successful people are always learning new things and challenging themselves.

You do not have to be competitive by nature to want to expand your mind and abilities. Learning should not be parked at the door once we graduate from a program, but many people accept their accomplishment as permission to hit the snooze button on life.

Why do people fall into the trap of becoming too comfortable? Part of it has to do with the fact that they may not be naturally enamored by success. I suppose in some respects, I am fortunate, because I am a goal oriented person.  Every company for which I have ever worked, has always had goals associated with the work I was tasked to perform.

Truthfully, I cannot imagine working without having goals, but I am constantly amazed when I learn about people who do not have strategic markers to achieve. Actually, I am not sure how anything gets done, or that the right items are focused on without having targets in place for everyone.

So, what if you are working at a company that does not set goals?

Start by asking your boss to schedule a meeting to develop your goals.  Ask how performance is measured.

Yes, there are some positions where it may, in fact, not make sense to have traditional goals, but there are a variety of different types. Goals that measure customer satisfaction, goals to measure the results of the work you have been performing and overall project results. Marketing and sales teams typically have quarterly goals, so people in these roles are accustomed to having to reach milestones, but this does not mean they are still challenging themselves beyond the benchmarks being set for them.

If you are in a position, or at a company that sets goals, consider yourself fortunate. However, the goals being set for you do not have to be the only ones you should be achieve. In fact, you should have your own set of personal goals. They could be career-oriented, or personal (e.g., saving for a vacation, hitting a personal best record at your, volunteering a certain number of hours per month). The point is, you have more time than you think you have to fit in doing things that are part of helping you to reach your goals. You simply need to reprioritize how you allocate your time.

When you are thinking about how you can really challenge yourself, below are five points to ponder. Your responses will help move you out of your comfort zone, and on your way to accomplishing more than you imagined was possible.

  1. Stop procrastinating. Limit social media interactions and gaming or whatever it is that consumes hours of your time and results in nothing tangible or even intangible.

 

  1. Make a list of what you want to accomplish in the next year, then break those goals into the months you plan to complete them.

 

  1. Work backwards from the goals you set and list the steps needed to reach them.

 

  1. Are the goals you set realistic? Don’t create too many and set yourself up for failure, but do look to push yourself beyond what you think you can achieve. Make sure you keep tabs on how you are doing each month and how close you are to reaching your milestones and eventually your destination.

 

  1. Establish a reward system for reaching each step along the path. Most humans are intrinsically driven by rewards, so make sure you build some treats into your system. Once you achieve your goal(s), set new ones, and look forward to achieving them. After going through this process for about three to six months, the process of working on and achieving goals will come naturally.

These are just a few ideas that will serve as a strong foundation to help you to stretch and begin accomplishing more than you ever imagined.

Kathleen E. R. Murphy is the Founder, Chief Strategist and CMO of Market Me TooMarket Me Too has expertise in bridging marketing and sales teams and providing organizations techniques to accelerate their market growth and revenue numbers, regardless of the industry they are in, or the business stage they are presently at. We also work with individuals from students to executives and business and sports teams to coach them to learn how to leverage and apply their peak performance talents on a daily basis. Contact Kathleen at kathymurphy@me.com.

Announcement: As of this morning, my first business book called Wisdom Whisperer, is now available via Amazon. Pick one up, or get one for your friend or colleague.

 

 

 

(5) Ways to Maximize Your Time

Time: Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift.  That’s why we call it the present.

Everyone has the same amount of time to work with on a daily basis, but some use it better than others. Why? Have some people figured out how to better optimize their work hours with advanced time management skills? Are they more cognizant of how precious time is, or are they like the majority of people who may not give the concept more than a fleeting thought?

There have been many books written on time management and how to become more productive. Even if you have not read them, you likely have a general sense of what they are going to teach.

Instead of focusing on how to maximize the hours in your day, let’s looks at some reasons people do not leverage and use their time well or constructively.

Below is my take on the top five time management inhibitors. A few of the ideas may not be new to you, but others may provide insight into why, if you are in the majority, you do not recognize time as a precious gift.

  1. The perception of time is skewed and not realistic because of the limiting belief that there is an unlimited supply.
  2. Many people just go about their day, even when they have a schedule, with a relaxed sense of having more time than they actually do.
  3. Not having a command of time management practices, either because they have not developed any, or because they have not considered this an essential life skill to master.
  4. Having no internal drive. Having any sense of motivation can significantly heighten a sense of the importance of maximizing time.
  5. Awareness of time, and how quickly it can pass when you do not manage your day. Of course, building time into your schedule to relax and sleep are naturally factored into your time each day, but some people may be more prone to doing or needing more of these two activities than others.

Now, here are five simple ways to maximize your time.

  1. Create a weekly schedule. It does not have to be detailed. Be sure to factor in activities such as exercise, preparation of healthy meals, and mini mental health breaks.

 

  1. At the end of each month, create a list of goals you want to accomplish either professionally or personally the next month. The list does not have to be outrageous or unattainable, but you could include some that are longer-term mixed in with short-term goals.

 

  1. Take a few minutes to think about how you are currently using your time. Are you simply going through the motions of waking up, going to work, coming home, and hitting repeat? If this is the case, think about incorporating some activities into your day that you can eagerly anticipate. Having something to look forward to either each day, or multiple days of the week, is highly motivating.

 

  1. Break your day into segments. I’m a morning person, so when I know I have to get something done which is not a thing I either like to do, or need to have intense concentration on. I plan to get it finished ASAP. Granted, you do not always have control over the ideal time to get things done, but if you can divide each day into planned segments you will find you will get more accomplished.

 

  1. Build rewards into your schedule. Make sure your day is broken up with items such as taking a walk, getting a cup of coffee, spending a limited time on social media to catch up on current events. Include time to interact socially with either co-workers or friends. Or perhaps a mix of the two – who knows what will happen.

Our minds work better, and we tend to have increased energy and the ability to concentrate, when we have a command of our time.

None of us can save time in a bottle, but these points to ponder should help you consider how you spend your time. Ideally, you’ll become more productive and have a heightened sense of how precious time really is.

Kathleen E. R. Murphy is the Founder, Chief Strategist and CMO of Market Me TooMarket Me Too has expertise in bridging marketing and sales teams and providing organizations techniques to accelerate their market growth and revenue numbers, regardless of the industry they are in, or the business stage they are presently at. We also work with individuals from students to executives and business and sports teams to coach them to learn how to leverage and apply their peak performance talents on a daily basis. Contact Kathleen at kathymurphy@me.com.

Announcement: I will be publishing my first business book this month. If you would like more details about my book, please send me an email at kathymurphy@me.com . Thank you. – Kathy

 

Hang in there. Or, should you?

Just when you think you can’t take one second longer of any situation you are in, by some miracle you find the ability to hang in there for one more hour, day or week. Where does this discipline come from? If you played on a competitive sports team, chances are this was one of the numerous valuable skills you acquired from being on any team.

Recently I heard a coach talk about the topic both players and parents dread. It was about playing time. His example was about a player who saw limited playing time on a championship team. He asked us what we thought this athlete would say if you asked them whether they contributed to helping the team win the championship?

The coach went on to tell us this athlete would say “yes”, they contributed to helping the team become champions. How did they do this or feel this way if they did not see much playing time? Actually, it is quite simple. They felt this way because they showed up at practice every day, learned the plays required, worked out and stayed healthy, cheered on their teammates from the sideline and committed to the team during the season. By doing these things they one hundred percent contributed to the team’s success. If they did not contribute their talent, energy, discipline and time, the players who got more playing time may not have been prepared well enough to compete and ultimately become a championship team.

Until hearing this coaches example, I had not considered this aspect of an athlete’s contribution to the team. Especially when they are not getting the playing time they deserve or are allocated. It became obvious to me that the limited playing time athlete is still making a valuable contribution to the team, although their desire to see more playing time is not happening during game time. However, it is happening when they are practicing and contributing to making them and their teammates better together.

I my opinion, the athletes who are getting less playing time are potentially more important and valuable to the team than those who are getting the playing time. However, this can be hard for the competitive natured athlete or parent to see and appreciate.

The point is, although you may not be in a starring role either on the field or at work, you are contributing to the overall success or forward progress of your team. Each team member plays a valuable role. Some roles have greater visibility, like the athlete on the field, but this does not make their role more important. In fact, those who are in less visible roles play an integral role in keeping the team together by acting as the “glue” or foundation. You might have heard of the expression “Half of our success in life is gained simply by showing up each day.” This is true both in sports and business.

So, it might be more obvious about when to quit your sports team, but I do not recommend doing this, even if you think you are not being recognized as a valuable asset to the team.

If you were chosen to be on the team, you were chosen for a reason. Although this might not be what you want to hear, you are needed on the team, and quitting it will not serve you well. The lessons you will learn by sticking out the season or your time commitment to the team will provide you with deep and lasting skills to take on future challenges far better than those who threw in the proverbial towel. Quitting is easy. Staying can be hard, but it will be worth it when you complete your commitment to the team. You will not regret staying on the team when you look back in time. You will regret quitting for the rest of your life.

Switching gears and now focusing on knowing when it’s time to quit your work team is not always a straightforward process. It should not be done with careful consideration. Why? One of the biggest reasons is because you made the decision to work for the company for a reason. Perhaps your reason to work at the company had not been thought through well enough in terms of whether it was the right type of company, role or team for you to be on from a personal or cultural perspective. I’m talking about company culture, and sometimes it is harder to know upfront if the company culture will be a good fit for you.

Typically, if it is not the right company culture for you, you will find out relatively early, and this is one of the good reasons to leave the company. Here are some other reasons or scenarios to think about it terms of whether it is acceptable to leave your company:

  • There are actions or practices happening at the company which you consider to be an ethical violation, either personally or professionally.
  • You learn after a few years that the growth path you thought would be available to you was only fiction, and you now find yourself in a role which does not have a path forward.
  • Your boss or management team is not supportive of your decisions, or you are being micro-managed and not allowed to perform the role you are responsible to carry out.
  • The job description for your job has been altered so much since you took on the position, perhaps not on paper, but by the verbal expectations communicated by your boss.
  • When companies are growing quickly, your job description may unofficially change dramatically, and may now be in poor alignment with your skills. This can happen, and how this scenario is managed is what will make the difference in terms of whether you should consider staying in your role or leaving the company.
  • You are offered an opportunity from another company which has presented itself at a time when you now have the skills to consider leaving your current role. If this option is not going to be available at your company for a year or more, consider whether it makes sense to stay with the known company, or take a risk in pursuit of your desired role sooner. Sometimes the grass is greener on the other side, and sometimes it’s not. It’s not always easy to know which one it is.

Whether we realize it or not, we all have options to pursue going after what we really want to do, and sometimes we have to take risks to do so. One of those risks can be leaving the company you are presently at. Leaving your company can be a scary thing to do, but it can also set you on a new and better career path.

Kathleen E. R. Murphy is the Founder, Chief Strategist and CMO of Market Me TooMarket Me Too has expertise in bridging marketing and sales teams and providing organizations techniques to accelerate their market growth and revenue numbers, regardless of the industry they are in, or the business stage they are presently at. We also work with individuals from students to executives and business and sports teams to coach them to learn how to leverage and apply their peak performance talents on a daily basis. Contact Kathleen at kathymurphy@me.com.

Announcement: I will be publishing my first business book this month. If you would like more details about my book, please send me an email at kathymurphy@me.com . Thank you. – Kathy

Leaders, please be yourself, not who you think you need to be.

BEING A LEADER:  True leaders have the ability to set an intention, then motivate, inspire, and empower people to follow. A Gallup poll found that leadership involves many factors, but one of the most critical is giving followers what they need.  The top elements cited?  Trust, compassion, integrity, and stability.

Some of the most effective leaders I have worked for, and with, have a few characteristics in common, but all of them understand the importance of commanding respect while simultaneously remaining true to their personality.

They are not afraid to show a softer side when interacting with their teams. In fact, this is one of the most endearing and important traits that makes people want to follow the leader.

If you are a leader, work for one, or want to be one, think about whether you or the person who is the leader possesses this quality. Perhaps they do, sometimes, but you only get glimpse of it, and not consistently. Now imagine what it would be like to work for this type of leader.  Or to be this type of leader.

Some people take on a different persona at work.

Are you a big bad wolf at the office and a cuddly teddy bear at home?  As Dr. Phil might ask, “How’s that workin’ for ya?

The other thing people do is to develop their leadership qualities based on being collaborative, and approachable. They allow their naturally ability of high emotional intelligence to flourish.

Unfortunately, emotional intelligence is not something that can be taught, but it can be mimicked.  If you feel you are lacking, pay attention in scenarios to which you are exposed on a regular basis.

For example, watch as successful leaders properly greet a guest and make them feel comfortable, or ask someone you notice who seems sad, or upset, if they need to take a moment, or want to talk.

Leaders who are open to the human experience, are in no way weak.

Sometimes we conveniently forget that our leaders are human, too, and typically under constant pressure. Having to mask their emotions is difficult, but doing so is not a sign of weakness.

When our business leaders reveal that they are experiencing emotions, it sends signals to the people who work for them that they are simply human.  This makes them more approachable.

Contrary to what you might think, when a leader exhibits emotion, many people either do not notice, or do not comment, if they do.  Some may simply be oblivious, while most are probably reluctant to approach the boss.

It’s okay to ask how they are doing, and do so sincerely.

You might be surprised by the reaction you get.  Be prepared to respond in a kind and empathetic manner. This sentiment will be appreciated more than you can imagine. What’s more, the leader will perceive you in an entirely different light the next time you interact. Why?  Because you allowed them to be themselves for that moment. This is not something many leaders feel like they can or should do.

Climbing up the proverbial corporate ladder can take years, but some people reach the top faster than others. How? There are a number of factors, but one of them is that they are likeable, and part of being likeable is being human. These people are also typically bright, and able to access both the right and left sides of their brains equally. They have a personality that makes others believe in and want to follow them.

Of course, this is an over simplification of the other criteria one needs to climb the rungs. Typically, it is much harder for those who reached the top because of an inside connection to earn the respect of their team. Authentic leaders who have earned the right to be placed into leadership roles are the ones whom we admire, potentially aspire to be like, and ultimately respect and want to follow.

Kathleen E. R. Murphy is the Founder, Chief Strategist and CMO of Market Me TooMarket Me Too has expertise in bridging marketing and sales teams and providing organizations techniques to accelerate their market growth and revenue numbers, regardless of the industry they are in, or the business stage they are presently at. We also work with individuals from students to executives and business and sports teams to coach them to learn how to leverage and apply their peak performance talents on a daily basis. Contact Kathleen at kathymurphy@me.com.

Announcement: I will be publishing my first business book this month. If you would like more details about my book, please send me an email at kathymurphy@me.com . Thank you. – Kathy