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Personal development

How to make it safe with your boss to give feedback

In my 40 year career I have had bosses that are uncomfortable giving me feedback when asked. The reasons are varied, but its important that you make it safe and support your leader to feel comfortable.

If you have acted defensively in the past, they will be reluctant to share feedback for fear that you will react in the same way.

Here are some tips to help you make it safe for your boss:

  1. Share what you are personally working on with your boss, so they can see you are keen to improve. Share progress on what’s working not working for you and how you are changing your approach.
  2. Share feedback from others on areas you need to focus on. Share who gave you the feedback and what you are doing to address.
  3. Once you have done the above, ask do you have any feedback for me, on areas I need to work on, or anything I have shared already.
  4. When they give you feedback, play back to them what you have heard. Then reflect and say thank you this information is priceless, I will work on this. Then share all the progress, so they can see you demonstrate the self awareness to work on improvements
  5. Use self deprecating humour to show that you don’t take yourself to seriously. May make your boss laugh.
  6. When something does not go to plan, share with your boss what happened and how you plan to turn the situation around. Bad news early

Sharing progress with your boss on your self development journey is vital to your future success and it really helps your boss feel comfortable sharing feedback and observations which are essential for growth

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Personal development

Want to call out the lack of diversity at the exec level

An ex colleague and friend called me re: lack of diversity at the exec level in the organization she recently joined. Her question was on how does she call out the lack of diversity.

The answer is, not advisable to call it out, what is advisable is how you are prepared to help the leaders and HR team to change.

What does that mean?

  1. How do ensure males become the best sponsors for women? This is the single reason for women not getting to the top, as without a sponsor its impossible. Sponsorship is promoting the success and ensuring the failures are learned from in a supportive way. The largest gap is sponsorship of women in their 40’s and 50’s. You can help here by encouraging each senior exec to sponsor a women and then give them the support and coaching. https://angelalovegrove.com/2019/10/07/the-difference-between-a-coach-mentor-and-sponsor/
  2. Most senior men are comfortable coaching younger women. They are more fearful of coaching older women, that fear is how women will react to feedback. The key is here is for women to ensure their bosses know they embrace feedback. Value the time they take to walk through examples where they can improve. Share progress and learnings, so over time your boss enjoys the conversations and enables them to become a better leader. Encourage both parties to have more open dialogue. https://angelalovegrove.com/2020/03/30/feedback-is-critical-for-growth/
  3. Where a senior male leader has not had female leaders on their exec team, broach the subject with HR about getting a coach for the exec. This is a common approach for male execs who know they have difficulty with women to work with a coach to help them overcome their bias, Often the coach needs a women to work with the exec to develop the skills and capabilities. Over a decade ago I was fortunate enough to work for a senior male exec who approached me to work with his coach to help him overcome his bias. I learnt a fortune about what causes the issues for the males and how I could help him.
  4. Ensure your emerging leaders are equipped to lead women. I talk openly about the differences and encourage my female and male leaders to discuss what causes them challenges re: female behavior v;s male behavior’s. Over time they begin to adapt and the females thrive under their leadership. This is critical if we want to change the future for women in the workplace.
  5. Call out privately with individuals bad or poor behavior towards women. I previously had a boss who constantly criticized strong female leaders in front of his leadership team. I was appalled as he did not do this in relation to male leaders. The first few times I stewed over it and then the next time, I pulled him to one side in private that I found his comments offensive and please stop. A couple of times of pulling him to one side did the trick and no more offensive comments in front of me. https://angelalovegrove.com/2020/03/04/taking-responsibility-to-how-we-get-treated/
  6. Don’t judge! None of us are perfect. It’s important to lock the judgement up, you cannot coach or support when you are judging.

All the best with changing the work place and I hope the 6 steps are helpful.

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Personal development

Speaking across people

What do you do when someone constantly speaks across you. This is a common question from mentees, here are the options:

1. Continue talking more loudly so the person trying to talk across you, realises that you are not going to stop.

2. Say politely I have not finished, please allow me to finish.

3. Take the person aside and let them know that the behaviour is unacceptable and let them know how it makes you feel. It’s also important to let them know the conversation is confidential and will go no further.

4. It’s a common practice for certain individuals to say sorry to cut you off and continue speaking. This is the worst behaviour as they are consciously speaking over you. Don’t let them get away with it. Use one of the methods above. Once dealt with they won’t do it again!

4 tips for managing people who speak across you. Make a move and build the respect you deserve

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Personal development

FYI No action required. Escalation possible

Keeping your boss informed of potential escalations and things that he/she should know about is an important part of your role. No one likes receiving bad news without a warning.

The earlier the warning, your boss can mentally be prepared, with no surprises and feel confident you have the situation under control. There are many steps to communicating well and in a timely manner.

Here are the 5 key steps and principles to landing the message without creating unnecessary action.

1. Email is good. Ensure the title is clear. FYI NO action required. Repeat after your Hi line in your email. This is important to ensure they dont take action. Also if you believe it may get escalated to them or above then put FYI No ACTION required. Escalation Highly probable.

2. Context: what is the issue and what is it causing concern. Be explicit but do not write more than a paragrath

3. What action has been taken already and the outcomes. This is to inform of steps taken, so your boss knows what you have tried already.

4. What steps you are taking at present and possible other steps if there are any. This is important for your boss and stakeholders to know what avenues you are exploring

5. Next Update will be in 24 hours. This is critical to keep your stakeholders informed and if they are in communication externally you are on the same page.

These can be done in one email, keep it short and concise. The earlier the warning the better prepared your stakeholders and boss can be. Don’t wait to crisis point. If you suspect the situation could blow up, go early and over communicate.

No boss enjoys surprises, this is a sure way to communicate timely information which means they are never caught off guard.

FYI NO ACTION REQUIRED. ESCALATION PROBABLE

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Personal development

Daily Stoic journal

If you enjoy journaling then this book will take you to another level. Since my 20s I have journaled to release frustration, learn from my poor experiences and practice gratitude. This book is thought provoking, combined with meditation and you will become focused on those areas of development, that you have not recognised previously or you have chosen to ignore.

If you love yoga you will know that your practice changes all the time due to different parts of the body reacting differently to the moves and stretches. With practice you are highly tuned to your body and where it does not feel normal to you. The stoic journal taps into you subconscious in the same way.

Each day it gives you a question to ponder and then note section for morning and evening reflection. The discipline is addictive, as it channels your energy into those areas that you need to focus on.

The writing creates a calmness and for me, as well as detachment, something that I am challenged by, being a passionate and driven individual. In a years time I know I will look back at my entry’s in the diary and know that I will have moved on, driven to be a better person and leader.

Learning is a life long journey, being open and challenging yourself everyday, is life. My purpose: sharing the journey with others, warts and all. I want no one to believe they have arrived, there is no such thing, until we leave this world.

Today’s question: What is the real cause of my irritations – external things or my opinions?

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Personal development

Move closer, stay longer

What do you fear?

Avoidance of fear takes its toll on our mental wellbeing. The more we avoid the things we fear, the more we retreat into ourselves, resulting in anxiety and depression.

I hated swimming as a child, the school pool in Oxford England was not heated and the summers not warm enough to make the water luring. It was my move to Australia twelve years ago where I found my love of surfing that finally made me go to swimming lessons.

I was in my late 40s and terrified of swimming. I had never worn goggles and terrified of putting my face under water. Surfing I was ok with as you only go under water when you are thrown off your board or jump off. Somehow I was ok with this, but not swimming where your face is under water a fair proportion of the time.

I read a lot about facing fears and how to move closer and stay longer. Being competitive and always pushing myself, I took a different approach to swimming. It will take as long as it needs to, I will go regularly, will not force myself to put my face in the water. The lack of pressure on myself, meant I could relax. A few years later I completed my first 1Km freestyle swim.

Friends took me out on an ocean swim at Clovelly , which was exhilarating, but my technique needed more work. So I am now back at stroke improvers swim school. Three months on, my swimming has improved, I also completed 25 meters of dolphin (pre cursor to butterfly).

The fear has not gone away, but my regular practice in the pool, has made me more confident, I never thought I would say this, but I enjoy swimming. Once I get going, I find the pace that works for me and I love the feeling of moving through the water.

A month ago I did an Ocean swim clinic at bondi. As we sat on the beach learning about the surf and how to manage swimming, I could feel my anxiety rising, knowing we were swimming out on the north bondi rip. As we stood waist deep in the rip with my goggles on, I started freestyle and before I knew it we were out the back of the waves. I relaxed, how difficult was that? Not at all, in fact it was an amazing feeling as the water acted like a motorway.

The next hour of exercises were challenging but fun, the highlight was the body surf back to the beach. At the end I felt a sense of accomplishment and felt so pleased with myself that I persisted with the swimming.

It’s easy to give into fear, its harder to face it, move closer and stay longer.

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Personal development

Importance of pursuing what makes you happy

For many years I have surfed only in the white water, the only times I have been out the back is in a lesson. I did not learn to surf until my late 40’s which prompted me to learn to swim. Surf camps are great way of getting out very day with a group and last week I took part in a 5 day surf camp with Surf camp Australia in Gerroa. My husband was back at work and I was on compulsory leave, so perfect time for me to get away and do what I love (husband does not surf).

Over the years I have travelled on business on my own, even went to Bali 5 years ago on a surf/yoga retreat for women, but I was surprised at how nervous I felt going away on my own for the first time in a long time.

The fears disappeared fast when I was surrounded by like minded people of all ages and cultures. The staff also made everyone feel very welcome.

Being in nature, with all the elements (many storms) in beautiful scenery, deserted beach, in pristine blue water, empties your mind and makes you feel at peace with yourself and the world around you.

A lot is written about doing a job you love, but outside of work, it is equally important to find the time to do the things that make you happy. My take away from the week, was that I need to find more time to be in nature, it really makes a big difference to our mental well being.

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Personal development

Clean up your own back yard, before criticising others

It’s an easy path to take to criticise others when you are not doing well. However this always reflects poorly on you. I was reminded of this important lesson in a meeting recently where we were brainstorming and were asked to only look within the current year. I automatically only looked at the items that were within my sphere of control.

In a debrief after the session I realised I automatically look at only the things I can control, as beyond that the time and effort involved is significantly greater. My colleagues had a laundry list, very few were within the sphere of control.

Focusing on what you can control to create the right outcome is far more successful than being dependent on others. I use the analogy of a neglected back yard, the weeds are out of control and you cannot see the fence at the back of the yard. Focus on clearing up your yard, before looking over the fence at your neighbours and commenting on how neglected their garden is.

In a previous chapter of my career, I took on a underperforming sales team. I was constantly asked about what others were doing in other areas and always said, I have enough to sort out in my own backyard, that I don’t have the capacity or time to worry about everyone else’s.

That focus and strategy led to turning around an underperforming sales team. That focus has allowed my teams to flourish as we are always maximising what we have control of, instead of consuming time worrying about what everyone else is doing.

Dales Carnegie illustrates this lesson well in his How to win friends and influence people book, Chapter on don’t criticise, condemn and complain.

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Personal development

Connecting with your peers and leaders

A common question I get asked is how to connect with peers and leaders in the business, when there is not the opportunity to meet with them in your daily work.

Here are three ways you can connect to a wider circle in your organisation:

1. Share insights, information that you know will be valuable to the receiver. An example is being close to the customers I get to hear what is happening in the market, trends, changes in leadership and more. With this information I would text my boss and bosses, so they knew what was going on. My team also do the same thing, as we work in frontline of sales. I also send a weekly update across the division and beyond as people ask to be added to the distribution. The update contains key information on what is happening in the team, whats in the news relative to the customers we manage, insights, key frustrations for customers and focus for the following week.

2. When you spot a problem, Don’t walk past it, thinking its not your area. Own the development of the problem statement along with interested peers. Set up a workshop to outline the problem and brainstorm solutions with people that are interested in resolving the issue. This is an opportunity to get a cross functional team across the problem. The owner of the solution always emerges. Phenomenal opportunity to work with an extended network in your company

3. Praise your colleagues and leaders by thanking them personally in a call, email and internal workplace. Be specific about what they have done and utilise the company values to call out the behaviour that supported the value, and ensure your include their boss and bosses boss if relevant . We all love to be praised, recognising others is a great way to connect with your colleagues and leaders. Also call out your boss or leader if they have done something that inspires you, helps you or just for caring. It’s important for them as it is for you to be valued.

Creating connection with others is critical to being successful. The wider the network the more effective you can be in your role.

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Book Quotes Coaching Personal development Resilience

How to build resilience part 2?

The other side of fear is excitement and a sense of achievement.

Getting to the other side of fear is a real challenge. Growing up in England swimming was not something I enjoyed. The school had an outdoor pool that was not heated. The changing rooms, basic sheds. We got to swim outside approx 10 times a year, due to the weather and I hated it. I spent my life avoiding swimming, until I took up surfing in my late 40s. As I got more confident, there was a niggle that if my leg rope snapped my amateur breast stroke was just not going to cut it. So I started swimming lessons. I hate putting my face in the water and never wore goggles and dreaded the lessons. There were just three adults in the class and the instructor was very patient. I was determined to go and master swimming freestyle, as I knew without it my surfing  would suffer.

I came across a book called “move closer stay longer” By Dr Stephanie Burns, and “move closer stay longer” became a mantra for me. A year after learning to swim, I swam 2-3 days a week, I could barely do a length in a 25m pool. I persevered and a few years later I was able to swim 50m then 500m, then last year I went to a 50m pool where I did my first 1km freestyle.

I still have the fear of putting my face in the water,  but the frequency of my swimming, as meant the environment is more familiar and I feel more comfortable. I have learnt to think of other things, to distract myself. The routine is what gets you through the fear.

Before Covid19 I swam at Milson point outdoor heated saltwater pool twice a week, I not only look forward to going, but I now love swimming.

Some of the other things to consider when facing into fear:

  1. Don’t be hard on yourself.
  2. Don’t set unrealistic goals, accept each day and what it brings
  3. Celebrate every success. Yes 25m was success, as was the first 50m and 1km. Now I celebrate the times I am achieving. Share your achievements with friends and family.
  4. The fear never goes away. It fades with time, but it always there. Respect it, not give in to it.
  5. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Most of the time when I surf, if its too big out the back I go out two hours either side of low tide in the white water. I have so much fun and have met some wonderful people.
  6. This is a life skill it applies to all you do in life.