Saturday, March 28, 2009

Do you "dump" on people? Learn from potty-training

We have all been in situations where we just "dumped" on another person. Maybe you were in a bad mood and a project was delayed? Maybe they told you some information that ended up being incorrect? Maybe something happened at home and now a "fire" has started at work and you are pretty disgusted.

...So you let them have it! I have seen even the nicest people do it once in a while.

If you take time in being reflective on your days, maybe you realized it later. Maybe you apologized. Maybe you learned from it. Maybe it helped to spark a more positive behavior.

I learned the other day about a new progressive, maybe weird maybe not, form of potty-training technique. You take your little kid into a very clean and empty room with preferably tile-flooring and you let them hang out there naked for a while. You can probably guess what happens. They use the bathroom and you know what? Eventually they become very AWARE of what just happened! Their own awareness of the event leads to learning and, eventually, new behaviors.

Now I am not endorsing this potty-training technique. I found it curious and was thinking how accountants could learn from that technique. I just wonder what people are capable of if they become more "AWARE" of how they treat others. How many times a day do you deal with people where you are "not at your best"?

How do you become more aware? Unfortunately we cannot use the same technique. Some ideas ...

Ask your colleagues for feedback - Do they feel better about themselves after dealing with you?
Make it a goal for a few days or a week - You go into each interaction with "awareness" of how you can treat the other person the best.
Ask your colleagues to be ready to grade you on future interactions for a little while. (I had a client do this one - it worked suprising wonders) The act of doing that may in itself make you more aware of your interactions.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Too Busy! Are you listening or mining?

I know so many accountant who are SOOOOOO busy. They have very little time during their day and they work at what appears to be a frantic pace. They have little time to .... deal with people!! At least that is how they look sometimes. There can be many causes of this: time and energy management practices, interruption reinforcement, etc. The effects can be draining. When you feel real hurried there is a skill that can take a HUGE hit - your listening skills.

Have you ever been part of a conversation where one person is only half-listening? Heck, they aren't really doing that. What are they doing? They are "data-mining". They are listening only as much as they feel they need to in case something "big" is said that affects them. Other than that they may be glancing at emails, thinking about what they will do next, and many other multi-tasking items.

What can happen in these situations?

The other person probably feels like they are only being mined. The other person might pick up those same habits. Opportunities to be efficient may go by the wayside because the parties are not fully engaged. Relationships are hampered. Information is lost. Collaboration suffers. In summary - "inefficiency" happens. So maybe the best thing to do, if you want to be more productive, is to SLOW DOWN when it comes to communicating (and especially listening) with others?!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

It's Just the Two of Us - You & I

Most accountants work with a lot of people during any one year, even one week or one day.

Who do you work with most? How are those relationships? There is a word used in the coaching community that I love. It is called relationship design.

How much time do you spend thinking about your personal relationships at work?
Do you intentionally, proactively study the "design" of those relationships?
What is working? What is not working?
What general expectations do you have of each other? Are they clear and known?
What style of collaboration does that other person prefer?
What is going great in the relationship? What behaviors do you reinforce?
What motivates that other person?

Don't have time to spend focusing, reflecting, and improving individual relationships? If that is true, it will be obvious to those people and they will probably emulate you. It's probably what they are accustomed to.

LEAD change.

"A relationship, I think, is like a shark, you know? It has to constantly move forward or it dies." Woody Allen

Friday, March 6, 2009

Today I did nothing

In the 2001 movie Office Space disgruntled worker Peter took a day off (unbeknownst to his boss) and chose to just stay in bed all day. He said something like "today I did nothing and it was everything I ever thought it could be." He was proud of doing nothing.

Have you ever told yourself you were going to carve out some time for yourself just to relax? Conversely have you ever discovered that for the last few hours you have basically accomplished nothing? What is the difference? In results ... not much. But there is a big difference in the effect those two activities might have on you.

The first scenrio: You gave yourself permission to intentionally relax. It was probably empowering and it probably provided a source of energy renewal for your future activities. Maybe an energy boost?

The second scenario: You probably felt a sense of failure. You had intended to do some "stuff" yet you didn't do anything. Now you might be drained.

So, the effects are NOT the same. The only difference here: Being intetional about what you do (or "not do" in this case) Be more like Peter, be more intentional about your decisions and actions.