It is Monday morning and Marcia starts her week all committed and determined to deliver on all projects before deadline. She reaches work with a spring in her step and a song in her heart (Marcia loves her job and can’t wait for Mondays) and starts her laptop with gumption and alacrity. And lo behold, her colleague pops in and says, “Do you want to grab a cup of coffee before you get started?” And although there is a voice inside her head which is squeaking and pleading with her not to go, a huge monstrous desire to have that coffee and the amazing sandwich to go takes charge, thus quelling that squeak to a non- existent silence. And so, the day goes by with a phone call here, an email there and questions popping in from everywhere. And before she knows it, a whole week has flown by and the deadlines have all been again revised because they couldn’t be met. Does this sound familiar?
A Basex research conducted in the US reveals that interruptions can impact an individual’s productivity, energy and work satisfaction and the estimated cost of this impact is close to $588 billion a year. The results of this study are startling given that a large part of our day just gets spent getting interrupted. This estimated figure does not include the rise in error rates and the resulting costs from these errors.
According to the Journal of Experimental Psychology, error rates doubled following a 2.8-second interruption and tripled after a 4 and a half-second distraction. So, you can imagine the cost implications of interruptions.
So, who creates these interruptions? Others or do we create them? Dr. Gloria Mark, Associate Professor at the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences at the University of California conducted a survey of employees at Microsoft and found that 44% of the time employees ended up interrupting themselves.
So how do we deal with this huge problem of interruptions? You can use the ICAP strategy to deal with interruptions.
We all have To- do lists which help us identify what needs to be done. But we seldom create the Not- to- do lists. Identify all the things that you should not be doing such as peeking into your phone, randomly checking social network updates, compulsively refreshing to check for emails. Interruption could also be in the form of a person reaching out to you with requests. Identify all the elements that are interrupting your work.
According to a study conducted by The Institute of Psychiatry at the University of London, when you spend your time constantly on emails, text messages and calls, your IQ drops by 10 points. This loss is the same as the loss you would experience when you miss a night’s sleep. (Yoga Journal, p. 22, 12/2005).
Take control of the situation. Tell people when you will be available to talk to them. Show that you respect time and treat it as a valuable resource. You can do this by valuing others’ time. You can take efforts to show people that you value time by requesting for time on their calendar or being time- bound and not exceeding time allotted to you. Set up a time to check emails. And I know this may sound very drastic but keep your phone switched off during office hours. That way you won’t feel compelled to check for updates.
Learn to say no. Most often we allow ourselves to be interrupted because it is more difficult to say no or because we feel guilty when we say no. Learn to be Assertive. Remember that you are saying no to the request and are not rejecting the person. It is important to understand that when you are saying yes to this person, you are saying no to your work and the cost implications of saying no to your work are a lot higher that saying no to this person.
Sometimes, interruptions are unavoidable. You can however plan for these interruptions in your calendar. Most people get overwhelmed due to the ad- hoc tasks that come in and which don’t allow for planned tasks to get done. This is why planning is so critical. When you have your day planned and prioritized, little else can deter it. If the interruption at hand does not lead you closer towards your long-term strategy, it means you must not let interruption get hold of you. If the interruption leads you towards that long-term goal, go ahead and welcome the interruption. Plans can be more fruitful when you have clear understanding of your goals.
This ICAP strategy can help you manage interruptions much better and can help you be more productive. If you don’t have a long-term strategy sketched out yet, now is a good time to work on it. Like Mahatma Gandhi said, “The future depends on what you do today.”
Are you struggling with finding time to do strategic things? Do you find yourself mostly caught up with day-to-day execution challenges and firefighting? How is this impacting your performance and movement towards your goals? Do you want to get a hold over your time and focus on strategic initiatives? A coach can help you with this goal. Feel free to schedule a free consultation with us.
We've all been there: you invest in a leadership training program and hope to see the promised results. But, months later, nothing has changed. Meanwhile, your team is still struggling with communication and collaboration issues.
Did you know that only 50% of leadership training programs yield the desired results? That's a pretty startling statistic, and one that should serve as a wake-up call to any company looking for increased productivity, better employee engagement, and reduced turnover. The reason is simple: Leadership development programs don't always deliver the ROI they promise because they're often designed in isolation from your organization's specific needs.
We all know that leadership training programs are not a one-and-done deal. They require continual reinforcement and upkeep to be effective. But why do they fail in the first place?
It's not just you, it's pretty much everyone else too. Leadership training programs have traditionally failed because of a few key factors. In this blog post, we will share all that can go wrong so that you can create more effective leadership programs by focusing on what matters most to your business. This way, when it comes time for evaluation at the end of your program, you'll know whether or not it was worth investing in.
Factors that contribute to the failure of leadership development programs
If the system does not change, it will set people up to fail. Research in the 1950s found that most supervisors regressed to their pre-training views after a while. The only exceptions were those whose bosses practised and believed in the new leadership style the program was designed to teach.
Training programs do not facilitate organizational change. Even well-trained and motivated employees are unable to apply their new knowledge and skills when they return to their units which are entrenched in established ways of doing things. In short, individuals have less power to change the system surrounding them than that system has to shape them. Organizations need “fertile soil” in place before the “seeds” of training interventions can grow.
When organizational change and development efforts are championed by senior leaders then training gains the most traction. That’s because such efforts motivate people to learn and change; create the conditions for them to apply what they’ve learned; foster immediate improvements in individual and organizational effectiveness; and put in place systems that help sustain the learning.
Organizations are systems of interacting elements: Roles, responsibilities, and relationships are defined by organizational structure, processes, leadership styles, people’s professional and cultural backgrounds, and HR policies and practices. All those elements together drive organizational behaviour and performance. If the system does not change, it will not support and sustain individual behaviour change—indeed, it will set people up to fail.
The effectiveness of any manager depends on the clear strategic direction that they have from the top management. Many companies consistently struggle with unclear direction on strategy and values, which often leads to conflicting priorities. This creates confusion and dissipation of valuable resources. When senior executives themselves don’t work as a team and are not fully committed to a new direction or acknowledged necessary changes in their behaviour, it is quite difficult to expect the rest of the managerial team to be able to deliver effectively. The problem then is more about the incongruence between what they learn in the training program and what they see on the ground in their organisation.
Sometimes a top-down or laissez-faire style by the leader prevents honest conversation about problems. Employees hesitate to tell the senior team about obstacles to the organization’s effectiveness. This, coupled with a lack of coordination across businesses, functions, or regions due to poor organizational design and inadequate leadership time and attention to talent issues can create an environment where performance will be hindered, no matter how good the training program is.
Hence while developing leadership programs, it is important to start at the top, ideally through a coaching intervention. Coaching of the senior executives will help bring clarity on the strategic direction and values. This can then be cascaded down to the next few layers through group coaching and training.
By addressing management practices and leadership behaviour that shape the system before training individual employees, leaders create a favourable context for applying the learning. The systemic changes encourage—even require—the desired behaviours.
Too many training initiatives rest on the assumption that one size fits all and that the same group of skills or style of leadership is appropriate regardless of strategy, organizational culture, or CEO mandate.
Context is key. One size does not fit all. Many organizations invest in off-the-shelf programs or send their managers to academic leadership courses offered by well-respected universities without considering the real impact and results they are looking for. While these can be great for the individuals in terms of their personal brand building, it does not serve the purpose for the organization. Companies need to ask themselves what the desired outcome is and how a program will relate to specific organizational goals.
Often, leadership training programs are offered as a one-and-done approach. In other words, you attend a 2-day training and that is the last you hear of it. But while a one-and-done approach satisfies the need to do something, it ignores a critical fact: leadership behaviours and new habits are developed over time. Leadership development is all about creating good leadership habits. As we know habits cannot be changed just from attending a 2-day class.
Effective leadership development needs to be constructed as a learning journey that unfolds over time. But not only this—it should incorporate continuous coaching to help observe and reinforce good habits. It should also provide opportunities for skill practice and application. Nothing can replace on-the-job training and giving real-time feedback.
To ensure success for your team, combine professional development with coaching or mentoring sessions focused on practical application.
So, there you have it – some of the key reasons why your leadership training program may not be delivering the results you are hoping for.
Becoming a more effective leader often requires changing behaviour which also means adjusting underlying mindsets. Identifying some of the deepest, “below the surface” thoughts, feelings, assumptions, and beliefs is usually a precondition of behavioural change—something that’s often missing in leadership courses.
Companies can avoid the most common mistakes in leadership training and increase the odds of success by first doing the groundwork of creating fertile soil for desired change, establishing clarity about strategic direction and values, matching specific leadership skills and traits to the context at hand; embedding leadership development in real work through coaching and mentoring interventions that investigate the mind-sets that underpin behaviour.
For designing effective leadership development programs in Singapore and India, reach out to us at email@example.com.
2020 is coming to an end and what a year it’s been! The global pandemic has really challenged us in so many ways and it’s been hard for many of us to feel in control as the crisis just drags on. Our businesses have taken a hit but we know that there are many around us who have been hit even harder.
It’s natural then for many business leaders to feel guilty about the hard decisions they’ve had to take in terms of layoffs, closures and disruptions in service. A client of mine had to let go of a senior employee in the US and he knew this meant that the employee had to go back to his home country and his entire life would get disrupted. He was also worried that the employee would no longer have health cover to take care of the special needs of his child. A friend who is the CHRO of a large organisation was distraught when a young employee passed away due to COVID and he felt he couldn’t do anything to save her.
Guilt is an unsettling emotion to deal with. But it’s also a sign that you’re a conscientious leader. While there are many things that are out of your control, one way of dealing with this guilt when it hits you is to re-evaluate and improve the way you approach your employees and company, and demonstrate compassionate leadership in difficult circumstances.
Here are 5 ways in which you can do this:
If you have a small team, it’s possible for you to do so yourself. If you have a large employees base, put together small cross-functional teams to spread out and listen to the wider group. This will help you plan your initiatives better.
When you have no choice but to implement furloughs, reduced hours, or pay cuts, don’t delegate sharing the news to HR - it feels demoralizing, disrespectful, and lacks empathy. If you are responsible for the decision, it is you who should be sharing it. This sends a clear message to not just the people who are impacted but also the others around them and support the morale of the team.
If some of your decisions have gone wrong and negatively affected others, take remedial action as soon as you know or can and do it as publicly as possible. Acknowledge your mistake and then communicate new developments frequently and consistently. Decisions can go either r way based on the limited information that we operate on – you are not expected to be right all the time. But how you own up and make amends is what your team and customers are looking at.
Try and see what benefits can be retained even when someone goes on a furlough or pay cut. Help the ones who’ve been laid off to find new jobs. Provide career transition support wherever possible.
People respond to that. They connect with you and they trust you when you’re being the best version of you. Talk about how you balance your own personal and work commitments. Talk about your own challenges and encourage sharing of tips and resources for managing workload, scheduling and so on. You don’t have to have a stoic mask all the time. Let people know that you also struggle sometimes and that’s okay. That’s being human.
So, to sum it up, it’s understandable if you as a leader are struggling with guilty feelings as you see the disruptions and struggles that the Covid-19 crisis is causing your employees and colleagues, sometimes specifically as a result of your own actions. But if you reframe your feelings of guilt as an opportunity to consciously and thoughtfully make the best decisions possible, communicate clearly, and behave with compassion and concern for both your employees and yourself, then you can help steer their teams and organizations toward better times.
If you want to talk about this, just click on Request Consultation and pick a convenient time for discussion or send me a WhatsApp message using the button above.
Many times, when I bring up coaching with business leaders and owners, they react by saying that I’m doing well. I don’t think I need a coach.
To my mind, there are two possible reasons for this reaction – one, they are not aware about what real coaching is and its benefits, and two, they are not ready to have a hard look at themselves and see what’s not working. They may be afraid of what they might uncover and are happier just coasting along till they are forced to confront these issues.
I always make an effort to explain what real coaching is and how it’s different from having a mentor or guide or just reading self-help books. I also make it a point to share that coaching is not about solving problems. It is about unblocking the realisation of your potential. You can do and achieve much more than what you are doing currently just by getting out of your own way. A coach helps you get out of your own way and go after those big hairy audacious goals.
Ask yourself this
Having a coach is not a sign of weakness – it’s a sign of ambition, it’s a sign of hunger for bigger impact, it’s a sign of courage to work on oneself.
Go ahead, tell me you don’t need a coach…
Click on the Request Consultation button above for a discovery call.
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