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Strategies to start your working week with – that power you to the weekend!

1. Proactive not reactive

Stop doing the thing you see first on your laptop/phone. Stop starting the day with what everyone else wants to tell you (i.e., email). This makes your day reactionary not proactive. You may have a job that requires you to know what everyone else needs but get savvy about this (see strategy number 2).

Otherwise, this is 1 reason you get to the end of the working day (week) with your to do list unfinished but everyone else happy!

2. Feelings fail your to do list and performance

By nature of being human you want people to like you, we all do. It’s written into our ancient Cave human DNA – this means we often prioritise others needs over our own. It’s good for making you feel appreciated and loved but bad for your performance and productivity. If you work alone or with a team, make sure you have a communication policy that enables quiet sessions so you can power on.

Did you know that when you complete things on your to do list, your brain gets a hit of good feel chemicals? This is why many write a list (See strategy 4 on why it may be not working for you and how to fix it). Think of your day and ask yourself where will there be time to be quiet and take highly focused action?

3. Communicate the communication policy

When you create a communication policy you are writing a document that encourages high performance and good working practices (this is a written document for many of my clients that enables large teams to work in various ways that are most responsive to the individual but with the organisation at its heart). However, a communication policy is nothing without communicating it exists and honouring the boundaries it creates.

So how in your working day do you impose boundaries on you, your time, your communication, email, social media, interaction, etc to ensure you perform to a high standard? List them. Is it going to give you the discipline and organisation your week needs?

4. Write a list – A short list

Many people love lists, as already touched on this is often to give a sense of achievement. If you are achieving the same things every day, then it’s not working. If you are picking up the big evil, “I really don’t want to look at that” document/email/letter/form then you are giving your brain a powerful message that says, “we can achieve anything!”

Did you know the jobs you love take longer and the jobs you loathe take less time? That’s the perception of reality in action. So, your to do list needs to be strategic to work with the intricacies of the way the mind likes to think and work;

  • Only have 3 to 5 actions on your to do list.
  • Have a now goal and a long-term goal on your to do list – what 1 action needs to be completed for each? Don’t move on to action 2 until action 1 is completed. (So yes, you do need to work out what actions could be necessary and what actions will be done in what order – this is usually completed with a coach to ensure you are dealing with all aspects that stops growth, performance and results.
  • IF something has sat on your to do list for over 2 weeks, it’s time to ask yourself if you should ditch it or do it? Either way don’t let it take up 1 more moment of your mind.
  • Consider everything written on that list will take up brain space – this is partially why I recommend that you concentrate on 1 thing for a maximum of 40 minutes, then swap for 5 to 10 minutes. It gives your brain space to process what you were working on.
  • With organisation, forethought and structure what could be automated, outsourced or employed to another? Save time in the long run with just this strategy.

5. Coffee, coffee and more coffee.

You want to create an automatic response in your brain so that when you do certain actions, your brain gets this boost of knowledge that “We are going to perform!” To start the week motivated it’s not just about caffeine.

What would give your brain the mental stimulation that you are about to perform to a high standard?

  • Music can alter the state in which your brain thinks. What music gets you buzzed up and hyper? What music makes you calm? Play with music to find the style that gets you motivated and be mindful that this may differ from the music you need to be flowing creatively or highly focused – high focus often needs instrumental music.
  • Aromatherapy oil – I like rosemary in the office in the diffuser. The rainbow light is a reminder that we are about to sit down and crack on.
  • Not just coffee. There’s nothing wrong with a few cups of coffee, but is there a big glass of water on your desk too? Did you know water can make you 5% cleverer? Well that’s what Mark Gardner, Principal Lecturer in the Department of Psychology, and Dr Caroline Edmonds at the University of East London found – those hydrated performed on average 5% better! They also found it aided concentration in younger students by 30% and encouraged a “good mood” feel in adults (1).
  • Lighting. It may seem obvious, but if you don’t have a great view and poor lighting it can damage concentration. Your brain can’t wake up! I had one client that took fairy lights into the office. Their colleagues jested “Is it Christmas?”, but the joke was on them when they were finishing work a whole hour earlier every night and seemed “A lot more chilled and responsive” Never dismiss the little things for you or your staff – this often bring the biggest change.

6. Think different.

I estimate that at least 50 companies I worked with last year complained they hated Monday meetings. “Ergh, I know I’ve a mountain of jobs on my desk and I’m sat in a boring meeting that has nothing to do with me!” was often a retort I heard. Change your way of communicating with your team and making things flow well. I could write a book on high performing meetings, but here’s a few thoughts to get you started;

  • Is Monday the best day? What about a Friday recap and then a Tuesday meeting instead?
  • Does everyone need to be there? Sometimes staff are included so they are in the know. The minutes of the meeting can be enough with an opportunity to discuss in the next meeting if they wish to attend. Don’t let anyone think this is an opportunity to bypass their thoughts or opinions. Make it optional or better still ask for their views on when, who and how meetings are hosted – this is always the most powerful way to make each meeting high performing.
  • Pre-prepared – suggestions. Allow a confidential way for people to add thoughts to a meeting. Are all meetings the same? Do you have an early week update and advise, a learning and development, areas for improvement and/or a innovation and ideas meeting? It’s unrealistic to make a brain to sit through many styles of meeting at once and perform well. So, think about what styles of meeting are needed – including who, how often and in what format – they will obviously differ. Defining them makes meetings motivational and beneficial, instead of tiresome and endurance exercises!

7. Stop.

The start of the week will benefit from 5 to 10 minutes where you stop. To do this effectively, it could be mindfulness or meditation. Taking 5 minutes to watch the birds in the garden, or just sit and zone out. A walk to work where you don’t have headphones in or your phone in hand. Just notice the world around you. Simple mindfulness processes that I teach don’t need an empty mind and an hour of yoga. If they are done well, it’s a quick way to help your mind start the week raring to go.

What these processes do is allow your brain to start the week calmly, which means it has spent the weekend subconsciously considering what you left on your desk, and that means your brain can come up with ideas often without your input at all. So, stop and start calmly, not with everyone else’s priorities, actions and needs first.

(1) https://www.westminster.ac.uk/news/just-half-a-bottle-of-water-could-boost-students-exam-success-research-finds

  • April 19, 2022

The foundations to becoming a great leader – Business owner to Boss

A lot of my clients are fast growth businesses due to our time together which means the business owner needs to build a team around them to be able to increase profit and sustain growth. So the next step of our time together as we action the business growth is helping the business owner transition into a leader.

The skills to be a great boss are extensive and it’s not achieved overnight.

We take the time to understand what it takes to be a great leader, what their role is, what they bring to the organisation and the team. It’s surprising how many people find themselves as leader but have had no training on how to do the job exceptionally well.

It’s great to be able to go back to the foundations of the business and understand the boss, the organisation, the team, its’ customers and ambitions. By going through this coaching process nothing is left to chance. Every eventually is understood, change can be embraced, difficult conversations get easier and profit is more calculated and efficiently achieved.

Here are just some key things a leader needs to consider. Use this as a base point to then create a series of questions you ask yourself and your team regularly. Such as;

–              I.C.E.S – What issues could we have? What could the causes be? What are we exceptional at and what could the solutions be?

–              How often will you monitor these indictators?

Remember to dismiss no ideas and no questions – it is what we do i ncoaching to get to the real issues a company need to address to excel.

Boss

The you in the equation – you and your team need to sit down and define each aspect of the business – Boss, The organisation, The team, The Individual.

Vision, Mission, Values and Ambitions.

Clarity – Where are we heading – the business, the team, you and each individual?

Ability to see the big picture and how actions now impact on the future of your organisation.

What is your role in new business, growth and performance of the organisation?

What is your attitude to creative thinking and innovation?

Emotional Intelligence

Do you think in absolutes? Do you make assumptions? How do you monitor your mindset and its impact on your role, your management, communication, action and results?

Understanding and reducing transference so that you can empathise without being impacted upon.

Role model – what kind of role model are you? Excited, open, calm, tolerant, fun, open minded, fearless, resilient. Define how you wish to be perceived. How will you ensure this is the person people see? Who do you look at in the public eye that seems to be a great leader? What attributes do they  have? What skills? What behaviours? Actions? Believes?

How well do you step out of comfort zones?

Being aware of your hot buttons – what you are sensitive to? What triggers you personally and professionally? Time keeping, long emails, poor communication for instance. What responses do you naturally have and how to control/alter?

Transparency.

Honesty.

Empathy.

Empowering and motivational.

Appreciating what you excel at, what weaknesses you have – will you choose to outsource, employ or automate what you are weak at or gain the necessary training? Neither is wrong – it is what works for you.

Communication and boundaries

Respect

Decision maker and the confidence to say this is what we are going to do.

Great listener. Knowing when to listen and when to lead.

Confident in choice of action

Confident to say “I don’t know” and ask for ideas, support, advice.

Lead by example.

Boundaries – what are they and how are they communicated, honoured, and enforced?

Able to structure and host difficult conversations expecting a win win result that honours you, the team, the individual and organisation – accepting that sometimes it is about expressing this is the way rather than bending to the individual.

Team management and development

How do you enable your team to be resilient?

The ability to see things from the colleagues, customers point of view.

How do you enable your team to handle their time effectively, perform and meet targets/KPI’s?

Believing the best in people while being mindful of how this could impact on you, the organisation, the team and individual.

Training and development – you, the organisation, the team and the individual.

People skills. The ability to bring the best out in others, help people through personal challenges that may seem alien to you.

Structured – what is the right level of structure for you, the team, the organisation and the individual? How will you monitor this for review, risks and success?

Attitude and capability to delegate?

The organisation

Vision and mission – where are we going? Why? How?

What are our values? How do we communicate these? What impact do they have on you, the organisation, the team and the individual?

How do we plan? How do we implement the plan?

Monitoring results – how will we know we have achieved it? What parameters are we monitoring? How will we monitor risk/flaws/issues for Boss, Organisation, Team and Individuals?

Communication – what we stand for – our ideals – what our customers will always get from us.

How do we specify, communicate, and control the results of the big picture? Who is responsible for what and why?

Adversity, change and obstacles – what is our collective approach to be resilient, innovative and proactive thinking?

What is the culture of our organisation? What can new staff expect from us as a team? Organisation? You as a boss?

How will we monitor trends, risks, global change, industry change?

How do we ensure we are proactive rather than reactive?

How do we sustain and grow?

The team

How are the team organised?

Communication rules – what is our communication policy? What does it do for the organisation, individual, company and you? If you get this right, you can greatly reduce emails sent and received, gossip, hand holding and stress. You can increase natural innovative problem solving, performance, time management and profit.

Respect – how to ensure it?

Enable team to be decision makers – bring solutions and innovation confidently and if necessarily confidentially.

Enable team to be emotionally intelligent and aware of each other’s preferred style of thinking, acting, processing information and working.

Enable them to see if they make assumptions and their impact? How will they monitor their mindset and its impact on their role, communication, action and results?

Communication – knowing they are safe to communicate what they need to without judgement – this is where coaching is incredibly powerful – no one plays good cop bad cop. You do what you are good at and I coach you and your team to perform exceptionally well, learning how each person chooses to work, think, act and feel. One size does not fit all. This enables fast sustainable growth, lowered stress, better performance and time management and ultimately better profit.

Who is responsible for what actions? What is this based on? How is this monitored, improved and developed?

Team learning and development – how would they like to learn collectively?

How do we measure productivity, profitability and performance?

How do we reward excellence?

What polices enable us to communicate what is expected?

The  individual

Communication – what works for you as an individual? What works for your colleagues? How are our styles of learning and sharing information different? What risks could that open us up to? How will you overcome them?

How do we enable people to be resilient and handle stress and time sensitive projects/goals?
How do we monitor and ensure good mental and physical health?

Learning and development – self led? Mentor? Peers? External support?

How do we asses your personal and professional needs? And the implication to the team, organisation, and you?

How do we help you develop and progress?

Understanding and reducing transference so that you can empathise without being impacted upon – know how it impacts on yourself and your colleagues.

This is not the definitive guide to leadership however I hope I’ve stirred your critical thinking to think creatively about you, your team, your organisation and everyone as an individual. What questions will you ask today to enable better leadership and results?

I am more than happy to discuss your needs – feel free to email – mandie@mandieholgate or telephone (44) 079 899 35556

  • March 18, 2022

A little algorithm that could change your life (and your results!)

An interesting little question that I helped a client create this week has had massive levels of impact on their chosen thoughts and actions and as result impacted on their performance.

It is like a little algorithm that I’ve found working on myself and other clients too. It is this;

“If I choose to drop xxx then I can choose to get xxx”

For instance;

  • “If I choose to drop my corporate career then I can pursue my lifelong career.”
  • “If I choose to drop my insecurities then I can go for senior management.”
  • “If I choose to drop my fear of public speaking I can further my career”

Interestingly as a coach I’ve helped people to;

  • Get on the board of directors.
  • Become management material.
  • Quit their corporate life.
  • Set up/grow up/close a business.
  • Find/fight/fix fears.

The fact is this little algorithm, works powerfully in so many ways for so many people.

As so many great thinkers, leaders and philosophers over time have proved time and time again it is when we can explain things in their simplest format that we are able to understand the most.

And with this little algorithm, it enables a client to get to what really is holding them back in their ambitions, dreams and big goals for success.

That little algorithm is very beautiful and perfect. It makes my work sound so easy and simple. It is in the process that we create that the client can use that algorithm with power to get what they want in life. My clients are all incredible, finding their own way to process what is going on in their head.

Together we create something very powerful, even more powerful than an algorithm!

  • August 15, 2018