Here’s a plan of action:
1. Monday morning: Start focus.
Begin by gathering all your team members in a room where you’ll spend 20 minutes reviewing the challenges of the week. Each person writes their three personal challenges for the week on a post-it, puts it on wall and reads it aloud it to the group. These challenges must be clear objectives with completion dates. Whether it is personal (I want my desktop cleaned by tomorrow night) or linked to others (I want to deliver that project to the client on Wednesday night), it must something that can be accomplished. This works because it is a commitment you make in front of your teammates. To keep everyone motivated, the post-its remain on the wall the entire week.
2. Wednesday morning: Share with others.
At Base Design, we call this the creative meeting, but it can be adapted to fit many types of businesses.This time, everyone is present, from the office manager to creative and financial directors, and you’ll spend about three hours getting on the same page about all aspects of the business. While that may sound like a long time, it’s a crucial way to glue the team together. It is the moment where ongoing projects, discoveries, research, presentations are shared and discussed. And other things will be shared as well: emotions, feelings and passion. The creative meeting is lead by one person (it could be someone different each week) that is in charge of the agenda and the time keeping.
Importantly, the meeting starts with the inclusions, where each participant openly responds to the following three questions: 1) What is my mood today? 2) What are my expectations for this meeting? 3) What will I bring to this meeting? As implied by its name, the inclusion method is a tremendous tool to include everybody and give everyone a voice of equal importance. The meeting ends, after all presentations, sharing and debates, with a round table of constructive feedback.
3. Thursday lunch: Forget work.
This is the true feel-good rendezvous of the week. It’s a very simple concept: One staff member takes a turn cooking for the rest of the team. There’s no work, no agenda, just time to enjoy a meal and the company of your colleagues. Time your team spends getting to know each other as friends is as important as the time they spend collaborating as co-workers.
4. Friday afternoon: Look back.
Time for a review of the week. Duration is variable. This is when the team gathers and each one gets returns to his or her Monday post-it. Did everyone fulfill their three challenges? Yes, great. No? Let’s analyze why, discuss it with the others and learn from it. Remember, the goal is to work less and better — and here’s an opportunity to discuss how to do just that.
5. The rest of the week? Full autonomy.
We’re all adults here. Each member of the team is certainly mature enough to organize the time spent on their own projects and meetings, inside and outside the company, and combine it with the demands of their personal life in a way that works for them. No judgment, no second guessing. Just deliver good work on time, and everyone is happy.
Checking in, staying on the same page and cheering each other on at intervals during the week is something any business can implement to help their employees stay on the right track and achieve balance between their work and personal lives. By respecting these milestones with absolute discipline, you will see responsibility and autonomy raise naturally among your team members, and these gatherings will become an essential and enjoyable way to support the well-being and efficiency of your team.
Creative director and partner at international branding firm Base Design
CONTRIBUTOR | Entrepreneur
We’ve all said things that people interpreted much differently than we thought they would. These seemingly benign comments lead to the awful feeling that only comes when you’ve planted your foot firmly into your mouth.
Verbal slip-ups often occur because we say things without knowledge of the subtle implications they carry. Understanding these implications requires social awareness—the ability to pick up on the emotions and experiences of other people.
TalentSmart has tested the emotional intelligence (EQ) of more than a million people and discovered that social awareness is a skill in which many of us are lacking.
We lack social awareness because we’re so focused on what we’re going to say next—and how what other people are saying affects us—that we completely lose sight of other people.
This is a problem because people are complicated. You can’t hope to understand someone until you focus all of your attention in his or her direction.
The beauty of social awareness is that a few simple adjustments to what you say can vastly improve your relationships with other people.
To that end, there are some phrases that emotionally intelligent people are careful to avoid in casual conversation. The following phrases are nine of the worst offenders. You should avoid them at all costs.
1. ‘You look tired.’
Tired people are incredibly unappealing—they have droopy eyes and messy hair, they have trouble concentrating, and they’re as grouchy as they come. Telling someone he looks tired implies all of the above and then some.
Instead say: “Is everything okay?” Most people ask if someone is tired because they’re intending to be helpful (they want to know if the other person is okay). Instead of assuming someone’s disposition, just ask. This way, he can open up and share. More importantly, he will see you as concerned instead of rude.
2. ‘Wow, you’ve lost a ton of weight!’
Once again, a well-meaning comment—in this case a compliment—creates the impression that you’re being critical. Telling someone that she has lost a lot of weight suggests that she used to look fat or unattractive.
Instead say: “You look fantastic.” This one is an easy fix. Instead of comparing how she looks now to how she used to look, just compliment her for looking great. It takes the past right out of the picture.
3. ‘You were too good for her anyway.’
When someone severs ties with a relationship of any type, personal or professional, this comment implies he has bad taste and made a poor choice in the first place.
Instead say: “Her loss!” This provides the same enthusiastic support and optimism without any implied criticism.
4. ‘You always…’ or ‘You never…’
No one always or never does anything. People don’t see themselves as one-dimensional, so you shouldn’t attempt to define them as such. These phrases make people defensive and closed off to your message, which is a really bad thing because you likely use these phrases when you have something important to discuss.
Instead say: Simply point out what the other person did that’s a problem for you. Stick to the facts. If the frequency of the behavior is an issue, you can always say, “It seems like you do this often.” or “You do this often enough for me to notice.”
5. ‘You look great for your age.’
Using “for your” as a qualifier always comes across as condescending and rude. No one wants to be smart for an athlete or in good shape relative to other people who are also knocking on death’s door. People simply want to be smart and fit.
Instead say: “You look great.” This one is another easy fix. Genuine compliments don’t need qualifiers.
6. ‘As I said before…’
We all forget things from time to time. This phrase makes it sound as if you’re insulted at having to repeat yourself, which is hard on the recipient (someone who is genuinely interested in hearing your perspective). Getting insulted over having to repeat yourself suggests that either you’re insecure or you think you’re better than everyone else (or both!). Few people who use this phrase actually feel this way.
Instead say: When you say it again, see what you can do to convey the message in a clearer and more interesting manner. This way they’ll remember what you said.
7. ‘Good luck.’
This is a subtle one. It certainly isn’t the end of the world if you wish someone good luck, but you can do better because this phrase implies that they need luck to succeed.
Instead say: “I know you have what it takes.” This is better than wishing her luck because suggesting that she has the skills needed to succeed provides a huge boost of confidence. You’ll stand out from everyone else who simply wishes her luck.
8. ‘It’s up to you.’ or ‘Whatever you want.’
While you may be indifferent to the question, your opinion is important to the person asking (or else he wouldn’t have asked you in the first place).
Instead say: “I don’t have a strong opinion either way, but a couple things to consider are…” When you offer an opinion (even without choosing a side), it shows that you care about the person asking.
9. ‘Well at least I’ve never ___.’
This phrase is an aggressive way to shift attention away from your mistake by pointing out an old, likely irrelevant mistake the other person made (and one you should have forgiven her for by now).
Instead say: “I’m sorry.” Owning up to your mistake is the best way to bring the discussion to a more rational, calm place so that you can work things out. Admitting guilt is an amazing way to prevent escalation.
Bringing it all together
In everyday conversation, it’s the little things that make all the difference. Try these suggestions out, and you’ll be amazed at the positive response you get.
A version of this article first appeared at TalentSmart.com.
TRAVIS BRADBERRY | Co-author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0 and President at TalentSmart
Article by Meaghan S. Hughes
Off-duty conduct of employees has been a hot topic in the news recently.
In the age of round-the-clock social media, inappropriate employee conduct can have far-reaching effects on an employer’s brand and reputation. Employers often face significant public pressure to terminate an employee based on off-duty conduct, but concerns arise when terminations are unwarranted and may result in grievances (in unionized environments) or wrongful termination lawsuits (in non-unionized environments).
The recent case of Union of Public Employees, Local 4400 v. Toronto District School Board, 2015 CarswellOnt 6561 provides an example of off-duty conduct which resulted in dismissal.
In September 2012, the greivor attended a Toronto District School Board (TBSB) school – off duty – to pick up her 13 year-old daughter. When she arrived, the grievor thought that a 14 year-old male student had been bullying her daughter. An altercation ensued, which was recorded by student bystanders and was subsequently uploaded to You Tube. The video shows the grievor insisting the male student apologize to her daughter, yelling inappropriate comments and obscenities at him, and telling him she works for the TDSB and can find out anything she wants to find out about him.
The employer dismissed the grievor on the basis that she had breached its employment policies, one of which specifically provided that it is unacceptable for an employee to insult, degrade or direct demeaning comments to a child. The union grieved the dismissal, arguing that the altercation occurred when the grievor was off duty and that the employer has no jurisdiction or authority over what employees do in their private lives.
The onus was on the employer to demonstrate that discipline for off-duty conduct was warranted. On the facts of the case, the arbitrator accepted the employer’s position that the grievor’s conduct clearly harmed the TDSB’s reputation and as such discipline was appropriate (Millhaven Fibres Ltd. Millhaven Works, and Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers Int’l Union, Local9-670 (1967)). As to whether dismissal was the appropriate form of discipline, the arbitrator considered the fact that the grievor had identified herself as a TDSB employee and directed vulgar and profane language at a TDSB student on TDSB property. Clearly, the grievor’s conduct was substantially connected to her employment and impacted the TDSB’s reputation for those who saw or heard about the incident.
Lessons for Employers:
The test for determining whether termination is justified varies slightly depending on whether or not the workplace is unionized; however, the overall factors to be considered are similar. Generally, employers must show a link between the off-duty conduct and the workplace. For example, that the off-duty conduct has significantly affected employer’s ability to manage the operation or workforce, or that it has harmed the general reputation of the business.
In an effort to prevent such situations, expectations for off-duty conduct should be clearly set out in employment policies, along with consequences for conduct that is potentially damaging to the employer’s brand and reputation. Employers should incorporate such policies into employment agreements, or have the employee sign off on the policies or codes of conduct. Policies should also address and describe the limitations for use of social media for both personal and professional accounts.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.
Jake Newfield | HubSpot
Whether you want to master a new skill, start a company, get a new job, or become a leader – here are the 9 things to make sure you include in your daily agenda.
Meditation is one of the easiest, most natural ways to decrease stress and increase energy. It’s no surprise that many of the world’s most successful billionaires practice meditation everyday.
It is through meditation that many innovators have been able to come up with new ideas that shape the world.
Many people suffer from constant stress and information overload which result in an inability to succinctly process new information in an effective manner. Among other benefits, meditation can help you channel your thoughts.
2. Find Your Core Talent
Yes, there are successful people who have numerous talents and abilities. However, they didn’t start that way.
When you are in the early stages of your development and success, it’s important not to let distractions interfere with your core talents you are developing.
When you find something you’re good at, hone in on it and develop that skill to its full potential.
3. Be Gracious
Appreciate what you have. If you let yourself get distracted by what you don’t have, it will only slow you down from getting it.
4. Be Aware
Keep a journal of your daily thoughts. Being cognizant of your attitude and mindset will help you be more optimistic and enable you to achieve your goals.
5. Help Others
Inspiring others helps you to establish yourself as a leader, and helps you grow a network of supporters. If you can help other people accomplish their goals, they will help you accomplish yours.
Being successful is more than just a mental game.
Most successful people incorporate exercise into their daily routine because it promotes restful sleep, confidence, and overall physical and mental wellbeing.
7. Create routines and stick to them
Doing great things consistently over time is what creates success.
Find routines that work for you and help you be productive and focused. Once you find things that work, stick to them.
8. Make good use of your time
Successful people get things done as efficiently as possible. It’s important to make the most of every day, maximizing your output yet doing so in a way that doesn’t burn you out.
Set a schedule everyday with everything you want to accomplish, and have time slots next to each goal so that you can check off each task as you move on to the next one.
9 . Believe in Yourself
Above all else, you need to believe in yourself. Believing you can accomplish your goals is the single most important element of achieving your goals. Your ability to persevere and stay committed through any hardship is what can ultimately get you to where you want to be.