There is an “I” in TEAM

Team

 

There is a well-known quip that there is no “I” in the word “team.” After all, team is spelled  T-E-A-M. One catalog for team building materials uses TEAM to mean “Together Everyone Achieves More.” There’s truth to that.

In real life though, using team building language, giving out mugs or hanging posters doesn’t automatically lead to a team working “like a well-oiled machine.” It takes time, effort, and understanding to truly relate as one, and it isn’t going to happen unless each member does indeed focus on the missing “I” in “team.” Teamwork starts with YOU.

Teams are only as good as the individuals that make them up. Yes, the whole is greater than the parts, but if the parts are defective, the team will be affected. (Hey, that sounds like another quip! “Parts Defective Means Teams Affected.”)

So, the place to start with team building is you. Here’s an assessment to help you determine what type of a team player you really are. Ask yourself:

  • Do I enjoy working with other people? (Some personalities would rather be in a corner doing tasks all day.)
  • When I meet with other team members, do I contribute to the conversation? (Or do I sit and say nothing?)
  • When I share my ideas, do I limit my words so others can contribute too?
  • Do I want people to carry out my idea in exactly the way I envision it?
  • Am I willing to ask questions to learn from others with a different expertise?
  • If I’m naturally a take-charge person, do I willingly step back sometimes to open opportunities for those less likely to step up?
  • Do I feel I am more experienced than the others on my team and that they should listen to me most of the time?
  • Do I note what is going on with others by truly listening, acknowledging events like birthdays or accomplishments?
  • Am I quick (but not insincere) in giving thanks and praise to others in the way they would most enjoy? (i.e. not embarrassing them)
  • Do people come to me to ask for help? Am I approachable?

If you are really brave, after answering these questions, give them to your coworkers to answer anonymously on your behalf. Do the answers match up? Be prepared to make changes without defensiveness if something surprising is revealed to you. In the long run, that will be for your good and the good of the team! Make sure the “I” in your team is the best example of teamwork!

BWM CoverFor a handbook of fun activities and discussions to share with your team, you may enjoy my book Boost Your Workplace Morale. Visit my store for this book and other helpful resources.

 

Three Ways to Have a Less Stressful Day

CA-morning1

 

Sharon collapsed onto the couch wondering, “Where did the time go?” She looked over her to-do list from the day, and saw only half of the items completed.

The list seemed reasonable when she wrote it out this morning, but she went to bed feeling like a failure.

Has that ever happened to you?

A stuffed calendar and an overflowing to-do list can lead to stress, meltdowns, and discouragement, but there are ways to refine how you manage your time, so that there’s more time for an unrushed pursuit of faith, relationships and other things of value to you.

Develop an Evening Routine

What we do toward the end of the day is the most important foundation for the next day and week. Flylady.net calls it the “before bed routine.” 

You can do the same. Make a list of a few tasks that would positively impact the next morning if you could do them consistently. These may include:

  • packing lunches
  • getting clothes out (including accessories)
  • having a bit of quiet time
  • reviewing tomorrow’s calendar
  • packing up extra items like gym bags, computer items or coupons for shopping

Do whatever works for you to consistently finish your day well.

Develop a Morning Routine

An effective evening routine is enhanced by a smart morning routine. Again, write down what would make for an ideal morning, with items such as:

  • having a quiet time to pursue faith-based interests
  • exercising
  • eating a good breakfast
  • tidying the house
  • checking mail

Make a list that’s realistic and that works for you, and be willing to adjust it. Try to get into a daily routine, using your list as a guide.

Plan for Transitions

One of my weaknesses is a tendency to not allow enough time to transition between appointments. In this season of my life, I spend a lot of time at home. Because I live in a somewhat rural area, it’s more efficient to stack appointments when I do go out. That means it often takes planning. I need to have gather what I want to bring along, take a few moments to leave the house in decent condition, and touch up my personal appearance.  Therefore, I am teaching myself to allow at least 15 minutes of transition/pack up time. If I need to be somewhere that is 40 minutes away at 11:00, I need to stop working on the computer at 10 and take 15 minutes for the transition, not push my computer work to 10:15.

Overcoming our time management struggles takes intentionality. They won’t fix themselves. Getting a handle on these first three will be a tremendous help toward significant improvement!

Question: Which of these three suggestions would be the best one for you to start using?

This post originally appeared as a guest post at Take Heart Ministries.

Conversations Over Coffee

Introducing a new service to the HOPE family

coffee shopIt’s not coaching. It’s not consulting. It’s a conversation.

All that’s missing–is you!

Do you need someone to bounce ideas off of? Are you curious about what it means to be a virtual assistant? Do you want to create a better professional workflow and enjoy a less overwhelmed life? Do you need to vent about some issues you need to handle at work?

I can help!

Nearly 30 years of administrative, management and entrepreneurial experience, writing, speaking and a reputation for creativity and responsiveness position me to be an engaging and practical friend to overwhelmed professionals and entrepreneurs.

I can objectively consider your areas of frustration either as an individual professional or in the larger context of your workplace. I’m very familiar with personality styles, time management approaches, communication skills and office/operations management and am constantly learning how to manage my own professional and personal life in a more effective way, so always have ideas to share.

But I’m not a coach, nor a consultant. I don’t offer official credentials or extensive packages for coaching/consulting. However, I do have expertise and creative ideas to offer–the types of things that would be a great discussion over coffee to help you work through your questions and curiosities. And sometimes, those casual conversations are fantastic for “light-bulb” moments and that one suggestion that makes all the difference.

So, I offer “Conversations over Coffee” for overwhelmed professionals, on a variety of topics. For example:

  • What’s it mean to start and run a virtual assistance business?
  • How can I better manage my email?
  • What tools and technology might be good for me?
  • How can I better get along with my business partner?
  • How do you run your bookkeeping for your small business?
  • How can I handle difficult clients?
  • What steps should I take to make the transition out of employment into entrepreneurship?
  • Should I start blogging?
  • How can I live out my faith and values in my workplace?
  • I’d like to share what I’m learning out of my professional development reading.

These are just a few of the topics that we can discuss.

How Does it Work?

Conversations Over Coffee are held via Zoom video conferencing, a free and reliable service, or via phone call if that is more comfortable for you.

You can book a one-hour* conversation session for $50.00.  If this interests you, please contact me to request a time, and I will get in touch with you about scheduling a session. I will then invoice you and once payment is received, the session will be formally booked.

A few other things you should know:

  • Coffee Conversations are designed for those who want to talk directly with me for a focused session on professional topics of your choice. For those seriously interested in ongoing Virtual Assisting packages, I offer a free 30-minute consultation specifically about virtual assisting to determine if our team would be a fit for your needs. These two opportunities are unique and not interchangeable.
  • *A Conversation Over Coffee session is considered to be any amount of time up to, and capped at, 60 minutes.
  • Every attempt will be made to book the COC in a timely way in accordance to when payment is received.
  • This is a non-refundable service.
  • The coffee is symbolic, though I may very well have a mug of it while on the call with you and hope you will too (unless you like tea!)

To expedite a booking, you can use this button to pre-pay.

One Hour Coffee Conversation


 

 

coffee laptop

 

 

Reflection Week: Three Questions to Help You Look Back on the Month

January, 2017

breathe

 

Hello readers! It’s the end of January (already!) and if yours was anything like mine, it was very full and fast. I hadn’t totally prepared myself for the wave of the new year, yet I am grateful for what it represents!

I’m opting for a short post this week, providing you with three questions for reflection. I encourage you to take some time (maybe during a lunch break or as part of your morning ritual) to jot your thoughts about this first month of 2017 in relation to your professional life.

1. In what area of my work/business life did I feel the most stress and what can I (of did I) do about it?

2. What three things did I do very well? (Don’t skip this one in our human tendency to be embarrassed to celebrate the gifts and skills God gave us.)

3. What surprised me this month?

 

Taking time to reflect is very important. If we don’t think a bit about how our professional journey is going, we risk staying in a rut-like routine and a comfort zone. We may miss out on that one tweak that would help us breathe easier, or the opportunity to be grateful for an unexpected blessing.

I’d love to hear how your reflection went!  See below for mine!

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Beth’s reflection:

1. In what area of my work/business life did I feel the most stress and what can I (or did I) do about it?

I experienced a growth spurt in business that I wasn’t totally surprised by, but also wasn’t totally prepared for. I am tweaking my approach to my morning ritual, which is helping me devote the right focus to each unique day of the week. I learned that a “one size fits all” approach to how I start my day isn’t a good fit. The customizations seem to be helping.

2. What three things did I do very well? (Don’t skip this one in our human tendency to be embarrassed to celebrate the gifts and skills God gave us.)

  • Customized morning rituals to better fit the day of the week
  • Started a prayer appointment with a colleague from a different state, where we pray specifically for clients by name.
  • Got a Fitbit and increased my fitness focus. I feel I am in a little better shape at the end of the month than I was at the beginning. Got a Fitbit? Let’s be friends.

3. What surprised me this month?

The growth spurt in my business. I’m grateful.

How to Say “No” – Graciously

A flashback on an important skill

No

I was chatting on social media with a friend—let’s call her Angelica—and asked if she wanted to help me with a project. She replied, “No.”

Then she added, “But thank you for asking me.”

I admit I was briefly taken aback. Moments before, Angelica had just agreed to help me with a different task, one that was related to the latest idea I had suggested. However, the second idea would be more of an ongoing commitment, and she said, “No.”

I told Angelica that I respected her decision and thought it was great that she felt comfortable saying “no.”  She said that “old age” had helped her with this–I responded “not old age…maturity.”

“No” is one of the hardest words to say. Why?

  • We like to be liked, and a “no” can be disappointing to others.
  • We want to be positive, and “no” comes across as negative.
  • We are afraid of missing out on great opportunities.

However, if we don’t say this word enough, we can end up disillusioned, disappointed or exhausted.

There are ways to say no graciously and effectively. Angelica did it. Here’s how:

She understood her life.

Angelica was able to discern pretty quickly whether my request would fit into her current season of life. That tells me she was keeping an informed perspective of her opinions, commitments and relationships.

She gave an immediate answer.

Angelica didn’t hesitate or string me along. It made the outcome quick and relatively painless.

That’s not to say that we should always answer quickly. It’s completely appropriate to tell someone you want to think about it, IF you give them the courtesy of a self-imposed deadline. For example, she could have said, “I’d like to think about this. Can I give you my answer Friday?” and then be sure to give the answer on Friday or before. It wasn’t necessary in this case because of her confidence in her decision, but if she needed a little time, that would have been fine.

She thanked me.

Angelica understood that it is an honor to be invited to participate in an event or project. The requester is somewhat vulnerable when extending the invitation, risking rejection. By saying “thank you” she acknowledged that she appreciated being considered, which softens any possibility of coming across as rejecting the person doing the inviting.

She didn’t give an explanation.

Angelica gave a simple “No, thank you.” She did not feel compelled to explain or rationalize her decision. I admire that. I tend to provide more information than necessary and would do well to just provide a simple answer more often.

“No” isn’t easy to say, but it often makes your life easier!

Question: Do you find it difficult to say “no?” 

This post originally appeared in January, 2014.

Setting Goals? or Forming Habits?

Which one will move you down the road faster?

Hope down the road

A few times a year, we start to feel the urge to do some goal setting. There’s nothing wrong with that, but sometimes I think we focus on the wrong thing.

Maybe instead of setting goals, (or perhaps in cooperation with that practice) we should focus our energy and efforts on forming habits. So it would look more like:

Instead of a goal to lose 10 pounds, developing a habit of exercising 30 minutes a day most days of the week.

Instead of getting a big project done by the end of the month, working steadily on it daily for 30 minutes and let it be finished when it is finished well.

Instead of setting a number of books to read in a year, forming a habit of reading at least 30 minutes a week…or making a habit of finishing one book per month (not necessarily STARTING and finishing one, but finishing one in progress.)

Instead of reaching in-box zero, setting firm appointments with yourself to go through your email. (This one was hard for me to write–I’m a huge fan of in-box zero. But for some, this idea may work better and be less overwhelming.)

Other good habits to consider are

  • Regularly investing in certain relationships (i.e. getting together with friends the third Saturday of the month, etc.)
  • Eating certain healthy foods on a scheduled basis (i.e. pre-plan and repeat your snacks–have the same healthy one planned for each Monday mid-morning, for example.)
  • Using timers to keep your morning or after-dinner routines on track
  • Doing one small chore a day to bless your house/family

Even if you don’t set a specific goal, good habits will generally lead to the kinds of positive outcomes you often shoot for with a goal. They may also be easier to sustain. While it’s great to dream big, it’s the daily actions that will move the needle. Keep your goals in sight, but concentrate on becoming a positive habit forming person. Habits are the fuel that will keep you moving toward your destination.

 

Copyright: convisum / 123RF Stock Photo