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What Is the Right Way To Encourage Accountability?

 

Trying to hold people accountable for their results is often a negative cycle that spirals into an end result of at least one worker leaving a company. When results aren’t achieved, the worker responsible offers an excuse. That excuse makes a supervisor angry because now they’re held accountable for the lack of results. That anger then reduces motivation, which reduces productivity, and at the end of the day you have a group of people acting passive-aggressively with one another.

How you can make sure that you’re encouraging accountability in a positive way? Through the use of structure. Here are some of the key points you’ll want to look at and discuss as you develop an accountability structure.

#1. How do I set clear expectations?

If there is uncertainty about a task which must be completed or a metric which must be met, then it is difficult to hold someone accountable to a specific standard. There are responsibilities on both sides of this equation. Workers must be encouraged to ask questions if they are unsure and not feel like they will be retaliated against for those questions. Specific expectations and standards must also be issued so outcomes can be tracked.

#2. Where are the right people for the job?

Whose fault is it if results aren’t achieved when the tasks were assigned to someone without the necessary skill set? Is it the fault of the worker… or the fault of the person who assigned the task to an unskilled worker? There must be a plan in place which gives skill-orientated tasks to the people who have the knowledge and wisdom necessary to complete them.

#3. What will measure success?

Far too often, workers are told they have failed when they were expecting to be told that they had succeeded. When there isn’t a clear set of measurements or standards in place so success can be specifically defined, then it is difficult to know what issues might exist within a team. Defined targets allow you to work with people who may be slipping.

#4. Is anyone providing feedback?

The problem with feedback is that people often wish to avoid conflict with one another. This is especially true for supervisors who feel like they have a difficult direct report who doesn’t want to listen to them. Yet without honest feedback that is open and ongoing, there is no real way to set out the clear expectations which are needed for an environment which encourages accountability. Don’t make things personal when giving feedback. Just offer the facts.

#5. What kind of consequences should there be?

Accountability isn’t going to be effective if there isn’t a consequence for a failure to meet expectations. There should also be positive consequences for those who are accountable and meet expectations. You basically have 3 choices: rewards, repetition, or release. Without clarity in this area, there won’t be any desire to be accountable because there is no reason, either positive or negative, to try to meet the goals which have been put into place.

Encouraging accountability must be more than just an angry statement that occurs when failure happens. It must occur on both sides of the aisle so that the right people are doing the right job with clear expectations. With open communication, honest feedback, and traceable metrics in place, the negative cycles can be eliminated so that productivity can remain where it needs to be.

8 Ways To Recognize Burnout In Yourself

 At one point last year, I worked for over 100 straight days. At first, the idea of being ultra-productive was inspiring to me. It felt like I was taking charge of my world, influencing others in positive ways, and that was an amazing feeling indeed. Over time, however, those feelings started to go away. Instead of feeling inspired, I was beginning to dread the alarm waking me in the morning.

There were some days I would look at myself in the mirror and wonder what I was doing. Then I would grab some coffee and get to work. At the time I didn’t recognize it, but this was clearly I sign that I was headed to burnout.

In retrospect, there were a lot of warning signs that were telling me that it was time to take a few days off to take care of myself. Are you experiencing any of these burnout symptoms right now?

#1. 100% Exhaustion. Do you get 8 hours of awesome sleep, but wake up tired? That happened to me a lot. I made up a lot of excuses about this fact and compensated with caffeine, but that didn’t change the fact that I felt physically and emotionally tired.

#2. Poor Eating Choices. I started replacing vegetables with potato chips. The potato chips eventually got replaced with Twinkies. Coconut water turned to soda, which turned to energy drinks. When you’re tired, you try to eliminate that feeling by consuming high sugar, low calorie foods and for me, every substitute made me feel worse, so I’d compensate with an even worse eating choice.

#3. You Never Relax. Even when I wasn’t working, I was thinking about working. I could stress myself out thinking about a deadline that was more than a week away. The number of headaches I started to get could be tracked daily near the end of my 100+ day stretch.

#4. Fun Disappears. I could plan fun activities, but they didn’t seem fun. The only real enjoyment I remember having during that massive stretch of work was when I was actually working. I felt out of place if I wasn’t working and that prevented me from being able to relax.

#5. Insomnia. I’m not one for racing thoughts in my mind 24/7, but after awhile that started to happen when I’d try to get to sleep. I’d plot out my work for the next day. I’d think about the things I could have changed over the course of the day. I’d worry about what others were thinking about me. Eventually I had to put a white noise machine into my bedroom to give my mind something else to focus on while I tried to get to sleep.

#6. Always Irritable. I was buying groceries one day near the end of my 100+ day stretch. It was taking longer than normal to scan the items. “Can’t you hurry it up?” I asked impatiently at one point. The cashier gave me a strange look. Then she told me it would be $101.97. I remember that specifically because I then snapped. I’d expected it to be $80… but I’d grabbed two steaks and forgot about that. Irritability and burnout go hand in hand.

#7. Isolation. I could recognize that I was irritable. I felt like people didn’t deserve that kind of treatment. That’s when I started to isolate. I told myself it was because I didn’t want to hurt others. The fact is I was isolating because I didn’t trust anyone but myself to get the work done.

#8. Negative Work Quality. There was also a distinct decline in the quality of my work once I reached the end of my 100+ day stretch of work. It’s what eventually caused me to give myself a thorough evaluation. If I didn’t give myself a break, then the potential was there to lose a lot of business.

Burnout is something we often joke about, but I discovered that suffering from burnout is no laughing matter. Give yourself an honest evaluation today. Are you suffering from these symptoms? If you are, then burnout could be right around the corner.

Are there symptoms of burnout that you have recognized in your life? What are they and how do you cope with them? I’d love to hear your thoughts about this important subject.

6 Proven Methods Which Maintain Your Professional Focus

Do you feel like you don’t ever seem to get things done at work? You might plan the perfect day as you’re getting ready, but once you get to work, emails, emergencies, and co-worker distractions change your plans. By the time lunch rolls around, you’re lucky to have even started when you had planned to have finished.

This desperate push and pull on your time doesn’t have to rob you of your focus. These proven methods can help you stay on schedule, stay adaptable to changing work needs, and not feel guilty about taking a 15 minute coffee break if you get a little thirsty.

#1. Take your work offline. Most workplace distractions originate from an online source. Your email and the internet are massive time killers. You can spend 15 minutes composing and email and not even realize it. If you need to stay focused, then unplug your internet connection. Turn your smartphone off. Should someone need you to do something, they’ll come find you.

#2. Swap out your office chair. Sitting at your desk can be incredibly taxing on your body. If you have neck, shoulder, or back pain after a day at work, then this is evidence that your chair is giving you some trouble. Try sitting with proper posture, but that might not be enough if your chair isn’t being supportive. Consider swapping out the old chair for a new one… or try a modern stand-up desk where you don’t even need to sit at all.

#3. Create a list and stick to it. This method has some pros and cons to it. If you fail to accomplish your list, then you’re going to feel even worse about your focus. What a list can do, however, is help you to prioritize what needs to get done. Put items that aren’t due for a few days at the end of the list. A daily and a weekly list can help you stay focused because the required tasks stay within your field of vision.

#4. Install your own deadlines. If a project isn’t due until next week, there’s a good chance you’re not going to start it until next week, right? At work, we are a deadline orientated people. When there is a strict deadline in place, our focus increases because we feel a need to meet that obligation. Instead of looking at the final deadline, try creating daily deadlines for specific tasks to improve your productivity.

#5. Change how you work. Many professionals work in linear terms. This means they start at 8am and keep working until their first break, starting at the beginning and working until the end of what needs to be done. If there is a particularly large task, then the work can seem overwhelming when you get started in the morning and cause you to lose your focus. Break your time and your projects into chunks that are more manageable so you can benefit from a sense of accomplishment every time you achieve something.

#6. Improve your foundation. If you didn’t get much sleep the night before, then your day at work becomes more difficult. The same is true for your lifestyle habits which may alter your energy levels, brain power, and even your emotional stability. Try to add some daily exercise to your routine, look at your eating habits to see if improvements could be made, and establish a bedtime routine if needed. Having a huge caffeine intake to get started shouldn’t be your go-to solution.

Maintaining your professional focus in the hustle and bustle of modern life can be difficult, but it can be done. Look to these 6 proven methods for inspiration to find your focus today.

6 Proven Methods Which Maintain Your Professional Focus

Do you feel like you don’t ever seem to get things done at work? You might plan the perfect day as you’re getting ready, but once you get to work, emails, emergencies, and co-worker distractions change your plans. By the time lunch rolls around, you’re lucky to have even started when you had planned to have finished.

This desperate push and pull on your time doesn’t have to rob you of your focus. These proven methods can help you stay on schedule, stay adaptable to changing work needs, and not feel guilty about taking a 15 minute coffee break if you get a little thirsty.

#1. Take your work offline. Most workplace distractions originate from an online source. Your email and the internet are massive time killers. You can spend 15 minutes composing and email and not even realize it. If you need to stay focused, then unplug your internet connection. Turn your smartphone off. Should someone need you to do something, they’ll come find you.

#2. Swap out your office chair. Sitting at your desk can be incredibly taxing on your body. If you have neck, shoulder, or back pain after a day at work, then this is evidence that your chair is giving you some trouble. Try sitting with proper posture, but that might not be enough if your chair isn’t being supportive. Consider swapping out the old chair for a new one… or try a modern stand-up desk where you don’t even need to sit at all.

#3. Create a list and stick to it. This method has some pros and cons to it. If you fail to accomplish your list, then you’re going to feel even worse about your focus. What a list can do, however, is help you to prioritize what needs to get done. Put items that aren’t due for a few days at the end of the list. A daily and a weekly list can help you stay focused because the required tasks stay within your field of vision.

#4. Install your own deadlines. If a project isn’t due until next week, there’s a good chance you’re not going to start it until next week, right? At work, we are a deadline orientated people. When there is a strict deadline in place, our focus increases because we feel a need to meet that obligation. Instead of looking at the final deadline, try creating daily deadlines for specific tasks to improve your productivity.

#5. Change how you work. Many professionals work in linear terms. This means they start at 8am and keep working until their first break, starting at the beginning and working until the end of what needs to be done. If there is a particularly large task, then the work can seem overwhelming when you get started in the morning and cause you to lose your focus. Break your time and your projects into chunks that are more manageable so you can benefit from a sense of accomplishment every time you achieve something.

#6. Improve your foundation. If you didn’t get much sleep the night before, then your day at work becomes more difficult. The same is true for your lifestyle habits which may alter your energy levels, brain power, and even your emotional stability. Try to add some daily exercise to your routine, look at your eating habits to see if improvements could be made, and establish a bedtime routine if needed. Having a huge caffeine intake to get started shouldn’t be your go-to solution.

Maintaining your professional focus in the hustle and bustle of modern life can be difficult, but it can be done. Look to these 6 proven methods for inspiration to find your focus today.

How You Can Start Reading More Books Every Week

Thanks to the internet, information is floating around us at levels never experienced before in human history. Despite this fact, picking up a good book to read it is still a very powerful learning experience. Instead of letting books collect on shelves, reading at least one book per week can open up the mind to new possibilities. If you don’t think you have time for reading a real book, here are some ideas to help get your started.

#1. Take an honest look at your time investments.

There’s a good chance that you could carve out at least 30 minutes for reading every day. Between social media investment, television investments, video game investments, and other entertainment options, the average person spends 3-4 hours every day looking at a screen outside of their work responsibilities. Look at where you’re investing time and you’ll be surprised how much you could dedicate to reading.

#2. Pick an author which relates to you.

Reading is more about the author-reader relationship than many realize. Think about your favorite authors right now. What was their background? What are their hobbies? What are their spirituality preferences? We all tend to read authors when we feel like the words they’ve written have a direct impact on us. To encourage more reading, pick an author that could be your best friend.

#3. Get an overview of the book first.

Many times we give up reading a book because the information seems too dense or the argument being made seems nonsensical. Being interested in what a book has to offer is the key to unlocking its potential. Take the time to look over the subtitles, the flaps, and the table of contents before committing to a full read. If you don’t agree with how the thesis of the book seems to be evolving, then put it down and find something more interesting to read.

#4. It’s fine to skim chapters and paragraphs.

Now here’s a fact that authors and publishers don’t like to share: many books have several pages of “filler content.” It’s supportive information, sometimes dialogue, but overall has very little to do with the overall thesis being presented. Skim each chapter to see if it is even worth reading. If it looks like there is some useful information available, then read the introduction and conclusion sentences of each paragraph. If those seem interesting, then read the rest of the information. Don’t waste your time reading something that you’ll forget by breakfast tomorrow.

#5. Spoil the ending.

You might not want to do this for a fiction novel, but for non-fiction books, you can pretty much sum up the entire content being presented in the first and last paragraphs that have been published. Absorb this information and you’ll have a good idea of what supporting facts are included between the beginning and ending of the book. If you find that the thesis or the conclusion are a bit worthless, then you don’t have to waste your time reading the book.

Finding time to read a book each week means finding a book that is interesting to you while carving out the time to actually read it. Follow these steps and you’ll find that the information you do take the time to read will become much more interesting.

How You Can Stop Your Bad Habits at Work Today?

 

We all have certain things that we do at work that kind of get us into trouble. It might be procrastination, or an aversion to checking voicemail, or the no-filter approach with the boss. These habits feel great in the present moment, yet seem to cause regret or even guilt when we reflect back upon them. Instead of dealing with this repetitive cycle of joy and regret, consider using these tricks to stop those bad habits that might be holding you back in your career.

#1. Use visual tactics as an advantage.

When things are closer to us, then they feel more important as a need that must be met. This is why we work harder when deadlines are close, but procrastinate when a due date is a week away. Use this trick to prioritize what needs to be done at work so distractions can be minimized. Put documents that must be read on your home page or bookmark items on a news feed so you mentally note their higher priority.

#2. Set firm boundaries with friendships.

It’s important to have a friend at work. If that friendship is getting in the way of a job that needs to get done, however, then there need to be some boundaries put into place. Your career shapes you just as much as your friends do. If they’re not willing to support these changes you feel are necessary, then some firm lines must be drawn that you will not cross.

#3. Create a schedule.

We feel good when we’re able to check stuff off of our to-do lists every day. Instead of seeing what happens each day at work, try to plan it out the evening before. Set your task priorities, schedule time for that voicemail, and stay committed to what you’ve created. This will soon become the default program for your brain’s operating system.

#4. Stick to the new habit.

Most of the issues which occur at work tend to be because of our personal choices instead of an actual lack of skill. Without skills, we wouldn’t be employed in the first place, right? If you can be consistent with the choices you make, then instead of feeling like you don’t belong at work because you aren’t getting any opportunities, you’ll feel like you’ve empowered yourself to take on the next challenge.

#5. Eliminate the four letter words from your vocabulary.

It’s the word “can’t” which you must eliminate. When you believe you won’t be able to accomplish something, then you’re setting a course toward a self-fulfilling prophecy. It’s not arrogant to believe that you will succeed, especially if you’re backing up your perspective with your values, experience, and goals. What do you want to get out of each project? Decide to make things happen and they will.

You can make good things happen for your career every day at work. All you’ve got to do is identify the bad habits that could be holding you back. 

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