Leading Happy

Where Leadership and Happiness Collide

Month: June 2017

Three Ways to Know Yourself Better

As fun as Dr. Seuss was to our childhood, his advice above is more needed now than ever. There is only one you. And no one can be a better you than you can. Nevertheless, knowing who we are takes time, reflection, and study. It takes us making more margin in our time – daily, monthly, and even yearly!

When we are busy, it is tough to find time to be introspective. We have little time to ask the ultimate questions about life. We tend to get a lot done. Nevertheless, we have no idea who we are. We have no idea if we are growing. We have no idea if we are living out our full purpose in God’s calling over our lives.

So here are THREE ideas to help you build more margin in your time so you can self reflect on who you are and who God desires you to be.

FIRST, EVERY DAY WORK IN 90 MINUTE SESSIONS

I was listening to a TED talk once, that led me to a book, that then found it’s way into my life pattern, but the brain works best in 90 minutes cycles. In other words, your focus and willpower is at its best for about an hour and a half. After 90 minutes, you will more than likely be able to keep working (we have all prove that true, but you are not working at your best.

You need a brain break.

The organization I currently work for rewards employees on their health so many take walks around the property multiple times a day. Not only is that healthy for our waste line and respiratory system, it is great for our brains!

So when I take my walks, I tend to spend that time, not thinking about what to do next in my work, but bigger life questions, which can only be discussed with a higher power. God and I have some great conversations on these short but vital walks.

So if you are like me and simply cannot plan out 2 hours a day to search the face of God and ponder life’s great questions, break it down throughout your day and pick one question or idea to ponder about your life each day. It may seem small and simple. Maybe even a bit insignificant. But trust me, it has added tremendous value to my life.

TWO,  EVERY MONTH FIND A FEW HOURS TO BE ALONE

I say every month, because I know for my life stage, trying to find an hour or two each week would be tough with younger daughters. But once a month is plannable and do able, even by parents with younger kiddos. If you do not have kiddos in the home anymore, even better!

In Richard Foster’s Celebration of Discipline, one of the 12 disciples is silence. We often find it hard to process deep and important work, because we do not understand how to unplug from the wired world we live. When Foster wrote the book, the internet wasn’t even a reality, so I find his words even more needed for an always jacked in, digital society.

The only way to find health in our souls is to find an hour or two each month to be alone, to be in silence, and to think. We will not find the answers we seek while the kids are yelling, work is calling, or while we drown out our concerns with mindless media. It may work for a season, but we all know when our soul longs for something more.

Once we find a time and place to get away (not your backyard or locking yourself in a room in the house), but a place you can find as sacred, a healthy conversation can develop in your mind and especially with your thoughts towards God, your work, your family, and your future. These truths are to vital to ignore. So time must be made for them, because they will not addressed, discussed, or answers discovered on their own.

THIRD, EVERY YEAR FIND A WEEK TO RECHARGE

Americans are getting worse and worse at using up all their time off from work.

Last year, 54% of US employees didn’t use up their vacation, which is up from 42% in 2013. Although I am not a huge stats fan, that statistic is shocking. It should give us all pause.

Although there are many reasons why – like fear of losing their job, not being supported by a supervisor, or even wanting the money back at the end of the year as extra pay – but the idea of time off is truly for our benefit. To have fun. To be refreshed. To get away. To play!

I know when I was younger, I would have added to this stat. I liked working hard and then cashing in my vacation time for an extra check at the end of the year! But after going through four major surgeries from 2012-2015, I found the value of taking time off.

Each year, we all need to find time to get away from what is normal – what is routine – and by breaking the routine find times of refreshing. This can be a family vacation, a camping trip, a guys/gals-only-getaway, road trip, or a spiritual journey. As long as it is not part of your normal routine, its a break from the pattern.

When we break patterns, our minds have a way of filling in those spaces with creativity, innovation, and new ideas. These are great times to open up to thinking about our lives and the ultimate reason we are here on earth. To ponder the questions we avoid through media and medication. To see life at 30,000 feet instead of the parking spot the plane of our mind is docked at through the rest of the year.

Feel free to ignore the advice. My desire is to help. My hope is to see your THRIVE, not simply SURVIVE in life.

Sadly, most people end up burning out from exhaustion instead of burning bright with purpose. Click To Tweet.

So I will end with an ancient prayer about the prosperity of our souls…

“Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.” 3 John 2 (NKJV) 

The Power of Volunteer Feedback

All volunteer leaders, whether church, nonprofit, or business, dread the call, text, or email from a volunteer explaining they need a break and thus are stepping down. Nothing puts the week in chaos like locating a new volunteer and shuffling tasks to make it until one is found.  Plus, many of us are close to our volunteers and it hurts to see them go, even if it is for a short time. We invest in them, pray with them, do life with them, and then we get the news something has come up and now we are left dealing with the loss in more ways than one.

After reading Thanks for the Feedback by Douglas Stone and Shelia Heen, I have become much more interested and intentional in finding out what my leaders and volunteers are thing and feeling before it becomes so overwhelming they have no other options than to quit. I have heard it said, it takes less time, money, and energy to invest in volunteers you already have than acquiring new volunteers. Nevertheless, we invest so much in finding new ones, we may neglect our best asset, our current volunteers.

Therefore, here are THREE opportunities to gain valuable feedback from your volunteer team before getting the dreaded “need a break” conversation.

FIRST, REGULAR AND ONGOING FEEDBACK

When it comes to our personal health, physicians have a baseline of what is adequate for our age, race, height, etc. This baseline is utilized to help us gain better health. Obviously, each of us is unique so the baseline is simply a starting point. With volunteers, establishing a baseline of what is going well, what is not so great, and overall improvement is vital.

Creating a survey that all volunteers fill out regularly helps you monitor their health as well as the organization’s health. Surveys can easily be made in Google Docs or through companies like Surveymonkey or Constant Contact. Each organization is different and will establish certain baselines matching the company’s mission, vision, values, and strategies.

To make sure the feedback is coming in regularly, chose different groups to solicit at different times. For example, if you have 6 teams, survey each group every other month, so every other month you are getting some type of feedback. This helps your organization also make quarterly tweaks instead of waiting each year to try and make changes. In our rapidly changing and overly connected culture, change must happen regularly to keep up and stay relevant. This becomes especially true of events your organization or church put on regularly/yearly.

SECOND, AFTER EVENTS FEEDBACK

I know this one seems so basic when we are discussing feedback. Yet, so many events come and go and solid, constructive feedback is never gained. Even when it is gained, it is often filed away and not acted upon. So here are a few thoughts here.

First, event when two events are very different, the feedback from one can make the other better. Maybe the past event had great feedback on the check in process, so the next event can apply the feedback and make their process that much better. Too often, this info can be kept to only one team, when there is dysfunction in the organization. Make sure to have feedback shared with all teams involved and build a culture of trust and sharing (although that topic is for another post).

Second, volunteers feel so much more involved with the process when they are asked their advice. The event may have been planned by a team of paid leaders and a few volunteers. Feedback after the event can have all involved partake. Now, even the volunteer who was part of clean up or takedown (who probably was there the entire event) can provide insight and constructive criticism. Talk about buy in form the top down! And it can be as easy as opening the door and asking for help…for feedback.

Finally, often during the feedback process, you will find a new leader. I have read surveys and found some amazing and stute observations. I find myself saying, this person needs to be leading. It is another arrow in the leaders quiver of finding new and valuable leadership among their volunteer teams. Again, a lesson for another post to fully explain, but the leader reading feedback must also be secure and understand the feedback is not against them but making the organization and the event better!

THIRD, SPECIFIC AND SPECIALIZED FEEDBACK

Finally, of the big three, this one is the most advantageous. This feedback needs to be done, not through emails or survey forms, but through personal meetings of small groups of leaders and volunteers. Most leaders are used to brainstorming meetings, so many of these sessions can have a part added where culture, events,  values and actions can be addressed and ideas executed to fix issues and make them better.

Also, small groups of selected people is a way to balance out the large scale surveys to everyone and anyone.  It is a way of having not just the 30,000 foot view, but to come down to those in the trenches and getting feedback from those closest  to the issues at hand. Balance is advantageous in any endeavour.

These small groups, mixed with paid and unpaid participants, provide some of the most valuable feedback an organization can receive. If the organization is only being moved along by the paid leaders, volunteers soon figure this out and can feel used. I know I have been careful to include volunteers in all areas I have led, because I could not have achieved what had been done without those volunteers. Especially in churches, there are always more volunteers than paid staff. Therefore, volunteer must play a crucial role in planning the life and activities of the church. In nonprofits, the same can be said.

Obviously there can be many more ideas on obtaining needed and healthy feedback. But these three cannot, at all cost, be avoided. So what are some of your ideas on gaining feedback?

Feel free to share with us all so we all grow and get better together? (See what I did there? Asking for feedback.) 😉

 

*Note: The genesis of my thoughts here came after reading, SMART Volunteer Management by Patricia Lotich

8 Ideas to Help You Delegate Better

We all have way to much to do. Sometimes we jest and call it “job security.” Nevertheless, having too much to do all of the time has serious consequences to our health and well being.

Another truth is most people do not delegate because they simply do not know the most advantageous way to do so. Questions like – When do I delegate? How much do I delegate? To whom do I delegate? – can plague leaders and managers alike.

So here are 8  ideas to help you feel more comfortable with delegation, while doing a better job when you do delegate.

Deal with your personal feelings before handing off. Many leaders carry a lack of trust, a fear of being replaced, perfectionism, or impatience into the delegation process. Hand over a task without these feelings attached so the person helping you doesn’t  get sideswiped by your feelings and misgivings.

Establish Clear Expectations. A hand-off should always make the following completely clear:

  • Purpose – why are we doing this
  • Standards – how this is to be judged
  • Process – how this should be done
  • Delivery date – time frame for execution

When possible, delegate complete tasks rather than pieces of a task.  Ownership never happens when you delegate a task piecemeal. Don’t hand off pieces of task you do not like or do not want to spend time doing. Allow some authority and autonomy to be passed when you give away the whole thing.

Delegate the goal not the process. People need a wide lane to travel when  attempting to solve problems and accomplish goals in the way they think is best. If you do have specific process requirements, be clear up front but then back away without being a micromanager.

Delegate adequate authority along with the task. Don’t pass on a high level task or a multi-departmental task without first making sure all parties involved know the one being delegated has authority over that area. Nothing derails a process more than people positioning and rejecting another authority. Many times, this is not the person who received the taks fault, it’s yours as the leader.

Understand there will be issues along the way. Make sure you as the leader and the one to whom you delegate realize issues and failures will happen along the way. Put the person you delegate at ease by letting them know you are both in this together to learn as well as get things done.

Establish check-ins. This is the only way to deal with micromanaging. If you have that tendency this is key for you. Establish when there will be check-in times and stick to them. Only check-in earlier when you have vital info for the task, not just because you are curious or nervous. This may be the hardest for a perfectionistic or micromanaging leader, but it pays dividends in trust for the long haul.

Be prepared to offer acknowledgement and credit. Be generous in your appreciation. One of the major reasons people leave their job is a lack of recognition and praise. Also, make sure that people get appropriate credit within the organization for the tasks that you delegate. The moment a leader takes all the credit for the delegation, others will be less likely to want to work with you in the future. Be generous with your praise.

Obviously, there are many more ideas that can be added here, but these eight can transform how you lead and manage within an organization.

I am curious to hear your ideas. Feel free to post in the comments or on my social media sites!

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