How to Know if Your Project Was Effective

How to Know if Your Project Was Effective

No matter what your profession, you have projects. Projects are larger-scale tasks/initiatives that gather multiple people with a myriad of steps to accomplish something of impact for a recipient. They take a lot of energy and time. And, I believe that anything worth doing is worth evaluating–both for what worked and what could be improved for the next project.

Sure, the main metric for effectiveness is whether we got ‘er done, but what about looking at many different gears in the process for fine-tuning. Doing a post-mortem following a project’s completion might include a rating scale of 1-10 on these statements:

  • The team worked together well (good communication, dynamics, and relational connections).
  • The team was able to succeed without the leader.
  • We did our best work within the time frame allotted.
  • Everyone was given the big picture. Expectations were aligned to the vision and well-communicated on the front end and clarified throughout based on ongoing results. Feedback flowed freely–with respectful candor.
  • The team held themselves accountable to their action items.
  • Status reports were timely and well-communicated to those who needed to be included.
  • We hit our milestones along the way and celebrated them. The final product accomplished what was intended.
  • We included those who needed to be engaged.
  • Our constituents were pleased with the results.
  • We stayed on or under budget.
  • Our work benefited our organization and each team member.

Then there are questions to ask yourself as team leader (or team member) for evaluating your part in the project:

  • Did I contribute quality work?
  • Did I meet the deadlines with my tasks?
  • Did I improve the project in some way?
  • Did I learn something that will help me in future projects from someone else?
  • Did I stretch myself outside my comfort zone?
  • Did I help someone get over some hurdles, stay out of trouble, and succeed?
  • Did I delegate appropriately both responsibility and authority?
  • Were the expectations on my role fulfilled?
  • Did I stand on high moral ground and take the high road when in conflict?
  • Did I self-regulate any negative feelings along the way?
  • Was I approachable for communication and never a bottleneck to progress?

You might want to add your own questions to mine to customize it to your situation, or to emphasize an area of greater importance to what success looks like.  I’d love to hear your additions to the list! I’m at growingforward@paulcasey.org

You are a Learner If…

You are a Learner If…

One of my “official” strengths when taking the StrengthsFinder 2.0 assessment is being a Learner. Yes, I’ll own that. I’m insatiable when it comes to learning, especially in the areas of leadership and self-leadership. I’ve got a hardbound book going, a book on CD going in the car, podcasts and audio books going while exercising at the gym, webinars from my industry to listen to, a coach, idea-people with whom to be creative, and reviews of my journal and archived articles sent to me.  Whew! But it’s what I look forward to. No one has to prod me to learn.

(For some of the books I read in 2020 that I recommend, click here.)

Let’s go deeper into what makes for a true learner. Which of these do you nod your head with?

  • You understand that life is a marathon, the long-game, with lots to experience along the way.
  • You are aware that there is so much more to learn.
  • You aren’t satisfied with the status quo; there’s always a better way to try.
  • You know someone is more of an expert on every topic than you are, and you must find that person.
  • You consume dozens of books, blogs, articles, and podcasts every year.
  • You have been told you are a good listener, because you see everyone as a resource for learning.
  • You have been told, “That’s a great question!” when you are curious while helping others process their issues.
  • You are not afraid to say, “I don’t know, but I’ll find out” instead of trying to bluff your way through an answer.
  • You are more of an expert on a few things and generally-knowledgeable on many things.
  • You are a student of life itself, especially what leads to a successful life and relationships.

Out of those 10, how many are “definitely you”?  If you have the majority in the affirmative, you’re a learner, too. And, what a gift! Here’s my challenge to you: Start turning more of those inputs into more outputs. In other words, as you learn, find a way to be a conduit of the information and flow it to those who might be interested in what you’ve gleaned. Remember, most people don’t want unsolicited advice; so, be cautious that you only share with hungry minds who appear interested in your message.

Learners, unite! Be a GFF (Growing Forward Friend) and stick around in my community of learners. My membership community (Bull’s Eye) is coming this spring. But for now, stay connected via my social media channels: Instagram LinkedIn. Facebook

 

 

10 Monday Mindset Motivators–and All Week Long

10 Monday Mindset Motivators–and All Week Long

To be on the “top of your game” every day, you must have your thought patterns in the right place. Your thoughts turn into feelings with turn into actions and then into your results. 

What kind of mindset could you adopt, to better assure this will be a successful Monday (or any day!)?

  • I will not take myself so seriously. It’s OK to make mistakes; don’t put so much pressure on yourself as to be overwhelmed or in a negative space mentally/emotionally. Say, “This is temporary; there’s light at the end of this tunnel.”
  • I will take a break when I start to feel my energy dip.  “Put yourself in time-out.” You reach points of diminishing returns when you insist on pushing through and being productive when you are on empty.
  • I will stay on top of my goals/priorities. Go into another week/day feeling clear on “the plan” of what you want to accomplish. Make a short list of priorities. Clean off your desk and close your computer tabs, except for materials/resources you will need that relate to those priorities. Don’t waste time; begin ready for the day and focus!
  •  I will not letting my feelings control/define me. Adopt as much of a relaxed/at peace mindset as possible, knowing that you have the ability to take things as they come. Worry is destructive and gets you nowhere fast.
  • I will choose to be positive and solution-oriented.   Assuming good intentions of your family and colleagues puts you in a posture of curiosity and positivity. Choose happiness over the alternatives. You are not a victim and “everything is figure-out-able.”
  • I will not let fear take me down. Even if you have moments of impostor syndrome, you have a reservoir of confidence to tap into, based on your experience and wisdom. Self-talk: “I’m ready to take this on!” and  “I’m making a difference!”
  • I will be proactive vs. reactive. If it’s a task, show initiative and go after it, asking for help along the way. Don’t wait for a fire to be lit around you before you step up. Speak out a creative possibility. Have the difficult conversation before things get worse. Maintain an action mindset.
  • I will do something today to keep growing forward. Make time today and every day to learn, whether it be listening to a podcast while getting ready for work or while working out, carving out time to watch an inspirational video, or picking out a self-leadership book (or technical resource) to dive into. Be a little better today than you were yesterday.
  • I will have faith and hope that things will get better. This anticipation of brighter days pulls you forward into another day/week. A loss of hope leads to depression, which mires you in a pit of despair. Find things to look forward to: hobbies, trips, appointments with people that inspire you, conversations with God, etc.
  • I will put myself in others’ shoes. Everyone experiences hardship in their lives. You have no idea what they are going through. Assume they need encouragement and support—and give it liberally. Empathize with their situation and give grace. When you see things from others’ perspective, it softens yours; together, you might just collaborate to a win-win solution for both of you.

These 10 mindset motivators could be printed up and put on your dashboard, monitor, office door, or journal. Speak them into your life daily to set your intentions for the day. Brighter week ahead!

Want to chat about how coaching might lessen your stress and increase your peace of mind and productivity? Let’s see if the time is right for you. I’m at growingforward@paulcasey.org

16 Daily Success Habits

16 Daily Success Habits

I queried my coaching clients last month for the habits they do every day in order to have a better chance at a typical day being successful. It’s important to do them every day and be fully present/invested in them in order to get the cumulative effect of them on your life.

Outside of work:

  • Exercising regularly: this habit was mentioned the most often by my clients–some choose the morning, others at lunch time to rejuvenate their afternoons, and others, right after work
  • Journaling: a place to write down feelings, learnings, chronology of your life
  • Drinking more water: having that water bottle/hydroflask always within arm’s reach
  • Eating healthier: most are making small changes, from cutting out most sugar, to eating breakfast daily, to intermittent fasting.
  • Going to sleep earlier; getting up earlier: not wasting time by staying up late, but instead “getting after it” first thing in the morning
  • Doing spiritual practices: some found that Bible-reading, meditation, or prayer set the tone for a great day by setting positive intentions
  • Prioritizing Me-time: some solitude just for self without obligations to family or anyone else, for personal recharging

At work:

  • Refreshing the to-do list, then setting priorities and reminders: some kind of daily review/preview was the next highest response for success; clients wanted to stay current with what was most important to pursue and not let it fall off their radar screens
  • Checking in/engaging with someone: especially while tele-working, it takes effort–but well-worth the effort–to connect with a colleague, supervisor, or direct report
  • Allotting uninterrupted blocks of time for productivity; getting action items crossed off the list; getting a project to a milestone: blocking time for specific tasks is a time management superpower; honoring those appointments with yourself takes discipline–but the results are completed tasks, a great “reward”!
  • Allotting uninterrupted blocks of time for strategic thinking: most leaders know they need this time, but it’s tough to protect the time for thinking through ideas or next steps or a better vision for the future of the organization or team
  • Following up: this habit builds trust when you do what you say you will do; it’s also important for closing loops, and for assuring delegated tasks are moving along toward completion
  • Responding to communications promptly: it’s vital to not be the bottle-neck in someone else getting down their critical path to their task or project; answer those emails and text messages!
  • Staying organized: letting paperwork or email get out of control only doubles your stress; make systems for everything–and work your systems daily–in order to stay on top of everything
  • Developing a team member, matching their strengths to tasks: great leaders spend a little time each day helping a team member move forward on their goals or career plan, removing obstacles or making connections for them or pointing them to resources for growth
  • Bringing energy/enthusiasm/inspiration to someone else: teams become shadows of their leaders–so, by projecting enthusiasm onto others, it can become contagious–and who wants to follow an uninspired leader?

It’s a great list to pick from! How many of these do you practice regularly? What new habit do you want to incorporate this month? Let’s interact at growingforward@paulcasey.org or at Growing Forward Services on Facebook.

Why Remote Teambuilding Exercises Are More Important Than Ever–Guest Blog from Patrick Bailey

Why Remote Teambuilding Exercises Are More Important Than Ever–Guest Blog from Patrick Bailey

The trend towards working remotely has been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, before 2020, working remotely was a rapidly growing implementation by many organizations around the world. 

Historically, shared in-person team-building experiences were effective ways of bringing together a group of colleagues outside of the mundane work environment. Unfortunately, this is no longer a possibility, at least not for a while. However, modern technology makes it feasible to spend time with work colleagues without being in the same location. 

Given the current global climate, team building is still critical. Team-building exercises, whether in-person or virtual, are more important than ever.

Why Hold Remote Team Building Exercises

While some see remote team-building exercises as wasting precious company resources, there are compelling reasons and hard data for holding them:

  • One conflict within a team of six high-level earners (over $100,00 per year) costs the company around $255,000.
  • Team building increases employee engagement, which can double a company’s profits. 
  • 94.2% of employees say that team-building exercises improve employer-employee relationships.
  • 94.5% of employees say team building facilitates open dialogue in the workplace.
  • 96.3% of employees find that team building has a positive influence on employee-employee relationships.

Other reasons why continuing team-building in a remote world is important include:

Building Trust

In the corporate world, trust is a major factor among work colleagues. As a team, you need to be able to rely on one another when working on projects, gathering information, or making presentations to upper management. Maintaining that sense of mission and unity is more difficult when the team members are seldom in the same room. Remote team building reinforces that sense of trust.

Increasing Communication

Communication is the backbone of any successful endeavor in life. In the remote office, being able to effectively communicate ideas is even more critical. Remote team building activities open the communication flood gates within departments or groups.

Stimulating Creativity

Even when sitting at a laptop at home, fun and interactive team-building experiences can get the creative juices flowing, 

Eliminates Silos

Many employees live alone and feel isolated and out-of-the-loop without face-to-face interactions during the regular workday. Team building exercises help many employees feel more included as part of the team, even if they are not in the same room. This is especially true for those dealing with family members that have substance abuse and need to find nearby Al-Anon meetings for their sanity.

Reveals Talents

As with in-person team-building experiences, virtual team building can help reveal to management and other employees who has hidden talents that could be an asset to the corporation.

Team Building Strategies

The lack of in-office social interaction has left large swaths of the population feeling like the metaphorical rug has been ripped from beneath them. Now, even more than in the past, it is critical to facilitate a healthy social environment, even when virtual.

Here are a few key strategies for remote team building.

Assemble a Pep Squad

Learning the new rules of virtual socialization can be so awkward and unfamiliar that there is less enthusiasm for remote team building. Combat this by recruiting spirited employees to motivate the rest of the team. Encourage employees with a positive dynamic and a knack for building up colleagues and socializing to volunteer for a remote team-building pep squad. They may be able to transfer their excitement to the virtual world.

Be Creative

While many companies feel that in most areas the best action is to play it safe, team-building exercises are not one. Try to innovate. 

Sharing a fun fact about oneself during a Zoom meeting is boring, unengaging, not specific to the company culture, and has been done a thousand times already. Find or create a more interesting activity, such as virtual trivia, a company talent show, or a public employee recognition program.

Prioritize Inclusivity

With employees performing their functions in different work environments, the importance of including everyone is higher than ever. Some employees are isolated in a studio apartment and others are attempting to balance a fused work-and-family life. When you plan remote team building activities, consider the following factors:

  • Communication methods
  • Family life
  • Seniority
  • Socialization style
  • Substance use
  • Time zones

Well-planned and -executed remote team-building activities have many positive aspects that can contribute to the morale of a department and be beneficial to those involved. Even though it may seem like a major investment in resources, in the long run, it saves money and leads to the best results.

Author Bio: Patrick Bailey is a professional writer mainly in the fields of mental health, addiction, and living in recovery. He attempts to stay on top of the latest news in the addiction and the mental health world and enjoys writing about these topics to break the stigma associated with them. 

 

Sources

  1. shrm.org – Building Team Bonds
  2. employer-employee relationships nulab.com/blog/collaboration/team-bonding-exploring-how-mandatory-and-optional-activities-affect-employees/ – Team bonding: Exploring how mandatory and optional activities affect employees
  3. fond.co – 4 Ways for Employers to Help Ease the Sudden Shift to Remote Work Because of COVID
  4. teambuildingwithtaste.com – Why Team Building is Critical For Virtual Teams
Books I Read I Recommend from 2020

Books I Read I Recommend from 2020

So, yeah, I “nerd-out on non-fiction”: primarily reading personal growth and leadership books, and 2020 was no exception, reading 45 books–some, while exercising, on Audible, some on the local library Libby app, and the rest, in my morning routine by paperback/hard cover.

My habit is to highlight pieces of books that impact me so that I can journal those takeaways later in the year, giving the information time to “settle” in my brain; then, the next year I cull those journaled gems and file them by category for use in my trainings, blogs, radio spots, or to make into a mini-book in the future.

For those of you who are looking for a good read in 2021, here are some of the ones I enjoyed from the first half of last year.

  • Jump Start Your Growth by John Maxwell
  • The Infinite Game by Simon Sinek
  • Instinct by T.D. Jakes
  • Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl
  • Switch by Chip/Dan Heath
  • Enchantment by Guy Kawasaki
  • Radical Candor by Kim Scott
  • The Courageous Leader by Angela Sebaly
  • Principles by Ray Dalio
  • Awaken the Giant Within by Tony Robbins
  • The 21 Most Important Minutes in a Leader’s Day by John Maxwell
  • Life is Good: the Book by Bert/John Jacobs

Stay tuned for part 2 of my recommends, later in the spring. This should get you started. I’d love to know your non-fiction “keepers” that shaped your thinking in the past year. Please comment in Facebook on the Growing Forward Services page, and LIKE it if you haven’t yet done so, pretty please.

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