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

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

8 Things Not to Lose

8 Things Not to Lose

We’ve all lost our keys or wallet or sunglasses a time or two, and we’ve either found them or replaced them. However, there are less tangible things that absolutely must not be lost because of the negative consequences to living the best version of yourself AND the necessity of making the contribution you must make to the world.

Don’t lose your:

  • Hope. This is many of my clients’ one-word theme for 2021. You have to have hope to cope…with change, with disruption, with sudden left turns, with bad news. Hope isn’t blind optimism, but its element of reality plus the thinking that something good can come out of anything, is one of the best ways to build the character quality of resilience.
  • Cool. When our values get poked, we tend to react–and then regret how immaturely we behaved during our rant (and that’s if we are self-aware!). Make it a goal this year to be “difficult to offend”. As the Chinese proverb goes, “If it’s within your control, why be angry? And if it’s not within your control, why be angry.” Let ti roll off or address it with composure.
  • Faith. Many people grew up with some sort of faith experience in their homes, and some have decided it doesn’t serve them for some reason or another. That departure often creates a hole in one’s spirit. Faith in God, for me, springs from a gratefulness of what He’s done for me before and throughout my life and it’s is the foundation for any virtue that I want to express to the world.
  • Confidence. As I’m reading the book Presence by Amy Cuddy and studying the concept of executive presence in order to help the leaders I coach, I keep seeing how being your most authentic self leads to your self-confidence. The fear of entering whatever arena where you are hedging can be alleviated by reminding yourself how your motive is to add value to this situation and then doing your very best.
  • Vision. Drifting occurs when you lose your vision on the target: you get lethargic toward growth and development actions because you have forgotten your big WHY, or motive. Take the time in solitude to get re-acquainted to the compelling snapshot of the future toward which you want to go, in the various roles you play in your life. Write it down, post it, and goal-set off it.
  • Family. One of my clients said the quote the other day: “On your last day at this job, you will still have a full email in-box.” The to-do list never gets fully done; you never get fully caught-up. So, is it worth losing the daily moments with those you love the most, to do that one more task? There are glass balls (most important relationships) and rubber balls (less important tasks) on your plate; when the glass ones fall off, they break–and that damage is great. Let the rubber ones bounce back to your list tomorrow.
  • Self. Especially if you have some “pleaser” tendencies, you are tempted to live someone else’s script for your life. Always meeting someone else’s needs to the detriment of forsaking your own needs leads to emptiness. In the book Give and Take by Adam Grant, he shows the healthiest, most influential people are not the pure Givers (nor obviously the pure Takers), but those who give out of a full tank. Self-care and reconnection to your personal mission and vision are huge to avoid burnout, and better boundaries will empower your service to what matters most.
  • Focus. We all have a little attention deficit disorder in us, especially when we don’t really want to do our most important tasks/priorities. It’s so easy to “squirrel” to what’s shinier or easier. But, like a laser beam, focused energy can cut through the most difficult materials. You truly can make headway on your toughest tasks by blocking out time to do it, obeying your calendar when that time comes, removing distractions, and doing the deep work until crossing it off your list.

Which one needs deeper thought for you? Which one is your greatest temptation? You can’t tame what you can’t name. If you need a coach to help you process where you at right now in your life, ping me with an email to chat. I’m at growingforward@paulcasey.org  Time to get back on track!

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
18 Agile Actions I Took in 2020

18 Agile Actions I Took in 2020

I just finished my annual planning day, and am very excited to share with you some reflections about how I adjusted to this crazy year, to make it one that I can look back on with gratitude instead of negativity. Although I’m typically a beaver-golden retriever personality style (CS on the DISC) who likes my routines once I find effective ones, I do experiment with habits to keep my life interesting–tossing out what doesn’t serve me well and incorporating what does. That became increasingly important in 2020 when so many things turned upside-down, and the tendency was to focus on what we didn’t have instead of what choices we still had/have.

Hoping that my list might help you see how you made some pivots for the better this year, too–or ones that might influence the goals you will be setting for yourself this week for a new year’s fresh start.

Health/Wellness

  1. Creative exercising. When the gyms closed, it was a real let-down as I use my gym time as me-time, personal-development time (with podcasts/audio books) and fitness time–then it was gone! I walked my neighborhood every possible way, hiked local Badger Mtn and bicycled more than usual, found The Body Project videos on-line to exercise to, and escaped the Tri-Cities to some beautiful place in the NW for hiking with a mask on.
  2.  Re-upping the diet. While I didn’t gain 19 lbs in COVID-19, I still got to a weight that didn’t make me feel my best–mostly from so many sedentary Zoom appointments. In late October, I re-committed to losing that extra weight, and now need to push to get to a healthy weight in early 2021.
  3. Chiropractic care. After a few years of unresolvable neck/shoulder tension, including trying massage therapy, I bit the bullet and walked into my local chiropractor. I was nervous, and it’s unsettling at first to get adjusted, but it really made the difference to getting a nagging physical issue dealt with.
  4. Dental surgery. Another thing I was putting off was getting a gum gap in the back of my mouth addressed so that infections would not creep in. I dread the dentist as it is, but this one was a much bigger oral surgery. Glad I did it, and it made sense to do during quarantine when I wasn’t giving in-person presentations.
  5. Expensive pillow. Yes, I bought a $100 pillow. I knew the research was saying how sleep was even more important during lockdown than it was before; so I invested in a quality pillow to better ensure quality sleep–to attack each day out of abundance of rest.
  6. Clean comedians. I needed to laugh more since I couldn’t laugh in person with friends like in past years. On Sirius XM radio, there is a LaughU channel that I turned on first whenever I got into my car (which was much less often). People probably wondered about me, as I laughed out loud while alone in my vehicle. But it was good for mental health!
  7. Social connections. With everyone behind their own closed doors, friendships suffered. Networking events ended. Fundraisers went virtual. My wife and I found some friends who were willing to let us into their bubble and get together outside or in limited capacity restaurants in the fall. This was HUGE for exiting isolation for a couple hours here and there and laughing/commiserating with friends–especially because we became empty nesters this year.
Personal growth
      8.  Coaching. Since I’m a coach, and I believe everyone needs a coach to maximize their potential, I re-upped having a coach, too. I chose the coach who got me started in the business back in 2011, and utilized him as a sounding board all year every other week.
      9.  Podcasts vs. audio books. I went back and forth throughout the year on these 2 ways to learn through earphones. Podcasts give me short burst of ideas and inspiration and keep me current, while I can go deeper on a topic by listening to an audio book. I discovered Mid-Columbia Library’s Libby app for renting audio books for free, as well as utilizing my one credit per month on Audible.
      10. Certifications. With no in-person conferences this year–where I normally light up my creativity–I had to find another way to obtain skills to be more of a help to my clients and prospective clients. I chose to get 2 certifications virtually: Extended DISC (behavioral style) and Emotional Intelligence Quotient. Now I can offer the assessment and the debrief to an individual client or a team going (growing) forward–2 more tools in my facilitator toolbelt.
Business leadership
      11. Outsourcing. One of the key ways I know I must do to scale my business as a solopreneur is to build a team, and it starts with outsourcing to contractors who are way better at their craft than I am on that aspect of my business. Instead of sloshing through tasks that take me twice as long, I continue to find contractors to relieve some of my load.
      12. Office re-organization. Knowing I was “stuck at home” for an undetermined period of time, in late March I decided to move the layout of my office to create more space to spread out–and for a better background for Zoom calls (though it’s fun to put virtual backgrounds of past vacations behind me). What a difference! Everything is more accessible! I also ended having a rented office across town, and utilized FUSE (a local co-working space) for whenever I needed a conference room.
      13. Thriving While Teleworking. Responding to the need in the community, I got a lot of “mileage” from developing this seminar in early April, using it for big and small organizations, helping people be healthy as they began their tele-working “new normal”. I added humor and tried to show how much I cared about them being successful at home.
      14. Quarterly planning. With everything seeming to be changing so quickly, I decided to add quarterly planning retreats to my calendar in July and October, booking a room in a local hotel, and spending time recapping the highlights of the last quarter, and goal-setting what I could actually accomplish in the next 90 days. I will definitely keep this new habit, adding it to my daily, weekly, monthly and annual review/previews.
      15. Thematic goal for the new year. Each year I pick a word or phrase to be my theme for the upcoming year–something visionary and compelling that draws me into it, all year long. After reflecting on what went well and what I struggled with in 2020, I chose a theme for 2021 to specifically go after that.  Then I made 3 objectives under which to set action items/next steps to keep chipping away at throughout the year. A friend told me about Notion, an app for tracking goals–so I’m trying it.
And finally,
      16. Grocery-delivery. At the beginning and end of the COVID year, we utilized grocery delivery, which saved both shopping time and germs from encroaching on our lives. So convenient to having it dropped at the door!
      17. Date nights. We are officially empty nesters, with my daughter graduating virtually in 2020. Whoo-hoo! However, I still love my young adult kiddos and decided to do date nights with them, like I do with Laura, every 10 days or so–even if it’s just takeout food and playing a game.
      18. Being generous. I fully embraced the non-profit moves to online fundraisers, participating in as many silent auctions as possible. I feel everyone wins with an auction: the donor of the item, me (the purchaser of the item), and the non-profit. Got some fun stuff, too. This I added in addition to giving regularly to my church and a handful of other non-profits in town.
Hope those were at least interesting, if nothing else, to read through–and that you saw where you, too, tried new things to either cope or thrive when so many fun things were off-limits. Let’s dialogue about yours. I can be reached at growingforward@paulcasey.org     Happy New Year! Time to turn the corner!

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