Coaching Tips on Effectiveness

Or how to focus on what matters to YOU.

Archive for the ‘Work Effectiveness’ Category

Time Management tips from an ebook

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I delivered a “Time Management” training last week, and when preparing, I stumbled across this great book on Time Management for creative people from Mark Mc Guinness.

No matter if you’re working in Advertising or Marketing, you sure need your time to think. And if, like me, you’re working in an environment where 20 minutes of uninterrupted work is a rare bliss, you’re going to need the tips in this book.

Some ideas I found useful:

1. Ringfence your creative time. My best time is in the morning. I get lots done. So, I book 2 chunks of time: Early morning 6:00 to 7:30 when I do research, read and write, and from 9:30 to 11:00 at work, when I work on my long term projects. The key word here is discipline. Also, creating rituals around your creative time ( I use my special blend of coffee, cocoa and amaretto syrup – yum 🙂 this gets me in the right mood for work)

2. You need to install a buffer between other’s demands and your response. The most interesting concept here is “Do it tomorrow” by Mark Forster (there’s also a book by the same title). It says that anything that comes into your “IN” tray should be packed, bundled, and solved tomorrow. Benefits? Tons. Realistic-ness? So-so. But I would give the idea a try, especially since I get annoyed at the ton of emails, tasks, projects, reports that come with an “ASAP” tag, and when finally solved, they’re not needed anymore.

3. The buckets concept – get one or max 4 buckets in which to gather everything – and he means everything that comes to your to do list. Then go through all your buckets at least once per week and sort through them, choosing priorities and putting them on your agenda.

Resources – the “Do It Tomorrow” book by Mark Forster, the “Getting Things Done” by David Allen, tons of blogs, links and tips at the end of the book. Thanks Mark!


Written by effectivenesscoach

October 25, 2009 at 8:13 am

Personal Branding – How to get started Part 1

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Given the still active crisis on the job market, I’ve given some thought on how Personal Branding can help with finding a better job, faster.  But having a strong Personal Brand helps in other ways too – getting clients, getting known, getting to the right people. One of the best guys in the field seems to be Dan Schwabel – his blog here.

So how do you start to build a Personal Brand?

You can use the following 3 steps:

1. Think about who your target group is. Are you branding yourself for your future employer? Then focus on your achievements and skills. Are you branding yourself as an entrepreneur, for potential clients? Then focus on what they might need as services. Are you writing for a young audience? Then use crisp words and jargon expressions they use.  I’m writing mainly for my network and for whoever might be interested in personal effectiveness and growth. I gather that most of my readers are between 22 and 35, with a moderate to high income, working in business and open to self development.

If you’re not very sure who your target gr0up is, think about the people who appreciate you most. No, not only your friends. People you’ve worked with. What part of your work served them best? If they were your clients, in what category would you fit them? Now, could you generalize this category a bit? On age group, gender, income, interests. Well, there you have it.

2. What is it that you do, that interests your target group? It might be your creativity. Or your humor. Or the solutions you give. Find that unique selling point and make sure you put it in the front. From time to time, do a checkup to see if you can add anything to it. For example, mix creativity with practical advice on how to be creative.

3. How can you make sure that your target group hears about you? Here you have a few channels open. First and foremost, it’s your behaviour. Branding is not about what you as a “producer” believe about your brand – it’s what other people say about your brand. So why don’t you first do a checkup and see what the perception on your personal brand really is. And what kind of behaviour reinforces this perception.

Channels:  First, and obviously, day to day interactions. It’s how you speak, how you hold yourself up, how you dress, what type of equipment or gadgets you use. Even the minor details.

Second, in the online environment, there’s a few practical channels you can use.

But about these, in Part 2.

Written by effectivenesscoach

October 16, 2009 at 6:11 am

Life Management

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I know, I know, it’s a big word. Life. Can anyone actually manage one’s entire life?

As I’m preparing for next week’s Time Management training,  I got to a few personal findings, which I’m gonna share. They’re not rocket science, and they’re not 100% mine. But useful, for sure!

1. Time Management is so long gone. Like a friend of mine said “Coaching is the new black” I go “Life Management is the new black”! And it includes Daily (Time) Management. DailyLife Management

What’s Life Management? Where do you want to go with your life? Call it your Bucket List (100 things to do before you die) or call it a Mission Statement (Steve Pavlina here says you can actually create one in 20 minutes!). It’s knowing who you are and what your meaning is.

It’s also the most difficult quest of your life.

Daily (Time) management is just the little bits and pieces that connect the dots to the highway that’s Life. However, if the bits and pieces don’t stick together and go in the same direction, your highway might just feel like a bumpy, winding road.

Highway Bumpy road

2. In order to have good Life – and Time! – Management, you need 2 things:

1. Focus.  Know where you want to go. Know what you need to do in order to get there. And then, focus on these things.

2. Discipline. It’s no use to have a brilliant mission statement posted all over the walls, if you ain’t practicing what you preach. A trainer I once met in “7 Habits” training said “Be careful. Outside that door is a roaring river. Once you step out, it will flood you.”  You need exceptional clarity of mind and – yes! – discipline to stay focused.

This does not mean you should foolishly resist to interruptions, or post a big “Do Not Disturb” sign on your desk. (OK, sometimes you can, but not all the time).

An inspiring idea is to use the tasks, phonecalls, interruptions, emails that come to you and treat them like an Aikido master (thanks Cata!)

Think of a few ways you can use them. Not reject or resist them. Use them.

Back soon with more thoughts on daily effectiveness 🙂

Written by effectivenesscoach

October 14, 2009 at 11:30 am

Toolkit – Prezi

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I’m a sucker for new stuff. Give me something that’s “new and improved” and I’m most likely to be your beta tester. My work colleagues know me for giving Outlook or Word tips, not to mention Internet, Facebook or other utilities.

That’s how I ended up using Prezi. Sure, it’s not your average presentation tool, like Powerpoint for the rest of us mortals. But it’s cool, new, and to me, it goes into that category of “nice, white and simple” stuff, together with Ipod, Iphone, Mac and white bedsheets.

So here’s why you should try it:

1. It’s (relatively) simple to use. You create a free account with your email, and ta-da! you’re ready to go. Unless you’re very intuitive with new Internet stuff, try looking at the 2 min Prezi that explains “how to use it”. I’ve tried going directly into creating, and failed miserably.

The scroll-to-zoom reminded me of Corel Draw. And after you get the hang of it, you’re set to go.

2. It’s less hassle, but with more enjoyment to the eye. You can put only text in your prezi, and still the movement of the Flash when presenting will create that “swoosh” and “slide” that Powerpoint users needed with animations. With Prezi, the animation is already there. You don’t need to edit slides, embed pictures or work with colors. It’s built in.

3. It’s online. This can be both an advantage and a disadvantage. Sure, it lets you download your Prezi so that you can show it. But to Internet addicts (like me) who don’t like carrying their laptop around, having the presentation online is a welcome help.

Some drawbacks of the tool:

  • it needs to be learned. Sure, after the first/second Prezi, it’s already easy to create something remarkable. But it took me around 4 hours to tweak around my first presentation. That’s not really effective, is it? (the second one took me 30 min)
  • you can only add PDF, images and videos to your Prezi. Ok, you can make screenshots with your Excel and embed it as an image, but it’s not nearly as useful as with a PPT.

These being said, I recommend you to start using Prezi. Here’s what I did to exercise: click here!

Written by effectivenesscoach

October 4, 2009 at 8:54 am

Trust and group coaching

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We all had challenging presentations to demanding audiences. While preparing, it’s easy to go into the “ready for battle” mindset rather than the “win-win” one. And, personally, I’ve had clashes that started from scratch just because I entered them with the wrong mindset.

Rejection mainly comes from doubt. In a group situation, doubt is contagious. It is squared and then multiplied to the number of persons in that group. Doubt causes questioning and challenging, which causes re-work (not to mention emotional damage!).

What are the causes of lack of trust (=doubt or interference) in group work? Think about the most difficult team training or presentation you delivered. Do you recognize some patterns?

  • fear of ridicule
  • fear of being dominated
  • pursuit of personal agenda
  • distrusting each other’s intentions
  • absence of agreed ground rules
  • beliefs and positions (“this is how things should be”)

So I decided to change something. I started looking at why the group would trust me. And how I can capitalize on this trust. So I switched into the “coaching” minset. I gave them the credit of having good intentions, and I went into the meeting with my own good intentions.  And what happened? The group responded constructively with:

  • listening and desire to understand
  • challenging constructively
  • requesting and offering to support
  • flexibility
  • accountability
  • care for each other.

In the end, I believe that the mindset with which you go into a discussion can radically change the outcome of that discussion.

Ask yourself:

  • what do I have to offer to this group?
  • what vision do we share?
  • what trust do they have in me? how can I use/increase that?
  • what trust do I have in them? how can I use/increase that?
The above are inspired from coach Myles Downey‘s book “Effective coaching” and the chapter on Team Coaching.

Written by effectivenesscoach

September 29, 2009 at 1:36 pm

The speed of trust

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In the past weeks I’ve started to experience the speed of trust.

I work in a company that’s invented and innovated some of the best things in the world today – products that make our life easier, business tools that have been voted best in class. I work with some of the world’s best people, and I learn daily from them. Yet, although one of our values is trust, I am every day amazed by how much we verify and align and pre-align things, before putting them into practice. And after putting them into practice, we go back and verify again if we were right.
Wouldn’t life be so much easier if we based ourselves on trust?

Stephen MR Covey (the grass-cleaning son of Stephen Covey) says in his book “The Speed of Trust” that there’s a hidden variable in business, one that’s so important we tend to lose sight of it:

“Whether it’s high or low, trust is the “hidden variable” in the formula for organizational success. The traditional business formula is:
(Strategy x Execution = Results).
But there is a hidden variable:
(Strategy x Execution) x Trust = Results.
A company can have an excellent strategy and a strong ability to execute; but the net result can be torpedoed by a low-trust tax or multiplied by a high-trust dividend. This makes a powerful business case for trust, assuring that it is not a soft, “nice to have” quality.”

So if we trusted each other, I say, we would spend less time on checking up what the other did, and start acting.

I would keep a safe level of  “pre-alignment”, so that we still have a buffer and not go into separate directions. However, where does the balance lie?
I am pretty sure that there is a space for more trust in each of us’ business, household, or relationship.

How’s your level of trust in others?the_speed_of_trust

I invite you to do a check. Have people rate you on how trustful you are. Inlcude family, peers at work and business partners. You may find out new things about yourself.

Written by effectivenesscoach

August 29, 2009 at 6:53 am

Truth, Trust and lack of time

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A manager I work for used to tell his team several times “Do what you want, mess up as much as you can, you will never break my trust like when you’re hiding things from me.”

How hard is it to tell the truth…all the time? Do you, always, tell the truth?

I have a compulsion for telling the truth (not quite like Jim Carrey here, but close enough). “Have I lost weight? ” “Not really, you could work harder on that.”

Thinking about it, however, there’s some goods and bads about the truth.

One of the bads is the paradox of telling too much of it. There’s one thing to tell the truth as it looks to you (“But that tie does absolutely not go with your shirt!!”) – which is an OPINION – and another to be truthful to yourself and admit what you wanted to say (“I want you to wear this other tie because I think it would look better.” – and to let the decision stay with the other person). We tend to convince ourselves much too often that we’re well intended, that we know what’s best for the other person, when in fact, what we think is the TRUTH is actually JUST HOW WE SEE IT.

By telling the truth in a constructive way, objectively, we build trust with the other person. And once you start building trust, you make a huge saving of time. Think of the last time you’ve skipped an agreement meeting with your supplier on an important contract, because you just know they will respect their part of the deal. Or, on the other hand, think of the time invested in drawing up complicated contracts with endless arguments. Hell, we’ve even got prenuptial contracts between the two people who are supposed to trust each other more than anyone else !

Think you have a solid bank account of trust?

Stephen Covey’s book “The Speed of Trust” comes with a free checkout of your trust fund with others – you can find it here:

Now, how to build that bank account?

1. Listen. Without hidden agendas, without thinking you might know better.

2. Keep your word. Even when it is difficult. And when you can’t, let the other person know, upfront. One lost occasion can damage your whole trust fund.

3. Be accountable for what you do. Take responsibility when you make mistakes. People will back you up more when you admit a defeat, rather when you insist on being right.

And finally, doubt, always doubt that what you consider to be the truth is the same for everyone else. There are very few absolute truths. The vast majority are just our perspective, sometimes shared with many others, sometimes single-minded.

Written by effectivenesscoach

August 16, 2009 at 8:09 am

Posted in Growing, Work Effectiveness

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