First Time Boss/Team Lead? What to do and what NOT to do!

As a leader, making mistakes is part of the job. However, there are some things that you can do to avoid some mistakes that often  Leader-1times become deep rooted and set the culture for the teams you lead.

The BBC article, by Elizabeth Garone, Five Sins of First-Time Bosses identifies tips of the leadership world including:

Taking Charge When You Should Take Charge

There is a time to make decisions. The article suggests not waiting to make important decisions. BUT it is also important not to make unnecessary decisions right off the bat just demonstrate your authority.

Going to Your Head

Garone suggests that just because you are in charge doesn’t mean you should be a boss – it means you should strive to be a leader. Telling people how to do their jobs every minute of the day, or “dominating decision making,” is not going to make you a leader, it is going to make you a member of the team that is demanding and unpleasant.

Leader-3

The “I can do it myself mentality”

This needs little explanation. Delegation is key. It also gived the team learning opportunities they might not otherwise have. The important takeaway from this article is finding mentors.

During my first week at my new job, I had a mentor stress the importance of not saying, “my employee, my staff, they, boss,” and use words like, “team, we, leader, steward.” I have fantastic mentors in my life who shape the way I view the workplace. During my employment in Washington D.C., the concept of being a team was not lost on me. I was and continue to be part of a fantastic team with leaders as employers.

Decision Paralysis

When in a leadership role, you are responsible for making decisions, particularly making hard decisions. Hopefully, if you have established a team-like atmosphere, and the decision you make ends up taking the business/company/organization in a direction that is not good for business, you can admit the problem, take responsibility for the issue, and come up with a new plan as a team.

This is easier said than done as pride tends to get in the way. I have seen bad decisions made and covered up – and blame becomes the name of the game. To help mitigate decision paralysis, it is so much easier for a leader to admit the decision mistake and work as a team to make a better one.

Above The Rest

As a leader, “your job entails much more than just management tasks.” Garone says that most first time managers want to do everything they can to succeed, but “[t]hey remove themselves from the production side of their job and devote themselves entirely to managing. But this is a bad idea. Instead, stay involved and be a player/coach as long as possible.”

The Forbes article 6 Ways to Make Your Leadership and Workplace Fun Again by Glenn Llopis, provides several other ideas that will help leaders develop a culture of work and encouragement, including:

  1. Allow People to Fail – encourage team to test ideas
  2. Build Teams that Last – allow them to be think-tanks
  3. Be a Great Communicator – hold no secrets
  4. Don’t Hide Behind the Title – be the real you
  5. Awaken the Organization – keep people on their toes
  6. Keep it simple – make it fun

Conclusion

There are many things that contribute to being a great leader. I have had opportunities in my personal and professional life that have strengthened my leadership skills, and have had hard conversations about what I need to be the kind of leader that people would want to follow. It has been important for me to actively seek those learning moments that drive motivation and improvement.

Messed Up on the Job? Helpful Tips for What to do Next!

Maybe some of you haven’t ever messed up on the job (if that is the case….you are amazing). But for those of us who have, it can be quite daunting.

Oops

My first several years as a young professional, I messed up a lot! I was an overanxious young adult whose main drive was to obey and please my fellow co-workers, managers, and bosses, while getting the job done at the same time. While my intentions for business success were good, it was inevitable that I would mess up, because guess what – I was new at the job thing. While I could go into a long argument about how our current social and education models don’t necessarily prepare us to fail well, the focus of this blog post is more about what you can do to overcome mess ups and failures on the job.

First, messing up and making mistakes WILL happen. So, before setting expectations too high, please, please know that messing up is not just part of the job experience, but also part of life.

Second, it is what we do with these mess ups and failures that determine what happens next.

The article How to recover from a big career mistake, by MSN.com, gives five things someone can do when they mess up terribly at work, including:

  • Diagnose
  • Fess up and apologize
  • Keep communication flowing
  • Wait and watch
  • Remain positive

The article The ‘Just Right’ Reaction When you Mess up at Work by Forbes, demonstrates three scenarios based on  case studies, supporting some tips the MSN article mentions. Some similar and important aspects were: taking a deep breath, and owning up to the mistake.

I  cannot express enough the importance of honesty. Honesty and integrity in the office may seem hard to find, and hard to do. The article Honesty at Work by Career Success for Newbies, talks about what honesty in the workplace can do for you.

Over time, I have learned that mistakes in the workplace are bound to happen. I have been able to develop how I approach each of these situations, and though I haven’t perfected my response, I have found that honesty is the best policy. Because I understand that mistakes do happen, I can approach this issue with the expectation to learn from my mistakes, which in turn will make me a better worker, employee and person.

Creating More Positive Stereotypes Using Media

Perhaps some of you have seen the Dove and Always commercials taking over FB posts and social media by storm. One of the latest and greatest is about dismantling and really having the conversation about what it means to do something like a girl – taking already existing stereotypes, dissecting, and creating a new stereotype based on turning something negative into something positive. There are several other ideas that are trying to create new social norms and perspectives, like how it is considered cool to get a period (have you seen that video about period care packages - HelloFlo by Always?),  or how owning a mini-van is pretty rad (remember the swagger wagon commercial by Toyota?).

One my favorite recent trends is the lazy/idiot dad stereotype diminished with the new Peanut Butter Cheerios Commercial. Good PR Cheerios….a lot better than that other ad that sparked controversy when really it shouldn’t have.

Taking Creative Thoughts to the Next Level: Thoughts Realized and Great PR

I am always amazed at seeing ideas become revolutionized. Just like I say on my twitter page, I am motivated by seeing something amazing happen because of a thought – thoughts realized. And, isn’t this what life is all about?

My creative finds for the day inspired and moved me.

1. The FunTheory website,  came up with some brilliant ideas that are, “dedicated to the thought that something as simple as fun is the easiest way to change people’s behaviour for the better. Be it for yourself, for the environment, or for something entirely different, the only thing that matters is that it’s change for the better.”

Here is just one idea turned into action:

You noticed whose initiative this is, right!? Great PR Volkswagen!!

2. This next one had me teared up. Even though I couldn’t understand it because it is in another language, I was moved by this invention. I can just imagine a soon-to-be father wanting and desiring to know what his pregnant wife was experiencing, and taking that idea to the next level.

To see the father’s faces when they can share this moment is amazing, and I assume, something the women took great joy in sharing.

Bravo for thoughts realized and genius ideas that bring people together!

Power of Words

I know this video posted a while ago, but I was moved by the power of what using the right words could/can really do.

Second to the Best World Cup Ad

I still like Nike’s, but shoot – these people in this ad are pretty awesome!

Best World Cup Ad Ever

Well done Nike!!

Tell me you are not psyched…..

National Volunteer Week: Trends for 2014 – What to Expect From Non-profits

As part of my shout out to volunteers during National Volunteer Week, I compiled some great research about what is trending in the volunteer world. This research focuses on what non-profit organizations are implementing to make volunteering impactful, and what they are doing to meet the needs of busy people. In a world that demands our time for career stability and development, and family responsibilities and obligations, most people find there is little time to dedicate outside of these areas. I hope you find this research valuable as you contemplate your volunteering endeavors.

National Volunteer Week Trending Topics

Starting Off Your Workday

Not necessarily being in the “creative” field, my job entails that I come up with creative ideas on how to get the word out about internal initiatives and figure out how engage employees with a limited budget. In a world of crazy media swirling at all hours of the day, using social media to spur engagement is a fantastic way to get employees engaged. However, when is the best time to reach employees? Obviously on their downtime, right? I always thought that engaging employees at the beginning of the day was the best way, because that way news doesn’t become stagnant. After watching the following video, I thought the idea of ‘sharing’ information may be best exchanged after my creative juices have already been working.

Oh….Common Core

I saw this image posted today regarding a Common Core homework assignment.

Common Core FlubNational Review Online also posted some interesting Common Core ‘word problems’ in their post The Eleven Dumbest Common Core Problems, stating “The Common Core State Standards Initiative is widely denounced for imposing confusing, unhelpful experimental teaching methods, involving test problems that lack essential information and sometimes make no sense whatsoever.”

In the Huffington Post Article: Smoke, Mirrors, and Common Core, it states:

“As a parent, I am troubled by developments in the New York Assembly. My kindergartner comes home exhausted after a day of school with almost no time for unstructured play. As the child psychologist Megan Koschnick explains, the Common Core standards are developmentally inappropriate, virtually insured to give many children math and reading anxiety.

There is no good way to implement bad standards.

Fortunately, some New York politicians listen to parents on the issue of the Common Core. There is a bill (A8844 & S6604), with bipartisan support, that calls for a Blue Ribbon Commission to hold hearings, do research, and make recommendations to the governor and legislature regarding curriculum and testing before moving forward, if at all, with the Common Core. The bill requires New York’s education leaders to think before they act: a sensible proposal.”

Too bad the proposal was rejected, right?

I do not object to standards – after all, we do need guidelines and something for us to reach for. However, I do oppose the way Common Core is being implemented. From what I can tell, instruction for this new curriculum has been lucid, at best. Students should not have to come home to hours of homework every night in order to keep up with instruction. I would really like to see a poll on how children feel about their learning experience.

On another note, Common Core may be here to stay for a while. The Washington Post highlights an article about How Three Teachers are dealing with Common Core in their Class.

One teacher admits that Common Core has its challenges. She said, “However, my school has prioritized Common Core implementation and tackled its challenges with consistent professional development, regular refinement of unit plans, daily lessons and assessments, and an intense focus on the Standards for Mathematical Practice. As a result, my students are thinking critically about numbers every day, and they are becoming accustomed to attacking problems with multiple strategies and assessing the validity of those strategies. The Common Core standards choose depth over breadth, and with appropriate teacher development and support, this leads to much more critical thinking and analysis in the classroom.”

Maybe the only thing that can be done is to give strict attention to how Common Core is being implemented. The ‘How’ remains. Is this something that needs to be taken care of on the federal level? Perhaps. Is this something that needs to be taken care on a school district level? Sure, why not. Is this something that teachers and parents need to learn how to deal with themselves? Looks like it.

I don’t have any answers to the questions I pose. I know rolling out any new policy is going to be tricky. Does it mean it is wrong? Not necessarily. But without the proper tools, resources, and training, policies that direct school curriculum is going to be hard for all those involved. One thing to keep in mind – who is feeling the inconsistency of this implementation? Our students. Period.