Monday, March 19, 2018

Without Focus, Your Team Will Fail (So Will You)

Without Focus, Your Team Will Fail (So Will You)I can tell a lot about the leadership and culture of an organization just by mingling with the employees. What I often witness is an unintended disconnect between what leadership thinks employees are focusing on, versus what they are.


As a result, employees are overwhelmed. They feel overworked and underappreciated as they run frantically on a daily hamster wheel chasing orders they’ve received by leadership.


Leaders, on the other hand, rarely see themselves as the problem. Instead, they get frustrated with employees who don’t make progress, aren’t productive or producing results. Leaders lose hope when their teams frequently ask for deadline extensions or say the work simply cannot be done.


Leaders rarely see themselves as the problem, when in reality, their bad habits are to blame.
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Does this scenario sound familiar to you?


What many leaders are guilty of is initially setting priorities, and then derailing team focus by tossing out non-priority related requests throughout each day. It’s not that any leader wants to see their team fail. They just don’t recognize the frequency of their non-priority requests and the amount of time it can steal attention away from employees’ top goals.


If you want to succeed, you must set your team up for success. The only way to do that is to focus your attention on what matters most, then using this as the filter for all decisions and delegation requests thereon.


Here are 5 ways you can help your team maintain focus, boost productivity, increase engagement and boost profits.


1. Establish a non-negotiable set of goals. Whether it’s each day, week, month or quarter, meet with your team and cover the non-negotiable goals that must be reached for success to occur. Create priorities and tasks necessary to accomplish those goals.

2. Communicate frequently. Remind your employees frequently of the goals you agreed up as a team. Challenge each and every one of them to use those goals as personal filters for their own work and focus.

3. Empower employees to Say ‘No.’ Employees want to please their boss. They want to pursue solutions to areas of stress and ease the burden of leadership. Their natural need to please can easily derail them from priorities and can make them a target for others to steal focus. Empower and implore your team to say ‘no’ to any requests of their time that don’t directly align with the goals and priorities set. That means even empowering them to say ‘no’ to YOU!

4. Be mindful of your requests. Ever sent an employee an email that started out by saying “Wouldn’t it be great if….” Stop it, now. This is where employees get derailed in their focus and lose time and attention on what matters most. Remember their need to please? Well, if you are tossing out great ideas or concepts without filtering them through your agreed upon priorities, your employees will consider this to be a delegation, not a simple conversation. They will stop what they are working on to pursue an answer for you. Before suggesting or asking anything of your team members, ask yourself if the requests fall square in line with the priorities.

5. Stop messaging them after work. Nothing will burn employees out faster than a non-stop barrage of emails, texts, and calls after work hours. Give them the break they deserve. Let them focus on friends, family, home life, fitness, and whatever else matters to them personally. Discourage them from checking work-related emails after hours and encourage their personal priorities. Permit them to rest. In turn, you’ll have a more engaged, well-centered team the next business day.


Company culture and tone starts with you. If you want a well-balanced team who is engaged, positive and productive, start by concentrating your attention on what matters most. They, in turn, will do the same. Together, you can achieve deadlines, establish boundaries and create a happier, more productive and profitable organization.

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Monday, March 12, 2018

You’re Attention is Being Stolen (and You’re Letting it!)

You’re Attention is Being Stolen (and You’re Letting it!)“Hold that thought for just a moment.”


“Let me grab this call.”


“Now, where were we?”


How often have you uttered these phrases in conversations that were interrupted by a phone call, text message, or someone just popping into your office? How often have you been in the middle of a project or task that was stopped midstream to respond to someone else’s immediate need for your attention?


If any of these scenarios sound familiar, you are allowing your attention to be stolen.


In a world full of open-door policies and open-office concepts, our attention is like a wad of cash sitting in an unoccupied, unlocked car. It’s ripe for the taking, tempting anyone who comes within reach of it.
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Time is our new currency and where we spend it is a choice. It certainly doesn’t imply that some things are always more or less important than others; it just means you must choose what is most deserving of your attention at that moment.


For instance, if you are on a deadline for a high-stakes project, it’s okay to silence your ringer, unplug from devices, close your door and concentrate – free from distractions. The deadline for that project is your highest priority. You don’t want to permit anyone or anything from stealing your attention away from it. Once the project is over, take a small break to rest, recover and refocus. Then, evaluate what else is required of you and prioritize your attention accordingly.


It’s that simple.


When you allow others to steal your focus from what you need to pay attention to, you give them time you can never get back. As a result, you feel the pressure of tighter deadlines which then challenges you to work at a faster rate of speed. When you can’t work faster, you wind up working longer, then cutting into the time you need to rest and recover with friends, family, and loved ones.  In the end, you feel overwhelmed and overstressed – and for what? To allow someone to have your attention to meet their needs?


It’s not about being selfish, or about making others feel less important. It is about realizing we each only get 1,440 minutes in a day and we must choose how to spend it. If we want to live a life of more significance, we must pay attention to what matters most and implement methods necessary to do so.


Here are 10 tips to help you pay attention to what matters most in your day:


1. Schedule your day. Use your calendar to set aside times to return phone calls, answer emails, and respond to social media. Commit to your calendar of time as if it were a client. Don’t be late and refrain from going over time.

2. Silence your phone. Whether it’s a desk phone or cell phone, turn off the ringer. We have this brilliant tool called voicemail and it’s there for a reason. Phone calls can be returned when you are ready to give them the time and attention they deserve.

3. Close your door. The idea of an open-door-policy was never intended to allow anyone to barge in at any time. Schedule times in your day and let others know when you’re available to chat. Setting boundaries will not only ensure you can focus on time-sensitive tasks, it also ensures your undivided attention is given to those who need you during open-office hours.

4. Clear your clutter. Few things can steal concentration quite like incomplete projects sitting on your desk silently begging for your attention. Whether it’s papering in need of filing or projects yet to be completed, keep them organized in such a way that your workspace is clear from distractions.

5. Maximize your productive times of the day. Some of us are morning birds while others are night owls. Capitalize on your most productive time of day to complete the tasks requiring more attention, thought, and creativity.

6. Cancel meetings. 45% of meetings attended by professionals are thought to be a waste of time. If you’re attending meetings for the sake of attending, stop. If you’re hosting meetings out of routine, cancel them. Do not attend or host a meeting without a legitimate, well-thought-out agenda. Know why you’re being asked to attend and ensure everyone is on the same page.

7. Take routine breaks. No one can give their undivided attention to one project hours and hours on end. Take frequent breaks to step away from your desk, get fresh air, stretch and allow your mind to break from it’s concentrated state. You’ll find a renewed sense of focus upon return.

8. Reciprocate respect. If you want others to respect your time and need for focus, you must start by setting the example. If you create a reputation of popping into coworker’s offices unannounced, they will do the same for you. If you leave voicemails, followed by emails, followed by text messages, expect others to do the same. Demonstrate a respect for the time of others and respect for yours will follow.

9. Reiterate priorities. Whether you are a leader or individual contributor, knowing the priorities of your organization is key to your success. Ensure you understand them thoroughly, repeat them frequently and use them as a filter for your attention.

10. Stop working 24/7. Few of us can operate efficiently or effectively when we are always on call for work. After hours phone calls and emails can make us feel overwhelmed and unable to rest and recover from the day. As a result, our stress levels increase, and our relationships suffer. Your after-hours time must be tightly guarded and given to those who matter most. When you allow yourself to get the rest you need at the end of each day, your ability to focus and concentrate on the workday increases boosting your productivity and accountability.


When you begin to think of attention as our new currency, you can begin to shift your thought process around time as being a limited resource which must be managed responsibly and protected from those who wish to steal it.

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Monday, March 05, 2018

The Millennial Attention Gap

millennial attention gapI love the Millennial generation. They are my fave by far. I love their insights and ability to change quickly, and they can also learn from generations before them.


I was excited when I recently watched the movie, The Intern, about a Baby Boomer going to work for a young, hip start-up company. This company was very successful, full of bright ideas and innovative ways to succeed. Initially, the Millennial workforce looked as though they thrived in chaos, when in fact, they were suffering from the very methods that made them successful.


While the movie was a light-hearted comedy about an older generation fitting into a Millennial mindset, I couldn’t help but notice the number of mistakes the young professionals made because of information overload, a barrage of interruptions, and an obsessive need to multitask leading to a frantically fast-paced life. They worked together for hours on end yet knew little about each other. They celebrated professional success while suffering personal losses in relationships at home.


The movie was fiction. The situation was reality.


The Millennial generation wasn’t of the age of technological discoveries. They were born into the technological age we had already created. Our discoveries were their normal.  They never knew life before the internet, texting, streaming and social media. Before most of them could walk, they could operate an iPhone. Many of them watched their first programs streaming from their parents’ devices while sitting in a restaurant for dinner. As the Millennials grew up, they formed new languages ripe with acronyms as they felt there was no time, or need, to write in full, complete sentences.  Now that this generation has aged and entered the workplace, they struggle to turn their attention from devices and into real relationships that communicate openly, thoroughly and effectively.


At one point in the movie, a younger employee approached the Baby Boomer to ask for relationship advice. He admitted to having messed up with his girlfriend, and he failed to see how his attempts to mend the relationship were unsuccessful. He said he sent a “ton of text messages” – to which she never responded – and a “super long email” laced with acronyms and emojis. At which point the Baby Boomer simply suggested that he talk to her face-to-face. Guess what? The advice worked.


Now let’s hop over to real life.


How often do you, or Millennials in your life, attempt to communicate with others in this fashion? With phones buzzing, emails flying, and alerts binging, it’s no wonder we miss the connection. What if we encouraged Millennials to pay attention to relationships, not technology, and to address others in a real-time conversation, saving time and confusion from back and forth digital dialogue. Imagine the time we could save if we would focus on our relationships and began paying attention to what matters most.


Another hysterical scene in the movie came when the young CEO inadvertently sent her mom an email not intended for her to read. Watching these characters go to great lengths to undo a digital mistake made was a riot! I couldn’t help but consider the number of times we have all been guilty of hitting ‘send’ on a message not intended for the receiver, and the following countless hours/days/weeks/months/years we spent trying to recover from our lack of attention to detail. The Millennial boss was moving at such a fast rate of speed, dealing with one distraction after another, she almost risked a vital relationship in her life as a result. Ever been guilty of doing the same?


We have an opportunity to lead by example for Millennials and other future generations. We can show them how to slow down and pay attention to details. We can demonstrate how to step away from gadgets and build relational bridges with peers, employees, spouses, and friends. Our time spent before the digital age could enlighten them on advantages that came with it.


Can you become like the Baby Boomer in the movie? Can you mentor young professionals and encourage them to invest in sincere relationships – getting to know each other on a deeper level? Can you lead by example by focusing on one task at a time, saying ‘no’ to distractions that lead to mistakes? Will you demonstrate what it means to stop living a ‘crazy busy’ life and start paying attention to what matters most?

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Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Mel Robbins 5 Second Rule Book Review

5 second rule mel robbins book reviewNeed to pay attention to what really matters in your life? Read Mel’s book, 5 Second Rule. 5 seconds will change your life.… that’s it. It’s simple. It’s powerful. Invest your precious time reading this book filled with practical advice and great social media testimonials and proof this really works.


Learn the power of courage in your every day, how to change your behaviors and your mindset.


Mel’s advice to increase productivity and achieve results you want in your life is practical, relevant and especially in a time when we are more distracted than ever before.


I love the format of the book, the constant encouragement, the social media proof of people around the world sharing their experience of implementing this and Mel’s honesty of how she created this (science-based) brilliant, simple solution.


Read it. Give it to your teams. Enjoy it. Well done to my friend Mel.


Want to learn more about how this book can help empower you at home, work and in life? Watch my video review below.



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The Enemy of Employee Attention

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The Enemy of Employee Attention

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Monday, February 26, 2018

Is Your Workplace Suffering from an Attention Deficit Crisis?

Watch video on YouTube here:

Is Your Workplace Suffering from an Attention Deficit Crisis?

Watch video on YouTube here:

The Attention Deficit Workplace – The Answer Starts with YOU!

Do you believe your workplace has an attention deficit problem? Do you believe YOU have an attention deficit problem?


Fact is, you are a role model … to someone. The expression “tone at the top” is true. The example leaders demonstrate is often believed to be a requirement employees must follow. No matter what’s written in policy handbooks or said aloud, the traits leaders demonstrate others will implement as their own. Even though most leaders recognize this to be true, it’s easy to forget how daily behavior is observed and actions are emulated. When we use the word ‘leader’ we are referring to everyone, it doesn’t matter your title, responsibilities or what’s printed on your business card, everyone leads.



Consider this, distractions cost US businesses $588 billion dollars in productivity losses each year, according to Basex. It makes me wonder, how many of these distractions are derived from your leadership “tone” and daily work behavior creating a sense of anxiety and attention deficit within your workplace.


Let’s determine the answer with a pop-quiz.



Do you expect immediate responses to emails sent?

Do you pop into an employee’s office, send a text or call them within 30 minutes without an answer?


Phone Call:

Do you always take phone calls regardless of what you are working on or who is in your office?



Are you always seen carrying your cell phone?

Have you interrupted meetings or allowed yourself to be distracted in order to respond to messages or alerts?

Does your phone stay on and active throughout each work day?


Unannounced Visits:

Are you known for walking into an employee’s workspace unscheduled to discuss a project, question or need?


Open Door Policy:

Are you devoted to an open door policy permitting others to interrupt your activities throughout the day?



Do you allow for an open schedule of time that anyone can take to meet their needs?

Are you intentional about blocking off time throughout the day to work without interruption?



Do you accept every meeting invite?

Do you require an agenda before attending or does the invitation merely imply your required attendance?



As other departments or peers make demands of your time or request non-priority essential tasks, do you take on their requests without scrutiny?


After Hours:

Are you known for sending or responding to after hour emails or texts?

Are you willing to interrupt your family time to take incoming work-related phone calls?


Social Media:

Do you pop on social media to respond to posts and comments throughout the day?

Do you actively share and communicate with others online frequently?



Have you been known to respond to messages while taking time off from work?

Do you regularly take time off to decompress, relax and refocus?


If you answered “Yes” to any of these questions (and I admit, I definitely did!), you are sending a message to your employees the same is expected of them. If you are unable to allow yourself time to focus without interruption, or if you are not proactively seeking ways to avoid disruption, others will fail to do so as well.


As the leader, you are the Attention Ambassador of your office. Lead by example. When you silence your phone, others will too. If you refrain from sending or responding to after-hours messages, others will feel permitted to do the same.


It’s up to YOU as the leader to prioritize your time and demonstrate that your team can feel empowered to do the same. As a result, employee productivity will soar, engagement will skyrocket and so will the profits that follow suit. When employees feel free to say “no” to other’s request for their time and attention, they can say “yes” to what matter most.


CLICK here for more ways to say No.


Choose to lead by example. Be the role model. Be a true leader. Be aware of the example you set. Change the expectations and remember – Attention Pays.

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