Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Be Kind and Pay Attention to those in Support Roles

be kind Any thoughtful leader knows the professionals in support roles are the backbone to a successful organization. Early in my corporate career I learned THE most important roles in any company include the Executive Assistants, Security Guard, IT team, and the catering and cleaning team. I made it a point to learn their names, their coffee orders and something special about each of them.


Professionals in support roles are truly some of the most important, most informed and most powerful people in your company. They have access to decision makers, understand company culture and the idiosyncrasies of leaders and they can help you in if you get caught in a jam.


Anytime I visit the gorgeous corporate offices of one of my clients at the Comcast Center in Philadelphia it’s not uncommon for the reception team to come around from behind the desk to give me a hug or when I am on the executive floor, for the team from catering to come into a meeting or a session I am hosting, and I stop to give them a cuddle and hear about their kids.


It’s vital to make sure that everyone in your company feels seen and heard, especially those in important support roles.


receptionist support roleThe receptionist knows everyone’s schedule and they are the first point of contact for your company. My little sister has this role in a major firm in Australia and we often chat about how important it is to be kind to them. Grab them a coffee occasionally; ask them about their weekend, they are your client’s first impression of your business. Pay attention to how much they do for your company brand and the atmosphere in your office.


Administrative assistant secretary support roleThe executive assistant or your leader’s assistant not only manages their calendar, they know how the leader is feeling, what they like and don’t like and also what your peers are working on. Their role is also to be a gatekeeper – respect their role and don’t try to go around them. Befriend them, seek their advice and always be organized in your conversations and requests of them. Pay attention to their systems to best work with them (not against them)


corporate security safe support roleThe security guards know the coming and goings of all the team, and over my career they were the only ones there when I arrived and often when I needed to get to my car late at night. Over the years I have learned so many fascinating things about their careers, how they have served in different roles and why they have chosen this career to support their families. Always smile, be kind and make a point of acknowledging the important work they do for you and your team. Pay attention to them when you enter and leave the building.


IT department professionals server support roleThe IT department members are vital. Ever had your email or server go down… yep, you don’t know what to do with yourself! They are talented, often under appreciated and they work long hours. Respect their systems, be kind when you make requests, spontaneously do something generous for them, buy them lunch or bring in treats for their coffee and never be angry or impatient with them. It’s not their fault your devices don’t work; don’t take it out on them. Pay attention to your tone with IT.


janitor clean up sanitation support roleThe catering and cleaning team often go unnoticed and they are deliberately discreet on a daily basis. Stop what you are doing if the cleaning staff enter your office, take a moment to look up, thank them and get to know them a little. You don’t need to have long conversations, just a moment of gratitude. I meet the most ah-mazing people in my travels and recently while speaking in North Carolina I met Rose, a beautiful woman who was cleaning the bathrooms in the hotel and she had been married over 50 years and was working to help one of her children with medical expenses. She was such a delight with a gorgeous smile, I always learn their names.  These team members work hard to create a productive environment for you and to prepare food you will enjoy. Pay attention to how they make your life so much easier and more pleasant and remind them when you can of how much you appreciate that.


When you pay attention to the little details you enjoy big rewards. Who are the most important people in your company? Invest 15 minutes today to surprise and delight those in support roles that you work with and let them know you appreciate them, that you see them and you value them.





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Monday, November 21, 2016


An Inside Scoop on the Power of Productive People

abundanceAbundance.  It’s the concept of more, of enough, and even more than enough and it translates to every aspect of our lives. Business. Relationships. Friendships. Time. Love. Money. Success.  It’s counterpart?  Is scarcity. Which is the feeling or fear that there is not enough, may never be enough to go around.

Both are mindsets that can move people to make choices about the directions in which they move their lives. What I want to share with you here is that you truly do have the ability to control the flow of what you want in your life by absolutely paying ATTENTION and focusing on one or the other.


If you want to move into a more powerful, more productive, abundant life, you have make knowledge-seeking your best friend and kick that scarcity mindset right to the curb and leave it there.


Chris Anderson is the editor-in-chief of the UK Wired Magazine and also the author of the great book book Free. Chris challenges readers to embrace a gift economy and shares that ‘today’s knowledge workers are yesterday’s factory workers’.  Interesting right? The truth is that knowledge IS in abundance. We live in a world where we can learn, literally, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week if we want – and we can even do it for free!  Hello Google! We have access to greatness, to inspired words, serious strategies, the success plans of like-minded business people, and the motivation of some of the best minds in the world right there at our fingertips.


Rory Vaden shares in his book Take the Stairs, ‘the most important skill for the next generation of knowledge worker is not learning what to do BUT rather determining what NOT to do’.


Let that sink in a little. While yes, information and knowledge is in abundance, it’s up to us to make conscious choices about how to share it, what to take in and what to abandon. We’re on the topic of productivity—right?  So when you’re eager to ramp up your productivity – one of the most important decisions you can make is determining what NOT to pursue, rather than to continue to be that person with the 4,000 balls in the air.  What things are absolutely right to put on your plate because they are critical to the direction you want your life to be in and what do you need to lay down, delegate or pitch?  Because abundance doesn’t mean necessarily having it ALL, it’s about having all the right things for YOU and the life you want to lead.


Chris Anderson in Free continues to share ‘abundance thinking is not only discovering what will become cheaper but looking for that will be more valuable as a result of moving to that’.  Time has become more valuable! We need an abundance mentality of how we can invest our time more wisely, with people we enjoy more, doing things we enjoy more if we want to filter our daily decisions to choose the most impactful activities.


If you’re ready to draw more abundance into your world and leave the negativity at the door — try these strategies:


Decline invitations that don’t excite you.  That time is valuable thing? Super important.  So why would you waste precious hours somewhere you have zero interest or excitement about? Will there be some times you simply can’t decline? Sure, but for the most part, honor yourself, your time, your journey and only accept those invitations you really want and are delighted to attend. The others?  Graciously decline their invitation. Save your time for things you are energized by.


Fully commit. if you are working on a project, go all in.  In a conversation? Be fully present and attentive.  Relaxing with a book? Immerse yourself in the pleasure of it (without guilt)!  Dinner with a friend or loved one?  Set the distractions aside and give them the gift of your time.  Whatever it is, you will glean so much more from EVERY situation when you fully commit to it with all you have.


Be generous. Generosity is like jet-fuel for abundance. It stokes the fire for more great things in your life like almost nothing else can.  When you generously share your time, money, energy, gifts, knowledge, wisdom, experience – all of it – you will attract all of those things right back into your life.  It’s good for your heart, your mind and your spirit, I promise you. Out for a meal? Pick up the tab. Going through a toll gate?  Pay for the fellow behind you.  Stopping at Starbucks?  Surprise the next guest in line. Drop donuts off at a fire station. Bring unexpected flowers to a loved one. Drop a few random “thank you for being you” cards in the mail this week.  Little things really do go a very long way, and generosity often feels even more rewarding for us than it does for our recipients.


So, start today. Fuel your abundant thinking by paying attention to all the ways you share your time, attention and energy with those around you.  What can you to do today so abundance wins and you increase your daily impact? Share your ideas with us here on our blog.

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Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Focus on Positive, Productive Employee Engagement


Employee engagement

When you’re in a position of influence or authority, there are ways to help your organization increase employee engagement and overall productivity.  Each day we choose to be boring or engaging, productive or complacent. When we attend meetings, create presentations and host conversations, we can either demonstrate enthusiasm for our work and quality, or continue to deliver the status quo.


When you are mindful and choose to be engaging, people will pay attention and respond accordingly.  Voila – it’s that simple. Here are ten strategies to help you create positive employee engagement:

1. Be Authentic – The world wants you to be real, be human and be more of yourself. Stop trying to ‘fake it until you make it’ – show up as yourself and stop trying to be like everyone else.  As a famous philosopher Dr. Seuss says ‘why fit in when you were born to stand out.’

2. Be Interesting – Share stories from your sincere observations, life and world events. Provide examples that are current and relevant to your audience’s everyday life.

3. Be Enthusiastic – The energy you bring to every meeting and presentation is contagious. Your audience will rise up to meet you. Use people’s names, look them in the eye and share your passion of the topic or project with those in the room.

4. Be Contextual – Your audience wants to know why it matters. Share the strategic perspective first. Use metaphors and analogies when you present; they get audience attention and are memorable and repeatable. Simplify the complex with metaphors.

5. Be Fun – Don’t tell jokes to start a speech or a meeting (your audience may not know you yet). Allow people to have fun with you; self-deprecating humor is the safest and best humor to use in any situation.

6. Be Memorable – Pay attention to how the world sees you. Choose your words, your stories and examples.  Speak in triads – people remember things in threes i.e. nature, religion, phrases, advertising slogans – often we see things in threes i.e. faith, hope and love.

7. Be Involved – Use eye contact, encourage audiences and conference attendees to take notes, encourage your audience to be part of the learning process and conversations.

8. Be Brief – Don’t use 20 words if 10 will work, minimize your hideously ugly over-cluttered slide deck, make your point then move on people – it’s that simple.

9. Be Generous – Provide handouts in advance, allow audiences to connect with you before your presentation, participate in conversations in advance on social media forums i.e. Facebook, Tweet Chats, Google+ hangouts and webinars.

10. Be InquisitiveAsk questions of your audience and encourage them to ask questions. Make every presentation a conversation, instead of a presentation. People want to contribute and share their brilliance too.

Which of these techniques can you apply today? Which technique would your employees respond well to? We’d love to hear your thoughts what did you think, share your ideas with us here on our blog.

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Monday, November 14, 2016

5 Ways to Become a Chief EXECUTION Officer

Chief Execution OfficerWe are in an exciting time of disruptive change. Now more than ever before, human resource professionals lead the way with a need for exceptional service within organizations and fulfilling important roles that benefit everyone. As HR leaders, we know we don’t have time to do everything, we only time to do what matters.

What matters most to your organization? What matters to your employees?

To continue offering exceptional support to our business, serving our organization and focusing on strategy, we need a constant mindset of execution.  It’s easy to be busy; busy is not productive. We can no longer abide by the rules of time management. The old way of managing time doesn’t work. We must begin paying attention to what matters most.

In order to best serve our thriving and changing organizations, we need to be the CEO:                     Chief EXECUTION Officer.

Productivity requires implementation and execution.

The word execute means to ‘carry out or to perform’ and it derives from Latin exsequi, “carry out, follow up; punish.”  As HR professionals, we need build teams with strong reputations for execution, follow up and productivity.

Here are 5 strategies to accelerate productivity and build a reputation as the leader who executes:

15-minute rule:

Change the way you view time. Instead of thinking in 30 and 60-minute increments, reduce the time to 15 minutes.

Consider focusing on completing actions in 15 minutes: i.e. respond to emails, host a 1:1 with one of your leaders, complete a business calls, or reach out into your organization about potential partnerships.

People feel they don’t have an hour anymore; the key is to take action in 15-minute increments.  Can you encourage your team to begin approaching projects, meetings and completion in 15-minutes?  Encourage all meetings to be conducted in 15-minute increments. Suggest supervisors invest 15 minutes each week in additional training for the team to explore professional development opportunities.

What can you achieve in 15 minutes that will get you closer to the achievement of your organizational goals?

It’s the art of compressing time. Consider if you have 2 weeks to make a decision, how long does it take you? 2 weeks right.  If you have 2 minutes to make a decision, it takes you 2 minutes… can we compress activities into 15-minute increments?


Cancel meetings:

Yes you read this right! If you are holding meetings because you have the same meeting week after week, consider changing routine! Unless you have a strong agenda and a reason to invest everyone’s time, cancel the meeting. If you can’t cancel, consider reducing the meeting time by half. Complete an experiment, for your next meeting halve the time and encourage the team to stick to the agenda closely.  Meetings are an important part of every organization however invest time this month to determine if all the meeting you are hosting are operating effectively, is an agenda being followed, are actions being agreed and implemented as a result of the meetings. Are we moving the organization forward?


Pay attention: 

One of the greatest gifts you can give your team is your undivided attention. As busy HR professionals, it is easy to frustrate the team if you are constantly distracted by meetings, email and not focused on conversations. Distraction is perceived as disrespectful. Investing your attention, looking employees, colleagues, leaders and peers in the eye when you communicate will achieve more. Put down your smartphone and encourage your team to do the same.


Choose three strategies: 

Focus your attention on your top three deliverables.  Your to-do list is always growing and your email keeps coming. If we just focused on activities we wouldn’t be productive, we’d just be busy. True leaders know they need to prioritize on the highest impact objectives. Three is the magic number and allows people to retain focus.  Make sure your strategies are repeatable (others can share them throughout the organization), relatable (others understand how it affects them) and recognizable (others can see the impact of those strategies). As a leader your role is to focus on strategies you can execute!



Take regular breaks from technology, remove yourself from your email and the minutia that is draining your focus and energy. As the leader invest in the contextual deliverables, the big picture, the strategy – that’s it! Leave the details to those around you to execute.  Clarity and vision are often created when you step away from the everyday operations and allow yourself to brainstorm how we can do things differently; how we can continually disrupt the way we have always done things.

As human resources professionals, we must drive our organizations by focusing on the things that truly matter, that truly require execution. What can you do with your team this week to move the business forward?

To increase the productivity of your team, lead by example, and allow others to step into their brilliance by empowering them to execute the details of the strategies you create. Now that’s productive!

If you plan to attend #SHRMVLS this November, I’d like to know your biggest productivity challenge.

The post 5 Ways to Become a Chief EXECUTION Officer appeared first on Neen James.

How to pay attention at SHRMVLS

Watch video on YouTube here: http://youtu.be/lHGJybf_1is

How to pay attention at SHRMVLS

Watch video on YouTube here: http://youtu.be/lHGJybf_1is

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

How to Get Focused After a Long Meeting (Guest Blog: by Cameron Conaway)

A long meeting well executed can be tremendously useful, but it can also drain your focus reserves. Here’s how to reclaim your focus and finish the day strong.

long meetingWe’ve all felt our focus slip during a meeting. It happens for a variety of reasons, ranging from our feeling that the meeting is a waste of time to simply not getting enough sleep the night before.

It could even be because the long meeting interrupted a period of our own focused work, and we found it too difficult to detach from the project we were working on so we could be fully present. A pivotal study from 1989 even found that:

40% of corporate VPs admitted to falling asleep or dozing off during a meeting (tweet this)

Regardless of how successful the meeting was (or where our mind drifted off to during it), the moment immediately after a long meeting is nearly always a struggle. Post-meeting work typically goes down in a few of the following ways:

-You try to reclaim the focus you had before the meeting, but it’s difficult to get back to where you were.

-You’re on the maker’s schedule, in the Paul Graham sense, and the meeting disrupted your work day and perhaps even lowered your ambitions for getting focused to tackle an important project.

-You’re an introvert and, while meetings can be invigorating for extroverts, they are especially exhausting for you.

-The long meeting actually ended on an actionable item, and you first need to compile minutes, capture the agreed-upon solution, or otherwise focus on some sort of post-meeting work.

-You pat yourself on the back for participating, and rationalize why you should take an extra-long lunch break or cut your day short.

To be clear, there are countless other reasons. But while there’s a veritable movement rallying around how meetings sap productivity—and seemingly infinite list articles about how to make meetings more productive—there’s strikingly little out there about how to get focused and stay focused after a meeting.

So what does getting focused after a meeting look like?

For starters, it means not coming back to your desk having to make a bunch of micro-decisions before you can go deep. Ideally, you’ll come right back to your desk and know exactly what you need to work on.

To immediately dial-in like this you’ll need to pre-prioritize which tasks first need your attention, what can be completed in the time allotted, and what might be better off pushing to the next day.

Here are 3 ways, based on some of our own challenges over the years, to reclaim focus after a long meeting:

1. Have a pre-meeting meeting with yourself and/or your team (I know how counterintuitive that seems, but stay with me).

The most frequent meeting time is 11am, and the average meeting length is 31-60 minutes. Look what happens to the average team’s Flow activity throughout the day. Productivity takes a big dip, particularly with Tasks Completed and app opens:

Lunch is certainly to blame, but it’s worth expanding that blame a bit. If the average meeting is at 11am, that means it’s typically followed by lunch, and that means your focus was disrupted for a long period of time right in the middle of the day.

And you aren’t able to get it back to where you had it in the morning.

A major challenge in returning to work after a meeting is that you aren’t sure what to work on. Do you go back into focus mode or do you try to complete some small tasks so you can set yourself up to get focused later on?

A pre-meeting meeting can help you establish this. Take a few minutes before the meeting to jot down—either in an app or on a Post-It note—precisely what you’ll work on after the meeting. These few minutes of thought will help you organize which tasks are most important, and this means you’ll be better equipped to navigate that difficult post-meeting transition.

2. Channel the rest of your day’s focus by tapping into what science tells us about team size and productivity.

Notice how as teams get larger than 5 or 6 people, the sheer number of tasks the team completes doesn’t grow?

Research shows diminishing returns of working in a team larger than 5 or 6. Smaller teams typically mean greater focus and less chance for distraction. In short, going from a meeting directly into focused work as part of small team can be a great way to reclaim post-meeting focus.

If you’re working on a collaborative team project after a meeting, find a way to break a larger team into groups of 5-6 people (or smaller), and designate which part of the project each team should focus on. This decision to break your team up could help each member stay focused on the task at hand.

3. Be the change by making your post-meeting focus a habit.

In Edgar Schein’s book, Organizational Culture and Leadership, he writes:

…if a basic assumption comes to be strongly held in a group, members will find behavior based on any other premise inconceivable.”

In other words, focus needs to become such a part of your team’s culture that the premise of not-focusing is inconceivable.

Elements of a team’s culture (good, bad, or otherwise) are difficult to break when they’ve been exhibited so many times that they reach what Schein refers to as a “basic assumption.”

How to make that happen? Be the change. The best way you can let the important ripple of focus spread throughout your company is to exhibit it. Don’t just say how important it is to you, show it. And show it on a regular basis.

Here’s how. Before your next meeting, and in addition to #1 above, figure out which colleagues outside of your immediate team would benefit from knowing your post-meeting plans. Pull them aside, briefly, and let them know what you plan to work on immediately after the meeting.

Even something like:

Hey Jenn, just a heads up that I’m going into focus mode for a few hours after our meeting today. I really want to wrap up the Q1 marketing report by end-of-day. I’ll be available around 3 if you need me.”

This will give your colleague the heads up and you the pocket of uninterrupted work time you need.

This small act can go a long way to making focus part of your team’s culture.

Focusing as an individual outside of work is one thing, but getting focused when you’re part of a team in the workplace can be quite another. Once you’ve made getting focused at work a personal commitment, the next step is communicating this commitment with your team.

Need a way to kickstart that conversation? Sharing this article could do the trick.


The original blog post hosted on www.getflow.com can be found by clicking here. Cameron Conaway’s piece was a great fit for this audience and I wanted to share!

The post How to Get Focused After a Long Meeting (Guest Blog: by Cameron Conaway) appeared first on Neen James.

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

How to Have More Impact and Influence with Attention

Watch video on YouTube here: http://youtu.be/V93Yf1eK1jU

Attention is EVERYTHING!

distractions impact influenceWe are all bogged down with distractions that leave us feeling overtired, overworked and overstressed. In today’s world, where technology rules the day, how can we avoid distractions and pay attention to what matters most? How can we leverage our attention to gain more impact and influence everyday?




This video provides ways to improve your ability to impact and influence with attention by:
– How to avoid distractions and pay attention to who is in front of you,
– How to embrace moments that matter and live in the here and now
– How to focus on what’s in front of you to create stronger relationships.


If you’re a leader trying to increase the impact and influence you have over your team, read these three strategies to to prioritize employees and make them what matters most.

Perhaps you are trying to communicate and connect with others in a more meaningful, impactful way but struggle to do so without involving technology. Consider these ideas that will communicate your message, increase your connection and improve your relationships.


What distractions will you commit to turning off? Who will you give your undivided attention to today?


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How to Have More Impact and Influence with Attention

Watch video on YouTube here: http://youtu.be/V93Yf1eK1jU

Tuesday, November 01, 2016


Thank you for all the AH-Mazing ATTENTION!

I absolutely love working with SHRM leaders to bring out the best of what’s possible in their teams. Things like empowered creativity. Crazy-amazing connectivity. Next-level collaboration. Through the roof productivity.

The truth is? All of that doesn’t have to be as hard as some people make it. And we really can put more FUN and balance into people’s lives.  That’s usually where I come in.  To deliver real-world strategies and ideas that REALLY work – at the office – at home – in relationships – the WORKS. And believe it or not? It all starts with ATTENTION. The incredibly focused kind that creates connections and change – and I’d love to share it all with you and your team.

I invite you to download the following with my compliments:

  • My Attention PaysTM White Paper: Filled with insights on how and why our increasingly lack of focused attention has literally cost businesses $558 BILLION dollars a year. Better still, it shares the strategies and ideas your team needs to turn that around and fuel out-of-this-world productivity and profitability.
  • The Ten Tips to Help Leaders Pay More Attention to Their Teams: This is particularly powerful as it shares the tools and tips leaders need to not only lead by example, but create a culture where entire teams shift from inattention to ATTENTION – and how that shift can elevate an entire organization.
  • My Most Requested Topics for HR Professionals: I love working with HR pros to bring best-in-the-business strategies to their teams and organizations. I put humor and fun together with the kind of serious tools it takes to help team prosper in entirely new ways and I’d love to do the same for your group.  Take a look through, and know that I customize each keynote to deliver the exact perfect message for your audience.

Ready for a powerhouse shift in your business?  Give me a shout or shoot me a message today to find out how I can create crystal-clear focus for your next audience and help you put a plan in place for the positive change that will send your results soaring!  G’Day!

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