Can having fun make you a better leader?

by Dave Crenshaw

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Employees, whether they know it or not, tend to play “follow the leader. They may admire your ingenuity or just want a little more spending money. Whatever it is, they mimic your behavior because they think it will make them successful. The problem is that leaders often exhibit unhealthy behaviors that cause them to work late nights without taking crucial breaks that recharge their batteries and improve their performance.


According to the Kelly Global Workforce Index, seventy-four percent of employees feel less loyal to their employer after the first year. What’s more, according to the University of Phoenix, nearly 60 percent of all American workers wish they were in a different career.


There are also studies that show that workaholism isn’t just unhealthy, it’s detrimental to the productivity of both yourself and others. In my upcoming book The Power of Having Fun, I discuss ways to improve this by finding a daily, weekly, monthly, yearly “Oasis.”
An Oasis?


Imagine you’re in the Mojave desert. You are hundreds of miles from civilization. You’re rationing food and water and you need to make it to civilization before you starve. Your lips are beginning to chap and you’re sunburned beyond belief.


Then, inexplicably, in this barren wasteland, you are greeted by a pool of the bluest drinking water you’ve ever seen. There’s papaya juice, fresh seafood, and a chase lounge comfortable enough to rest any weary traveler.


This oasis is exactly what you need to continue the journey and to get where you’re trying to go. As a manager, your Work Oasis is exactly what you need to get through your day. Only it’s not a mirage. It’s very real.
You Come First


Establishing an Oasis is incredibly simple. The first step is to schedule this time with yourself every day. Literally, put it on your calendar. Your Oasis can be whatever you’d like it to be. Maybe you enjoy taking a bike ride through the parking lot or a quick trip down a YouTube wormhole.


One of my regular clients scheduled an appointment each day to visit Bessie the Cow. She’d leave her office, walk up the hill to a local pasture, pet the cow on the nose and then head back to work. Whether your moment of relaxation is of the bovine, canine, or alone time variety, any type of Oasis can work―as long as it’s meaningful to you!


Your employees should notice a change in your behavior and a change in the culture and mimic you accordingly.
The Institutional Oasis


If the free market of workplace behaviors doesn’t move the needle for your team, it’s your responsibility as a leader to institute and encourage taking breaks.


However, instead of setting the parameters for what constitutes a break, ask them what kind of break would be meaningful to them. Ask them what they like to do for fun. You shouldn’t encourage them to read when what they really want to do is play video games. You shouldn’t send them TED talks when what they really want to do is take long walks.
Taking Things Up a Notch


Eventually, you may find an opportunity in your budget for a more expensive Work Oasis, such as a company picnic. In my coaching experience, I’ve found leaders get the best results when they make these breaks less about the activity and more about self-directed fun. For example, company off-sites to the local bowling alley don’t appeal to everyone. Between the bowling shoes and the loud noises, you stand to turn some people off. The same can be said for a golf day, a video game day, or any other fun daytime activity. In the land of fun, flexibility is key.


Consider instituting a day like LinkedIn’s monthly InDay. Each InDay, employees engage in personal projects meant to reflect their own personal goals and to create a positive impact.
Winning Your Employees


By becoming an advocate of employee fun, you are more likely to turn the tide of the negative workplace stats I listed earlier. As a leader, your goals are often focused on performance result―as they should be. Always remember that getting stuff done and having more fun go hand-in-hand. By taking more time for yourself, setting a fun-positive example, and granting that privilege to others, you become a more productive leader.


Millennials, Professional Feedback and the New Performance Review Model

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by Warren Wright

If Millennials had their way in the workplace, the “annual performance review” would go the way of the fax machine and punch clock.

Millennials grew up with “Google” as a verb, as in “to google” virtually any answer to any question. More recently, services like Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa and other digital concierges make finding information even more effortless.

But technology is not the only catalyst that has conditioned Millennials to receive instant and frequent feedback: Ever since they were young, Millennials were tested and graded at an alarming frequency, all to track their short and long term goal attainment.

Millennials are uniquely conditioned, more than any other generation, to expect speed and frequency– especially as it relates the their performance goals. The dreaded Annual Performance Review, which was never very popular, is fast becoming an antiquated relic, especially for Millennials who crave real time feedback.

Studies have shown that Millennials appreciate hands-on guidance and direction from their supervisors on a more frequent basis, unlike employees from older generations. In a recent LifeCourse Associates’ survey, “69 percent of Millennials say they like their supervisor to provide them with ‘hands-on guidance and direction.’ Only about 40 percent of Boomers and older Gen Xers said the same.”

Providing frequent and tight cycles of honest and open feedback will more-than pay off in productivity and employee engagement. Engaged employees feel valued and have more professional satisfaction, tend to be more motivated, more likely to meet their goals, and more likely to stay with a company in the future.

Some of the top-rated companies and best places to work for have all but ditched the traditional, top-down annual performance evaluation in favor of more frequent, 360-degree reviews. These includes GE, Adobe and Deloitte.

Skills Every Successful Entrepreneur Must Have

By Jennifer Dawson

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There are essential leadership skills every entrepreneurs must have to succeed and fortunately you may already possess them thanks to your hobbies and skills. Read on to learn more.

Focus and Discipline

These are perhaps the most important skills any entrepreneur must have. It takes drive and motivation to succeed, and you need focus and discipline for both. If you think you’re lacking, think again. Do you enjoy chess? Do you get up at 4 am every day without fail to work out or run? Perhaps you enjoy hobbies like jigsaw puzzles, are good at saving money, or have lost a significant amount of weight. All these things take focus and discipline, so don’t sell yourself short.

Another important skill is to be detail oriented. In business being sloppy can mean costing your company big bucks. It pays to pay attention to every detail and not overlook the small stuff. Your customers and clients will appreciate your extra attention to detail, and it can help your company accumulate greater profits. If your hobby includes things like putting models together or planning a garden, or if you’re a stickler for proofreading and never forget a face, you’re definitely detail oriented.

Teamwork and Competitiveness

Presumably, you intend to surround yourself with a team of employees that will work together to help the business grow and succeed. If so, you’re going to need a lot of experience in teamwork and competitiveness to ensure employee engagement and success. It’s important to see yourself as part of the team, not just the boss, and to treat your employees with respect and empathy. Happy employees are employees that feel listened to and valued.

Having a competitive spirit is important too, but there has to be balance. Over competitiveness alienates people and drives morale down. Make sure you inspire people to challenge themselves and the competition, don’t make them feel like they have no choice. Again, your personal skills and hobbies come into play here. If you’ve ever played on a sports team, in a band, or led a club, you’ve already been nurturing and growing these important skills.

Being a successful entrepreneur may seem daunting, but in reality, you may already have many of the skills you need to excel and grow your business. Focus, discipline, teamwork and attention to details are all things we use in our personal lives and while enjoying our hobbies, so take a look at yours and see what you’ve learned!

Learn to Manage Your Stress As an Entrepreneur

By JR Dominguez
View original publication on Millennial Magazine

Today more millennials than ever are skipping out on the traditional 9 to 5 and going into business for themselves. The alluring concept of being an entrepreneur, calling the shots, and starting a career in a field they’re passionate about has driven many to start their own small businesses. Being the boss does have its advantages, however, becoming the head person in charge doesn’t come without some stressed involved. With more obstacles ahead than many are aware of, it takes a plan to manage your stress and be successful at running a business.

Common Stress Factors

How much stress could there be? You get to decide what you want to do for a living, you determine how much you’d like to make, you’re in charge of hiring, and you have no one to answer to. It would seem that being a business owner is a piece of cake, however, it won’t take long to encounter the factors which can lead to an undue amount of stress. Below are some you might experience and how to get through it.

  • Finances – One of the biggest stress factors for business owners is having enough capital to sustain their startup. From choosing an entity and company name to covering operating costs, you’ll need to have cash upfront to keep things running. As most entrepreneurs are coming from their traditional jobs, most don’t have enough capital and many don’t even make an income the first few years of business.
  • Time – There is a lot to do as a business owner and time is often a commodity they don’t have enough of. Many new entrepreneurs end up working 10-15 hours a day, which is a far cry from the eight-hour shifts they’re used to.
  • Too Many Hats – There are a lot of facets to running a business and the climate is always changing. It can be a lot for one person to take on. However, to save money in the beginning, many entrepreneurs take on all the responsibilities. The quality of business suffers as a result.

This is only a small portion of the stress factors that entrepreneurs have to deal with. There are also stressors to consider like lack of control over the success of the business, competition, and the inability to properly balance their personal and professional lives. This can lead to burnout or chronic stress which can manifest in ways that include substance abuse, lack of concentration, mood swings, fatigue, body aches, high blood pressure, and more.

Manage Your Stress With An Action Plan

The number of new businesses each year continues to climb and the dream of becoming an entrepreneur has not subsided, therefore, it is safe to say that starting your own business isn’t impossible. However, to get through the first few years, it will be necessary for you to find a way to reduce your stress.

  • Seek Treatment – If you’ve started abusing drugs and alcohol to deal with the stress of starting your own business you should seek treatment. There are rehab centers that have an alcohol rehab timeline for inpatient or outpatient programs that span 30, 60, or 90 days to make it easy to balance with your professional and personal obligations. These treatments will also teach you how to deal with stress and mental health issues in a healthy and sober way.
  • Tap Into Financial Resources – There is a lot of financial help out there for startups. Apply for a small business loan or grant, create a budget, and look for other revenue streams to help you sustain a living until you start turning a profit.
  • Hire Help – To save you time in a day and reduce the amount of stress you’re dealing with from being the jack-of-all-trades, you should hire help. If money is an issue, consider outsourcing, hiring temp staff, working with interns, or bartering.

It takes a special person to run a successful business. This person must not only have great leadership skills and have a passion that motivates them to excel, they must also know how to deal with the downside of being the boss. By reducing the amount of stress you’re under, you can get through the most difficult years of starting a business and start to live the life you always dreamed of.

Coaching is the New Managing For Millennials

By Nick

View original publication on Coaching Millenials

I love Peter Drucker. The father of modern management always cut through the complexity and got to the heart of that matter. I remember during the weighty assignments in finance and accounting classes while getting my MBA, I’d run across a Drucker quote like, “business has only two functions, marketing and innovation”. This inspired me to slog through the double-entry bookkeeping.

Drucker died in 1995 at the age of 96, so he never managed a Millennial, but if he did, he would be refining and tweaking one aspect of his management theory. He might say that to get Millennials to peak performance, manage less, and coach more. Coaching is the new managing for Millennials. Here’s why

Millennials grew up to believe they were special. From an early age they were doted on by their parents, helicopter-hovered in K-12, and plastered with gold stars for completing assignments. They have been under the watchful eye of parents, teachers, tutors, and coaches all their lives. For the most part, these authority figures have been caring with their Millennials’ best interest in mind. So when these Millennials enter the workforce, how will they respond to someone who doesn’t possess these characteristics? A distant authority figure doling out unexplained assignments and lofty goals without explaining how to get to those goals is not the way to get there. On the other hand, someone that will work closely with them, mentoring and partnering– coaching them to better performance will experience far greater levels of productivity.

The word “management” conjures up a faceless bureaucratic infrastructure, at worst– malevolent, and at best—indiscriminate: Rule-making and decision-making at its worst. Drucker himself even said, “So much of what we call management consists of making it difficult for people to work”

Let me be clear. The principles of good management still need to apply—clear expectations, a means of tracking progress, and rewards for achieving goals. But how a manager manages should be more like a coach—developing his or her Millennial employee with close supervision and a watchful, caring eye.

Old habits die hard, and if you’ve been a manager for more than 10-years, I can understand the inclination to subscribe to the philosophy, ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’ But something does not have to be broke in order to fix it. Change happens, and the strong are those that can adapt to change. Millennials are different from the previous two generations. They are the change that is happening in the workplace, and coaching, not managing, might be the change that gets your organization to higher levels of productivity.

Take it from Peter Drucker when he says, “If you want to start doing something new, stop doing something old.” Coaching is the new managing when it comes to Millennials.