Archive: April, 2018

Post from Transformation Tom: Dedicate Time Daily, Weekly and Monthly to Write Down Your Accomplishments—What Went Right?: Chapter from “The Transformation of a Doubting Thomas”

Posted by tomdowd - April 24, 2018 - News
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Dedicate Time Daily, Weekly, and Monthly to Writing Down Your

AccomplishmentsWhat Went Right?

One of my daughters could be with friends at school having the best time. Yet, when asked, “How was it,” or, “How was your day?” she will sometimes start with all of the things that went wrong or tell us the things she did not get the chance to do when they were together. Beyond the guilt staring me in the face at the idea that some of my negativity and cynicism had rubbed off on her, I realized there was a different approach to steer the conversation down a more positive path. I found success when asking her different questions, such as, “What was your favorite part of the day?” My previous generic questions had allowed her to start the conversation with a sour taste. The more targeted question with the positive overtones maneuvered the conversation to a better place from the beginning. Many times, the conversation ended positively because so much time and energy was dedicated to telling me what went right.

I invest time on my thirty-minute commute home daily to ask myself what went right and what was the day’s biggest accomplishment? Success breeds success. I often document the successes when I get home. If an accomplishment is meaningful enough to write down, I will add it to my accomplishments folder or type it directly into my next performance appraisal self-assessment the next day.

I have time dedicated on my calendar monthly to organize my accomplishments. You can never be too busy to set aside time to pat yourself on the back every once in a while. I am not talking about hours of time. I am talking about a couple of minutes to write down a quick note, and then move on with your day. I’ve had many managers tell me how detailed my performance appraisals were. It comes across as a complete work that is often perceived to take hours of time, when in reality, it is a simple routine that is pure brain dumping based on my wins.

I have also heard many peers complain when it was time to complete their own performance appraisals because they couldn’t remember what they had accomplished, or didn’t know where they would find the time needed to put it all together. They always saw that the deadline was fast approaching, and the procrastination had already caught up. I simply proofread and edit my performance appraisal self-assessment prior to the deadline and send it on. You might surprise yourself with the amount of work you have accomplished in that short period of time that you may have previously forgotten. You also get the benefit of reminding yourself of the many things you have done right.

If you do have people working for you or with you, and you are part of the sit-down, performance appraisal discussion, here is the next logical move: conduct the same routine for others that you do for yourself. Invest that same amount of time in keeping ongoing notes of your team’s accomplishment for your input on their performance appraisals. Accomplishments for you and your people are often synonymous, due to the teamwork needed. The simple routine of maintaining detailed and noteworthy accomplishments and events gives you the chance to provide deserving people with the recognition they deserve. I have found that many of the details are forgotten by my team and are appreciated when they see that I didn’t forget. Additionally, you lose the stress at performance appraisal time of a looming deadline ahead, since you are well prepared. Dedicating a small amount of time on a regular basis to tell yourself and people you work with that they are good at what they do allows you to enjoy the fruits of your labor. You simply proofread, edit, and send it on its way in a timely fashion to the people who need to know “what went right.”

 

 

Thomas B. Dowd III’s books available in softcover, eBook, and audiobook (From Fear to Success only):

  • Now What? The Ultimate Graduation Gift for Professional Success
  • Time Management Manifesto: Expert Strategies to Create an Effective Work/Life Balance
  • Displacement Day: When My Job was Looking for a Job…A Reference Guide to Finding Work
  • The Transformation of a Doubting Thomas: Growing from a Cynic to a Professional in the Corporate World
  • From Fear to Success: A Practical Public-speaking Guide received the Gold Medal at the 2013 Axiom Business Book Awards in Business Reference
  • The Unofficial Guide to Fatherhood

See “Products” for details on www.transformationtom.com.  Book and eBook purchase options are also available on Amazon- Please click the link to be re-directed: Amazon.com

Do you know about Avanoo.com?  Two-to-three minute eLearning programs that can change your life.

When Your Job is to Find a Job—and Yourself

Manage Your Time—Don’t Let It Manage You

MP3 Downloads of “From Fear to Success:  A Practical Public-speaking Guide” are available at Apple iTunes, Amazon, Rhapsody, Emusic, Nokia, Xbox Music, Spotify, Omnifone, Google Music Store, Rdio, Muve Music, Bloom.fm, Slacker Radio, MediaNet, 7digital, 24-7, Rumblefish, and Shazam “From Fear to Success” MP3 on CD Baby

 

Post from Transformation Tom: Have Unprofessional Days—Gain Trust and Respect: Chapter from “The Transformation of a Doubting Thomas”

Posted by tomdowd - April 17, 2018 - News
1

Have Unprofessional DaysGain Trust and Respect

Are you a person people trust and respect? That’s a tough question to answer on your own because trust and respect can’t be asked for—they must be earned. Trust and respect are also easy to lose. In my first year working, we had a person going through a management development program who covered our team in my manager’s absence. The team was not listening to him. They were having side conversations in the middle of a staff meeting. The manager-wannabe screamed out, “You need to respect me.” No, we did not have to respect him. In fact, whatever little respect we might have had was now gone. Respect can’t simply be demanded.

The same is true for trust. Trust has to be gained. It takes a while for some people you are working with to truly trust you. However, in a company working towards a common objective and goal, it is critical to find the trust of the right people, especially people with whom you work closely. Of all my shortfalls, being ethical and trying to do the right thing were not one of them. Although I had issues earning respect from people who worked for me early in my career, trust seemed to be easier to gain. I needed to find a creative way to do both.

I am not a big fan of rumors, talking badly about people we work with, or yelling and screaming in the workplace. However, there are some days you want to bang your head against a wall. There have been occasions I have placed my phone on mute and stuck my tongue out at the computer. This is a very effective way to let off some steam and stem some frustration.

I found a creative way to earn both trust and respect. I used the trusting reputation I had, and gave people an ear during times they needed to vent. I have shocked many people working with me when they started down a tirade or sounded frustrated by encouraging the conversation to go further. Depending on the day of the week this event would occur, I asked them if they wanted this to be “unprofessional Monday (or Tuesday, or Wednesday, or Thursday, or Friday).” As expected, I often caught people off guard with the question. However, the question often lightened the mood and allowed me to explain the opportunity that they could have a protected and supportive conversation to get them through the issue. What started as a joke to break up the frustration of a couple of individuals has now turned into a regular routine I have done for many years. I once had a person from Human Resources pull me to the side to “discuss” my “unprofessional Tuesdays.” I thought I was about to get an earful from someone who frowned upon it. She started chuckling and commended me for creating an open environment, and made a comment that she might need to come see me herself for a couple of frustrating moments she wanted to get off her own chest.

The cleansing feeling of letting it all out eventually comes. First, it eases some tension the person may be feeling. However, most people start to tentatively tell me what’s going on. Pent-up frustration soon turns into open dialogue. The discussion might start with problem dumping but most often turns into problem-solving sessions. When they know that what they’ve said behind closed doors (literally or figuratively) stays there in confidence, I earn their trust a little at a time.

In the long term, I am building credibility as a listener, a confidant, and nurturing the relationship with that person. The relationship aspect grows over time, which further allows more complex problem solving. By proactively offering my services to give the person a time and place, even unscheduled, to complain, I actually see the complaints diminish as the person learns to deal more effectively with his or her frustration levels.

This is not a wide-open invitation to “roll buses.” However, I have found that this exercise allowed me to better understand the emotions people experience and how venting clears their heads. Once emotions are in check, the person becomes more objective in his or her thinking. People need to be comfortable in order to speak their minds. By providing a place for them to do that freely, they can become more effective in the short- and long term, and you as a manager or mentor gain trust and respect.

 

Thomas B. Dowd III’s books available in softcover, eBook, and audiobook (From Fear to Success only):

  • Now What? The Ultimate Graduation Gift for Professional Success
  • Time Management Manifesto: Expert Strategies to Create an Effective Work/Life Balance
  • Displacement Day: When My Job was Looking for a Job…A Reference Guide to Finding Work
  • The Transformation of a Doubting Thomas: Growing from a Cynic to a Professional in the Corporate World
  • From Fear to Success: A Practical Public-speaking Guide received the Gold Medal at the 2013 Axiom Business Book Awards in Business Reference
  • The Unofficial Guide to Fatherhood

See “Products” for details on www.transformationtom.com.  Book and eBook purchase options are also available on Amazon- Please click the link to be re-directed: Amazon.com

Do you know about Avanoo.com?  Two-to-three minute eLearning programs that can change your life.

When Your Job is to Find a Job—and Yourself

Manage Your Time—Don’t Let It Manage You

MP3 Downloads of “From Fear to Success:  A Practical Public-speaking Guide” are available at Apple iTunes, Amazon, Rhapsody, Emusic, Nokia, Xbox Music, Spotify, Omnifone, Google Music Store, Rdio, Muve Music, Bloom.fm, Slacker Radio, MediaNet, 7digital, 24-7, Rumblefish, and Shazam “From Fear to Success” MP3 on CD Baby

 

 

 

Post from Transformation Tom: Be a Mentor, and Learn Something Yourself- Chapter from “The Transformation of a Doubting Thomas”

Posted by tomdowd - April 7, 2018 - News
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Be a Mentor, and Learn Something Yourself

I never connected the dots about how much I missed leading people until I stopped managing them. I was finding teachable moments from lessons I had learned that needed to be expressed, and found I was lacking the people to tell. I think I found therapy in sharing all of my mistakes with others. I often told people regularly, “Don’t step on any toes, don’t burn any bridges, and keep the lines of communications open…because you will cross paths again.” The purpose was to remind people that even if we part ways, we can still be there for each other.

Working for me was once described as swimming in the oceans of Maine. Initially, when you jump in, you are shocked and can barely move. After a while, you get used to it, are refreshed, and ultimately you learn to enjoy swimming in it. I had enough people tell me how much they learned under my management, but only after they had time to reflect on our time together (often many years later). Since at the time I held positions which involved more project management versus people management, I longed for the two-way dialogue of professional development conversations. Once I realized that I did, eventually, have a positive influence on people, I knew I wanted to at least be a mentor. As a mentor, I also came to the conclusion that the people I mentored—as opposed to those I managed—didn’t have to listen to me, so I had to work harder to exert the right influence. I wanted to be a teacher again without having people wait years for that “aha” moment that they had learned something from me. I wanted to do it without throwing people into the ocean first.

It is interesting how people would come to me to say how they wanted me to teach their newer leaders how to be better organized, or to teach managers how to be more direct. I underestimated the influence I was having on people who were eager to learn. By investing time with others with no strings attached, I began to naturally soften my directness because they had no vested interest in my teachings unless I could give them something impactful to walk away with. From an objective mentoring point of view, I could teach without forcing the issue. I could adapt my teachings based on what worked best for that person’s style or situation.

I found myself more effective influencing others as I was learning myself. I found success in building bridges, and actively sharing my past successes and failures. Most importantly, I was becoming a better listener. I was growing more patient, and was no longer just hearing the words but was truly listening. I improved my communication skills by understanding the impact I had on others when I tried to speak over them or ignore their comments while I tried to come up with the next thing to say.

I was becoming someone else’s sounding board. I could have put on my psychiatrist hat for some sessions. It depended on what the person I was mentoring at the time wanted or needed. I began to better adapt my advice and teachings based on the various situations. I became a stronger role model and a better mentor. Many people have invested their time and energy to share their knowledge with me as my mentors. I knew I wanted to do the same. Selfishly, I just couldn’t—and still can’t—get past the fact the every time I mentor someone, I walk away thanking them.

 

 

 

Thomas B. Dowd III’s books available in softcover, eBook, and audiobook (From Fear to Success only):

  • Now What? The Ultimate Graduation Gift for Professional Success
  • Time Management Manifesto: Expert Strategies to Create an Effective Work/Life Balance
  • Displacement Day: When My Job was Looking for a Job…A Reference Guide to Finding Work
  • The Transformation of a Doubting Thomas: Growing from a Cynic to a Professional in the Corporate World
  • From Fear to Success: A Practical Public-speaking Guide received the Gold Medal at the 2013 Axiom Business Book Awards in Business Reference
  • The Unofficial Guide to Fatherhood

See “Products” for details on www.transformationtom.com.  Book and eBook purchase options are also available on Amazon- Please click the link to be re-directed: Amazon.com

Do you know about Avanoo.com?  Two-to-three minute eLearning programs that can change your life.

When Your Job is to Find a Job—and Yourself

Manage Your Time—Don’t Let It Manage You

MP3 Downloads of “From Fear to Success:  A Practical Public-speaking Guide” are available at Apple iTunes, Amazon, Rhapsody, Emusic, Nokia, Xbox Music, Spotify, Omnifone, Google Music Store, Rdio, Muve Music, Bloom.fm, Slacker Radio, MediaNet, 7digital, 24-7, Rumblefish, and Shazam “From Fear to Success” MP3 on CD Baby

 

Post from Transformation Tom: Get a Mentor- Chapter from “The Transformation of a Doubting Thomas”

Posted by tomdowd - April 2, 2018 - News
0

Get a Mentor

Professional development comes from a lot of places. One place is from an individual you trust who can tell it to you straight. The trust and respect components in a mutually strong relationship can do wonders for your personal and professional growth. The process requires some strength on your part: You need to take the time with your mentor seriously enough to take the actions suggested by that mentor. Additionally, you must now invest more time in making a difference in your own career. Some people see this invested time as not important enough to make the commitment. Mentor relationships are not intended to just go through the motions. Although not all mentor relationships work out, I’ve rarely seen a situation in which something wasn’t learned, even if it was a small lesson.

I’ve had multiple mentors throughout my career. The definition and intentions of a mentor are far and wide. How two people find each other is also an inconsistent variable. A mentor can be part of a formal work program that matches two people up based on skill, tenure, and ability. A mentor can be someone you look up to, admire, and respect. A mentor can also be someone you seek out for knowledge you currently do not possess, but want to gain. In all cases, a mentor relationship is special because you are being given a third party’s perspective—one that is often completely different from your own thinking.

I started what I like to call a rotating mentor program for myself in 2008, which is continues to be an active part of my ongoing development today. This self-directed program was a proactive approach to building my network and relationships. I often base my selection criteria on a need I have at the time, or on a particular business expectation. I have found the advantage of variety has been something I seek out in order to broaden my own business acumen.

Mentor relationships can be formal, meaning designated meeting times and dates, or informal, meaning you connect through an already-established relationship based on a specific need. You might be surprised at the number of times you need a sounding board or simply objective advice from someone who does not have any vested interest in the game. The objectivity of a mentor gives you stability and sensibility to think straight, while keeping emotions in check.

Informal mentors are always good to have in your arsenal of tools. They are people you have worked with over time, in whose advice and suggestions you have a significant amount of confidence. Informal mentors are people to whom you can simply pick up the phone and say, “Please help me.” The great thing about informal mentors is that typically the person is someone with whom you can release pent-up frustration or gather ideas immediately. I have built up relationships with many people throughout my organization. The people I go to most often know my capabilities and many times know just what to say, at just the right time. I have had many problems in the past related to my own stubbornness, thinking I could do everything on my own. The use of mentors is a continuous reminder that two heads are often better than one.

Mentors have become a key to my ongoing success. My number of connections continues to grow. It is not the number that it is as important as the variety of go-to people. As time goes on in my professional life, people have moved on from a direct working relationship to other areas of the company, while others have left the company. People no longer with your company are a great asset in a mentoring capacity. Whether you strike up a formal or informal relationship is not relevant. The objectivity of people you are seeking advice from means they most likely do not have the same emotional connection to the situation that you do, but still have enough familiarity with the business to provide meaningful guidance to assist you in whatever way you may need.

As someone who is involved in a mentor relationship, you need to put into it what you want to get out of it. I have known many mentor relationships that are simply two people catching up at a designated time and date. The instances when I have learned the most from mentors have been with the ones who have pressed me to stretch myself by giving me assignments and tasks for the next meeting. They often saw my ability and capacity well beyond my own expectations for myself. I was often being taught when I didn’t even realize it.

These successful mentors also forced me to come up with the questions that drove the relationship. If you are in a mentor relationship, ask yourself the questions, “Why?” and, “What do you want to get out of it?” The answers will always vary based on the individual; however, there is always an answer. If you are unsure, use the questions to start the flow of the conversation with the mentor. The added value to the future meetings will begin to take hold. Someone has become your mentor for a reason. It is fair to ask tough questions of him or her and take advantage of the time together to gain from the knowledge, inspiration, and experience he or she can share. The challenge of solving difficult questions together will only build a deeper bond.

Finally, be patient as mentor relationships evolve. You may not always find the perfect match. The differences in opinions, styles, and knowledge that may be causing the strain in the relationship may also be the gap in learning you are seeking. You should take advantage of the situation, whether it is learning to deal with a different style or personality, or dealing with someone who has different expectations of the relationship. This should get you energized to learn to adapt, be patient, and make the most out of the relationship before you give up. Obviously, there is no prescription for the best time and definition of success between a mentor and student. Success may not be known until years from now, when you say, “I remember when my mentor (insert name here) told me that story about…”

I have also been in mentor relationships in which my mentor didn’t do a lot. He or she multitasked during our time together and was not interested, or seemed preoccupied. You may say to yourself, “I would never be like that as a mentor if I was in a similar situation.” You do not always have to have bells and whistles going off telling you this is the time to learn. If you remain active and engaged enough, and pay attention to what is going on around you, you will learn from these observations, so that when you are the mentor you will be fully invested. You may need to sever a mentor relationship that is not working, but you are still walking away stronger than you were before.

 

Thomas B. Dowd III’s books available in softcover, eBook, and audiobook (From Fear to Success only):

  • Now What? The Ultimate Graduation Gift for Professional Success
  • Time Management Manifesto: Expert Strategies to Create an Effective Work/Life Balance
  • Displacement Day: When My Job was Looking for a Job…A Reference Guide to Finding Work
  • The Transformation of a Doubting Thomas: Growing from a Cynic to a Professional in the Corporate World
  • From Fear to Success: A Practical Public-speaking Guide received the Gold Medal at the 2013 Axiom Business Book Awards in Business Reference
  • The Unofficial Guide to Fatherhood

See “Products” for details on www.transformationtom.com.  Book and eBook purchase options are also available on Amazon- Please click the link to be re-directed: Amazon.com

Do you know about Avanoo.com?  Two-to-three minute eLearning programs that can change your life.

When Your Job is to Find a Job—and Yourself

Manage Your Time—Don’t Let It Manage You

MP3 Downloads of “From Fear to Success:  A Practical Public-speaking Guide” are available at Apple iTunes, Amazon, Rhapsody, Emusic, Nokia, Xbox Music, Spotify, Omnifone, Google Music Store, Rdio, Muve Music, Bloom.fm, Slacker Radio, MediaNet, 7digital, 24-7, Rumblefish, and Shazam “From Fear to Success” MP3 on CD Baby