Reach - Resources & News for Evolving Organizations

Consultants to Organizations | March 2016

We've been thinking about creating work/life balance for years. As consultants, one would think it would be easy, right? Not at all. What can we do to work toward this ideal? And while we're striving for perfection, please read three short pieces on manager's 3 must dos, focusing on productivity and do pick up some ideas on how to be a better learner.

To our library clients and friends, Paula will be at PLA in Denver next month and hopes to see you there!
Work_Life BalanceWork/Life Balance: Practice Won't Make Perfect - But Keep Trying!

At the end of life, few people regret spending too much time with family and friends. On the other hand, workaholics lament missed opportunities to enjoy time with loved ones. Bill Gates recently revealed his own difficulties in making time for life outside of work during an interview with the BBC, reported in the Leadership section of Forbes. Gates admitted to his own early, self-professed 'fanaticism' about work, noting that he never took vacations, often worked throughout nights, and stayed at the office on most weekends. After meeting his wife, Gates slowed down considerably; yet by that time, his company had tripled in growth and was already generating unprecedented revenues and record productivity.

Great Managers Do 3 Things Every Day

Most new managers find that they rarely end a day having done what they planned to do. They spend most of their time solving unexpected problems and making sure work gets done. But there are three essential things that managers should be doing every day: building trust, building a team, and building a network. These are not discrete tasks for your to-do list; you can accomplish them through the ways you assign, review, and guide your team's work. Build trust by asking questions, offering suggestions, and expressing concern for your employees. Build a team by using problems and crises to remind people of the team's purpose and values. Explain your decisions in terms of what's important for the team. And build a network by using routine activities to involve other leaders and to maintain relationships with people outside your group - and encouraging your team to do the same.

Being Busy Isn't the Same as Being Productive

Research has found that people have a natural aversion to idleness: we'll go out of our way to stay busy, even if we have to invent things to do. But being too busy can be counterproductive. Studies have also shown that we have a bias toward action: when faced with a problem, we prefer to act, even if it would be best to pause first or do nothing. Together, both of these behaviors show that choosing to be busy is the easy choice. Being productive, by contrast, is much more challenging. What helps remedy this dilemma? Take time to step back and reflect on a regular basis. Reflection helps us understand the actions we're considering and choose the ones that will make us productive. Even 15 minutes of planning each morning can help. So the next time you feel busy, stop and think about what you actually need to get done.

Adapted from "The Remedy for Unproductive Busyness," by Francesca Gino and Bradley Staats.
Become a Better Learner at Work

Research has found that learning agility - the ability to grow and to use new strategies - is a good indicator of whether someone can be a high performer. Learning-agile employees are able to jettison skills and ideas that are no longer relevant and learn new ones that are. To cultivate learning agility in yourself, try:
  • Innovating. Seek out new solutions. Repeatedly ask yourself "What else?" and "What are more ways I could approach this?"
  • Performing. When faced with complex situations, look for similarities to your past projects. Practice calming techniques, and listen instead of simply reacting.
  • Reflecting. Seek out input from others. Ask colleagues what you could have done better.
  • Risking. Look for "stretch assignments" where success isn't a given.
  • Avoid defending. Acknowledge your failures and capture the lessons you've learned. 
Adapted from "Improve Your Ability to Learn," by J.P. Flaum and Becky Winkler.

We hope you enjoyed this edition of Reach. As always, please feel free to share your thoughts with us, as well as pass on this eNewsletter to anyone you think might benefit.     

To reaching success,
Paula M. Singer Lorraine Kituri
Paula M. Singer, PhD and Lorraine Kituri, MA, MS
The Singer Group, Inc.
What's New?

How Can Coaching Help You?Paula is now certified in brain-based coaching by the NeuroLeadership Institute. She brings new research and practice to support you in obtaining the results you want and putting new insights into action. Call her at 410-561-7561 for a free conversation about your needs and how coaching can change your life!
Compensation: One of our clients decided to leave their step system of salary increases and adopt a progressive policy. We're working with their leadership, union and a labor management committee to make that happen.
Staffing: Lucy and Paula are working with a large public library and a small college library on their staffing and structure toward ensuring alignment with strategy.
Paula is facilitating a one-day workshop on Succession Planning. The outcome of the day will be an outline of a plan and the process and tools to complete it.
We are facilitating major compensation and performance management studies in the midwest and west coasts.
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