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Category Archives: Teamwork

perennials: don't generalize by generation

I hear it all the time. People complaining about other generations.

“Millennials are                I don’t understand them at all.”

Or: “Why are Baby Boomers so               ?”

Or: “Everyone in Gen X is clearly                  .”

It’s time we stop limiting each other. These on-the-surface labels are doing much more harm than good. They allow us to write off entire generations (many millions of people!) with sweeping generalizations. And the truth is, many people don’t fit the stereotypes.

Take “entitlement,” for example. Many people think of Millennials (the group born between 1980 and 2000) as an entitled bunch that thinks they deserve things without actually working for them. Not only is this stereotype getting tiresome, it is frankly untrue.

Although many of them started working at an economically tumultuous time (the Great Recession), Millennials have proven themselves to be innovative and resilient. They’ve invented jobs when none were available; they’ve taken over top leadership positions; they’ve learned how to live with less by taking advantage of the new “sharing economy.”

Are some Millennials entitled and lazy? Of course. But so are many Gen-Xers and Boomers.

And just because Millennials have new ways of working, doesn’t mean they’re lazy. They might simply have a better grasp on technology and be able to complete tasks more efficiently.

On the same token, not all Baby Boomers are out-of-touch and irrelevant! Many are excited and interested in new technologies, new ways of thinking, and creative endeavors.

Although generational constructs are helpful for marketing purposes, they can be utterly lethal in the workplace. Pigeonholing people before they’ve had a chance to show their true colors only harms productivity and interpersonal dynamics. Besides, you might be working alongside Perennials, a group that defies generational boundaries.

What are Perennials?

Gina Pell, who coined the term, says that Perennials are “ever-blooming, relevant people of all ages who live in the present time, know what’s happening in the world, stay current with technology, and have friends of all ages…[they] comprise an inclusive, enduring mindset, not a divisive demographic.”

I’m sure you’ve encountered many so-called Perennials in your life. These are the young people with “old souls.” These are the older people who love to crack jokes and try new things. These are the people who don’t limit their interactions to their own peer group and instead find friendship with people of all ages. These are the people who refuse to be defined by age.

As Pell says: “It’s time we chose our own category based on shared values and passions and break out of the faux constructs behind an age-based system of classification.”

I couldn’t agree more.

MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, AUTHOR, INSIGHTS®DISCOVERY LICENSED PRACTITIONER, FOUNDER OF UXL, AND CO-FOUNDER OF THE TAG TEAM. SHE HOSTS WORKSHOPS FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED CAREER OR PERSONAL GUIDANCE. YOU CAN VISIT HER WEBSITE AT WWW.YOUEXCELNOW.COM

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Do you ever wonder why a certain co-worker is so quiet? Or why another co-worker always wants to work in teams? Or why another won’t make a decision until everyone’s voice has been heard?

Assessment tests, such as Insights® Discovery, can unearth the mysteries behind your co-workers’ communication tendencies. Insights® is a science-based personality test designed to help you gain a better understanding of your own and others’ behaviors, tendencies, and perspectives. As an Insights® Licensed Practitioner, I have introduced many teams to Insights® and have witnessed improved communication, better leadership, and greater team cohesion and empathy.

One of the things I like best about Insights® is its approachable model, broken down into four main color energies (blue, red, yellow, and green). The idea behind the model is that everyone has the capacity to exhibit and embrace all four distinct personality types, but we all tend to lead with or prefer a certain personality type. Here is a brief overview of each color/personality type. Which one do you immediately identify with?

4-colors-good-day

RED: Those who lead with red energy tend to be assertive, bold, and to-the-point. They are natural leaders and love to take charge and make quick decisions.

YELLOW: Yellows are bright, sunshiney, and social. They love working in teams, brainstorming ideas, and connecting with new people.

GREEN: People with a strong green tendency are typically empathetic and inclusive. Above all, they care about the happiness of their team members and want to make sure all voices are heard.

BLUE: Blues are data-driven, analytical, and contemplative. They like to mull over an issue and consider all angles before making a decision.

Now that you know a little bit about each color energy, let’s hone in on communication. Each group of people–reds, yellows, blues, and greens–has a different communication preference. The image below outlines how best to approach those who lead with a certain color energy:

Insights Discovery communication preferences

Yellow: Involve me.  Green: Show me you care.  Red: Be brief, be bright, be gone.  Blue: Give me details.

If you have a good hunch about someone’s leading color, take the time to stand in their shoes and consider how they might prefer to communicate. Should you be brief and bright with them (red)? Should you take the time to be social and ask about their family or weekend (yellow)? Should you ask about their emotional reaction toward a project (green)? Should you present them with a complete set of data and analysis (blue)?

 

This, of course, is just the tip of the Insights® Discovery iceberg. For more information on Insights®, or to find out how to acquire an assessment kit for your team, please contact me today.


MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, AUTHOR, INSIGHTS®DISCOVERY LICENSED PRACTITIONER, FOUNDER OF UXL, AND CO-FOUNDER OF THE TAG TEAM. SHE HOSTS WORKSHOPS FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED CAREER OR PERSONAL GUIDANCE. YOU CAN VISIT HER WEBSITE AT WWW.YOUEXCELNOW.COM

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On the surface, the words “boss” and “leader” sound pretty synonymous. What is the difference, anyway? I think that the image below does a great job of illustrating the main differences. Let’s break it down…

boss leader

  1. A Leader is in the trenches

Both leaders and bosses give instructions, but unlike a boss, a leader helps to carry out the actual work. She pulls her weight, alongside the rest of her team. A good leader inspires others by demonstrating that she is invested in whatever project the team is working on.

  1. A Leader understands the team

Since a leader is working alongside his team, he understands how everyone clicks and what strengths and weaknesses each team member possesses. This knowledge helps the leader assign appropriate tasks to individuals and helps him understand the specific work style of each person on the team. By showing a genuine interest in each team member and taking the time to get to know everyone, the leader can easily identify when people are either discontent or thriving.

On the flipside, great leaders open themselves up to others. They practice transparency and, since they have nothing to hide, they don’t mind others getting to know their true, authentic selves.

  1. A Leader has vision

Instead of being reactive, a leader is proactive. The leader has an intimate knowledge of the work that is being undertaken and can therefore point the team in the right direction. That isn’t to say that the leader should micromanage to ensure that a task or project is done in a certain way. Rather, she should offer guidance and allow the team to figure out the details on their own.

  1. A Leader motivates the team

Instead of reprimanding or belittling the team, a leader builds his team up. By offering encouragement and constructive critiques, a good leader will develop a team that is inspired, motivated, and productive.

  1. A Leader keeps moving

Great leaders are humble enough to realize that they don’t know everything. They aspire to keep growing and changing; they move forward and take their team with them. When a roadblock gets in their way, great leaders don’t throw in the towel or turn around. Instead, they strategize with their team on how to overcome the obstacle and continue moving forward (or in a new direction).

Do you feel like more of a boss or a leader? Take a few minutes to think about these five qualities of a great leader and consider how you can embrace your leadership.

Need more guidance? Reach out and contact me today.

MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, AUTHOR, INSIGHTS®DISCOVERY LICENSED PRACTITIONER, FOUNDER OF UXL, AND CO-FOUNDER OF THE TAG TEAM. SHE HOSTS WORKSHOPS FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED CAREER OR PERSONAL GUIDANCE. YOU CAN VISIT HER WEBSITE AT WWW.YOUEXCELNOW.COM

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 “Originals are not that different from the rest of us. They feel fear and doubt, they procrastinate, they have bad ideas. And sometimes it’s not in spite of those qualities, but because of them that they succeed.” -Adam Grant

creative-man-original-thinker

One of the great lessons I learned from Adam Grant’s recent TED Talk is that we shouldn’t write off people who have unconventional work styles or ways of doing things. Many inventive, creative people do not like to think linearly or complete tasks in step-by-step ways. Instead, they work best when they are given time to explore many different avenues or even step away from the task-at-hand for a while.

On the surface, this might seem like procrastination or a lack of motivation, but it is a part of many people’s creative process. Grant says, “Procrastination gives you time to consider divergent ideas, to think in nonlinear ways, to make unexpected leaps.”

Another thing original thinkers have in common: they have failures. They often explore many different routes before landing on a great idea. As Grant articulates, “The greatest originals are the ones who fail the most because they’re the ones who try the most.”

It’s like playing a game of darts. If you just keep making throws, you’ll likely hit your mark eventually.

As a leader, try to recognize the traits of original thinkers on your team and encourage their creativity and ingenuity.

And if you’re an original thinker? Embrace it! Realize that you might work differently than others, but your way of doing things probably works best for you.

To watch the full TED Talk (which I highly recommend), please click below.

MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, AUTHOR, INSIGHTS®DISCOVERY LICENSED PRACTITIONER, FOUNDER OF UXL, AND CO-FOUNDER OF THE TAG TEAM. SHE HOSTS WORKSHOPS FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED CAREER OR PERSONAL GUIDANCE. YOU CAN VISIT HER WEBSITE AT WWW.YOUEXCELNOW.COM

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A couple months ago, I spent some time teaching the basic principles of Insights® Discovery to some people in a nonprofit leadership program. If you’re not familiar with Insights® Discovery, it’s essentially a program that helps people understand themselves better and, by extension, understand others. Insights® generally helps improve communication, team dynamics, self-confidence, and leadership.

I’ve seen some amazing transformations with inter-person communication and understanding in many organizations, including the nonprofit leadership program I mentioned earlier. When I went to their “graduation party” this past week, I was stunned. The 30 or so individuals that I coached had markedly improved their communication and teamwork and they attributed it to Insights®. In fact, the entire room was decorated with the four Insights® colors (which represent the four distinct “color energies”–more on that HERE).

When the presentation started, many references were made to Insights® and how it has helped their team work together harmoniously to achieve great things. Now, THAT is what every Insights® Licensed Practitioner (like myself) likes to hear!

Could your workplace use a little more cohesiveness and communication? It could be that Insights® Discovery is just the ticket! Let’s talk.

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Three benefits that Insights Discovery brings

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Gift bags in the color of each person’s leading color energy

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Insights-themed masks

The group!

The group!

MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, INSIGHTS®DISCOVERY LICENSED PRACTITIONER, FOUNDER OF UXL, AND CO-FOUNDER OF THE TAG TEAM. YOU CAN VISIT HER WEBSITE AT WWW.YOUEXCELNOW.COM

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Insights Workshop MinneapolisAfter last weeks’ successful Insights Deeper Discovery workshop, I am eager to bring this innovative and empowering program to anyone and everyone who is undergoing a transition or is feeling in need of guidance.

You may be familiar with Insights® Discovery. It’s a program based off the principles of renown psychiatrist Carl Jung that uses a four-color model to talk about our individual capabilities and challenges. This model can be used to capitalize on personal strengths, overcome challenges, and communicate better with those around you. As an Insights® Licensed Practitioner, I’ve personally seen some astonishing transformations (both individually and office-wide). Suddenly, people start opening up in ways they never have and allow themselves to flourish and grow.

This is why I’m excited to announce that Insights® Discovery now has a new, more in-depth model that builds off the basic principles of Insights®. Even if you’ve never been through the original program, this new model helps foster growth and development in your career, personal life, communication skills, and interactions with others.

What is Deeper Discovery?

Deeper Discovery is a continuation of the Insights® Discovery journey. Using Archetypes of Discovery as a lens (more about that on the Insights® website), individuals and teams embark upon a journey of improved self-understanding. Through use of the new Deeper  Discovery wheel, participants discover their potential in engaging and memorable ways and apply their learning to the workplace and life.

Unlock Individual & Team Potential

Build on the simple and accessible Insights® Discovery model.

Explore individual, team, and leadership effectiveness.

Enhance a long-term program of development.

Develop a profound level of self-understanding to transform your life and your work.

Understand what drives and motivates others. Become a more authentic and inspiring leader.

Sound Like Something You’d Like To Explore?

Great! I’ve partnered with Dr. Jean Davidson to put on several Deeper Discovery workshops. You can find more information on our Intentional Discovery Website, or you can contact me directly with questions.

Let’s discover your best you!

MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, INSIGHTS® DISCOVERY LICENSED PRACTITIONER, FOUNDER OF UXL, AND CO-FOUNDER OF THE TAG TEAM. YOU CAN VISIT HER WEBSITE AT WWW.YOUEXCELNOW.COM

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Feeling ostracized at work can have hugely detrimental consequences. Image source: Purdue.edu

Feeling ostracized at work can have hugely detrimental consequences. Image source: Purdue.edu

It’s a common occurrence. There’s that employee or two (or dozens, depending on the size of your company) that just doesn’t fit in with the rest. Maybe they’re quiet or lack confidence. Maybe they don’t conform with the prevailing office culture. Whatever the case, feeling left out or ignored can have serious negative consequences. The snubbed employee might feel anxious about coming to work, their performance might drop, they might feel self-conscious and afraid to speak up, etc. Not to mention, your organization suffers as a whole because that troubled employee is not doing their best work, and will either quit or come to work miserable.

So what can you, as a leader, do if someone is being left out on your team?

1. Lead by example. Practice inclusive behavior and do NOT pick favorites. Challenge yourself to talk to everyone at the table during a team meeting and truly listen to what they have to say. One great method of inclusionary behavior is to ask introverted or excluded employees for their opinions or input in front of others. According to Harvard Business Journal, “Listening to employees not only signals to them that you value their contributions, but also demonstrates to other employees that everyone has value. Plus, you get the added benefit of a diverse set of opinions.”

2. Trust. Put your trust in your marginalized employees. Build their confidence by assigning them challenging projects or asking them to lead a team meeting. Show them that they are a valuable part of the organization by entrusting them to problem solve and create solutions to problems without you looking over their shoulder.

3. Create an Inclusive Environment. Have you ever been to a team meeting where only a few people dominate the conversation? This is exactly the kind of environment that makes people feel ostracized or unimportant. To avoid these negative feelings, try starting every meeting by going around the table and having everyone give a brief statement about the current project. That way, everyone’s voice is heard at the very beginning. You can also close the meeting out in a similar way by asking everyone to state how they think the meeting went and what they hope to accomplish between now and the next meeting. Another thing you can do is rotate meeting leaders (or co-leaders). That way, all team members get a chance to monitor the meeting.

4. Don’t dismiss others ideas. Even if you disagree or don’t quite understand a team member’s idea, don’t toss it aside. Instead, ask that person to clarify what they meant and give the idea thoughtful consideration. This open atmosphere is something Google embraces: “Googlers” are encouraged to bring their ideas forward, no matter how farfetched they might seem.

5. Realize that inclusivity is an ongoing objective. Just because you’ve successful navigated one team project, doesn’t mean that you can ignore inclusivity and move on to other things. Keep this ideal top-of-mind and strive for an inclusive workplace atmosphere.

 

MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, LICENSED INSIGHTS DISCOVERY PRACTITIONER, FOUNDER OF UXL, AND CO-FOUNDER OF THE TAG TEAM. YOU CAN VISIT HER WEBSITE AT WWW.YOUEXCELNOW.COM

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