Telling Your Story

As Malcom Gladwell claims in his book The Tipping Point, you become an expert at anything if you do it 10,000 hours. I’ve got that in spades when it comes to listening to people’s stories. Part of my role as both a coach and a professional in the staffing industry is engaging with people daily about their life experiences – I’ve become a regular lifestory-listener over the past 25 or so years, and it never ceases to be an enjoyable experience for me.

At the end of the day, all you have is your story – or the ones that people tell about you. And in my experience of hearing dozens and dozens of personal stories, I have come to learn that how you tell your story is just as important – if not more so – than the story itself.

I have noticed that most people share their story from a not so certain frame of mind. They might start by saying,

“I know my career hasn’t followed a specific path, but ….” or,

“I have been in this role for X-number of years, and I am not quite sure how to transition to that next role, or how to help my employer know that I have what it takes to do this job ….”

More importantly, I observe quite often that people get caught up in where they have been, or where they are now, versus what they actually want to move toward. They say, “I want to leave because ….” versus, “I want to go do that because ….”

The latter sounds much more positive doesn’t it?

What you want to move toward is so important to the art of telling your story. When you look at it from that perspective, you are not stuck in the past, but you have embraced both the present and where you want to go. Your past helps you to tell your story, but ask yourself how it can help you create your future.

Case in point: a powerful story has a positive thread.

If you find yourself saying, “I don’t want to be in this role anymore,” instead of asking, “Why not?” ask yourself, “Where do I want to go now?” Instead of asking, “Why did this have to happen to me?” ask yourself, “How can this lead me to even greater things?”

At the end of the day, I know that most want to share their story in a clear, concise, positive way, but just haven’t found the right combination of words, or how to tie their story to what they want to achieve. That is alright! You can always modify and start to tell your story better by really listening to yourself. Or better yet, through telling your story to others and getting their feedback. In so doing, you will only get better at telling your life story in a more powerful, effective way.

Help people get to know you better by practicing your story with them. Ask questions of yourself, be curious, and find your positive and purposeful “what do I want to move toward” story woven throughout. Ask yourself what you really want, and how your adversities can work on your behalf. You will find yourself becoming a better storyteller – no embellishment or non-truths necessary.

In conclusion, anyone can master the art of telling their personal story! Curiosity, asking questions, and simply listening are a large part in my own success in helping people do so, and sometimes it takes listening very carefully to your own words …

So what career / family / success story do you want to share that reflects the best part of you and where you want to go? If you get stuck, let me know!

I will be happy to listen.

5 Ways to Become a Better Leader

A leader can come in all different shapes, sizes, approaches and titles.

Leaders who can manage leading while still motivating and inspiring loyalty, are the leaders that people will follow from job to job. A recent study showed that 75% of people voluntarily leaving jobs don’t quit their jobs; they quit their bosses. (Roger Herman)

To me, that says leadership has a major impact on the engagement of employees and team members and their workplace satisfaction. With that knowledge, how can you then become a better leader?

Here are 5 ways to become a better leader.

1. Recognize your talent. All people need and want to be recognized for the contributions they make in the workplace. If you aren’t convinced that people need recognition, 69% of employees say they would work harder if they were better recognized. It doesn’t take a lot of effort to recognize people, but the mere act of recognition can and will carry a lot of weight with the people around you.

2. Get personal. Don’t be afraid to make a personal connection with individuals on your team. The more “human” leaders are to their team, the more likely their employees are to be engaged in the work they are doing.

3. Be a good listener. Your team is likely telling you exactly what they need, even if they aren’t speaking it out loud. Listen to what people are saying, and more importantly listen to what they are not saying. Being a good listener means you can read between the lines and pick up on the cues that your team is unsatisfied and in need of some additional support.

4.   Be visible and available, but don’t micro-manage. Being visible and available will let your team know you are there for them if they need you, but this doesn’t give you permission to micro-manage. People are distinctly de-motivated by micro-management. Allow people the room to learn, make mistakes, and ask questions without needing to know what they are doing moment-by-moment.

5.  Involve your people in decision making. Instead of demanding change throughout your team, instead involve them in the change making process. Individuals who are included in the cycle of change are much more likely to embrace the change than individuals who are told how to change without discussion.

These are just a few ways you can improve your leadership style.  To read more employee engagement statistics, take a look at this report.

What’s your favorite leadership style trait? We’d love to know.

Help Your Employees and Your Team Become Better Listeners

Communication is an important part of building a team, creating a thriving company culture, and increasing productivity and effectiveness. Studies have shown that a large percentage of people listen less effectively than they believe, however, listening is a skill that can set your team and company apart. It sets up the stage for creating a cohesive environment, in which individuals thrive, and actively take pride in their role.

To help your employees and team become better listeners follow these simple tips:

Encourage questions. Create an environment where individuals are encouraged to ask questions – whether to clarify direction, further understand an assignment, or out of simple curiosity. This means treating all questions as important and equal and never embarrassing a person for asking a question that may seem silly or out of context. If our minds can’t understand what is being said, it will generally block the flow of listening and distract the individual as they seek to figure it out internally.

Let people finish their thoughts. This applies to the listener and the speaker. People need a chance to work through their thoughts and express all the pieces for discussion. The majority of people are already thinking of a response before a person is finished speaking – instead, set the example that individuals should not be interrupted. Task your employees with writing down their thoughts while others are speaking so nothing is lost, their turn can be had once the other person’s thoughts are complete. This can decrease misunderstood communications between multiple parties.

Keep open communication. Foster an environment where individuals feel safe and comfortable asking questions, being inquisitive, and having an open line of communication. An open communication policy ensures that all of your team members will ask questions when needed, even if they find themselves in a situation that is uncomfortable.

Altogether, work to create a team of employees that listen and are actively participating in what’s happening around them. You can also keep meetings short and concise, give breaks during longer meetings, and provide healthier food choices to keep individuals more alert.