Experiencing email overload?

How often do you log into your email and feel overwhelmed by the number dropping in?  So many – that at times when you look at your screen you get a sinking feeling? 

Maze research revealed that on average a Middle Manager receives 126 emails a day.  From those Managers I have talked to they are allowing their emails to unconsciously interrupt their working day, I experienced something similar until I took control of the situation and grew myself some time.

The changes were simple; some one offs however collectively they have de-cluttered my inbox. 

  • If you consider an email spam – don’t just add it to junk unsubscribe its more final, your IT team will also prefer you to do this as they often take up valuable server space
  • If you have been copied into emails by mistake or because someone felt you should be and you do not want to be in the email circulation – respond politely and ask them to remove you from the circulation list
  • If you receive news letters or regular updates that realistically you don’t get chance to read – avoid adding them to a folder unsubscribe, if you need the resource later it will no doubt be available on line  
  • Avoid too many sub folders – it is tempting to create them to keep information which you  think we may need to refer back to, look at what you already have and consider ‘do I really need it’ if not stop repeating the habit that clutters up your mind
  • How many of your current emails are a result of your own emailing rather than talking to someone, does it really save time to email, how many emails does it take to say the same thing.  We criticise younger people for not talking however I politely suggest it is learned behaviour
  • Block out time each day to respond and take action, not surprisingly if you don’t your inbox will just get bigger and after all it is good manners
  • Deal with any challenging emails first – take control, avoid procrastination
  • Set yourself a maximum number of emails you will allow in your inbox – a company I know has the  rule – you can only have in your inbox what you can see on the screen of your desk top or laptop – around 30 emails tough but imagine how you would feel

It’s not difficult give it a try and enjoy the extra time you will grow!

A Valentines Day treat for your team…

For years now I have observed those who receive a gift, flowers or a card on Valentines Day and then there are those I see who have received nothing.  I see sadness in their eyes, it maybe that they are thinking of a love lost or someone they love who has passed away however it maybe that they are feeling like the victim on a day when others are feeling on top of the world.

This year I have decided to take a different approach as it saddens me to see others unhappy – Valentines Day does not have to be just about couples it can be a time when you show your team just how much you love them for the support and the good job they do for you every day.

On Friday 14th February why don’t you buy chocolates and flowers for your team share some love, and at the same time ensure that those who would have otherwise felt excluded feel included and loved.

Happy Valentines Day


How many people will be recognised this year as being the best boss?

More often than not we hear people saying negative things about their boss; they never listen, don’t appreciate what I do, set unrealistic targets.  It would be so much more energising and inspiring for them if they were saying that their boss is approachable, admits their mistakes, and listens.

How therefore can someone become the boss that everyone loves to praise rather than the one everyone loves to hate?

It’s really not that difficult it is about treating others how you would like to be treated yourself. 

  • Always be approachable – they are much more likely to be open with you
  • Admit your own mistakes – we are not infallible, the main thing is sort your own mistakes
  • Don’t hide behind your job title – be human, you are much more likely to be supported
  • Never humiliate any of your team – stay calm and deal with it behind closed doors
  • Acknowledge – when a job is well done acknowledge it, don’t let the opportunity pass by
  • Listen – really listen you will learn so much
  • Make clear requests – communicate so that you are understood and they understand your expectations
  • Act respectfully – everyone deserves respect

Perhaps you know managers who need to become the boss who everyone loves to praise, hopefully for them these tips are helpful.

Are your boundaries real or imagined?

There are times in our lives when we have greater levels of self belief some of the strongest levels being when we are children. 

From before we can walk we do not see the fear that our parents do. They see us crawling, trying to balance on our own two feet, rapidly followed by us taking our first steps.  At the same time they will be worrying about us falling over and hurting ourselves.  For us we do not have the fear, there is no boundary, so when does it all change?

As we grow older we sometimes find things more difficult to achieve, we have to try more often to get the result we want.  I compare it to learning to ride a bicycle – how many times we have to fall off before we gain the confidence still at that point we keep going.

Our boundaries form as we become more aware and develop a fear of failure of something going wrong, not looking good in front of others – however I ask you is something not going the way you expected really so bad?

My view would be that the strength comes from trying and if you don’t succeed what did you learn from the experience to better inform your decisions in the future, as the saying goes ‘if at first you don’t succeed try again’

With 2014 just around the corner I would like to suggest we try to remove some of those imagined boundaries, by challenging ourselves in the New Year to try something new every week that takes us out of our comfort zone, something you imagined in the past you would not be able to do.  Remember if at first you don’t succeed you may need to try again, by trying I assure you lots will be learnt. 

Keep a note of them as it will be amazing at the end of next year to reflect on what you have achieved.

Good Luck!



Does Christmas add to your pressure!

Too much to do, not enough time and then there is Christmas to organise!

As you read this many will be thinking there must be more to life, but when will I get the chance to find out what ‘more’ is when I feel the way I do, and then there is Christmas, the time when one in 20 people consider this time as more stressful than divorce or burglary!

There is no one definitive answer however a few steps I would like to suggest you take is to stop and consider what other people do to increase their levels of happiness. 

  • Be grateful for what you already have – how can you expect to have more in life if you cannot benchmark what you already have?
  • Take time to ‘enjoy’ what you have – be it watching your child in the Christmas Nativity, looking through family photographs for those happy memories, looking around you at the successful team you have developed
  • Be forgiving – harbouring resentment and negative emotions saps your energy and prevents you having more positive experiences, leave the past behind, the future is the only thing you can influence
  • Be kind to yourself – you do not need to be super human, look after yourself, keep hydrated, don’t skip meals and take some exercise even if it is a walk
  • Think yourself positive – if you are having a difficult time, put a smile on your face, focus on something stimulating, banish the negativity from your brain, you will be surprised at how it can improve the day
  • Make Christmas easier – you do not need to do it all yourself, delegate, involve the children, have a cut off point where you agree if you haven’t got it you don’t need it. Shop in the evening on the way home to avoid the queues or if you prefer shop online. If it’s the food that is stressing you out some of the major retailers have some amazing Christmas lunch packages that make it easy – you do not need to be a domestic god or goddess to have a great time
  • Plan for 2014 – create a personal and business plan, set yourself some goals that will make you happy and make them happen by protecting the time now.

Wishing you a Happy Christmas and ‘more’ of what makes you happy in the New Year!




Do you have lots to celebrate this Christmas?

With Christmas fast approaching what will you be celebrating? 

I am not just talking about the festivities, the birth of Jesus, receiving presents from your wish list. I am talking about all that you have achieved this year, your high spots, those memorable moments, fantastic achievements, the things you are most proud to have achieved.

All too often we spend our time praising others, congratulating the team on project deadlines achieved, others on gaining a promotion but how often do we do focus on ourselves?

It maybe too late now to recall all you have achieved this year; however it is not too late to do things differently next year.  Something many of my coaching customers now use is a small book, not just any book this book focuses on you.

The book could be in your favourite colour or just something that appeals from the outside, inside the book however I would like you to create a title on the first page ‘Highs for the Year’ on the back page of the book ‘Lows for the Year’.

The next time you achieve something that is a high to you write it in the front of your book, don’t forget to capture why it was a high.  When something does not go well, capture that in the back and add what you will do next time to avoid it happening again or feeling this way.

Your book will have a number of uses: 

  • At the end of the year reflect on all that you have achieved, your highs for the year it’s a reason to celebrate – buy yourself a present if you want.
  • You can also use what you have written for your appraisal to let your organisation know what you have achieved but have failed to mention in the past as it just got forgotten.
  • If you are having a challenging day, take a look at your little book and reflect on those highs and all that has gone right it is surprising how different it will make you feel.
  • When things are not going well, refer to the back of your book check to see if you have been in this position before and take notice of what you said you would do differently and follow your own advice – it’s a little bit of self coaching.

If you haven’t got lots to celebrate this year as your achievements have been forgotten along the way, perhaps take some time out and have a think as I am sure there are lots that have just blended into your busy days, I am confident if you try this idea you will have lots to celebrate in the future because you will have a record of all of those fantastic achievements and highs for the year.

You will also be less likely to make the same mistake twice!

Do you know people who get in their own way?

We all know people who are consistently late, miss deadlines, constantly say that they have no time and what’s more always appear flustered.  However have you noticed that these same people do not appear flustered at the fact that this has happened before and history appears to be repeating itself?

A very common reason for these people being late is they repeatedly set themselves up to fail, by underestimating the time it will take to achieve the task they set out to complete. They also have a constant sense of misapprehension that it took them longer than they expected when infact they did not stop before they started.  Stop to think about how long it will actually take them based on past experience and decide how they will mitigate any interruptions by protecting the time they have allocated.

Ultimately these people are ‘getting in their own way’ – they need to be encouraged to make a rational and conscious assessment of how long it will actually take or what could reasonably be achieved in the time available. Their decision needs to be a conscious one, as by getting this right they are securing the foundations of performance excellence and a more rewarding approach to their role. They will start to deliver on time; their confidence will also increase as they deliver what they say they will as they ‘get out of their own way’.

Over 50 years old and still valuable!

Back in the 1960’s Stanford University carried out a study analysing data from Fortune 500 companies that resulted in something we are all very familiar with.

The first time you saw ‘it’ and used it I am confident you learnt something about yourself, the organisation or department you were working in, so when was the last time you dusted ‘it’ down and took a look in the mirror?

At this time of the year many people will be sitting down to complete their appraisal documents ready for their review, I would like to suggest revisiting ‘it’ now ahead of completing the appraisal as it could be really helpful.

‘It’ is the SWOT Analysis, yes it has been around years, however it is still a great way to help us reflect on our own strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

If you have 10 minutes get your duster out to: 

  • consider those important strengths you have that make you, you, that others could potentially overlook unless you point them out
  • decide how you can deal with the weaknesses, ask for the support you need
  • recognise the amazing opportunities you have to grow and take advantage of them in the year ahead, share and commit to them
  • consider the potential threats that could be looming around the corner and act now to prevent them taking you off track

By doing this I hope you will have come up with opportunities to share with others, the amazing job you have been doing this year and to show them how focussed and ready you are for the year ahead.

Good luck!


What happens when the glass is half empty?

This time of the year we are often faced with people who walk around looking like they have the worries of the world on their shoulders.  They may be feeling this way because of the seasonal change, it could be the thought of the cost of Christmas, increasing energy costs or they could be a born worrier, with a half empty glass!

You like I may find these people energy sappers who can change the mood of the room or a meeting.  So how can we change this?

We need to accept that for this type of person when something triggers them into worrying they see it as a massive picture of things that have gone wrong in the past or the catastrophes that could happen in the future, they cannot see beyond this.  They may also hear those voices in their head saying, this cannot possibly work, and it hasn’t in the past… so much self doubt means they cannot see a positive outcome.

When faced with them we need to help them change the picture they see by asking some simple coaching questions that take the negative into a positive:

  • What exactly are you concerned about?
  • What needs to happen to stop that happening?
  • What are the likely barriers and problems you think you will face along the way?
  • For you, what needs to happen next to help deal with those?
  • How likely do you feel this can happen based on your current situation?
  • With this in mind what could ‘go right’ for you?

Hope this helps you to change their picture and their glass from ‘half empty’ to ‘half full’

Number 1 for all Leaders and Managers…

With the ever increasing costs of recruitment and selection our leaders and managers need to take responsibility for their new starters. I am not suggesting they take over the extremely valuable role HR has in the induction process, what I am suggesting is that they demonstrate acts of common courtesy and kindness.

After all, we all get frustrated when people leave shortly after they have started and there are considerable costs that are quoted to us when this happens!

All too often in my experience when a new starter joins, managers rely on other people to induct them, how can that be right?  What they are doing is giving up the valuable opportunity to find out what makes this new person tick, how they are motivated and who they really are.

I would suggest they are encouraged to look at this with number 1 in mind… The new starter!

Day 1

  • Block out and protect enough time to welcome them
  • Make them a drink, let them settle in before you whisk them around to meet everyone, they need to feel they are wanted and needed not overwhelmed
  • Show them where the toilets are
  • Where can they get lunch – a hand sketched map of the town with the best places to eat is a nice touch, if possible take them with you
  • Mark on the banks and the post office if they are working in a new town – we take it for granted if we are familiar
  • Their desk and seating area should be clean, tidy and welcoming with the appropriate stationary
  • Give them the opportunity to make a work contribution during day 1 if possible and say thank you
  • They should feel it was the best decision they made joining you – you want them to feel excited about the future
  • Before they go home, ask them how the day has been for them, ask them what they have learned, make sure they go home happy, what they say at home will influence how they feel about coming back tomorrow or ‘if’ they come back tomorrow

Week 1

  • Ensure that by the end of the week they have made a difference in the workplace or department
  • They need to feel a part of the team – this will mean involving others in the process
  • Give them feedback, make sure they feel they have made a valuable contribution
  • Book and protect the time to find out how they are settling in, what have they most enjoyed and what have they found challenging and help them find a solution to the challenges don’t leave it to chance
  • When they go home at the end of the week, what they will be sharing about working with you should be that this is the best possible place to work and you are the best manager they have ever had

 Month 1

  • Have a monthly one to one or catch up to review progress – give them feedback on what has gone well, what needs to change and what they may consider doing differently
  • Set clear objectives for the month ahead
  • Use questioning to establish how they are feeling – deal with any issues and challenges don’t leave them to chance
  • When they have been paid for the first time they should be feeling like they have invested their time wisely

All of these may sound simple, frankly they are but it is the minority of managers and leaders who invest the time in No 1 – the new starter, one of the people who can help them deliver the teams objectives.

Food for thought… you may know managers who need a reminder of the importance of Number 1, hope this helps.