Thinking Out Loud

Welcome To My Family

The Covid-19 virus has forced us to stay home. Many have commented on how that can bring families closer together, despite the obvious hardships. As the pace of our lives slows down and we become more reflective, it helps puts us in touch with what’s truly important. And of course, we know that it’s the relationships in our lives that are of greatest importance. When fear is in the air, our vulnerability appears and there is an ensuing emotional intimacy.

Those working from home have to integrate their work responsibilities with their personal lives. For sure this is stressful when the kids spill their snack and the dog is barking and we’re meeting with our team on-line. These workers feel anxious, embarrassed, and often get frazzled. So, it’s our job as leaders to reassure them that we truly understand and are grateful for their efforts, as they manage an inherently stressful situation.

Also, there is an important opportunity in these situations. We are being allowed into the family home of our co-workers, seeing them through another lens and, therefore, getting to know them better as human beings.

Yesterday, I had a Zoom meeting with a couple who are small business owners and have an infant and a five year old. They were nervous about the potential disruptions to our meeting. I wasn’t and let them know that they should do whatever they need to in caring for their kids. The infant was asleep in his father’s lap and the five year old was watching a video, so it seemed like a good time to meet. Well, it was as good a time as any. Though predictably, the five year old was curious about our meeting and insisted on talking with me, which I found delightful and charming, and at some point the infant awoke and needed care.

The parents shuttled in and out of the room, sharing the responsibility of childcare, while the other parent spoke to me individually, and we were all able to talk together when the video held the five year old’s attention.  Somehow, we managed to have a productive meeting and the parents were relieved.

Being allowed into my client’s home and family life gave me an enriched opportunity to get to know them in a more emotionally intimate way. The ordinary boundaries around a business meeting melted away and it was a much more personal experience, while accomplishing the business at hand. I liked it a lot.

Now, I wonder how our work lives and relationships will change when we get back to business as usual. We’ll know each other better and when we ask about how the kids are doing, we’ll know who those kids are and the sense of connection will be stronger. Stronger connections contribute to our sense of well-being as individuals and it enhances our ability to collaborate. There is nothing more important than knowing that we’re all in it together.

Those Dreaded Words: Anxiety and Depression

Anxiety and depression are not feelings, they are states. That may sound like mincing words, but it’s an important distinction, especially when we’re talking with children about their feelings and concerns.  Read More

Highest and Best Use

Article after article and guru after guru promise us success if we become more innovative or entrepreneurial or demonstrate more grit or allow our inner creativity to flourish or become more strategic.  The list could go on, but you get my point.  Of course, there is nothing wrong with this list and endeavoring to improve along any of these lines.

The accompanying discussion about these approaches usually includes the question: Are you born with ____ or can you develop it?  The answer is almost always that you can develop it. There is truth in that, which is encouraging, but I’m concerned that it’s not the right focus and inadvertently distracts us from another more practical and productive angle. Read More

Mentoring Managers

I read an interesting article the other day about creating an appealing workplace. The focus was on the physical environment, defining spaces conducive to working comfortably and productively—open areas where people can easily connect and have access to one another, readily sharing information and collaborating.

While reading the article, I also reflected on what has become a common refrain in the work world:  approximately 70% of workers don’t feel engaged at work and/or dread coming to work.  (This is from a frequently cited 2015-2016 Gallup study.) Read More