wtorek, 29 grudnia 2015

All you need is... an agenda?

Many times I have heard the statement that “the more meetings, the less time for work”. I have to admit that I have said it aloud many times as well. Yet, I’m still organizing meetings and I’m still participating in many of them. And still sometimes it happens that I’ve got this sad feeling that a meeting I’ve just had was nothing more than the waste of time of all people who attended it.

“More meetings mean less time for work”. Is it true? Sometimes yes. When? In situations when you don’t see any progress after a meeting. When you are bored or exhausted after it.
When a meeting was only about talking and not about moving forward.

poniedziałek, 7 grudnia 2015

Improve. Measure. Celebrate!

You need to know what challenges are waiting for you. What you will have to face in near future. The hard part is to put everyone on the same page, to create common understanding of each aspect of the problem. That’s why it is so important to name the problem. To confirm that each person who wants to be involved in the solution is aware of every known characteristic, every information that can be important.

When risks and opportunities are listed, when everyone knows where they want to go, when the goal is shared, there are still things that have to be done before you get down to solving problems and taking opportunities.

poniedziałek, 9 listopada 2015

Name the Problem

When a problem arises and you are surrounded with people who feel responsible for the work you are doing, there is a big probability that you will find many of them eager to help.
They will automatically start looking for answers and solutions.
There will be many hands willing to help.

But before you start working out the solutions to this problem, stop for a moment. Before this step there’s one more that has to be taken upfront. You need to recognize the problem. You have to know what you want to solve before you will start doing it.
You have to name the problem.
You need to know the questions before answers can be given.

czwartek, 29 października 2015

Being comfortable outside your comfort zone

Recently I have written about feeling too comfortable in the place where you are right now. I also asked if it is possible that you are the one responsible for this situation.
It’s a good start when you know that you feel comfortable.
It’s better when you realize that you are the person who has control over this comfort.

What can be next?

czwartek, 15 października 2015

Are you building comfortable place for you?

What about the last question from the previous article? Did you answer it?

Last time we were talking about places that are too comfortable for us. But maybe this is not a problem?
Maybe there are challenges around you? Maybe there are things that require learning? Things that take people out of their comfortable zones?
Maybe it’s not about a place, but about… you?

Maybe you are just letting those opportunities go away? Let them be taken by another person? Maybe you build this asylum around you with your own hand?

I understand that no one likes to be overwhelmed. Don’t want to do a job that should be done by someone else. Yet, if there’s no one who is responsible and the task requires someone’s attention and time, who would be willing to help? If there is no one who knows how or those who knows already have too much on their plate?

Maybe there are situations like this in your company? What are you doing then? Are you pushing them back?
Yes, it’s not your responsibility. Yes, you don’t have to do it. No one will argue with you about this.

On the other hand, you can. If you want to.

Maybe your comfort is not built on a solid ground where nothing changes?
Maybe you just don’t let in anything new?

Think about it.

If the place is too comfortable maybe there is something that you can do about it?

czwartek, 8 października 2015

Too comfortable?

You can calm down and do your job.

You know what has to be done.
You know how it needs to be done.

And even if there are any differences between the issues... there is no reason to panic.
You have been here so many times.
Solutions are always similar.
You know where to go for help. Whom to ask if it would be needed.

You feel comfortable. Almost relaxed.

piątek, 11 września 2015

The issues you don’t want to do…

The issue is waiting. For the person that will complete it. And this person is you. You know that priority is high. You know the issue must be solved. That is the required step that needs to be taken before you have a chance to proceed further with other things.
You try to convince yourself to start. And you’re failing. There’s so many other things that can be done. You let them keep you busy. To be your excuse.

You know the feeling? You know this passivity? Unfortunately I cannot help you with the feeling, but I’ve got a piece of advice that may help you to move on.
List all things that have to be done to complete the issue.
Sounds easy, doesn’t it? But I heard once that the simplest solution are often the best one.

wtorek, 1 września 2015

When perfection is a goal…

Life without purpose is senseless. This is why each of us need a goal. Something that will motivate us and push us forward.
The main problem with most goals is the fact that some day you will end your journey. And then, for a moment you will feel… weird. On the one hand you will be happy, because “this is already it”, but on the other hand you’ll feel uncertain, because you will have to find another goal.
How long will it take?
What if you won’t find anything?
And that’s the beauty of mastery. That’s the beauty of trying to reach it. Why?
When perfection is your goal the endless journey is waiting for you.

poniedziałek, 17 sierpnia 2015

Improvements or complains – choose one

Sprint retrospective meeting is a time when all team members can share what they are happy about, what bothers them, what is worth being taken a deeper look at and what can be or already is problematic. It is a really good idea to practice doing those meetings even if you are not doing Scrum and have no Sprints at all.
You just have to agree for some period of time after which meeting will be provided.

Sprint retrospectives give you a possibility to blurt out everything what’s on your mind. Dedicated time makes it comfortable. You are not looking at your computer. You are not in a rush because of “another meeting is in five minutes”. It’s scheduled, it’s planned and this is time for your Team.

Yeah, not completely. And to be honest, when you are starting to think about those meetings in this way in the same moment you are starting to do malfunction retrospectives. Why is that?

wtorek, 7 lipca 2015

Negative or positive feedback?

Positive feedback is like a compliment or a reward for your effort. Your skills were good enough (or even better), you made right decisions. Your actions get us closer to success. No matter whether we reached a goal or not, you’ve done the best that you could and what is even more important – you’ve done more than anyone on your place would do.
It’s always great to hear words like this. It proves that our efforts are put in the right direction. That we are valuable member of the team/project/organization. It shows us that we grow in the right area.
It’s easy to receive feedback like this, because who doesn’t like to hear a few good words about himself?

poniedziałek, 15 czerwca 2015

Don’t shout at me!

Hard day at work? You got up on the wrong side of the bed in the morning and feel that everything is against you? A difficult problem occurred and you don’t have a clue what you can do about it? You don’t agree with someone? And even more – you don’t agree with someone who is really important for you? And this is extremely sensitive issue? Different opinions? Emotions? Yelling!

wtorek, 19 maja 2015

the one who always helps…

There are people in your team, project, around you, who are recognized. They know a lot, they are doing a lot, they are always here whenever there is something to do, a problem to solve, need for help. Everyone knows how good, passionate and motivated they are. They are eager, they will do everything what they can to commit what they promised.
It’s good to have a such person in your team. Especially if the person is a team player with passion that can affect others. People will invest in themselves to reach such level, with the attitude such person will motivate them to grow.
However, there is also another side of the coin and as a leader you should remember about it.

środa, 28 stycznia 2015

Say it with different words

People are really amazing. Our ability to learn, to develop our skills is just astonishing. Whenever we find ourselves in a situation that is new for us, we can always find a way how to adapt, how to solve a problem. We are getting better at what we are doing, with handling our duties. To be more effective and have better performance, we look for new ideas, we learn new things, we gather knowledge and try to use it in our daily lives.
And regardless of all this passion, willingness to discover the new and become better every day many of us forget about development of one of our main and most important skill, a skill used almost all the time, with no break. The skill of communication.

It is known far and wide that communication is not only about spoken language, but let me focus on it.

What's the goal?

Through communication we are trying to share some emotions, knowledge, information, etc. with another person or a group of people. But the sharing process is not the most important aspect. The thing which really matters is not what would be said, but whether our interlocutor understands us or not. Whether message that he/she will receive is the one that we intend to convey.

We can be the most skilled orator, we can know fancy words, we can speak for hours and be the greatest expert in our area and we can still fail to communicate our thoughts. And it's not related to knowledge or intelligence of other people. We can be just misunderstood. And many factors can stand behind this, starting from the place where we grow and ending with our current mood.

Is there something that we can do to increase the level of understanding between us?

Learn, you fool!

I believe there's not a single person who will argue there's any activity that we are consciously doing more often than communicating. Yet, as I mentioned in the first paragraph, even since we heavily communicate with each other we spend barely no time on improving our skills in this respect.
And I'm writing also about those who really invest in their own development, those who reserve some time during the day for learning activities.

Why there's so few of us who spend some time on learning about communication techniques, who learn how to do it better and more effectively?

One trainer that I had classes with, told us something that sounds really reasonable. That's why I let myself to use her answer for this question.
Why aren’t we learning how to communicate better? Well, try to ask any person around you and most of them will answer with sentences similar to: "What for? Why should I waste my time? I already know how to speak!"
Do you already see the "Why"? Do you see the reason? Most of us put equality sign between communication and speaking and since they know how to use words, how to build sentences and even more complex statements, they don't see any reason for gaining the knowledge about communication quality itself.
Yet, speech is only one of tools used to communicate our thoughts. And as any good expert, we should know as many tools as possible and know it well to realize our goal - communicate exactly what we want to in the way the other person understands.

That's all about communication.

Please, understand me...

I believe that each of us find yourself in situation of being not understood. I believe it happened not once. Some of us tend to think that our interlocutor just doesn't want to hear us or take our arguments into consideration. But there are also people among us who start to think what I could do better, what happened that my words and my intention wasn't understood as it should have been.
And this is the first step. Once you notice the fact that maybe it was something with your sentences, that maybe message wasn't shared in a way understable by another person, then you can maybe will look for tools which can help you reduce the gap or even remove it at all between what you had meant to say, and what was in fact understood.

Did you just say that?

One of my favourite tools to improve understanding is through paraphrasing. What is it about? It's simply repeating what you just heard in your own words. Using different sentences allows you to verify whether everything was understood well.

When someone is talking about something new for you, he's sharing important information or you are just unsure whether it's exactly what he intended to say, it's a good idea to gently interrupt him and start your statement with "Did you just say ..." and use paraphrase to finalize the sentence.
Whether you hear that it's correct or not - it brings value. Either you will change uncertainty into sureness or you will hear more explanations which would clarify the discussed subject.

You see? You are always winning!

And what when you are the speaker?

And how to handle the opposite situation, when you are the person who talks and wants to be understood? Can you use paraphrasing with the same result? The answer is Yes. However, it's harder in such a situation.

In the first example, when you're asking, you are conquering your own fears - many of us are afraid of asking, because they think they can be seen as unprepared, not qualified enough or even dump. In most cases it won't happen. To be honest, when you ask, you show that you are interested and you are listening with understanding. You are showing your respect. Yet, asking still depends on you and probably your interlocutor won't feel uncomfortable with that.

When you are paraphrasing your own words to describe what you just said to increase a chance that you were understood well, there are people who can feel somehow offended by this. "Do you think I'm dumb?", "Do you think that I didn't understand when you said it first time?"
That's why using this tool as a speaker must be more careful and gentle than as a listener. It's a good idea to build your speech in a way that provokes questions. Or after the important part you can always ask questions like "Am I right with that? What we can do better? How we can improve it?", "Do you have any other ideas?", "What are the weak points in my thinking?" and many others. You can also build it in the way that questions and answer will be an inherent part of your statements. It would be even better.

The main idea is to engage people who are listening to you and provoke them to ask questions. I'm sure that it will bring value not only for them, but for you as well. Things will be more clarified and maybe even improved by their input.

So, don't wait - improve your communication skills and increase your toolset :)
Be successful in your attempts!