performance reviews

Performance Reviews: From Transactional to Transformational

Jen Roberts Communication, Engagement, Leadership, Productivity, Stress

As a leader, how do you usually feel when the time for performance reviews rolls around? Let’s be honest. Most leaders don’t enjoy the performance review process for several reasons. Usually, they feel overwhelmed by the sheer volume of meetings they have to hold in a short period of time. Often these conversations are also tied to employees’ compensation. With many companies making budget cuts these meetings can be tough when you don’t feel like you have much to offer beyond praise. The result is that many leaders end up viewing the performance review process as tedious and time consuming (and it shows). Employees, on the other hand, can fall on both sides of the fence when it comes to performance reviews. Mostly, employees just want a chance to sit down and chat with you, offer up some ideas, and walk away feeling like it’s worth getting up each morning. …

connected to friends

5 Regrets of Leaders (and How to Avoid Them), Part 5: Staying Connected to Friends

Jen Roberts Balance, Communication, Leadership

How big of a priority are friendships in your life? In the hierarchy of relationships, friendships are typically subordinate to those of our partners and family. Friendships, like romantic relationships, are unique in that you choose to enter into them. Usually, people forge friendships with those who share common interests and due to proximity, like attending the same school or in the workplace. Over the course of your lifetime you’ve likely had many different types of friends. Does it seem like things were simpler when you were younger? They probably were. Once upon a time you could run over to your friend’s house to see if s/he could play, but as you get older, friendships take more planning and intention to prioritize. Both people and friendships change over time and get trickier to nurture as you get older. As people age their priorities shift and friendships are often negatively impacted. …

5 Regrets of Leaders (and How to Avoid Them), Part 4: Courageous Authenticity

Jen Roberts Balance, Communication, Leadership

When you were a child, what did you dream your life would be like? What did you aspire to do, be, and accomplish? Are you “living the dream?” Or, like so many, have you lost sight of your true self and settled into a safer, smaller existence that leaves you wanting more? When looking back on their lives, the BIGGEST regret of the dying was this: I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me. Authenticity is one of the most desired qualities in a leader. Authenticity is measured by your ability to express your ideas, beliefs, and values in a way that is true to yourself. It sounds like it would be easy to be yourself yet many people struggle with authentic self-expression their whole life. Instead, they allow fear to guide how they “show up,” masking their …

saying no

The Courageous Power of Saying No

Jen Roberts Communication, Leadership

Many people struggle with saying no for a number of reasons. Thinking you have no choice, wanting to please others, or fearing you’ll be seen as uncooperative are among the many reasons you may feel uncomfortable saying no.

Inspiring Leader

Are You an Inspiring Leader?

Jen Roberts Communication, Engagement, Leadership

Inspiring. It’s a word most people think of as an important leadership quality. But what does being an inspiring leader really mean? Oftentimes when leaders imagine inspiring, they think of standing up in front of their team during a challenge and having the ability to motivate the masses; saying just the right words to make a powerful impact and move people into positive action. This is about them. On the flip side, what would happen if leaders shifted their awareness to inspiring for the benefit of others? My son came home from school with a handmade bookmark that captured several statements about “Luke’s Super Star Qualities” written by his classmates (not all of whom were close friends). I was so moved to read some of the things that were written. Among them were… “Luke is helpful!” “Luke is strong.” “Luke is a great writer.” “Luke makes people laugh a lot.” …

Leading by Example: Why Consistency Matters

Jen Roberts Communication, Engagement, Leadership

You’ve probably heard the phrase “consistent action leads to consistent results,” which makes logical sense. The more important, and perhaps unspoken, truth in this statement is that the quality of our results depends not on merely doing something, but on taking intentional action that fits our end goal. In other words, you get out of something what you put into it. Consistency, or lack thereof, can be the defining factor between failure or success. If you have children (or know anyone who does) you’re probably aware of the importance of consistency. Children learn how to behave through reinforcement and punishment and also through observation. To feel secure, children need parents to be consistent with them and are trusted not to send conflicting or confusing messages. Consistency as a parent can be difficult and exhausting, but it is of paramount importance. The same is true in business. One of the most …

communication

What You Hear is What you Get: Communication Lessons for Leaders

Jen Roberts Communication, Engagement, Leadership

In business, effective communication is crucial to your success. Most leaders aspire to be viewed as effective, if not eloquent speakers and writers. Leaders are called to communicate in myriad ways every day. You use these skills to resolve conflicts, convey ideas, inspire your team, defend decisions, and hold performance and development conversations, to name a few. When you consider all the ways to become a better communicator, what most likely comes to mind are things like improving your ability to influence and persuade others, being able to “think on your feet” and appear competent and articulate, speaking with ease in front of large groups, or sharing your expertise to garner respect. All of these aspects of communication are concerned with the delivery of your message, regardless of the modality you use. It’s interesting that the most important part of communication (the part that matters to others, anyway) doesn’t require …

communicate

7 Reasons Technology Might Be Hurting The Way You Communicate With Your Team

Jen Roberts Communication, Leadership

How do you typically communicate with your team members? Most leaders use technology as their go-to communication method, which is understandable given the global nature of business. But how effective is communication when technology replaces the human interaction? Many of the subtle nuances of direct communication are lost in translation when leaders rely too heavily on electronic methods of communication such as email, text messaging, and Skype. Just because a message is sent does not ensure receipt or an accurate interpretation of its meaning. And this lack of connection can affect everything from employee engagement to your bottom line. “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” ~George Bernard Shaw Click the link below to read my newest Forbes Coaches Council publication that addresses how technology may be hurting your ability to communicate as effectively as you’d like: Seven Reasons Technology Might Be Hurting …

Winning leadership brand

3 Factors to Create a Winning Leadership Brand

Jen Roberts Communication, Engagement, Leadership

When you think of a typical career trajectory, most people start out as individual contributors—the doers of the office—and aspire to getting promoted one day. However, many people don’t CHOOSE to be a leader with intention (they take on the role because it’s the next logical step). Once in a position of power, they often feel they’ve arrived. In leadership, there is no arrival. You’ve probably heard the famous Woody Allen quote, “Eighty percent of success is just showing up.” Have you ever stopped to wonder how you “show up” as a leader? I hear people all the time complaining about their employees’ behaviors: they can’t be trusted, they aren’t good communicators, or they just don’t perform up to par. Here’s the reality: Much of what you see in your environment is a reflection of how you lead, both good and bad. Remember that employees often model the leadership behaviors …

Ignoring Emails

Leaders: How Much Does Ignoring Emails Cost You?

Jen Roberts Communication, Leadership, Management

How many emails are sitting in your inbox right now? Do you have hundreds or thousands of messages sitting there awaiting action? Email has become one of the most used technologies leaders use to communicate with their teams. The average leader spends nearly 2 ½ hours each day managing email and text communications. That’s average. You might be spending more or less time depending on your personal communication style and business culture. So, with the volume of emails you’re likely receiving each day, do you make the time to respond? In recent years, it has become more acceptable to delay a response—or worse—not send a reply at all. In the busy-ness of corporate environments, leaders may forget that these messages come from human beings. People understandably get upset when their messages go unanswered wondering if the message was received and, if so, why they weren’t important enough to warrant a …

Protect Your Time

3 Easy Ways to Protect Your Time and Energy

Jen Roberts Communication, Stress

Many leaders I coach pride themselves on their approachability and having an “open-door policy.” We often want to be available to others to answer questions and support their needs. What you might not be considering is how not setting or honoring boundaries is creating extra stress that affects your energy and productivity. My office is in the upstairs of our house. I have two kids, ages 10 and 8. About a year ago, I had an important coaching session with the CEO of a prominent IT company (unluckily, my kids happened to be home from school because of an early dismissal). I told my kids about the important phone call and that I couldn’t be interrupted unless it was an EMERGENCY. Knowing how kids are, I used all my best coaching skills to help them identify what constituted an emergency and they had some great answers so I felt confident. …

Gratitude

Gratitude: The Secret Ingredient to Inspiring Leadership

Jen Roberts Communication, Leadership, Management

What inspires you? When we’re asked that question it can be tempting to focus on big, momentous acts. In business, leaders imagine standing up in front of their team during a challenge and having the ability to motivate the masses; saying just the right words to make a powerful impact and move people into positive action. When it comes down to it, however, employees don’t need for you to be the Master of the Universe to inspire them on a daily basis. In fact, it can be as simple as taking the time to share your appreciation for their hard work. That’s it. Really. A truly inspirational leader sees the best in each individual and the gifts they possess. Inspiring, in this sense, is a way of stimulating and lifting people to a new level of creativity and energy. It’s about seeing the greatness and value in someone and going …

management team

[VIDEO] Building Alignment Within Your Management Team

Jen Roberts Communication, Leadership, Management

This article originally appeared on td.org. How would you describe the alignment between you and your management team? Although having a cohesive management team is important in driving workplace culture and productivity, many teams struggle with making it a reality in their work environments. A management team that is aligned in terms of communication, decision-making processes, modeling core values, and working with a common vision and purpose can positively affect many aspects of the work environment. These behaviors lead to greater respect, trust, and productivity within the team. On the flip side, however, lack of alignment in a management team can be disastrous for those they lead. Problems that can arise from a lack of leadership alignment include: Confusion: When employees get different answers or directives from different leaders, they often don’t know which advice to follow, and may not do anything because they don’t want to make a mistake. …

workplace innovation

The Phrase That Kills Workplace Innovation

Jen Roberts Communication, Leadership, Productivity

The pace of business today requires leaders to readily adapt and willingly embrace change. Yet for many successful leaders, resisting change is one of the biggest obstacles to advancing their own careers and driving their companies forward. Because companies and the leaders within them are often successful, that success can make it difficult to even want to change. After all, leaders usually attribute their success to what they’ve done in the past; their behaviors and choices have worked to get them where they are. The most damaging phrase you’ll hear in your workplace when it comes to embracing change and fostering innovation is, “That’s the way it’s always been done.” My point is this: Just because that is the way it’s always been done, does that mean it’s the right way to approach things today? When was the last time you really questioned the strategies you’ve been taught or have …

strengthen your team

Predictable Success: Creating Routine to Strengthen Your Team

Jen Roberts Communication, Leadership, Productivity

Would you describe yourself as a consistent leader? For many of us, one of the most difficult parts of leadership is learning to become immune to the ups and downs of a typical workweek. Especially when our natural reaction when tensions run high is to succumb to reactivity and panic. As someone who leads others, it is important that you behave consistently in all types of situations. Consistency is the key to establishing and maintaining trust with your team. If your reactions are unpredictable or if you give conflicting directions, employees might be unwilling or even afraid to approach you. Unpredictable leaders create feelings of fear and nervousness in the people they lead. While you might think it’s motivating to keep the people around you on their toes, creating a work environment full of anxiety is one of the best ways to crush your team’s ability to innovate and create …

Personal Brand

Why Consistency Is the Key to Honing Your Personal Brand

Jen Roberts Communication, Leadership, Management

Anyone who’s worked in or around a marketing department for long knows the importance of branding. Good branding can not only increase your business’s value, but can also provide your team with direction, and make it easier to attract new clients. Luckily, businesses are not the only ones who benefit from establishing a clear brand. A strong personal brand can act as the foundation of a successful career. It can provide you with personal direction, increase your ability to find new opportunities, and help others see the value you bring to the table so your worth will be acknowledged. Many people associate branding with a business’s logo, online identity, or mission statement. What could that have to do with you personally, as a leader within the organization? While how we use language and imagery as individuals is important, authentic branding goes much deeper. Your reputation, professional values, and the style …