Donna's blog on coaching, leadership, and life

Archive for April, 2009

Chunk it down.

Have you found yourself stalling when you’re facing a seemingly overwhelming task or project?  Of course you have. Or perhaps you have some great creative ideas—so many ideas, that few to none are actually being implemented.

I’ve  found that when we’re confused, overwhelmed, or on overdrive, we often stand still. Great ideas and countless pressures recycle themselves through our minds while stress builds and little is actually being accomplished.

However, when we have simple easy tasks ahead of us we not only tend to get them done, we may find ourselves gravitating towards them—enjoying the simplicity and validation of getting something done! 

So how can we shift into action—or engage others in action—towards big picture goals? Chunk them down into small, small, small steps each of which are easy to assign and/or accomplish. 

Not sure what the components for action are? Begin dumping (documenting) those few small steps that you know need to happen (i.e., ask John about ….; need cost analysis for…..; check budget numbers relating to…..; identify 3 individuals who might be able to help me with this project; etc.) 

Place some target dates on the small steps and watch your project or strategies come to life. The formula is simple: Chunk it down. Small steps are guaranteed to move you and your project forward.

Reinforce work/life balance in the midst of high demands

Some organizations recognize the importance of reinforcing the value of work/life balance. However, it’s become such a necessity and an acceptable trend to work extreme hours to meet increasing demands with less people, that it seems we’re sometimes at a loss as to how to turn it around. Here are a just a few small-step leadership strategies you can take to minimize burnout and validate the importance of life and work balance in your organization during challenging times:

– Be cautious about contributing to an “everything is urgent” mentality. Work with your managers regularly to decipher the difference between true immediate priorities and negotiable demands.
– Ensure that your managers are well-coached on effective delegation and require that they consistently do so. Even when a team is lean, poor delegation could translate to untapped talent or bandwidth.
– Be a role model. Whenever possible, avoid sending requests or emails that carry a late night or weekend time/date. You may complete a request at midnight, but you may want to send it first thing in the morning.
– Avoid language and inferences that encourage and accept extreme hours as an acceptable norm in your organization.

Research tells us that Millennials—our future leaders who were born in the 80s and 90s—site well-being as a core value. Perhaps there’s hope for us after all.