8 Tips for Women Who Struggle to Take Time for Themselves

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As Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of Eat, Pray, Love, said recently at a conference: The one word you’ll never hear associated with women is “Relaxed.”

Have you scheduled a summer vacation yet? Are you someone who struggles to take time for yourself? If so, you may want to take a second look at your calendar. See if you can find some time to get away from work and family obligations and relax. If this sounds like an unrealistic luxury, or if you feel like your boss can’t spare you, listen up: Research shows that taking a vacation is good for you–and for your organization.

How is you taking a vacation good for your firm?

If you’re burnt out or bored-out, it’s not good for anyone. You, your team, your boss, your household or partner. Taking summer vacation, and taking time for yourself, which I call “You Time,” is essential.

And, as it turns out, summer vacation is not only beneficial for you but also for your company’s bottom line.

According to research published by the recognition and engagement company, O.C. Tanner, for employees who regularly take a one-week or more extended vacation in the summer, there are positive correlations between their workplace engagement levels and work ethic. The study found that 70 percent of respondents reported feeling highly motivated to contribute to the success of their organizations, as opposed to only 55 percent of respondents who do not regularly take a week-long summer vacation.

The demands of work and family are stressful–but especially for women.

We all juggle the daily demands of our personal lives and our work lives, but women, in particular, describe feeling pressured and struggle to take time for themselves. One of the things I hear from my female coaching clients is that they are doing it all, all the time, for everyone. They tell me they don’t have time for themselves. They don’t have time to work out, time to relax, or time to recharge.

And I get it.

As women, we are socialized to take care of others. In addition to work, most women manage their children and family’s obligations. An increasing number of women also these days care for their aging parents. “According to the July 2016 Journal, Brain and Behavior, on top of juggling multiple responsibilities and roles, women have different brain chemistry and have to deal with hormone fluctuations,” says Yvonne Williams Casaus. “Also, women tend to cope with stress differently. The hormone fluctuations are the kicker,” she adds.

Women are also groomed to be perfectionists so we don’t know how to let go of the 20-30 percent of tasks that may not be vitally important–or can wait a day or two. Seriously, we need to remember: If the kids go to school with two different color socks or store-bought cupcakes, it’s really not the end of the world.

The importance of sleep.

We tend to underestimate the importance of getting enough rest. According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, sleep is involved in the healing and repair of your heart and blood vessels. Ongoing sleep deficiency is linked to an increased risk of heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke. In today’s global workplace, we’re online 24/7, but we shouldn’t be. We need to set those boundaries for ourselves because those boundaries aren’t being set for us. And, as women, we often find this hard to do.

As I said, I hear stories about the struggle with stress and burnout from my clients all the time. For example, a workshop participant who worked “part-time” recently described her typical day:

“I get up at 5 am, get online, then wake up the kids, get them ready for school, eat breakfast, make lunches, take them to school and go to work. I work five hours straight through without breaks–since I’m only part-time. Then I leave for school, pick up the kids, take them to a play-date or host one, get back online, make dinner, get the kids ready for bed, get back online or do house chores I couldn’t get to, and go to bed around 11 pm.”

She said all this in front of a male executive, and he looked her incredulously after she finished describing her day, and said, “I would never do that!” Meaning, he would never live his life like that. He didn’t respect the fact that she was essentially working full-time in a part-time position. He also was puzzled by the fact that she managed home, family and work without taking time for herself, to recharge and release stress.

What to do: Eight tips for recharging when you struggle to take time for yourself.

Making time in your life for yourself is critical. It doesn’t always feel possible, but there are things you can do. If taking a vacation this summer is not an option for you, here are some tips to start taking a little bit of time every day to recharge. Start here:

1. Begin to make yourself the priority–even if it’s only for a small amount of time every day.

2. Stop beating yourself up. Silence that critical inner voice that says you have to be perfect.

3. Do something, even something tiny that will make you feel good each day.

4. Make time to rest. Even a few minutes of deep breathing will help.

5. Start meditating. Just five minutes can make a massive difference.

6. Exercise. Walk more, or find a family activity that you can all do together to be active.

7. Begin planning a future vacation. Half the fun is in the planning.

8. Find a colleague to be your “accountability buddy” and keep each other accountable for finding that “You Time.”

Need more help? Contact me. I have more than 20 years of experience coaching women to take charge of their lives and become more empowered.

A version of this post was first published on Inc.

Photo: 123rf.com

The New Global Manager: Tools and Tips For Success!

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So you’ve made it! You’re a new global manager. Congratulations. These are exciting times. Our world is changing, becoming more and more connected–and as a new global manager, you will face challenges your predecessors didn’t. Are you ready for this?

Who is the New Global Manager?

Let’s talk about this. A global manager is defined by the work he or she is doing, frequently within a company with a global presence or operations. A global manager is responsible for managing teams of employees or business operations across diverse cultures and time zones, which calls for new skill sets and capabilities.

And, the new global manager is almost everyone working as a manager today.

Whether you’re working for a local, national or international company, you’re working across cultures, languages, regions or countries. You have to be savvy at quickly assessing needs, reading others and ensuring interactions are successful to meet deliverables and accomplish your goals.

There is a New Global Environment!

Business today is conducted in an almost borderless, boundary-free marketplace, made of multiple countries, cultures, languages, ethnicities and time zones. The number of companies with international offices and plants continues to grow as people from a broad range of countries move and settle in new locations.

Technology connects all of us 24/7 to geographic locations about which we’ve only just begun to learn. In truth, you’ve probably already noticed that the number of people you work with or come in contact with on a daily basis, has changed. Your employees and co-workers may well have backgrounds that are very different from your own.

There are three significant reasons for this.

Let’s start with the most obvious. The first: An increasing number of U.S.-based companies are doing business internationally. For example, more than sixty-eight percent of the top 250 U.S. retailers have foreign operations, according to a report published by Deloitte. And, according to the World Trade Organization (WTO), global trade growth is projected to stay above-trend. This growth in international operations is expected to continue.

The second reason for the new global environment is U.S. Demographics have changed dramatically. According to the Pew Research Center, immigrants are driving overall workforce growth in the U.S. New foreign student enrollment at U.S. colleges and universities doubled between 2008 and 2016, from 179,000 to 364,000, far outpacing growth in overall college enrollment. As the report stated, “Once arrived, rising shares of immigrants have become citizens, and naturalization rates are up among most of the largest immigrant groups.”

Finally, the third reason for the new global environment is that more American managers work for companies that are headquartered outside the United States. Companies like Burger King, Budweiser, Medtronic, Purina, McDermott, Seagate Technology, Good Humor, Frigidaire, and Actavis/Allergan are among the iconic U.S, company names that have moved headquarters from the United States to other countries in the past few years, according to a report by CNBC.

In the new global environment, managers work with teams of people from different cultural backgrounds, locations, and levels of experience. This rapidly changing global environment, with diverse customer demands, new markets, and digitalization means managers need to react quickly in situations of extreme complexity and ambiguity.

Mastering the Art of the New Global Manager: OAR and 4DCulture Tools

As I explain in my new book, The New Global Manager, to be a successful New Global Manager, you’ll need to incorporate a combination of skills and new tools–like the OAR process. Use the three following steps, Observe/Ask/React, to quickly assess any situation more accurately.

The basic rule for OAR is that when someone behaves unexpectedly, instead of responding immediately you stop, and Observe. What did they do or not do that surprised you? When another person’s behavior doesn’t match your expectations, it’s time for the second part of OAR. It’s time to Ask Questions. Once you’ve gathered more information, then React.

Another tool New Global Managers are employing is called 4DCulture. When you know you’re going to be in a situation with someone whose culture is different from your own, you should do some homework. The 4DCulture tool will help you analyze the cultural forces that may be in play. The tool gives you a way to make your first determination about how you’re going to act and then to ask the questions and analyze the situation so that you do better.

The New Global Environment is all around us.

Suffice it to say, immigration and globalization trends will not reverse any time soon. They will drive the environment you work in every day. Advances in technology further stir the pot, making it more likely that you will have frequent contact with people with diverse norms, perceptions, and values. You will, of necessity, need to develop a global mindset and perfect your global management skills. This is an exciting and challenging time for all of us.

Do you need help getting up to speed as a new global manager? Contact me. I have more than 20 years of experience in international leadership development, coaching, and team-building, and have helped countless individuals and organizations to be more equitable, productive, and happy. I can help you too.

Ten Never Fail Strategies for The New Global Manager:

  1. Check your assumptions at the door
  2. Slow down, speak clearly, and use slang sparingly and carefully
  3. Add ‘in country X’ to indicate you are thinking globally
  4. Memorize five facts about another country or culture
  5. Act like an anthropologist: Observe and listen
  6. Seek out global news sources
  7. Travel adventurously, but take precautions
  8. Ensure everyone contributes in meetings
  9. Give constructive feedback but consider the receiver
  10. Alternate meeting times to accommodate time zones

A version of this post was first published on Inc.

Photo: 123rf.com

Stop Apologizing for Success: Be Like Miranda in “Sex in the City.”

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Women, we need to stop apologizing for success. We need to start channeling characters like Miranda Hobbes, from Sex in the City; and model confidence and focus for all of the young girls watching us. “It’s time to be ‘a Miranda,'” said Cynthia Nixon. “One thing I always loved about that spirited redhead was that she didn’t suppress her ambitions in order to be more ‘likable,’ nor did she try to squeeze herself into stereotypical notions of womanhood and femininity,” she stated.

And you never saw Miranda Hobbes apologizing for success.

“As a successful lawyer on [ Sex in the City], Nixon’s character often found that she was more successful and more well-off than the men in her life, but she would hardly apologize for it. Why should she?” asks Rose Burke.

Why indeed?

I just heard a disturbing story about a woman who had worked really hard and had accomplished something for her firm that hadn’t ever been done before. Her accomplishment created tremendous positive change for her company. The executives in her firm publicly praised her, but then someone started saying behind her back that she was being celebrated just because she was a woman. Of course, the comments got back to her and made her feel like she should have downplayed her accomplishment.

Has anyone ever said that to you? Maybe you’ve had the same experience of hearing that people in your company are talking behind your back, assuming that you only got the job, the promotion, the raise, or the opportunity because you’re a woman.

It’s not uncommon.

Many women experience this. “They often feel the unspoken implication is ‘… and don’t you forget it.’ In other words, they got a job they didn’t deserve. They had a door opened for them because they were wearing a skirt,” writes Patti Fletcher in a post for Entrepreneur.com.

“The truth of it is that men are hired for what they might be able to do. Women are hired only if they’ve proven themselves over and over again,” writes Fletcher. I agree. Women, as young girls, are taught to collaborate, share, be nice, but not to stick our necks out and tout our achievements. We are expected to be nice. If we promote our successes, our colleagues perceive this as being opportunistic or arrogant. Even our female co-workers. In this, we women can be our own worst enemies here.

There’s a double standard at play here.

“What is really going on, as peer-reviewed studies continually find, is that high-achieving women experience social backlash because their very success – and specifically the behaviors that created that success – violates our expectations about how women are supposed to behave,” writes Marianne Cooper, for the Harvard Business Review. “Women are expected to be nice, warm, friendly, and nurturing. Thus, if a woman acts assertively or competitively, if she pushes her team to perform, if she exhibits decisive and forceful leadership, she is deviating from the social script that dictates how she ‘should’ behave.”

Success and likability are correlated in men but are not in women.

This was made clear in a case study for the Columbia Business School which profiled Heidi Roizen, a successful Silicon Valley venture capitalist. In presenting the case study to his class, however, Professor Frank Flynn gave half the class the case study showcasing Heidi’s successes. The other half of the class was given a case study with a different name and learned about the successes achieved by “Howard” Roizen. The research demonstrated the negative correlation for women between power and success.

What can we do?

As women, we need to share our success with others so we can act as role models for others–particularly those women who might be more unsure about how to self-promote and advocate for their own success. Not only does it not help us to hide behind our work and accomplishments, hoping they’ll speak for themselves, it actually hurts us. And it hurts others.

#TimesUp. It’s time for a change.

Research shows that men in particular view a lack of self-touting achievements as a lack of self-confidence. As women, we need to be visible, share what we’re working on, celebrate successes, help others and ask others to advocate for us.

Today, especially, we have a moral obligation to take on leadership roles and help change the dynamic at the top for women and men. We can create more gender parity in organizations if we talk about our achievements, share success, and celebrate our accomplishments–and stop apologizing for success!

Are you wondering how you can help? Here are some things you can start doing:

  • Don’t bury yourself in your laptop or tablet at work.
  • Use meetings as an opportunity to network and talk about your accomplishments.
  • Share your successes by email, and in person.
  • Talk about your manager and your team’s accomplishments, as well as your own.
  • Be visible in all-hands, in coffee corners or online, sharing compelling content.
  • Speak about results, not just what you’re doing.
  • Combat negative comments or tear-down behaviors by encouraging a correlation between success and likability–for all.

Need help? Contact me. I have more than 20 years experience developing innovative programs for women and men to create space for the necessary conversations to promote more gender equity.

A version of this post was first published on Inc.

You’re Not Burnt-Out. You’re Bored-Out.

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About two and a half years into a job he had previously been really excited about, my client Nick found himself getting increasingly restless and bored. He described his situation to me as a “mountain of sameness,” and said he was beginning to dread going to work.

Margaret, someone at the mid-point of her career, was slowly dying on the vine. Of what? Of boredom. She came to me for help identifying what had gone wrong with her career, desperate to find a way out of the stultifying daily sameness of her job.

Boredom at work is a real problem for business today. According to a survey published in January by the Korn Ferry Institute, the leading reason respondents reported looking for a new job was that they were bored with the job they currently hold. And, participants in an OfficeTeam study reported feeling bored for at least 10.5 hours per week.

Boredom at work can have severe consequences.

Employee boredom, labeled bore-out, is a growing workplace trend and is seen as a psychological disorder that can lead to burnout and illness, according to co-authors of the book, Diagnose Boreout, Peter Werder, and Philippe Rothlin. According to Werder and Rothlin, early symptoms of bore-out include demotivation, anxiety, and sadness. In the long term, they state, burnout will develop, generating a strong feeling of self-deprecation, which can turn into depression, and even physical illness.

According to a study published by Udemy, 43 percent of workers report feeling bored at work. The research found that more women than men report workplace boredom (48 percent vs. 39 percent) and Millennials are almost two times as likely to be bored. 51 percent of respondents who described issues with boredom stated they feel this way for more than half of their work week.

What are the symptoms of bore-out?

As Steve Savels describes it, you are left with little energy. “You become irritated, cynical and you feel worthless. Although you don’t have enough to do – or what you have to do is not stimulating you enough, you get extremely stressed, ” he states. “With a bore-out, you get stuck in your ‘comfort zone’ for too long, until your personal development comes to a halt. A burn-out happens when you stay for too long in your ‘effort zone’ until all your energy is gone.”

The consequences of bore-out can impact an entire organization.

Employees can begin to stretch tasks out for longer and more extended periods of time to appear busy and engaged. They start to do just what is required and nothing more. They come in late to work, leave early and call in sick more often than their counterparts. Moreover, their attitudes can begin to impact the rest of the team.

“A high incidence of boredom among segments of the workforce directly impacts performance, morale, and retention,” according to the Udemy research. “39 percent of surveyed employees called in sick to work due to boredom.” 51 percent of employees stated their coworkers regularly describe feelings of apathy or disengagement, which can spread among the workforce leading to low morale throughout the organization. And, as the research revealed, bored workers are more than twice as likely to quit than their non-bored co-workers.

Boredom is known as a leading indicator of disengagement.

“Not only can disengaged employees create a negative work environment but they can also cause a company to lose money,” writes Paul Slezak for RecruitLoop. “According to a Gallup poll, actively disengaged employees cause U.S. companies between $450 – $550 billion in lost productivity per year.”

What can you do?

Among the things I tell clients who come to me with concerns about boredom at work is that you don’t have to leave your current job to fix the problem. You really can turn bore-out around if you’re willing to work at it, take the right steps, and reach out to others in your company and network.

Here are eight tips to help turn a tedious job into something that has challenge and meaning:

  1. Ask yourself what exactly bores you about your current situation and what kinds of new responsibilities would seem appealing.
  2. Meet with your manager and ask for new challenges. Ask for a career counseling and brainstorming session to come up with ideas for moving forward.
  3. Increase your networking, inside and outside of your company. Take the time to get to know new people and ask them about their jobs and what they find interesting or exciting.
  4. Get involved in volunteer projects within your company. Ask to be included in a corporate social responsibility (CSR) project and work to get to know the other people involved.
  5. Check into job shadowing. You may be able to shadow someone from an entirely different part of the company and learn something utterly unrelated to your current job.
  6. See if you can take part in one of your organization’s fellowship programs. Some companies offer short-term fellowship programs that last three to six months and may take place in other parts of the country or even offices abroad.
  7. Work on increasing your visibility within the company and in building your personal brand.
  8. Work with a coach to uncover new ways to build meaning into your work, no matter where you are employed.

Do you need more help? Contact me. I help to grow leaders, empower teams, and bridge cultures by facilitating innovative learning programs. With over 20 years of experience in international leadership development, coaching, and team-building, I have helped countless individuals and organizations to be more equitable, productive, and happy.

A version of this post was first published on Inc.

Photo credit: julien-pier-belanger-499884-unsplash.com

How to Leverage AI Without Losing Humanity

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Artificial intelligence, or AI, is technology that learns, reasons, and self-corrects, and it’s being used by businesses to improve the customer journey. Automation, machine learning, machine vision, and natural language processing are the primary pillars of AI that companies can lean on to make their relationships with customers more personal. These processes include learning, which is the acquisition of information and the rules for using that information; Self-correction, which is the process of automatically finding and fixing errors; and reasoning, which is the process of using the rules to reach approximate or definite conclusions.

Consumers are optimistic about AI, and over half believe it will have a positive impact on their personal lives. Many are still learning what it is, but companies are already using it to help them. It’s used to detect and deter security intrusions in IT; to anticipate future customer purchases and improve recommendations and offers; to make financial trading easier, and to automate call distribution in customer service departments. In fact, automation is one of the most significant benefits of AI, as it frees employees’ time to do more critical, customer-centric tasks.

One example of using AI to help a business reach its customers is a Harley Davidson dealership in New York. With the power of AI, the dealership’s marketing campaigns increased sales and the number of leads. The firm tested its advertising and found that the word, “call” performed 447 percent better than ads containing the word, “buy.” Artifical intelligence evaluated what was working across digital channels, then used what it learned to create more opportunities for conversion. And, because of the data AI managed, the dealership needed to hire six additional employees to handle the new business.

The infographic below, from Salesforce, provides more information about how AI is being used today and how you can leverage the use of AI to increase sales, build business, automate rote tasks, and more–without losing your humanity.

A version of this guest post was first published on the Salesforce blog, via Salesforce.