10 Tips To Develop Your Firm’s Cultural Competence

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Does your company have what it takes to do business in this rapidly expanding global economy? The importance of cultural competence and your team’s ability to work across cultures cannot be overstated in today’s global marketplace. Determining your organization’s level of cultural competency is essential–but, simply utilizing the available tools may not provide you with the information you really need.

“The world felt larger when the internet was small,” writes Hal Conick, “Twenty years ago, 33 percent of internet users were in the U.S. while less than 1.5 percent of the world’s population was online.”

Well, that was then. This is now.

According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) “With financial conditions still supportive, global growth is expected to tick up to a 3.9 percent rate in both 2018 and 2019.” As reported in the Global Mindset Index Study, published by Culture Wizard, almost 24 percent of respondents report spending more than 75 percent of their work time on global endeavors. The data shows that globally-minded businesses have a competitive advantage over companies with a more narrow focus.

Nationally, shifting demographics are changing the composition of the American workforce. According to the Pew Research Center, immigration is projected to drive growth in the U.S. working-age population through 2035. The increasing numbers of immigrants joining American businesses make understanding cultural differences an economic necessity.

“In an increasingly globalized world economy, workforces that are culturally diverse can help companies expand their business in worldwide markets,” writes Haley Smith. “Being able to communicate effectively in different parts of the world is a key benefit, as well as knowing how to create relationships and understand the cultural nuances and differences in doing business in foreign countries. With a workforce that understands these concepts, you create the opportunity to effectively develop your business in a global market.”

And, in addition to global expansion, as more and more American companies employ workers from diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds, evaluating the degree to which employees operate with cultural competency is essential.

Assessing your company’s cultural competence.

“What is cultural diversity in the workplace?” asks Dr. Richard T. Alpert, Ph.D. “Culture refers to the 7 Essentials of Workplace Cultural Competence: The values, norms, and traditions that affect the way a member of a group typically perceives, thinks, interacts, behaves, and makes judgments. It even affects perceptions of time, which can impact day-to-day scheduling and deadlines.

“Developing cultural competence results in an ability to understand, communicate with, and effectively interact with people across cultures, and work with varying cultural beliefs and schedules,” he states.

I agree with Dr. Alpert. In my work, I often describe cultural competence as the ability to communicate and work well with people from other cultures. Being able to do this effectively takes a combination of self-awareness and understanding of one’s own biases and cultural worldview. It also takes having a global mindset, knowledge of other cultural attitudes, a cross-cultural skillset and being tolerant of cultural differences.

Assessment is a multi-step process.

Cultures are complex and fluid, not static. So determining your organization’s cultural competence requires understanding nuanced interactions and behaviors. The challenge is, you aren’t just determining your employees’ abilities to work with people from different backgrounds, ethnicities, age groups or religious tradition, you’re also evaluating the depth of knowledge and experience within the company as a whole to identify any gaps.

Assessing knowledge levels is only one part of the cultural competency equation. Evaluating the degree to which an individual or a team can step outside their own cultural boundaries and become comfortable with new and unfamiliar customs and practices is imperative. Next, determining whether the individual or group has both the ability and the motivation to employ this understanding in a cross-cultural environment is key. In global settings, business people are confronted not only with different cultural expectations but with the complexities of a particular country’s business environments including legal, economic, technological, political and social considerations.

Conducting an accurate assessment of an organization’s cultural competence is a multi-faceted process, calling for executive interviews with a cultural expert, workshops, and facilitated discussions with your team. Often, in conjunction with these steps, I recommend the use of tools like the Global Mindset Inventory (GMI) assessment, which measures intellectual, psychological, and social capital to reveal both strengths and areas to develop.

Building cultural competency in a business or team is an ongoing exercise, one that is, of necessity, responsive and fluid in nature. Beginning with the assessment process, it morphs into the development of training and coaching programs, HR policies, and constant monitoring and evaluation. Taking steps to create an atmosphere of cultural competence builds one of the most valuable assets your organization will have–one that will yield tremendous benefits over the years to come.

10 tips for developing your firm’s cultural competency:

  1. Conduct executive interviews with a cultural expert to evaluate your team.
  2. Identify the gaps and create a strategy for developing cultural competence.
  3. Develop and implement training and coaching with a true cross-cultural expert.
  4. Emphasize communication and relationship building across geographic barriers.
  5. Practice active listening.
  6. Be sensitive to language barriers and bridge any linguistic divides.
  7. Encourage sensitivity to issues like time, local customs, religious matters, and etiquette.
  8. Practice effective cross-cultural team-building.
  9. Solicit feedback from your team as they put training to use in the workplace.
  10. Conduct a review and reassessment of your team’s performance and modify your training and coaching as needed.

Do you need help in assessing your team’s level of cultural competency? Contact me. I have more than 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: 123rf.com

Best Beach Reading List for Women in Leadership

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One of my New Year’s resolutions for 2018 was to read more. For good reasons. It’s a fact: People who read books live longer. And truthfully, as I have said before, leadership development is a demanding field–one that requires staying abreast of new perspectives and learning from authors beyond our own particular industries.

Now that summer is here; I’m happy to say that I am enjoying my resolution and am eager to share some new book titles with you. So, as you throw your bathing suit and sunblock into that beach or pool carryall, consider adding one of the books I’ve suggested below, whether it’s to help uplevel your leadership abilities over the summer or to offset that summer blockbuster page-turner you just tucked in your bag.

1. Dream Teams by Shane Snow

Let’s start with this one: Dream Teams: Working Together Without Falling Apart by Shane Snow. Managing high-performance teams is a topic near and dear to my heart, one that I speak about in keynotes across the country. “Award-winning entrepreneur and journalist Shane Snow reveals the counterintuitive reasons why so many partnerships and groups break down–and why some break through.” Snow does an excellent job of walking the reader through the elements that cause a team to be high-performing instead of just a group of people who work together.

I appreciated Snow’s storytelling, which made the book an enjoyable read, and his insights based on history, business, neuroscience, and psychology. It’s a fabulous book, and I believe you’ll enjoy it.

2. Applied Empathy by Michael Ventura

Next up is Applied Empathy: The New Language of Leadership by Michael Ventura. In this Business Insider Best Book, Ventura describes the power of empathy, and how that quality may be what your company needs to connect, innovate, and grow. Ventura is an entrepreneur and the CEO of the award-winning strategy and design firm Sub Rosa. He has worked with brands like Google, Warby Parker, Nike, and General Electric, and organizations including the United Nations and the Obama administration.

In a world where we face the reality of digitalization and our increasing reliance on technology like artificial intelligence and augmented reality, the need for soft skills like empathy is vital. Bear in mind that the people who program this technology upon which we depend come to the work with their biases–and those can easily be incorporated in the development and coding processes. One of the key skills for those of us in leadership is and will continue to be, emotional competence; the ability to empathize with, motivate, and engage our teams.

Applied Empathy provides the reader with a framework for building diverse teams that can be successful in our new global marketplace.

3. Off the Clock by Laura Vanderkam

Let’s change it up a bit with this next recommendation. Most of us run from one day to the next, frantically juggling the daily demands of our personal lives and our work lives. 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.

Off the Clock: Feel Less Busy While Getting More Done by Laura Vanderkam describes seven principles that time-free people have adopted. “Time-free?” you exclaim. Who would describe themselves as time-free in today’s hectic world? It turns out, plenty of people do because they embrace the seven almost counterintuitive principles outlined in Vanderkam’s book. Her book includes descriptions of “mindset shifts to help you feel calm on the busiest days and tools to help you get more done without feeling overwhelmed.”

This book is packed with helpful information and examples of how people using these principles are learning to apply new thinking to formerly chaotic schedules and lives. I found several invaluable pointers in the book that I plan to use in my own life, and I suspect you may as well. Give it a read. I recommend it highly.

4. Presence by Amy Cuddy

Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges by Amy Cuddy is a book I often recommend to my coaching clients. Cuddy, who gave the second most popular TED Talk ever, writes about the differences between authentic and inauthentic behavior, and between social power and personal power.

At this point, your instinctive response may be like this one: “I don’t read self-help books,” writes Laura McNeal in a Goodreads review. “Metaphorically I’m a 17-year-old hearing that it would be better to start my homework on Saturday instead of Sunday night at eight. My inner voice screams, ‘I KNOOOOOOOOW.’ ” If so, read on: “I was in deep danger of switching from the Bold Self initiative to my default setting, which is Holden Caulfield at the end of his madman weekend in New York. And yet I kept reading, and it got to a point where I was curled up on the sofa with a highlighter in my hand….” McNeal gave the book four out of five stars in her review.

Cuddy describes the differences between powerless poses and powerful poses and recommends adopting confident power poses and body language until the reader can become her authentic best self.” As a social psychologist, Cuddy bases her work on her research and is considered a leader among ” ‘next generation’ authors and academics who are pioneering evidence-based approaches,” according to a review by Bridgette Beyers.

Try this one and then let me know how you enjoyed it, and whether you found it as helpful and inspiring as I have.

5. Thrive by Arianna Huffington

Finally, I give you Thrive, by Arianna Huffington. Thrive is Huffington’s account of how she manages the challenges of her career and raising her two daughters. It is an intensely personal book, one that begins by describing her “a-ha! moments” after her physical collapse upon falling and injuring herself due to exhaustion. Huffington points out the reality too many people discover the hard way: The dogged pursuit of money and power leads to stress and burnout and a lessening in the quality of our lives and our careers. Thrive provides the groundwork and a blueprint for revolutionizing the way we think, work, and live. I thought it was a fantastic book and I believe you will too.

A version of this post was first published on Inc.

Photo by Aziz Acharki on Unsplash

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.

The One Critical Element Missing in New Manager Training

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Sarah was beside herself with excitement when she learned she was being promoted to her first management position. It was everything she had worked so hard for, and she was determined to be the best manager possible. Her company’s new manager training program addressed many critical elements, like understanding her role and what her responsibilities would include, communicating her expectations clearly, and delegating responsibilities.

However, Sarah’s new manager training program was missing any discussion of how to deal with difficult people. Nothing on conflict resolution and dealing with difficult people–which left her unprepared for the challenges she would soon face.

Her early days in her new position went well, and she was thrilled to see the people she was leading respond to her direction. The honeymoon ended when two of her direct reports starting arguing in meetings and causing dissension among the team members.

As Sarah told me during a coaching session, “I was so confused. I did not know how to deal with the situation, and it escalated and started impacting the morale and productivity of the entire group.” I quickly reassured her that her situation was not uncommon and helped her develop strategies to address the conflicts her employees were creating.

The reality of workplace conflict

According to a global study, “Workplace Conflict and How Businesses Can Harness It to Thrive,” an overwhelming majority of employees at all levels (85 percent) experience conflict to some degree. The research, published by CPP Inc., found that U.S. Employees spent 2.8 hours per week involved with conflict, which they estimated as representing approximately $359 billion in paid hours in 2008–or the equivalent of 385 million working days.

The study noted a discrepancy in how well managers thought they handled conflict and how well they actually did: a third of managers (31 percent) reported that they handled disagreements well, but only 22 percent of non-managers agreed with those number. And, 43 percent of non-managers stated that their supervisors did not deal with conflict as well as they should, compared to only 23 percent of managers who shared that perspective.

Additionally, the authors of the study called out the fact that what they found the most striking – and alarming – was that the majority of employees had never received conflict management training. Yet dealing with difficult people, or people who are creating conflict, is a reality in the workplace; one exacerbated by the range of internal and external pressures of working.

There’s an enormous financial cost to organizations whose managers lack training in dealing with difficult people. Those companies who understand the value of conflict resolution and provide training to their employees have a competitive advantage. New managers who are tasked with leading potentially disgruntled employees are better able to manage if they have been shown how to deal with difficult people in the workplace.

New manager training tips for dealing with conflict

Conflict in the workplace is a given. Bring any group of people together, and you will find differences of opinion, perspectives, and personalities. Cultural diversity can be a factor too. I know from my work, for example, that Europeans are more direct and saying, “No,” is acceptable. While in the Americas it is less common to say, “No,” and in Asia, it is considered completely impolite to say, “No.”

Managing conflict, then, is an essential skill for a new manager. And to manage conflict, you need to understand your own response to the objection, or person’s behavior, or situation. You need to learn how to diagnose a situation and drive it to resolution and, how to manage conflict and turn and objection around.

Some people take a negative view of conflict and are uncomfortable with it, believing it should be suppressed or avoided. But I have found that expressing it openly and getting the issues out on the table can result in positive outcomes. I like to advise my clients to “mine for conflict” so that managers can surface any negativity and deal with it directly. I believe that it’s important to provoke conflict sometimes to get any bad feelings out on the table.

Sound impossible? It’s not. Let me share these tips for dealing with difficult people at work:

1. Use empathy statements to show you hear them

2. Ask if you can have a one-on-one to address their particular questions after the general meeting

3. If you are dealing with the decision-makers, drop your agenda and go into open question mode

4. Suggest taking a break, before resuming create a position-offer

5. Ask the person how they feel about your solution

6. Remind the difficult person, or people, of the big picture and that you are all on the same team and that what’s good for the company can be good for the individual.

Need more help? My new book, The New Global Manager, due out this summer, will offer practical advice and best practices to help you manage diverse personalities, conflict, and challenging people–all on a global level. I’ll also recommend an excellent resource you can find on Twitter: @askamanager. @askamanager tweets advice to help you understand what managers and employees go through in the career development process (and how they manage conflict in the workplace too.)

And Sarah? Six months later she reported that things had improved and mentioned that she had begun taking 15 minutes at the start of her team meetings to have a “complain session” so that the team was able to clear the air get any issues out of the way. She sounds like she is adjusting to the new role very well.

Would you benefit from business coaching? Contact me. I can help.

 

A version of this post was first published on Inc.

Photo by rawpixel.com from Pexels

Women, Stop Overthinking. Be Like Nike and Just Do It!

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Women, and you know who you areit’s time to stop overthinking things. Take the Nike slogan to heartand Just Do It! Whatever it is. Don’t be the one who never steps up to take a risk.

Overthinking, especially chronic overthinking, can hurt your career and impair your performance. I hear the stories all the time from the women in my workshops, “I didn’t ask, and then my male peer got the job.” Or “I was waiting for the right time, and then my manager left.”

Seriously, we know that women hold 85 percent of the buying power globally, make up over 50 percent of the workforceand there are three times as many female-owned start-ups as male-owned. Yet we are still underrepresented in top management, and are less often recipients of VC fundingand we don’t earn as much money than men.

What’s up with that?

Susan Nolen-Hoeksema, the chair of the department of psychology at Yale University and the author of Women Who Think Too Much: How to Break Free of Overthinking and Reclaim Your Life, has found that women are less likely than men to believe that they have control over negative emotions or important events in their lives.

The Confidence Gap

As Katy Kay and Claire Shipman, authors of the book, The Confidence Code, point out, evidence shows that women are less self-assured than men–and that to succeed, confidence matters as much as competence. “Compared with men, women don’t consider themselves as ready for promotions, they predict they’ll do worse on tests, and they generally underestimate their abilities.

“Do men doubt themselves sometimes? Of course,” write Kay and Shipman. “But not with such exacting and repetitive zeal, and they don’t let their doubts stop them as often as women do.” Yet for all the reasons that the confidence gap exists, that women tend toward overthinking and hold back in risk taking in the workplace, the answer is simple, if not easy: To become more confident, some need to stop thinking so much and just act.

Women who take risks

Amelia Earhart was not the only highly skilled pilot at the time she rose to prominence in a male-dominated industry, but she was determined and confident, and willing to go after what seemed impossible. Amelia Earhart was the first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean in 1928, and she was – incredibly – only the sixth woman to be issued a pilot’s license.

Vera Wang is almost a household name today. But when, as a young competitive skater, she failed to make the 1968 U.S. Olympic Team, she decided to pursue a career as an editor. As Heather Finn describes it, when she wasn’t hired by Vogue for the editor-in-chief position she dreamed of, Wang started working as the design director for accessories at Ralph Lauren. Her dissatisfaction with the quality of the wedding gowns available to her as she planned her wedding led to her career in bridal fashion design.

Beyoncé Knowles, a multi-platinum, Grammy Award-winning recording artist who’s acclaimed for her thrilling vocals, videos and live shows, dropped her surprise, self-titled album at the end of 2013, she was terrified of what feedback she might receive, as Finn describes it. The album was hugely successful, and Beyoncé went down as one of the most fabulous risk-takers in history.

And J.K. Rowling, the ninth-best-selling fiction author of all time (estimated 500 million copies sold) lived as a single mom on welfare and wrote every chance she could get. Her belief in her book about a little boy named Harry Potter was so strong that she continued to send out her manuscript and to ignore the rejection letters. Finally, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was publishedand the rest is history.

So stop overthinking. Be like Nike. Just Do It. Whatever it is.

Be bold, push yourself, and get comfortable being uncomfortable.

– Angie Gels, Chief People Officer at Everything But The House.

Here are six tips to help you stop overthinking:

  1. Talk about your dreams, share them, make them come alive.
  2. Create a plan, and execute it. You can always re-tool.
  3. Confer with your mentor or other knowledgeable people in your network.
  4. Do your research. Find out what you don’t know. This will help with overwhelm.
  5. Have a Plan B. It will make you feel safer and more confident in pursuing Plan A.
  6. Use social media to promote an idea, crowd-source opinions or even funding.

Do you need help moving your career forward? Have you considered working with a coach? Contact me. Let’s talk about your options.

A version of this post was first published on Inc.

Photo by Steven Jones on Unsplash

Global Mindset Provides Competitive Advantage

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Research proves the rapidly-rising importance of the Global Mindset.

A Global Mindset is critical for success in business and success as a leader and is the one skill you must master for competitive advantage today. One skill that applies across every industry and every marketplace. How do you, as a leader, and your organization rank in mastery of the Global Mindset? Do you know?

Mastery of the Global Mindset.

I’ve talked about this before. Data from the GMI Index study, research published by CultureWizard in December 2017 shows mastery of a Global Mindset drives competitive advantage in business. Among the most important findings from the GMI Index Study, are three, which underscore the rapidly-rising importance of intercultural skills:

  • More than 82 percent of respondents rated the international component of their companies’ business as “extremely significant.”
  • Nearly half (45 percent) spend more than half their time on international business activity.
  • Almost one-quarter (24 percent) spend more than 75 percent of their work time on global endeavors.

“The Global Mindset Index (GMI) demonstrates that companies which actively support their employees gaining a Global Mindset are far more likely to achieve their business objectives than those that don’t. With almost 1,400 participants representing global enterprises from every region of the world, the respondents indicated that their work involved significant interaction with others in the global arena,” writes Charlene Solomon, of CultureWizard.

What is Global Mindset?

According to the GMI Index Study, Global Mindset is defined as  “the ability to recognize and reflexively adjust to cultural signals so that your effectiveness is not compromised when dealing with people from different backgrounds.” According to Dr. Mansour Javidan, Garvin Distinguished Professor at Thunderbird School of Global Management at Arizona State University, essential elements of a Global Mindset include:

•   Intellectual capital: Global business savvy, cognitive complexity, cosmopolitan outlook

•   Psychological capital: Passion for diversity, a quest for adventure, self-assurance

•   Social capital: Intercultural empathy, interpersonal impact, diplomacy

“Leaders who have a high level of Global Mindset are more likely to succeed in working with people from other cultures, he writes, in an article for the Harvard Business Review. “Leaders with a strong stock of Global Mindset know about cultures and political and economic systems in other countries and understand how their global industry works,” he continues.

Of course, it’s important to point out that mindsets can apply to both individuals and organizations. Leaders who possess a Global Mindset can, and do, encourage their teams to adopt a Global Mindset. Companies that embrace Global Mindset tend to promote those employees who demonstrate mastery.

As the GMI Index Study points out, the same organizations are twice as likely to have highly motivated multicultural teams and tend to experience fewer of the cultural missteps, which can damage productivity and business relationships. In these instances, the company, and its stakeholders benefit from the adoption of the Global Mindset.

Globally-minded businesses have a competitive advantage over companies with a more narrow focus. These firms can develop products and services that meet the needs of customers and prospects located across the world. But competing in a global marketplace is only one of the reasons adopting the Global Mindset is so crucial today.

An organization that embraces Global Mindset can identify emerging opportunities earlier than its competitors. It benefits from having a more sophisticated understanding of the tradeoffs between global standardization and local adaption, faster and more effective new product introductions, and facilitates sharing best practices and activities across cultural boundaries.

The Global Mindset Inventory (GMI)

At this point, you may be wondering how to move forward in mastering the Global Mindset–for yourself as the leader, and for your team or organization. I work with clients located in countries across the globe. I recommend, and use, the Global Mindset Inventory, which is a psychometric assessment tool that measures and predicts performance in global leadership. Developed by the Thunderbird School of Global Management, the Global Mindset Inventory is a web-based survey consisting of seventy-six questions that measure your Global Mindset in three capitals and nine competencies.

After you take the GMI assessment, you will receive a scored report, documentation with feedback, and recommendations and suggestions to improve your Global Mindset. You can use the GMI tool for yourself as an individual and for your staff. You can also bring in a consultant to conduct a workshop to help you and your colleagues identify ways to master the Global Mindset.

As I have said in the past, the Global Mindset isn’t just about cross-cultural communication. It’s about understanding not only who, but also what and how to do business successfully across all borders, regions, and perspectives. And given the state of our world today and its burgeoning global marketplace, mastering the Global Mindset is not only vital–it is the one skill you must master for competitive advantage today and in the days to come.

Contact me for more information about mastering the Global Mindset. And join my online global leadership community for valuable tips and training on conducting business internationally.

A version of this post was first published on Inc.

Photo credit: Simone Busatto on Unsplash