These strategies can encourage leaders to make the most of difficult performance and other conversations–and enhance the greater good.
By: Leigh Ann Errico
At every level in the corporate world, there are dreaded responsibilities that are just part of the job. For many top executives, the tough conversations about performance and career trajectory have long fallen victim to procrastination, but connecting on a personal level is even more challenging now when a report is on the other side of a screen, rather than the other side of a desk.
With mid-year performance reviews upon us, here are the top four reasons why executives are apprehensive about this type of dialogue and what HR leaders can do to transform these tasks into opportunities:
1. They never received direct feedback themselves, so they don’t know what behavior should model such a discussion.
It really is surprising how few executives have been on the receiving end of a rave review. And some have never even taken part in an in-person performance review session, so they lack a picture of what one looks like–regardless of whether the report is great or grim.
AdvertisementHR executives can ease the pain by providing a tip sheet of phrases to open the conversation and transition between positive and negative feedback. For example, a manager could say, “There must have been obstacles to achieve all that you have; I’d love to take a moment to explore the challenges you’ve encountered and share some of my own observations.” Or, “We are all on our own developmental journey, and to that end, I’d like to share my thoughts on growth opportunities for you and hear your valuable perspective, as well.”
A short video role-play could also be created and shared with managers as a refresher before every season of performance reviews.
2. They do not properly prepare for review sessions.
Many leaders underestimate the time it takes to plan a meaningful feedback session and skip steps that are necessary to both understand and be understood.
HR leaders can help managers shape productive conversations by creating a one-pager that prompts them to think through one-on-ones well in advance. Consider including suggestions, such as:
HR leaders can relieve the understandable angst that comes with performance reviews by sending a company-wide memo before they begin to calibrate expectations. Key points include:
Let’s face it … in our time-crunched world, “What gets measured is what gets done” – and I might add “and gets done better!”
Most organizations do not assess how well their leaders facilitate performance reviews and help their reports map out their career trajectories. If HR executives push for their companies to tie this skill to compensation, improvement will come. For example, direct reports could rate multiple aspects of their performance reviews, and managers could receive bonuses that correspond with their average rating. Like magic, managers will pay more attention to their own performance during these exercises.
For the majority of executives, it’s human nature to avoid interpersonal conflict with the employees they’ll have to face around conference tables, in the break room, and on Zoom calls. But HR leaders can step up to solve the problem with invaluable guidance for effectively confronting difficult conversations with clear, confident action. Tough career conversations may be viewed as necessary evils, but when done right, they absolutely enhance the greater good.
Leigh Ann Errico is a Georgetown University-certified leadership coach, Corentus-certified team coach and the founder of LA Errico & Partners.
Read the article on Human Resource Executive's site: https://bit.ly/3xIHY9V
By Leigh Ann Errico
After being practiced for thousands of years in the Far East, meditation has finally taken off and enjoying its popularity in Western culture. Beyond its deep ties to mysticism and spirituality, science shows that there’s something very real to this magical practice.
I’ve been an Executive Coach for 15 years and have long known intellectually that meditation is valuable, but I didn’t give it a spot on my schedule until 2020. It took my doctor pointing out how off-kilter my adrenals were for me to wake up and decide to take charge of my health. And ZERO regrets. My morning ritual is now to wake up at 6AM and immediately put on my meditation app, so I can swim in my intentions for the day. My bonus little luxury? I sip warm water with lemon and do light stretching to ease my body awake. I’m six months into my new practice, and I can already say it’s been a true life-changer.
There are many amazing benefits to meditation. Don’t just take my word for it – let’s dig into the data and see why you should add meditation to your daily routine:
1. Lowers Stress Levels
The purpose of meditation is to reduce stress and calm the body and mind. Both mental and physical stress lead to elevated levels of cortisol. Too much of this stress hormone can create a toxic cocktail of inflammation and a compromised immune system.
High cortisol levels can also interfere with our sleep, cause anxiety and depression, increase blood pressure and create fatigue and cloudy thinking.
But good news: Our new friend meditation can decrease feelings of emotional and physical tension, especially in those with higher levels of stress, according to a study involving over 1,300 adults.
2. Reduces Depression
Meditation fights off the blues. A study that involved 400 students (13-20 years old) found that those who followed an in-class mindfulness program were reported to have reduced rates of anxiety, depression, and stress after six months.
Another study from the University of California involving people with past depression discovered that mindfulness meditation lowers ruminative thinking and dysfunctional beliefs. Wow – powerful stuff.
3. Calms Anxiety
Meditation reduces stress and anxiety. An eight-week study demonstrated that the practice of mindfulness meditation lessened symptoms associated with social anxiety, phobias, obsessive-compulsive disorders, paranoid thoughts, and panic attacks.
Meditation also helps people in high-pressure work environments manage their anxiety and stress. A study involving nursing students proves it.
4. Improves Rapid Memory Recall
Harvard Medical School’s research on the effect of meditation on retaining information showed that people who meditate have more control over alpha rhythm — a brain wave that screens out everyday distractions, allowing for more important information to be processed and saved.
“Mindfulness meditation has been reported to enhance numerous mental abilities, including rapid memory recall,” said Catherine Kerr of the Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging and the Osher Research Center, both at HMS.
If you’re like me, you could use some streamlining in a world of information overload.
5. Increases Attention Span
Research shows that our attention spans are shrinking, but focused-attention meditation strengthens the capability and endurance of your focus.
One study demonstrated that workers in human resources who practiced mindfulness meditation on a daily basis were able to stay engaged with a task for much longer. They also remembered the details of their tasks much more clearly than those who did not devote time to periods of deep thinking.
Finally, meditation can even help reverse brain patterns that lead to worrying, mind-wandering and poor attention.
With the world now facing so many new and unique challenges, it’s never been more important to give meditation a place in our self-care toolkits.
Ready to find your zen? Check out helpful meditation related resources to help you get started.
Leigh Ann Errico is an organizational psychologist, a Georgetown University-certified leadership coach, a Corentus-certified team coach, and the founder of LAErrico & Partners. Leigh Ann is also currently working to complete her Health & Wellness Coaching Certification at Georgetown University.
This article was first published by All Wellness Guide: https://bit.ly/2OfS2Gk
By Leigh Ann Errico, Executive and Team Coach at LAeRRICO & partners
“Start saving more money.” “Lose 20 pounds.” “Get a new job.” We’ve all made New Year’s resolutions…and we’ve all broken them – or, at the very least, we’ve put them off. In fact, approximately 80 percent of resolutions fail by THIS WEEK (the second week of February), according to U.S. News & World Report. Here, we discuss instead of resolutions, using intentions to create change.
Don’t Procrastinate – Intend
Some may paint putting off the pursuit of their resolutions positively as “goal setting,” but in many cases, it’s just procrastination. Every day that we postpone taking action is 24 hours that we will never get back. Take a moment to review your resolutions or goals for the next 30 days, the next six months and the next year.
Next, reframe each one as an intention. The very word connotes power. The power of intention is a focused mind. When directing our brainpower toward specific actions to achieve the desired result, our mind is positioned to perform at its maximum capacity. Using intentions to create change is powerful.
The same concept can be applied to business, investing, education, and even our family life:
The point is: Priorities and procrastination are incompatible. Leverage to your advantage your most valuable resource: your time. If you want something badly enough, don’t wait…start now. Especially if you’ve already started to drift from your resolutions, what can you do today to put your action plan in motion?
Resolutions Lack Power
Our New Year’s resolutions lack the power needed to create change when we approach them with wishful thinking when we don’t put thought into a plan for how to achieve them when we hope to get around to them “soon.”
Stop being someone who has the same New Year’s resolutions every year. Be part of the eight percent of resolution-makers who achieve their goals, according to a study by the University of Scranton. You absolutely can find success by reframing your resolutions as intentions before another day passes.
This article was first published by People Development Magazine: https://bit.ly/3b2Td34
By Leigh Ann Errico, Executive and Team Coach at LAeRRICO & partners
No one can deny that the Covid-19 pandemic has changed the way the world works. One positive of the current dynamic that we can harness to improve our lives: While waiting for widespread vaccine distribution, we still have time to focus on things that weren’t even in our line of sight a year ago.
Instead of wishing away the rest of the pandemic by watching series after series on Netflix while eating junk food, why not use the time to our advantage? Why not devote energy and attention to our mental and physical health?
Remember that regardless of what we do during the pandemic, the time will pass, so we might as well make the most of it.
Think about healthy, productive and stimulating ways to use time so that when we look back on the pandemic, we’ll realize that we actually made the most of it and developed new habits – a mentally and physically healthier way of life – so it doesn’t end up being the worst year, after all.
The fabulous coaching question coined by Scott Eblin helps frame intentions:
“What can we or should we be working on or doing today to put us in a better position one month from now, three months from now or six months from now?”
Here are eight undertakings to consider now that can put you in a better position post-pandemic:
Whatever we want to achieve while our social activities are limited, we can be kind to our future selves and, as Nike says, just do it! There is no better time than right now to take steps in the right direction.
This article was first published by Thrive Global: https://bit.ly/3bLt9LQ
Coaching is an investment that pays off. Ask us to tell you more!
📧 leighann [at] laerricopartners [dot] com
The year of 2020 pummeled us all. It reminded us that, overnight, everything can change. Our health, our businesses and our plans are never guaranteed. Those who have positively impacted our lives this year have gone above and beyond to do so, remembering us amidst the chaos of the pandemic.
That’s why showing gratitude is more important than ever in 2020. So, give thought to important relationships and be intentional about honoring them (if the relationship is a work connection, this could even plant a seed to be harvested in the future in the form of an introduction or a job opportunity).
While the past nine months have often felt dark, we have the opportunity to share the light of the holiday season.
This month, a gesture of appreciation may mean far more to someone than in years past – especially because many people both feel emotionally depleted and have scaled back their buying-for-self, from stuff to services.
A September 2020 survey, for example, showed that half of respondents’ monthly spending decreased over the past 12 months for reasons ranging from “worrying about the current economic situation” to “loss/decrease in another source of household income.”
Here are six tips for gifting during these difficult times:
1. Customize your kindness
If you know that someone on your gift list has been hit hard financially by the pandemic, a gift card that could be used for necessities may be far more valuable to them than having something to unwrap.
On the other hand, for those fortunate enough to have pocketbooks that are unscathed, a check or gift card may not be the best choice. Instead, choose a thoughtful gift tailored to their interests or life situation to make an emotional impact.
2. Don’t wait till it’s too late
More people will be mailing gifts this year, as travel is still restricted, so shipping times may be delayed. Don’t wait until the last minute to send gifts out; do it now. (And even if your to-be recipients are local, you may face unique hurdles to crossing off your list last-minute, as most stores have reduced their allowed capacity, and there are shortages in some consumer goods, such as electronics.)
3. Don’t create compromising positions
While spa days and steak dinners may be traditional go-to gift certificates, consider avoiding gifts that might require the recipient to jeopardize his or her own health and safety (or that they would be unable to use for several months due to health and safety concerns).
If you’re baking for others, take precautions like frequent hand washing and wearing a mask.
4. Consider juicing up your generosity
If you are fortunate enough to have done well in 2020 despite all of its challenges, consider giving a bit more than you normally would.
This year, a generous gift could make a bigger impact than ever before.
5. Kindness is free
If your budget is tight, a thoughtful, handwritten card or a handmade gift would be most appreciated without breaking the bank. One of the five love languages identified by Gary D. Chapman is “words of affirmation” – and the same goes for platonic love! Telling others how much you value them can be even more powerful than gift-giving.
6. Support small businesses
Many mom-and-pop shops have been severely impacted by the pandemic, and stimulus money isn’t making ends meet.
Buying beyond big box stores could literally put food on the table for a family or help save a small business owner’s dream.
No matter which gift-giving approach you take this holiday season, gratitude should be the bow on top.
Express to others that you appreciate them – and, in some cases, could not have gotten through 2020 without them. While many of us have lost so much this year, we still have so much for which we can be grateful and our relationships should top the list.
Leigh Ann Errico is a Georgetown University-certified leadership coach (and soon-to-be Georgetown University-certified health & wellness coach), Corentus-certified team coach, and the founder of LAErrico & Partners.
This article was first published by FOX BUSINESS: https://fxn.ws/3ssLqDv
This has been a year like no other – but when 2020 gives you LOTS and LOTS of lemons, make hot toddies! It’s finally the holiday season, after all.
So many of us are ready to put 2020 behind us, and taking the time now to stop and reflect on everything we’ve learned since March will help us get back on track in 2021 and hit our stride. May I offer to you that you keep the tradition of making New Year’s resolutions, even if you feel like your goals for next year are simple and small. Re-centering yourself around your 2021 vision will empower you to start the New Year with focus, calm and clarity.
As Joseph Campbell said in The Power of Myth:
There’s a center of quietness within, which has to be known and held. If you lose that center, you are in tension and begin to fall apart.
Here are five questions for self-reflection that will lay the foundation for meaningful resolution writing (YES, put them on paper – here's an easy-to-use chart for download):
Before 2021 begins, reflect on your personal growth during 2020. It was a hard year, and you should give yourself credit for your resilience. Most importantly, identify the lessons you learned and the new boundaries that need to emerge and apply that knowledge, insight and understanding to positively shape your future. New Year’s resolutions are your chance to map out a plan that you can use to reach your desired destination.
May we all cap off 2020 with a holiday season of hope, rejuvenation and relief.
The way teams work make look a little different than it did a year ago – but the need for team unity remains.
Why team coaching?
Know of a team leader who might be interested in heightening his or her team’s and organization’s performance in 2021? We'd love to connect.
By Leigh Ann Errico, Executive and Team Coach at LAeRRICO & partners
“I can’t wait for things to go back to normal” is a line that I’ve heard more times than I can count this year. While we all miss certain aspects of life pre-pandemic, not all of the changes brought on by coronavirus are bad. For one, the collective embrace of our humanness is a shift that I hope is here to stay.
Before March of this year, most people showed up to their place of work every day primped, preened and put-together (although likely frazzled behind the façade). They were able to compartmentalize their life from their work—and were expected to.
But life isn’t drawn with clean lines; it’s messy—and 2020 has finally given us permission for the mess to be seen.
As Pema Chödrön said:
We think that the point is to pass the test or overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don't really get solved. They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It's just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy.
For the past several months, we’ve all been reminded that our co-workers have families…because of children photobombing or making noise in the background during Zoom calls. That we’re not invincible…because either we or those we know have gotten sick or lost loved ones. That work-life balance is important…because of finally having the chance to go on a walk outside during the work day, when the temperature’s just right.
I feel like this year has given me the chance to exhale with my whole being, and I don’t want to go back to holding my breath. Do you feel the same? The only way for us to hold onto this positive of the pandemic will be to clearly and thoughtfully redraw our boundaries.
Someday, hopefully soon, when the virus mostly goes away and we go back to the office, even if just part-time, boundaries will need to be a central focus of teams—both learning to create new ones for oneself and to respect the new boundaries of others. We’ll need to spend time in self-reflection to identify our own unique needs, then clearly make request(s) to other(s) in order to realize the vision for our new life with new boundaries. We’ll also need to stop questioning the dedication or motivations of others, based on how much they let their life bleed into their work. We’ll need to learn to build buffers into our schedules, to respect certain times of the day as off-limits, to pursue more workplace flexibility, to take the time off that we need to recharge, and to forget feeling like we have to hide the fact that there’s more to our lives than earning our paychecks.
Making this humanness stick post-pandemic is a mission that I hope we’ll all get behind, because life’s just better when it’s served raw and lived authentically. I’m so passionate about the value of this COVID-driven transformation that I applied for and enrolled in the Health & Wellness Coaching certification program at Georgetown University’s Institute for Transformational Leadership this year. My 2020 pivot to make supporting well-being even more integral to my coaching practice is so that I’m expertly-equipped to help employees and teams reprogram themselves to revere humanness, rather than reject it. We all finally understand its importance thanks to the pandemic, and science shows, after all, that better mental and physical health unleashes productivity, creativity and success in our work.
We’re not robots; we’re not fairy tale characters; we’re not photoshopped models…we’re humans—and we should be the best humans that we can be.
Moving forward, 2020 will be referenced as a turn in the zigzag of our lives. “Pre-pandemic” and “post-pandemic” will be used to differentiate between two distinctly different time periods. My goal is to help you and your team make humanness a defining characteristic of your post-pandemic life. Are you with me? If so, let’s talk!
Harness your power to choose and escape
By Leigh Ann Errico, Executive and Team Coach at LAeRRICO & partners
We all have choices. In challenging times, the choice is choosing what we pay attention to and where we direct our focus. During a global pandemic and a U.S. election year, it’s tempting to focus on the unknown, the “swirl,” the what-if scenarios – but the questions we all have to ask ourselves are, “How is this serving me? What is the most powerful, healthy and productive choice I can make here and now?” Below are tips to help keep anxiety at bay:
1. Watch the news less
It’s one thing to check the local weather and get a basic idea of what’s happening in your community. Watching the news for hours on end, however, is entirely another. Once you have information about what’s going on in your world, have the presence of mind to step away. Let your heart and soul rest from negative news. Allowing the same heavy content to be pushed on you for hours every day feeds anxiety. Fight it instead by going on a hike, grabbing a good book or watching a light-hearted show to escape and relax.
2. Focus on what’s in your control
Not letting things that worry you hijack your attention is easier said than done, but mastering this form of self-control is vital to managing stress. Let go of things that you, personally, can’t control. Can you single-handedly choose who’s elected president? Nope. Can you have an impact on the outcome and make your voice heard? Yep! Replace big concerns with small proactive steps you can take to counteract them.
3. Use free time productively
The time we spend ruminating on current events can be put to much better use. If you’ve recently lost a job or been forced to spend more time at home, then perhaps there’s an opportunity to learn a new skill or hobby. Take your professional knowledge to the next level with podcasts, audiobooks, and online courses. Revise your resume, network with people with whom you’ve been meaning to reconnect. Plan your days by dedicating your focus to specific tasks during designated time slots. Ideally, plan ahead (at least the day before) so you can wake up with a positive and productive mission in mind.
4. Create healthy distractions
Replace worry with distractions that break you away from unhealthy obsessions. This can be as simple as dialing up a loved one (and not talking about everything that’s wrong in the world). Create rituals to spend time with those you care about – make a meal, watch a new Netflix series, or exercise together.
5. Utilize Appreciative Inquiry (AI)
Telling people how you feel and what you appreciate about them is a valuable practice, especially during tough times. Examine your life: What resources are available to you? For what are you grateful? The pioneer of Appreciative Inquiry David Cooperrider’s “Ah-Ha!” moment came when he and his team member found themselves in an increasingly hostile and negative atmosphere while working on a research project and decided to change their approach. Rather than inquire into what was NOT working, they decided to examine what was in fact going well. The revelation was that inquiry itself can powerfully shape the way we perceive and develop our systems and support as human beings. Change your thoughts in order to shift your mindset, your disposition and your energy into a more positive direction.
6. Just breathe
Stress and anxiety can have a number of physical, as well as emotional, consequences. When we are anxious, for example, we often take more frequent, shallow breaths. This can lead to tightness in the chest and even panic attacks. Simple breathing exercises, used when overwhelmed, can be remarkably effective at calming stress and anxiety. Box Breathing, a tool often used by Navy Seals to stay calm in stressful situations, can be done quickly and discreetly. Close your mouth and slowly breathe in through your nose for four counts. Hold your breath for four seconds. Then slowly exhale through your mouth for a count of four. Hold the exhale for another four counts.
Did you know the Apple watch has a reminder to breathe? But no fancy device needed, you can simply set any timer to prompt you to stop and do deep breathing exercises – if you’re feeling really anxious, every half an hour!
When we feel like our back is against the wall, we must be intentional to find mental escape. Amidst the pandemic, it’s up to each one of us to do our best to not only protect our bodies from the virus but our heads from the disease of negative thinking. Make choices every day that will serve you well.
Leigh Ann Errico is a Georgetown University-certified leadership coach, Corentus-certified team coach and the founder of LAErrico & Partners.
This article was first published by ThriveGlobal: https://bit.ly/2SyGixc
Leigh Ann Errico