Monday, January 4, 2021

January 2021: Reflection, Resources and Remote Work

Where do I begin?
In some ways I have some genuine energy around the beginning of this new year. I found the Thursday through Sunday breaks of Christmas and New Year's almost magical this time around... truly restful. I set aside time for reflection and really processed this past nightmare, er um, 2020 year. I even did some goal-setting, although I'm trying to be realistic about how much one can predict as to what lies ahead.

So this month's set of recommendations and resources are pretty hefty. I have used all of them personally or with clients. You may want to bookmark this post ~ it's a bounty of interesting stuff. Happy 2021, friends. Let's be in it together. In a socially distant way, anyway...

Reflection. Like I said, I had some extra EXTRA time for reflection during this break thanks to no travel and a very quiet household. In other words, do not be daunted by this list. Just pick one or two of them. I definitely recommend looking backward before moving forward.

  • 2020 Reflection Questions. I took some time to sit on these and review this year. Might be fun to share this with those close to you and see what they come up with. If you want to jumpstart some new journaling habits, you can also go here: https://bit.lyKSLDJournalPrompts  
  • Adobe My Creative Types. Sure sure, we all like online quizzes, right? But this has some intriguing, out-of-the-box questions. My results were spot-on and I'm using them in conjunction with my Strengths Finder profile to assess how I'm approaching things this year. (PS I'm a "Thinker")
  • BP 10 Assessment. This is an undersold tool created by Gallup. Especially if you are launching into a new endeavor or project (or want to assess if it's a good fit to do so), I recommend this tool. I also recommend that you process the results with someone to get the full impact. Talking about it somehow helps...
  • A "21 for 21" list.  List twenty-one things you’d like to do by 2022. These items can be easy or ambitious; one-time undertakings or habits that stretch for years; fun or...less fun. I've barely started mine but want to keep building it.
  • How to be a less-stressed leader. I just posted this on LinkedIn. Might be good to print out and place next to your desk?
  • Low-stress New Year's resolution options. If all of this overwhelm you, here are some easy-peasy, low-impact ways to make some tangible steps. Be gentle with yourself.

Resources. I think because most of my clients have been working from home, there weren't as many distractions this year (little travel, no holiday parties), so I was working with people till December 30! So here are some of the tools I passed along to them this month. Buckle up!
  • Talk Less. Listen More. Here's HowFavorite quote: "Listening is a skill. And as with any skill, it degrades if you don’t do it enough. Some people may have stronger natural ability while others may have to work harder, but each of us can become a better listener with practice."
  • 100 Tips for a Better LifeI don't know if "better" is the right word -- perhaps "more efficient"? Nevertheless, super intriguing list.
  • Better Ways to Manage Up and Out. HBR IdeaCast is a must-listen on my podcast list. This one is a great breakdown of the fuzzy concepts of soft power and how exactly to “manage up.(PS Here's an earlier post of mine on how to manage up...)
  • Use OKRs to Set Goals for Teams, Not IndividualsI thought this article did a good job delineating the management of teams vs individuals, and defining what are true *results*. Could be fodder for onboarding of new managers and/or an ongoing training conversation with experienced managers? 
  • 7 Questions to Ask Yourself If You’re Thinking of Making a Career Change During COVID-19. Shhhhh... Quite a few people have reached out for help as they consider a job change. This might feel hard to do as you try to keep up with a demanding job, but a lot of folks are getting a chance to ask themselves, "Do I actually like what I'm doing?" These questions might seem obvious, but I think they guide a productive and fruitful start to your thought process. 
  • Multi-Gen Workforce 2021 graphicGraphics are well... simplistic. But this might be a handy reference for leaders and managers as we lead a very diverse workforce these days of Boomers, Gen X, Millennials and Gen Z. There is a Grand Canyon of differences between these generations in work style, attitudes, etc. I do a lot of "translating" for leaders and employees in my consulting because both parties want to tear their hair out at times. Here is a secret decoder ring :)

Remote Work #WFH. Yep. This is definitely a thing. We are in the wild, wild West of the workplace as we adjust and reorganize due to the pandemic. As many pundits are saying, this is just speeding up the inevitable. Here are few things to leverage as we keep adjusting and learning. To quote Billy Beane in Moneyball, "Adapt or die!"
  • 8 Questions Every Manager Should Ask in One-on-One MeetingsSeems basic, but I recommend creating a template and tracking these questions month-to-month. Here's the document as a JPEG: 
  • Where Did the Commute Time Go? Offers several insights, borne out as well by my work with clients, that caught my attention. The article also describes some possible responses to these changes as the pandemic starts to resolve.
  • Pomodor app. Much of the conversation around remote work revolves around productivity. I think the question should shift to one of focus, and how to maintain motivation and momentum. This tool (hack?) is simple and practical, but it can be a powerful way to improve your productivity and focus. MANY of my clients are struggling during this pandemic to make deep, focused work happen consistently as they work from home and juggle multiple, daily zooms. This tool can block out distractions and articulate your intentions. It lets you set custom work and break times, track your work by labeling each session, and show or hide the timer in your browser’s menu bar. The app even works offline and syncs your stats across devices. Here is a graphic of how the Pomodoro approach works:

Point to Ponder.

“If I was to sum up the single biggest problem of senior leadership in the Information Age,” four-star Marine Corps general and former secretary of defense James Mattis has said, “it’s lack of reflection. Solitude allows you to reflect while others are reacting. We need solitude to refocus on prospective decision-making, rather than just reacting to problems as they arise.”

Please feel free to reach out to me with feedback or questions at Thanks for reading! 

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