Tero Blogs - 2010 | Tero International, Inc.
Tero Logo

   Tero International, Inc.
     Your Elite Training Team

View Tero videos on You Tube Visit Tero International Blog Follow Tero on Twitter Become a Tero Fan on Facebook Follow Tero on LinkedIn
     Achieve. Lead. Outclass.

2010 Tero Blogs

Aligning Values with Behaviors

Friday, December 24, 2010

What is important to you? What do you value?

Values are things that are important (of value) to us. For example, we may value

  • our friendships
  • our family relationships
  • our car
  • our home
  • career
  • the environment
  • health
  • promptness
  • professionalism
  • freedom
  • and so on

Values must be vertical, not horizontal, or everything has equal value. Both individuals and organizations must periodically rank values to know the priority each value has relative to the others.

If everything in your life holds the same priority, then you are just as devastated by the death of a loved one as you are by being held up in a traffic jam. And many people are! Some people get so upset about being cut off in traffic that they couldn't possibly be more upset if a loved one tragically died.

This time of year is an opportunity to reflect and ensure our values and behaviors align. A good way to conduct a personal audit is to look at how you spent your time and your money the past year. Since actions speak louder than words, how we spend our time and money is a good measure of what we think is important.

A Book By Its Cover

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Don't judge a book by its cover - so the saying goes. Sage advice? Perhaps. Practical? Not at all.

Recall the last time you were faced with a multitude of titles on a single subject at the bookstore or library. How did you cull through the mass efficiently to locate the book that would serve your purpose? The advice proffered about not judging a book by its cover is not useful to you at this moment. It is not practical for you to read each book in its entirety, or even to speed read critical sections, to determine which book contains the most robust, relevant information for your needs.

You need a short cut. You narrow the possible choices to a few based on book covers, familiar authors, recommendations from others and the number of volumes of the same book on the shelf. You further narrow your selection by perusing the book jacket where you can quickly decipher what critics have to say about the contents of the book. You skim the one or two paragraph overview provided by the author. If the choices are still too many, perhaps the table of contents gets a look or maybe the thud factor is a consideration. Do I have time to read this heavy book, you ask yourself? Or, does it appear to be too technical for my purposes?

Why do we take short cuts?

On the surface it seems unjust but it is how we make sense and sort through the huge amount of sensory stimuli we encounter throughout the day.

While few would argue with the beauty of the dream shared by Martin Luther King Jr. where he envisioned a world where people would be judged by the content of their character rather than by the color of their skin, our natural programming makes this unlikely.

To judge content, whether found in the pages of a book or in the character of a person, we must allow the information to reach us on a conscious level for assimilation, contemplation and decision-making. We must assign the powerful thinking center of our brain to the task. In the case of the book, that act occurs only when we find the cover engaging enough to open the book and then invest our time in thoroughly understanding and exploring the content.

In the case of the individual, it occurs when we find our perceptions of the person favorable enough to ask questions, listen, and engage in a healthy interpersonal exchange. Alas, in an increasingly busy existence we rely more heavily, not less, on short cuts.

Learning Styles and Communication

Monday, November 29, 2010

We all learn in a variety of ways and each of us has a predominant learning style. It has been estimated that 25% of us have a preference for auditory learning, 35% for visual learning and 40% for kinesthetic learning. One way we can enhance the effectiveness of communication is through language usage that addresses learning preference.

What language appeals to the auditory learner?

  • I hear what you are saying.
  • Things clicked into place.
  • It was music to my ears.
  • That sounds good.
  • Tell it like it is.

What language appeals to a visual learner?

  • I see what you mean.
  • Things are looking up.
  • I get the picture.
  • I'm a little hazy on the details.
  • The outlook is bleak.

What language appeals to a kinesthetic learner?

  • That feels right.
  • I've got a grasp on the situation.
  • That made an impact on me.
  • Get in touch with reality.
  • It left a bad taste in my mouth.

Begin listening to the words and phrases people use and learn to "speak their language" to build rapport and enhance communications.

A Time for Giving Thanks

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Throughout history people have celebrated the bountiful harvest with thanksgiving ceremonies. The idea of a day set apart to celebrate the completion of the harvest and to render homage to the Spirit who caused the fruits and crops to grow is both ancient and universal. The practice of designating a day of thanksgiving for specific spiritual or secular benefits has been followed in many countries. Harvest festivals and thanksgiving celebrations were held by the ancient Greeks, the Romans, the Hebrews, the Chinese, and the Egyptians. In Canada, Thanksgiving is celebrated during the month of October. People in the United States are preparing to celebrate the Thanksgiving Holiday this week.

If you are inspired to show some gratitude during this season of Thanksgiving, follow these steps:

1. Become conscious. What are you thankful for that you haven't shown appreciation for? Here's a sample list to get you thinking:

  • The school bus driver who greets your child with a smile every morning.
  • The peer who gave you feedback no one else had the courage to tell you.
  • The manager who communicated honestly and compassionately about changes in the organization.
  • The IT professional who retrieved your deleted files.
  • The sales person who patiently waded through dozens of samples to help you chose a new paint color for your bathroom.
  • The flight attendant who found a place for your carry-on bag when the overhead compartments were full.
  • The child who text-messaged to let you know they were running late.
  • The spouse who allowed you personal time and space to unravel after a tough day.
  • The customer who flattered you with their business.
  • The friend who found time when you needed someone to listen.
  • The parent you have grown to admire.
  • The grocery store clerk who remembers your name.
  • The neighbor who supports your child's fundraising activities.
  • The volunteer firefighter whose services you've never needed.
  • The pilot who landed your airplane safely.
  • The vendor who expedited your order to help you meet an important deadline.
  • The teacher who challenged you to think differently.

2. Get creative. How can you thank this individual? Consider writing a personal note. Making a personal visit. An unexpected phone call. An email with a copy to the person's boss. This is one area of life where more monetary spend does not translate to higher quality. And it doesn't have to take a lot of your time.

Happy Thanksgiving.

An Instrument of Destruction or a Vehicle of Inspiration

Sunday, October 31, 2010

"Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me."

This is a phase commonly uttered by parents of bullied children, heard on school playgrounds and, for the grown-ups among is, mentioned in corporate boardrooms. But does it reveal the complete truth?

In a couple of days, a midterm election is scheduled in the United States and political advertisements remind us that many are hurt by intentional attacks where the only weapons are words. Sadly, even words carelessly uttered in day-to-day living can inflict long term suffering.

Indeed words, like sticks and stones, may hurt me.

Words can also be used for inspiration.

In the 2009 movie, Invictus, produced and directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Morgan Freeman as Nelson Mandela, it is the gift of words that prove to be the central inspiration to the captain of the Springbok Rugby team. South African President and Nobel Laureate, Mandela, challenges Francois Piennar, played by Matt Damon, to win the 1995 Rugby World Cup in a post-apartheid South Africa. Piennar finds inspiration in the words of English poet William Ernest Henley, shared by President Mandela. Earlier, the same words served as a message of empowerment and self mastery to Mandela himself and he recited them to other prisoners on Robben Island.

Out of the night that covers me,

Black as the pit from pole to pole,

I thank whatever gods may be

For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance

I have not winced nor cried aloud.

Under the bludgeonings of chance

My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears

Looms but the Horror of the shade,

And yet the menace of the years

Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,

How charged with punishments the scroll,

I am the master of my fate:

I am the captain of my soul.

The messages of words can be empowering or can be self-defeating. Like many things, the true message is found in the intention of the sender and in the perception of the recipient. Challenge yourself to choose your words wisely. Words can be an instrument of destruction or a vehicle of inspiration. The choice is yours.

Do You Procrastinate?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

While it is often thought that laid-back, flexible, unscheduled, sociable types are the only people who procrastinate - there are ways and times in which all individuals can (and usually do) procrastinate.

Procrastination is a personal thing. Each of us procrastinates in different ways and it is important to know what you tend to put off. There are four general procrastination patterns.

When it comes to fun, leisure and relaxation: People who procrastinate on fun, leisure and relaxation activities always think, "I'll relax after I finish this project". Of course, there are an endless number of projects and relaxation time seldom comes.

When it comes to reflective thinking time: People who procrastinate when it comes to quiet, reflective, introspective thinking time know that there is a need for such thinking activities but put it off until another day.

When it comes to interpersonal conflict: Some people procrastinate when it comes time to tackle jobs that involve interaction with others, or even worse, negative interaction or potential conflict with other people.

When it comes to decision-making: Some people procrastinate when it comes time to make a final decision on something. Since there is always more information to be gathered, more data to be analyzed and something more to know, they put off decision-making activities.

The first step in conquering procrastination is to recognize it. What are your procrastination patterns?

The Power of Music

Monday, October 18, 2010

Have you ever been driving when a song came on the radio and captured your attention or shifted your mood?

Music is a powerful signal carrier. It activates emotions and long term memory and fully engages the brain's most receptive states. Music can bring back special or emotionally laden memories and enhance mood.

Some of the benefits of music in learning include:

  • Relaxation and stress reduction
  • Creativity through brain wave activation
  • Stimulated imagination and thinking
  • Stimulated motor skills, speaking and vocabulary
  • Reduced disciplinary problems

What type of music is best? It depends on what you are trying to achieve. For example, to generate excitement, grand movie themes or upbeat classical are best. For storytelling, music with built-in peaks and valleys engages emotion (classical or romantic). For background, low volume Baroque is a good choice.

The next time you need an "attitude shift", turn to your favorite tune.

Lighting, Learning and Performance

Saturday, October 9, 2010

It is officially autumn in the Northern Hemisphere and spring in the Southern Hemisphere. Don't be surprised if you begin to notice changes in your alertness, responsiveness and mood.

Why? The length and brightness of daylight affects our body's melatonin and hormone levels and influences the release of neurotransmitters. This affects our alertness, responsiveness and moods which in turn affects our learning and performance.

The best time for learning is when the hours of the day are longest: from June to August in the Northern Hemisphere and December to February in the Southern Hemisphere. This research prompts some interesting discussion around the wisdom of a traditional school year that provides students with an extended break from learning in the summer.

A lack of exposure to sunlight during the winter months creates a condition called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Residents closer to the equator face less than a 2% chance of being affected by SAD but those farthest from the equator a 25% chance.

How can you boost your learning and performance during the darker months of year? Begin your day by spending some time in the outdoors and retreat outside during the day when you need a dose of energy. When indoors, consider improving lighting. Natural sunlight is best because it provides the best and most lumens. Artificial (not florescent) lighting works well too.

Want to experience the power of natural lighting in the workplace firsthand? Visit the Tero Learning Center in Des Moines, Iowa for a tour and see how a carefully selected location and floorplan allowing for maximum sunlight in training rooms, library and most team member workspaces create an inviting and productive work environment.

Stress and Performance

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Do you suffer from work stress?

It's interesting to note that some people who have predictable jobs and work schedules often feel tired, unhappy and stressed while others who seem to be incredibly busy and consistently work longer days are healthy, happy and stress-free. What is the difference? The difference seems to be found in the feeling of well-being that comes from different kinds of work stresses.

Some stress is desirable and can provide a positive state to enhance performance. Stress that is overwhelming, however, is a barrier to effectiveness and can lead to burnout.

When you find yourself under-performing, you may simply be under stress. You may be unaware of the source of the stress or even the presence of it. In such cases, to improve performance, take steps to improve your sense of self-worth and value.

Stress can be managed for individuals who sincerely believe they have the resources, time and control over the situation causing the stress. Otherwise the "victim" mentality can inhibit performance.

Colors and Emotions

Sunday, September 26, 2010

About 80% of the information we assimilate through our senses is with our eyes. Color gives us objective information about our world every day and it also influences how we feel. As you choose your attire, design your PowerPoint slides, prepare marketing materials, or decorate your home, pause to consider the many emotions evoked by color.

  • Soft shades of blue and green appease the central nervous system.
  • Reds and other bright hues accelerate the central nervous system.
  • Bright yellow is the first color the eye is attracted to and is the reason cautionary road signs are painted yellow. It is also the most fatiguing because it results in excessive stimulation of the eyes. Use it sparingly.
  • The color green is said to be the most restful color for the human eye. Green is believed to possess healing power, encourage growth and spark new beginnings.
  • Blue is regarded as the universal color for relaxation. Nearly all cultures describe shades of blue as cooling, calming and soothing.
  • Pink is tranquilizing and zaps energy. Evidence shows that pink walls will calm violent prisoners (or the players on the visiting football team when the locker room is painted pink), but only for the short term.
  • Purple is considered a sign of flamboyance in some cultures, yet possesses religious and magical connotation in others.
  • White, symbolic of simplicity and cleanliness, is reserved for spiritual authority in many cultures. Most so-called whites are very light grays. Gray is considered calming.
  • Black is present in all colors and has a grounding effect. Use the color black sparingly. As with white, it has a tendency to overpower the emotions and can cause a melancholy response.

The Human Side of Resistance

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The next time you are proposing a change, take a moment to list the risks associated with your initiative into two categories.

1. The financial implications and the number of people severely impacted as a result of the change.

2. How alarming each change is to the general employee.

Then, assign a rating to the seriousness of each of the items on your lists.

Interestingly, the rating each receives is dramatically different in each category, depending on who does the rating. This difference is easily explained by how broadly risk and change are viewed by different groups.

Leaders define risk by financial implications to the business and the number of people severely impacted as a result of a change.

The employee tends to define risk and change more personally and as a result, more broadly. Definitions of change by employees tend to go beyond financial implications and major human impact and include such things as the degree of control an individual has over the change, how unusual the change is and the perceived fairness of the change. Each of these factors contributes to how highly the employee rates the seriousness of the change.

Due to their broader definition of change, employees may seem unimpressed by the mountains of technical data that leaders offer into evidence when introducing new initiatives or proposing change. To leaders, these employees are often perceived as irrational or uninformed.

To reduce the perception of risk on any subject, address the factors that contribute to the strong emotional position people hold. The degree to which you can make your topic look, sound and feel natural to people will minimize their concern about change. People do not fear that which is familiar, within their perceived control, predictable, or in the hands of people they like, respect and trust.

Sleep and Learning

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Did you catch up on your sleep over the holiday weekend? Research at the University de Lille in France shows that sleep time may affect the previous day's learning. By cutting sleep by as little as two hours, recall may be impaired the next day, especially with complex material. Scientists speculate that sleep gives your brain time to clean house and process emotional issues for the day.

Research suggests that REM sleep (the deepest sleep-state) is critical for the brain to process the events of the day. During sleep, your brain is able to "unlearn" unnecessary information and clear pathways in the brain for increased brain efficiency. Dreams (whether remembered or not) may be helping you clean your "brain" house.

Further research on the subject of sleep has shown that the brain performs best after "deep physiological rest". How much sleep is enough? Different people need different amounts. Some people seem to need 8 - 10 hours while others function fine on 4 - 6 hours per night. The key is getting sleep that is deep enough to reach the brain cleansing dream state.

Challenge yourself to discover your own unique optimum sleeping and activity cycles to maximize your individual best learning times. You will learn better when you are well rested.

Aging and Learning

Sunday, August 29, 2010

We used to believe that the brain's architecture was formed early in life. Today, research reveals that the brain is very flexible - especially as we age.

Retirement communities advertising comforting and relaxing facilities may be missing the significant benefits that result from just the opposite kind of environment. Boring environments starve the brain of experience and may accidentally create dementia.

It is possible that many older adults are poor learners because we have treated them that way. When we treat the aged as if they are unable to learn, they don't get the stimulation needed to stay sharp. The brain loves challenge and novelty.

In the absence of disease, the brain retains its ability to function well into old age. While there is some minor shrinkage and slowing of reaction time, some of the great thinkers of all time were most productive later in life.

As we age, it is more important than ever to actively challenge the brain with novelty and difficult but achievable tasks. If you want to grow a better brain into later maturity, stay active, keep learning and remember that variety is the spice of life.

Business Insights from Mother Nature

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Is it the fate of prey to be devoured by the predator? Like so many things in nature, the obvious is not obvious at all. That which makes sense on the surface, challenges our commonly held beliefs under close examination. Afterall, nature is populated most heavily by prey animals.

In nature, like business, having few or no predators does not guarantee ones long term survival, nor survival of the species. History reports extinctions of many grand predators. Conversely, it is the prey animals, quiet in their walk, alert to all danger that go forth and multiply in numbers that are mind boggling.

Last week's blog looked at the tendency we have to align our businesses (and ourselves) with images of predatory animals. This week we’ll look at insights provided by the prey members of the animal kingdom.

Consider the mouse. The raccoon. The possum. The rabbit. While we may not like to be compared with these less than supreme of beings, the lessons from them are not to be overlooked and missing the lessons has been the downfall of more than a few organizations. What are the qualities of these lesser among us?

  • The mouse is food for many predatory enemies. As a result, everything is significant and it has a highly developed sense of danger. It scrutinizes everything and chews every little thing to pieces. It disregards no detail as things are not always what they appear to be.
  • Opossum, unique among all others (including humans), resists both the fight and flight responses and resorts to playing dead as its greatest form of protection. Masters in the art of diversion, possums pretend and confuse predators rather than resorting to the use of their sharp teeth and powerful claws.
  • Squirrels plan ahead. They gather in preparation for the future. They find a safe place for storage.
  • The rabbit is swift and frequently on the move - realizing there is almost always a way out of any situation.
  • Raccoons tend to the needs of the tribe before taking care of themselves. When on a raiding party, they assign a lookout to watch for danger and the raccoon left to guard the others is always fed first.
  • Salmon has a way of finding its way back to the source. Salmon is determined to move toward its goals regardless of obstacles.

What lessons can we learn from the hunted? They travel in groups (teams), look out for each other and recognize that survival of the group is more critical than any self serving needs.

With so many competitors, perhaps it is time for business leaders to quit trying to out-roar, out-scream and out-fight the competition. Perhaps it's time to resort to shrewd counter moves that, although not as spectacular, translate to long term survival. Begin studying the behavior of the hunted. Perhaps it is time to learn the strategy and tactics of the smallest among us that multiply at an astonishing rate.

Predator or Prey? Sales Lessons from Mother Nature

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The cat is in hot pursuit of the mouse. She catches the mouse. Good day for the cat, bad day for the mouse. Or, the mouse out-maneuvers the cat this time. Into a small crevice, the mouse disappears through a small hole, bad day for the cat, good day for the mouse.

Which are you? Cat or mouse?

When given the choice, most would prefer to be likened to the ferocious feline instead of the pursued rodent.

In the business world, metaphors from the animal kingdom are common. Sales professionals and the organizations employing them mostly turn to the predatory animal kingdom when choosing their icons.

Lions, gorillas, wolves, whales, bears, sharks, eagles - all are members of the predatory animal kingdom. To be feared. To be respected. To be revered. When organizations choose their icons, who chooses the mouse? Skunk? Opossum? Armadillo? Rabbit? Raccoon? Maybe someone should.

Reflect on the word "hunter" commonly used by managers motivating sales professionals. Or, the phrase "eat what you kill" sales people use to describe their role and reward. Certainly, there's an image for a customer to contemplate. Being hunted, killed and devoured. And for this they willingly exchange money?

We say we seek to deliver quality products and exemplary service to customers yet we strive to be likened to a predator. Can these images co-exist?

The Work of Networking

Saturday, August 7, 2010

It is not enough to merely want a healthy, helpful network. What are you willing to give in exchange for it? Nature frowns upon the idea of something for nothing. It is a basic law of nature that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

Consider the example of a gardener. A good gardener carefully tills and seeds the garden. During the growing season, he or she weeds the garden and waters it. In the fall the gardener enjoys a bountiful harvest. What happens if the gardener simply throws some seed packets on the ground and doesn't care for the garden? They have a bountiful crop of weeds! You can try this over and over again and you'll always get the same results. Do the work and you'll have a wonderful garden. Just toss some seeds on the ground and you won't.

The gardener can busy themselves every day with many activities but it is only the careful selection of fertile, sun-drenched ground followed by activities related to sowing, weeding, and watering that will result in a bountiful crop. Sowing your seeds on an interstate highway will not result in much of a crop. Complaining later about your misfortune is a waste of time.

So it is with networking. You cannot enjoy the achievement of your goals without putting forth action. Like the skilled gardener, the skilled networker knows that the results are not immediate. Yet so many of us think we can harvest a healthy bounty from a network that has not be cultivated or cared for. When we are unsuccessful with our approach, we fix blame and complain rather than taking the actions called for.

What are you willing to give in exchange for the achievement of your goals? Are the actions you are taking to grow and care for your network going to give you the results you wish to achieve?

Note that in the center of the word networking is found the word work. Developing the skills of effective networking and doing the required work returns many benefits in the future. And like the gardener, the benefits are greatly multiplied when the work is done well. The gardener plants only one seed but each successful seed produces a plant containing hundreds of seeds.

Handling Internal Conflict

Saturday, July 31, 2010

A colleague takes credit for your idea. A manager sets an unrealistic deadline. A family member doesn't perform the household chores agreed to. Your inability to stick with your diet and exercise program is frustrating you. Internal strife takes many forms. Whether with a co-worker, manager, loved one, or self, conflict takes a heavy toll on relationships and productivity.

The ability to deal well with conflict is a rare skill. Hardwired at birth for fight or flight, we default to aggressive or passive behaviors that produce only losers and no winners. Is there another way?

The single biggest thing that characterizes conflict is heightened emotions. How can you manage your own emotions in the heat of a conflict? Here are two tips:

1. Find something to occupy your mind and distract you. Physical activity is always a good choice. Avoid activities that allow you to ruminate (i.e., driving or shopping) as you are unlikely to cool down and may get more worked up.

2. If you can't physically leave the environment, consciously change your emotional state. Silently say the alphabet or your social security number backwards. It is difficult to remain emotional when your mind is challenged with such a complex task.

When a cooler head prevails, you are now ready to address the conflict. Here are four tips:

1. Remember, people in conflicts get emotional. Though tempting, it is not productive to ignore emotions.

2. Challenge your assumptions. Recognize that your evaluation of the situation is probably only one of several interpretations.

3. Be tactfully honest about your own interests and ask the other party to be clear about their needs. You might find that the conflict is only a symptom of a deeper issue.

4. Ask for a "do over" if things get off to a bad start. According to research, 96% of communications that start badly, end badly.

Conflict, when done well, is an important and inevitable part of progress.

The Value of People

Monday, July 19, 2010

Do you miss Canada? The answer is the same today as it was when I immigrated to the United States 18 years ago. I miss the people.

This is probably the same answer you provide when asked if you miss your hometown. Your previous job. Your college days.

Relationships matter. Whether at home, at work, or at play, it is the quality of our relationships that shapes our lives - for better or for worse.

Relationships are also a practical matter in business. Harvard University, Carnegie Foundation and Stanford Research Institute showed that 85 percent of professional success is related to people skills.

Here are six tips to improve your relationships this week.

1. Look up from your computer when interacting with someone. Many of us are so preoccupied with email that we fail to honor the human interaction in front of us.

2. Turn your cell phone off when meeting or dining with someone.

3. Make eye contact and smile when you greet others.

4. Write five thank you notes in the next five days.

5. Call someone you haven't spoken to for a long time.

6. Provide others with tips on how to effectively interact with you.

It is a basic law of nature that two moving bodies in contact with each other create friction. Therefore, whenever two or more people are in contact with each other, friction results. Respect and good etiquette is the lubricating oil that enables people to work together effectively (whether they like each other or not).

No matter what you possess in life, whether great wealth, social status, a powerful job, etc., you will never be truly successful unless you can get along with others, even when it is difficult to do so.

The Myth of Multi-Tasking

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Does trying to read the news updates crawling across the bottom of the television screen while watching the interview ever frustrate you? Do you get engaged in the program and then catch a glimpse of the end of the scrolling sentence "...dead at 21"? Do you spend the next 20 minutes trying to figure out who died?

We delude ourselves into believing our multi-tasking efforts save us valuable time. This false belief is reinforced by time management experts prescribing multi-tasking as a time saving tool and a civilization that demands constant and overlapping activity.

The research is clear. Our brains are designed for focus and it is when we concentrate that we are at our productive and inventive best. Scattered attention guarantees we do neither task as well as we are able and research reveals that the stress hormone, cortisol, is released into the system. Far from a time saving tool, multi-tasking is a time waster and a stress inducer. Multiple experiments have shown that focusing on one task at a time delivers the most effective and efficient results.

Can we do two things at once? Yes. On the condition that one of the two things is habitual and unconsciously done (not requiring creative or cognitive thought). For example, driving a car while listening to an audio book is easily done unless you're on icy or unfamiliar roads that require your focus and attention. Walking and carrying on a conversation is a breeze on familiar terrain. Reading while exercising on the treadmill can provide a useful distraction.

However, when both activities demand your complete attention, choose one. The next time you find yourself reading an email while talking on the phone, texting while driving, checking your BlackBerry while participating in a meeting, completing a puzzle while interacting with your kids, reading PowerPoint slides while listening to a speaker - pause and remind yourself to focus on one task at a time.

Slow down and focus. It's a quick, no-cost approach to increasing productivity and reducing stress.

Punctuality for the Holiday Weekend

Friday, July 2, 2010

A question we are often asked: It seems like I'm always 10-15 minutes behind my goal time to arrive places. What tips do you have to help me be on time?

Tero says: This is a common challenge. While running a little late can be fashionable, it can also be irritating to others. Worse, it can quickly create a perception that you are not organized or that you don't value the time of others. Following are several tips. Try one or more of them out to see if they make a difference for you.

1. Set your clock or watch ahead 10 or 15 minutes.

2. For the next 48 hours, live your life in 15 minute increments. Document how much time you spend on everything you do. Many people run late because they misjudge how long activities will take. As a result, they try to cram too much into an already busy calendar. Getting this reality check can be very helpful.

3. Make a game out of arriving early. Challenge yourself to be the first one to the meeting or event. If people have come to expect that you will be late, your early arrival will be a point of humor for many.

4. Ask for help. Someone you know may be willing to alert you when it is time to leave for the meeting or event. Leave when they tell you to and thank them for their help.

5. Reprogram yourself. If you think you are always late, you probably will be. This is what is referred to as a self-fulfilling prophecy. Tell yourself "I am an on-time person". If this self-talk sounds like a lie, remind yourself of the many occasions that you have been on time. Unless you've missed every airplane you've had a ticket for, you are not always late.

What tips do you have as a business professional on being punctual?

Successful Leadership

Friday, June 25, 2010

A question we are often asked: I am taking a new management position. How do I lead my new team in a way that respects their individual preferences yet helps us achieve our goals?

Tero says: The first thing you can do as a manager is learn about each team member. Try to schedule some time with each member to get to know them. In the course of your conversation you may wish to ask questions such as "How do you best manage your time and prioritize work when completing projects? What portions of projects do you feel most successful taking on with respect to your ability to contribute? What kind of input or assistance will be helpful to you to perform at your best?" By asking questions like these and asking them to give you examples from their past work life to illustrate, you will get a picture of how to leverage their preferences for team productivity.

What have you experienced in your role as a leader?