• Decisive Leaders Don’t Ruminate (0) January 19, 2019Bradley Ann Morgan

    What is rumination? Rumination is a compulsive focused attention on the symptoms of one individual’s distress, and on probable causes, as opposed to solutions. Rumination is related to worry except rumination focuses repeatedly on reliving negative feelings and experiences from the past. If ‘this’ happened before it will happen again. Eventually, excessive worry usually overcomes the potential for productive thought and innovative solutions.
    How can you avoid rumination in situations like this? Use any or all of the following recommendations:

    • Before you begin the problem-solving process, concentrate your vitality and time on what you can control. Do not let yourself relive old disappointments of a similar nature, especially avoid personal experiences. Assessments like this will trap you into how unjust the world can be. Instead, begin listing everything that is outside your direct control such as, the stock market numbers or office politics. Along with those elements you do not control, list all resources that are available in solution brainstorming. And, don’t discount others you may not have used before such as, the mail room staff or the accountants in the finance department.
    • Let moods of disappointment or resignation fully dissipate before you examine the facts surrounding an unanticipated challenge. Decisions are influenced by moods. No matter where we are and no matter what we are doing, we humans are persistently in a mood. Before you evaluate the data, the time spent, or how the competition won over you, concentrate on putting yourself in a self-confident or positive mood. This can be done alone or with the team members that went through the process with you. One exercise is to create a ‘failure wall’. Hang a blank banner on a wall, provide markers or acrylic paints and ask the team to write observations, known mistakes, or inspirational quotes that will help empty out the emotionalism that all may be holding. There should be no fear of reprisals, just a release mechanism to release pent up feelings.
    • Decisive leaders never leave the elements of success as a mystery for others to speculate about. These leaders clearly explain their expectations for each task, the owner of that task and the timeline allowed. Then everyone understands why the project is in progress, what is expected of them, what the intended outcome should be, and when to deliver their part of it.

    When you catch yourself ruminating over a problem, ask yourself:

    • What do the stakeholders and top leadership expect from you, and your team? If you have worked with these people before, what patterns have you observed in their work behavior? And, are they useful or could their techniques use some higher standards?
    • Have you communicated effectively with all others in determining new solutions to the conundrum you face now? Have you listened carefully to others and given constructive feedback to them so that they may deliver their best?
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  • Are You a Fixer? (0) October 24, 2018Bradley Ann Morgan

    In listening to colleagues or family members describe a problem; have you ever caught yourself thinking of a solution for them? How you would ‘fix’ it for them? And, when you explain your ‘fix’ it solution, it’s not an option they would have chosen; subsequently, you feel unappreciated? How do we get out of this endless cycle of resolving other people’s troubles and relieve our own stack of problem solving?

    Let’s explore the interpretations we process when we listen to someone else’s problem. Since childhood, many of us have been conditioned to assign a degree of drama over items as simple as spilled milk. We were trained to take charge of the problem immediately; and, expect a hefty level of appreciation for doing so. When the resulting gratitude does not occur for them they find themselves resentful.

    Before you begin your ‘fix it’ process, ask yourself:

    • Are you truly listening to your colleague or friend? Even if you suggest a solution, would it be in their accepted realm of possibilities or would you be forcing a prescribed set of actions?
    • If you fix the problem, are you letting the other person continue their learning about cause & effect, resulting consequences, the ability to reason?
    • What else will you own by fixing the situation, such as, will you own this situation forever? Are you setting yourself up to resolve this repeatedly?
    • How will you be seen in your career, family, or community after you, only, resolve this problem? Will it be fulfilling for you to be the hero, the saint, the martyr, the philanthropist, the fixer? How will your ‘fixed’ friend be seen?

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  • Recognizing Grief in the Workplace (0) October 2, 2018Bradley Ann Morgan

    No matter how long you may have been employed in the marketplace, most of us have known an episode of grief there, whether for ourselves or a colleague. The sorrow of loss can happen to any of us, suddenly; and, at various stages in our lives and careers. The anguish of loss can be as personal as being a witness to a tragedy, loss of a cherished family pet, divorce; even the death of a colleague or family member. It can seem agonizing at times, as if it will never end. Grief is an internal process, different for each of us. It does not progress in predictable lines, but can have stages that the grieving one will pass through on the way to the recovery of normal life. Those stages are usually identified as:
    • Initially there is denial and isolation. It is normal to want to retreat from everyone and everything familiar and find that ‘cocoon’ to hide in so that loss may not seem to have taken place.
    • Next, grieving persons may be angry or resentful at the person who has hurt them or abandoned them through death. Even through this stage, they recognize the consequences could not be stopped.
    • Later, the grieving person may make bargains with a spiritual entity. It is not uncommon to hear, “If I do this, will you return everything to the way it was?” Or, “I promise to quit smoking if you will remove this anguish.”
    • Depression usually sets in for period of time; and, tears become the body’s way of releasing toxic stress, eventually restoring equilibrium.
    • Last, there is acceptance of the actuality that life is going to be different now. You will hear comments such as, “I think I’m going to be ok, unlike my old life, but ok.”

    How do you recognize the stages of grief or unresolved grief in the workplace? Look for any of these behaviors over a period of time, especially if you know the person’s circumstances:
    • Excessive bouts of anger or sudden emotional outbursts at others.
    • Increased absenteeism, often with no advance notice.
    • Unwarranted episodes of guilt and lengthy explanations over unfinished projects.
    • Evidence of self-medication with alcohol or drugs resulting in compulsive behavior patterns.
    • Demonstrations of ‘over-work’, long hours onsite into late night or early morning.
    • Loss of the ability to articulate department objectives or timelines when they knew them by heart just weeks ago.

    How can you and your colleagues help a grieving person return to a more normal environment? It’s first helpful to understand the bereavement policies the company has in place. With their assistance, any of these ideas may help you find the balance between being compassionate and still achieving the company’s goals with your colleagues:
    • Recognize when there will be emotional triggers for the grieving person such as, phrase use, certain strands of music, or even passing the empty office.
    • If the griever is still feeling the psychic presence of the lost one, suggest some private time to listen to their feelings, possibly in a more reserved place than the office.
    • Respect any confidentiality that may have been given about the tragedy or deceased by your colleague. If the family decides not to have a public service for office staff, allow them their privacy.
    • If the loss is a company colleague, then perhaps a donation from the department to their favorite Foundation, in their memory, would be appropriate.

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  • Are You Magnifying Your Problems? (0) August 23, 2018Bradley Ann Morgan

    In the current economic environment today it’s quite natural to suffer emotional stress from overcrowded highway traffic and the worries over an affordable personal healthcare system. And think of adding to these, what if you are the spouse of military personnel deployed to war? Often any additional anxiety promotes a magnification of the current problems making them appear larger than they are, propelling individuals to be overwhelmed and possibly dramatic in their response behavior. How do you know if you are magnifying your problems?

    Let’s distinguish the difference between ‘drama’ behavior and a true demonstration of over-magnification. Drama behavior is generally a display of a person trying to gain power over someone, manipulate a person or group of people for some specific gain. Sometimes it is practiced for the thrill of introducing energy in an otherwise routine life. We’ve all seen and heard these demonstrations, usually in public, loud accusations beginning with, “how could you?, or I can’t believe you would do this to me!” Very often these expressions are followed by the exit of the accuser with a door slamming or the sound of a car tearing out of the parking lot.
    The symptoms of over-magnification of problems can be one or several of these:
    • An obsessive focus on any one problem. This problem can result in being the constant basis of conversation in a given day.
    • An endless stream of questioning among colleagues and family members over this specific problem. Usually the listener will exclaim something like, “Why don’t you do something? or I can’t hear this issue anymore.”
    • The assertion that this problem will domino into a series of action that will cause excessive ruin to the person such as, “This speeding ticket will cause my insurance rates to increase, which I can’t afford and I’ll ultimately lose my car insurance. Then I won’t be able to drive to work and I’ll lose my job!”
    • A sense of despair causing the person to be paralyzed for action and resolution. They view their current condition as a stream of cumulative problems and now all is lost.

    Magnifying problems has become a socially acceptable activity. Magnification of problems has come to mean that the ‘worrier’ appears concerned over the problem, is actively engaged with current events in the world; and, gives the false connection that cumulative anxiety is an earned trophy from our lifestyles today. Excessive long term magnification can take you over with feelings of apprehension or dread, trouble concentrating, anticipating the worst, irritability, restlessness, and watching for signs that the end is arriving.

    How do you keep yourself from magnifying your problems? Use any or all of these as a starting place:
    • Restore a sense of calmness to your present circumstances or seek a place of serenity when you can. It will be tough to work toward possible solutions when there is mayhem, excessive noise, or chaos in your personal space.
    • Arrange a schedule for analyzing your problems, as in your professional life. Assess each of your problems separately; don’t combine them causing them to appear more overpowering than they have the importance to be. Also, limit yourself to twenty or thirty minutes of examination. Usually periods longer than this will spiral your psyche into resignation or despair.
    • Learn the skill to control the ‘spin-cycle’ of thought. By allowing the same negative thoughts to ‘spin’ in your head will only propel you to feel powerless over the current circumstances. Identify which thoughts you need to accept as your reality and only act on those.
    • Identify which of your problems are short term and which are long term. Some issues can be solved in a matter of days and will not have a lasting impact on your life. For the issues that fall into the long term list, analyze the resources you will need, the costs involved to use them, and the time period you need for final resolution. Take as much time as you need for this process. Your ultimate desire is to improve the quality of your life, not just make these issues go away.

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  • Why Aren’t We More Accountable? (0) July 6, 2018Bradley Ann Morgan

    Accountability in the workplace, and on a personal level, can dramatically impact the productivity of the workforce in every organization. Accountability is not goal achievement. Accountability is essentially a core value for each person; and, should be a fundamental pillar of a company’s culture. Being responsible is actually how an individual chooses to take action as the owner of a company goal. Their response can distribute responsibility to others in the company, then all, personally contribute to a shared success.
    In organizations, why does accountability seem to vacillate or falter entirely? These are some of the reasons:
    • Accountability is assumed to be a ‘suit’ you wear at the office. It is not appreciated as an authentic principle to be embodied at all times. Accountability is not respected as part of the company’s identity, consequently, is demonstrated when it is convenient.
    • Informal leaders within a group defer to those with company status or power. You will hear comments such as, “I’m not the boss. It’s not my decision.”, or, “I can’t make that level of decision.” True leaders are those that can build the capacity for action, motivate others to commit; and, be accountable for the sum of their actions.
    • When employees are in resignation, they feel they have no choice over final outcomes. You will hear comments such as, ‘It doesn’t matter how we feel about our working environment, just that we meet the 90 day goals’, or ‘It’s more important we make our boss look good, not that we all worked the entire weekend to make it happen.” Here, accountability is only meaningful when a favored company player is recognized for the project, regardless of whether it is justified or not.
    On the personal level, accountability can be from these justifications:
    • When people have only intentions, not sincere commitments for results, accountability is abandoned. Whether they are accountable for an internal commitment, or one to friends and family, they have not researched all the requirements or time duration for achievement. This usually results in thinking there is not sufficient value for the effort required. And, without a timeline assigned to the commitment, all you have is an idea for something new.
    • Personal procrastination is a major element. As is often seen, people will repeatedly delay action until a crisis is upon them and choices are limited. This is followed by ‘victim mentality’, propelling the individual into a self pity state, not an action state.
    • Along in a person’s progress, old history or personal assessments eventually overwhelm them. You will hear expressions such as, “I should have realized I’m too old to learn the piano”, or “I’ve been uncoordinated all my life. No wonder I can’t learn to dance.” When outdated judgments like these come up, then the future cannot be created with self accountability.

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