Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Monday, 19 October 2015

5 Questions to ask yourself to ensure a productive meeting with your manager

I'm hazarding a guess here that we probably all know what a bad meeting feels like...pointless, drawn out, direction-less and a waste of time!

When I first moved from working in the private sector into the voluntary section it was quite a culture shock.  I found lots of things different but for me one of the most glaringly obvious differences was the approach to having meetings.  Meetings were always long affairs and I mean loooooong!  Regardless of what or how many items there were on the agenda (which coincidently wasn't followed) the meeting would be several hours! Everyone would arrive and kind of sit back and settle in for the day with a cuppa.  Thankfully things did become much slicker, more business like productive and efficient, phew!

Meetings are expensive and time together precious so we need to make meeting time with our manager as effective as possible which is why I have put together these 5 questions to ask yourself...

5 Questions to ask yourself to ensure a productive meeting with your manager

1. Do I have everything prepared for the meeting?
Whether it is reporting back on progress, case load updates, monthly sales figures, productivity stats or offering new ideas and innovations, prepare the date your manager is expecting to see.  This not only shows that you are in control and on top of things but also that you are aware that time is precious and have a grip on what's needed.

2. What do I need from the meeting?
You've provided your manager with what's expected but you also need to focus on what you need from the meeting.  Good meetings should be a two way process, working together so play your part rather than risk it becoming one sided.  What questions do you need answers to?  What aspects of your work / performance do you need clarity on?  Do you need the go ahead, approval  or sign off permission?
Write it down beforehand as a reminder.  If there is no agenda for the meeting this will provide the focus and keep the meeting productive and on the track you want it to be on.

3. Am I sure I know what my manager needs from me?
Make sure you're clear on what's expected of you before leaving the meeting.  Ask the questions you need to get the direction, shared vision and clarity you need.

4. Am I running to schedule?
An agenda really helps with keeping within the time restraints of the meeting and keeping on subject.  If a certain item is taking more time than originally thought, having an agenda means you can look at what else is planned for discussion and re-prioritise as appropriate.

5. Do I have a clear action plan and time frame?
Either after each topic or at the end of the meeting carry out a little run-down, keep it snappy and to the point but go through each item to check mutual understanding and agreement.  Do you know what you are responsible for and when you are expected to have it completed.

Those of you who have followed my feature "Hannah Fox's Diary" will know that Hannah had a tricky meeting with her manager which didn't go brilliantly at first but with some careful preparation she managed to pull it around.  I have put links to the 3 posts I'm referring to below but if you aren't familiar with the Work Smart Work Savvy mini soap opera then you can click on the Hannah Fox tab above and read them all.

Hannah Foxs Diary - How not to have a meeting 16th April 2015

Hannah Foxs Diary Fact feel want 23rd April 2015

Hannah Foxs Diary - The big meeting 28th May 2015

Happy meetings!

Friday, 16 October 2015

WSWS Friday Download - Change - 16th October 2015

From a nature point of view, autumn is my favourite season.  I love other seasons for what happens in them such as going on holiday in summer but for sheer beauty autumn is my winner.

I find I'm more aware of changes in the seasons at this time of year as summer closes and autumn arrives in a burst of colour.  The changes by be further on in your area but I took this photo earlier this week in my local Old Town Gardens and the leaves on the trees are just beginning to turn hinting at the riot of colours soon to be on display.  I for one, can't wait.

It's a change I'm happy to embrace which is a good thing really as I can't stop it or prevent it.  I love the hazy orangey glow of the sun lower in the sky, the glorious colours of nature, the log delivery for our open fire, wrapping up in cosy hats, scarves and gloves and being outside and seeing your breath.

However, not all change is as easy to embrace and at times change can present us with some real struggles so I thought it would be a good time to reflect on change and look back at some posts on this subject in this Friday Download.

I wrote about change last month with the start of the new school term and the changes and challenges this brought.  You can click below to see the article.

8 Tips For Dealing With Change At Work

Change that has been forced upon us in particular can be difficult to deal with but theses 3 tips for developing resilience, the ability to bounce back after adversity can help.  You can see more on this by clicking on the link below.

3 Tips For Developing Resilience

Change has also been the topic of the Midweek Motivation several times with these 3 being my favourites.

Midweek Motivation - 20th May 2015

Midweek Motivation - 19th November 2014

Midweek Motivation - 15th October 2014

Happy Friday

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Why keeping connected is good for you.

Do you ever find that sometimes connections with friends drift?  The text messages become less frequent, the phone calls slowly die out, the emails dry up and the catch up over coffee never quite seems to happen?  It wasn't the plan, it just kind of happened unconsciously and slipped under the radar.

This happened to me quite recently.  I hadn't been in touch with a friend of mine for over a year....I know!.  This wasn't a concious decision by either of us.  It was just one of those situations that drifted.  I wanted to get back in touch but I felt as it had been so long that it needed a long heart felt text, email, phone call explanation.  Therefore I felt I needed time to sit down and compose this and think about what to say.

I'm ashamed to say that in reality this didn't happen.  I planned to sit down and make the call, write the text but then something cropped up and as I'd built this task in my head to be something big, I felt I couldn't just slot it in to a quick spare minute.  

I felt it warranted more than a "sorry I haven't been in touch for ages, how are you?"

But I was wrong.  How can saying nothing, to someone I consider a friend, someone I have shared some great fun times with and someone I care about, be better than a quick friendly one minute text?  Answer:  it can't!

Thankfully this story does have a happy ending and my friend and I are back in touch, yippee!  She had been feeling the same as me, wanting to get in contact but thinking a "hello how are you?" wasn't enough after such a long time.  In fact the lengthy of time out of contact grew even longer as we'd created another barrier to getting back in touch!  Madness! We have promised not to leave it so long again and so far we've been true to our word.

Connection and building positive relationships is so important to our mental well-being.  It has been evidenced in the UK Government Foresight Report, Mental Capital and Wellbeing (2008)  that people with strong social relationships with a variety of people are happier, healthier and live longer.  The NHS list "connection" as one of their 5 steps to mental wellbeing based on the Foresight Report.

Close positive relationships with our family and friends provide love and support, a sense of security and the opportunity to learn from each other and support each other giving us a strong sense of purpose and self worth.  Wider connections in our community can give us a sense of belonging where we can share activities and experiences.

In the book Happiness: Unlocking the mysteries of psychological wealth (Diener, E. & Biswas-Diener, R) the connection between positive relationships and happiness is highlighter as being a two way thing; not only do relationships make us happier but also happy people tend to have more and better quality relationships.  Now that sounds like a win win situation!

So there you go, just do it, get in touch, even if it's been ages.  And yes a "sorry I haven't been in touch for ages, how are you?" is good enough and far better than doing nothing!

Friday, 9 October 2015

WSWS Friday Download - World Mental Health Day 2015 - Dignity

We all have mental health just like we all have physical health.  Sometimes our mental health is fine and sometimes it's not.  And that's OK.

However what I find not OK though is the damaging attitudes and stigma which exists in some people which is preventing some people from seeking help when they need it most.

It is estimated that only about a quarter of people with a mental health problem in the UK receive ongoing treatment, leaving the majority of people grappling with mental health issues on their own, seeking help or information, and dependent on the informal support of family, friends or colleagues.
With 1 in 4 adults and 1 in 10 children likely to have a mental health problem in any given year, that adds up to a lot of people.  The World Foundation for Mental Health estimate over 450 million people globally experience mental disorders each year.  Stigma and discrimination are huge barriers preventing many of these people from accessing the care they need.

Tomorrow is World Mental Health Day and this year's theme is dignity.  The World Foundation for Mental Health (WFMH) have chosen dignity as their theme because as they say, "every human interaction holds the potential to be a dignity encounter and this can either be positive or negative".  Although many people have had positive experiences, sadly the  WFMH share that the majority describe their encounters as negative.

They are calling on "every member of society to work together and make mental health visible and not something to be ashamed of".

Symptoms are not a barrier to recovery, but attitude is... 

Below are some links which you might find interesting...

These brilliant illustrations have been created by Haejin Park for BuzzFeed and you can see more here.
Physical Health

Mental Health
The Mental Health Foundation website has a downloadable poster which they are using to confront stigma with facts which you can find here.

Time to Change is a campaign running to end mental health discrimination and the site contains lots of real life stories which you can read here.

Friday, 2 October 2015

WSWS Friday Download - Smiling

Today's Friday Download just happens to clash with World Smile Day and I can't think of a better subject to end the week with than smiling...say cheese!

Evie, my youngest daughter and I in Cornwall this summer.  Sunny days on the beach always makes us smile!

American, commercial artist, Harvey Ball created the smiley face in 1963 which quickly become a symbol of good will and good cheer and was used widely across the globe.  However, as the years passed Harvery became worried that the original message associated with the smiley was getting lost due to over commercialisation of the symbol.

"Out of that concern came his idea for World Smile Day®. He thought that we, all of us, should devote one day each year to smiles and kind acts throughout the world. The smiley face knows no politics, no geography and no religion. Harvey’s idea was that for at least one day each year, neither should we. He declared that the first Friday in October each year would henceforth be World Smile Day®. Ever since that first World Smile Day® held in 1999, it has continued every year in Smiley's hometown of Worcester, MA and around the world."   (

I love the World Smile Day motto "Do an act of kindness.  Help one person smile!"  Surely that's worth a try.  

What's more, smiling is officially good for us as smiling immediately releases endorphins and it is these endorphins which relieves stress and lowers anxiety.  Although it's not easy, smiling during stressful situations can have a calming effect as studies have shown that smiling can help slow our heart rate which generally increases when we feel stressed and relaxes our body.  

Have a look at these articles packed full of more health benefits of smiling... 

Who can resist a baby smile?  Not many people are immune to the charms of those  toothless, slightly dribbled early smiles. Many a new parent , myself included, have spent hours trying to draw out that very first baby smile and then even longer trying to re-create it and capture it on camera.  It's such a special smile and one to be treasured forever.

Although I knew exactly the photos I was looking for for my daughters above as they are the sort of images that become etched in a parents brain, I became lost in browsing through other smiley photos enjoying the happy memories.  It was like a big smile hunt and what a fantastic way to loose half an hour (and the rest) and what a boost to my overall feeling of well-being and happiness.  I highly recommend it.

These are just a few of the Sister Smiles I found whilst on my smile hunt through my phone photos.

Our very own Work Smart Work Savvy Midweek Motivation has touched on the subject of smiling and happiness on several occasions but here are the best ones...

And my personal favourite...

Back in March of this year I wrote an article about the International Day of Happiness co-ordinated by Action for Happiness which you can find by clicking here.  It's smile packed with tips about happier living and some rather smiley cakes!

What makes you smile?  Is it a certain song, a particular friend that always has you in stitches, a pet, a favourite TV programme, a hobby you love, being outside, family time...?Here are just a few of the things that have made my girls and I smile recently...

Lastly a smile is contagious so let's make it our mission to spread smiles around the area we live and see how many smiles we get back.  So go on, smile at a stranger, you just may very well make their day.   I'd love to hear what response you get.

Finally, I'm not making any apologies for the number of smiling Monis girls in this post, I know it's self indulgent but these smiling faces never fail to make me smile not matter what!  Happy smiling!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...