Preventing Sexual Harassment and Harassment in the Workplace

Sexual Harassment

Preventing Sexual Harassment and Harassment in the Workplace

Definition: Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is a form of discrimination, in the United States, that violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Sexual harassment occurs when one employee makes continued, unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature, to another employee, against his or her wishes.

According to a current issues update from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), sexual harassment occurs, "when submission to or rejection of this conduct explicitly or implicitly affects an individual's employment, unreasonably interferes with an individual's work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment."

Examples of Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment can occur in a variety of situations. These are examples of sexual harassment, not intended to be all inclusive.
Unwanted jokes, gestures, offensive words on clothing, and unwelcome comments and repartee.
Touching and any other bodily contact such as scratching or patting a coworker's back, grabbing an employee around the waiste, or interfering with an employee's ability to move.
Repeated requests for dates that are turned down or unwanted flirting.
Transmitting or posting emails or pictures of a sexual or other harassment-related nature.
Displaying sexually suggestive objects, pictures, or posters.
Playing sexually suggestive music.
When an employee complains to a supervisor, another employee, or the Human Resources office, about sexual harassment, an immediate investigation of the charge should occur. Supervisors should immediately involve Human Resources staff. Employees need to understand that they have an obligation to report sexual harassment concerns to their supervisor or the Human Resources office.
Policies to Adopt to Prevent and Address Sexual Harassment

Your policy handbook needs a:
sexual harassment policy,
general harassment policy,
policy about how sexual harassment investigations are conducted in your company, and
policy that forbids an employee in a supervisory role from dating a reporting employee and that details the steps required should a relationship form.
I'm not a fan of non-fraternization policies. I think the workplace is one of the logical locations for people to meet and fall in love, as long as the employees engaged in the relationship follow common sense guidelines. But, dating your reporting staff is never appropriate. After creating these policies, you need to train all employees about these policies.
The Role of Managers in Harassment Prevention and Investigation

Managers and supervisors are the front line when it comes to managing employee performance and needs from work. First, and most importantly, you do not want a workplace culture that allows any form of harassment to occur. Out of your commitment to your employees and your company, harassment, in any form, is never to be tolerated.
In harassment, as well as in other law suit-engaging topics, as an employer, demonstrating that you took appropriate steps is crucial. In fact, demonstrating that you took immediate action and that the consequences for the perpetrator were severe, is also critical. And, the front line leader is usually the person initiating and following through on those steps, so they have to feel confident about what they are doing. Any form of harassment can create a hostile work environment including sexual harassment and how it is addressed. The court's definition of what constitutes a hostile work environment has recently expanded to coworkers who are caught up in the situation, too.

As you think about sexual harassment and other forms of harassment in your work place, keep these facts in mind.

The employee harassing another employee can be an individual of the same sex. Sexual harassment does not imply that the perpetrator is of the opposite sex.
The harasser can be the employee's supervisor, manager, customer, coworker, supplier, peer, or vendor. Any individual who is connected to the employee's work environment, can be accused of sexual harassment.
The victim of sexual harassment is not just the employee who is the target of the harassment. Other employees who observe or learn about the sexual harassment can also be the victims and institute charges. Anyone who is affected by the conduct can potentially complain of sexual harassment. As an example, if a supervisor is engaged in a sexual relationship with a reporting staff member, other staff can claim harassment if they believe the supervisor treated his or her lover differently than they were treated.
In the organization's sexual harassment policy, advise the potential victims that, if they experience harassment, they should tell the perpetrator to stop, that the advances or other unwanted behaviors are unwelcome.
Sexual harassment can occur even when the complainant cannot demonstrate any adverse affect on his or her employment including transfers, discharge, salary decreases, and so on.
When an individual experiences sexual harassment, they should use the complaint system and recommended procedures as spelled out in the sexual harassment policy of their employer. The investigation should be conducted as spelled out in the handbook.
The employer has the responsibility to take each complaint of sexual harassment seriously and investigate. The investigation should follow these steps listed in How to Address Sexual Harassment Charges.
Following the investigation of the harassment complaint, no retaliation is permitted, regardless of the outcome of the investigation. The employer must, in no way, treat the employee who filed the complaint differently than other employees are treated nor change his or her prior-to-the-complaint treatment. If it is determined that the employee lied, disciplinary action is necessary, however.

Please note that I make every effort to offer you common-sense, ethical management advice on this blog, but I am not an attorney and the articles on the site are not to be construed as legal advice. The site has a world-wide audience and employment laws and regulations vary from state to state and country to country. When in doubt, always seek legal counsel.

The antidote to bullying

Do you know what the number one thing is that stops bullying in its tracks? It is genuine empathy for others. There is growing body of research that has found that genuine empathy by bullying students towards targeted students is the most effective antidote to bullying.

Punishing the bully is less effective and often results in the bullying continuing but out of the sight of adults. Research has also found that students who have greater empathy for others tend to have happier relationships, both now as well as in their adult relationships. Furthermore, the more emotionally intelligent they are, the more likely they are to achieve academically.
So what can parents and adults do to encourage greater empathy in their children? One of the best ways to do so is to set the example by modelling caring behavior  Young people will not always remember what we say, but they are more likely to remember what we do. Show genuine care both to loved ones as well as people outside of your family. When you have hurt someone, even unintentionally, show them it is the right thing to do to respond in a caring way, apologizing and making amends if necessary.
Praise your children when you see them doing the right thing in caring or being considerate for another. When their behavior has been hurtful to another, you can ask them to reflect on how that person may be feeling. You could also ask them to remember a time when they were unhappy. When that child is able to do so, you might then say that you believe that the person who has been hurt is probably feeling the same way.
Most children or adolescents who are able to genuinely appreciate how their behavior is affecting another, are better able to change their behavior or make amends. Those who take pleasure in causing pain to another need to reflect if their behavior is really helping them be the person they want to be. Or they need to be taught about how good relationships work.
We can also encourage empathy in our children by encouraging care for a sibling or even a pet. Of course, there are many adults who also need to develop greater care for others. As we develop greater empathy, we not only become more whole people, but also more aware of how our actions can impact on others, and the need to take action to make things right.

What are your customers saying about you?

A couple of years ago, I was running a workshop at a major hotel in Sydney. Firstly, no-one at the venue was available to assist me with the room setup which had been done differently to that requested. Despite advising the venue beforehand of 55 people attending, at morning tea, they had set up only one coffee station which resulted in a very long wait for coffee. I also had to chase them up when food ran out at both morning tea and lunch. Eventually, the Function Co-ordinator made an appearance. When I told her what had gone wrong, I simply received a shrug of the shoulders.
Yes, we have all been on the receiving end of very bad customer service. We certainly know it when we experience it and gain some satisfaction from telling others of the experience. But if we receive great customer service, we love it and are certainly happy to repeat that story too. What stories are your customers saying about you?
Here are five areas to consider that can help you to take good service to great at your workplace.

  1. Make a great first impression: One of the best ways to make a great first impression is simply to respond immediately to customers. Answer the phone within four rings. Return calls and emails quickly. Greet people in a warm and friendly manner when they walk into your premises. Use their name if you know it. Making a great first impression is part of what differentiates great service from service where you feel treated like a number.

    One doctor I know gives  a warm greeting to new patients who are waiting. His secretary also makes them freshly brewed tea or coffee in nice china served with gourmet biscuits. All of his patients receive also a warm greeting from his secretary and a welcome pack which includes details of his services at his practice and also vouchers for discounted meals, hair-dressing, or massages with local businesses.
  2. Give customers a great experience. Can you anticipate what your customers are needing? If so, you might simply offer these things or ask how you can be of help. One lovely person in charge of catering who I dealt with recently while running a function in Canberra made a point of greeting me when I arrived in a friendly and personable way. She checked with me what had been arranged for catering and the break times. She also let me know how I could contact her if there were any difficulties. The catering, of course, was exceptional - with beautifully prepared and presented food provided on the day. I told her (and management) that she was the most pleasant and professional person I had dealt with in that hotel.

    Management can do their part to help - communicating clear expectations, setting the right example, and providing training if needed. Most importantly, if management can help their staff to be happy at work, this will help create a positive and welcoming atmosphere. Customers can certainly tell if your workplace is a great place in which to work.
  3. Deal well with challenges when they occur. Customers do not expect us to be perfect, but they do expect us to take action when frustrations occur. Here we need to be prepared and clear about what we can offer to our customers - whether this be an explanation, some empathy, or some practical action by us.

    Recently, when flying on Virgin Airlines, one of our children's car seats was snapped in half while begin transported. This could have gone very badly. Before we had a chance to become upset, we received a very genuine apology from Virgin staff, an offer to reimburse us in full for a replacement, and a loan safety seat we could have while on holiday.
  4. Exceed their expectations. Don't you love it when you go to a restaurant and they bring out some complimentary food for you to sample? Or you order a smoothie at your local cafe and they bring out some extra smoothie that was made in the process. One Janitor Groundsman I know at a local school makes a habit of leaving fresh flowers from the school grounds for the staff in their tea room. A business consultant I know always sends his customers a box of chocolates or a nice bottle of wine to thank them for doing business with him. What can you do to exceed your customers' expectations by doing something extra?
  5. Stay in touch. People who give great customer service know that it takes less effort to get repeat business from existing customers than it does to gain business from new customers. But to get repeat business takes at least two things. Firstly, the customer needs to have had a great experience in dealing with you. And, secondly, you need to have put in place some way of them staying in touch with you or you staying in touch with them. Out-of-touch can sometimes mean out-of-mind. You might stay in touch with your email newsletter. But there is also a personal touch where you give them a call and ask how they are going in relation to the product or service you have provided.

    If they are happy, they will let you know. If they are not happy for some reason, that is still good as it gives you a chance to work things through. A speaking colleague of mine stays in touch by genuinely caring for her customers when they are dealing with challenges. Recently, she was aware of a number of her clients who were directly affected by natural disasters and made a point of calling them up, asking how they were, and offering help where she could. This is certainly great service.
You would think that great customer service would be important to everyone, but sadly it is not. 
This is good news - as it only takes some smart thought and effort to stand out in your customers' eyes, resulting in them singing your praises and you feeling more proud of the work you do.

People who play the blame game

It can be extremely frustrating when you work with someone who thinks a problem to which they are contributing is simply being caused by someone else.
On the one hand, this is a very human thing to do. It has been suggested that human beings are born with a negativity bias that helps us to identify problems and thus ensure our survival. However this tendency can also be manifested in lots of blaming, complaining and criticising.
The trouble with blaming others is that it tends to provoke a defensive response. It also puts us in a powerless position as, when we are in this place, there is nothing we can do to change the situation as the problem is completely due to someone else.
So how do you help others take responsibility for doing their part to help?

  1. Let them tell their story. If we can allow people to get their story out and demonstrate that we understand how they are seeing things and feeling, this can put them in a better position to consider another perspective. If they can vent their emotions well enough, this can often help them to settle and begin to see things in a more balanced way.
  2. Be human. By this I mean being real, approachable, and not taking a superior stance - that you know what is best for them. Instead you want to convey that we are all human, that we all make mistakes, and we can all do things better. You might even consider whether a brief story about yourself might help. You could speak of a similar situation you were in, something dumb that you did, and what you learned as a result. I don't recommend telling stories about yourself as the hero.
  3. Suggest a trade. If you are on the receiving end of their blaming, you could offer what you are willing to do to help, saying something like, "If I do .., will you do ..." or "How about we both ..." Here the focus is what you will both do differently in the future rather than debating the accuracy of what the other person is saying. Some people gain greater commitment by writing down, with the other person's permission, what each person will do.
  4. Ask questions. After they have felt properly heard, you could ask questions like, "What do you think you both can do to help?" They may well run off a long list as to what you or the other person needs to do. Agree where you can, but then consider asking, "What are you willing to do to also help?" or "What do you imagine the other person would say they would find helpful?" If your timing is right, you may well be able to get away with asking them direct questions about their behaviour. "When you ..., did that make things better or worse?" Here we are wanting to get them exercising the frontal cortex of their brain, the part that helps us to think about our choices.
  5. Offer a different perspective. If they can find a kinder way of seeing the situation, this may well put them in a better position to act more helpfully. You may well have to suggest kinder or more balanced perspectives rather than expecting the person to generate them. If appropriate, you could suggest, "Is there a chance this was a simple communication breakdown / you were both very stressed / you were both inadvertently pushing each other's buttons?" (I suggest one of those options, not all three). Remember that their openness to a different perspective will depend on the degree to which they feel fully heard and the level of respect they have for you.
The great majority of people are capable of self-reflection. However, like any new behaviour, taking responsibility for one's own behaviour takes conscious practice over time. When next speaking with someone playing the blame game, experiment with the above and notice what helps. 

Why people miss their appointments

You would think that everyone who has personal challenges and in need of professional help would be moving mountains to gain that assistance. But the reality is that many people simply do not keep their appointments with agencies and professionals whose role is to help them in some way.
Counsellors, Youthworkers, Dieticians, Doctors and other helping professionals all know what it is like to bend over backwards finding an appointment for someone in urgent circumstances only to be sitting around twiddling their thumbs when the person does not turn up.
In some agencies which provide free services, up to a third of their clients do not turn up for their very first appointment. (In my private practice, the rate was under 5%). Then there are other clients who drop out early from the helping process.
Why does this occur? Many professionals believe people discontinue due to dissatisfaction with the help given. But this is not always the case. I believe there are five common reasons people disengage from helping relationships and here is what you can do about it.
  1. There is some personal challenge. Whenever a client misses an appointment with me I try to believe there is an ordinary explanation - they or their child was sick, they forgot their appointment, had trouble with transport, or were abducted by aliens. Of course, these sorts of challenges are common. Well, maybe not the last one.

    Of course we can simply cut people some slack or simply give people a reminder about their appointment the day before. However, I have found when people miss an appointment, they will be more likely to do so again. When they do attend, it pays to check that the following factors are not contributing.

  2. You have not established a relationship of trust. Apparently, the majority of people stress about seeing a psychologist, social worker, counsellor, etc - knowing they will be discussing very personal issues, concerned that they will be judged in some way, or perhaps because they have had a bad experience when seeking help in the past. When people initially enquire about making an appointment, your job (or that of your secretary) is to be as personable and reassuring as possible.

    My secretary would often tell my new clients that I was a lovely person to speak to ... even if this was bending the truth a bit. The better the connection when they enquire or present in person, the more likely they will continue.

  3. You are not working with the client on what they really want. Perhaps Centrelink has obliged them to see you for help in gaining employment, for example. Or they have been mandated by a court to have counselling for their problematic drinking. They may well be saying that they want to gain work or address their problem drinking, but perhaps they really don't see their behaviour as a problem and what they really want is for others to get off their back.

    Once they are through your door, your job is to work with them on what they are wanting, if possible, and see if this parallels what others want for them. Everyone is motivated for something. Your job is to find out what they want and link this to the changes that they, and hopefully others, want to see.

  4. The client is not happy with you. Upsets between you and your clients will occur from time to time. Times when I have accidentally double-booked a session come to mind. When upsets or disappointments occur, we need to be quick to repair the relationship and offer what we can for the future. We will at times also have clients who are not finding the way that we are working helpful. This is not necessarily fatal to the helping process, but it is if we are not open to changing the way we are working.

    Outstanding professionals in helping roles are always adjusting themselves for the individuals they see. I must confess that I was at times tempted to give people a menu as to what sort of therapist they needed while they were waiting to see me. Did they want they want the caring Ken who simply listened and empathised with their circumstances? Or did they want the affable Ken who could also make them laugh? Or the practical Ken who could give them some advice on moving forward?

    Of course, I don't really recommend giving people a menu, but you can at least ask how you can be helpful and adjust yourself accordingly. You can also ask what you can change next time you both meet so you can be more on track. I remember one client who was frustrated with me that I wanted to talk things through when she was visual. That was very helpful for me to know.

    Openness to client feedback will not only reduce early drop-out from the helping relationship but also produce improved outcomes. You can make it easier for clients to give you feedback by setting this expectation from the start, by making it a routine part of how you work, and responding non-defensively - perhaps apologising if you were off the mark, but at least offering to make that change for future meetings.

  5. They are happy to continue by themselves. Sometimes clients conclude the helping relationship, not so much because they have achieved their goal, but more because they feel able to continue by themselves. Sure we may think differently. But as professionals we need to appreciate that sometimes people get what they need from their contact with us, or their circumstances change, and seeing us is no longer a priority.

    If one of your clients has ended the helping relationship, you can at least touch base with them by telephone or email seeing how they are going. You can check if they were unhappy with your approach for some reason and let them know you are happy to make changes. And you can also let them know if it is OK for them to re-present in the future.
There are, of course, those clients who you are happy haven't turned up, but that's another story!

Why people resist change

You would think that everyone who has been caught drink driving would want to change their drinking habits. You would think that everyone who has been to prison would never re-offend. You would also think that everyone who is unhappy at home or work would be doing whatever it took to build a much happier life for themselves.
Why is it that many people are so reluctant to acknowledge that their behavior is a problem? Even those who do are slow to do anything about it or they find change very hard.
Of course, we all struggle with changing our behavior at times. I believe there are five main reasons why this occurs.

  1. Unhelpful thinking. Many people tend to minimize how problematic their behavior is - convincing themselves that their behavior is not so bad or that it is more other people who need to change.

    People can also have unrealistic expectations, giving up when change has been hard or they have experienced a relapse. Other times, the problematic thinking is not thinking at all, simply being on automatic pilot, repeating the same behavior that is not working for them.

    Here we need to identify thinking that is a barrier to helpful action and find more helpful thoughts that will be motivating for the individual.

  2. The status quo is comfortable. Why change if you are relatively comfortable? Sure your partner is upset about your drinking, but they are still there. Yes, your smoking may increase your risk of heart attack, but ... you haven't had one yet.

    Sadly, for some of us, it is only when the status quo becomes very uncomfortable that we see the need for change. Even if we are open to change, the thought of putting in the effort and coping with the related challenges, is enough for some of us to return to the familiar.

    Here we need to help people to appreciate more the costs of inaction, perhaps allowing the status quo to become more uncomfortable, emphasizing the benefits of change. But it is important to search until we identify what is most motivating to the individual concerned. It is not always what we think.
  3. Changes are being imposed. I believe that most people don't mind change. It's just that they don't like being changed by others - whether this be their partner, their manager, or their therapist. The more one person argues why the other needs to change, the more the other person can sometimes resist.

    If you believe your approach is producing resistance, you need to immediately reconsider what you are doing. People tend to be more open to changes which they initiate themselves, where their ideas are included.
  4. The problem behavior is need-satisfying. Problematic drinkers, for example, will sometimes say that drinking helps them to socialize with others, feel more in control of their life, gain freedom from painful emotions, have fun, or simply to relax.

    For those in helping roles, the challenge is to help people identify the needs underlying their behavior and make choices that are effective in meeting the same needs, respectful of the needs of others, and take them in a good direction.

  5. Physiological barriers are present. It can be easy to mistakenly label someone as resisting change when they actually have a medical condition inhibiting their ability to change problem behavior  Clinical depression and chronic pain are examples of conditions that, when effectively treated, can greatly increase an individual's ability to embrace change.

    Other physiological conditions such as brain injuries or neurological diseases may mean that some people may never be in a good position to behave as others would like. With such individuals, the focus is more on managing the environment around them.
Of course, when people are resisting change, more than one of the above factors may well be contributing. If you are helping people to embrace change, it can help to form a theory as to what may be contributing, adjust your approach, and to notice what helps.

This article is from:
Ken Warren BA, M Soc Sc, CSP is a Relationships Specialist

10 Tips to create a better Working Environment

“The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.” — Hans Hoffman
Our life is frittered away by detail. Simplify, simplify.” — Henry David Thoreau
For today’s knowledge workers, every distraction is a drain on productivity and sanity. Every ringing phone, instant message, flashing email reminder, pile of papers, cluttered sticky notes and phone messages and knick knacks and memo posted on the wall — each of these things slows you down, wastes your time and energy, and stresses you out.
To achieve calm, and simple productivity, create a better working environment.
Imagine for a minute that your desk is completely clear, except your computer monitor, keyboard and mouse, your inbox and phone, and perhaps a framed photo of a loved one. Imagine the walls around you are free of visual clutter, except for a photo or painting or two of a serene nature scene.
You are able to focus, you can crank out your tasks, and you can lower your level of stress.

It’s not hard. Here’s how:
Clear papers. Take all the papers on your desk, and around your desk, and put them in your inbox. If they don’t fit, just put them in a single pile. Now go through that pile, one document at a time. Don’t put any document back on the pile — deal with it immediately, and then move on to the next document, until you’ve cleared the pile (this may take several sessions for some people). With each document, your choices are to 1) Trash; 2) Delegate; 3) File immediately, 4) Do it immediately; or 5) Put the action on your to-dolist and the document in an “action” folder.

Clear clutter. Now clear as much of the other stuff on your desk as possible. And it’s all possible. Knick knacks, post-its and phone messages (those should go in the inbox to be processed), most of your framed photos, folders, etc.

Clear gear. You don’t need your office gear to be in sight. Put your pens, stapler, paper clips, digital camera, and any other assorted gear in a drawer, organized neatly. While you’re at it, clear out your drawers and only put in the essential stuff. It’s easier to keep organized that way.
Clear the walls. Clear every scrap of paper and most of the artwork from your walls. You don’t want your surroundings to be too busy. Put one or two pieces of simple art on each wall.
Have an inbox. Have one inbox on your desk, and have all incoming documents, notes, phone messages and other papers be put into this inbox. Process it to empty at least once a day, using the steps above. From here on out, don’t let any other papers clutter your desk except the one thing you’re working on.
Simplify your computer. Clear your desktop of icons — it’s an inefficient way to launch documents or programs and organize yourself, and they’re just visual clutter. Clear everything from your menubar too, if possible. On your desktop, use a simple and serene picture as the background, and only have the document open that you’re currently working on. Turn off all email and IM notifications, and only do email at 2-3 set times a day. You don’t need all the interruptions.
Simple filing system. Use a simple alphabetical filing system with plain manila folders. Have plenty of labels and empty folders on hand, so you have nothing stopping you from creating a new file quickly and filing a document. Don’t let your filing pile up.
Edit, edit, edit. Once you’ve cleared the clutter, there’s usually still stuff you can clear away. Edit your surroundings. For each item in view, ask yourself, “Does this really need to be in view?” In most cases, the answer is no. Find a way to get it out of sight, or get rid of it. When you’ve gone through this process, do it again — you can usually still find ways to get something out of sight.
Simple furniture. Go for the simplest furniture possible, a plain floor covering (solid-color wall-to-wall carpeting or undecorated hard-surface floors), bare windows or simple window coverings such as blinds, plain shelves and lamps if necessary.
Simple decorations. Skip the bric-a-brac, and only have one or two simple decorations, such as a few flowers in a vase or a Zen garden.

Top 10 Ways to Reduce Your Work Week

Even though our modern lives have an incredible number of time-saving devices, we seem to end up working more and more all the time. From time-saving devices in the home (microwave, the robot vacuum, and dishwasher, to name three), to time-saving devices at work (spreadsheets, email, Internet, etc.), we don’t seem to be able to take advantage of the time saved and claim it for ourselves.
Let’s claim that time and decide, from this day on, to work less.

Here’s how:

  1. Reduce your work hours. Give yourself a set amount of time to work each day and each week, and stick to it. You’ll find yourself becoming more productive during the time you actually work, because you have to get your stuff done faster. To help you stick with your new work hours, set appointments for 30 minutes after you’re supposed to get off work. So if you tell yourself you’re absolutely going to leave work at 5 p.m. (or even better, at 3 p.m.), set an appointment for 5:30 p.m. and stick to it. Make it a doctor’s appointment, or a barber or beauty shop, or an appointment with your spouse or kids or workout partner. Whatever you do, stick to it. Best tip yet: cut your work week down to 4 days (or even 3). You’ll find that you can do all you need to do within that time period.
  2. Work from home. More and more people are finding ways to work from home, to either do their current job by telecommuting or to find a new career that doesn’t require them to work at the office. Consider this for yourself — write up a proposal to your boss, telling her how this will make you more productive and save money for the company. Or think of other job options that are more flexible. This step alone won’t save you work hours, because you can end up working even more, but you have to combine it with step 1 above — limit your work hours in the home, and set very strict boundaries for yourself.
  3. Have set email or RSS times. Don’t allow yourself to be available to the world every minute of the day. Set times when you will check and respond to email, or read your feed reader, or check your voicemail, and stick to them. You really don’t need to be connected all the time — people were somehow able to survive without it before. Now take that time that you save from responding to email, and claim it by reducing your work hours as in step 1 above. Also, now that you’re not being interrupted all the time, focus more, as in step 4 below.
  4. Become focused. If you want to work less, then become better at getting tasks done. That means you need to stop multi-tasking and focus on doing the task before you. Shut off all distractions, reduce distracting clutter, and focus on the one task before you. Get into a state of “flow” and really pour yourself into your task. This will make you more productive, meaning you can get more done in the smaller amount of time you set for yourself, instead of constantly becoming distracted, interrupted, and switching from task to task.
  5. Set time boxes. Parkinson’s Law says that a task will expand to fill the time available for it. So only give yourself a limited amount of time to complete a task, and you’ll do it. It may seem paradoxical, but it works. Give yourself 30 minutes to complete something, or an hour. If the task is too large to complete in an hour, break it into smaller tasks, and time box those smaller tasks.
  6. Do only the big tasks with big returns. Of all the tasks on your to-do list, which is the most important? Not the one that will take the most time, or that you want to do least. The most important task is the one that will give you the biggest return, however you measure that in your job. In freelance writing, that’s the article that will pay the most for the least amount of time spent on it. In programming, that might be the program that will become a giant killer, that will get you a million downloads, that will make a name for you in the programming world. All the rest is just busy-work — focus only on the key tasks with the most value.
  7. Outsource the rest. If a task or project doesn’t give you a huge amount of value, you shouldn’t be doing it. Give it to someone who needs the work. Find the repetitive tasks, the ones that need to be done but that aren’t worth your time, and hire someone else to do it for less. If it’s something that doesn’t really need to be done, eliminate it. Be ruthless with your time — you don’t need to be spending a million hours working.
  8. Reduce your commitments. You probably have too much on your plate. If you edit your commitments, you can reduce your workload and the amount of time you need to work.
  9. Shut off the computer. The biggest distraction ever invented. I know, you need the computer to work. But if you set limits for how long you’re on the computer, and shut it off the rest of the time, you’ll find that you get everything you need done within those limits. Don’t allow yourself to be on the computer all the time, or you’ll never be done. There’s always something else to do, something interesting to read.
  10. Change jobs. Does your current job not give you the flexibility to implement these tips? Then start looking for a new job. There are a million of them out there. Look online. If you’ve got skills (and you may have more skills than you think if you give it some thought), you can market them and find a job that fits your needs. Be confident in your skills, and ask for enough pay that you don’t need to work 40 hours a week or more to make ends meet. If you work 60 hours now, and double your pay, you only need to work 30 hours. If you don’t have the skills you need now, start learning them while working your current job. Important: don’t quit your job until you have another lined up.
Bonus tip: Find ways to make passive income. This is income that you don’t need to do much to earn every week. Investments, a web site that is self-sustaining, a business that doesn’t require your active management … these are just a few ideas for passive income. This will require an initial investment of capital or time, but once it’s going, you’ll be making money without having to work.
Reclaim your time and suddenly you’ll have a whole bunch of extra time to work on your life goals, to relax and de-stress yourself, to spend time with family and friends, to read, to educate yourself, to work on a hobby, to exercise. It’ll be one of the most important things you do.

A Leader Must Look and Listen and Know How to Resolve Conflicts

If you examine the rise of a typical leader, the ability to look and listen decreases as power increases. That's a trend you need to be aware of. At the outset, a future leader often rises out of a group to present a grievance or to offer a new idea or way of doing things. Hands-on experience motivates him (or her), and the group supports his efforts because they recognize a need to be fulfilled.

But leaders at the top are often enmeshed in corporate politics and insulated by immediate aides. The notorious White House bubble that isolates presidents also encloses any leader to lives inside a small circle. Here are some pointers about looking and listening all the way up the ladder.
1. Keep your feedback loop large. Leaders and followers co-create each other. There is constant input and output. If you get input only from your closest circle, you won't be in touch with the whole picture.
2. Stay flexible. It's not hard to detect when a leader wants to hear only praise and support for his own ideas. Be flexible enough to allow your core beliefs to be challenged.
3. Welcome criticism and know our opposition. Leaders who rise high often feel insecure about their position. They are prominent targets for jealousy and attack. So start early on to embrace other points of view, accommodating them when you can and at the very least listening to them and taking them seriously.
4. Be good at giving feedback. No matter what face they put on it, people notice praise and blame. No one is indifferent. Make sure your feedback doesn't demean anyone, and if you are in doubt about hurt feelings, see the person privately. "Are we okay?" isn't enough. Look and listen to their personal reactions.
5. Don't claim a monopoly on the truth. Keep in mind that you do not see the whole picture. This will instill a desire to hear as many perspectives as possible.
6. In any meeting, never lose sight of the central question, "What do these people need?" Never leave the room feeling confused about this. Behind every discussion, somebody needs something.
7. Know the difference between what somebody needs and what they want. We all want more of anything that is available. But most of the time, what we need isn't clear. Ego and emotions stand in the way.
This is such an important point that it deserves being expanded. In relation to a leader, a group of people has individual and collective needs. They tend to overlap, and yet a successful leader tends to both. Sometimes you have to reach down to one person to provide a specific need (e.g., President Lyndon Johnson hated baseball, but he went to every game with a prominent Southern senator because the senator, who chaired a key committee, was a devoted baseball fan).
Most of the time, however, what counts the most is being able to analyze a group’s need.
1. All groups respond to hope. They need to be told that tomorrow will be better.
2. All groups need to be inspired about what they are doing. This is different from offer external motivations like money and raises. Feeling worthy is far more important.
3. All groups need to know that their leader is loyal and supportive. If a leader is just passing through on his way up the ladder, the group responds accordingly. The best leaders take their cohorts with them as they rise to the top.
4. Insecure groups need to be reassured that they are safe. Any threat such as layoffs, salary cuts, losing market share, being bought out, etc. must be addressed. The solution that comes out of the discussion should benefit everyone in the group if possible (as when companies hard hit by the recession lay off no one but instead provide part-time work to everyone).
5. Groups that are doing well competitively need greater challenges. Their motivation is to keep proving themselves.
6. Creative groups need new, innovative ideas. Here the leader functions as a sounding board for any and all suggestions. Suppressing the creativity of any member sends a signal that creativity isn't valued for its own sake. Such an attitude quickly kills the spirit of innovation.
7. All groups need morale. You need to be open and honest about any person or behavior - including our own - that is hurting morale.
As you can see, the so-called born leader isn't what a group needs. They need a leader who presides over a healthy, open, expansive feedback loop.

Which is Your Goals For This Year?

Stick to Your Goals This Year by Using Identity-Based Habits

by James Clear
Change is hard. You've probably noticed that. We all want to become better people—stronger and healthier, more creative and more skilled, a better friend or family member. But even if we get really inspired and start doing things better, it's tough to actually stick to new behaviors. It's more likely that this time next year you'll be doing the same thing than performing a new habit with ease. Why is that? And is there anything you can do to make change easier?

How to Be Good at Remembering People's Names

My girlfriend is great at remembering people's names. Recently, she told me a story that happened when she was in high school. She went to a large high school and it was the first day of class. Many of the students had never met before that day. The teacher went around the room and asked each person to introduce themselves. At the end, the teacher asked if anyone could remember everyone's name.
My girlfriend raised her hand and proceeded to go around the room and accurately name all 30 or so people. The rest of the room was stunned. The guy next to her looked over and said, "I couldn't even remember your name." She said that moment was an affirming experience for her. After that she felt like, "I'm the type of person who is good at remembering people's names." Even today, she's great at remembering the names of anyone we come across.
Here's what I learned from that story: In order to believe in a new identity, we have to prove it to ourselves.

Identity–Based Habits

The key to building lasting habits is focusing on creating a new identity first. Your current behaviors are simply a reflection of your current identity. What you do now is a mirror image of the type of person you believe that you are (either consciously or subconsciously). To change your behavior for good, you need to start believing new things about yourself.
Imagine how we typically set goals. We might start by saying "I want to lose weight" or "I want to get stronger." If you're lucky, someone might say, "That's great, but you should be more specific." So then you say, "I want to lose 20 pounds" or "I want to squat 300 pounds." These goals are centered around our performance or our appearance.
Performance and appearance goals are great, but they aren't the same as habits. If you're already doing a behavior, then these types of goals can help drive you forward. But if you're trying to start a new behavior, then I think it would be far better to start with an identity–based goal.
The image below shows the difference between identity–based goals and performance and appearance–based goals.
The interior of behavior change and building better habits is your identity. Each action you perform is driven by the fundamental belief that it is possible. So if you change your identity (the type of person that you believe that you are), then it's easier to change your actions.
The reason why it's so hard to stick to new habits is that we often try to achieve a performance or appearance–based goal without changing our identity. Most of the time we try to achieve results before proving to ourselves that we have the identity of the type of person we want to become. It should be the other way around.

The Recipe for Sustained Success

Changing your beliefs isn't nearly as hard as you might think. There are two steps.
1. Decide the type of person you want to be.
2. Prove it to yourself with small wins.
Here are five examples of how you can make this work in real life.
Note: I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to start with incredibly small steps. The goal is not to achieve results at first, the goal is to become the type of person who can achieve those things. For example, a person who works out consistently is the type of person who can become strong. Develop the identity of someone who works out first, and then move on to performance and appearance later. Start small and trust that the results will come as you develop a new identity.

Want to lose weight?
Identity: Become the type of person who moves more every day.
Small win: Buy a pedometer. Walk 50 steps when you get home from work. Tomorrow, walk 100 steps. The day after that, 150 steps. If you do this 5 days per week and add 50 steps each day, then by the end of the year, you'll be walking over 10,000 steps per day.
Want to become a better writer?
Identity: Become the type of person who writes 1,000 words every day.
Small win: Write one paragraph each day this week.
Want to become strong?
Identity: Become the type of person who never misses a workout.
Small win: Do push-ups every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
Want to be a better friend?
Identity: Become the type of person who always stays in touch.
Small win: Call one friend every Saturday. If you repeat the same people every 3 months, you'll stay close with 12 old friends throughout the year.
Want to be taken seriously at work?
Identity: become the type of person who is always on time.
Small win: Schedule meetings with an additional 15–minute gap between them so that you can go from meeting to meeting and always show up early.

What is your identity?

In my experience, when you want to become better at something, proving your identity to yourself is far more important than getting amazing results. This is especially true at first. If you want to get motivated and inspired, then feel free to watch a YouTube video, listen to your favorite song, and do P90X. But don't be surprised if you burn out after a week. You can't rely on being motivated. You have to become the type of person you want to be, and that starts with proving your new identity to yourself.
Most people (myself included) will want to become better this year. Many of us, however, will set performance and appearance–based goals in hopes that they will drive us to do things differently. If you're looking to make a change, then I say stop worrying about results and start worrying about your identity. Become the type of person who can achieve the things you want to achieve. Build the habit now. The results can come later.

Top 21 Ways to Make Lightning Strike

How do you make lightning strike?How do you succeed where others have failed before you?
How do you make magic happen when others are giving up?
I believe that you can make lightning strike in your life and career

Ways to Make Lightning Strike

  1. Be there early. There is a reason the early bird gets the worm.
  2. Make your own success. No one is going to give it to you.
  3. Always learn something new. When you stop learning, you stop growing.
  4. Do something differently. What got your here, won’t get you there.
  5. Get uncomfortable. Success is located outside your comfort zone.
  6. Do something for someone else. Relationships lead to new opportunities.
  7. Blaze your own trail. Common paths lead to common results.
  8. Don’t quit. It’s those who stay long after others give up, that win.
  9. Don’t stop before the finish line. Many people stop within sight of success.
  10. Keep calm. When others panic, remember that there are very few true emergencies in life.
  11. Don’t do what others have done. Despite the cliche, it hasn't all been done before.
  12. Do what others have done. But, do it better than anyone who has proceeded you.
  13. Don’t get even with those who have wronged you. Rather “get even” with those that have helped you.
  14. Try again. And then again. No one gets it right the first time. (See #8)
  15. Make your own luck. The harder you work, the luckier you get.
  16. Get back up. Always get up more times than you fall down.
  17. Make decisions. If you don’t, life will make the choices for you.
  18. Enjoy yourself. You never get there, it’s all about the journey along the way.
  19. Go through walls. As Randy Pausch said, “The brick walls are there to show how badly you want something.”
  20. Don’t abide by the rules. Before breaking a rule, ask why it is there in the first place.
  21. Just do it now. Action today, always beats intent for tomorrow.
So, what are you going to do today to make lightning strike?