Sharon Melnick, PhD

How to Create the Culture on your Remote Team (and the family members in your household)

I want to acknowledge and thank you today.  
 
You’ve been putting out so much energy and caring to take care of the people around you – your team, your family, and people who might be suffering more than you in this time.  That’s the kind of person you are, and I want you to appreciate yourself for it. 
 
After spending the week talking to my individual clients and leaders at companies who have brought me in to train their teams on Success under Stress, I’ve heard some themes over and over.   
 
A common one was: how to ‘get’ your team members to be productive while still being supportive. And a variation on that was how to ‘get’ your children to accomplish what they need to? 
 
The answer is that WFH is a new way of interacting with your team and family, so its an opportunity to do a reset.  What you want is to be intentional about creating that culture.  
 
First, Be Intentional about who YOU show up as. 
Think about the outcome you want for your team or family. Then ask yourself,  Who do I need to show up as in order to create that culture? 
 
You have an opportunity to re-define what is needed of you as a leader and as a parent. You might think first about how can you ‘get others’ to act a certain way, but the prerequisite for that is ‘how do YOU need to show up’ to create conditions for them to act that way.  I call this idea your Horizon Point.   You have probably been busy reacting to other people, but instead Ask yourself: who do I want to show up as?  That is your purpose, that you CAN control!
 
Second, Be Intentional about the culture you create 
You can lead a team discussion about what is the culture we want to have on your team.  I call this the Ideal Day discussion.  “What would an Ideal Day look like now?” How would we communicate together; what is the most important work, and what’s less;  how can we maintain a sense of feeling connected and have ‘virtual hallway chats’, etc When you lead this discussion, you are starting to create a collective positive future vision that bonds everyone.  Your ongoing conversations will be about how to reverse engineer your interactions to create that day.  
 
You can also do this with your family too – they and your pets are your new co-workers!   Ask your loved ones “what is the experience we want to have as we go through this time together?”  Go around the dinner table and get everyone’s input.  Maybe each person gets to plan an evening activity. Maybe do a dance break or take an afternoon walk together (or maybe you need space to do this on your own). The idea is: How do each of us need to act in order to have that experience? 
 
When you crowdsource input to your Ideal Day from everyone involved, then all your team or family members feel they have ‘skin in the game’. They are bought-in, and want to do their part.  Tapping their own motivation is 100x stronger than you trying to ‘get them’ to be productive.  
 
Third, Be Intentional about your Schedule 
Structure sets up success.  You want to impose a structure on your day.  Think about Steven Covey’s concept of the ‘big rocks’ where you populate your schedule with the MOST important activities first, then build all your meetings and interactions around them.    Are you building your day around your most important activities?  (e.g., a morning routine of exercise, meditation, time for writing own your 3 big things for the day) that sets your head up to in the right place?  And are you creating a structure for your children?  They will benefit from routine and predictability.  Make it a part of your Ideal Day discussion to ask about what activities they want to do so you can balance them with the activities that you want them to do. 
 
Here’s to your Success under Stress, 
Sharon

How to Shift From Fear to Focus

With the gyrations of the stock market, apocalyptic visions of health, and an uncertain future,  many of us are feeling either a low grade ‘back of the mind’ anxiety, or more full blown fear to the point that its hard to concentrate or make decisions.  I noticed myself totally distracted with checking my news outlets every 10 minutes. 

There have been moments I’ve gone down the rabbit hole of fear. What if I lose my business? What if my parents get sick?  What if we run out of food supplies? What if the world as we know it no longer exists?

Here are 3 questions I ask myself to pull myself up from the downward spiral of anxiety. Hope they help you shift from Fear to Focus.

I ask myself: 

1. What are the mental movies I’m playing that are setting me up to feel this way? 
Even though I haven’t seen the movie Contagion, I’ve already ‘seen’ that movie playing for a fleeting moment in my own mind. Not to mention the scenarios of all the money being sucked out of the economy, having all business come to a grinding halt, and no one is working.  At that point, I realize it’s time to use the remote control to change the channel!
 
Then I can ‘remember who I am’ and ‘what I’m here for’. I can reconnect with the abundance in the world. I look out at the water view outside my window. I look out at the trees in the natural world, continuing to grow unphased by the human scenario. I appreciate all the people I am in constant connection with and feel their prayers and love. Then the world feels full of possibilities again, and I can get back to problem-solving.   

2. What part of my body can help me access a positive and focused state? 
When I notice that I am spinning with negative movies inside my head, I seek ways to get out of my head. The best remedies are going for a run/exercise (or a walk in nature), or put on a song that reflects the mood  I want to be in and do a dance break (Yes, why not do a dance break with all the people you are sheltered in with!)
 
If you find that your thoughts are racing and it’s hard to concentrate, you may simply need to get back to a state of calm. The fastest and simplest way to do that is through your breath.

The exhale part of your breath is the part that gives you the most relaxing effect. Any time you breathe OUT for a longer count than when you breathe IN, you will start to experience more calm. There are many variations on this theme, but an easy one to remember is to breathe in through your nose for 4 counts, breathe out for 8 counts – within 2-3 minutes you should start to feel a greater sense of calm.
 
If it is frustration you need to release, you may to do something that helps you “let it out.” ‘ My go to is the punching bag. After a few minutes of taking it out on the bag, I can think clearly and have more sense of possibility for the future. If you don’t have access to equipment right now, try doing the “karate chop”. Place your hands, palms facing each other, in front of your torso. Vigorously move your arms up and down as if you are doing a karate chop. If you do this as vigorously as you can for 1-2 minutes, you’ll dissolve a lot of the pent up negative energy. (Those of you who have been in my Resilience trainings may remember this, its one of the things I hear you practice the most 😉

3. How might this be happening FOR me, not TO me
We may not be taking this situation personally, it does feel like these changes are happening “to us” (and at too rapid a pace). When I think that there is nothing I can do to prevent this tsunami of events from occurring, I feel helpless. Even if I do everything possible to protect myself and my loved ones, will I be able to keep them from getting sick, or losing their jobs, or even from losing my business? Then I’m in a mental swirl of fear.

So, I’ve been asking myself the question: How might this be happening FOR me, not TO me. What relationships will this give you more bandwidth to develop (including with yourself?) What skills can you develop that will set you up for your next level? What realizations will this force you to have that you’ve been hiding under the rug? 

This question empowers me, and I hope it enables you to see how to turn crisis into opportunity as well.

I now have talked to a lot of people who are bonding with spouses or family members in ways they hadn’t had the time for (or had been unconsciously avoiding through long hours at work). Others are using this collective restriction to ‘catch their breath’ and learn new skills or pay attention to projects long dropped due to lack of time. 

Personally, it’s requiring me to take what I’ve been doing mostly offline and bring it online for many more people, and take this video-friendly but social media shy gal to grow into sharing herself and her strategies daily! I’ve needed that ‘kick in the butt’ for a while, and I am turning this crisis into an opportunity.  

So, journal about or share with your family tonight your answer to the question: How might this be happening FOR you, not TO you? 

So You Think You Want Power?

What is the one thing that everyone really wants, but most people say they don’t want it?
 
What is the force that seems to be externally controlled, but it is really internal?


Power

I know. It is complicated.  
 
Let me make the distinction between being “in your power” and being “in power.”  Many people tell me they don’t want power in the way that oppresses other people. Instead, they want to be “in their power.”  
 
Why have I been talking about “power” recently? 
 
So many of us feel disempowered, and we’re ready to be done with it! We can’t seem to get ourselves to the results we want in our lives, and we are challenged by getting other people to change, for us to get the things we want.  
 
But when you are in your power, you are unstoppable. And not only that, you raise everyone around you. 
 
I think that the more power you hold in your body, the more you can make the impact you’ve been born for. 
 
I think the more power you hold in your body, the less chance you will be sick. 
 
I think the more power you hold in your body, the more influence you have. 
 
However, from training and coaching over 25,000 of you, what I see is that we leak our power.
 
We leak our power when we focus on what we can’t control. All of our attention gets squandered trying to get people to change, perhaps even beyond their individual capacities. Or, we get caught up reinforcing the ways we feel like a victim. 
 
We also give our power away.  We give our power away when we involve other people in determining our value.  
 
When we react, our power gets hijacked.  Our power goes around and around in an emotional loop. It is unavailable as a life force. It can not help us get results or grow. 
 
As you can see,  the more power you hold in your body the more you can make the impact you’ve been born for. 
 
The more you can stay in your center, the less other’s perceptions of you will matter. 
 
The less you react, the more your life force goes to moving your life forward. 
 
You want to be ‘in your power’! 
 
I’m writing a TEDtalk and my next book on this topic – how to stay in your power, how to get back in your power. 
 
And it would mean so much to me if I could get your input and learn about your experiences with this idea (so I can then teach you what I learn…)  
 
So here’s my ‘ethical bribe’ – You can join me on a complimentary coaching call tomorrow if you bring your A-game thoughtfulness and fill out this confidential survey on ‘being in your power’ here. On the call, you can ask me anything about how to be in your power! Or listen to how I coach others.
 
Thank you! I look forward to having you on the call (or sending you the recording if you can’t make it but want to email me your question). I am so excited to hear from you. 
 
Here’s the link to the confidential survey again. 
 
 

How To Get Back your Power

Have you ever been in a situation where you felt like someone was devaluing you, excluding you, or not giving you what you’ve asked for?

Your mind is in a swirl, you can’t stop thinking about it. You burn inside feeling bad about yourself, and livid at the other person.

When you feel powerless and are consumed inside of you, you LEAK your power.

I recently had a client, Tina, who was experiencing this. A senior male member of her group spread rumors to push her out, and diminish her financial draw. The two junior male members stood by without saying anything.  She felt disrespected, and worried she had done something wrong.

When she first called me, she was extremely upset. Her body was on fire with stomach upset and sleepless nights.  She didn’t know what to do – she ‘gritted’ her way through, but it was a heavy lift to get back to who she wanted to be.   

We immediately started to turn the tide. Within 1 hour she was back in her power. And within 60 days she had turned the whole situation around:

Now, she has been chosen by all three of the male partners as the “Partner in Charge” of the group. Each of them treats her with respect. She is now paid equally to them. She’s brought in business they were never able to, which benefits everyone. Most important, she says: “Its shocking to me how in my power I feel.

( Notice that when a woman is in her power she raises herself and everyone around her!)

Are you experiencing a situation in which you’ve been kicked out of your power? Is it interfering with your work? Or are you bringing it home into your personal relationships?

You don’t have to suffer like this. You take back your power when you see how many options you have in a situation, even when it feels like there are none. You too can raise yourself and everyone in the situation.

If you are in a situation where you are leaking your power, let’s plug the leaks through a complementary “Take Back your Power” consultation.

Click here to find a time for us to talk it through. I know these situations can feel raw so I opened up time for us to talk THIS week. You will feel SO much better and make a difference for everyone in situation.

I’m here to tell you that no matter how disempowered you feel, You ALWAYS have options.And I’ve spelled out some of the ways I helped Tina find her power.  You can read about the 7 ways Tina took back her power

 7 Ways to be in Your Power​

1) Find the Source of Ultimate Power in the situation
Though he had ‘power’ in the moment because of rumors he was spreading, she had the ULTIMATE power because of her ‘feminine’ approach to business: She had such good relationships with clients that they would stick with and trust her. Also, though inconvenient and costly, she had the ULTIMATE ability to recreate a client base somewhere else because of her talents. 

2) The Power of Intention
She identified who SHE wanted to show up as in this situation. I gave her the tools to show up as that confident, poised leader she wanted to be, instead of feeling like a victim.  She brought THIS energy into each interaction with her partners and THEY immediately REACTED to her differently.  (ever notice how that happens?

3) The Power of Perspective:
She stopped taking his rumors personally by understanding the real reasons he was initiating this campaign against her, which had everything to do with his insecurities and less about hers.  Then it stopped being a shame bath and became instead an issue of managing a difficult person.   

4) The Power of Facts
She reviewed their contractual agreements and found that she was being paid less than she should have. We scripted a meeting in which she persuasively presented the facts of their agreement, and he agreed to adjust the earnings to an even split!  (you go, girl!)   

 5) The Power of Influence
To prevent damage from the rumors and shore up future opportunities, she reached out and brought value to key senior stakeholders.  From this relationship building she started to get bigger and high visibility clients and opportunities.  Sourcing these deals enabled her to reinforce her ‘power’ within her group and validated her relationship building approach.   

Additionally, she had authentic conversations with the group’s junior partners in which she asked for their input, and  showed how they could benefit from her approach to the business.  They grew their respect for her and then voted for her as the leader they wanted for the group.      

 6) The Power of Unwavering Confidence
Though acting more confident, there were still times when her inner voice of doubt got activated and she would relive that feeling of fear and shame. (When you can still get emotionally ‘hijacked’, you can’t consistently your power.)

We did the “Magic Bullet” exercise that I developed from my 10 years of research at Harvard Medical School.  This exercise eliminated her inner doubt and self criticism forever (As she said “Its beyond my imagination and amazing how free and confident I feel.”) Now anything the Partners say that used to ‘get her goat’ just roll ‘like water off a duck’s back’!      

7) The Power of Vision
Because of her inspiring vision and her intention to expand the group with diverse talent, the group is attracting other people in the firm to be a part of their success story. She’s uplifting everyone.  

These are some examples of where she could find her power.  But there are many more ways YOU can find YOUR power. 

To you in your Power,
Sharon

Do you want to make others feel they belong?

I was already a foot shorter and I shrunk further in their presence.

Yup, that’s how I felt in my college years.  The culture seemed to be dominated by tall men who went to prep school. They played basketball or rowed crew.

Their discussions seemed to take place literally above my head.

I felt I didn’t belong.  At social gatherings and parties, I felt like I didn’t have anything to add. I felt those parties were not for me. Sometimes I would just slink home from the party, by myself

We all have a story (more likely MANY stories) of times we felt we didn’t belong.

As my colleague Denice Torres (former C-suite leader and President of multiple divisions at Johnson and Johnson) says:

Flex time, free lunches, and modest raises won’t fix the problem of a tight labor market and 20% of millenials changing jobs each year. We’ve “been there, done that.” The revolution required by leaders and their organization begins in the heart. Through genuine caring about our people and working to ensure every individual feels like they are heard, appreciated, rewarded for their work, and celebrated for their differences we can dramatically improve our financial performance and employee engagement.

Does this sound good but maybe naïve or pie in the sky?

Actually, we’ve got numbers on our side on this one.

According to Gallup, companies who created this sense of Belonging posted sizable gains through the last recession, compared with a significant decline at those who didn’t.

Recent research even found that a sense of Belonging is as good a retention strategy as good pay and benefits  

When we are happy and feel connected we are more productive.

Are you creating a sense of belonging on your team?  In your organization?  In your family and community?

Here are five things you can start doing today to create a sense of Belonging around you:

1. Check in – A recent study by EY found that people feel the greatest sense of belonging when their colleagues check in with them, both personally and professionally.  Yes it can be that simple, Just Ask.  And Listen!

2. Give Personal Recognition –  Recognize people for their contributions. This is the #1 thing that makes them feel they belong.For example, in my virtual coaching program that gets women next level roles, I start each coaching call asking for ‘wins/accomplishments.’ When a participant shares,  I reflect back to her the qualities that enabled her to create that win. Then I require her to “own it.”  From this watering of her soil, you can feel each woman blossom and take chances she wouldn’t before.

3. Pay personal attention Everyone around you is going to have some differences on dimensions of diversity, whether that is gender, race, age, cognitive styles.   Elicit their input and opinions, value their ideas (especially from those that don’t speak up as much). Care about their concerns.

4. Inspire – Create a vision that is so inspiring it raises everyone’s sense of possibility.  Make it a burning platform. Striving toward a stretch goal with a compelling purpose bonds your team members to one another and to the organization.

5. Create a No B.S. Zone around you.  Be real, talk like a human! Move out from behind the shield of corporate speak.  Be appropriately vulnerable.

Do you want to create a sense of belonging in order to increase loyalty, retention, engagement, and productivity?

Denice and I are training leaders in companies how to create a sense of belonging.  Email me to learn more about what we’re doing to help companies create this in their culture.

Thank you for making your world a better place,

Sharon

P.S.   When I was asked to speak at two of my ‘big number’ College reunions,  some of those ‘tall guys’ I never spoke to came up and talked with me. We immediately connected and talked ‘real’ with one another.   That greatly increased my sense of belonging and now I/we all crave to be together.

Do you want self promotion to feel more authentic?

This week I got a call from a leader at one of the big airlines that I fly on regularly.  I wanted to talk with her about making sure I don’t fly on one of the aircraft that’s been having software troubles(!) but what she called to talk about is: “I’ve had all these accomplishments but I was given feedback that senior leaders don’t know who I am…So I’m stagnating.”

While speaking at Conferences for the past few weeks, during women’s history month, I’ve been on a listening tour…

What’s one of the themes I’ve heard from women – whether you are trying to get to the next level, interviewing for next role, or just wanting to be effective at networking events?  The bane of your existence (other than email and meetings!) is having to promote yourself.

What comes to mind when you think you need to ‘self promote’ more, do you think:

  • It’s easier to praise other people than myself…
  • I was taught not to be ‘too big for my britches’…
  • It feels icky to be someone who is ‘braggart’…
  • I don’t feel worthy of bragging…
  • I don’t feel comfortable with the attention on me…

You know that you must promote yourself in order to get next level opportunities, be hired, get clients, etc. but it probably feels like something you ‘should’ do, not something you want to do or feel capable of.

How can you get more comfortable with self promotion? Try these 5 Mindset Shifts to help you:

Mindset Shift #1I don’t want to ‘brag’; no one likes someone who is full of themselves

Let me ask you:  ‘what is the difference you want to make in the world’?…

Who do you want to help? And how do you want to help them through your work? (maybe its your patients, your clients, or your community or family members you can help by being a successful role model).

Self promotion is not about ‘bragging’. It’s about “briefing”.

It is about helping senior leaders, or your manager, or prospects know what you can do or how you could help them, so they can help you achieve your mission. Self promotion thus becomes ‘helping them to help you’ fulfill your purpose and mission.

Mindset Shift #2: I don’t want to draw attention to myself – in my culture we are taught humility 

Shift from putting attention on ‘you’, to bringing attention to the contribution you can make to others.

It’s not about talking about how great you are. It’s talking about what you can do for your manager, for the organization, or for your prospects.

This is especially helpful in overcoming the gender biased social judgement that can accrue when you, as a women, are talking about yourself and your own contributions. It is also a helpful negotiation strategy when you are asking for more resources or salary.

Mindset Shift #3I doubt myself; what if I’m not really that great and other people don’t find me worthy of ‘bragging’ about myself?

It’s important to be ‘objective’.

If you are unsure that your accomplishments will help others, then seek out information. Ask for feedback and pay attention to the feedback you’ve been given.  Look at benchmarks for success in your role

 (You might not have received candid feedback because we know that ‘lack of candid feedback’ is a common bias for all women and especially women of color, and that men are given more feedback about their effectiveness toward business outcomes while women are given more feedback about their ‘communication style’).

And remember, ‘self promotion’ is not about whether you are ‘good enough’ or whether other people will be impressed by you.

It’s about letting them know what you can do for them.

Mindset Shift #4: I don’t have opportunities to self promote

When it comes to opportunities to promote yourself, don’t wait – create!  Yes its good to be prepared with an ‘elevator pitch’ when you run into a senior leader in the hallway, but you also want to be proactive and create those opportunities to connect.

Who are the stakeholders that can weigh in on your promotion?  Who could introduce you to influencers in your community?  Have a plan to proactively reach out to them.  Find out more about what they are up to and how you can help them.  Share with them what you are doing and how it could be applied to them.

Mindset Shift #5:  It’s icky to have to convince people of what I can do

I agree! If you feel like you are having to convince it means you’ve already lost your power in the situation.  It creates an energy that feels ‘forced’.

Sometimes when you feel insecure, you talk about what you’ve done to convince yourself you are worthy.  Sometimes you tell others how great you are in order to convince others to think well of you.  But both of those situations are about regulating your own self esteem, they are not helping the other person to know what you can do for them.

Its important to share what you’ve done in order to build credibility, but credibility comes from credentials plus connection.  Its not about lording over other people what you’ve done (that disconnects).  Its about sharing your experience (results, certifications) in the context of letting people know what you can do for them.

And if you get the sense you are having to convince people, change your energy.  Have more of a sense of enjoyment about what you’ve accomplished and be passionate about how you could bring that value to help the person you’re talking to or someone they could introduce you to.

What’s your experience with Self Promotion (rewarding or challenging?) Share below or reach out at sharon@sharonmelnick.com (I’m writing an article on this so I’d love to hear from you)!