Celebrate Failure

“I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.”
~Thomas Edison~

Trevor wanted his people to be pillars of innovation and creativity. When he came to me for coaching around innovation, he mentioned how fearful his team was in taking risks and possibly touching failure. I asked him, “What are you doing to celebrate failures?” Like many leaders, he had no answer. We then looked at some fun ways that corporate leaders have learned to take their failures and celebrate them. In doing so, they help their most creative people to develop exciting new ideas.

Celebrating your failures is just as important as celebrating your success. Here’s some ideas for you.

  1. Hold an Idea Funeral
    Holding an idea funeral is a fun way to learn from the failure as a group, as Annabel Acton says in an Inc. article. Take turns eulogizing the idea or project you’re “burying,” sharing lessons learned. Focus on its merits as well as the reasons it ultimately failed. This creates a culture of trying out new ideas and learning from the results. “Startup funerals” have taken off as well, as budding entrepreneurs are increasingly embracing failure as a stepping-stone to success.
  2. Create a Fail Wall
    The finance website NerdWallet creates a “Fail Wall” where mistakes are posted, emphasizing that everyone fails and honoring outside-the-box thinking. Why not set up a “Fail Wall” in your own workplace? Give it a brightly colored banner and encourage people to write down their failures on post-it notes and stick them on the wall.
  3. Give a Heroic Failure award
    Advertising company Grey gives a “Heroic Failure” award to employees who take ambitious risks and go down in flames. Giving this award changes the culture of feeling shame or humiliation if a risk doesn’t pan out. Rather than letting failure become part of people’s identity, they become branded as risk-takers.
  4. Hold a “F— Up Night”
    In a popular social meetup event called “F— Up Nights,” a handful of entrepreneurs tell their stories about failure, followed by a Q&A session. These events been held in over 250 cities across 80 countries. Hold a similar event with your own people, encouraging everyone to take a turn at the mic. If it’s a hit, hold a series of them so everyone gets time to share and ask questions. Find a fun way to host the event outside of the office, like reserving a large room at a restaurant or finding a community space that hosts performances.
  5. Record What You’ve Tried
    Keep a track record of failures, with detailed information about what people tried. Just as a failed cancer drug proved incredibly useful for managing the AIDS virus, a past failure can become a wild success in a different context. Take notes on why the idea failed—it might succeed under the right conditions, or if certain aspects of it are revamped.

It’s most fitting to celebrate failures related to innovation, rather than execution, Harvard Business Review points out. You want to celebrate the failures that show you took a leap. If someone failed to follow through on a task, you obviously won’t want to throw a party. If she gave her all in a new project and it just didn’t achieve the desired results, that’s different. Celebrating those kinds of failures will help your people learn to fail gracefully, growing from the experience.

Most importantly, stop thinking—and talking—in terms of “win/lose.” When you eliminate the shame around failure, and show it’s okay to be vulnerable, people can talk about it. That means they can learn from it, finding the germ of a great idea within it.

Want more advice on boosting creativity and innovation in your company? Hire leadership coach Joel Garfinkle so he can help you develop and implement ideas that get results.

Network after Work

“Networking is an essential part of building wealth.”
~Armstrong Williams~

Liam didn’t drink, so when his coworkers went to the bar after work, he’d say goodbye and head home. Sure, he was missing out on the chance to socialize, but it wasn’t really his scene. Then his sister shared some interesting statistics about the effectiveness of networking after work.

Over the past couple of decades, many studies have shown a relationship between social drinking, socializing, and higher wages, she told him. Moderate social drinkers earn 10% more than those who abstain, a study from the University of Calgary found. Another study in the Journal of Labor Research found that the average male employee who drinks socially earns 19% more than those who abstain, and the average female employee who drinks socially earns 23% more than abstainers. Male employees who go to bars at least once a month earn an extra 7% on top of that.

It’s not about the alcohol consumption. It’s all about building and improving relationships. Sequestering themselves away from the drinking crowd is the main reason why non-drinkers lose these opportunities, according to a study at North Carolina State University.

Moderate drinkers may be perceived as more charismatic, and they certainly get to know their drinking buddies much better than they otherwise would. Social drinking is a highly effective networking strategy—and even non-drinkers can get in on it. If you’re a non-drinker, here’s how to overcome some common alcohol-related hurdles and share all the social benefits that drinkers get. (If you’ve dealt with addiction and find being around alcohol too triggering, see the tips at the end.)

Problem: Drinking is an effective inter-office, after-work networking vehicle. As mentioned, those who drink tend to earn more than colleagues who abstain. Hanging out at the bar is a proven way to foster relationships outside of the office. But because you don’t drink, you’re missing out.

Solution: Go to the bar and enjoy some time with your colleagues. Don’t let the venue stop you from using this opportunity to form working relationship bonds with your coworkers and supervisors. Order a non-alcoholic drink. (Chances are, you won’t be the only one not drinking.) Show them you can have fun along with the rest of them, and soon they won’t even notice you’re not drinking! Here are a couple other pointers:

  • Ensure people you have no problem with their drinking. They might feel awkward, wondering if you’re judging them, which you can dispel with a few words and an accepting attitude. If you want, share a reason for not drinking that focuses on you, like “Alcohol makes me tired, and I want to enjoy myself.”
  • If coworkers tend to drink heavily and that makes you uncomfortable, excuse yourself early, saying you have to get up early the next morning.

Problem: Drinking is part of the company culture. For many companies, drinking during work hours is frowned upon. Some even have a no-tolerance policy. However, there are a few where having a drink at lunch or in the afternoon on Friday is part of the company culture. Others are experimenting with having beers during brainstorming sessions to loosen things up. Refusing the libations can set you apart as an outsider.

Solution: Participate without the drink. Be sure to include yourself in those martini lunches. If Friday afternoon is the time when everyone relaxes in the conference room with a beer before heading home, be sure to be in there too. Show them you can relax and unwind with the rest of the team, even without the alcohol.

Problem: Entertaining clients often requires taking them out for drinks. You have a client in town, and it’s your job to make sure he’s enjoying himself. Taking him out for drinks and dinner is part of your job duties. Refusing these duties can definitely hurt your career.

Solution: Go and have fun with your client! Even if you don’t drink yourself, there’s no reason why you can’t take clients out and show them a good time. They may even appreciate the fact that you’re going to be the designated driver, so they won’t have to worry about making it back to their hotel safe and sound. Plus, you’ll be able to keep your wits about you and massage the relationship to your company’s benefit while their inhibitions are lowered thanks to alcohol. Secrets and soft spots may be revealed!

You don’t have to spend multiple nights at the bar each week to get all these benefits. Even going once in a while will increase your visibility among your coworkers and build your social cache.

If you’re a recovering alcoholic and find being in situations like bars too triggering, reach out to coworkers in other ways. They’re not likely to move from the bar to another venue, but perhaps you could start meeting colleagues for breakfast once a month or so. The main goal is to build relationships by networking after work, showing them what a fun and interesting person you are!

Social drinking might have a definite place in your company’s culture. Contact leadership coach Joel Garfinkle to learn how to build relationships and become more influential at work.

5 Tips on How to become a Better Boss

“The speed of the boss is the speed of the team.”
~Lee Iacocca~

Tom had been working as a manager for almost a year. He was good at evaluating people’s performance, pointing out areas for improvement, and saying “thank you” often. To him, those were the things that a good boss did.

However, when Tom sat down with his mentor to talk about his progress, his mentor told him that those things are just the tip of the iceberg. “One of the hallmark qualities of a great boss is that he’s always striving to improve,” said his mentor. “Here are 5 tips on how to become a better boss. You’ll be the kind of boss who inspires tremendous loyalty, innovation, and respect from his people.”

  1. Inspires a Shared Vision
    Hone your understanding of your organization’s vision. Talking in-depth about vision with company leaders will give you a better grasp of it. Even if you’re not a high-level leader, understanding how your department fits into the big picture will help you and your people excel. Then instill the vision in your people. At the beginning of a meeting, talk about how the project you’re presenting furthers the organization’s vision and mission. People will have a stronger grasp of their importance, and in turn, greater motivation, when they share the vision and goals.
  2. Be a Great PR Agent
    To be a better boss, show how much you care about your people’s success. Sing your people’s praises in front of colleagues and superiors. This shows you’re committed to their advancement. Let them hear you giving praise, but don’t hold back if they’re out of earshot, either. If you speak highly of them in a private meeting with your own boss, mention it to them later. Your loyalty to them will increase their loyalty to you.
  3. Have Difficult Conversations
    Embrace difficult conversations, seeing them as an opportunity for growth. A great boss is a pro at conflict resolution, and puts his mediation skills to the test if coworkers have a problem to resolve. When he’s talking to people about improving their performance, he keeps a positive focus. His coaching skills guide them toward a better understanding of how they can strengthen their work.Next time you see a difficult conversation on the horizon, ask yourself how you can make it a positive experience. Seize upon the opportunities for growth, and reflect on how you can act as a supportive coach rather than just calling out mistakes. If you want to learn more, read Practical Tactics for Crucial Communication.
  4. Help People Envision Their Future
    Help your employees craft their career plans, envisioning the future of their dreams. An outstanding boss asks plenty of questions that help people figure out where they want to go in their careers. She shows she’s invested in her employee’s happiness. Her people look at her as a wise mentor rather than someone who’s there to criticize them.
  5. Focus on Work/Life Balance
    Don’t assume that people will come to you to talk about problems with work/life balance. They may feel ashamed that they’re feeling burned out and stressed, or worried about your response. Check in with employees about their work/life balance regularly. If they’re having an issue, brainstorm solutions with them, being as accommodating as you can reasonably be.

Tom agreed to work on growing in these ways over the next several months. As time went on, people stopped seeing him as just a supervisor and started seeing him as a valued mentor and coach. Their trust and loyalty skyrocketed, and they felt encouraged to think creatively and take risks. Knowing they had a great boss behind them, they felt there was nothing they couldn’t accomplish together. With these tips on how to become a better boss, you’ll get there soon too, even if you’re not well on your way already!

Whether you’re an experienced boss or an aspiring one, reach out to Joel for Leadership Coaching Program.

9 Tips to Effectively Manage your Online Reputation

“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”
~Warren Buffett~

Blake was about to submit his resume for several open positions. As he was Googling, he came across some unsettling articles on how bosses look at candidates’ social media. Before he applied, he decided to make sure his online reputation wasn’t working against him. And he was glad he did—he found old photos from wild college parties on his Facebook account, and some ancient blog posts sharing way too much detail about his personal life.

According to a 2017 CareerBuilder survey, 70% of bosses screen job candidates’ social media profiles before hiring them. In 2016, it was 60%—that’s an increase of 10 percentage points in one year. There’s a good chance your boss, or a future one, will Google you.

Don’t let them find pictures of you drunk at a party doing something stupid. Careful online reputation management will ensure they see only your best image. Here’s how to do it.

GO ON THE DEFENSIVE:

  1. Google yourself. The first step in cleaning up your online image is to find out what potentially embarrassing items are out there. Google yourself and see not only what sites come up, but what photos come up as well. If the sites and photos are harmless, then you’re in the clear. If not, you have some Internet housecleaning to do. Then sign up for Google alerts so every time your name appears online in the future, you’ll see it.
  2. Set your online privacy. If you have some less-than-professional photos on Facebook, be sure to use the privacy filters Facebook offers. You can set your photos so only you see them, only your friends and their friends see them, or only certain people see them, instead of the general public.Your preferences on Flickr and other photo-sharing sites should always be set to private as well, unless you have a good reason for making them public. Err on the conservative side with possibly inappropriate photos and limit them to only your closest friends. Better yet, remove them completely.
  3. Untag yourself. Oftentimes the most embarrassing photos aren’t the ones we’ve posted of ourselves; they’re the ones we can thank our fun-loving friends for. If your friends tag you in a photo, untag yourself. This way, even though that picture of you kissing a duck on New Year’s Eve is out there, it’s not associated with you specifically. The chance of someone even coming across it then drops exponentially.
  4. Request to have material removed. If your compromising blog post has been cross-posted on another site, you could ask the webmaster to remove it. If the site tends to post controversial commentary and scathing critiques, however, you might want to let sleeping dogs lie. Stirring the pot could bring unwanted attention.
  5. Reevaluate the groups you belong to. Unless you’re willing to risk potentially losing out on an employment opportunity for your beliefs, remove yourself from any borderline extreme or offensive groups. Again, this is the first impression an employer may have about you. Don’t turn them off with intolerance or morally or legally questionable groups.

TAKE INITIATIVE TO BUILD YOUR REPUTATION:

  1. Only make posts that align with your personal brand. Remember, you can’t unring the Internet bell if you post an inappropriate status update, comment, or blog post. Strong management of your online reputation means choosing every piece of content wisely. Before hitting “Post,” think twice about what you’re sending. Is it something that could be taken negatively if a future employer were to see it? Or does it develop a personal brand as someone who is a pro in their field?Remember, employers may see these posts before having a chance to get to know you. This could be your only chance to make a first impression. Make it positive! Share tips based on your expertise, showing you’re not only skilled but also generous with your knowledge. Share your accomplishments, too!
  2. Join new social media sites. Sign up for an account with Google+, LinkedIn, and other social media sites, especially those used for professional networking. If you already have such accounts, update your profile (you should be doing this at least once a year) and link to all your contacts in your network. Using Hootsuite will let you manage up to three social media profiles in the same place, pre-scheduling posts to save time.
  3. Start a website. There may be things on the Internet that you simply cannot clean up. However, you can create new material that will push these older items down the search engine results. Purchase a website with your name and create a positive site with exactly the brand you want to have at work. Start a blog, using your name, and post positive content that highlights your knowledge and abilities. Use strong SEO terms to boost your site in the search results. Fill the Internet with positive, current content about you, and the negative material will be less likely to be found.
  4. Get on Twitter. Following organizations and individuals that are respected in your field on Twitter will also help you build a positive online presence. Share useful articles on professional development and topics related to your field.

If your online reputation is really in dire straits, hiring an online reputation management professional might be in order. For most of us, however, a little legwork will do the trick. As you continue putting positive media out there, those old photos or posts will soon become a distant memory.

Here are 8 more tips on how to change the perception others have of you. As an executive coach, Joel Garfinkle is often hired to help leaders to learn how to manage their perceptions that others have of them so they can more easily move into higher levels of management.

Self-Defeating Behavior

“Those who say life is knocking them down and giving them a tough time are usually the first to beat themselves up. Be on your own side.”
~Rasheed Ogunlaru~

As Jeremy prepared to give performance reviews for his employees, he was struck by this realization: Most of their shortcomings had nothing at all to do with ability. Rather, they were engaging in various forms of self-sabotage. They were all bright enough and quite talented—often they astounded him with their insights—but they were tripping themselves up with self-defeating behavior.

Self-defeating behavior holds all of us back at some point. For some, it can sabotage promotions or careers. To overcome your self-defeating behavior, or to help your employees overcome theirs, first pinpoint what’s going on. These are some of the most common forms of self-sabotage—chances are, you’ve engaged in many of these at one time or another.

  1. Dominating Conversations
    You might think everyone’s listening raptly to your boundless ideas. Think again. If you’re talking over others and constantly directing the conversation, you’re not acting as either a good leader or team member.
  2. Avoiding Risks
    Many of us engage in catastrophic thinking about potential risks (and failure often isn’t as scary as we think). Steering clear of risks means you’ll never achieve sweeping successes. If you lack trust in your own judgement about what risks are worthwhile, bring your ideas to your supervisor or mentor before you dive in head-on.
  3. Procrastinating
    Most of us have procrastinated at some point. If you’re dreading a particular task, find ways to make it more manageable. If it’s complicated, make an outline showing how you’ll tackle it. If it’s tedious, decide to spend a fixed amount of time on it each day, and then move on.
  4. Shying Away from Difficult Conversations
    Difficult conversations don’t get easier if you put them off—in fact, the reverse is true. Try to look at them as an opportunity for growth. Go into them with a sense of empathy for the other person, truly trying to understand her perspective. You might be surprised at what you both learn. If you want to learn more, read Practical Tactics for Crucial Communication.
  5. Having Tunnel Vision
    Having tunnel vision is a common form of self-sabotage, say Phillip J. Decker and Jordan Paul Mitchell in Self-Handicapping Leadership. This means focusing so narrowly on one task or role that you can’t see the big picture. Think of the angry boss who is so preoccupied with finishing a task that he yells at everyone who approaches him. He doesn’t see that his attitude toward others has a lasting effect on relationships and workplace culture.
  6. Taking Work Home
    If you’re taking work home, you’re decreasing your mental clarity at work. You might think that the more time you put into work, the more you’ll get done. Wrong. There’s a point at which you need to recharge—give yourself that time.
  7. Not Delegating Enough
    Needing to do or control everything yourself wastes your time and tells people you don’t trust them. Micromanaging is one form of not delegating enough—because if you’re watching someone under a microscope, you haven’t truly delegated the work.
  8. Failing to Ask for Feedback
    Fear of feedback keeps people from growing. You might be afraid to hear others’ opinions about you, or you might fear being seen as someone who needs advice. However, everyone needs advice—even executives! Whatever your shortcomings are, remember that in a few short months you could be well on your way to overcoming them—if you ask for feedback.

These three steps will help you banish self-defeating behavior:

  • Identify your triggers. Know when the behavior arises, so you can consciously nip it in the bud.
  • Create systems of support. Figure out who you can turn to for advice or affirmation, and tell them what you’re working on overcoming.
  • Determine steps you can take to set a new pattern. Envision the behavior you want to engage in. Write notes for yourself as reminders.

Beware of one pitfall: Coping with one self-defeating behavior by replacing it with another, say Phillip and Mitchell. This tendency is all too common, they warn, giving the example of someone who avoids getting angry by steering clear of conflict. Asking for feedback from someone you trust can help make sure you’re truly addressing the behavior.

Jeremy helped his employees to grasp how they were getting in their own way. Together, they discussed steps to take in order to break out of these harmful patterns. For instance, the employee who was taking work home all the time decided to set more realistic deadlines. The employee who never took risks decided to run creative ideas by her team to see if they gained buy-in. Most importantly, by showing them that they aren’t the only ones who engage in self-defeating behavior, Jeremy helped foster a culture where employees can talk about these issues. As a result, they had a stronger system of support for overcoming them.

As an executive coach, Joel constantly is supporting his clients overcome self-defeating behaviors that are holding back their career.