{"objectType":14,"id":2011,"valid":true}
2017
    Nicole Dingley
Nicole Dingley
Customer Success Marketing Manager, Wiley

shutterstock_79342174.jpgTruth be told, I was a little nervous. Not because I was under prepared, but because I was presenting to a room full of presenters. The audience was a group of STEM college instructors, and I was delivering a closing address for an event. Besides a few technical glitches, things went smoothly, and the crowd seemed engaged. My presentation was by no means perfect, but overall, it was a success. 

 

As the applause died down, I felt my nerves subside. I unhooked my mic, took a deep breath, and started to walk away from the podium. And then, one of the attendees quickly approached me.

 

“Nice job today,” she said. “I’d like to offer you some feedback on your presentation. May I email it to you?” 

 

“Um…” I gulped, caught off guard. “Of course. Here’s my card.”   

 

I could feel my chest pounding, my face burning, my pulse raising. What was she going to say, and why couldn’t she just say it now? Had I completely misjudged the response to my address?

 

Feedback can be tough to receive under any circumstances. However, according to Dr. Mary Uhl-Bien, leadership expert and author of Organizational Behavior, it’s essential for professional growth and relationship building.

 

“Because feedback can be emotionally charged, people tend to avoid it,” Dr. Uhl-Bien says. “But feedback is actually a very caring act—one that is meant to help the person receiving it.”

 

So how do we best prepare ourselves for receiving feedback? Dr. Uhl-Bien offers the following tips:

 

  • Recognize how important it is for your development. Feedback gives us a glimpse into our blind spots—things we can’t see about ourselves but that the world perceives. Through this self-awareness, you can adjust and improve. 
  • Make it safe for others to give you feedback. Be aware of your body language and eye contact as you receive feedback. Do you LOOK like you are open to feedback, or do you have rigid posture, crossed arms, or averted eyes? 
  • Switch to listening mode. Since receiving feedback can be stressful, people often use talking as an avoidance or defense mechanism. Consciously try to listen and take in the message rather than strategize rebuttals or dodge the conversation. 
  • Manage your vulnerability. There are times when you might feel vulnerable or anxious about receiving feedback. It’s okay to tell the person delivering the feedback that you’re nervous about her input so that she might adjust her communication style.
  • Engage in effective feedback-seeking behaviors. When you recognize the powerful tool feedback can be for your personal development, it makes sense to seek it out on an ongoing basis. Don’t be afraid to ask questions like, “Can you tell me how that went?” or “What could I have done better?” to elicit the best response. 
  • Be truly grateful to those who give you feedback. Successful delivery of feedback requires a strong trust relationship between the giver and receiver. Those relationships are strengthened when the receiver is able to view feedback as a gift.
  • Know yourself. Sometimes feedback isn’t what you want to hear; this is where self-awareness comes into play. Consider the source’s motivations and reflect on them relative to your own experiences and perceptions. Most importantly, remember that all feedback—even hurtful or seemingly destructive—is important because it helps you understand your work environment and relationships. 

 

After the STEM event, I anxiously awaited an email from the attendee who had approached me. And yes, I prepared for an onslaught of unflattering points she could make about my message or delivery. When her email hit my inbox the next morning with the subject line “Feedback from Laurie,” I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was complimentary. She said the content of the presentation was valuable, suggested that I streamline my final segment, and introduced a new probing question I could use to engage the audience.

 

When I emailed her back to thank her for her thoughtful feedback, I was genuinely grateful; I saw almost immediately that her thoughts were spot-on. Then I set out to revise my presentation for subsequent deliveries, incorporating her suggestions throughout. And as I completed my final edits, I hit REPLY to Laurie’s original email, changing the subject line to, “Your feedback please!” I wanted her to comment on my revisions. Feedback, as it turns out, isn’t as scary as I thought. 

 

Dr. Mary Uhl-Bien, BNSF Railway Endowed Professor of Management Leadership at Texas Christian University, is the author of Organizational Behavior. She offers students the opportunity for real-time feedback through the book’s accompanying WileyPLUS course and ORION adaptive practice tools.

 

Image Credit: Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock

 

    Tara Trubela
Tara Trubela
Content Marketing, Wiley
MA, Columbia University

 

 

Millennials—also known as Generation Y and comprised of anyone born between 1980 and the early 2000s—make up about one-fourth of the U.S. population (that’s about 80 million people) and have a combined buying power of $1.3 trillion. Millennial walking.jpg

 

Particularly for marketers, millennials simply can’t be ignored. They have an impact on everything from advertising trends to buying decisions, mainly because this new generation of consumers is collectively defined by a set of traits and characteristics that seem to be spot-on. Countless researchers have studied the habits of millennials to find that they are first and foremost digital natives, spending about 25 hours per week online and owning multiple mobile devices such as smartphones and laptops.

 

According to Pew Research Social and Demographic Trends, millennials are also typically educated, collaborative, more ethnically and racially diverse than older generations, and identify themselves as liberal Democrats. They’re also less likely to purchase real estate due to extenuating circumstances that include the ripple effect of the Great Recession and subsequent underemployment.  They’re living with their parents longer and prefer the freedom of renting over home ownership.

 

However, does this mean that you won’t come across a millennial who’s politically conservative, driven to snag the corner office, and pays a mortgage? Logic tells us that not every millennial will fit into the same mold, and while it’s fine to take this generation’s collective “personality” into consideration, there is also merit in taking a step back and looking at the bigger picture.

 

Patrick Lencioni, bestselling author of The Ideal Team Player, challenges us to view millennials as individual human beings—not as a generational force of nature—in order to best bring them into the fold of an increasingly team-focused workforce. “There is a better way of thinking about hiring good people than focusing on a person’s generational stereotypes,” Lencioni says in his recent “Enough About Millennials” LinkedIn post.

 

Redefining Teamwork for the Millennial Generation

 

Lencioni points to three key factors that define an ideal team player: humility, hunger, and people smarts. Humble people tend to ask more questions, take a greater interest in others, and listen intently. Professionals who naturally exhibit “hunger” are the true embodiment of self-motivation and drive. And individuals with “people smarts” pick up on social cues and understand how to navigate group dynamics.

 

While these traits may not fall into the category of what typically characterizes a millennial, Lencioni says anyone can develop and apply them in the workplace. Regardless of generational delineations, we all have the ability to enhance our positive qualities and make a lasting contribution to our professions, communities, and the world at large.

 

What’s your view on how millennials contribute to today’s workforce? Share your thoughts in the comments below and don't forget to check out The Ideal Team Player.

 

Image credit: Gerber86/Getty Images

    Tara Trubela
Tara Trubela
Content Marketing, Wiley

OJO Images RF Getty Images.jpg

Imagine you landed your dream job, but when you actually start doing the work you love, you quickly come to realize that your manager’s core values are not in line with your own. Despite having a good salary, work-life balance, and a spot on the company softball team, how long do you think you’d be happy in this role?

 

Several outside factors can contribute to a negative work environment, but the number one cause of unhappiness at work is having an ineffective boss. A “bad boss” can be someone who’s either too busy or doesn’t care to support the team, dumps an unreasonable amount of work onto others, or micro-manages to the point of sending a clear message that she doesn’t trust anyone other than herself to get the job done. And who wants to work for someone who doesn’t have faith in them? Luckily, on the flip-side there are many highly effective leaders who are forward-thinking, energetic, uplifting, and in a word:  inspiring.

 

What Separates an Ineffective Boss from a Motivational Leader?

According to Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner, bestselling authors of The Leadership Challenge, 90% of direct reports say they feel that their work truly matters when their leaders show them that long-term interests can be realized by a shared vision. Kouzes and Posner explain, “Leaders help people see that what they are doing is bigger than they are and bigger, even, than the business.” So how do Kouzes and Posner suggest we work toward this greater goal?

Appeal to Common Ideals

For one, a leader needs to create a vision that resonates with all employees, challenges them to imagine new possibilities, and aligns with their value system. When leaders weave this higher-order vision into the fabric of the corporate culture, employees feel as if they are helping other people through their work, and this sense of meaning is the impetus that causes them to go the extra mile.

In fact, studies involving participants in 40 different countries found that a purpose-driven career results in an increase in overall productivity and engagement at work. Kouzes and Posner’s data also reveals that leaders who are seen as frequently or almost always demonstrating how upholding a common vision can help others achieve their own aspirations are perceived 16 times more favorably than managers who rarely exhibit this type of leadership behavior.

Animate the Vision 

Successful leaders need to bring their vision to life, and to do so, they must choose their words wisely. Language has the power to incite action, alter perceptions, and even raise public awareness, but you don’t have to possess the oratory prowess of Martin Luther King Jr. to motivate people. Start small by giving a certain task or team a name that invokes the type of behavior you want displayed. For example, if you want employees to act like a community, try using language like “common ground” or “home base” that evokes a feeling of togetherness.

 

Since the word “vision” has the verb “to see” at its root, consider supporting your ideas with pictures. Kouzes and Posner tell us, “For people to share a vision, they have to be able to see it in the mind’s eye.” This visual approach is similar to sharing vacation photos with a friend; the experience of looking through a photo album while listening to stories of another person’s travels is likely to increase the observer’s own desire to go on a trip.

 

Leaders are people who look on the bright side. Think about it: All of history’s “greats” have the uncanny ability to foster team spirit, promote optimism, and restore faith in others—even in bad times—all while taking positive strides towards the future.

 

Tell us about the leaders in your life—or perhaps you’re a great leader yourself! Please share your experiences and insights in the comments below.

 

Image Credit: OJO Images/Getty Images

    Tara Trubela
Tara Trubela
Content Marketing, Wiley
MA, Columbia University

Although the human brain weighs three pounds and makes up only two percent of total body weight, this small bundle of gray matter uses 20% of our daily energy and oxygen intake. Our brains shutterstock_141838129_258483714_258483715_256224451.jpgare comprised of about 100 billion neurons, or nerve cells, that communicate with each other through up to 1,000 trillion synapses. These synaptic connections transfer signals and information to other neurons through their branch-like dendrites. This amazingly complex neural system dictates everything we do, from making a cup of coffee to writing an email to remembering the names of our colleague’s kids.

 

Considering our massive brain power—signals can travel to and from the brain as fast as 268 mph—why do we still have those days when we feel like we’re lost in a mental fog? For one, today’s workplace is not conducive to optimal brain performance. Telecommuting, the flexibility of work time, and corporate globalization that warrants after-midnight conference calls with overseas colleagues all contribute to a work day that extends beyond the typical eight hours. Email, instant message, and mobile devices allow us to be accessible 24/7, unless we make a conscious effort to unplug.

 

High-stressed employees who function at this breakneck speed are likely to crash and burn. The reality and fallout of corporate burnout is getting companies to invest more in well-being programs that promote the physical, mental, and emotional health of their most notable workaholics (read: CEOs). But what if your company doesn’t offer an anti-burnout initiative for all employees? Dr. Jenny Brockis, author of >Future Brain: The 12 Keys to Create Your High-Performance Brain, suggests ways to keep stress under control and your mind sharp all day long:

 

  1. Do one thing at a time. Studies show that our brains can’t perform multiple mental tasks at the same time. In fact, multi-taskers are 40% less productive and 50% more likely to make a mistake. Dr. Gloria Mark of the University of California, Irvine, found that it takes a person 25 minutes, on average, to pick up a task again after an interruption. Brockis tells us that it’s best to manage cognitive energy in chunks of time, since our brains are designed to work in an ultradian rhythm that alternates between 90 minutes of high mental performance followed by 20 minutes of down time. Try repeating this cycle throughout the work day by engaging in about an hour and a half of intense concentration followed by a coffee break or a walk outside.

  2. Snack on brain-healthy food.
    Since brain neurons rely on glucose as their main source of energy, skipping meals can result in low glucose levels, which clouds thinking and saps cognitive energy. Brockis says, “We can recover cognitive stamina through the simple act of eating something to restore the glucose supply our neurons need to start firing again.” Carbohydrates found in fruits and vegetables supply the glucose our brains need to function well, so eating a banana or a handful of blueberries—which studies show can boost memory and concentration for up to five hours—will do the trick. 

  3. Get plenty of sleep.
    We spend one-third of our lives asleep, and most people need seven to eight hours of sleep a night for the brain’s neurons to rebuild and rejuvenate. A good night’s sleep has ample brain benefits from making clearer decisions and solving problems faster to stimulating creativity and increasing innovative thinking. Brockis states, “Reducing our sleep time to four or five hours a night over as little as one week reduces our cognitive capacity to the equivalent of a blood alcohol level of 0.01 percent.”

    Sleep deprivation costs American companies $63 billion a year in lost productivity, which is why some major organizations—including the Nike headquarters in Portland, Oregon, Ben & Jerry’s main office in Vermont, and Google’s corporate campus in Mountain View, California—are so committed to sleep that they have on-site nap rooms, pods, or quiet spaces for yoga and meditation. If you do get the chance to snag a snooze, make sure to keep it short (20 minutes) to avoid sleep inertia, which is that grogginess we feel after a deep sleep, and don’t nap after 3 p.m. to avoid messing with your nighttime sleep patterns.

 

How do you stay alert and productive in an increasingly distracted workplace? Please feel free to leave your comments in the section below.

 

Image credit: racorn/Shutterstock