Welcome to my site

J Barnett photo

Welcome to my site, iseejane. I focus on helping clients enhance their capacity for learning and change. At “iseejane” you’ll find strategies, reflection exercises and tips.

Want to learn more about SeeJane Consulting and the services I offer? Check my “What have I done lately?” post.

Want information about leaders whom I respect and resources I like to share? Go to my resources page.

You are welcome here. Visit anytime.

Jane       

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Tips for Managing Uncertainty

Do you ever find you’re going along and something happens that completely throws you off course? Suddenly, your mind is focused on the “what if” or the “how am I going to manage that?” Think of situations like a flight change, a sick dog on the morning of a big meeting, the car making an ominous noise; you know what I’m talking about.

I experience a mental and physical response in these situations. My mind immediately focuses on ways to solve the issue while my body goes straight to anxious mode.  My brain plays it cool while my stomach is a jittery mess. I want to get away from that anxious feeling as quickly as possible and will make quick decisions just to avoid the worry.

I wanted to try a new approach in these situations so I didn’t feel so overwhelmed. When something creates that anxious feeling, I take a deep breath and mentally say to myself, “Just be with it. You don’t have to fix it or solve it right away.” This pause helps me do a better job of assessing the situation, choosing an appropriate response, calming myself and learning from the experience. By being more mindful in challenging moments I can make thoughtful decisions rather than panicking and throwing solutions at something that may completely miss the mark.

The next time you find yourself in one of those gut-wrenching panics, take a moment, be with it, feel the anxious emotion and take control before problem-solving. You’ll find that those worried feelings become less overwhelming, that they pass more quickly and that your solutions are more well thought out andquestions person effective.

Practice Respect

respectThink about two people whom you respect. What characteristics or qualities do they exhibit?

How can you incorporate/practice some of these attributes in your daily interactions with colleagues, family and friends?

Paying attention to what you say and how you say it while considering how your words and actions may be perceived by others goes a long way to enhancing respect in your daily interactions.

Enhancing Respect in the Workplace

respectaI’ve had considerable interest in my Enhancing Respect in the Workplace session which helps people reflect on different communication styles and identifies effective ways to  initiate collaborative and respectful  conversations.

Here are 4 tips for enhancing conversations with those whose communication style differs from your own.

  1. Actively listen to the full message (Look at the person, focus on their words and non verbal communication).
  2. Pause before responding (Think about what the other person is really trying to say).
  3. Ask questions to ensure you understand (Did you mean? Have I got this right? I’m curious about something you said, So, what you’re saying is…?).
  4. When responding, think about what matters to them so that you find the key to common ground (personal, professional, social).

 

 

 

 

4 Steps for Rocking the Interview

rock star

Have you ever found yourself in an interview situation and you’ve drawn a complete blank when asked a question. Here’s a great strategy you can use to prepare for those challenging interview questions. STAR is a 4-part approach that helps you tell a story while highlighting your skills, knowledge and experience.

S – Situation  T – Thoughts  A – Actions  R – Results

Here’s how it works. Let’s say the interviewer asks you about a time when you took a leadership role while working on a project. Start by describing the situation or project you worked on and what you wanted to achieve. Explain your thinking or planning related to the approach you chose. Describe the actions you took to achieve the goals. List the results or impact you achieved based on your planning and actions and anything you learned from the situation that you would do differently next time. If you are able to include numbers and measures, this increases the effectiveness of your response.

Here’s a sample.

Over the past 6 months, I’ve worked on a skilled trade initiative with the goal of introducing skilled trades as an option for unemployed workers. By arranging site tours of our local manufacturing companies and hosting guest speakers, I was able to provide 15 people with an inside look at skilled trade opportunities in our community. This work was complemented by on-line assessment tools, quizzes, videos and podcasts so that the 15 attendees could short-list their preferred trades and arrange for job-shadowing opportunities with local businesses. This project resulted in 7 of the 15 registrants pursuing skilled trade opportunities and apprenticeships locally.

For other effective approaches, check out Alison Doyle’s article.

 

4 Tips for Starting Critical Conversations

Think of someone with whom you’d like to hold a critical conversation. Have you tried to have a conversation and it didn’t go well? Are you unsure how to start the conversation and so you avoid it? Here are 4 tips for initiating and managing a critical conversation in a respectful way.

1.Start with a permission based question like, “May I ask about the comment you made related to…?” or “I’d like to understand your approach to this. Would you tell me about…?”

2. Listen to the other person as if you know nothing and consider where they’re coming from. What is important to them? What do they value from a personal, social, professional perspective?

3. Ask questions, for example, “Can you help me understand why that’s important?”  or “Can you tell me what you meant when you said…?”

4. Clarify your understanding by saying something like, “So if I understand you correctly…” or “Let me see if I’ve got this right…”

Taking these steps can help you navigate a potentially difficult conversation in a thoughtful and open way. When people feel listened to and respected, they’ll share more openly and you’ll find that reaching compromise and consensus comes without a feeling of one person winning and one losingcomm.

 

 

Next up – Transition

n customer service

In June, I will transition to private consulting on a regular basis. This opportunity presents new challenges and opportunities.  It’s interesting that I seem to be working in reverse from a typical career trajectory. After leaving a full-time HR position in the city 18 years ago, I volunteered, raised boys, trained horses and dogs and consulted for small entrepreneurial businesses before going to work three days a week for a large healthcare organization for seven years. Now on the cusp of my next adventure, I’ll practice what I recommend to others:  take time to reflect, refocus and explore how to use my skills, knowledge and experience in a new way and when my next client call comes in, I’ll check out Brian Washburn’s blog for ideas

Press Pause

How do you learn the skill of pausing before responding, particularly when caught off guard? The ability to press “pause” in your mind enables you to access the creative and thoughtful response versus the first thing that comes to mind. Building Emotional Intelligence involves thinking about our responses and how what we say will be received by others. It requires practice, but is well worth it. The next time someone “shoots from the hip”, imagine yourself in the Matrix, leaning back, letting the comment fly over and then rebounding with a thoughtful and measured response.matrix01b.png

Service Excellence

Working with a proactive group of business owners and representatives, we discussed best practices in serving the customer, whether online or face-to-face.

n customer service card

Key features to serving your customer include involving clients in identifying options and solutions. Forbes.com highlighted 2016 customer service trends that are important to consider for any service industry and include the following:

Customers are smarter – they’ll compare you, not only in your industry, but also outside your industry to determine whether they are getting the service they expect.

Service is weather related – in October, IBM bought the Weather Company to gain access to data that is influencing when and where clients shop.

Word-of-mouth still influences shoppers and is where your marketing will make or break your business or service.

Clients like to access the internet to access answers, techniques and how-to’s – use it to your advantage.

Customers will pay more for good customer service – how do you stack up?

Millennials are your new customers – they are tech savvy, solution focussed and open to diverse forms of communication – engage them, they are your future.

 

 

Quick Change

change sign1   A recent request for technical support resulted in the impressively quick arrival of a new hard drive. Within 10 minutes, I transitioned from Windows XP to Windows 7. I was told to expect minimal work impact. Consider that the change occurred just as I was developing a workshop, creating PowerPoints, outlining a proposal and writing an email – all of which were time sensitive.

The technician left and I went back to work – well not really. I was overwhelmed. Nothing was where I expected it to be. I couldn’t locate my email folders with archived information, all contacts were lost, tailored menu bars and icons were gone and I didn’t know how to open or close emails, files or apps.

Completely flustered, my initial response was to panic – not really appropriate for someone who specializes in change leadership. When I realized it was going to take some time to navigate the new platform, I took a deep breath and explored the site and options. At the same time I was thinking, “What a great story for my next change workshop.”

Yes, it took me a little longer to accomplish my tasks. Yes, it required letting go of the familiar; there was no safety net, I couldn’t go back to the previous platform to see pages and menus that were familiar. I am fortunate to have a colleague who showed me key aspects of Windows 7 and who empathized having gone through a similar experience months earlier – thank you, Miranda.

It’s one thing to talk about change techniques and another to practice them when it hits home. Here are some reminders to help you transition more confidently:

Be compassionate with yourself – you won’t be able to do things as quickly or efficiehot air balloonntly when learning something new, but you’ll get there

Breathe – when anxious or stressed, we have a tendency to tense up and take shallow breaths which limits oxygen to our brains and impacts our thinking and problem solving

Look up – we focus and fixate when stressed and lose sight of the bigger picture – remember, this is a temporary situation, it will get better

Choose asset-based thinking – ask yourself, “What will I learn/gain from this change and how can I leverage it in terms of my ability to adapt more quickly and effectively when dealing with future change challenges?”

Change is a process not an event and we all get there if we remember to practice these steps.

True Grit

true gritThink about a recent change in your life, whether personal or professional. Where would you place yourself on the following 5-F continuum?

Fascination    Flow    Freeze    Flight     Flight

Based on Joanne Reid’s work, our range of reactions to change varies depending on our past experience.

Angela Lee Duckworth’s TedTalk “The Key to Success – Grit” notes that those of us with the ability to perservere, who have stamina for the long run, stick with it’ness and who think of life as a marathon versus a sprint, tend to be more successful and resilient when it comes to change.

In my workplace, change is quick and constant. My role is to support staff in manoeuvering and adapting within this environment as they provide exceptional care to others.

Recognizing where we fall in the 5F continuum helps us identify the steps that move us forward. If you’re a change agent (fascination) change is welcome. For others, recognizing fears and naming them  (anger, sadness, anxiety) related to change and then pressing forward requires courage and resilience.

Check out Judith Sills’ November/December 2014 article in Psychology Today, Letting Go, that pairs thinking with action to move forward during change.

Mindfulness and empathy for self are key. Start with where you’re at, acknowledge your feelings related to change, identify your fears and then take a small step to build your grit and build on each success. Small steps can include trying a new item on the menu at your favourite restaurant, taking a new driving route to work, starting a work task that you’ve been putting off,  adding a new challenge to your exercise routine, actively listening before stating your opinion or making a comment where in the past you’ve been quiet. Building grit and resilience starts with small, successful wins.

Make 2015 your year of building “true grit”.