Beiträge

Book review: The happy mind

Before I read the book “The Happy Mind”, by Kevin Horsley and Louis Fourie, I already knew that happiness comes from the self and that the building blocks of happiness are things that have no physical form. Things like love, acceptance and beliefs are what give or take away happiness – ultimately. Subtitled “A simple guide to living a happier life starting today”, this book is not the type of book you would expect us to review. But, when trainers talk amongst each other at Target, about how the training went, we sometimes talk about the person(s) on the verge of a burnout – one of the clearest signs of unhappiness. The phrases “the doctor told me to take it easy” and “if only I could switch my head off on Friday” are often uttered during our stress- and self-management training sessions. A happy mind is a wonderful thing and we all deserve happiness. At home, at work and everywhere else. For that reason, this book is exactly the type of book that deserves our attention.

The first three chapters

With “The Happy Mind”, the authors want to “present you with valuable insights and create the private intellectual space for you to consider the subject of personal happiness, and of course to try and convince you that it is within your reach.” Throughout the book there are lots of questions for the reader to answer. Even if you read only half of it, you will have enough material to help you examine your personal happiness, to define what it looks / should look like and lots of things you can do to get your mind happy.

The search for happiness

The general perception is that most people view happiness as the result of something exceptional that should happen to them. They believe happiness is an external phenomenon that crosses your path and changes your life for the better, Kevin and Louis state in the first chapter. Some people rely on an if-then chain reaction (if this happens, I will be happy) to obtain happiness. This leaves them searching for secret doors to happiness, time travelling their way through the day to a happier time and place, and looking at others to give them the happiness they deserve.

Happiness is…

Genuine happiness is a ‘now and here’ skill, the authors write in chapter 2. Happiness exists in the present, not as an accumulation of highs, but as a by-product of how you live your life. According to the authors (they mention research several times in the book but leave it unsourced), happy people share nine common qualities:

  1. They think in a different way
  2. They assume full accountability for their circumstances
  3. They enjoy simple things more
  4. They own up to their future
  5. They are passionately engaged in what they do for a living
  6. They invest in their overall wellness
  7. They have constructive relationships
  8. They harness an optimistic world view
  9. They accept that happiness is a day-to-day effort

From asking “what can I do about this?”, instead of “why does this always happen to me?” to being constructive and decisive, to remaining positive, the chapter goes into more detail for each of the qualities.

The origin of unhappiness

On the other side of the scale, there are the unhappy people. Being unhappy is “not about having more downs than ups. It is about going through life forever desiring something else. It’s a state of lasting discontentment, for different reasons at different times.” Unhappy people have developed destructive thinking patterns, they place blame and are passive bystanders in their own lives. The list goes on – think the exact opposite of the above list to begin with.

‘Why are some of us unhappy?’ It’s our old brain, sociologists claim. We’re unable to control primitive instincts. When we are faced with rejection (not being enough) and scarcity (not having enough), we could be excluded – our old brain tells us. Our “present-day” brain is not in charge when we are faced with such fears. The primitive brain takes over, and it’s fight or flight.

Chapter 4

The next 60+ pages are “a bouquet of hints” for the reader. There are short, individual chapters with tips and advice and if you ask me, the old farmer (p.62) is a smart man. It’s thorough enough though sometimes repetitive. This part of the book is clearly intended for you to take what you want from it – whatever works for you. If you want to have a happy mind and you want to work on that, then here are some ingredients. It’s an important part of the book. However, I found that the pages are difficult to work with for a reader. Luckily, my mind is happy pretty much all the time.

In conclusion

As a passionate happiness practitioner, I was looking forward to reading this book. My ‘search’ for happiness took me along a completely different path, and I was interested to learn more about the thoughts and ideas of the authors. “This book was not meant to be a scientific masterpiece nor an empirical research document. It had a simple aim – to draw your attention to the dynamics of personal happiness”, are the opening words of the final chapter. Even so, for me, the book didn’t go deep enough into its own subject matter but I found there was interesting food for thought on a large number of pages. As I mentioned before, there is no list of sources to refer to when they mention research (pity).

Then again, I don’t really care about that when the book is clearly a very positive contribution to the creation of more happiness. We all deserve to have a happy mind. With a happy mind, we can achieve more. A happy mind is not stressed all the time. A happy mind is forgiving, a happy mind accepts. Sharing happiness creates happiness. Where there is happiness, there is love. Where there is love, there’s no hate. I like the sound of that. Don’t you?


For more information

 

 

Buchbesprechung: 5 tolle Bücher zur Leistungssteigerung Ihrer virtuellen Teams

Wie wir von vielen unserer Teilnehmer in unseren virtuellen Teamseminaren gehört haben, sind die Herausforderungen von virtuellen Teams ähnlich wie die von Face-to-Face-Teams, nur  nochmal vergrößert. Hinzu kommen neue Herausforderungen, wie z.B. die Auswirkungen des fehlenden sozialen Kontakts, der die Teams zusammenhält, oder die Anpassung der richtigen Technologie an die richtige Aufgabe. Die unten aufgeführten Quellen helfen uns weiterhin, uns auf praktische Lösungen für die realen Probleme und Möglichkeiten virtueller Teams zu konzentrieren. Wir hoffen, dass sie Ihnen auch in einer virtuellen Umgebung zum Erfolg verhelfen.

VTchecklists

Free eBook download

Virtual Team Success

von Darleen Derosa & Richard Lepsinger

Dieses forschungsbasierte Buch ist eine Zusammenstellung von praktischen Ansätzen für virtuelles Teaming. Das Buch enthält eine Reihe hilfreicher Checklisten und Best Practices, die als Leitfaden für virtuelle Teamleiter und Teilnehmer dienen können. Der Verhaltensfokus von Virtual Team Success wird Ihnen helfen, Probleme zu überwinden, bevor sie auftreten, und zwar mit einer sachlichen Beratung, die auf echtem Erfolg basiert. Wenn Sie die Investition von Zeit, Energie und Ressourcen zur Verbesserung Ihrer virtuellen Teams rechtfertigen müssen, hilft Ihnen dieses Buch dabei. Die Prozesse zur Lösung gemeinsamer Probleme in virtuellen Teams sind ein Highlight.

Mastering Virtual Teams: Strategies Tools and Techniques that Succeed

von Deborah Duarte & Nancy Snyder

Die Autoren von Mastering Virtual Teams haben Best Practices, Tools und Techniken aus der Teamtheorie und dem Informations- und Wissensmanagement auf die Herausforderungen virtueller Teams angewandt. Sie haben die Informationen in drei leicht verständliche Bereiche gegliedert: Virtuelle Teams verstehen, erstellen und beherrschen. Ihre große praktische Erfahrung als Professoren, Berater und Wirtschaftsführer prägen den “how to”-Ansatz des Buches. Das Buch bietet ein Toolkit für Teilnehmer, Führungskräfte und Manager virtueller Teams. Praktische Werkzeuge, Übungen, Einsichten und Beispiele aus der Praxis helfen Ihnen, die Dynamik der virtuellen Teambeteiligung mit Richtlinien, Strategien und Best Practices für interkulturelles und funktionsübergreifendes Arbeiten zu meistern. Statt einfach nur “Vertrauen aufbauen” zu sagen, geben uns die Autoren beispielsweise drei allgemeine Richtlinien für den Aufbau von Vertrauen in einer virtuellen Umgebung an. Kein Wunder, dass diese Faktoren auch in zusammengesetzten Teams funktionieren. Sie haben eine CD-Rom mit der dritten Ausgabe beigefügt – eine einfache Möglichkeit, die Checklisten und hilfreichen Dokumente aus dem Buch auszudrucken.

Where in the World is My Team: Making a Success of Your Virtual Global Workplace

von Terrence Brake

Where in the World is My Team: Making a Success of Your Virtual Global Workplace folgt den Heldentaten von Will Williams, der seinen Weg in einen virtuellen Arbeitsplatz und das Leben eines jungen Berufstätigen in London geht. Als Erzählung, die die Best Practices virtueller Organisationen und Teams verwebt, hilft das Buch dem Leser, Schritt für Schritte, Seite für Seite mitzugehen und Where in the World is My Team: Making a Success of Your Virtual Global Workplace nicht nur als Ressourcendokument zu verwenden. Das Buch ist weit mehr als nur ein unterhaltsamer Blick auf das digitale Leben. Der sehr detaillierte Anhang des Buches bietet recherchierte Unterstützung für die in der Geschichte hervorgehobenen virtuellen Strukturen und Werkzeuge. Die 6 C’s der globalen Zusammenarbeit von Brake bieten einen logischen Rahmen für die Bedürfnisse effektiver virtueller Teams.

Leading Virtual Teams

Harvard Business School Publishing

Leading Virtual Teams ist eine schnelle und einfache Anleitung für diejenigen, die nicht überzeugt werden müssen, ihre virtuellen Teams zu verbessern, sonder lediglich Tipps dafür brauchen. Das Buch behandelt die Grundlagen für diejenigen, die ihre ersten Erfahrungen mit führenden virtuellen Teams machen. Es gibt Hinweise auf verwandte Harvard Business Publikationen, eine Erwähnung des Harvard Erweiterungskurses zum Thema Managing Virtual Teams, der virtuell unterrichtet wird, und einen kurzen Test als Check-on-Learning.

The Big Book of Virtual Team Building Games

von Mary Scannell & Michael Abrams

The Big Book of Virtual Team Building Games füllt einen aktuellen Entwicklungsbedarf für viele virtuelle Teams mit Spielen, die den Aufbau von Beziehungen, die Lösung von Problemen und Teamfähigkeiten fördern. Die Spiele sind so konzipiert, dass sie mit verschiedenen virtuellen Teamplattformen gespielt werden können und sind geschickt nach Tuckmans Stadien der Teamentwicklung – forming, storming, norming, performing, sowie dem zusätzlichen Stadium transforming – angeordnet. Jedes Spiel wird ausführlich mit der ungefähren Zeit für die Fertigstellung beschrieben. Beachten Sie, dass Teams mit Mitgliedern, die eine Nicht-Muttersprache verwenden, etwas länger dauern können, als vorhergesagt.

 

3 thought-provoking business books from 2016 that you may have missed

Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World

Cal Newport

Do you ever feel that you can’t get any work done because of the countless emails, calls, updates and web-meetings? Do you feel that you spend all day “communicating” without getting things done properly? Then this hugely topical book is for you.

In Deep Work Cal Newport argues that one of the key skills for productivity and success in such a “connected age” is the ability to focus  on demanding tasks. He then brings this to life with science, stories, anecdotes and examples. Finally he then shares 4 “rules” for building habits and transforming your approach-

  1. Work deeply
  2. Embrace boredom
  3. Quit social media (see below)
  4. Drain the shallows

Check out the author’s excellent and generous blog to get a quick overview of the ideas.  Then put your smart phone in a drawer, turn off the TV, pour yourself a glass of wine and make the time to read it.

 

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Managing in the Gray: Five Timeless Questions for Resolving Your Toughest Problems at Work

Joseph L. Bardacco

In contrast to the previous “21st century” recommendation, the core themes of this book are timeless and universally applicable regardless of your situation. Every manager needs to accept and work with ambiguity.  Do you support your manager when you know the decision is terrible – and your team know it too?  Do you promote a driven and successful team leader who has regularly rubs people up the wrong way?

This book offers five deceptively simple questions to help you navigate through “gray areas”.

The questions are …

  • What are the net, net consequences?
  • What are my core obligations?
  • What will work in the world as it is?
  • Who are we?
  • What can I live with?

These 5 questions provide an ethical compass. To quote the author “When you face a gray area problem at work, you should work through it as a manager and resolve it as a human being.”

Certainly worth your time, and it also provides an excellent framework for teams, talent programs and management training programs.

How To Have A Good Day: Harness the Power of Behavioural Science to Transform Your Working Life

Caroline Webb

And finally, our third suggestion is perfect for December. As the year comes to an end. many of us will be reflecting on what we’ve achieved (or not), how we’ve achieved it, and what we should be doing more or less of.  In How to Have a Good Day, Caroline Webb shares findings from behavioural economics, psychology and neuroscience and then shows how you can build on big “scientific” ideas to transform the quality of your everyday life.  The book is divided into seven areas

  • Priorities
  • Productivity
  • Relationships
  • Thinking
  • Influence
  • Resilience
  • Energy

And concludes with a transfer-oriented “Making it stick”.

Speaking openly, it can be a heavy read. There’s a lot of research and findings shared, BUT there’s a clear focus on your working life too.  Don’t let the “self-help” moniker put you off reading this – the stories and examples avoid slipping into fantasy or “business book bullshit”.

The author’s excellent blog is also well worth your time.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

Finally, I know we’ve shared our 3, but its Christmas so check out “HBR’s 10 Must Reads 2017: The Definitive Management Ideas of the Year from Harvard Business Review”.  The summary of “Collaborative Overload” by Cross, Rebele and Grant connects back with Cal Newport’s Deep Work and is hugely relevant to anyone working in virtual teams. Plus check out the  excellent summary of Erin Meyer’s “Getting to Si, Ja, oui, Hai and Da” if you need to negotiate across cultures.

 

Book review: How to win friends and influence people

I’m sure a number of you have either heard of, or read, Dale Carnegie’s book “How to Win Friends and Influence People”.  It has been in circulation since 1936 and there is good reason for that. I know a lot of people say “Ah, that’s too American rah! rah! for me.” or “That is a bunch of self-help nonsense and should only be read by depressed salespeople!”  The fact is that the book is rather “human”. A lot of what is said applies to basic, human interaction and feelings that we all experience each day. That is the main reason this book has been around for so long as it relates to those both inside and outside of the business world.  Sure, there are some points made that are a bit of a stretch, and some that aren’t universally applicable, but once you sift through those there are a lot of great ideas from which business people can benefit.

Some interesting points from the book

There are many other great points in the book that relate to daily business situations. Here are just a few. (In this “Secret to Success” download, there’s a full overview of Dale Carnegie’s 30 principles from “How to Win Friends and Influence People”, and the principles from “How to Stop Worrying and Start Living”.)

Talk in terms of other people’s interests

People love to talk about themselves.  Ask a few questions to get people talking about what they like, attentively listen, and then you will be surprised at how much they like you.  Do a little research on what the other person you are trying to influence likes and show some genuine interest before diving into the business issue.

Don’t criticize

It is easy to immediately tell someone they are wrong when they make a mistake.  This may lead to resentment or possibly hatred towards you.  Next time, take a minute to try to understand where they are coming from and why they see things the way they do.  Don’t point out your colleagues mistakes each time, but ask some questions and allow the person to come to the conclusion that it could be a bit better on their own.

Say a person’s name

Everyone likes to hear their name. Take time to learn people’s names and remember them no matter how “unimportant” they may seem to your immediate needs.  By knowing people’s names and saying hello in your client’s office, it could help you close the big deal as you would be surprised how valuable the opinions of others in a company are.

Smile

I know, you don’t want to walk around smiling all the time because you will feel fake and uncomfortable.  But try it a few more times a day when you normally wouldn’t and see how others respond.  You may be surprised.

Begin in a friendly way

Many times we start a discussion, call, or email with the issue we are trying to solve.  Take some time and make some small talk or say something complimentary before conducting business.  It will take people off the defensive and make it easier to have difficult conversations.  Next time you want to file a complaint or negotiate a lower price, reiterate the positives you have experienced with that company before asking for something.  Many people will be happy to help someone they perceive as being friendly and not aggressive.

Admit if you are wrong quickly

This is hard to do at times, but it goes a long way in getting the other person to see where you are coming from and then softening their stance when it comes to a disagreement.  If you know your boss is angry about a mistake you made, don’t try to come up with excuses but instead come right out and admit the fault and what you should have done.  They will respect you for it and most likely be less hard on you.

 

 

 

8 great books for busy managers you may have missed in 2015

It seems as though 2016 has only just started, but it’s February already! We know you’re really busy, so we thought we’d help out by reviewing 8 of the best management books from 2015 for you. If any of the summaries grab you, why not read the whole book?

1001meetingsphraseslargeThis (Target) eBook

1001 Meetings phrases is a useful toolkit of phrases for the most typical meeting situations you find yourself in…

 

Team Genius: The New Science of High-Performing Organizations (13 Aug 2015)

Rich Karlgaard and Michael S. Malone

Did you know that actually the right team size is usually one fewer that most managers think they need? And that “chemistry” doesn’t equate to team success? Can you spot the right moment when one team needs to be dissolved to create another very different team? And are your teams really leveraging multicultural values as a strength?

Written for today’s managers, Team Genius reviews and explains the latest scientific research into how teams behave and perform and uses simple case studies and examples to bring it to life in a way that any manager can relate to.. It shows that much of the accepted wisdom about teams just doesn’t hold true – and then goes on to outline “new truths” and how to achieve them.

Stronger: Develop the Resilience You Need to Succeed (1 Sept 2015)

George Everly Jr, Douglas Strouse and Dennis McCormack

If you get turned off when you see the author is a “great business school professor”, “world-famous CEO” or “top management thinker” then this might be the book for you. Everly, Jr.is an expert in disaster mental health, and McCommack is a former Army psychologist and was one of the first original Navy Seals.

Drawing heavily on the psychology employed by US Navy Seals plus other examples from all walks of life, this book focuses on how we can each build our resilience and be “stronger” when everything seems to be falling apart. More importantly the book outlines how we need to practice building up our resilience (psychological body armor) before we actually need it. The five key factors the book explores are

  • Active optimism
  • Decisive action
  • Moral compass
  • Relentless tenacity
  • Interpersonal support

Each area is outlined in detail with case studies and research. A quick warning though – being written by 3 psychologists, it’s not an airport quick-read.

Leadership: Essential Writings by Our Greatest Thinkers (9 Oct 2015)

Elizabeth D. Samet (editor)

When you think about it, it’s amazing that this book hasn’t been complied sooner – management and leadership books aren’t a 20th century creation. General fiction, biographies, great literature etc have reflected core management and leadership questions for centuries.

This anthology draws our attention to 102 stunningly diverse extracts from fiction, speeches, anthropology, letters, songs, and even the odd occasional poem! The extracts from Machiavelli, Macbeth, Ghandi, Didion, Ovid, Melville, Mandela, Lao Tzu, Orwell plus many many more all invites us to step back and think about leadership. Excellent reading for just before you take the dog for a long walk.

Bridging the Soft Skills Gap: How to Teach the Missing Basics to Today’s Young Talent (7 Oct 2015)

Bruce Tulgan 

“They just don′t know how to behave professionally.”, “They know how to text but they don′t know how to write a memo.”, “They don′t know how to think, learn, or communicate without checking a device.”

Today′s new young workforce (also known as Millenials or generation Z,) has so much to offer – new technical skills, new ideas, new perspectives, new energy. All great stuff- but Tulgan also argues that research shows that employers across industries feel that too many Milennials have weak soft skills. As a few of the many case studies outline “they only want to do what they want to do” and ”his technical knowledge far surpassed anyone else in the firm … but his communication made him seem so immature”.

Renowned expert on the Millennial workforce Bruce Tulgan offers concrete solutions to help managers and HRD professionals alike teach the missing basics of professionalism, critical thinking, and followership. The book includes 92 step–by–step “lesson plans” designed for managers to use, and these include “take home” exercises, one-on-one discussion frameworks and training room activities.

In a nutshell, I can’t imagine a more complete or practical book than this.

Leading Across New Borders: How to Succeed as the Center Shifts (21 Sept 2015)

Ernest Gundling and Christi Caldwell 

Leading a global organization is no longer just a big businesses challenge.  Even small company owners can be leading a virtual team that includes people from all over the world – and just yesterday we spoke with a HR manager with 60 employees in 11 countries and 23 cities.

This books aims to guide you through this new business environment. It features stories from people in critical roles around the world, advice based on practical experience, and shares new research which outlines the distinctive challenges of leading in a virtual and multicultural environment … and cultural awareness isn’t enough! Happily the book also includes strategies, tools and tips for working across cultures, leading virtual teams, running a matrix team, integrating an acquisition and developing the agility needed to innovate in such an environment. Personally I found it aimed more at larger mature organizations, but still worth a read … and we integrate many of the elements into our Working in Virtual teams training.

Work Rules!: Insights from Inside Google That Will Transform How You Live and Lead (2 April 2015)

Laszlo Bock

Despite receiving 1,5000,000 job applicants every year, Google spends twice as much on recruiting as comparable companies. Why? Because top performers are usually doing very well where they are and not looking to move. So Google works to identify these performers and cultivate their interest. But while Google spends considerably more on recruitment than most companies it also spends considerably less on training, believing top performers need less training.

Laszlo Bock, Head of People Operations, joined Google when it had just 6000 “googlers”, and in this book he shares the different recruiting and talent management practices Google use and have used. Although sometimes bordering on self-congratulation, the book is very much-action oriented with each chapter outlining a clear to do – Become a founder, Don’t trust your gut, Why everyone hates performance management and what we decided to do about it, Pay unfairly.

Triggers: Creating Behavior That Lasts – Becoming the Person You Want to Be (19 May 2015)

Marshall Goldsmith and Mark Reiter

Have you ever wondered why you become so irritated around a specific colleague? Or questioned why your communication skills fall apart when presenting to a certain team? Goldsmith is an executive coach, and in this book he examines the triggers that can derail us – and how we can become the person we want to be and stay on track.

Perhaps common sense, but our reactions don’t occur in a vacuum. They are usually the result of triggers in our environment—whether this be specific person, situation or environment. .But how do we actually change ourselves? Knowing what to do doesn’t mean we actually do it, right? This book outlines how we can overcome the trigger points in our lives, and actually change to become the person we want to be, Drawing on executive coaching experience the authors use a simple “silver bullet” approach – daily self-monitoring, using active questions which focus on the our effort (and not the outcomes).

Act Like a Leader, Think Like a Leader (20 Jan 2015)

Herminia Ibarra

Do you wish you actually had the time and the space to be the manager and leader you know how to be? Introducing the idea of “outsights”, Herminia Ibarra, -an expert on professional leadership and development at INSEAD — shows how managers and executives at all levels can make an impact by making small but crucial changes in their jobs, their networks, and themselves. She argues that managers and leaders need to act first then to think – and to use the “outsights” resulting from the experience as a basis for meaningful individual growth and enabling of people and organizations. Joe Kaeser, CEO of Siemens AG. summed it up nicely as “transforming by doing”

The book is full of engaging self-assessments and plenty of practical advice so you can actually build a plan of action. It can be a bit heavy going but stick with it.