Fighting the Fire with Resilience By Jane Boucher

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Profound moments can happen when we least expect them. Think of one of yours.

During an exhausting flight last week from Dayton, Ohio, to Missoula, Montana, I found myself spending the night in Denver due to flight delays.

What was supposed to be a 6 hour trip had taken 30 hours. But all’s well that ends well. I was welcomed by the smiling administrator, Mikel Robinson and her assistant, Kim Skufca. I had arrived just in time to present my speech entitled:

Resilience: The Ultimate Leadership Skill — How to Build it in Yourself and Others

Several years ago, I was asked to participate in a think tank on the subject of resilience. It was sponsored by Dr. Bart Barthelemy’s Wright Brothers Institute to help understand our returning veteran’s upsurge in suicide. Little did I know what an impact that experience would have on my life.

I have always been an optimistic person and even though–like most people–I have experienced my fair share of life’s challenges, I still have a core belief that everything is ultimately going to be okay. I feel blessed to have this core belief as I know many people who do not. At a young age, when faced with major career decisions, I was not afraid to take certain risks…like starting my own business. Failure was never an option. So for these many years, I have been fortunate to teach and meet incredible people from all over the world. In this year alone, I have taught everyone from Native Americans to CPAs to Fire Chiefs.

My training specialties have become….Building High Performance Work Teams and now…Resilience: The Ultimate Leadership Skill. When I’m not teaching, I am coaching people how to design their lives so that they are fulfilling and have meaning. In fact, one of the most important habits of resilient people is that they live with a sense of purpose. Accenture, the management consulting company, says that 71% of Senior Executives cite resilience as a key factor in deciding which employees to retain.

So when Bob Drake, a CFO in one of my Western CPE classes and an administrator for the Tri- Lakes Volunteer Fire Department in East Helena, Montana asked me to be a keynote speaker at the 2018 Montana State Fire Chiefs Convention, I was thrilled to accept. The keynote was about the power of having a resilient attitude even in the very difficult situations which firefighters face every day.

When the world is filled with so much bad news, it is refreshing to meet a group of people whose core values include: integrity, commitment, knowledge and respect. It was good to hear of their brotherhood and sisterhood, of how they care for each other and how they run into danger…sometimes giving the ultimate sacrifice. On Friday night at the banquet and awards ceremony, I was moved when I heard bagpipes and the bell ringing in memory of the fallen firefighters. Seldom do we stop and really think about the sacrifices that others have made for us and seldom do we think about the resilience it takes to keep on keeping on.

Somehow, resilient people are able to keep their eyes on the goal and they just don’t know how to give up. They understand that their decisions determine their destiny. Dr. Dan Amen says that when a person lives through a tragedy, adapts and grows from it, it adds an extra healthy 7 years to their life. He calls it “Post-traumatic growth”.

Resilient people understand that there are often opportunities in their adversities. Every problem we have can have a gift for us in its hands if we don’t give up too soon. Resilient people also understand the importance of getting better and not bitter.

The 7 Habits of resilient people include:

1. Living with a sense of purpose
2. Hanging out with positive people
3. Thinking long term
4. Finding healthy ways to recharge
5. Keeping things in perspective
6. Quickly forgiving themselves and others
7. Squelching the negative voices in their heads

I believe that resilience can be learned. What started out as a very bad trip to Montana, ended up being a major blessing. Thank you, Mikel and Bob, for one of the most memorable teaching experiences of my life. You and your Fire Chiefs have renewed my faith in humanity.

Jane Boucher is a Master Business Coach and Certified Speaking Professional

jane@janeboucher.com

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Clay Shooting and Eye Dominance

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What is eye dominance?

The human brain relies on both the dominant eye, and dominant side inner ear, to make subtle corrections in balance as a person sits upright, stands and walks. The fluid levels in the inner ear stimulate membranes that tell the brain when the head changes position and the dominant eye is used to look at the horizon in order to correct the balance of the upright body as it moves.

A simple description would be that the dominant eye is focused more on the distance and the non-dominant on closer up items.

Approximately 70% of the population are right eye dominant (and this mostly corresponds to their handedness). However, it is possible to be:

Cross Dominant – right handed and left eye dominant (or vice versa)
Central Vision – neither eye dominant
Slight dominance – where there is near, but not full dominance

Why is this important for Clay Shooting

It’s very important because it effects how we aim the gun. Lining up an eye so that it sights down the barrel correctly is a basic premise for consistent shooting. If there is a crossing of dominance with handedness and eye, it may lead to a number of different problem. For example:
Dropping the head across the gun
Lets assume you are right handed and left eye dominant. The temptation will be to mount the gun low in the shoulder to enable to head to move across the gun to sight with the left eye – not a good look!
Having the head correctly in line but shooting constantly to the side of the target
If this is happening, the shooter will have a dominating view along the left hand side of the barrel as opposed to looking directly over the top of the gun to the foresight.

How do you test for eye dominance

The good news is that testing eye dominance can be a simple process, particularly if there is a strong preference for one or the other.

Point

Pick an object that is over 20 metres away and stand square onto it. Keep both eyes open. With your hands at your side, point the index finger of your non-dominant hand towards the ground. Without taking your eyes off the object in the distance, raise your hand and point directly at the object. Your finger should be a blur in your vision. Then close your left eye and check if you are pointing at the object. Then close your right eye and check where its pointing now.
If you are right eye dominant, you should be pointing directly at it with your left eye closed and off to the right of the object when you close your right eye.
The opposite will be true if you are left eye dominant.
If you have central vision, you should be off a little to either side with each eye!

How to overcome

Whilst we attempt to get everyone clay shooting with both eyes open as it gives us better depth perception and periphery vision, the technique isn’t suitable for everyone. This is especially true if they are just starting out.
A simple solution is to keep one eye shut when shooting. This enables people to stick with their handedness side rather than having to think about shooting left handed for example.
There are many people out there, however, who physically are unable to close one of their eyes without having to close them both! This is where modified glasses are useful. It enables the shooter to keep both eyes open but takes away the possibility of the dominant eye taking over.

For regular shooters who have never tested their eye dominance and have mixed results when shooting, this simple test may help therm enormously. When we do our lessons, the simple eye dominance test is something we do with all our shooters and some are often surprised by the results!

Contact us for your clay shooting experience NOW on 01425 629327

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Does Team Building Boost Productivity?

We would argue that team building exercises aren’t only for bringing a team together; they’re essential for the success of your business.

We’ve all heard the saying “no man is an island” this is certainly true when it comes to running a business. This is why it’s so important to keep your whole team working productively together. The question is – how do you do that? Part of the answer is to incorporate team building exercises into your corporate routine. It’s fair to say that the small-business owner who can build a culture around cooperation and collaboration enjoys more success.
Effective team building exercises, (it’s why we are called Team Building Solutions!), can help cultivate trust, support and respect among the group, positively affecting the work environment. These exercises can also help to shine a light on the strengths and weaknesses of participants, which gives management a better idea of job fit.

When you may need to use team building exercises
We are sure that most if not all small-business owners know when it’s business is not progressing as well as it could. When you see persistent problems—such as decreased productivity, conflict, lack of cooperation or involvement, hostility, apathy and complaints about favouritism—it’s in your best interest to look at team building as a way to restore camaraderie and a positive work environment.

Determine your team building needs
Let’s be honest – team building exercises aren’t effective in a vacuum – that advice comes directly from a company that provides these exercises! In order for your company to benefit from these exercises, you must be clear on exactly what you’re trying to accomplish. Identify your reasons for the team building exercises and share them with your employees.

What are some of the most common reasons?
The reasons we most often hear from our clients include a need to improve communication, develop creativity and build trust and team work between different departments. Once you know the qualities you want to encourage, you can choose the team building exercises designed to accomplish your goal.

5 Categories for team building exercises
There are five main categories of team building exercises that we can focus on. They consist of activities that build communication, promote problem solving and decision making, encourage adaptability and the ability to plan, work to build trust, and develop a cooperative spirit. The team building exercises that promote these various skills are meant to be enjoyable and instructional.
Depending on what you want to improve on your team, you can try some of the following activities:
1. Build communication. Activities that develop open lines of communication and listening increase communication. Have two or three colleagues sitting back to back with two or three other colleagues. Give one of the groups a diagram containing some simple objects and words that they will need to describe to the other group who need to draw what is being explained to them. Give them a good amount of time, but don’t let the drawing group communicate with the describing group.
It’s a great activity that highlights various communication issues – from the amount of info we can process to the speed of communication. There will be a lot you can discuss on this!
2. Promote problem solving and decision making. We really like the Paper Tower activity for this. Give the team around 100 sheets of A4 paper, a roll of sellotape and a cream egg. The task is to build the tallest freestanding tower that will support the egg at it’s highest point. If you have a bigger team, split them into smaller groups to promote a little bit of friendly competition. You will be amazed and the different designs!
3. Encourage creativity and planning. Survival scenarios work well to encourage planning and creativity. We use a NASA based scenario where the team has crash landed on the moon and the items that survived the crash have to be listed in terms of its usefulness. This can be found easily on the internet.
4. Build trust. One of the harder ones to do on a shoestring if you want to get away from the old ‘trust fall’! These activities tend to be based around activities where a person is blindfolded and must therefore ‘trust’ their colleagues. However, if you expand this out, then a number of different decision based scenarios can engender trust as the group must trust in it’s own decision making process.
5. Nurture a cooperative spirit. Assigning employee teams to volunteer with charitable causes is a good way to encourage cooperation. When people work on a cause that the team cares about, they will bond. The opportunity to give back to those less fortunate often creates a charitable, cooperative attitude among everyone involved. We have been involved in connecting companies to various charitable causes and is usually easily done as they can always do with a helping hand (or two!). Alternatively, most smartphones and tablets now contain movie making software. It’s easy to use this in a fun way to get the team to create an advert for something work related. It gives roles that everyone can embrace – from the actors to the writers and from the director to the editor.

Armed with these simple ideas for team building exercises, it’s up to you to create the best working culture for your business. Remember, however, that these won’t resolve any deeper issues you may be experiencing, but are part of the cultural change that may need to happen within your business.

If you feel you need additional help with your team, please contact us on 01425 629327.

Teambuilding Solutions has also recently joined in with the “Power to the People” campaign, read more about it here: http://worklab.breathehr.com

Top tips for successful Team Building

Engineering good teamwork comes with time, effort and the right management structure. Setting the right environment for your team to flourish will reap bountiful results. So what is the key to this?

Our top tips for successful team building:

– The team needs to understand the goals of the task. So set the mission and purpose clearly so everyone understands. Clear expectations will allow for goals and outcomes to be achieved.
– Create an environment where everyone is comfortable to communicate and take action.
– Set the rules for communication. Advocate openness, honesty and respect.
– Help your team to trust each other by making them feel comfortable. Encourage everyone to ask questions, it will help clarity.
– Create a sense of belonging. If a team establishes their relationship guidelines then they will work together coherently and happily.
– Realise that everyone is unique and different, has a point of view and an opinion. Take advantage of the differences in your team, after all a team should be made up of a balance of different skills and it is these skills that will work together to create a pleasing final outcome to a project.
– Think about team building exercises and motivational events that will bond everyone together, a day at the races, a murder mystery night or a cocktail making session can all provide a relaxed environment that will allow conversation to flow and everyone to bond. Once the team have bonded and become friends outside of the office environment they will be more willing to help and nurture each other in the workplace.
– Choose a professional company who can design a strategy for this by setting tasks and games for them to play. Identify the strengths and weaknesses in the group and use other methods of team building to enhance and improve these.

Contact us NOW on 01425 629327 to find out how we can help you with an appropriate activity for your team needs.

Why Development Planning should be part of your Management Planning

Development planning should be a central element to any management structure. Helping your employees to plan their future careers is essential to their growth, team spirit and the future of the company. Not understanding the needs and the talents of your employees can lead to the loss of talent, a company that manages its staff well and with due diligence and care will win every time.
An article titled “Why Top Young Managers Are in a Nonstop Job Hunt” by Monika Hamori, Jie Cao and Burak Koyuncu from the Harvard Business Review stated that
“Dissatisfaction with some employee-development efforts appears to fuel many early exits. We asked young managers what their employers do to help them grow in their jobs and what they’d like their employers to do, and found some large gaps. Workers reported that companies generally satisfy their needs for on-the-job development and that they value these opportunities, which include high-visibility positions and significant increases in responsibility. But they’re not getting much in the way of formal development, such as training, mentoring and coaching – things they also value highly.”
It essentially described that many high achievers are not getting the career development that they need. So why is development planning frequently ignored?
1. Many companies focus on the here and now, day to day operations become more important.
2. No time for activities. This is such a poor excuse, as team building done correctly will serve a wider purpose, not just from an individual’s development but from an overall team perspective.
3. Genuine interest in your employee’s future is important to the morale of the team as a whole. It will also build loyalty. Once you have the engagement of a team member then this will lead to enhanced productivity.
4. Talented people who are good at their jobs want to advance in their careers, supporting and nurturing this is key. Training, mentoring and coaching are all part of making this happen. Being versatile and valuable will enhance an organisation. Allowing your employees to experience this is paramount.
5. Development planning does not necessarily have to be as costly to a company as you may think. Finding the right professional who can tailor events and workshops to your needs will only benefit everyone, not least of all the overall productivity of a company.
6. The right training will lead to a strong team that work well together. Why not think about a weekend get away with your employees, a food and drink event as a reward for hard work, a day on the water or even simple indoor activities to free the mind and get the creative juices flowing.
How will this help? It will help you to understand your employees as individuals. You will be able to establish what their skill sets are and any needs they may have. Identifying the gaps in their knowledge will help you lead them to a brighter future. If you get this right, then the reward will be long term loyalty, so the pay offs can be immense.

Contact us NOW on 01425 629327 to find out how we can help your team.

Is there more than one type of team?

As we all know, teams can operate and function in a number of different ways. Researchers have suggested that it’s the amount of time teams allocate to the planning and implementation phases of a task determines the type of team they are. We see this played out clearly in, (amongst others), our Krypton Maze activity where teams are presented with short team tasks and have around 20minutes to complete. This ensures that they will revert to type rather than attempt to mask their behaviour.

So what types of teams are there?

The first type are described as Fragmented Teams. In this type, we tend to see autocratic leadership and/or small pockets of individuals who often dictate the group decision making process.

Secondly, there are Divergent Teams. Members in this team tend to be overly cautious and will consider a number of possible options. This caution can lead to a slow decision making process and it will sometimes be resolved with a voting process. This may lead to little commitment to the plan however.

A third type is labeled Cohesive Teams. They tend to have a democratic and cooperative atmosphere where everyone is involved. They work through any conflict rather than ignore it and get satisfaction from completing the task.

Is that it?

Not really, if we now look at how multiple teams function, we will see another three descriptions.

The Competitive Team – this type is more concerned with it’s own success than the overall success of the organisation. There tends to be a lack of focus on planning and more of a focus on winning! This results in little assessment of other teams requirements in terms of working together.

The Non-interactive Team – again, there is an inner focus. However, there is a degree of planning, but without due consideration for the organisations ‘bigger picture‘ or needs of other teams. The outcome of this may be that the planning is minimally effective.

The Cooperative Team – this team shares a common goal of completing projects together with other teams. During the planning phase in this team, a large amount of time is spent on how the different teams will work together in order to accomplish goals effectively and efficiently.

What type of team do you see yourselves in?