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A few weeks ago The Wall Street Journal posted an article that said the workplace is the last place one should expect “thanks.” The article was part of our November 28 blog which focused on leaders connecting with their employees to help employees realize that they are doing worthwhile work, with a purpose, and make a difference – and that as leaders we recognize employees’ contributions, reward them when applicable, and care about them as individuals (see blog).

Consider the following note from a leader (11.21.2012) which reinforces our blog message:

Dear Team,

Today, I read the Harvard Business Review Tip and it resonated with me. We are a small and well-connected team with great possibilities. We can also serve as a model for the way we connect with each other and with people we connect with every day. On this HBR Tip, I provide the tip and my reflection. We have several weeks to make the end of 2012 a great year and to position next year to be even better. Happy Thanksgiving!

NOVEMBER 21, 2012

Energize Your Network (How I can practice good behaviors to do so)

It’s not enough to build a network, you also need to maintain it. This means preserving your connections with enthusiasm so the best ideas, resources, and talent come your way. Here are three tips for doing that:

HBR TIP – Bring yourself fully to every interaction. Turn off your phone. Signal interest by sitting forward and asking questions. People notice if you’re present, and they’ll respond to your ideas and engagement with their own.

On a scale of 1 to 10 I score this one a 10 in regard to the level of importance. I find for me it takes discipline to do the following:

(1) Put my cell phone away, not on top of the table but away and silenced. If I need to have for a very legitimate reason, I should explain why but only do this when completely necessary. When breaking, take any calls; if possible, I should use that time to engage with colleagues rather than do so.

(2) I should purposely sit up and lean forward at a table in a meeting. Listen and process and thoughtfully interact for the benefit of the group rather than for my own benefit.

HBR TIP – Do what you say you will. People will invest more in their relationships with you if you follow through. If you promised to send an article or make an introduction, do it

Not only do what I say, but let people know when things are completed to their reduce stress and relieve anxiety and build excitement for work accomplished and goals met.

HBR TIP- Seek input. When you’ve got something exciting cooking, let your friends and colleagues in on it. They’ll be more forthcoming with their own ideas and resources if you draw them into stimulating conversations and projects.

There’s nothing more exciting for a leader than for someone on the team energized and excited about the work of a team and enthusiastic to present ideas that can grow the work (thinking about growth in terms of revenue and/or enhancements, new ideas, etc. to build better products and services). Any idea put forward should be researched and presented with evidence – more than just a good thought but a thought that could stick. If a team member has an idea that is spontaneous in nature, it is okay to throw out but the idea generator should realize that the idea needs more exploration and should own that exploration work before expecting others to buy in.

As a leader I hope you connect with this note from a leader and with the challenge she presents to herself and her team to maximize their potential. In a presentation last week Liz Jazwieck a clinician and speaker on the national healthcare stage said that “long term satisfaction comes from the fact that knowing the work that [we are] doing is making a difference and is worthwhile” (Atlanta, GA 11/28/2012). It begins with leaders like this one who reflect on how to practice good behaviors for action, share his/her expectations for performance, and challenge colleagues to maximize their potential. Please share how you engage employees as a leader in your organization, or specifically engage teachers as an educational leader or students as a classroom teacher.

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Shellenbarger, Sue. (11.20.2012). Showing Appreciation at the Office? No, thanks. The Wall Street Journal. Available online here.

If Anyone Hasn’t Thanked You Today… “Thank You for Reading!” (11.28.2012). What’s Right in Education Blog available here.

Harvard Business Review Tip. (11.21.2012). Energize Your Network. Available here.

Jazwieck, Liz. (11.28.2012). Presentation at Taking You and Your Organization to the Next Level.

Note from a Leader. (11.21.2012).

Our mission at Studer Education is to provide students with a great place to learn, teachers with a great place to teach, and parents with confidence that their children are getting a great education. To do this we work with school boards, leaders, and employees to apply Evidence-Based continuous improvement processes and the principles from How to Lead Teachers to Become Great in their districts as they aim for excellence in every district department and in every school as they strive to improve teacher performance and student achievement. Visit us online at http://studereducation.com to learn more about Studer Education Teacher Development Institutes (TDIs), Leader Development Institutes (LDIs), and Evidence-Based Leadership.