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BusinessDay 16 Apr 2018

40 BUSINESS DAY

40 BUSINESS DAY C002D5556 Monday 16 April 2018 MondayMorning In association with Harvard Business Review Becoming more conscientious STEFANO TASSELLI, MARTIN KILDUFF AND BLAINE LANDIS Ma n y people, including some experts, see personality as relatively stable over time. In other words, you are who you are, and while you may evolve a little, once you become an adult your major traits — your extraversion, agreeableness, neuroticism, openness and, yes, conscientiousness — won’t change much. But this widespread belief in the immutability of personality is misplaced. People can positively change their personalities by increasing their engagement in Welcoming an employee back from medical leave ANNE SUGAR Employees take leaves of absence for all sorts of reasons, from dealing with a cancer diagnosis to caring for a sick child. Here are some specific actions that will help ensure a smooth transition for your employee and you. REMEMBER TO CHECK IN. Plan to check in periodically with your team member on leave. A good starting point is checking in on a monthly basis, but of course this depends on the length of the leave. Keeping up even occasional communication will help your team member feel valued and engaged when they are out of the office, and it demonstrates your confidence in and support of their work. activities that fit three criteria: They feel important, are enjoyable and accord with their values. With this in mind, think about why you may struggle to act conscientiously. See if you You can talk with your employee to find the method of communication that best suits them, whether it’s quick emails, phone calls, or perhaps an occasional face-to-face meetup if they’re on extended leave and their situation allows for it. REACH OUT RIGHT BE- FORE THEIR RETURN. Even more important than a brief check-in is the communication right before the staff member returns to the office. It is important to ask about how they would like their return announced. Sometimes the employee might want to return without a lot of fanfare. It is important to honor privacy in terms of what the staff member wants to divulge, so prepare for a brief conversation. THINK THROUGH THE can identify what is getting in your way, and discuss it with your boss. She may be able to explain why a task that seems unimportant to you is important to the success of the business, DETAILS. As a first step, consider how you can create meaningful touchpoints that create a welcoming experience. For instance, you might meet the employee at the door when they arrive at the office, or have flowers or some other welcoming item waiting for them at their desk. End the first day early so that your employee can ease back into the workflow. PROVIDE A PHASED TRANSITION. Recognize that because of medical appointments or fatigue, your employee’s schedule might need to be different than before. With these parameters in mind, focus on some small, quick-win projects to jump-start the employee’s work in a meaningful manner. CHECK IN FREQUENTLY. or willing to assign you to tasks that are a better fit for your abilities. If you can’t change the tasks you’re assigned, try to change how you think about them. For example, if you can remind With your returning employee, think about providing additional attention, as if you had a new employee joining the team. The most important meeting to facilitate is with the yourself that timeliness is part of high-quality work, you may find it easier to let go when the deadline approaches. Do you value collaboration and helpfulness? Building relationships? Teamwork? If you learn to see a task in a way that matches your values, you will have an easier time completing it well. You can also enhance your conscientiousness by enhancing your interactions with co-workers, inside or outside the workplace. Research shows that investment in activities with colleagues is associated with an increase in a person’s conscientiousness. Even recreational activities can help you become more detail-oriented by boosting your team member who took over the employee’s work while they were out. Remember that transition scheduling should be fluid since each employee has a sense of belonging and obligation to your work community. Importantly, showing your willingness to become conscientious may be just as important as actually doing it. From an organizational perspective, leaders should evaluate their employees not only on their current behavior and performance but also on how adaptable those employees are. (Stefano Tasselli is an assistant professor at the Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University. Martin Kilduff is a professor at the UCL School of Management. Blaine Landis is an assistant professor at University College London.) unique experience and situation returning to the workplace. (Anne Sugar is an executive coach and speaker.) (C) (2017) Harvard Business Review. Distributed by New York Times Syndicate

Monday 16 April 2018 C002D5556 BUSINESS DAY 41 Harvard Business Review MondayMorning In association with Presenting in English when you’re not a native speaker DEBORAH GRAYSON RIEGEL Being compelled to speak in your non-native language can lead to feelings of frustration pressure, and insecurity. Add to that the burden of making formal business presentations in front of superiors, decision-makers and key stakeholders in your non-native language, and the anxiety is significantly greater. My co-author Ellen Dowling and I interviewed many leaders in this situation, and asked them to share their experiences. Here are three strategies nonnative English speakers can employ to help them feel more confident before, during and after a presentation: SPEND SIGNIFI- CANTLY MORE TIME PRACTICING YOUR DELIVERY THAN PER- FECTING YOUR DECK. The goal here is “overlearning” your presentation — pushing on with practice even when it seems like you’ve done enough. This will help your presentation to become embedded in your long-term memory and therefore less susceptible to the effects of stress. It will also help you speak spontaneously. DON’T AGONIZE ABOUT YOUR AC- CENT, BUT DO SLOW YOUR SPEAKING SPEED. An unfamiliar accent is particularly problematic in the first minute or two of your presentation when your audience must initially strain to understand you. Choose your opening words deliberately and pronounce them carefully. The au- dience will slowly develop an ear for your accent and find it easier to understand what you are saying. PAUSE EARLY AND OFTEN. Understanding accented speech requires listeners to draw on additional cognitive resources, not only to understand and remember what has been said but also to manage other information or tasks while listening to accented speech. For both native and non-native English speakers, perfection is overrated. But with some extra attention, effort and commitment, non-native English speakers can present with confidence, competence and cultural comfort. (Deborah Grayson Riegel is a principal at The Boda Group.) Why email is so stressful DORIE CLARK It’s easy to feel overwhelmed with the crush of email. In fact, one study showed the average professional spends 4.1 hours per day responding to work messages. I undertook an experiment. For two weeks, I tracked, recorded and categorized every email I received, splitting them into categories like “client communication” and “networking or event invitation.” Everything that made it directly into my inbox was tallied — 1,161 messages over a two-week period. Here are three important lessons I learned from the process, which may be valuable as you think about how to make the time you spend on email more efficient, as well. EACH “YES” LEADS TO MORE WORK. Saying no is a challenge for any professional: You don’t want to disappoint people, and any given opportunity may lead to positive outcomes. But analyzing the emails I received taught me an important lesson about why it’s essential to exercise stringent judgment: Each “yes” leads to a cascade of (typically unforeseen) work. Recognizing the downstream consequences and impact on one’s time is essential when evaluating your decision. IT’S EASIER TO SAY “NO” WHEN YOU REAL- IZE HOW MANY PEOPLE ARE ASKING. It was stunning to me how many messages I received — a full 12% of my overall emails — that were people asking me to do things. In some cases, it was easy to say no. But many requests were harder to navigate, including 75 messages from colleagues asking for favors, whether it was a book endorsement, an introduction to someone, or a request to connect me to a contact of theirs. In total, I received 69 requests per week, or nearly 10 per day. It takes extreme willpower to say no, but it became easier when taking the aggregate numbers into account. As the old saying goes, “Your inbox is someone else’s to-do list for you.” When I thought about how much energy I’d be spending doing 69 people’s bidding per week, it helped me refocus and recognize that I could only make an impact if I focused on my own priorities. I’ll suggest that the truly essential emails were client communication and inquiries about potential new engagements. Using that metric, only 10.5% of the messages I received over the two-week period qualified. Spending more time fielding messages, time spent away from our own priorities, isn’t a sustainable answer. And asking people to take you off of mailing lists or leave you off of “reply all” threads is a losing battle. (Just save your time and don’t respond.) Instead, by understanding the signal-to-noise ratio of our inboxes, and recognizing how easy it is for others to make (often onerous) requests for our time, we can make smarter choices about where to focus our attention. (Dorie Clark is a marketing strategist and professional speaker who teaches at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business.) Brought to you courtesy of First Bank Nigeria

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