Webinar presenter Brenda Dietzman answered a number of your questions after her presentation, Executive Skills: How to be a More Efficient Leader at Any Level. Here are just a few of her responses.
Audience Question: How can she see you live, or you appearing at any conferences later on this year, or what’s going on?
Brenda Dietzman: Oh, my goodness, I’m going to be. In fact, in the next about 2.5 months, I’m going to be in about 10 different states. So, I’m going to be up in Michigan, at this Sheriff’s Association. I’m going to be in Nashville, I’m going to be everywhere. So, the American Jail Association, The Wellness Conference, I’m going to be there and speaking a few different times. Also, if you reach out to me, I’ve got some other opportunities. So, I can absolutely get you that. Thanks for that question because that’s awesome.
Audience Question: How do you handle returning from vacation? When you have a week or two of e-mails, that you have to respond to, any suggestions?
Brenda Dietzman: Well, the first one’s drinking, but that’s not always a good answer. The thing of it is, again, remember what my doctor told me. You can only do what you can do. So, the big thing is, is to be very upfront with people that if they can ask someone else the same question, and you can put this in your out of office return even and say, “Please contact this person…” But, again, you do time chunks, and that’s the way that I would do. I would go through prioritizing things. You can use those or flags when I would come back from vacation. And then just say, you know what I’ve got a lot to do. Not only e-mails, but you’ve got voicemails. You’ve got stuff in your physical inbox. You’ve got your work that you have to do on top of that. So, take 2 or 3, 4 chunks a day. Tomato chunks is what I call them and just do what you can do. Hopefully, most people go on vacation and they’re going to understand if you don’t get right back to them. So, just like when I’ve asked Grace that if I don’t get to all of your e-mails because I usually get about 50 to 100 e-mails when I do these webinars, I may not get to that for about a month. So, I’m just asking for grace up front, and I know that you will understand and appreciate that.
Audience Question: Can you please suggest the ideal schedule book or software that is most effective to accomplish everything you talked about today with to-do lists, time blocking, and so on.
Brenda Dietzman: What works for you? I’ll just throw this in. I’m going to send everybody the piece of paper that I use, it’s a weekly schedule. I do use outlook calendar for my appointments because that way I can see it. Like when I’m out and about and I know if I’m busy, you know, five months from now because somebody might ask me to come and speak or something like that, so I do use that calendar. But for the day-to-day things, I do use a paper thing that I actually developed myself, and I will send it to you. And if you have questions about it, I absolutely answer the phone I absolutely answer my e-mails, and I will get back to you with any questions you may have about it, but I’ll throw that in too. But the big thing is, is what I’ve found is, I can never find a software package or a planner that worked for me. It just, there was always something lacking. So, I just came up with my own.
Audience Question: What do you do when the group goes off-topic during a meeting or starts ranting about a topic and not really making progress?
Brenda Dietzman: Well, you know, there are two different roles here, so, if you’re the one that’s in charge of the meeting, bring it back onto the rails really quick. And just say, “You know what? I know that we’ve got these issues. I know we’ve got these complaints and stuff, but we need to quit admiring the problem, complaining about the problem, or ranting about the problem and fix it. So, let’s get going.” If you are a participant in that meeting, you do the same thing. But you’re just a little bit more subtle about it, and hopefully, you can guide people back on track. So, you can get things accomplished. Having those time limits, you may even say something like that. Just say, “I see that was kind of a really big agenda here, so I want to talk about some other things,” be subtle, but get it back on track any way that you possibly can.
Audience Question: Wonderful. I wanted to share a comment from Vanessa. It’s kind of an awesome idea. So, she wanted to share she’s a post-it crumbler, or I write to-do items on a post-it, when I’m done, I scratch it, and then I crumble it and toss it in the trash. And she finds it incredibly liberating stuff. I love that idea.
Brenda Dietzman: You know, I love ideas, and suggestions that coming from people, because quite frankly, I acquire them, I don’t steal them because I’m former law enforcement. But I acquire them, and then I use them in further speeches. So, anything that you want to suggest, I love those things too.
Audience Question: Any advice on how to get older workers engaged with using technology? For example, using a chat function to ask a quick question instead of sending an e-mail?
Brenda Dietzman: So, the big thing, if you want to change people’s way of doing things, you have to motivate them to do it. So, either you can force it if you’re their supervisor, and you can require it, or you can just show the efficiencies of it by using it first, and then talking about how awesome it is. If you are lower down in the organization, a really great way to get it implemented is to get your boss on board. So, I’ll get the big boss onboard. So, show that one person, you don’t have to sell everybody, because if you sell that one person, then they’ll sell it to the rest of the folks. So, I would like to say that we older folks are adapting, but if we don’t, we’ll just retire someday, so you just have to wait for that.
Audience Question: Well, and talking about managers, Leslie wants to know, do you have any suggestions for dealing with a manager whose disorganization is negatively impacting your productivity?
Brenda Dietzman: I think the best advice that I can give on that is that everybody has talents, right? And everybody has abilities that we can’t be everything to everybody. So, one of the things that you might do, is go into your boss let’s just say that they really are poor with meetings, or something like that, to go in and say, “You know what, I know you’ve got a lot on your plate. I listened to this really interesting webinar, and they gave some kind of interesting ideas. What if I took over the prep work for putting together the meeting? Then you can have this all laid out, and it’s amazing what happens when you say, when you give an agenda out, and it says that you’re going to talk about that for 10 minutes. Most people are like, ‘oh, we’re going to talk about it for 10 minutes,’ and that’s, what happened.” So, you might take something off of their plate that they’re not great at. That you may be great at. And I think in this world, if we did everything, if we drop the ranks, if we drop the titles and everything, and everyone just play to their strengths, which, by the way, Millennials and Gen Zs do a really good job of. And not so much as Boomers and X-ers, it could be a lot better place. So, maybe ask to take that off of their plate and take something else on yourself. Because that’s going to really help your leadership skills as well.
Audience Question: I have found that making sure to use my out-of-office reply helps relieve my stress when traveling for work or vacation. Any additional thoughts on using auto-reply or any other tool?
Brenda Dietzman: Yes, the out-of-office is extremely important. It sets you up for success because people know that you’re gone. And, you know, one of the other big questions. And, again, I think it’s important with this asking for grace and delegating within that out-of-office reply. But let people know, know where you’re going, what you’re doing. There are vacations that I take with certain people because I’m kind of a morning person so, I will get up. And I will go out and read. I’ll do my yoga meditation and everything like that, but they still may not be up yet. So, I may check my e-mail on occasion. And I know people ask that, should I check my e-mail on vacation? Or, you know what? Do what works for you. If it’s not going to stress you out, if it’s going to stress you out less than going back to work with, like, 5000 e-mails, then, yeah, do what works for you. But, absolutely, take vacation time. Don’t take vacation time away to do work times, just to make that clear. So, but do what works for you. But absolutely upfront, make sure everyone knows that if something can be delegated, that something can be done by someone else, make sure that happens. And then when somebody else goes on vacation, ask them, what can I do for you while you’re gone? Is there something that I can do that will help you come back, make that easier? So, it’s a two-way street.
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