EP42 - Moving Between Analytical and Management Work

March 9, 2021
 

In today's world, we physically and mentally switch gears from one project or person to another, multiple times during the day.  Yet we often don't pay attention to how much energy is required emotionally to do such.  And without that awareness, we often make mistakes that we feel bad about.  With just a bit of practice, we can become aware of our own feelings to make consistently easier choices for ourselves.

Show/Hide Transcript

Melissa Albers  0:00  
Hey everyone, you are listening to the self awareness journey podcast. This little banner is about a car ride loss and features your host, JJ Parker, and Melissa Albert. JJ was a tech company. And Melissa has been a coach working with influencers for the last 18 years.

JJ Parker  0:18  
What's the last week? I, one of my employees, Ray came to me. And he goes, Hey, JJ, did you see the email I sent? I was like, no, what was in your email? Ray? He goes, Yeah, I had to send an apology email to my team. Oh, and wanted to talk about his apology email. And, you know, anytime you have to send an apology email to your team, that's probably not a super good thing. Yeah. But so we talked through what happened, and he exhibited an amazing amount of self awareness. Yeah, right. After the after the, after the event. Maybe not during, but I thought it was really interesting what he was talking about. So what he had to apologize for, was he, he heads up our engineering team, right. So right, the team of software engineers, and since he is the lead software engineer, you know, he often gets the most gnarly, difficult technical problems to solve, like, Yeah, when the team gets stuck, they go to Ray, right, got and Ray's able to figure everything out. While he was in a very deep, technical, rabbit hole, we call it

Melissa Albers  1:59  
sounds horrible, you

JJ Parker  2:00  
know, where his brain was loaded with all of this information. And he is really working on, on on, you know, troubleshooting, figuring things out and everything. Yeah, he looked up, and he's like, Oh, I got a meeting, like right now. So he stopped what he was doing. And he hopped into a management meeting, where they were talking about, like, marketing and product positioning and stuff that was just a little bit more human than his computer code. Yeah. And they were even talking about some of the, you know, customer interactions and employee interaction. So is this a much more human conversation? And he basically couldn't engage and kind of acted like an ass. Right? Yeah. That's his. That's his own words. Yeah. Yeah. But then, so he was reflecting. He's like, hey, JJ, it was, I don't know what happened. Like, that's a normal management meeting I can be in. But for some reason, I just acted terribly in that meeting. And I felt and I felt terrible. So we got into talking about that particular scenario, like when you have to switch from one task to another.

Melissa Albers  3:28  
Hmm, that's very interesting, especially when the task is using completely different parts of your brain and regarding completely different things, right? Yep. Like a single tasking. Really technical effort. When you're just in your own head. No one else is invited.

JJ Parker  3:46  
Right? Like no one else's,

Melissa Albers  3:49  
everyone else's. No one else is invited. Well, then, you and he's a very technical person in addition, and a little on the quieter side, too, right?

JJ Parker  4:00  
Yep. Yeah, he's a technical introvert. So

Melissa Albers  4:02  
yeah, right. Right. We get along so drive all the way out to Las Vegas to go rock climbing and never say a word.

JJ Parker  4:15  
It's amazing.

Melissa Albers  4:18  
No, but I think that that's a really common thing, right? When you are somebody who is even an introvert or, or if you're like, really into your own activity, your own brain activity. Sometimes it feels really invasive, to have a meeting in which you have to shift gears and even though you're shifting gears, because it's your job, you know, you need to it's with people, you know, sometimes it can be really annoying and feel really invasive.

JJ Parker  4:48  
Yeah, annoying. And I there's a couple of things happening there. Like, especially when you're in in that much detail, it's like you don't Want to stop? Right? Yeah, I, I felt that what I've been doing. Yeah, you're in a flow, right. And so yeah, that might be a technical job like Ray was doing. But it could be, you know, for me often it's like an artistic sort of creative job. Like if I'm in the creative flow. Yeah, I get interrupted with that I get real grumpy like I can't, or. And this actually will sometimes happen at home, if like, I'm working on something creative. And then my wife wants me to like, go do you know, whatever, help cook dinner or something, I have a real hard time to like switching from that creative work, to just to a different activity, because my brain just doesn't let it go. My brain says keeps keeps cranking on the last thing I was on. Yeah, bad luck. Yeah.

Melissa Albers  6:01  
Because he's got all this good momentum going. Because there's a lot of momentum.

Unknown Speaker  6:05  
And I thought, a good phrase that there's momentum.

Melissa Albers  6:09  
Yeah. And it's momentum in something that you enjoy. Yeah. So yeah, in the, in the workplace, you know, most of us are in roles that we came to, because we liked certain key components of it, if not all of it, right? Like I'm in this job, because I really, really like this. I'm in accounting, because I really, really like spreadsheets, I'm in sales, because I really, really like people. So it's really easy for your energy to flow in the direction of something that you really like. And then, you know, especially in leadership or management, when you have to come out of that flow. And you're faced with the other parts of the job that are not as easy. And they're they don't, they don't create energy for you like that, like you were just describing that act of creation gives you energy, right. It can feel really well darn right. annoying. Like, look at poor Ray cuz because he recognized that, but then he realized that he just didn't. He wasn't proud of his behavior when he's when he had to switch that energy.

JJ Parker  7:22  
Right. So they're that like, guilt comes right behind it. Yeah, right. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

Melissa Albers  7:29  
He must have obviously been feeling guilty because he called to tell you.

JJ Parker  7:33  
Yeah, I know. Right. Yeah. Which is great. I, you know, again, I was just so impressed. I was like, I told him like, right, I we were using this on a podcast, because this is this is an impressive amount of, like awareness and a great growth opportunity. Yeah. Yeah. So when so when we were talking about it with him. I decided, Okay, like, so we talked about what can we do about that? Right. I think we all understand and have felt this first context switch that we have to do? Yeah. So how are we going to make it? So? You know, we don't have to write apology letters to our co workers.

Melissa Albers  8:17  
Yeah. Well, don't you think to like? Yeah, I mean, we want to get out ahead of that stuff all the time. Right. And that's why you and I are, yes. So all over the self awareness journey, and why I'm so excited about it. Because we know that that really makes a difference. Yeah, it really makes a difference. Recognizing yourself and understanding why you behave a certain way, is a huge way out of that role that you feel you dug.

JJ Parker  8:43  
Yeah, let's talk about that for just a second. Because, yeah, from a couple perspectives, right? Yeah. Like in the sky, like, why we think self awareness is so important, and why when I see it happen, I'm so proud of it is because there's a couple of things. It's making me feel like crap, right? Like he wasn't, you know, he kind of wasn't out ahead of it. And the after effect of that was just personally feeling

Melissa Albers  9:11  
bad. Right.

JJ Parker  9:14  
From a business perspective, and we talked about self awareness. I think a lot of people think about this kind of stuff as like a pert, you know, obviously, it's a personal growth thing. Yeah. But I think it's really important in our work context, because holiday me as the CEO of this business, I want all high performing people. And I know that the number one thing that derails our high performance, is this kind of stuff. Right? Exactly. Right. is is is an employee acts out in a meeting. Everyone else is a little upset. No one really does any work the rest of the day, right. The team dynamics get a little screwy for like a day or two until someone apologizes for that All right, so back to normal, right? So there's all these like little speed bumps that just slow us down. And they're not ill intention. No one's No, purposely trying to be mean or anything like that. But there's just all these interactions because business is complicated. The relationships of business is complicated. It's, it's okay, it happens. But if we can just do a little bit of work for everybody in the organization, yeah, around self awareness, we can smooth out some of these speed bumps.

Melissa Albers  10:34  
Well, we and it's already happening, like there's been so many, even in the few short months that we've been at this nine or 10 months now, I don't really remember the feedback that I've been getting. And I suppose I'm in a position in my role, being an executive coach and working with a whole bunch of different companies and people that are sort of engaged in this process of self awareness. There, the feedback is just heartwarming. Because it's, it's subtle. These are subtle little things, that with very little effort, people are now seeing why they do what they do. It isn't just about oh, I acted. I don't know what that where that came from. Now, people are really easily making little shifts like, okay, now I get that, like, I love doing this. And I hate doing that. And I had to go do that thing I didn't like and I was still mad, because it wasn't done doing this thing that I love, like, in this example, something that's simple, can make a huge difference. Because next time, you know, he won't do that.

Unknown Speaker  11:36  
Yeah. Which is right, really,

Melissa Albers  11:39  
that way we can make it sound like it's this big.

JJ Parker  11:42  
Four letter,

Melissa Albers  11:43  
yeah, he'll perform better, and he will feel better in the performance,

JJ Parker  11:48  
he will feel better. And that's key for me, too, is like, I want everybody, you know, to feel good about the work that they're doing. Yeah, you know, for us, because, you know, having an organization where people come into work and hate their job every day is not one that I want to make. I want to create a culture where everyone feels supported, does their best work. And, yeah, yeah, it feels good to come to work.

Melissa Albers  12:18  
I think there's a component of this too, that's interesting to pay attention to, you know, I always, you know, I always use buzz phrases, I know, maybe I should stop doing that. But like taking your inventory, you know, like, what I mean, when I say that is, like, in that situation, whether it was before, during or after Ray had his behavior piece, right? before, during or after, I wonder if at any time, he just checked in with himself to see if he was really tired. Um, you know, I think sometimes we get tired. And I think the medium that most of us are working in our environments right now is over zoom, or Microsoft Teams or, you know, computer to computer, we're not doing much face to face. And I think there's a level of tiredness, just getting by doing that, you know, the constant sitting at your desk, not doing your normal, getting up and moving around. Like, it all creates a little more of a heavy atmosphere, to be able to feel rested, to feel flexible. I think when you're more tired, at least when I'm tired, I'm not as flexible at at all because I just don't have the bandwidth, you know?

JJ Parker  13:26  
Yeah. Well, there's some interesting things happening that I observed, actually observed with my own calendar, with the online, like, the completely remote worker thing is that my calendar has been getting, I would say denser, more and more nine, the time between meetings, yeah, is zero. Like, it'll be back to back because, because like, you don't need, you know, when we're at the office, you needed time to like, go from one conference room to the other or like, you know, go kind of physically move around. And it took a bit of time, so you couldn't ever stack meetings, straight back to bag. Well, in, in her online world, like, something just happened where all the meetings as a won't. Now they're back to back, like, my meeting ends at 9:30am. And one starts at 9:30am. And I just like, switch, switch switch, and it's super fast. Yeah, it doesn't give me any time. Yeah, to like, recover, reflect, prepare, which I think is causing, you know, certainly caused was the root cause Ray's problem is, is he scheduled activities way too tight.

Melissa Albers  14:50  
Yeah. And that's really hard to because I think, again, everybody's having all these emotions and feelings about how they're doing their work right now. And those emotions And feelings are a can be a real drag on our energy. So we're bringing them with us everywhere, you know, and we're trying to figure out how to look and feel as successful, you know, look and feel as productive, as we always have. And the reality is, I think we're in production mode way, way, way more. So then when you do get interrupted, to transition to be with new people, for a new conversation, even if you love those people, even if you're an extrovert, even if all these things right, it's still tiring, it's still hard. Yeah. So I think energy has a lot to do with that ability to switch back and forth between that, you know, internal mindset project that you're trying to work on. shifting into interacting with other people requires a totally different kind of energy. And I like what you're saying. You're right, when there's no transition time. That's, that's, that's hard. Impossible. Yeah. By Wednesday at 10 o'clock in the morning, you're just fried.

JJ Parker  16:10  
Yeah, I wonder. I wonder. So like, I've always been a big remote work advocate. I mean, our company has been doing remote work for for many, many, many years. So for us, we have a little bit different view on it at this point, it's, I want to say like, we're a more mature, remote working environment to the right, like because we so things that that happen, I think, in general, is that since remote workers new for so many companies, and there was a lot of anxiety around like, who are our workers, our employees going to be effective? Are they gonna just work from home and like, screw around the whole time, right? Like that? The whole the old management view of like, if you can't see it, you can't manage it. Right? Like, yeah, that whole thing. So what I feel like, happened for a lot of people is I started working from home, and then they actually went too far on the like, I must be attached to my desk, never leave it. And the highly productive because everyone thinks I'm not going to be right. I. So it's like the pendulum swung super far the other way, right, where people are actually not really taking care of themselves, not really giving the kind of time between meetings and activities like they should be, right. Because in the office environment. You know, again, it was like, you'd walk between meetings, you get bumped into somebody and chitchat for a bit, you go get coffee, you know, there was just this whole cadence around how things worked. And I think it was generally slower, and gave more time between activities than this compressed remote environments. So I think it's okay for everyone to say, Hey, you know what? I don't schedule meetings back to back. I put, I put time in between them. Right, right. All right. For me, Oh, go ahead.

Melissa Albers  18:34  
No, I was just gonna say I really like what you're saying. And, and even if you aren't fully in control of your calendar, because there are a lot of our listeners who other people can add things to their calendar, willy nilly. You know, if you've got access to their calendar, you also have access to go ahead and put a meeting on their calendar. And I think what you're saying, it's not just you saying I personally don't do that to my calendar, but also having the courage to say, you put this on my calendar back to back and I don't do back to back meetings. I will enter into that meeting. 15 minutes later, and holding that line.

Unknown Speaker  19:11  
Yeah. Yeah, definitely laugh because you've never like,

Melissa Albers  19:14  
I know you're laughing because you've never let anybody put anything on your calendar.

JJ Parker  19:19  
No, I was gonna say, Well, I don't let a person put stuff on my calendar on a computer robot put stuff on my calendar. No, I I use you choke for you. Laughter That's true. No, I was gonna say might might technique for this is and I actually started doing it. More recently is like, so I use a like some software that just like I send someone a link, right. And then they can pick a time that I'm free to have a meeting with me. Right, which works awesome, by the way. Like, we use one from HubSpot. There's one called calendly like yeah, if if you're not you isn't one of these things you should get it because it's on there

Melissa Albers  20:02  
free? Like there's there's a free version?

JJ Parker  20:04  
Yeah, they're generally free there. So I send everyone a link, but part of the rules you can set up for that booking for that automatic booking is how much gap time do you need between events on your calendar. So I didn't know that minus 15 minutes. So there's a lot. So when someone picks a time, they can't pick a slot in my calendar that is actually back to back for me. It forces 15 minutes between all of that, which is really helpful.

Melissa Albers  20:38  
Yeah, so I like what you're saying like in any in any way, shape, or form if you can, like, if you're just feeling yourself getting too bombarded, to take back control of putting some gaps even in between the things that are scheduled. mean, it's like, you may not be able to feel like you can get full control of everything, right and create the conditions, perfect conditions for yourself, because that probably doesn't exist. But there's sure certain things that you can do to make it easier. And that would be one of them. It's like give yourself that mental break to prepare to close down from email emotionally one meeting and to go into the next one. I like that for sure.

JJ Parker  21:15  
Yep. And, and if I'm doing some like technical work, or some real detailed work, or even creative work, I time block it on my calendar, I schedule it and be like, I'm gonna do this for two hours. Yeah, but don't let something like hit the end of it. Right? real tight. Right? Right. So so this is just time management techniques, right? That just give yourself because you just have to say like, my brain, just and everyone's brain just can't switch energy. That fast.

Melissa Albers  21:44  
Right? Even if you think you're a great thinker. Yeah, yep. It's an energy thing. It really is. How about checking in with the, with the room or checking in on the zoom? With everybody's faces? Like before you kind of jump right in like, giving yourself a little extra minute, even in the entry point of the meeting?

JJ Parker  22:04  
Totally. The walk one of my first checks in that way, base? Like a baseline kind of thing is like who else is in this meeting? Who else is in the room? Right? Yeah. And, like, just know them a little bit, right? Like, I know that the extroverts of the room are gonna really want to talk through a problem. And if I just came out of something where I was real deep as an introvert, I do not want to talk at all. So, so I just have to kind of know, where I just came from, whatever what else probably needs, and just be a little prepared for that. Right? Yeah. Yeah, the way I can prepare for that is actually I just write down on my notebook real quick, what are a couple of the questions that I need to ask to get to get this team talking? That's

Melissa Albers  23:01  
interesting. Yeah. And you know, what I do for my technique, what I do is, when somebody's face comes up on the screen, I just sit there for a minute. Because I've set my own intention for my for my energy for my meeting, every time, every time I do that, like I just want to be open and relaxed and calm and be a good listener, and ask good questions and generally be pleasant, like I want, I want to be a pleasant place. So I check in with the other person or people if there's more than one. And I just sort of look at the body language, like, are people looking down? Do they seem like they're just like, they're checking into a meeting? Because they know they're supposed to? Are they looking at the screen? And I will just ask her a question

Unknown Speaker  23:45  
on their lap.

Melissa Albers  23:48  
Stop judging me.

JJ Parker  23:50  
That's fine. Let's call her she literally has a chicken on her lap. This is gonna be

Melissa Albers  24:02  
we will have discussions on another podcast because I just bought her a little camel saddle. But that's a different story. But I do think it's really important to read the room or read the screen. You know, it's just like, how is everybody else doing? Because they're probably having the exact same struggles that you are, you know,

JJ Parker  24:19  
yeah. We've been talking about like a lot about the work scenario. So like, Let's switch a little bit into some different spots where this happened. Yeah. Yeah. Like, first like from work back to home. Right. So many of us had like a commute home. Yeah, for so long, where we could take like that time and switch right from like, VR, sort of our work context back to our home. Yeah. But now, my commute is up this half flight of stairs, so it's not super long, so it doesn't give me time to switch.

Melissa Albers  24:58  
It's not enough for emotional reasons. Until reset,

JJ Parker  25:01  
no, not really. I remember one day, I was like, really, I don't know, what we're doing is like I've met, we're in a management meeting. And we're just real tactical, and we're blocking and tackling doing everything. I walked upstairs and something was going on with the kids, right? And I was just in manager mode. Says, like, Everyone sit down, we're having a meeting. My wife cups, because JJ, you can't manage our family like you manage your business as like, Oh, right. There is an example. Not switching very effective.

Melissa Albers  25:41  
No, I like what you're saying, though, because I think there's a lot of times when we do have to make a shift, and we know we do. And I think so often, we try to just mentally take that shift, but we don't check in with our feelings about it. Yeah, we say okay, now I'm going to be okay, I got to switch hats. I'm going to change my head. I'm not going to think about this now. Because it's, I said, I was gonna stop working. And it's, you know, whatever we do that we do a lot of that self talk. Yeah, but I think it's really important to to do an emotional check in like, Alright, I'm okay. I want to be home now. I want to be in my personal time now. So yeah, I just feel tired. And that's okay for me to to honor that piece of me. And maybe I just need to think about how I can do something to feel good for a couple of minutes here. make that transition?

JJ Parker  26:25  
Yeah. Yeah, actually, no, we're calling out Ray a lot during this podcast. This one is all about him. But he actually even talked to me about how, like for him, he actually lives on the east coast. Generally, our business is operating on central time. All right. So he actually gets pushed out sometimes a little later. In his day, for work stuff. Yeah. And then he has to go right upstairs to dinner with his kids. And he also, you know, as we've talked about how he struggles with that, that transition. The other one I think is, is interesting. And I've experienced this, it's like, when you're having people over, like maybe you're hosting like a family, dinner a holiday or just some friends? Yeah. For me, I do a lot of the cooking. And so when I'm in like, cooking mode, I have really hard time getting out a cookie modem into like, cocktail party mode.

Melissa Albers  27:24  
Yes.

JJ Parker  27:24  
Here's what I mean. Yes,

Melissa Albers  27:26  
yes, that's, yeah, I'm the same way.

JJ Parker  27:30  
So like, even in social situations, you kind of should be, like, aware that, that maybe in a social situation, you're actually switching? you're switching between different kinds of tasks and energy. Yeah, even in social situations,

Melissa Albers  27:46  
even in social situations, and just know thyself, right? Like, understanding how you're gonna respond and react to things before you actually do have to, is so helpful. Because you know, it's just how you're wired. And it gives yourself you give yourself a chance to just be be good with that, you know, you're like, well, this is what I'm going to need, and then I can have the best time possible, and I'll probably be a lot more fun to be around.

JJ Parker  28:08  
Yeah. Usually in those situations, all the introverts gather in the kitchen and just get to work and don't say anything. And then I'll extroverts go like out in the living room and like, you know, cackling it up and shut. It worked out for Everybody shout

Melissa Albers  28:21  
into the kitchen. What are we? JOHN asked me how I know this.

JJ Parker  28:29  
Well, this was a great conversation. I like I really like this because, again, it it has impact on Yeah, personnel professional. Yeah, it kind of makes life a little smoother. And it's one of those like subtle things that if you're looking out for it, it's pretty easy to deal with, but you just kind of have to be be aware of it. And be watching out for those energy shots.

Melissa Albers  28:54  
And don't make yourself feel guilty. If one day you don't. And then you realize that later, it's all part of the learning process, like we all learn first by recognizing something after the fact like that's just how it is. That's total right. And

JJ Parker  29:06  
those take pride in those apology emails.

Melissa Albers  29:12  
Exactly. We hope that you've enjoyed today's episode. Our mission is to help people become happier and more effective by gaining insight into their own thoughts and feelings. We'd love your support. First, share this podcast with anyone you think might enjoy it. Second, leave us a rating or review on your favorite podcast site. This helps others discover the podcast so we can reach more people. And third, sign up for our newsletter at the self awareness journey calm. This will help us communicate better with you and build our community. Thank you so much for joining us in the self awareness journey. We'll see you next week.