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Leaders can employ strategies to ensure team members know the appropriate ways to pitch ideas in group discussions.SDI Productions/Getty Images

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Ask Women and Work

Question: I work with a team of very talented young people. I don’t want to snuff out their exciting ideas – my company needs those ideas – but I’m finding it hard to keep control and get things crossed off the agenda. How do I help my team balance creativity with discipline?

We asked Kimberley Rampersad, associate artistic director for the Shaw Festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont., to tackle this one:

One of the best pieces of advice that I received as I’ve moved into leadership is: ‘We don’t have a lot of time, so we better move slowly.’

It’s really served me well. Speed happens with confidence, but confidence only happens when we create a shared language within the group that we all understand. That shared language becomes a shorthand, which is where the speed and agility of the group happens. In order to lay that foundation, you have to put in the time.

I spend a lot of time in individual meetings with the young people I work with to get to understand them. It’s about having conversations to glean what their values are, where their interests are, what their processes are and what languages they use. Are they into writing? Are they visual? Do they like group work? Do they like more individual work and then coming together?

These personal meetings help individuals feel like, ‘Yeah, I’m a part of this. I see myself in this work,’ which makes them fiery in a good way, and gives them a sense of ownership, because that’s what’s required in order to do hard things.

When it comes to keeping group meetings on track, there are some more obvious, but helpful, strategies you can try. You can give people a certain amount of time to speak during meetings, communicating that if there’s ten people and everyone wants to pitch an idea, then you each have a minute to speak to this idea. You could also discuss what makes an idea ready to be pitched to the group. Is it in a state that it’s ready to express to the group? It’s not to stifle their ideas, it’s about considering whether it has been developed enough to be presented.

In working with young people in my organization, I’ve learned how wise and brave they are. I admire it, because a lot of the time I’m like, ‘Was I that brave when I was that young?’ Sometimes they take my breath away with their forthcomingness. I clutch my emotional pearls. But when it takes me aback a little bit, I think, ‘This is a teachable moment.’ If they’re amenable, I could say, ‘Is there another way for you to say this that doesn’t diminish what you’re saying? That doesn’t defang the idea, but might make people more receptive?’ There were people along my path who taught me about tone and how to get along with people and about the interstitial stuff that makes you successful, and mentorship is so important.

I think that all of us in our own fields are doing hard things right now and trying to do more with less. It’s really challenging. When you see young people that could choose any profession, if they’re given those opportunities and they still choose the field that you’re in, that’s a really hopeful moment. They keep me on my toes and make me excited to go to work.

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This week’s must-read stories on women and work

It’s time to upgrade our view of love to include how we care about coworkers

“Ahh, February, the month most often attributed to winter blahs. But February is also known for something else – Valentine’s Day,” says Eileen Chadnick of Big Cheese Coaching. “Even if you dismiss this as a silly holiday for romantic relationships, it is a good time to think about how we can show love and care in the context of work relationships.

“I’m not referring to office romance kind of love. Rather, I’m thinking about the connections people have with those they work with. More saliently, I’m thinking about how to strengthen the connections between leaders and their team members.

“A little self-test: are you a leader who people will say, ‘I really like my manager’ (or boss or whatever title fits). Long after the time you’ve worked together, will you still stand out as the ‘one’ they will never forget? Did you make a significant positive difference in their career? Their daily experience at work? Help them grow, stretch and feel safe taking courageous, appropriate risks?”

Read what love for our colleagues can look like at work.

These five resets can help you thwart daily stress in a world of overwhelm

Burnout is widely treated as an exception – something that only happens to a few people. But Aditi Nerurkar, a lecturer on global health and social medicine at Harvard University, says these days stress and burnout aren’t the exception – they are the rule.

“Stress and burnout are two of the biggest and most universal issues plaguing our modern world,” she writes in The Five Resets. But both, she insists, are fully reversible and can be overcome by using some small, actionable techniques she groups together into five categories.

Dr. Nerurkar warns that stress is not a sign of weakness, an embarrassment you must cover up to yourself and others. Stress is part of life. It happens around the globe, at all ages. Everything good in your life was created because of a little bit of stress. But when it starts having a life of its own and becomes a runaway train, it can become counterproductive.

Read how you can manage stress as you might reset a stopwatch, broken bone or computer.

The other immigration problem: Too much talent is leaving Canada

“Surging immigration numbers are top-of-mind for Canadians. But as we reconsider targets for newcomers and address pain points such as housing, we also need to pay attention to talent retention,” say Parisa Mahboubi and William Robson of the C.D. Howe Institute.

“Tens of thousands of people leave Canada every year, many of them talented and entrepreneurial people we will miss. Importantly, a significant fraction are themselves immigrants, which may mean we are missing an opportunity to boost Canada’s long-term growth and prosperity.

“A recent study by Statistics Canada, using a data set that combines detailed immigration department data with a Canada Revenue Agency database, highlights the significant phenomenon of emigration among immigrants in Canada. The overall numbers are remarkable: More than 5 per cent of immigrants admitted between 1982 and 2017 emigrated within five years of landing, and a striking 17.5 per cent emigrated within two decades.”

Read how Canada can develop policies to prevent this exodus by promoting successful integration into Canadian society and the labour market.

In case you missed it

Women are changing the face of the death care industry

When Mallory Greene was growing up, dinner table talk with her family often centred on funerals and end-of-life planning.

Ms. Greene, who co-founded Eirene, Canada’s first online cremation arrangement service, had a father who was a funeral director and worked in the industry for 35 years. While others might have found this an odd upbringing, to Ms. Greene, it was just a normal part of childhood.

“Take your kid to work day was at a funeral home,” she laughs.

Ms. Greene originally intended to work in the financial industry after beginning her career as part of the inaugural WealthSimple team. But she began to feel a calling to work with bereaved families.

“I realized it was always in front of me,” she says.

Read the full article.

From the archives

Women with natural Black hairstyles are ready for more inclusive workplaces

For Black women with kinky, curly and Afro textured hair, wearing their natural hair is often a heavy source of discussion.

“Growing up I felt that straight, long hair was beautiful,” says Anok Tiordit, 23, a track and field athlete and recent nursing school graduate from Calgary. Akin to many lived experiences of Black women and girls, Ms. Tiordit faced social pressures to change her natural 4C textured hair in order to be considered beautiful and accepted in society.

Social attitudes and media perception shape and inform the way Afro-textured hairstyles are viewed in society. As a result of racism and social pressures, often looser and straighter textures have become heralded as “good hair,” contrasted against the negative perceptions of kinkier and Afro textured hair as less desirable and difficult to style.

Read the full article.

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