Building Your 2025 Team


I have been thinking a good bit about 2025 recently. I have a couple of teams that are doing Vision 2025. I also just went to my 2nd Daughter’s College Orientation at James Madison University and she will be in her first job in 2025. Also, watching the US Women’s soccer team win the World Cup and seeing how different the team was in 2019 vs. 2015 has me thinking a lot about developing our future leaders.

Sometimes it helps to go backwards first. What were you thinking about in the summer of 2013? (same distance from the 2025.) A few of the most popular fads included—

Word of the Year-Selfie

Media Site of the Year-Vine (where did they go?)

Co-working spaces were becoming a thing

We were waiting for Prince George to be born

We were listening to Blurred Lines by Robin Thicke and others


Wow, a lot has changed since 2013. Now, look around your workplace. What has changed?

Voltage has added superstars to our team, lost some strong team players, added an office, wrote 2 books, did a radio show, brought on many great clients, etc.

Do you still have the same team members? Are they in the same seat? What skills do you have now? What skills are missing?

Okay, what do you expect your team to look like in 2025? What skills will you need? Will you need new leaders? Do you plan to still be in your company? These are important questions to ask yourself as you start to think about the future success of your team and your organization.

A few trends to consider. The number of baby boomers is shrinking in the workplace daily. The newest generation-Gen Z or Digital Natives—will be joining the workplace in droves. The oldest are about 25 now. The Millennials will be moving into senior management roles and Gen Xers will in many of the C-Suite Roles. Other trends to think about—more people are moving to the biggest cities when they move. However, fewer and fewer people are willing to move for work. Thus, you will probably be managing virtual workers and trying to build a team that might be located in multiple locations. The speed of information and technology will only increase with 5G, more data analytics, and quicker processes. Life will get faster as the info comes to us more quickly, so staying ahead of this quickening pace will only help you!

So, what are you going to do about your 2025 team today? Start the conversation with your teams. What skills and talents will be critical in the future? Ask how your leadership will need to change to grow the team (learn about the multiple generations, collaborate more, get comfortable with virtual teams, teams may form and disband quicker, etc.) Also, what characteristics will your new hires need to be successful? Think learning agility vs. being an expert, adaptability and a willingness to always be learning.

The final thing is to do is get started now. Start by putting some of your team members in stretch assignments so they can be great by 2025. Ask key high potentials how they would like to be developed and provide them the time and resources to grow. Start on a book club and invite interesting people to the discussion to stretch everyone’s thinking. Have fun and embrace that the team will change and your team in 2025 could be your best one ever if you focus on it now!!! Good luck and let us know how your team development is going!



Manage New Employee Expectations


It’s hard to remember a time when we have seen more ‘help wanted’ signs. It seems like they are everywhere. And behind every sign is a story. As more jobs chase fewer candidates, wages and incentives increase (not necessarily a bad thing for workers).

I have been working with teams who seem to have a few things in common due to our tight labor market. They all need to source, hire, train and retain good people. By the time they find them, tell them, sell them, start them and ramp them to productivity, they have small fortune invested in each new hire.

These employers are typically very proficient with the technical part of their jobs. Frequently we have opportunities to manage up, to mitigate potential communication disconnects with upper management or to set and manage new employee expectations.

For some employees, it is as basic as reinforcing

a) show up on time

b) show up ready to work

c) show up with a ‘can-do’ attitude.

This requires leaders to allocate and spend time with new hires to ensure they get off on the right foot.  To know what is expected of you as an employee increases retention.

Focus your new employees on the results you want by encouraging their hearts. According
to Raidah al-Baradie, King Fahd Hospital-Dammam, Saudi Arabia, there are seven main components to the management practice of encouraging the heart that helps to increase productivity.

1. Set clear performance standards - Create clear goals and allow employees to provide input  about their goals. Give consistent feedback that allows employees to know if they are meeting their goals and that guides them to correct their course. Encouragement is feedback. Successful managers help their employees understand how their values align with the organizations goals.

2. Expect the best from all - There is a saying, “We get what we expect.” When leaders
expect they are surrounded by incompetence, that is what they will find. Conversely, when    leaders expect their subordinates are highly skilled, that will dominate the environment.
In other words, people have a tendency to live up or down to expectations of their leader.

3. Pay close attention – Put your new employees first. Support them and ensure that they have the tools they need to be successful in their new roles. Pay close attention. Listen with both your ears and your eyes. Being attentive shows, you care and that leads to trust and retention. Spend time with your employees and schedule recurring 1:1 time.

4. Personalize recognition - It is important to structure recognition according to the employee’s needs because impersonal recognition may have the adverse effect of demotivating employees. Offer the recognition in the way that the person wants to
receive it and do not hesitate to ask them. Make the recognition; timely, specific,
sincere, proportional, positive and memorable.

5. Tell the winning story – Utilize well the theater of the mind. Story telling is one of the languages of leadership. Use positive stories to teach, inspire, and motivate. Stories will also help to clarify expectations. Telling great stories includes identifying the people, giving the context, outlining the situation, highlighting the actions and the analogous desired outcomes.

6. Celebrate incremental wins - Celebrating success builds momentum and commitment and energizes people to do well. Furthermore, celebrating success provides a forum for iterating standards and values, while also providing employees an opportunity to come together and establish closer bonds.

7. Be the example - Leaders must model expected behavior. To create a culture of celebration, the leader must celebrate the actions and behaviors of his employees. Be genuine and connect on a personal level. Solicit, gracefully receive, and act on feedback from your staff.

So, to encourage the heart, take action. One of the most important characteristics of a supportive leader is objectivity or open-mindedness. A good leader should also wear a smile.

A smile helps to put subordinates at ease and communicates that their leader cares about them as individuals.

It is highly recommended that leaders who want to improve productivity provide regular feedback and be responsive to their employees because nothing is more demotivating than
silence, or not receiving any feedback at all.

How can you implement some of these strategies to encourage your newest employees today?

The Future of Leadership


This week my 16-year-old daughter, Natalie, completed the 11th grade.  She is busily working on college scholarship applications because she has her sights set on the University of Notre Dame.  Following is an essay she wrote for the B. Davis Scholarship regarding what she views as the 3 most important characteristics of a leader.  Let’s learn what is important to our future leader:


Views on Leadership

 Working in groups is a constant activity in my life: I live with my mom and four sisters at home, and I work with people at school and in theatre.  I have been under the instruction of fantastic leaders as well as not-so great ones; I have even had a few leadership opportunities of my own.  My observations and experiences have helped shape what I believe are the three most important characteristics of a leader: communication, respect, and passion.

Communication is the primary responsibility of a leader.  In order to reach success, every member on a team must be on the same page.  A clear purpose or goal and simple instructions are ways to center a team’s focus.  First, the leader must spend time thinking about what needs to be accomplished then list and prioritize the actions needed to reach accomplishment.  Following brainstorming and planning comes assigning and explaining; the leader presents his or her plan to the team and gives each member a role with instructions.  Then, the leader supervises and helps the team meet the goal by further explaining instructions so members understand what needs to be done, working alongside members if necessary, and checking in frequently to witness team progress.  My choreographer/dance teacher is someone who has provided me this example of great communication; when there is a show to be done, she creates the dances, prioritizes them by the time needed to teach and clean, and schedules rehearsals.  The rehearsal schedule is given out in several different ways - verbal, internet, and paper - and she also explains to each of us our role and what is expected.  This skill takes a great deal of trial and error as a good leader consistently finds better ways to direct their team.  A good way this skill is developed is having a thinking partner: someone that can feed ideas, motivate, and help create clearer instructions.  Whenever I am about to send an important message, my mom acts as my thinking partner to make sure I communicate clearly. 

When a leader communicates with respect, they can be more confident that their instructions will be completely understood.  Everyone has grown up hearing this lesson, and it is forever rooted in our souls: treat others the way you want to be treated.  Humans want and deserve respect, and it is a general virtue that everyone should have.  Teams usually are inefficient and unmotivated when their leader is disrespectful.  Leaders should not hoard or pridefully use their power but rather divvy it out and create opportunities for colleagues to lead and work to higher skill levels.  How else did the leader end up in their current position?  It is more than likely because their leader was kind and thoughtful and gave them a chance.  Leaders should get to know their colleagues on a personal level.  Mutual understanding between the leader and team members regarding their individual duties and life activities is an important aspect of respect.  To best develop this quality of respect, the exercise of putting oneself in another person’s shoes will allow the leader to see what their team members experience and can best communicate and work with them.  I am in a performing arts program that has multiple instructors with one instructor considered the head.  The head of the program is technically in charge of everything, however, this individual does a poor job of allowing the other instructors to make decisions and take charge of some aspects of the program which highlights a lack of respect to those instructors as well as the students working with them.  It is unfortunate that pride can cause people in leadership positions to behave disrespectfully; however, it provides a great example of what not to do.  Respect is developed in every choice an individual makes, and the best teams are run by a respectful leader.

Lastly, but certainly not least, is passion.  The best leaders are usually developed by their passion; for example, I tend to be a natural leader in theatre because I care so much about a production and how it looks and runs.  Team members are encouraged by the devotion of their leader to the project and feel the need to get on their level, hence, a team motivated to get work done.  Passion is contagious, and it is more fun to work when one is inspired.  To lead a team with fervor, a leader should find something about the project that is super important to them and use that aspect to fuel their work.  Tracing back to the skill of communication, the leader should explain their passion to the team and encourage them to find their own.  I was cast as the star in a dance piece that depicted my choreographer/director’s life.  She was so passionate about what she created and wanted to make sure her vision was executed perfectly.  Many of my rehearsals were spent conversing with her about who my character was, what type of movement she wanted, and the expressions she wanted to see.  The piece ended up being absolutely amazing, and that is because my director’s passion inspired us cast members to do our very best.  A team bonded together by passion and determination is, without a doubt, the vehicle that drives to success.


Group projects will be a constant activity in our lives, and it is important to recognize what skills provide success whether you are the leader or being led.  These three characteristics - communication, respect, and passion - are most effective when they are combined.  Without respect, communication will not be accepted well among team members.  Without passion, team members might find it difficult to respect their leader’s vision if they feel they are working in vain.  Without communication, team members lose any respect and/or passion they might have for a project.  All three qualities are things that are continuously developed and improved.  Personally, I will strive to continue to learn from the leaders I follow and better myself in these skills as I earn leadership positions of my own.

Natalie Love

May 24, 2019

A great reminder to all of us that a younger generation is watching and learning from our leadership.  How will you communicate your passion with respect to your team today?

Lessons from Little League


My son just finished his first season of Little League. After years of watching the kids learn how to throw, catch, hit, and pitch, this is the year they are really starting to play competitively, and his coach was competitive in the best sense of the word.

·        He set high expectations for behavior, effort and attitude.

·        He taught fundamentals, did the drills, and broke down plays and strategy for the kids.

But most important of all,

·        He was motivating.

He was so motivating, that when the team was celebrating after their last game, I took him aside to thank him specifically for the way he spoke to those kids. He preached a mindset into those kids with all of his chatter on their field. If they were paying attention, what he was saying will help them go far in life and baseball.

Lessons from the Chatter on the Field

Here are some of the things I heard from on the field that are particularly relevant for leaders:

·        “Hustle!”

We need to be reminded to keep moving through the transitions in our lives, between projects, and throughout the day.

·        “Where is the next play?” (and sometimes the directive: “The play is at First!”)

#1. When a leader is specific with a question, team members learn to think for themselves.

#2. It is also important for the leader to be aware of what is happening on the field. If there has been a lot of action, it is often helpful to remind the players where their next move is.

·        “Shake it off.”

Yes, things go wrong. But a punishing, punitive leader does not help a player move on when they are already filled with regret. Shake it off.

·        “You are alright. Focus on the next play.”

When things are not going as we plan or hope, we can get distracted by our frustration and review of past experiences. There is always a play in front of us. Let team members (and ourselves!) know “you are alright,” and where the focus should be: on the play that is coming our way now. A great leader refocuses the team so they don’t miss the play that is in the present because we are so busy thinking about what just happened. Move on. Focus on the next play. Apply what you learned and go!

·        “I want everyone on the fence cheering for your team mates!”

Yes please! Can we have more cheering of teammates out there? Your people want to be recognized and appreciated not just by you, but by their peers. Are you teaching everyone on your team how to praise, encourage and motivate their peers? Do you set this as a behavior expectation on your team?

It will do wonders for your culture if you do. 

And when in the outfield:

·        “Let’s hear some chatter out there. Talk to your pitcher!”

·        “Call the ball. Let your teammates know you’ve got it.”

When a leader is aware of the action on the field, they are able to offer time-sensitive, relevant, specific coaching to their teams. The key: coach, you have to be paying attention! And then you need something clear and succinct to say.

As I sat behind the fence watching the kids on the field, I started to imagine what it would be like if I had this team’s coaching crew in my daily life:

·        “Ok Jennifer, get up and get going! Hustle to the plate!”

·        “Be ready for your 3 o’clock, Jennifer! He can really swing the bat.”

·        “Shake if off! Focus on the next play.”

·        “Don’t worry about the runner. The play is at 1st.” 

Our Own Coaching Crew

As I thought about it, I realized I do have a set of coaches in my life.

They are the voices inside my head that constantly offer up their chatter.

They are the people in my life that I spend time with, ask advice of, and listen to.

And, of course, there are the people that I am coaching myself, intentionally and unintentionally, with what I am saying, verbally and non-verbally.

Coaching Ourselves: the Inner Chatter

I constantly talk to myself as I move through my day. But what am I saying? My goal is to have the voice inside my head sound more like my kid’s Little League coaches and less like the Inner Critic that seems to have the microphone in my head far too much of the time.

What do you need to do to move from Critic to Coach in your own mind? With your team? Maybe even at home with your family?

Coaching our Teams: Leading the Chatter on the Field

How can you help the people you lead shake it off and focus on the next play?

When a player would strike out and head back to the dugout, usually Coach would speak directly them. He’d stop them in their tracks, look them in the eye, and have a quick, private conversation. These were intended to shift the energy from what just happened to what was next. In those few moments:

·        He told them what they got right.

·        Reminded them of what they learned.

·        Focused them on what was next. And,

·        Reset a clear expectation about the attitude he expected everyone to bring to the field.

The direct coaching, modeling of behavior, and the continual, clear resetting of expectations proved magical on the ball field. It was a winning season in more ways than one. They learned to be kind, competitive, and how to coach and cheer for one another.

How can you teach your team to be a group that is standing up at the fence of the field, offering a lot of encouraging chatter to their colleagues? No one wants to work in a negative environment. So fire the Inner Critic if you have one, and set an example for your teammates about how to play to win.

How we talk to our teams matters. What is the chatter on your field?

Looking for Talent Here is a Great Talent Source!

Wishes for you.jpg

How are we encouraging intelligent, middle aged women to reenter the workforce?

In my office there has been a lot of talk about employee recruitment and retention lately.  Something that I have personal experience with is trying to gain employment when there is a 10+ year gap in work history due to staying home to raise children.  Women who do this are some of the brightest, most caring, hardworking, and loyal people I know.  Sounds like what I might look for in an employee.  So how can we get employers to look beyond the empty traditional resume and application to the incredible person entering a new phase of life?

During my years as a stay-at-home mom, I learned more about leadership and problem solving than anywhere I have worked outside the home.  I also assisted the startup of a lawn and land maintenance business and ran an independent distributorship of healthcare products.  I learned to network like a champ through these experiences, as well as through learning to setup successful playdates!  The constant multitasking and scheduling involved in running a six-person household is impressive.  Women like me have to rely on these networking skills to even get an employer to notice what she might offer because rarely will an empty work history get a second glance.  (I originally met the person I currently work for at a local restaurant bar where we were both on date nights with our husbands.)

In my mid-twenties I moved to a different part of the country where I knew no one who could give me a referral yet I got at least one interview with every resume I submitted.  Apparently, on paper, I had work experience, skills, and an education that warranted another look.  Fast forward 20-ish years, after staying home for 10 years with my children, I sent resumes out to at least a dozen businesses.  Most of those resumes were accompanied by a personal referral from someone who knew a leader at the hiring company.  I got 1 informal phone interview … that’s it!  Yes, there would be a learning curve with all the technology changes that have taken place in the last fifteen years; and, yes, I would be looking for flexibility to continue to be available to my children because I am still a mom.  However, this 45-year-old woman can offer SO much more that contributes to the success of businesses in today’s world than my 25-year-old self, with all the opportunities, could offer.

How are you making accommodations for women (or men) who have stayed at home with children for a number of years?  What makes you hesitant about interviewing or hiring them?  What if you recruited this demographic specifically?  More than likely you will find more than you had hoped for.  The experience and dedication that it takes to run a household well and raise children should be the most sought after qualifications when searching for candidates.  Consider what questions you could ask to find the true life experience that correlates to the leadership you want for your company.

The Key to Great Culture


There is a lot of talk about great culture going on out there. The labor market is tight and employers are doing everything they can to attract talent. But there is one key ingredient that is essential for great culture, and if you have it you will retain your best talent, attract great candidates, and foster the thriving work environments that truly engage employees.

The Key Ingredient

That key ingredient is great refereeing: to have a great culture you need to be a great ref.

Here is what good refereeing looks like:

Someone says something in a meeting that is disrespectful of a colleague. A good referee asks for the group to pause, and says, “I want to be able to hear your concern so that we can resolve the issues that we face as a team, and when you frame your concerns in a way that belittles your colleague it makes it hard to hear. I’d like you to restate your question in a way that is respectful of your colleague.”

What happens when someone speaks up?

·        The group learns to be accountable to one another.

·        The person who was disrespected hears that there is a distinction between the tone of how something was raised and the problem or issue that is the pain point at hand.

·        The person who spoke disrespectfully discovers a boundary for their behavior. They have to work in the moment to reframe how they present their concerns, and learn to raise issues respectfully.  It should be an expectation that concerns need to be brought forward respectfully in order to be addressed – if respect is missing the disrespect gets addressed instead of the issue that was raised.

Refs Know the Rule Book

To be a great ref, you need to know the Rule Book. To get and preserve a great culture the team needs to decide what behaviors they want and don’t want. Those behaviors need to be named and commonly understood. “Respect” is not a good Rule. It is too vague. Respect means a lot of different things to people. Defining these words with specific behaviors help teams become good referees. When respect is better defined people know what, specifically, to do:

We demonstrate respect by:

·        listening without interrupting

·        Speaking directly to someone when we have a conflict or concern to address

·        Coming prepared to meetings – having reviewed materials

·        Meeting deadlines that were agreed upon

·        Communicating regularly with colleagues who need to be informed about changes in our work…

You get the idea. When I sit down with a team to work on Ground Rules we get down to the specifics. What exactly does this look like in real time? People need to know what success looks like before they can strive to achieve it.

Creating Ground Rules with your team is not complicated. Check my blog on this topic here.

On the Best Teams, Everyone Referees the Game

A final word about great refereeing: it is a Team Activity. Having a team talk through how they will hold one another accountable for their missteps helps people learn to referee, and sets the expectation that colleagues don’t need to wait for a leader to call the foul. They are empowered to speak up and help referee the game.

There is never one referee on the field in professional sports. When a game is being played it takes a lot of eyes to help ensure the game is played well.

That maxim we learned as kids still applies: When you see something, say something.

Now, let’s Play Ball!

Ground Rules Keep Teams Healthy


I frequently am asked to work with leadership teams to either launch a new initiative, prepare for succession, or build a new team dynamic for teams who have stagnated or where trust has broken down.

When we begin we always start by setting Ground Rules. These are the rules that this group co-creates and agrees to be accountable for as they do their work together.

Setting Ground Rules

To establish Ground Rules I ask 3 key questions:

1.      What do you need from this team/your colleagues in order to perform at your best?

2.      What does this team need to focus on as a whole in order to perform at our best right now?

3.      How do we want to hold one another accountable for the Ground Rules we establish?

Revisiting Ground Rules

Ground Rules should be revisited regularly. I have had leaders take the Ground Rules they’ve set with their colleagues back to their own teams and share them. People write them on their white boards, include them at the tops of their agendas, and check in about Ground Rules at the opening of every meeting to be sure that the pain points between team members have a place to be addressed in healthy, open ways. They make space and a plan to maintain the healthy functioning of their team.

A Fact about Ground Rules

The hard truth is that Ground Rules will be broken. Frequently. At some point every team member steps across the line with one Ground Rule or another. The strength of a team is defined by how it responds when Ground Rules get broken. Do you say anything? How is the subject broached? Do people leave the conversation with new ideas and tools about what to do differently? Do team members “call fouls” and bring up a misstep of their own or their colleague? Are apologies offered?

Ground Rules determine the rules of the team. They help name and make explicit the boundaries of how we will treat one another. But, just like in baseball, if no one knows the rules or plays by them, they are meaningless.  For more on how to referee see my next blog – “The Key to Great Culture”.

The Rewards

The best moments I have had with my team have been times when they have called me out for stepping close to or across the line with Ground Rules. (On all my teams I have included “Work at a Sustainable Pace” because I know I need help with this one. I will exhaust the team with the pace I want to keep!)  I have learned so much from my colleagues when they have called my attention to the behaviors and habits that lead me to break our Ground Rules. That learning has paid off dividends in every area of my life. I am a better mom, wife and friend because of the time and attention my colleagues have paid to how we are together. What I learned at work applied at home. I needed to change my habits there too! Give Ground Rules a try on your team. You’ll be surprised how much of an impact something as simple as defining the boundaries of behavior can have on your workplace.



How many times in getting a New Year underway do we run into the proverbial wall and ask, “How did we get here and how do we get unstuck and get going?”

We might be stuck implementing change, leading a project team, writing, or with some other key initiative.  Executives, managers, teams, and individuals can minimize the frustration associated with being stuck in nonproductive time and get going by applying these Voltage principles to Get Unstuck:

·       Get Clear

·       Get Real

·       Get Good

·       Get Going

·       Get on with It.

GET CLEAR – Clarity Is the Greatest Time Saver

Have the right people meet at the right time to define the current state and to get clarity about exactly where things are stuck and how to get going to where we need to be.

Leaders lead.  They answer the imperative question, “Why do we do what we do?”

Without clarity of purpose, participants may become resistant.  Without a common language and understanding of the current situation, participants become reluctant to take chances and, perhaps, may even come to resent the leadership team that placed them in this position.  The position of knowing the clock is ticking, knowing that they will have accountabilities, but not having clarity about what the accountabilities are is most uncomfortable.

GET REAL – What Is the Plan?

Leaders lead.  They identify SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) for the plan and determine SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely).  They track and measure the goals as work on the plan progresses.

GET GOOD – What Does Our Best Look Like?

Leaders lead. They repeatedly communicate vision to the organization, clarifying what the best looks like.  They are a walking example of aligning behavior with goals.

Leaders adjust their style to become citizens of the future state.  They live in a different space.  They forgo passivity and negativity in favor of rational (not emotional) accountability.

GET GOING – Get Over the Hurdle

Leaders lead the Journey.  They take steps to overcome cultural resistance to change by formally communicating the plan and the rationale for the decisions that have been made.  Team members may not agree or even like the decisions made, but they cannot fairly say they were uninformed.  Leaders make changes to their approach when necessary.  They make themselves available to keep communication flowing. 

GET ON WITH IT – Owning a Culture of Success

Leaders lead.  They share success and success stories.  This, in turn, adds positive momentum and cultural buy-in which promotes a culture of success.

Using these tools to Get Unstuck and Get Going will help minimize frustration and make 2019 a successful New Year!

Sleep on It: Why Rest and Restoration Are Essential to Successful Leadership


Have you encountered a tired leader?  Have you ever noticed your own behavior or responses to your team when you are tired?  Short fuses, unexpected tensions, and distracted activity can be result of a lack of rest and a hindrance to the communication skills and culture you are seeking to build in your organization. 

Numerous studies show that sleep is critical to our health and wellness. Sleep researchers and health educators agree, making plans to get a good night helps us function at our best. In a recent article, Karen Engle, Ed.D. of the Rutgers Cooperative Extension observes: “Sleep, like diet and exercise, is important for our minds and bodies to function normally. In fact, sleep appears to be required for survival. Rats deprived of sleep die within two to three weeks, a time frame similar to death due to starvation.[1]

Yet many leaders continue to work long hours and late at night to get their work done.


Because it is a habit.

As Dr. Donna Arand, Clinical Director of the Kettering Medical Sleep Disorders Center in Dayton, Ohio points out: “The body loves conditioning. It functions well with regular schedules.”  When we are out of the habit of regular sleep we acclimate to this new normal, and a shorter night of rest becomes our routine.

Leaders, I’d like to challenge you to think of your rituals of rest and restoration as even more important that your workout routine.

So, if you want to get your sleep habits back on track, here are some new habits to try and get your sleeping well again.

1.      Go to bed at the same time every day.

As Dr. Arand pointed out, the body loves conditioning. So let it know when it is time for bed!

2.      Have wind down rituals at the end of the day. 

Have you noticed that it is easier to rest when you are on a vacation? We are already wound down at the end of the day, because we didn’t get wound up with work. Our bodies need time to transition from wakefulness to sleep. The rest of the time we need to help ourselves wind down by giving our bodies some cues that it is time to rest and sleep. How do you wind down at night and get ready to head to bed?

3.       Sleep in a dark room.

“Even the light from the alarm clock can fool the brain into thinking it’s not sleep time,” says Dr. Carol Ash, medical director of Sleep for Life in Hillsborough, N.J. Leave the phone in another room. The blue light is not good for you after 7 pm anyway!

4.      Stay away from caffeine and alcohol.

I know, you don’t want to hear me say this, but take a break from the coffee and alcohol for 3 weeks and see how you feel. You will get a better night’s sleep and have more energy throughout the day. I promise.

And finally,

5.      Get up at the same time every day.

This habit of waking and resting will give your body great cues about when to get going and when to wind down.

With some intentional planning you can get your sleep schedule back on track. And if you need some motivation, try this quip from sleep researcher Dr. Carol Ash:

 “People think you can make up for bad habits,” says Dr. Ash. “But it’s like
only brushing your teeth on the weekends.”

Enough said!

[1] Karen Ensle, Ed.D, RD, FADA, CFCS in

How Big is the Job?


When was the last time your organization did an honest and comprehensive job evaluation?

This is necessary to retain the people you have now and those you will need in the future. In working with multiple organizations in 2019, I have seen issues of wage compression. Which means, what it takes to secure talent today may not be what it took 3 – 5 years ago. Some pay scales have not kept pace with market demand resulting in undesirable turnover or ‘ghosting.’

If you have done this recently or are in the process…bravo! Like most organizations, these things are important, but are not necessarily urgent. We may or may not be able to afford
a formal (and expensive) wage survey but we can act to remain competitive and to increase retention.  

I would like to challenge us to take think in these terms:

                              A) How Big is the Job?

                              B) What is its Impact?

To answer these, we will need to address three variables. What is the job’s required:

                              1.  Know-How

                              2. Problem Solving

                              3. Accountability

Know How is defined as knowledge, however acquired, necessary for competent job performance. This includes Technical Know-How; Managerial Know-How and Human
Relations Soft Skills.

Problem Solving is defined as the thinking required by the job for analyzing, evaluating, creating, reasoning, arriving at and making conclusions. Problem solving has two dimensions.

The first is the environment in which the thinking takes place. The second is the challenge presented by the thinking to be done.

Accountability is defined as impact of the job on results. It has three primary elements. They are the Freedom to Act, aka the degree of control the jobholder has;  Impact on Results aka direct to indirect impact on end results by contributory, shared, or primary responsibilities; and Magnitude aka the scope or monetary size of accountability in specific job related  areas.

According to Sibson Consulting / Segal Group headquartered in New York City, signs of

improperly leveled jobs include:

•  Frequent requests for job reclassifications. Job ambiguity may produce role confusion. If
internal controls are weak, it can fuel complaints (some of which may be legitimate.)

• Too many job titles. Job title proliferation is usually associated with jobs whose responsibilities are unclear. The result can be a damaging situation where people occupy the same role but have different job titles and pay grades.

• Employee perceptions of uncompetitive pay. Employee dissatisfaction may often be traced to a failure to accurately measure a jobs position in the organizational hierarchy and to attribute the right market values.

• Redundant work/processes. Errantly measured and misplaced jobs may produce duplicative responsibilities and ambiguous accountabilities that contribute to an environment of distrust, miscommunication and confusion that, ultimately, erodes service and quality.

• Staffing imbalances. A proliferation of “directors” and staffing ratios with top-heavy organizational designs is an indication that the job leveling system is being used as a way to generate pay increases through faux promotions.

So, asking ‘How Big a particular Job is?’ and ‘What is its Impact on our organization?’ is a great place to start. Making the correct adjustments to shifting market conditions may mean the difference between winner the war for talent or being put at a competitive disadvantage.

Who Is Your Advisory Board?


One of my favorite parts of the Wall St. Journal is when they highlight a talented leader in the news and they discuss their Advisory Board. I like to see who the leader looks up to, respects and how they gain feedback for themselves. Often, I have heard of one or two of the advisors, but I am more excited to learn about the people I have not heard of as they are the superstars behind the superstars.


Who is your Advisory Board? What, you do not have one?! Well, that is okay. Here are some ideas about how to select your board. First, let me start with a definition. I am talking about your personal board to help you develop your talents, career and achieve your goals. I am not talking about an Advisory Board that you would convene to go over your business goals (this is valuable to do as well and probably will be a future blog topic.)


The first thing to think about is what do you to discuss with an advisor? Next, you will want to know what are your career aspirations? Okay, now that you have some initials thoughts it is time to start identifying advisors.


Here are some thoughts for you to ponder—

1.     You will want a mix of technical experts in your field and people that can help you grow skills that you might be lacking (emotional intelligence, business development, budgeting.)

2.     You should be clear on what you are hoping to gain out of the relationship.

3.     What is your request of your advisor—how often do you want to meet? What type of insights do you hope they can provide? Are there contacts they can introduce you to? etc.

4.     Your advisors can change over time. The challenges you have in 2019 might be very different in 2022. It is okay to thank an advisor, honor them with a gift and a nice note thanking them for their advice and then selecting a new advisor for your situation.

5.     Do you have to pay them? Generally, no. However, you will want to treat them to lunch or coffee.

6.     Think about what you can do for your advisor. As you work with them, be curious about what they are interested in and see if you can connect them to someone or a good resource to help them grow as well.

7.     How often do you meet? Some meet as often as once a month. Normal, is about 3-4 times per year.

8.     What makes a good advisor? A good listener that can understand your challenges. Someone you trust sharing your hopes, dreams and concerns with. Someone who has the time to meet and is willing to give you thoughtful advice.


I have used an Advisory Board for the past 25 years and it has been critical to my success. I have also been an Advisor multiple times and it has been an incredibly rewarding experience to help others. Who is going to be on your Advisory Board? Who could you be an Advisor to? Let us know how you are doing in your growth!

Is it Time for Spring Cleaning?


My wife, Beth, and I were doing some Spring Cleaning in our garage and going through some old clothes this week and it got me thinking about work. I wondered, when was the last time you did a good Spring Cleaning at work? No, I am not asking you to read Marie Kondo. No, I am not asking you if each assignment brings you joy (well, maybe you might want to review your day and see what activities do give you joy—more on this in a minute.) What I am asking you to do is to wake up from your Zombie Zone and notice what is going on around you.


Let’s start simple—your office.

1.     Do you have books that you have not touched or never planned on reading? Donate them and clear some space for future books.

2.     How about your pictures? If your 19 year old kid’s last updated picture is their 8th birthday then it might be time for some updated photos.

3.     Files—they can take a life of their own. Schedule a 30 minute clean up time. Get rid of the old files or least get them in a different location.

4.     Chotskies—you know all those things you picked up from conferences or vendors that were cute at one time. Now, they are just filling up office. Keep 1 or 2 and clear out the rest.



1.     Okay, what customers/clients bring you joy? Oops, I did go Marie Kondo on you! Let them know why you enjoy working with them and do they have any referral for you.

2.     Do you have customers that used to bring you joy/satisfying work but do not any more? What do you need to change in the relationship for you both to find this a rewarding partnership?

3.     Are there some clients that are no longer a good fit for your organization? What is your plan to let them know and find a better solution for them?



1.     Let’s review where you are spending your time. What meetings no longer make sense? If you started the meeting, when can you end it? Aim for no more than 1-2 more meetings. A good place to start are recurring meetings with no set agenda!

2.     Length of meetings—we default to 1 hour or 30 minute meetings. Can you cut 15 minutes from these meeting to get some time back?

3.     What activities do you find joy in? What activities suck the energy out of you? What things could be delegated?

4.     Have you put vacation, 3 day weekends and fun times with family on the calendar? If not, your calendar will get filled up with lower level activities and you will be bummed you are missing out a great 3 day weekend!


Okay, I need to make a trip to Goodwill to drop of some clothes for someone else to find joy in. Let me know how your Spring Cleaning goes. I hope you can open up some space for your clearer thinking, fun and reconnecting with your purpose. Have a great spring!



We have all heard the saying, “People are our greatest asset”. If this is so, then why do many organizations drop the ball with regards to their on-boarding? By the time we find them, tell them, sell them on joining our organization and ramp them up to productivity, we have invested a small fortune! Done well, on-boarding positively impacts culture and reduces bad turnover. Yet some think it’s acceptable to pay lip services to this crucial function. A good hire can be turned into a bad hire if proper on-boarding practices are not followed. Worst of all, it is often self-inflicted.

This applies to the new hire as well as the Team that that they are joining. The last thing we want to do is to do is to find the right fit for our Team, get everybody excited about them joining us and then leave them alone. By following the steps below, we are well on the way to the successful launch of our new colleague. And make no mistake, they will remember that experience, (good or bad).

Ensure your new hire stays and succeeds by using these 10 onboarding best practices:

1. (When possible) Reach Out to New Hires Before Their Start Date – Provide them with re-assurance
 of their “buying decision to join your organization. Ensure that they feel welcome. Setting up an onboarding portal that new hires can access online before their start date is a good way for them
to “buy in” and begin learning about the company on their own time. They may be able to get things like  benefit forms submitted and out of the way.

2. Make Their First Day Memorable – Whatever it is that you do, do something. It might be lunch
 with the new boss, a welcome card signed by all, or something thematically tied into Team values. You don’t get a second chance at a first impression, so make sure day one is a positive experience for all everyone!

3. Keep Schedules Tight at the Beginning – Start off on the right foot and be accessible. Your new hire is talented and may be chomping at the bit to make things happen. Get them up to speed gradually. Scheduling their first 2-3 weeks ahead of time has benefits. It builds trust and says, “We have you accounted for!”

4. Use the Entire Team in Onboarding – They were likely part of the interview process, so keep the continuity and momentum by involving all of the new work family members to ramp them up. Assigning
a buddy or mentor who works in the same department as your new hire is also a good idea. The new hire gets a point person to direct any questions, comments or concerns towards, and the mentor gets an opportunity to demonstrate leadership.

5. Spread Out the Paperwork – Allocate routine paperwork type activities to “down” times, ie those times when the new hire and Team are not involved in “people” work. If you drop all of the necessary forms on your new hire all at once, they could become disenchanted, or worse, overwhelmed.

6. Announce the New Hire to the Entire Company – Job movement is big deal, so make a big deal
out of it. Set a positive tone in the organization for the new hire’s internal brand to grow around. It can also foster vital interdepartmental collaboration. If departments end up working together in the future, everyone will already be familiar with each other.

7. Set New Hire Expectations Early – Communicate clearly about roles, goals and expectations. Set short-term and long-term goals and have them check in regularly to see if they are being met. After a couple of months, a formal performance review should be scheduled to give new employees honest feedback on how they’re doing. And of course, don’t forget to heap praise on those who deserve it.

8. Allow Them to Give Feedback - Create “non-judgmental” space for them to provide feedback about how things are going. The onboarding process provides an opportunity that can benefit your entire organization. Should you implement their feedback, new hires will feel heard, and you’ll have made improvements because of it. That is a big win for everybody!

9. Reinforce Cultural Values Continuously – Be inquisitive and observant, (almost parental at the start). Get to know your new hire’s work habits and personality in order to guide them in integrating with your company’s culture. Remember, it’s a fore gone conclusion that the new hire brings technical expertise to the Team. Almost always when they run into difficulty it is the people side of the equation.

10. Don’t Allow New Hires to Go Too Fast -Too Soon – Remember, they don’t know what you know. And they don’t know what they don’t knowAt the beginning its about people and systems. After about 60-75 days it moves on to “low hanging fruit”, connecting with stakeholders and possible talent assessments (if applicable). Then someplace between 100 -180 days, it’s time to rock and roll. Proper onboarding and new hire integration takes time. In this case, slow and steady really does win the race.


For additional leadership content click here

Lee Hubert is a Speaker, Facilitator, Trainer and founder of iTrainManagerforSuccess affiliate of Voltage Leadership, with over 20 years of experience in human resources development in healthcare, technology, financial and energy sectors. 



You get the knock on the door, “Got a minute”? One of your star performers walks in and starts telling you that they are leaving the organization. Ouch, this was quite unexpected and this person is an integral part of the team.  What should we do next? How can we prevent this of type of “bad turnover” from happening again?

Which comes first, employee retention strategy or recognition? Voltage CEO Jeff Smith and I did a recent radio show, Illuminating Leadership on this very topic. Below are some of the tips and tools we talked about.

For answers to the questions above and a deeper dive into Recognition and Retention Strategies please click this link:

                                                Recognition IS a Retention Strategy                                                                                             The Big “3” F-R-C

1.  Feedback – “Retained” employees want and need consistent honest feedback about how they are doing.

2.  Recognition – Ignoring star performers paves the way for them to be recognized by another employer.

3.  Caring – “Retained” employees feel a real sense of integrity from their reporting relationship.

                                     How to practice Recognition as a Retention Strategy

  • Find out what do employees want from their culture. It’s your job as a leader to create space for the retention discussion to consistently happen! Be inquisitive, get behind the Manager’s closed door and understand their satisfiers and dissatisfiers.

  • Don’t get hung up on trying to have the “perfect” retention program. Don’t delay on starting to recognize top performers and keep it simple. Even with little or no budget just do it.

  • Avoid the “Iceberg of Ignorance” - Ask staff and teammates, “what should we be doing differently”? Some data suggest that only 4% of “true” organizational problems are understood at the “C” level while 75 – 100% of the front-line managers and staff live with them every day!

  • Practice Re-Recruiting – Treat them as if you wanted to join your Team. What would you do differently?

Recognition ideas:

  • Lunch with the boss – Make it about them, not a defacto session

  • Don’t forget their birthday – simple, but many forget this simple opportunity

  • Peer to peer recognition – Build esprit ‘d corp by setting the example to follow

  • Hand written notes to the employee’s home / spouse, (with gift card / dinner etc)

  • The Travelling Trophy -Simple, fun and never goes out of style, (take their picture with it)

  • Give Time Back – ie, Time off to let them participate causes they care deeply about

  • March Madness – For fun only, tap the passion and excitement of the road to the final four

  • Let vacation be vacation -  And when they return, let them adjust a little as they “re-enter”

  • Work from Home day – Trust them to do what they need to. Give them the freedom to be who they are.

For additional leadership content click here

Lee Hubert is a Speaker, Facilitator, Trainer and founder of iTrainManagerforSuccess affiliate of Voltage Leadership, with over 20 years of experience in human resources development in healthcare, technology, financial and energy sectors. 

A Case Study On Retention and Growth Solutions


To continue our series of conversations on hiring, developing, and retaining great new hires and internal leaders, Voltage is excited to exhibit a case study on a phenomenal client of ours.

This past Friday Torc Robotics was acquired by Daimler Trucks, a trucking subsidiary of the German automaker behind brands including Mercedes-Benz and Freightliner. This is big news for Torc Robotics and Blacksburg, Virginia.

Voltage has been working with Torc Robotics for over 5 years now and would like to show you a piece of how we have been able to assist Torc in their growth!

Taking A Walk On The Other Side Of The Street


I often get up from my desk at least once per day to take a walk outside.  Fresh air, movement, and resting my eyes from screens is helpful.  I realized, today, that I only walk on the same side of the street on which my office is located.  I have never thought of this before.  I mean, who really cares, right?  But I think it must represent something …

               When my thoughts challenged me to go walk on the other side of the street, I experienced slight anxiety.  Weird!  However, once I did, I found that I was more aware of my surroundings because things were slightly unfamiliar.  For example, there is a tree bursting with tiny red berries that is very visible from the other side of the street, but I had never noticed it.  Now, I couldn’t avoid noticing because there were squirrels playing in the branches as I walked under the thick coverage and berries crackling underfoot making the sidewalk quite messy.  There was truly a lot going on in that small 1/10 block that I had never observed.

               What are we missing by staying on the same side of the street?  Think of the different areas of home, work, service, or play that are quite familiar to you.  Do you miss all the bright, vibrant, lively, sometimes messy, small areas that exist around you because you feel anxious about the unfamiliar? 

We stay away from change and continue on our normal path to our peril.

               Yes … patterns, plans, processes, and habits are all very helpful in our daily lives and can serve us well.  You are probably aware of your own – good and bad.  But what about the things you are not doing but could be doing?  What about the things people around you are doing?  We grow together when we are aware of these things. 

               I recently confronted these questions in my own household.  In January, we moved to a new house so our patterns have all changed.  My four daughters, who are very happy with the move, have been resistant to helping with things that they normally did on a routine basis.  As my frustration mounted I realized that their resistance and complaining was a lot less on the weekend.  So I took a “step on the other side of the street” and saw that they prefer downtime before engaging in chores.  Our daily commute is quite different now and with the compression of time I was wanting chores done as soon as we arrived home.  I like to get things done while I am still “moving” because once I stop I want to be done for the day!  But the girls are missing the downtime they used to experience right after school.  To be honest, I didn’t even pay attention to the downtime that they used to enjoy before chores because we had been in that pattern for so long.  With this new realization, I am no longer trying to form them to the process that is comfortable for me and we are working together to make a new pattern for our weekday chores.

               Where can you apply getting out of your “zone” to experience the other side of the street?  Take the step … observe, listen, breathe in that less familiar space.  Learn from the people and environments around you – in your personal world and in your professional environment.  Let me know what you find!

Exposure, Capacity & Priority


How do we boil things down to their essence and focus on what matters most?

The symptomology includes things like: “We are so busy with day to day activities, we don’t have time to communicate effectively”, or “We never seem to have enough people to get the work done timely, and “How did we let a whole year go by without completing or at least making a dent in our biggest projects?”

Leaders of all levels and from all industries struggle with this from time to time. The answer almost always has to do with the choices they made and when they made them.

When we are up against it, in good economic times or challenging ones, we can make three choices:

A) We can work faster with the resources we have.

B) We can delegate some of the ‘overload’ to another.

C) We accept that some things are not going to happen as planned.

I recently had the pleasure of working with a very busy technology team who was stuck and led them through an exercise to bring clarity and manageability. It had to do with boiling things down to three variables.

Exposure, Capacity & Priority

1) Exposure – Where are we exposed? It could be financial, legal, regulatory, ethical, quality etc.

2) Capacity – Given our current state, do we realistically have the resources to pull it off? If not, which capabilities to we need develop?

3) Priority - What goes first and what happens if we don’t do this?

This simple framework galvanized their thought process without getting to far into the weeds and helped to crystallize deliverables. So, for those instances when you feel ‘stuck’, it might prove very helpful to focus on these three things. They will generate more dialog about how to go about your business and chances are you will be going about the right business.

For additional leadership content click here

Lee Hubert is a Speaker, Facilitator, Trainer and founder of iTrainManagerforSuccess affiliate of Voltage Leadership, with over 20 years of experience in human resources development in healthcare, technology, financial and energy sectors. 

How Do I Develop my Managers so that I Can Retain my Current Workforce?


Recently we hosted Client Appreciation Breakfasts for our local clients. Over 10 days we traveled to 3 cities to bring our clients together across a broad cross-section of businesses. Our Client Appreciation Events are a time to share the trends we are seeing across industries, to share key strategies for addressing those trends, and to offer some best practices. It is also a time to introduce our clients to each other! Our clients find it valuable time to gather with an inter-disciplinary group of leaders to share questions and ideas about how they are addressing key issues.

The hot topic for 2019? Talent Recruitment and Retention. Our event was titled, “Winning the War for Talent.” After our presentation we took questions and let people know we’d be responding to them in our upcoming blogs.

The question I am going to tackle today:

“How do I develop my managers so that I can retain my current workforce?”

I love this question, because it clearly underscores the relevance of the maxim, “People join organizations and leave leaders.” How your leaders and managers behave toward their teams is mission critical for retention and business success.


My first response when I hear this concern is: “what do your managers do well, and what do they need to get better at?” To design the right solution you need to understand the problem.

A quick exercise:

1.      Grab a sheet of paper and list your direct reports and answer these two questions for each one of them: What does each of them do well? What does each of them need to get better at? (If you don’t know, what do you need to do to find out?)

2.      Check to see what trends there are for the team. Are there common strengths and weaknesses? If so, the solution begins with training and setting new, clear expectations for those key problem areas.

3.      Notice the specifics next. These are things that one or two have issues with, but they are not trends across the team. These issues are issues to address in your 1:1 and to create a coaching plan around.

Selecting Training Opportunities

The best training opportunities are ones that are contextually relevant to the team. What kind of training experience do they need? Can you create it internally, or do you need outside resources? Who is the best person to lead the training?

When you offer training, remember:

Ø  Before the training takes place clearly state your desired outcome for the team. Be candid about what new behaviors you want to see.

Ø  Once the training is underway, reinforce the application of the new skills and ideas by asking, specifically, how the content is being applied in their daily work.

Ø  After training is complete, expect the group to continue to meet to share their successes and struggles adopting the new behaviors, and continue to reinforce the content and new habits when you meet with your team.

Accountability is key to the success of any training program.

Coaching for Performance Change

When you sit down to coach someone for performance change the first step is to gain awareness. Both the leader and their direct report should learn something new about the current reality.

Set a time to sit down with your team members 1:1 and ask them to think about their current strengths and weaknesses as managers. When you sit down with your direct report be sure to:

1.      Be curious about what they see their strengths and weaknesses being.

2.      Once you hear from them, name the strengths and weaknesses as you see them.

3.      Explore the differences in your viewpoints so you can come to a shared understanding.

4.      Ask them which weaknesses they would like to work on, and the impact they imagine their improved performance having on their team’s success.

5.      Design together new experiences and habit they need to have in order to improve. This might include:

Ø  training,

Ø  1:1 coaching,

Ø  learning how to ask their team members for feedback,

Ø  new communication strategies,

Ø  shadowing another manager who has skill in the area where this manager needs improvement.

The list can go on. Brainstorm ideas together and then choose together the top 3 ideas to focus

on and create a plan for them to take those next 3 steps.

6.      Follow Up! Soon. You need to check weekly, especially when you are asking people to do things differently. They need to be asked how the plan is going, what they have done, what they are avoiding (and why!), and what isn’t working that needs to be addressed in a different way.

The follow up you provide after training and when you are coaching your team members is key to their success. Regular follow up is your responsibility. It creates the conditions for your team members to be accountable for their new behaviors so that your business can be successful.

Do you have time blocked on your calendar weekly to think about the people leadership performance of your team members?

Developing managers takes your time, thinking and continued effort. Block the time on your calendar weekly to think about the people performance of your team, and schedule the conversations that you need to ensure there is continued to progress in this important area.  



According to leadership guru and Columbia University professor Simon Sinek, people
don’t buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it. I think all generations understand this
to an extent and believe in positive motivation.

Sinek however believes the ‘know your why’ approach resonates particularly well with Generation Y Millennials, those born between 1983 and 1994, who have a large demographic investment in contributing to social impact.

Millennials, are now the largest and fastest growing segment of our workforce. Money is important but not everything. They may not care as much what you do but more about
why you do it. This seems somewhat similar to the saying, “People don’t care what you
know until they know how much you care”.

Sinek believes there are three concentric circles that organizations need to get clear:
“what” is the outer ring, “how” is just inside, and “why” is the bullseye.
He argues that most companies can rattle off a description of their product or service
(“what” they do). They express the way they’re unique from other similar businesses
(“how” they do it).

However, if an organization wants to thrive, everyone involved must be crystal clear and
invested in its core purpose (“why” they do it), ie connection to a bigger purpose.


Sinek’s Golden Circle:


Sinek believes no organization wins when its primary “why” is unclear or unknown.

                            Questions to help discover Our Organizational WHY*

Leaders of organizations please consider these questions”

1.   Why do we do what we do?

      For the sake of what…?

      For whatever the answer, FollowUp with the question, Why is that important?

2.   List a few times when morale was highest. What were the circumstances?

3.   What causes or issue touch the organization deeply each time it is heard about?

4.   What do we do best and Who does it?

5.   Are we recognizing / rewarding excellence in the Who?

6.   When people say, “You guys are so good at _____,” how do they complete the sentence?

*Adapted for organizations from Start With Why, Simon Sinek

No organization wins when its primary “why” is unclear. Leaders need to get behind closed doors and reap the not-so-hidden secrets to Sinek’s Golden Circle. If we don’t recognize the “Who,” after starting with “Why”, it could become a strategic miss. When leaders go out of their way to recognize the “Who,” they create a healthy environment that helps to ensure alignment with the Why.


For additional leadership content click here

Lee Hubert is a Speaker, Facilitator, Trainer and founder of iTrainManagerforSuccess affiliate of Voltage Leadership, with over 20 years of experience in human resources development in healthcare, technology, financial and energy sectors. 

A Self-Discipline Hack that Works


“I am never going to be able to make that change.”

“It’s just how I am.”

“Why is self-discipline is hard for me?”

This is just a sample of what I hear from clients, and, truthfully, from my own head at times. Change is hard. And changing yourself is more difficult because there is no one we are accountable to for the changes we want to make in our own lives.

Except ourselves. To make changes in our lives we have to figure it out for ourselves.

So here is the hack you need to have to get on the self-discipline bandwagon:

Talk to yourself.

Talk to yourself, and be your own coach.

We have all heard the ad asking, “Do you want to be your own boss?” followed by the pitch for some new sales or franchise strategy.


You already are your own boss.

But what kind of boss are you?

·        Are you a mean boss, giving yourself a healthy measure of judgment and shame every day?

·        Are you an absent boss, never showing up to check in and see how things are going?

·        Are you a creative boss, offering so many ideas but no direction?

·        Are you a naysayer boss, killing off your own ideas before you ever get started?

·        Are you an easy boss, giving yourself a pass every time you don’t keep a commitment you have made?

We all have a voice inside our head that can be used for good or ill. 

Here is step one in how to become your own best boss:

1.      Talk to yourself.

Step two is pay attention to how you talk to yourself.

And when you do,

Ø  Be direct.

Ø  Be positive.

Ø  Be specific. And here this where the magic is:

Ø  Speak in the present tense.


Let’s say you want to exercise more. Talk to yourself about it. Use action words, be encouraging, be very specific, and speak as though it is happening now

“I am going to the gym.” Is different from “I am working out at the gym,” or “I am going to exercise more this year.” Saying “I am going to the gym,” even if it is not currently true helps our mind work with us not against us.

If you say, “I am going to the gym.” Your brain will start thinking of all the obstacles in the way of you going to the gym.

If you say, “I am working out at the gym.” Your brain will notice that you are not at the gym and start figuring out how to get you there. You get bonus points if you say, “I am working out at the gym now.”

So let’s say you want a new habit of preparing your reports earlier so you are not rushed with deadlines.

Try starting the day with, “I am writing the report.” Even if what you are doing is driving the car to work.

A funny thing starts to happen when we talk to ourselves like this. After you say those words to yourself a few times, your mind will start thinking about the report: how it needs to be composed, what the main ideas are. And when you park your car you often find you have an outline, or have remembered that you still need Bob’s data. Your subconscious mind has helped you write the report.

How we talk to ourselves matters. I invite you to think about what you really want to accomplish this year. Create an active, positive, present tense, specific statement about what you intend to accomplish. Then, repeat it frequently.

And when you find that you are doing what you said you would do, be a great boss and congratulate yourself for a job well done.