Success

RETENTION AND RECOGNITION STRATEGIES

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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. 

Navigating the Obstacle Course: The Importance of a Beginner’s Mind

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When I train groups of leaders I often bring in an obstacle course that 2 participants have to navigate -- blindfolded! -- with the help of the rest of the group.  Here is the trick: the group that can “see” may only use their voices to guide their blindfolded team members through the course.

When the exercise is over and we are debriefing the experience, people tend to have a few takeaways:

"People in other departments, people in outside organizations, and new hires all have blindfolds on when it comes to my work.  They don’t know what I do. The don’t know what I need.  I see and understand the situation; they don’t.”

Other departments are ignorant about things you are expert in and that is normal.  They are experts in other things! 

What can you do to help others better understand your world? 

 

Have a beginner’s mind. 

STEP 1

How would you explain your project, your request, your issue, your department, your assignment to someone who:

1.      has no experience or expertise in your subject;

2.     has their own demanding job and expectations that they have to deliver on.

STEP 2

Reach out and be curious about their area of expertise and the current scope of their work.  Understanding the project pressure and deadlines of others will help you plan what you need from them and decide when, how, and what to communicate to them when collaboration is necessary.

These types of conversations build rapport. 

Start with the Relationships that Matter Most

To be successful, who do you need to have the strongest relationships with?

Which relationship would you most like to improve? 

Reach out and find a time to connect when you don’t need something – except an easier, smoother, working relationship. Learn about their world. Invite them into yours. With a better understanding of each other’s “obstacle course,” and some agreements about how to best communicate so that you can help each other be successful, you will have fewer “blindspots” as you go about your day.

Who do you need to reach out to and have a Beginners Mind conversation with?

How to Focus Teams for Success

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I am spending a lot of time working with technical/scientific type client teams across the USA. Like all businesses in this robust economy, their pace has quickened and they are all moving quickly. In this fast-paced environment, it is easier to lose focus on the big things needed to ensure success. It may become easier to be distracted by things that seem important in the moment,but in reality, don’t contribute much towards the bigger picture or make real progress towards goals.

I wanted to share an excellent tool that quickly focusses (or re-focusses) teams on the
big things needed for success.

We get them out of their routine, off-site and drill down on how they define success for their
teams as they contribute to the organization’s success. This is done for the near term
(the current calendar /fiscal year) and the longer term (the coming year.)
 

Here is what we drill down on:

1) If we fast forward to the end this year, (or next year – you pick time) and look back,
tell me what must have happened in order for us to call it a successful year?

These may resemble new initiatives started or completed, revenue streams supported,
or results as measured by metrics achieved. In other words, how do they define success?

2) As we look back, verbalize which barriers were removed that had an immediate or significant impact on the success of the team?

These will usually be examples such as, removal of bottlenecks - needless bureaucracy, lack of formalized roles and responsibilities, under-utilization of delegation and disparate competing cultures within the organization.

3) As we look back, how were we seen by the enterprise and how do we want / need to be seen in order to be successful?

This is the internal marketing plan to the greater enterprise to position the team as a reliable
and trusted business partner. It may also entail changing the internal brand, i.e. the way the team’s function is perceived and internally marketed to the organization.

If the year is flying by and you wonder, “Why haven’t we made a bigger dent in our most
important initiatives this year?” try answering these success focus questions above and
then allocate time towards the things that spell SUCCESS!


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. 

Got Time?

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“If I only had an 8th day or a 25th hour I could get it all done.”

Has that thought ever crossed your mind? It has crossed mine. When it does, I know it is time to revisit my calendar, my commitments and my priorities.

We all get the same number of hours in a day. It is the one equitable resource we share.

24 hours each day. 7 days in a week.

We have 168 hours of life to live every week and if we are getting enough sleep, we have 112 hours to actually accomplish things. No one can manufacture time, so how we spend it really matters.

That is why when the thought, “If I only had an 8th day this week” crosses my mind, I know it’s time to gut-check my calendar. Gut checking my calendar means looking through how I spent all the hours in a day or week and asking myself, was this time well spent?

The exercise doesn’t take long, but it has been invaluable to me over the years. Whether I am looking over the day I just had, or the previous week, I discover ways in which I was wise with my time, and ways in which I was wasteful, and I make adjustments.

When I work with people who are trying to re-calibrate their pace and productivity, I start by asking people to print out their calendar for the previous week, and we go back over it with a fine tooth comb. I call it the Calendar Gut-Checklist. Here it is:

The Calendar Gut-Checklist

Step 1: Gut-Check Accuracy

·        Does the calendar capture what you actually did?

·        If not, try to fill in the blanks and make adjustments to the calendar so that it                          represents what actually happened, not what was planned.

 

Step 2: Gut-Check Decisions to Not Honor the Calendar

·        Notice the differences between what was planned and what actually happened.

·        Why did those adjustments happen? Were they smart, necessary decisions?

 

Step 3: Gut Check the Time Spent

·        What did you actually do in each hour?

·        Was it worth it?

·        What impact did your presence have in that meeting? Were you an important                           contributor?   

·        Did you give yourself adequate transition time and travel time?

·        Which hours were most effective, and which were least effective? Why?

 

Now that you know where the time went, and how effective you were with your time, it’s time to get analytical. What do you need to do differently so that you can be more effective with your time?

Make a list of 5-10 changes you can make to your calendar that will make you more effective. Pick your top 3 and makes those changes to your future calendar. You can save the list so that the next time you find yourself wishing for another hour in the day or another day in the week, you can take it out and make another couple of changes to your calendar.

I wish you many hours of time well-spent!

Creating Life Margins

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We recently conducted a Team offsite.  It was what many organizations do in preparation for a new year.  Our leadership director, Jennifer Owen-O’Quill, did a fabulous job in leading us through the thought process for focusing on things that help drive success.

During our discussion, the topic of life margin came up.  For those who were familiar with life margin, this resonated highly.  Those that were not, it needed some further explanation.  In short, it was about the real vs the ideal.  In other words, how do we make the big things happen without getting excessively overwhelmed? We work on creating margin in our lives.

Scott Eblin in his excellent book, Overworked and Overwhelmed: The Mindfulness Alternative,
reminds us that we need to be mindful of what our best looks and feels like. My experience has been that the resolution to almost all our professional / personal challenges is linked to how mindful we are of the balance between these four areas:

                                         Time, Energy, People and Communication

Tips for creating life margin:

§  Define the ideal vs the real and intentionally sculpt time to move life towards the ideal.

§  Actively manage personal energy in addition to managing time on the calendar.

§  Set tactful boundaries around people and limit exposure to negativity or toxicity.

§  Know our default personality wiring and that of the important people around us.

The goal is to create some margin for error and for the unexpected. For this to happen we really
have two choices. We can either work faster or accept that not everything will get done, (at least
when we think it should). Please understand this is not excusing lack of productivity, quite the opposite, it’s protecting it! If we can intentionally build in margin, we have some wiggle room and will become less stressed, healthier and more productive.

                            Living habitually in an overwhelmed state is a recipe for disaster

I will be presenting in an academic setting on Stephen Covey’s seventh habit, sharpening the saw. To sharpen the saw means preserving and enhancing the greatest asset you have--you. It means having a balanced program for self-renewal in the four areas of your life: physical, social/emotional, mental, and spiritual.


Stephen Covey points out examples of activities that create life margin and sharpen the saw below.

1)     Physical:                    Beneficial eating, exercising, and resting
 

2)     Social/Emotional:     Making social and meaningful connections with others
 

3)     Mental:                      Learning, reading, writing, and teaching
 

4)     Spiritual:                   Spending time in nature, expanding spiritual self through                                                           meditation, music, art, prayer, or service

Some of my favorite / memorable quotes from Mr. Covey:

§  Start with the end in mind.

§  Seek first to understand, then to be understood.

§  The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.

§  The key is not to prioritize what's on your schedule,
but to schedule your priorities.

§  Trust is the glue of life. It's the most essential ingredient in effective communication.
It's the foundational principle that holds all relationships.

§  There are three constants in life...change, choice and principles.

§  Live out of your imagination, not your history.

§  Management is efficiency in climbing the ladder of success; leadership determines whether the ladder is leaning against the right wall.

§  The way we see the problem is the problem.

§  Effective leadership puts first things first. Effective management is discipline,
carrying it out
 

            So, let’s go out there and create some life margin then fill in around the edges. Cheers!

"Three Clicks": What are realistic coaching outcomes?

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The professional ranks today are filled with coaches of all kinds.  These include life coaches, career coaches, financial, spiritual, business and athletic coaches. In all coaching endeavors, it is wise to define desired and realistic outcomes at the beginning of the coaching process.

By beginning with the end in mind, establishing a common language and working backwards from desired outcomes, coaches are often able to add insight that the coaching client would not have obtained on their own, (or at least not as quickly)

For example, golf swing coaches are able to provide a unique perspective because of their objective external view. They enable their coaching subjects to get out of body to better understand what needs to be worked on in order to improve. And all golfers want to improve!

Likewise, management and executive coaches enable their coaching subjects to get out of body more quickly in order to improve, ie remove limiting behaviors. Very often we see people who are technically excellent at what they do. Almost always, the obstacles they may experience have to do with the people part and not the technical part.

What are realistic outcomes in professional coaching?

Ironically, the same things that made them successful in their careers to this point may be the same things that now limit their upward mobility. It is the wise coach who understands that their client subjects operate within a vocal range. All vocalists are born with a default vocal range that can be improved and expanded. However, it is very rare to expand their range beyond two to three octaves.
In other words, it is not realistic to expect an outcome beyond the person's range without damaging themselves.

Likewise, we in professional coaching we deal with people that have default positions with regard to personality and motivation. And it may be just as unrealistic to expect and outcome beyond that individuals range without unintended consequences.

Three Clicks:

In working with many management and executive leaders over the years, I have found that the most realistic and beneficial outcomes are those that move in a three-increment range aka three clicks.

The goal is not to take somebody from a 3 or 4 in EQ to a 9 or 10.  Doing so may take them so far away from their core capabilities that it is counterproductive, ie the unintended consequences of damaging their careers. However, when realistic and achievable goals are defined, the opposite is often true. And that is upward mobility as incremental movement has been demonstrated.

The goal is to move the individual who may be at 3 or 4, three incremental clicks up the scale over time.

        > Click one-  "Piercing the corporate veil", ie the initial understanding of the                                    current state during the first 30 days of the coaching                                                                engagement

        > Click two-  Ownership and transparent understanding of potential limiting                                   behaviors and co-creation of near-term goals, deliverables and                                                 accountability. Approximately within the first 60 days of engagement.

         > Click three- Demonstrable success in applying tips, tools and guidance                                          obtained in coaching mode. At least one or more "wins" to point to, ie feedback                       from reporting relationships, colleagues and peers. This is somewhat similar to                         when people notice something different about you as if you've lost 10lbs or have                       seem to have a new outlook.

In this way, our core strengths are maintained and we have demonstrated movement up the scale. The 4 may become a 5-6-7 and from the default position of 4 is quite noticeable indeed. In summary, please keep in mind that some of our most successful clients have walked this exact path to upward mobility.

 

Look Back To Move Forward`

Want to start something new?  Make progress on a project?  Develop a different approach to something?

We often come to the beginning of the year with great intentions of starting with a clean slate and re-organizing our lives into some fresh version of perfection.

I want to encourage you to start in a different place this year:  before looking ahead, look back.

Look back over the last year and notice the progress you have made.

·        How far have you come?

·        Where did you begin 2017, and where are you ending it?

·        What new things have you learned?

·        What projects and people have you led and what was the outcome?

I find that when people add the “Review” phase to their planning process, they end up with a more accurate picture of what is possible.

Here are 4 questions to take into your Review Process:

1.      Where did I start last year, and where am I today?

                      In my relationships?  My work?  My personal growth?

2.      What contributed to my successes?

3.      What obstructed my progress on the things I wanted to accomplish?

4.      Based on what I have accomplished, what can I realistically expect to accomplish in 2018?

With these pieces of information, you can step back and reflect on how you handle, plan and prepare for change, and decide what needs to be done differently in the coming year as you approach a new set of Desired Outcomes.

What I like about this process is that we can see clearly that we are capable of change.  We can also get a grasp on our approach to change.  Is there something about the way we approach a new challenge that we could shift in order to get a better outcome in the future?  We notice how we get in our own way.  More importantly, we notice how much we have accomplished.

The next thing to do is celebrate your successes!

Yes, really!  Celebrate!

Take a moment, sit back and smile.  You moved through a lot of complex problems.  You learned a slew of new things.  You handled a number of unexpected obstacles successfully.  You arrive at this New Year with a new set of skills and talents.

Cement the things you learned by writing them down.

This is your “What I learned and accomplished in 2017” list.

Take a moment to savor your success.  You deserve to begin your New Year from a place of strength and achievement, and a sense of possibility ahead.   

Retention and Recognition Strategies

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.
     

INNOVATION INC: THE POWER OF SHARED VISION (AND HOW TO USE IT)

I spend a great deal of time in creative climates. Voltage Leadership has a sweet spot for successfully equipping people to scale their businesses quickly.

Day in and day out I get to see what success looks like. What I notice, most brightly, as I work with these dynamic, creative teams, is the openness they have. They are open when their thinking and assumptions are challenged. They are willing to admit mistakes (and then they move on). These teams are resilient, strong, collegial and candid.

Two team members I am working with recently had to renegotiate their working relationship. The way they were interacting was leading one team member to feel his skills and competence were being doubted by the other. He didn’t wait for months for the problem to fester and spread. He sat down and the two of them had a conversation about what they could do differently to work together toward a better result. Course corrections were discussed and changes began immediately. The collegial relationship remains strong.

Where did all this capacity for candor begin? I trace it back to the founding element of this organization: its vision is shared. Yes, the skill building classes along the way gave them some additional tools. It is true that the one-on-one coaching helps them to explore new ideas and provides the environment to test new behaviors. But the root of the candor in this organization is that its vision is shared collectively by the people who work there.

This group of people has a vision about what they want to accomplish, and that vision is the source of the creativity and passion for their work. It keeps them open and willing to try new things. It is a truly shared vision.

Successful organizations have a Shared Vision.

A shared vision is one that is not told to people, it is one that is sold to people.

What does a vision sold-not-told accomplish?

Sold visions are shared, co-owned. Told visions are imposed.

When the vision is shared, people become co-owners of the vision. They are stakeholders in the effort they are undertaking. The vision is theirs. They believe in it, and want to see it come to pass.

The challenge is this: sharing. Yes, it is just as hard for working adults leading business operations to share as it was for us as kids. But, like we learned all those years ago, the payoff is worth it!

Sharing a vision means that the vision is co-created. Yes, this means some of the leader’s control over the vision is lost, because the vision is influenced, shaped and transformed by the people who are working together to pursue it. This does not mean the vision changes on a dime, but it does mean that the vision is not pronounced on high by a mighty Leader. A shared vision is cast, and then engaged and re-formed by the people around the leader, until it becomes something everyone owns.

In climates where a shared vision prevails, people work with another level of performance. Some gear beyond 5th gear is engaged. Overdrive: the passion gear.

You have to engage this gear thoughtfully, because it is hard on the engine, but, with regular pit stops, repairs and careful maintenance, these teams experience a lot of victories together, and weather breakdowns successfully. Teams with Shared Vision are intense, resilient and, most of all, fun. They laugh and cut up together, and they also get down to work and focus very quickly. They want to perform well, and so they stick their neck out to talk about problems and they ask for help. They do all this because they trust each other and because they share a common motivation: the vision.

The Shared Vision. 

Recently I worked with a CEO who is casting a new vision for his business. He knows what he wants to accomplish next, and can see the re-imagined company sitting there, brightly, in the future. We sat down to talk through the vision he wanted to cast, and to discuss the approach he plans to take to engage his team.

What lies between him and the realization of this emerging vision is a series of conversations and experiences he will craft for his people that will teach him the other side of the equation: what they want, what they imagine is possible, what they hope for. These ideas and aspirations of his team, engaged thoughtfully and intentionally will do something critical: his vision will be refined and revisited in ways that will deliver the team to a Shared Vision. One that all of them love and pursue together, not one he has to kill himself trying to fulfill and implement alone.

This is the brilliance of Shared Vision. Shared Vision moves an organization from running on one cylinder, to running on all 4, or 6 or 8 cylinders. Sharing the vision gathers the collective horsepower of an organization under the hood and puts it to great use.

What approach did we come up with to begin to cast (and then release) his vision into a Shared Vision process? We designed a series of questions to guide a collective conversation about the future promise of the business.

These questions are intended to unleash the creativity of the team, to untether people from their assumptions about the future, and to guide them to gather together the force of their collective imagination to bring about a vision they can share, own and pursue, together.

I can’t wait to see what happens next for them. I know great things are on the horizon. A vision is about to move from Me to We.

If you have a vision that you are having trouble getting off the ground ask yourself:

·       Have I been curious about what others imagine?

·       Have I asked thoughtful questions?

·       Have I asked about the experiences and insights of others?

·       Would the people on my team say I am curious about and engaged in their own aspirations?

·       Would the people on my team say I am committed to their long-term success?

·       Would the people on my team indicate that I regularly solicit their thinking and ideas?

Casting Shared Vision is a two way street. To have people come along with you, it helps to show you are willing to go along with them. Enjoy the ride!

IMPACT VS. INTENTION: HOW TO MEASURE YOUR SUCCESS FACTOR

 “We judge ourselves by our intention and others by their impact.” The moment I heard those words I knew they were true. The simple implication is this: we are judged by how we land on other people, not how we meant to come across. Our reputation has everything to do with how we leave people feeling and what we leave people thinking, not what we actually said and did, let alone what we meant to say and do.

Successful leaders learn this early on and plan accordingly.

Here are two habits you can adopt to become a more successful leader:

1.       Cultivate your “Other Awareness”

Stop and think about the other people in the room. Imagine the world through their eyes.

  •  What are their top concerns every day?
  • What are their fears?
  • What do they value and appreciate?
  • How do they like to be treated?

2.       Assess your “Impact Zone”

Take the time to follow up and ask creative questions. The sort of questions that will prompt people to give you candid information. Avoid asking, “How did I do?” or “Can I ask you for some feedback?”

The goal is to be more specific and ask for more nuanced reflections:

“What part of my talk is sticking with you still?” and “Did I have a habit of speech or gesture that got in the way of your listening?” will likely offer a speaker better information than, “How did I do?”

Here are some questions that can get you started on your own Creative Question list:

  • If you could erase one of my habits, what would it be?
  • What have I said or done in the last few [days/weeks/months] that helped you most?
  • What have I said or done in the last few [days/weeks/months] that got in your way?
  • This week, what opportunity did I miss to connect with someone? What do you think it cost me?
  • If I were to choose one thing to work on improving when I am with people, what would it be?
  • Who would you cast to play me in the movie about our lives?

You get the picture! Have some fun with this. Ask creative questions with curiosity and see what you learn. In the process of asking these questions, and then listening to how people respond, you will learn about both yourself and others.

Our success and our satisfaction grow when we close the gap between our intentions and our impact.

Why? Because when our intentions and our impact are aligned, we are, quite simply, getting the response we intend. It is a lot easier to leave a room when you are aware of the actual impact you had while you were there.  

THE IMPORTANCE OF CHARACTER

Character. It is a careful, internal interchange between our values and choices, and the decisions we make that guide our behavior.  Character is also an X Factor in every hiring situation. When I am hiring talent, I have 5 Key Success Areas I am searching for evidence in:

Character, Chemistry, Competence, Commitment and Capacity.

And the order I have listed them in is no accident: character tops my list. Why? Character, ultimately, is described by how you behave when no one is watching.

Here is part 2 of character, with a nod to the great poet Maya Angelou:

When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.

Yes, I have seen people change their character.  A. Few. Times. In. My. Life. 

Expecting someone to behave differently in the future despite the evidence of the past is magical thinking. I have not seen someone change their character without the motivating force of either a life-changing experience or a crushing personal loss. Life can bring us to our knees and beg us to change. 

I have also seen people choose not to change at those crossroads. Those life stories do not end well.

Does this mean I am not a person who believes in second chances? No. I do believe in second chances. But it means that when I give someone an opportunity, despite the evidence of the past, I am aware that I am taking an incredible risk. In those instances, I do everything I can to mitigate that risk and to help that person be successful.

Leaders can’t correct character. Poor character is a problem of an underdeveloped awareness, empathy, and conscience. These matters are hard to handle in a performance review. If you have to deal with them, it will likely be a long coaching process. The chances that you invest a lot of time and energy only to escort the person out the door 3 to 6 months later are high. Better to handle character problems before the hiring ever occurs. 

How do you discover the character of a prospective employee?

Here are some tips for the hiring process:

1.       Pose thoughtful questions which ask them to tell their story. For example, ask the candidate to recount, in detail, a story about their own first-hand experience with a difficult choice. Or a time when a situation at work made them angry, and how they responded.

Listen for what is said and not said, and trace the values that guided the person through their decision-making. What issue did they choose to share? How much did they disclose? Who were the people involved? How did they navigate their decision?

2.       Do the same with the references you call for your prospective hire. Ask references thoughtful questions. Ask for specific stories about how the candidate made choices. This provides another data-point about how your prospective employee handles pressure and navigates change, choices, and ethics.

3.       If you have more than one interview, choose several different settings. Notice how those different settings impact your prospective employee.

How did they enter and exit the building? Where were they most comfortable? Who did they stop and speak with, and how did that conversation go? What did they seem to pay attention to in each space?

Armed with these questions (and others you develop on your own), you will gain a great deal of insight about someone before choosing to bring them onto your team.

Take the extra time when you hire. It avoids a lot of headaches down the road.

THE ONE STEP STRATEGIC PLAN

I have a leader who has come to me wanting a different outcome for his business. He is looking to have a transformational year. I asked for the date and time he meets with his team. He did not have an answer. He does not like meetings. He has gone so far as to delegate the weekly team meeting to an associate. He does not even attend. There are no monthly or annual meetings. There are only team meetings regarding projects. There is not one meeting that is focused on the business itself.

Until this changes, he will not realize the success he is looking for, and until he is willing to commit to that meeting, I suspect he will continue to be frustrated by getting the same results. Change is hard, but it is worth it: new habits deliver new results.

Most clients who come to us looking for support with their strategy need help with one thing: organizing the process. Strategic planning today requires that a leader overcome an internal obstacle: their own resistance.  

Here is my one step plan that will deliver any organization, business segment, or team to greater success in 2017:

Plan to meet.

I know. Meetings are not what you wanted to hear me call for right out of the gate. But it is essential.

Great leaders schedule their planning time a year in advance and prioritize and protect that time.

Here is what to schedule:

Meet annually for 2-3 days of vision-casting and strategic thinking.

Meet quarterly for a half or full day of strategic problem solving.  Begin by celebrating successes! This ensures outcome accountability and maintains momentum.

Senior leaders will have 2 meetings, 1 in which they lead their direct reports, and another in which they participate with their peers.

Meet monthly, for 90 minutes or a half day depending on leadership level. An important shift takes place here: a move from strategy to tactics.

This monthly meeting is a tactical problem-solving and obstacle-removing meeting. It is a time to gather all key decision makers in the room to cut through red tape quickly. Everyone who needs to be consulted is present, and decisions can be made quickly. This is a decision-making, permission-giving meeting that clears obstacles. Attempt to schedule these on the same day and move from front-lines to senior leaders, so that issues that need to reach the highest level decision maker can be resolved the same day.

Leaders will have 2 meetings, 1 they lead and one they present issues that need to be escalated to the next level of decision maker.

Meet weekly for status updates and next steps. Thinking a week out allows for communication and collaboration across segments to identify obstacles and resolve them. 30 to 60 minutes.

Meet daily for a stand-up huddle (yes, literally stand up!) with you team. Allow a minute per person. These meetings address issues that need to be addressed in the next 24 hours.

When you plan these meetings, put them on the calendar, and communicate the schedule and purpose of these meetings an important shift begins to take place on your team: people know what kind of thinking belongs in each meeting.

Daily and weekly meetings are for tactical execution. Monthly meetings are for tactical problem solving, strategic alignment and accountability.

Quarterly and annual meetings are for strategic thinking, and shape organizational focus, momentum and engagement.

This year, sit down with your calendar and map out your year. It isn’t sexy, but it works.

How you spend your time is the most critical element of your success. Planning to be strategic, relevant and successful means putting the dates and times you need to think, collaborate, plan, and communicate on the calendar before you begin. That way you know in advance you are planning for success.

If you find yourself frustrated with the status quo and wanting a different year in 2017 than you had last year, do something different.

Unsure where to begin?

Retain a skilled outside facilitator who can lead an offsite to begin to shape your organizational thinking rhythm. A good facilitator should be able to create a 2 day process that both maps out the thinking rhythm for the year and facilitates the strategic thinking process of the team.

In 2017: Plan to meet. Then be smart about what you do when you are together. It is that simple. 

RESOLUTIONS ARE HARD SO HOW ABOUT SOME DESIRED OUTCOMES?

Happy New Year! Wow, 2016 flew by and now it is 2017. It is a year that has been on my mind for many years. My oldest daughter graduates high school and will start college this fall. It is both an exciting year and a bit sad that our first child will not be here daily in the fall. However, this is the desired outcome that we hoped for and planned for since she was a baby. Thus, we are going to have multiple celebrations this year for this accomplishment.

I hope you had a great holiday!  I know many of you are debating whether you should set resolutions this year.  Many of us find resolutions so hard to stick to and we come away from the process feeling worse about ourselves. Thus, I would recommend that we do it a bit differently. First, let’s take a moment to look at 2016.  Here are a few questions for you to ponder. It is okay to go away for a while and answer these questions. I will still be here when you get back!

What were your greatest successes in 2016?

What are you most proud of from 2016?

What did you learn the most about yourself in 2016?

What goal did you not accomplish in 2016?

If you could have a do over in 2016, what would you have done differently?

Okay, hopefully you had some interesting insights and maybe took a few notes on 2016. Now, I would like to do an assessment with you called The Wheel of Life. 

 

wheeloflife.jpg

The above diagram is one of my favorite tools to use with my coaching clients.  Feel free to add or subtract categories—you might not care about physical environment and you might really care about spirituality. It is your wheel so create it to meet your needs.  Write a score from 0 (low; need to do a ton of work in this area) to 10 (high; things are about perfect here.) Now, notice your scores. Are you pleased with your scores? What stands out for you?

This is where we move to desired outcomes. Given your scores, what would you like your wheel to look like at the end of 2017? Here are some thoughts for developing your desired outcomes.

What are 1-2 areas you would like to focus on in 2017?

Set some specific outcomes (SMART – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timely).

What barriers do you anticipate facing that may keep you from hitting your outcomes?

What strengths do you have to help you overcome your barriers?

Who can be your accountability partner?

How will you celebrate each of your desired outcomes?

I am curious about your thinking. Are you excited about 2017? Nervous? Optimistic? All are possible and probably appropriate. My hope for you is that you are intentional and plan out some of the year for yourself. I think the danger of resolutions can be that you either achieve the resolution or you do not. I believe desired outcomes leave more gray area and more possibilities while leveraging your strengths. I wish you the best of luck, patience and joy for 2017. Let us know how you are doing and if we can help you in any way. Here’s to an awesome 2017 filled with many amazing outcomes!

YOUR PACE, PRESENCE, AND PLAN

The speed with which we lead, the way we show up, and how we seize opportunities and conquer obstacles:  these three elements hold the key to our success.  Our pace, our presence and our plan will define our impact.

Our decisions around these three elements have tremendous consequences on the direction we travel and the destinations we reach in life.

Your pace is the speed with which you live and learn.  Our pace includes our mental speed, our emotional momentum, and our physical swiftness.

Your presence is the quality of your interactions with others and the character you carry with you whenever you show up.

Your plan is your roadmap of choices about what you do and don’t do.  It is a series of decisions of “Yes” and “No” and “I-don’t-know” that guide the content of your days.

The awareness you have about these three elements of your life, and the thoughtful intention you apply to each of these elements, will design your life.

With or without our awareness or intention, these three elements have already shaped both the reality of our lives and our reputations.  With or without our awareness or intention, these three elements have an impact on every person we will meet today.  With or without our awareness or intention, these three elements are allowing or impeding the very existence of our accomplishments and aspirations.

Why?

Our time is limited.  We have a beginning and an end.  And in the time we have to live, each person, young or old, rich or poor, energized or exhausted, has exactly 168 hours each week in which we can accomplish all we hope for in this life.

Not one of us gets more hours than the person next to us.  If we choose to be well rested, as the research indicates the most productive people are, then we have 112 hours in which to act.

That is all the time any of us have.

The pace we apply to those hours matters.  The speed with which we live and lead will determine how well we navigate our opportunities and obstacles.

The presence we bring when we show up, the quality of our characters, will impact and oftentimes determine the existence or obliteration on the relationships in our lives.

Our plan is essential because our yeses and noes and I don’t knows determine the quality and scope of our experience.

Here are some questions to consider as you look back over the first half of 2016:

·       At what pace are you living?

·       Is that pace serving you?

·       Does it allow you time to think?

·       Does it afford you enough space that you keep your commitments and execute your work well?

·       If not, what pace would better serve you, and how can you go about increasing or decreasing your speed so that your momentum gets you where you want to go.

IS YOUR ATTITUDE LIKE THE STOCK MARKET?

Up.  Down.  Up.  Down, down, down, down.  Up!  Wow, watching the stock market, the various economic indicators, has been dizzying lately.  What has this done for your outlook and perspective?

I have found it interesting to listen and study the various reactions of the talking heads.  I want the market to go up; our portfolio to increase and, most importantly, the value of our 529s to increase; but my ability to control this is extremely limited.  However, I am in control of my attitude.  I get up each morning and choose an attitude for the day.  I try to reflect on this word throughout the day.  I let this word be my influence and try to tune out the news of the day.

I have also found that a few minutes of planning each day helps to center my energy and make me less reactive.  I will meditate some mornings to get calmed down and then I decide where I want my focus to be for the upcoming day.  I have found that this gives me control of my desired outcomes for the day.

My question to you is:  what is it like to work with you?  Is it like the stock market – up, down, up, down…?  Your attitude and behaviors influence your team and co-workers.

·       What attitude and behaviors would they say you have?

·       Are you a role model of the behaviors you hope to see from others?

·       Do you create drama for your team by being reactive and in firefighting mode all day?

A great way to avoid drama is to pause and then ask yourself, “What would I like my response to be?”  You cannot control others’ actions, but you can control your responses.

In between action and response, there is space for a pause.  I think the more mature you become as a leader, the more cognizant you become of the pause space.  I also believe you have more tools at your service as you mature as a leader.  What possibilities do you see in the pause?  I try to get curious and wonder what caused the action that I am seeing.  I also access if I am really attached to the outcome and if I need to react.  I often find that, if I ask questions instead of reacting, there is a new set of possibilities.

My word for today was “curious”.  I have found myself asking more questions and really listening today.  What can you do to set the mood for your team?  What pause tools do you have that can serve you and your team more effectively?

GET UNSTUCK AND GET GOING

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 2016 a successful New Year!

CHECK YOUR ALIGNMENT

As the New Year begins, it is natural to have an eye on the future:  what will it take to get to the next level?  Did I accomplish what I intended in the year that has passed?  Were the last 365 days well spent?  What do I intend to do with the next 366 days (yes, 2016 is a leap year)?

As you launch into 2016, start with some routine maintenance:  take some time to Check Your Alignment.

The turning of a new year is a natural time to stop and reflect on the direction of your life.  What are your Desired Outcomes:  those things that are most significant to you, those aims that you truly long to accomplish?

The Check Your Alignment premise is simple:  we need to check and see if where we are headed is where we want to go!  If our current actions are out of alignment with our Desired Outcomes, we are missing a key ingredient for our success: enthusiasm.

When we can see that our current activity is in alignment with our ultimate Desired Outcomes, it is easier to retain and renew our enthusiasm for our work.  Our enthusiasm is essential for our success because it is our enthusiasm that primes our perseverance and fuels our discipline.

People often seek the support of an executive coach as a way to maintain accountability.  I always begin by asking people what they really want because, more often than not, the person sitting across from me is focused on the next project or the “biggest problem”.  This is natural, but it is not helpful.  Focusing on the problems we see on the horizon or the next goal we want to achieve robs us of the wellspring of our success:  our enthusiasm.  When we focus on what we ultimately want, on what we most deeply desire, and move forward from that perspective toward the next task, we are in full possession of our greatest assets: our energy and our enthusiasm.

Here are 4 key questions to consider to Check Your Alignment and to keep your enthusiasm on track in 2016:

·       What accomplishment from last year are you most proud of?

·       What work do you find most rewarding?

·       What aspects of your work bring you the most excitement?

·       What are the one or two things in your week you relish doing?

Armed with the answers to these questions, you have a roadmap to replenish and renew your enthusiasm for the work you do.  May your 2016 be the brightest year yet!