Monthly Archives: June 2012

Yes Man – No Thanks

We’ve all seen the person who agrees with the boss, no matter what’s going on.  We roll our eyes and silently (or openly) mock their behavior.  Given that we see through this behavior why do they still opo up in every organization?  There are bosses who love the unconditional support for all their ideas.  However, the great bosses of the world know these folks are poison to the team.

These Yes Men are poison for the following reasons:

  1. False Security.  The positive support leads the boss to believing their ideas are wonderful and without flaws.  This may be totally wrong and blinds people to potential risks.
  2. Stifles Innovation.  If the boss buys into the Yes Man’s support then they may stop looking for new ideas from the team.  Too much of this and the innovation of the team will dry up.
  3. Favoritism.  When the boss keeps hearing what he wants to hear from the Yes Man he may gravitate that direction.  This can leave other team members out in the cold.   

If you find someone like this on your team you need to nip the behavior in the bud.  It’s highly likely somewhere in their past they were rewarded for this behavior so they will naturally go there again.  Here are a few tips for handling this behavior:

  1. Ask for Ideas.  Instead of accepting the Yes Man’s support, ask everyone on the team to come up with one idea for improvement.  Hold them accountable.  Push for outside the box thinking.
  2. Promote Others’ Ideas.  Instead of putting your ideas out there as best, let the team provide the idea for what should be done.  Using ideas generated from the team will stir creativity and engagement.
  3. Use Collaborative Decision Making.  Take the time to get input and ideas from all the involved people.  Get ideas out on the table and seek collaboration from the team.
  4. Analyze Risk Rigorously.  When evaluating all decisions; establish procedures for analyzing the risks associated with the decision.  By always looking at what can go wrong with an idea the team will generate better solutions.

By being proactive in getting the entire team involved in finding the best solutions and analyzing the risks, the Yes Man has no real place on the team and they either move on or change their ways.  In any case, you have a team that will seek innovation and strive for new ways of doing things.  This is a winning team.

photo from iStockPhoto.com

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Quote for June 28th

I start with the premise that the function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers.
Ralph Nader

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Going Home Again

Several years ago I was at another factory within the company for a meeting.  As I walked down a hall on a break I saw their factory manager coming towards me.  I had known him somewhat propbably five years earlier.  He called me by name and asked if I remembered him.  Needless to say I was stunned that he recalled me and that he took the time to stop and say hi to me.  My opinion of his leadership went way up.

At times the world is a very small place and you may cross paths with people from your past.  When this happens do you cringe because you left things a little raw or are you excited to reconnect with friends you haven’t seen in a while?  Hopefully, you are in the second group.  However, there are times when you have to face people you never thought to see again.  Here are some tips for what to do when your past comes back to meet you.

  • Embrace the opportunity to see people you once knew and worked with on a daily basis.  You’ve moved on to a better place and you can reflect on the things that got you to where you are today.
  • Smile!  If you appear to be happy to see folks again they will see it and it will help them be happy to see you again.
  • Be interested in what’s new with them.  People want to know they matter to others so make them matter.
  • Stay away from gloating about the great things that have happened since you moved on.  The people you are with may not have had the same good luck. 

The best way to make it easier to revisit people from the past in new situations is to leave under the best possible conditions.  Keep from burning bridges by leaving gracefully.  This can be done by doing a few simple things.

  1. Focus on the future opportunities.  When asked about why you are leaving you need to focus on the new opportunities that await you.
  2. Avoid bad mouthing.  If you may cross paths with the people you currently work with then you should not say negative things about the people or the company you are leaving.  You never know when the words you say will come back to you.
  3. Be courteous to everyone.  Whether you are leaving for a better opportunity or to pursue a dream be nice as you depart.  Treat people the way you want to be treated if you were being left behind. 
  4. Finish what you can.  Complete everything you can to leave a clean slate for however will get to cover your responsibilities when you leave. 

If you leave well then you really can come home again.  You can never predict when you may cross paths with your past, so make the effort to leave positive impression on those you leave behind. 

If you left under circumstances beyond your control, then when you meet again, be positive and kind.  Even when the way you were treated badly, it is so nice to know you can be better to them than they were to you.  Let any discomfort be due to their actions not yours.  Taking the high road will lead you to the next better place.

Going back to places and people you’ve known in the past can be fun and enjoyable when you decide to make it a positive experience.  If you do it well people will think even more highly of you now that you are gone, because you have class.

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Quote for June 26th

Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.
Peter Drucker

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When the Cup Runs Over

There are times that all of us have way too much going on in our world.  Often the things that are happening are good, positive things which should bring joy to our lives but in the midst of it all we can’t find that joy.  So how do we get control over things so that we can enjoy the events filling our lives?

This past week was one of those weeks for me.  About a month ago I started doing some consulting for a fun company and I love what I’m doing.  On top of that, this past week we: hosted my youngest son’s Eagle Scout Court of Honor, my oldest son’s high school graduation, all the fun of celebrating those, and getting my kids off to Jamaica for a church mission trip.  On top of all that we packed up our house for our move.  It’s been fun and very overwhelming for me.

As I look back on all the things we jammed into the past couple of weeks I am stunned at what we accomplished.  To get it all done we followed several critical steps:

  1. Created a well-defined timeline.  We made sure we knew the milestones needed to be accomplished to make the event dates.
  2. Divided tasks.  We split up who was handling each item, based on skills and available time.
  3. Enlisted outside help.  There were things that we could, and did, ask others to help us with, so we could focus on enjoying the events.
  4. Stayed flexible.  As expected things did not go as planned and plans had to be adjusted on the fly.  This meant all of us had to be willing to change what we were going to do and how. 
  5. Communicate openly.  We had to stay in touch daily on all the things going on and check in to see if anything was slipping or if someone needed help.  My husband was at our new home in the weeks leading up to this week of celebration, so calls, emails and texts became vital to knowing who had what covered.
  6. Focus on the moment.  The thing that made it all so much fun and bearable was to stay focused on what was going on at that time.  During the Scout event, we could not be thinking about graduation even though it was the next day, and during graduation packing had to be put out of our minds. 

By following these steps we got through the week with our sanity intact and had a great week with our family while celebrating major milestones for our boys.    Most people think we’ve lost our minds to do it all in one week, but it worked for us.  I will admit I plan to space things out more in the future, or at least hire movers instead of packing myself.  🙂

How do you handle having so much happening that you risk missing the joy in your life?

photo from iStockPhoto.com

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Quote for June 21st

Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.
John F. Kennedy

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Interesting Articles for June

These are some of the articles that caught my attention over the month.  Hope you enjoy them as well.

How do you find inspiration in your busy day?

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Quote for June 19th

Effective leadership is not about making speeches or being liked; leadership is defined by results not attributes.
Peter Drucker

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Forest vs Trees?

Do you focus on the forest or the trees when you look at projects or all the things you have to do?  I know some people who only look at the trees; they see each individual tree and can’t see that they make up something much bigger.  Other people I know only seem to see the forest; the individual trees don’t exist to them.  Unfortunately, these folks are both missing part of the picture which can hamper their ability to get things done.

I’ve known a few unique people who seem to be able to see both the forest and the individual trees at the same time.  These are a rare breed of people and yet they are the ones who seem to get the most done in the most efficient manner.  So how do they do it?

First they look at the overall picture to see the overall scope of the project (the forest).  This allows them to understand the size and shape of what is to be tackled.  Looking at the bigger picture can really help identify the boundaries of the project, anyone else who going to be impacted by it, and what resources are going to be needed to get it done. 

Once they get the lay of the land it’s time to look at the details (the trees).  This is the time to get into the nitty-gritty of the tasks.  What needs to happen, when it needs to be done and by whom.  Taking the time to identify all the steps in the project along with the specific timeline and resources is critical to the successful completion.

Most of us can, and do, look at projects from both perspectives.  The trick is to be able to switch back and forth between them on a frequent basis.  It is so easy to get caught up in the details that you totally lose track of the bigger picture.  Focusing on what has to be done next, what the current obstacle is, or who is not keeping up are all vital actions.  However, they aren’t the only critical things to keep track of during a project.  Take a few moments to step back from the details and make sure the project is still on track and heading in the right direction.  Evaluate if the scope has crept up (gotten bigger) or if the project is going to impact other people who were not previously identified.  These can only be done by looking at the forest.

When things are overwhelming and there seems to be too much going on shifting your natural focus is difficult, if not seemingly impossible.  The good news is it doesn’t take long to make the shift for a status check.  Looking at the forest if you are a detail person can really help you keep things in check.  As well, if you are a big picture person looking at the trees will help you make sure all the needed steps are being taken.  The other perspective will help you get a handle on the whole picture and may reduce stress because you now have a better understanding of where you are and where you need to go.

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Win Over the Experts

One of my recent consulting assignments  isto standardize some of the documentation throughout the client’s organization.  This means working with people in the US, Europe and Australia.  While many of the people I’ve been dealing with are excited about the project there are a few who are a bit resistant to the change.  These folks created much of what is in existence today and are truly the experts in their fields.  Unfortunately the organization’s needs have outgrown the capabilities of the current format; now there is a global reach needed that can’t be supported.

To be successful I have to get these experts on my side.  Their senior manager has told them it will happen and he wants it done this new way, but that is getting compliance not commitment.  They are working with me because they have to, but they are not very engaged.  It’s up to me to change that!

Here’s how I’m going about getting them on board with the new program:

  1. Use their information.  I’m using what they created in the past to build the new versions.  This shows that their work is respected and is the building block of the future.
  2. Never be negative.  It is so important to avoid criticizing what’s been done in the past.  Focus on what is right about it and how it can help move everyone into the future.
  3. Get their feedback.  To give them a chance to comment I’m meeting with them about once a week.  This gives them time to review what’s been updated and then they have me as a captive audience for feedback.
  4. Sell, sell, and sell some more.  Part of what I’m doing is to show them what’s been done in other areas already and let them see the benefits of the new materials.  Also, I keep reminding them of why this is being done.
  5. Appeal to their loyalty.  These folks love the products they work on and the company they work for, so I am showing them how the updates will be strengthening the branding of the company.  The professional and uniform appearance of the documentation will be seen world-wide, sometimes by customer personnel, and will increase the image of the products.  They like knowing this helps improve people’s opinion of the company and products.
  6. Play to their knowledge.  The biggest factor to my success is the fact that we are using their information to educate everyone world-wide on the applicable products.  Now they will be impacting people around the world without leaving home, their knowledge will have an even greater reach.

So far it’s going pretty well.  Still working on building the relationships and looking forward to what will come in the future.  I remind myself each day to be positive about their contributions so that I can stay focused on what can be instead of the roadblocks that are really just speed bumps in the road.

What things have you done to get an expert on board with a new idea that wasn’t theirs?

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