Monthly Archives: September 2012

Quote for Sep 27th

Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.

Andrew Carnegie

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Sink or Swim Promotions

When you give someone a new position, particularly a promotion how do you handle the transition?  Do you throw them overboard and tell them “Sink or swim” or do you set up a plan to help them grow into the position?  Often it’s a sink or swim scenario.  Leaders should be lifeguards for newly promoted employees.

A person has been promoted because they are ready for new challenges; however, they probably haven’t handled the exact combination of things that you are expecting of them.  So how can you help them make the move with less stress and more success?

  1. Review expectations.  Make sure the new person is aware of the department goals and what they personally will be expected to accomplish.  It helps to know how you will be judged in the new role.
  2. Establish progress reviews.  Schedule regular times in the first few months to sit down and review how things are going for them.  Help them prioritize, if needed, and provide guidance on getting things done.
  3. Provide safety net.  To really help someone grow into management, particularly for the first time, it is really helpful to have a safe person they can turn to for help.  This may be you, or it may be someone else in the organization.  Whichever route you go, make sure the goal of this relationship is coaching.  Let them vent and then help them figure out how to move forward.
  4. Expect mistakes.  There will be mistakes made in the early days.  The key to surviving them is to learn from them so help the person see what went wrong and get them thinking about what will fix it and how they can avoid it in the future.
  5. Have their back.  The best bosses encourage people to grow, learn and fail.  They also have their employees’ backs so that it’s safe to learn on the job.  Hold them accountable to you and publically support them as they grow into their new responsibilities.

As a leader within your organization it is part of your job to make sure there are people ready to move up to meet the organization’s needs.  To do this you must help people grow through new responsibilities.  For this to be successful you must allow people to learn, including learning from mistakes.  This means giving them a chance to act in a safe environment.  Be ready to help them out when needed.  Learning by doing is not the same as being handed an anchor, thrown overboard and told “Sink or Swim”.  It’s being put into the pool with a lifeguard on duty to help when necessary.

 

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Quote for Sep 25th

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

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If You Think You Can; You Will

When you are looking at your looking at your task list and all the things on your plate it’s easy to start thinking that there is no way that you will get it all done.  On top of everything else you have dreams and goals that are important to you.  What you believe is possible will determine what you accomplish. 

If you are confident in your abilities you are more likely to get more things done.  That confidence leads you be more positive about the impact you can have in you work.  When you know what you are capable of doing, it becomes easier to believe you can stretch to do a little more.  This makes the idea that you can get it all done seem possible.  If you have reached goals, prevailed in difficult situations in the past you have confidence in your ability to do it again.  Past behavior can be a good predictor of future performance.  Knowing what you have done before helps you believe in what you can do now and in the future.

So what to do if you are struggling to believe you can get where you want to go? 

  1. Recognize success.  Stop and take inventory of the things you have accomplished.  What goals have you reached, when have you met seemingly impossible deadlines, or how did you exceed expectations.
  2. Get real.  Make sure that your goals are set up for success.  They have to be realistic and achievable.   You probably won’t solve world hunger; however you can make a difference in your local community. 
  3. Create milestones.  As you look at what you want to accomplish, set milestones so that you can check your progress along the way.  These will give you points to re-evaluate your goals and timeline if things are not working well or they will give you an opportunity to celebrate success. 
  4. Take action.  Even when the list is overwhelming, it won’t get smaller unless you act on it.  Pick a starting point and dig in.  Once you get going, the momentum will carry you further than you thought possible.
  5. Be adaptable.  As you get working you may find that one of your goals really isn’t what you want, or that something will take longer than you thought.  Give yourself permission to change your goal, move a date (if within your control) or otherwise change what you are doing.  Good plans allow for course correction as new information becomes available.  Adjust to what you learn as you move forward.

Focus on what is going well, what successes you have had in the past and celebrate milestones.  These will give you a boost towards reaching your goals.  When you focus on the positive you will see more good around you.  This allows you to be more confident in what you can do and increases your confidence in your abilities. 

If you focus on what is going wrong, all that still needs to be done, and how hard it all is to do then those are the things you will see in your world.  Difficulties show up everywhere when you are focused on the negative aspects of your world.  This shapes your thoughts and it becomes what you experience.

The things you think about, focus on and believe are the things that will hold your attention.  Your thoughts shape your emotions which in turn guides your actions.  So if you believe you can get things done, you will get it done.  If you believe it’s too hard or impossible, then you will fall short of what you want to do. 

As my son’s middle school principle would say “Have a great day, or not; the choice is yours.”  Believe in yourself and the rest will follow.  As Henry Ford said “Whether you think that you can, or that you can’t, you are usually right.”

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When the Going Gets Tough

As part of team how do you react when the going gets tough? 

A.  Do you dig in to make it work? 

B.  Do you run for the hills or hide under your desk? 

C.  Do you find someone to be the sacrificial lamb? 

All of these, and probably a few others, are fairly typical reactions to the ugly times that face every team sooner or later.  If your answer is A then you are a good team player and hopefully everyone else on your team reacts the same way.  Unfortunately, too often B or C are the answers we see in action.

If you find yourself part of a team that has a negative reaction to the tough times there are a few things you can do to help get things back on track.

  1. Ask what you can do.  This is a very powerful question to ask the team leader or others on the team when something goes wrong.  It shows that you are committed to getting things moving forward, not dwelling on the negatives.
  2. Avoid placing blame.  Again, focus on what needs to happen now, not who did what wrong.  The blame game just gets people defensive and serves no good purpose.
  3. Step up if you erred.  If you were the one who made a mistake, calmly, clearly and factually state what you did wrong and how you think it can be corrected.  Sticking to facts and admitting error without panic will help keep others from pointing fingers.
  4. Stop any team bashing.  When others start to place blame, wring their hands, or other non-productive action work to redirect the conversation to what happens now and what can be done to move forward.  Stay focused on the future and what needs to be done. 

If you can be a positive person in the face of adversity then you can help your team react the same way.  It’s hard and gets harder when the people around you want to wallow in the problem.  The only way to overcome a problem is to get to work and fix it.  So step up, take the high road and pull your team along with you.

What other things have you done to keep the team on track when the going gets tough?

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Quote for Sep 20th

Leadership cannot really be taught. It can only be learned.
Harold S. Geneen

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Leaders and Spin

Living in the US, I am currently inundated with the political spin that has become a major part of presidential campaigns.  It got me thinking about how much spin we see in the work place as well.  It seems that “spinning” has become very common place in today’s world. Spin has become synonymous with making something look better than it is by lying.  So is “spin” ever a good thing in a business setting?

If a leader is spinning facts to cover up problems, misconduct or defects then no spin is not ever acceptable.  When spin is used to place blame it’s has a negative impact on the organization.  So many of the business scandals of recent years show that leaders were busy creating a spin to look like they were not at fault for what was going wrong in their world.  Time has a way of bringing the truth to light, so these spin doctors were found out and in some cases they did jail time for their efforts.  This is the extreme use of spin.

However, we see spin in minor ways every day.  Someone is late with a report or project and their reason for the delay is beyond their control.  This may be spin or it may be fact.  If they didn’t follow-up closely to ensure timely results shifting the blame is spin.  If they really did do everything in their power to get it done and yet could not get a vital piece, the reason is fact.  It takes a solid understanding of what is going on with that person and the organization to understand when the report of a negative result is being spun. 

At times we see spin used to excite people towards action.  Again, this can be bad in many ways.  Yet, there are times in business that a positive spin is used to help the team feel good about what they have accomplished and keep the focus on the positive.  Spin can be used to share the credit just as easily as it is to place blame.  When a manager gives credit to a person or the team for a great idea there may be some spin going on to elevate the contribution.  However, when done to keep people engaged, it’s sincere in its praise and the intent is to encourage innovation/involvement then the spin has positive impact on the organization.  If there is any insincerity or any lies behind the praise, it will be seen as “spin” and become discredited. 

As a leader, manager, boss or just an employee how you report results will go a long way to building your creditability and your trustworthiness.  If you tend to spin things to look more positive than they are or to shift blame away from you, your integrity will be questioned.  If you are someone who tells it like it is, good, bad or indifferent then people will trust your word and believe in your work.  If you are honest in what you say, then sharing credit will be seen as sincere and will build your reputation as a good leader.  There are times when you are telling the story in the most positive light, which could be seen as spin if you are not careful.   

Stick to the truth and be upbeat about the good things that happen around you.  Stay away from placing blame on others.  Accept and admit faults when due.  These will tell the story that you act with integrity and are a leader not a spin doctor.

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Quote for Sep 18th

The path to success is to take massive, determined action.

Tony Robbins

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September Reading

These are just are some articles that I have read recently that got me thinking about time managment.  I hope you enjoy them as well.

A great look at what gets you moving towards your goals from PPM Blog.  Learning to Understand Your Motivation

Do you take time off so that you can stay focused on what you need to do?  This is an interesting take on why vacations make you more effective.  By Tony Schwartz from HBR Blog  More Vacation is the Secret Sauce

Suggestions on how to regain control over your to-do list from Simple Productivity Blog.  Can’t Keep Up – 10 Ways to Simplify Your To Do List

If you work from home this is a great list of how to manage being productive while being your own boss.  By Timo Kiander on LifeHack.  5 Critical Elements of Successful Work at Home Productivity

This is a fresh look at time management ideas on The Organized Executive.  It’s a two part series.  The New Time Management Model Part 1 & The New Time Management Model Part 2

Finding time to stay sharp and keep learning.  From Franklin Covey Blog.  Balance Beam – Finding Time to Sharpen the Saw

Happy reading.  What have you read that inspired you to do / be more?

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Quote for Sep 13th

Get the best people and train them well.
Scott McNealy

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