Monthly Archives: November 2012

Team Members Who Need Help

Assistance (with clipping path)As the holidays approach and the year-end crunch hits full stride often there are people on your team who get overwhelmed and fall behind.  What do you do when you see that going on?  Do you duck and hide because your plate is over full as well or do you step up to see what you can do to help?

As much as all of us would like to pretend that our personal life never crosses over into our work life that just isn’t the case.  This time of the year seems to bring out the worst of that for most everyone.  There are parties to plan/attend, gifts to buy, people to see and a million things to get done and then we have to go to work.  It’s easy to get swamped by all that needs to happen and people can get behind at this time of the year.

Here are a few tips for helping out someone who is struggling to get the job done:

  1. Ask if they need help.  Often people will plod along trying to get things done without asking for help because they don’t want to appear needy, or incompetent.
  2. Find out what’s causing the issue.  There may be a real problem that needs to be addressed that has caused them to get behind.  It may be they have been sick and missed some time, or a family member is sick, or they are taking on extra work to cover for someone who is taking time off.  There are many reasons that cause a person to get behind, so find out what’s going on.
  3. Focus on the required results.  When discussing what is going on keep the person focused on their work requirements to help them prioritize all their items.  When you are overwhelmed it’s easy to lose track of what’s required by focusing on all the little items.
  4. Avoid making it personal.  To get the team through the problems at hand it’s important to address the problems without making it personal.  Making someone feel guilty or lazy or incompetent isn’t going to help them get moving.  Address the problems and find solutions to get things back on track.
  5. If it’s a chronic problem, address it.  If the person who is struggling with their work is someone who seems to regularly get behind it may be a more serious performance issue.  If so, get with the right people to get it addressed.  Bailing these folks out yet again doesn’t solve the problem and it doesn’t help them or the team.

All of us need help at some time or another so being kind to your struggling teammates will make them more receptive to helping you when you need it.  Step up if one of your team is falling behind.  Knowing that someone cares and is willing to help out may be all the boost they need to get back on task.

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Quote for Nov 29th

Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.

Jack Welch

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A Leadership Parable

This is an interesting leadership parable about the importance of being aware of what you cannot see and valuing different perspectives.  I’ve come across it in several places.  Hope you enjoy it and find it as thought provoking as I did.

The Wisdom of the Mountain

In ancient China, on top of Mount Ping, stood a temple where Hwan, the enlightened one, dwelled. Of his many disciples, we know only Lao-Li. For more than 20-years, Lao-Li studied and meditated under the great master. Although Lao-Li was one of the brightest and most determined disciples, he had yet to reach enlightenment. The wisdom of leadership was not his.

Lao-Li struggled with his lot for days, nights, months, even years. And then one day, the sight of a falling cherry blossom spoke to his heart. “I can no longer fight my destiny” he reflected. “Like the cherry blossom, I must gracefully resign myself to my ignorance.” At that moment, after more than 20-years of study, Lao-Li decided to climb down the mountain and give up his hope of enlightenment.

Lao-Li searched for Hwan to inform him of his decision. He found the master sitting before a white wall, deep in meditation. Reverently, Lao-Li approached Hwan. “Excuse me enlightened one,” he said. But, before Loa-Li could continue the master spoke. “Tomorrow I will join you on your journey down the mountain” he said. And Lao-Li left to pack his belongings.

The next morning, before the descent, the master looked out into the vastness that surrounded the mountain peak where they stood. “Tell me Lao-Li,” he said, “What is it that you see?”

“Master, I see the sun beginning to wake just below the horizon. I see hills and mountains that go on for miles. In the valley I see an old town and a lake.” Hwan listened to Lao-Li’s response. He smiled and then took the first steps to start the descent.

Hour after hour, as the sun rose and crossed the sky, they walked. As they approached the foot of the mountain, Hwan again asked Lao-Li to tell him what he saw.

“Great wise one, in the distance I see roosters running round the barns, cows asleep in the flowering meadows, old people resting and children playing in a brook.” The master stayed silent and walked to a large tree where he sat at the trunk.

“What did you learn today Loa-Li?”, he asked. Silence was Lao-Li’s response. At last Hwan continued – “The road to leadership is like the journey down the mountain.” It comes only to those who realize that what one sees at the top of the mountain is not what one sees at the bottom. Without this wisdom, we close our minds to all that we cannot view from our position and as a consequence limit our capacity to grow and improve. But with wisdom there comes an awakening. We recognize that alone one sees only so much – which, in truth is not much at all. This is the wisdom that opens our minds to improvement, knocks down prejudices and teaches us to respect what at first we cannot view. Never forget this last lesson Lao-Li – What you cannot see can be seen from a different part of the mountain.”

When the master stopped speaking, Lao-Li looked out at the horizon and as the sun set before him it seemed to rise in his heart.  Lao-LI turned to the master but the great on was gone.

Do you look beyond your horizons to see what others see?

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Quote for Nov 27th

Become the kind of leader that people would follow voluntarily; even if you had no title or position.

Brian Tracy

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Re-evaluating Your Goals

From time to time it’s important to take some time to reflect upon where you’ve been, where you are and where you are going.  This gives you the opportunity to celebrate the successes you’ve had, the progress you’ve made and the lessons you’ve learned along the way.  When you take in all your personal growth you may find that your vision of the future is slightly different than it was a year ago.  This is why regular reviews are vital for your continued growth. 

Recognizing that the things you have learned may lead to new paths to explore is key to personal growth.  As well, making sure your goals are still the right ones for you will ensure that you are focusing on getting the right things done.  Progress towards an outdated goal is not really progress, it’s just movement. 

For me personally the goals I had in mind when I started this blog last January have evolved.  I was looking to get back into the training and development world in a full time position.  As I worked through a move to a new city and taking in everything that I’ve learned from my blogging I came to realize that really wasn’t the right role for me now.  I still have a deep and abiding passion for training, learning and development.  However, I discovered that instead of a full time job within a company I was happier working one-on-one with people and helping companies improve their training and development programs.  As a result, I am focusing my efforts on becoming a performance coach to help young professionals build a strong foundation for long-term career success.  I will still do training in the areas of time management, leadership and team building while I work with people one-on-one to reach their potential at work and to find their work-life balance.

I’ve been very fortunate to have supporters, mainly mu husband, who have pushed me to stop and figure out what I really want to do next.  They have encouraged me as well as pushed and prodded on occasion to get me moving in this new direction.  Without that support it wouldn’t be possible.  It’s been hard work, a bit stressful and it has its risks, however, by shifting my focus away from the goal of last year I find I am more hopeful and overall have more energy to get this off the ground.

When you are pursuing the things that really make you excited about getting up each morning it hardly feels like work.  As Confucius once said “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”   Aligning your actions with your goals and your goals with your passions will make the journey more enjoyable and well worth the effort.

As the year winds down take some time to re-evaluate your goals and make sure you are on the right track for you.

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Interesting Articles for November

Here are a few of the things that I’ve read recently that have caused me to sit back and think about things in a new light.  Hope you enjoy them.

  • I loved this video of Paul Castain’s that Tim Mushey shared on Sell, Lead, Succeed!  How true, if companies can make millions on selling water what can you bring to the table?  Paul Castain Says Screw the Water Go Brand Yourself.
  • Here is an interesting look at the tough side of leadership by Miles Anthony Smith on Great Leadership.  It really got me thinking about how often these things are overlooked in leadership training.  The 5 Perils of Leadership.
  • This is a great reminder of the power of the words we use when we talk to our team.  Make sure that the words you use bring out the best in everyone and help them reach their potential.  They will be eternally grateful to you for believing in them.  From Mike Rogers at Teamwork and Leadership.  Do You Make this Mistake with Those You Lead?
  • In this article Elizabeth Grace Saunders, on HBR Blog, points out the negatives associated with putting other people first.  Learning when and how to say no is one of the biggest steps for career success.  Stop Being a People-Pleaser
  • Do you value brains or results?  Often managers and companies hire the smartest people and yet this is not a guarantee of success.  In this article on Fast Company by Andrew Razeghi he demonstrates that innovation is being able to act on creative ideas; which can be more important than generating the ideas.  As well, he uses Edison vs. Tesla to demonstrate the impact of social skills on success.  Do You Hire for IQ or Klout Score?
  • When was the last time you took inventory of your management skills?   In this article Tina Del Buono on PPM Blog provides a great road map to examining your skills.  Examine Your Management Skills

What reading have you done that inspired you?

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Quote for Nov 22nd

In honor of the American holiday of Thanksgiving, I am so gratefule that I have been able to share my thoughts with all of you and to have you share your thoughts with me.  Thank you! 

Gratitude is the inward feeling of kindness received. Thankfulness is the natural impulse to express that feeling. Thanksgiving is the following of that impulse.
Henry Van Dyke

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Have You Said Thank You Lately?

When was the last time you said Thank You to a co-worker?  Recently I had a conversation with one of my client’s regional managers.  We spent an hour discussion the needs of his team for the upcoming year.  It was a great conversation with a manager who was sincerely concerned about the development of the people below him, himself and the overall organization.  It was refreshing and enlightening.  The best part of the whole experience was the thank you email I got from him a couple of hours later. 

In this email the manager said Thanks, it was good talking to you and that he looked forward to working with me in the future.  I can honestly tell you it made my day.  I was doing what I needed to do as part of my contract, and I really enjoy helping this group find new solutions to their challenges.  They are a great group, but that very short note really made an impact on me.  I responded immediately and told him he made my day when we next spoke.  His small act of gratitude took a normal business interaction from good to great! 

Many of us have taken to heart the idea of being grateful for the things in our lives and we say thanks to the people we care about more often.  But how many of us take a moment to say thank you at work?  It seems that this simple act is too often neglected in the pursuit of goals and results.  However, it can be one of the simplest ways to build strong, positive relationships with co-workers and customers.  Who doesn’t like to be told thank you?  Recognition is one of the greatest motivators and honest gratitude is one of the most powerful forms of recognizing someone’s efforts.  As a leader recognizing your team’s efforts informally and in the moment can create good will that helps them through the rough times.

My reaction to the simple thank you note reminded me how important it is to recognize people’s efforts and how easy it can be.  We just have to take a brief moment and say “Thank You”.  I know that I will be showing more gratitude from now on.

Thank you for spending some of your time reading my post.  I hope you have a great day!

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Quote for Nov 20th

My own definition of leadership is this: The capacity and the will to rally men and women to a common purpose and the character which inspires confidence.

General Montgomery

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Course Corrections

As you work towards your goals there are times when you find that the plan you set is not getting you where you want to go.  So what do you do?  You can stay with the plan and keep plugging away hoping that you get to the right place eventually.  Or you can make some changes; adjust your course if you will. 

This is like sailing; the captain is always making adjustments to his sails, to his direction based on the wind and the currents.  He started with a plan of going from A to B along this route, but the environment can push him in new directions so he has to constantly make changes to get where he wants to go.  In the end he got to his destination but during the trip his plans changed based on what he was experience at the time.

Why not apply the same principles to our pursuit of goals?  When we decide on a goal we create a plan to get there.  Then life happens and things change as we move forward.  Adapting and adjusting our actions will provide a greater likelihood of success and satisfaction as we reach our goal.  Sticking to a plan without adapting to the changing world is frustrating and often self-defeating.

Here are a few things that may cause you to make some course directions as you work towards your goals.

  1. Lack of focus.  You may be chasing too many things at once and you are not able to focus on any one of them.  This means you are not making significant progress on anything.  Sit down and evaluate which of your goals you want/can achieve first and focus on that one.  Once it’s complete move on to the next one.
  2. Tackling too big of a change.   At times we set goals that require significant change in what we are doing.  Making a huge change all at once can be overwhelming and then it becomes difficult to maintain.  If your goal requires big change, find steps to take to get there instead of jumping off the cliff.  It will be easier to maintain long-term if you take smaller, yet measurable, steps to get you there.
  3. Changing passion.   You may find that your passion has changed, it may be due to external forces or your life has taken you in a new direction and so your passion has shifted.  Whichever is the reason, take the time to figure out what makes you excited to get up in the morning and move towards it.  Over time that can and probably will change, so adapt and go in the new direction.

As the year is coming to a close it is a good time to stop and reflect on where you are and where you want to go.  Take an honest assessment of your goals and your plans.  If you find that you aren’t on track anymore, that the winds of time have shifted your direction, spend a little bit of time looking at what you can do to make some course corrections to get you where you want to go.  Making the needed adjustments will help ensure the things you are doing are the best use of your time; that they will get you to your goal.

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