Tag Archives: Experience

Do You Go All In?

poker chips

As we neared the project deadline it was amazing to see the dedication and commitment of the team. People where putting in long hours if needed, helping out with things outside their responsibility and just looking for ways to ensure success. It was a great feeling, particularly when we hit a really ugly snag a couple of days before our deadline. When that happened it was amazing to watch everyone pull together, pull out all the stops and get things done. We hit our deadline to almost everyone’s amazement. The team members humbly told the stakeholders that they just did what had to be done.

This was a team where everyone was ‘all in’ when it came to the project. There were many different factors that created the conditions leading to the formation of such a high functioning team. One of the most critical pieces of that puzzle was the personal choices made by the team members to fully commit to the project.

Each person was 100% vested in the success of the project. This wasn’t something we discussed amongst ourselves, it was just how each of us showed up. Not everyone started off that way, a few went through the motions at first; they did just what was needed and not anything more. As time went on the team grew together and by the last few days everyone was on board and giving their all.

More recently I’ve been part of teams where there were a few members who just did the bare minimum. When their shift was over they left right away. These team members did what was mandated but did not go out of their way to do more or learn more. Sadly it meant there were many more issues as the project rolled out. The people who held back during the preparation ended up playing catch up later. Additionally they were surprised when there were problems and issues. These problems were obviously the fault of the rest of project team.

Why the difference in the commitment level of these two teams? Part of it is their personality, part the business culture and lastly the expectations of the project leaders. When expectations are set that each person is expected to be fully engaged it builds an environment where that is the norm not the exception. Team leaders must give 110%, hold people accountable for their commitments, and bring an energy that helps keep the team excited and going during the rough patches.

Yet each of us has a responsibility to bring our all to whatever we are part of each day. The most engaging, inspiring and exciting teams can still have people on them who just won’t go all in. This means they are missing some of the benefits of being fully engaged. There are three key things gained when you are fully engaged with your team.

  1. Experience: When you are willing to do more than expected you get the opportunity to experience new things, learn new skills and see things in different ways.
  2. Satisfaction: Most people want to know that what they are doing makes a difference. When you give your all you have the satisfaction of knowing that you did your best to create success. Whether you succeed or not you will know that your efforts mattered.
  3. Perception: Those who are seen as going all in on a project are seen as valuable team players. These are people who are get recognized as having potential because they can be counted on to get things done. This perception of dedication and ability can make your next career step a move up.

It’s so easy to say ‘let someone else do it’ or ‘it’s not my job’ or ‘someone else is responsible’ because it means less risk and less work. Yet it means you are creating limitations for what you can do, now and in the future. Holding back means boxing yourself in to a limited role. If you want to only be in a supporting role then only do what you are told. If you want to lead and grow you must break out of the box and show initiative, show commitment and go all in.

Like in poker when you go all in you can lose big or you can win big. However, you will never know how big a win it can be until you risk it all.

If you are ready to take the risk and go all in you can start today. Ask yourself what more can I do today to help create success? Is there something I can do to help someone get more done today? Where can I lend a hand?

Image from iStockPhoto.com

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Filed under Leadership, Personal Development, Project Management

Working with the Next Generation of Leaders

Business woman leading a teamLeaders have an obligation to prepare the next generation of leaders.  This becomes challenging because generational biases can get in the way of that development.  As a leader you must work to see past the differences to build upon similarities and strengths of the emerging leaders. 

The next generation of leaders will be the Millennials.  As Baby Boomers retire at record rates there are not enough Gen X to fill all the voids left by the Boomers.  This means the Millennials will be stepping into leadership roles even sooner than their predecessors.

As you start working to prepare Millennials for leadership roles there are several questions you need to ask yourself:

  1. What are the strengths of the person I am working with?
  2. What experiences do they need to have to be ready to lead?
  3. Am I making assumptions about their skills based on a generational bias?
  4. What can I learn from them?
  5. How can I help this person grow into a successful leader?
  6. Have I focused on generational stereotypes instead of on the person?

These questions will help identify the areas where you might be getting in the way of the development of the next generation of leaders.  This new generation of leaders has so much to offer and so much to learn.  It is up to the current leaders to help them do both.

Some of the value that Millennials bring to an organization is seen in the following areas:

  • Technology utilization:  They are wired and see technology as a fact of life and work so get their input on how it can serve the organization’s needs.
  • Collaboration and connecting:  They have been raised to work in teams and find it very natural to do so.  Also, they connect with others via technology much faster.
  • Inclusion:  Often they see value for the team from a much wider variety of people so they welcome the contributions of each member.
  • Desire to make a difference:  One of the great things about Millennials is that they are interested in making a difference and being part of something bigger than themselves.

Tapping into these strengths will help Millennials feel valued as the next generation of leaders.

How are you developing and working with the next generation of leaders?

To gain more insights about working with the next generation of leaders check out the Lead With Giants tweetchat on Monday Nov 4th at 7:00pm EST (#leadwithgiants).

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Wait….What do They Really Mean?

Crack the Career Code

What do they mean by “You aren’t ready for that job yet”?  It can be hard to figure out what’s meant by a statement like that one.  You’ve been doing your best and working hard so you feel ready to tackle something bigger and better.  So why aren’t you getting that opportunity?

There could be several different things going that are beyond the scenes.  To learn more about what they are click here for a short video explanation.

If you feel you are ready to move up in your organization yet you are running into resistance or rejection take it as an opportunity to learn more about your career path options.

  • Have a conversation with your boss or a mentor about what you need to do to move up
  • Ask how you can prepare yourself for the next position by gaining experience or learning new skills
  • Be open to feedback about your strengths and areas for improvement (we all have both)
  • Create a plan to improve your skill set and gain experiences
  • Let people know you want to move up and are willing to prepare for that next role

You don’t have to get stuck where you are right now.  However, you have to take the initiative to find out what might be holding you back and then to act on what you learn.  Bosses like people who are willing to be assertive, make an effort to improve and are open to feedback.

It’s your career, take control of it.  Decide where you want to go and what you need to do to get there.  Get help from a mentor or coach to help you navigate the murky waters of career advancement.

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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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Filed under Change Management, Time Management

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 Sept 4th

One of the tests of leadership is the ability to recognize a problem before it becomes an emergency.
Arnold H. Glasow

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Quote for Aug 9th

In times of rapid change, experience could be your worst enemy.

J. Paul Getty

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Filed under Change Management, Leadership, Quotes

Toxicity and Productivity

Recently I’ve been reminded of how hard it is to be productive when you are in a toxic environment.  When the office seems like a war zone, or you know your boss will down play your accomplishments it is extremely hard to focus on doing your job done properly.  Hating where you work or who you work with on a daily basis will lower your engagement which directly impacts your job performance.

To combat this you have several options, you can see what you can do to change the environment that you are in or you can leave that job.  The reality of this market is that you may have to stay in the position until you can find something better.  If you find yourself in that position you must do the best you can in spite of the toxic environment around you.  Keeping your skills top notch will aid you when it’s time to move on, either within your current organization or to a new opportunity.  In the world of behavioral based interviewing being able to demonstrate how you succeeded in difficult circumstances can help set you apart from your competition.

So how do you stay on top of your game when the cards are stacked against you?

  • Focus on your job.  Seems obvious but it is really critical to stay on top of the things that you are assigned to do.  Getting caught up in all the ugliness around you will pull your energy away from the tasks at hand.
  • Take the high road.  When people around you attempt to bring you down by back stabbing or other ugly tricks to put you down while bringing themselves up, take the high road.  Doing the same things back creates a vicious cycle that will taint your actions. 
  • Identify your work.  If others are taking credit for your work to get ahead at your expense then make sure you tag your documents so you can show it as yours.  It may be done in the file name; it could be by adding footer with name and date.  Keep copies if possible or if it will help prove your capabilities.
  • Keep the goal in sight.  The reason why you are doing your very best is to get to a better place as soon as you can.  Remind yourself of this on a regular basis.  People respect others who do their best even in adverse conditions.  Staying on top your responsibilities will show that you are dedicated to getting things done properly.  This will work for you when the time comes.
  • Look for the positives.  When things are at their worst look for the things that are good in your position.  Maybe you really like some of your coworkers, maybe you can help ease others, maybe you get to do work you love doing.  Whatever it is that you find positive will make it easier to do things well.

I know from personal experience how hard it is to care about the work you are doing when you have become disillusioned with the company.  Knowing that I did the best I could made it easier for me to sell my experience when I was moving on to the next position. 

Frank Sinatra said “The best revenge is massive success.”  Make this your motto and it will be easier to succeed in spite of the toxicity.

What you done to survive in a toxic environment?

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Filed under Change Management, Time Management

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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Filed under Change Management, Leadership