Tag Archives: Results

Being Intense

FocusA couple of months ago several colleagues and I were having dinner after a long day and we were comparing notes on how our week and the project were going.  I commented that things had been “crazy and kind of…..” and I was at a loss for words.  Jack offered up “intense” as the word I was looking for to describe it all.  That was exactly how I felt.  He then commented that it was due to the fact that I was intense.

Honestly I think it was meant as a bit of a dig.  Jack tended to think I took my responsibilities a bit too seriously.  To me that wasn’t an insult at all, it was a compliment.  My role in the project was end-user training and we had just made the switch so I was really focused on making sure things were working for everyone.  The fact that I was fully focused on people’s success and experience made me a bit intense I guess.

If we are truly focused on an objective we can come across as intense or even obsessive to others.   Does that mean we should back off or tone it down?  Not in my world.  I am a believer in giving 110% to the things I am doing and I take my work very seriously.  There are people who find that intimidating and uncomfortable to be around.  When people are nervous or afraid they will act out of compliance to a request instead of getting onboard as a collaborator.  You need to know which is going to help you most in the situation, but I always prefer to work with someone who is committed to helping me instead of someone who is just doing what they are told to do.

It’s great to be focused and driving to a result or goal.  Unfortunately if we scare the folks we are working with we may end up being less effective.  Yet if we don’t appear committed or focused people think we don’t care about results.  So how do we strike the right level of intensity?

Here are 5 tips for managing intensity:

  1. Focus on one goal at a time: If you are pushing towards too many things all at once you will seem unorganized and unfocused.  At any one time work on one thing only.
  2. Remember to see the people: Often what we are doing involves others, either directly or indirectly, so remember that others can be frightened when you come on too strong.
  3. Breathe: Before you start rattling off a list of next steps or giving directions to others take a couple of deep breaths and slow down.  Going too fast will confuse people; make sure the others can keep up.
  4. Be clear on the true urgency: Just because you are excited and ready to roll doesn’t mean it’s urgent to those around you.  What is the real importance and urgency of the task at hand?  Is it critical to do now or can it be done soon?  Be clear on the true needs and people will respect your deadlines better.
  5. Smile: When you are going from meeting to meeting or talking with others smile at them and make eye contact.  When you are moving fast with your mind on the end goal you come across as remote and scary.  Relax and people will respond better to your requests.

Remember being intense means you care about what you are doing and you are focused on getting results.  Managing your intensity will allow you to pull others in with you so that you can get more done and have more fun doing it.  Focus on results and keep an eye on the people around you to make sure you aren’t burning them with your focus.  Sunlight is great until it’s focused so intensely that it starts a fire.

My philosophy: ‘Take your work more seriously than yourself’

I believe in getting things done but having fun while doing it.  As a result I’ve found most people to be willing to work with me, help me get things done even when I’m being a bit intense.  I will laugh at myself and my mistakes quickly and readily yet I’m always serious about the results I’m looking to achieve.

Have you ever been accused of being too intense?

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Filed under Personal Development

Responsibility – Do You Pass it On?

Teamwork passing the batonEach of us has responsibilities, to ourselves, to our families, to our jobs, and so on.  It’s one of those facts of adulthood.  With freedom comes responsibility.  The real question is how well we handle all of those responsibilities.  We also have choices on what we take on as a responsibility.  This is very true as leaders.

When we assume a leadership role we are being placed in a role with responsibilities.  We are accountable for our team’s performance as well as our own.  We become responsible for guiding, directing, and correcting the behavior of those around us.  How much we take on ourselves will often determine how well we perform as a leader.

The challenge of being responsible for the performance of others is how much of their success or failure do we really own?  When is their failure ours and when is it theirs?  What is our responsibility as a leader for those who are on our team?  Here are 6 questions to help determine when it’s your responsibility and when it’s not:

  1. Have you given clear direction, and checked for understanding, on what is required?
  2. Have you provided the training and coaching needed for success?
  3. Have you given feedback on their performance, including corrective ideas?
  4. Are you letting them act independently and not micro-managing?
  5. Are you available to them for support and guidance?
  6. Have you created an environment where people can innovate, act on ideas and questioning is welcomed?

If you answer yes to all of these questions then you are doing all that you can reasonably do to help your team succeed.  Some team members will flourish and grow in this kind of environment.  There will be some who aren’t well suited for the tasks at hand.  It could be that they just don’t have the abilities or capacity to meet the demands of the position.  They may not have the right attitude for the role they are in, or they may not want to grow in the direction needed. 

When someone can’t or won’t gain the skills needed to do the job assigned and you as their leader has worked with them to help them get there it becomes your responsibility to help them move to the right position.  This may mean leaving your organization or it may mean transferring to another area.  Your responsibility is to the entire team and the organization so you have to make sure the right people are in place to accomplish your goals and mission.

Responsibility is part of our lives, at home and at work.  When we take our responsibilities seriously and act on them with integrity and compassion we help our teams become the best they can be, together and individually.  Remember while we as leaders are responsible for the team’s results each person is also responsible for their performance and their results.  We must coach, train and guide them towards success but we have to let them succeed or fail on their own.  If they can’t succeed in the given role we must be responsible to the team and make a change.

You have to pass on the responsibility for personal performance to each person on your team.  Along with that you must share the responsibility for the overall team’s success with each member.  Build trust and collaboration by passing the baton of responsibility to your team.  Get them engaged in their individual and joint success.  Everyone wins then. 

Have you ever had issues related to passing responsibility to others?  Share your experiences below in the comments.


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If you would like help defining your responsibilities or learning to build your team’s abilities contact us at carol@delta-group-llc.com


Filed under Leadership, Team Building

6 Secrets to Team Productivity

Teenagers - Whispering a SecretTeams are great for accomplishing projects or complex operations / tasks.  High performing teams can get more done more quickly than any one person.  However, keeping teams on task and on track can be a real challenge.  Even great teams can get distracted or pulled in the wrong direction.  So how do you keep your team’s productivity up?

Here are 6 secrets to team productivity:

  1. Have fun.  When people enjoy what they do and the people they are doing it with productivity will increase.  Find small ways to break tension and stress by having some fun.  Laugh at yourself in a team meeting, take a lunch break together that is different than normal (go out or bring in picnic foods, whatever works), create funny rewards for participation or ideas, or something else that will bring humor to the team without poking fun at anyone else.  A couple of minute laugh break can get a meeting or work session back on track faster than pushing through it.
  2. Allow personal space.  Working closely together can become suffocating at times.  Create a way for people to step away and work independently for a while.  Unwinding and working alone can make coming back together to share results and progress more rewarding.  People need quiet time.
  3. Keep updates short.  While reviewing individual updates, limit the time people can spend sharing their reports.  Making sure this portion moves fast helps build a sense of momentum and eliminates boredom while others drag on.  Use a template if needed, drive the discussion of tasks and hold people to the agenda.
  4. Avoid the blame game.  Things will go wrong at times, instead of looking for people to blame focus on moving forward.  If people are worried about getting in trouble for an error they are not working on needed tasks or assignments.  Make it okay to make mistakes as long as people own their actions and bring solutions with them.  Always be looking towards the finish line.
  5. Pick 3 things.  Too often departments or teams have too many goals to focus on at any one time.  Pick the top 3 or 5 things you need to do this week/month.  Get these in the spot light and work towards them.  When they are done move on to the next items.  As the leader you need to set priorities for your team and help them know what is critical right now.  Limit the number of critical items so they can be accomplished.
  6. Believe.  If you believe your team can reach or exceed their goals and you communicate that often they will believe it.  Holding people accountable is important but holding people capable is empowering.  Show them that you trust them to get it done and they will surprise you with their results.

Some of these may be unexpected ideas, but creating an environment that encourages, supports and empowers people to perform well will get you the results you need.  You can use measures and metrics to ensure things are being done on time and with the right quality level.  Getting teams to consistently perform well requires the right environment and support.

What are your secrets to improving team productivity?


Filed under Leadership, Team Building

Planning – Preparation or Distraction

Goals & PlanWhen you are starting a new project or just getting organized it’s important to plan out what needs to be done by when and how you are going to do it.  This is a critical step in the success of any project.  But what happens when the planning becomes more important than producing results?  How does this happen and what can you do if you find yourself in this trap?

Planning can become an activity trap that distracts you from making progress towards the goal.  Reasons planning becomes as a distraction are:

  1. Need for 100% of the information
  2. Fear of risk
  3. No tolerance for mistakes
  4. Lack of commitment to goal

First it is important to get as much information as is practical to get the job done.  However, keep in mind that you will not be able to get 100% of the information to make the endeavor risk free.  Finding the balance on what is the right amount of information to act wisely can be tricky.  If you can get 80% of the information you feel you need to make a good decision that is enough to act upon.  Look at it, draw conclusions and evaluate the risks.  Once you have that you can move forward with confidence.

Another reason people spend too much time on planning is that there is no tolerance for mistakes.  This can be a personal or an organizational issue.  Mistakes happen and in reality most learning comes from mistakes.  Cultivate an attitude that a mistake is not a failure it is a learning opportunity.  Thomas Edison said “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”  If all of us looked at mistakes as an opportunity to learn how to do something better than it would be much easier to act without fear.  When something goes wrong ask yourself what you learned from it and what will you do differently next time.

Lastly, planning becomes a project in itself when people aren’t committed to the goal of the project.  If you are not convinced that the goal is worthwhile it’s much easier to spend time planning than it is to get started with the work.  Planning can become the excuse for not acting when there is no commitment to the goal.  It’s hard to argue with someone who is checking facts, gathering needed information, or putting together a plan for completion.  However, if there is no forward movement it may be time to explore the commitment to the goal.

To avoid these traps, set clear deadlines for action as well as milestones for progress checks.  Holding yourself and others accountable for creating a good plan and then implementing the plan will go a long way towards circumventing the planning distraction trap.  As well, create an environment that allows mistakes to be used as learning opportunities.  This will give people the freedom to move forward with some calculated risks to avoid the trap of wanting 100% guaranteed and helps overcome the fear of taking risks.  This is a cultural issue within an organization and can be controlled by the leader’s attitude.

Having a plan is necessary to achieving excellence.  When planning becomes a goal in and of itself it has turned into a distraction.


Filed under Time Management

Productivity Quote

hour glassWhen you waste a moment, you have killed it in a sense, squandering an irreplaceable opportunity. But when you use the moment properly, filling it with purpose and productivity, it lives on forever.

Menachem Mendel Schneerson 

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New Year – New Results

which wayIf you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten. 
Tony Robbins 

Now that we are in 2013 what are you going to accomplish?  When you look back on this New Year will you be able to say you accomplished your goals or that you went beyond to reach your dreams?

There has been a lot of conversations about dreaming big, setting goals (or not) and how to translate those into action steps.  However, so many people set goals, create resolutions, dream big and yet they fall short of where they want to go.  That doesn’t mean they are bad people, they aren’t failures, they just didn’t have all the tools and support they needed to accomplish their goals.

Have you ever gotten help in reaching your goals?  If so you know that having a partner alongside you can help you find the right path, get over the obstacles and celebrate with you when you reach your goals.  A coach can be that person who is there to be that partner.  A majority of executives use coaches to help them become better business leaders.  Why not get a coach to help you build a better foundation for your career?  A performance coach can assist you in developing better skills in time management, project management, planning and interpersonal or supervisory skills.   Strengthening these skills will provide you with a solid foundation that will help you do more now and set the stage for achieving more in the future.

I want 2013 to be the best year ever, for me and for others.  One of my big dreams is to help others build their skill set so that they have the career they always dreamed of and have time for family and friends.  So in honor of reaching new heights I am offering a New Year – New Results special on my coaching packages.  Click here New Year – New Results to learn more. If you are interested, or know someone who would like a helping hand, please check out the offer and contact me.

Here’s to having the best year ever and making dreams come true!

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Filed under Coaching, Time Management

Feedback or Criticism

Do you give feedback or criticism?  When you see something that needs to be corrected in someone’s actions or performance how do you approach the topic?  The difference is in the intent of the information you share.  If focused on improving its feedback.  When focused on proving what was wrong its criticism.

Feedback is:

  1. Focused on improving performance or behavior
  2. Seeks to prevent repeat issues
  3. Based on actions observed
  4. Solution centered
  5. Supportive in delivery

Criticism is:

  1. Focused on highlighting errors
  2. Seeks to showcase mistakes
  3. Based on personal observations
  4. Cause centered
  5. Demeaning in delivery

There is a fine line at times between these two types of corrective conversations.  Bosses will say they are giving feedback but the message is about what you did wrong, that’s criticism.  Feedback will inspire people to find better ways to act in the future while criticism will cause people to act out of fear.   No one wants to be “yelled” at when they make a mistake and no matter how its delivered criticism feels like you are being reprimanded.  

Stay focused on how to do better next time and the conversation will feel more positive and have longer lasting results.

For effective feedback:

  1. Seek to understand why the specific action was taken
  2. Look for solutions
  3. Ask how it could be done differently
  4. Use the phrase “I observed…” to point out behavior
  5. Explain the impact of the actions

Providing true feedback instead of criticizing your team will help you build a group who strives to always do better and go beyond expectations.

What is your best tip for giving feedback when something has gone wrong?

photo from iStockphoto.com

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Filed under Change Management, Leadership, Team Building

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?


Filed under Change Management, Leadership, Team Building, Time Management

The Danger of Blind Allegiance to Organizational Culture

Below is a parable about monkeys and how learned behavior is passed down.  It demonstrates how easy the “we have always done it this way” mentality becomes part of the culture of an organization.  When we accept organizational knowledge without understanding why this is the way things are done, we run the risk of missing out on new opportunities.  When you hear someone say “we’ve always done it this way” ask them why and what other things have been done that failed.  What opportunities are you missing due to blind allegiance to your organizational culture. 

All the discoveries that have been made are because someone challenged the cultural norm.   Christopher Columbus did not accept that the world was flat.  Galileo persisted on saying that the sun was the center of our universe in spite of being persecuted for challenging the accepted notion that Earth was the center.  Will you take a chance and ask why or why not?  We would not be where we are today as a society if no one pushed the boundaries of cultural norms.  There is a risk to you in raising that question and there is a risk in doing nothing.  Challenge status quo to get new and greater results for your team.

Hope you enjoy the story.

The Parable of the Monkeys

It happened that there were three monkeys in a cage. Suspended at the top if the cage was a bunch of bananas. There was a ladder from the floor of the cage up to the bananas. One of the monkeys, who was both clever and agile and also liked bananas, decided to head up the ladder to grab a banana.

Imagine his surprise (not to mention that of the other two monkeys) when suddenly a fire hose washed down the cage, blasting all three monkeys over to one side. Cold and shivering, the three monkeys regrouped and thought about what had happened.

Monkeys don’t have a real long memory and, after awhile, a second monkey thought again about the bananas and headed up the ladder. Same thing—a fire hose washed all three monkeys over to the side of the cage. They picked themselves up, shook themselves off and hoped the sun would come out to warm them up.

After another couple of hours, the third monkey couldn’t resist and he went for it. Sure enough, same result—fire hose and cold, wet, miserable monkeys.

Finally, all three monkeys became convinced that going for the bananas was a bad idea, and went on with the rest of their lives.

Then the zookeeper drafted one of the monkeys for another exhibit and replaced him with a new monkey. The new monkey arrived, looked up at the bananas, looked over at the ladder and couldn’t figure out why the other monkeys hadn’t gone for the bananas. He headed for the ladder and got about 1 rung up when the remaining “experienced” monkeys tackled him, dragged him to the floor and pummeled him into submission. He quickly concluded that climbing the ladder wasn’t a good idea.

A week later, the zookeeper replaced the second monkey. Monkeys are somewhat single-minded. The new monkey spied the bananas, headed for the ladder, and the remaining two monkeys tackled him and pummeled him into submission.

Finally the third monkey was replaced and, you guessed it, the same thing happened. So life went on among the monkeys and after some time the first of the “new” monkeys was replaced with yet another monkey. Sure enough, the new guy saw the bananas, went for the ladder and his two peers then tackled him and beat him into submission.

Why was that? None of these monkeys knew anything about the fire hose. None of them had ever gotten wet for having climbed the ladder in the quest for bananas. Yet the monkeys had been fully culturalized to know that it was a bad idea. And you could likely go on individually replacing monkeys one at a time forever and expect the same result.


Filed under Change Management, Team Building

Inspire Cooperation with Stone Soup

There is an old folk-tale about stone soup that my mother used to tell as an example of what can be achieved when each person brings whatever they have to offer to the group as a whole.

Do you find ways to get your team to bring their best efforts to the organization’s goals?  I hope you enjoy this tale of how the impossible can be achieved when each person digs deep into what they have to offer.

Stone Soup Fable

Once upon a time in the Middle Ages, there was great famine in which the peasants jealously hoarded and hid whatever little food they had. One day two soldiers were returning from war talking with each other: “How I would like a good dinner tonight,” said the first. “And a soft bed to sleep in,” added the second. The two men continued walking in silence when they noticed some lights ahead of them. They were hoping, of course, that they might find something to eat and a bed to sleep in.

When they arrived in the little village, they began to inquire about food and lodging. “”We have no food for ourselves! In fact, there’s not a bite to eat in the whole village” the peasants lied. “You’d better keep on moving.”

The first soldier declared, “Good people! We are hungry soldiers; we’ve asked you for food and you have none. I suppose we will have to make stone soup.” The peasants just stared. The soldier added mysteriously, “Our king gave me a very special gift when I saved his life in battle.”  He then asked for a big cauldron and water to fill it. When the villagers brought the cauldron, the two soldiers placed it in the middle of the square and built a huge fire underneath. Then the first soldier took out an ornate bag from a secret pocket of his cape, removed three very ordinary-looking stones from the bag, and with great ceremony dropped them into the water.

A crowd started gathering in the square to see what all the commotion was about.

“A good soup needs salt and pepper,” the first soldier said, so one of the peasants sent his children to fetch some salt and pepper.

As the soldiers sniffed the soup and licked their lips in anticipation, hunger began to overcome the skepticism of the villagers. “Oh!” the soldier said to himself rather loudly, “I do love stone soup. Of course, stone soup with carrots…that’s hard to beat.”

Hearing this, one of villagers sent his son home to fetch some carrots hidden in the cellar. Soon the son returned and they ceremoniously added the carrots to the pot. “Magnificent!” exclaimed the soldier. “You know, I once had stone soup with carrots and some salt beef as well, and it was fit for the king!” The village butcher managed to find some salt beef. And so it went, until soon there were onions, potatoes, barley, cabbage, and milk added to the cauldron.

“It’s soup,” yelled the cooks, “but first we must prepare the square for a feast.” Tables, chairs, torches, and banners were arranged in the square, and the soldiers and villagers sat down together to eat. One of the villagers said, “A great soup would be better with bread and cider,” so he brought out these last two items. The village peasants had never before tasted anything so good that was made of stones, and soon they began singing, dancing, and making merry well into the night.

The soldiers were weary from their travels, so they inquired again to see if there was a hayloft or  spare floor corner somewhere where they could rest for the night. “Oh, no, a hayloft or a corner won’t do for men such as you!” cried the mayor. “You two must have the best beds in the village!” One soldier spent the night in the mayor’s house, while the other was offered lodging in the baker’s house.

The next morning the villagers gathered to say goodbye to the soldiers and offered them a great sum of money for the “magic” stones. The soldiers said the stones were not for sale, politely refused the offer, and then traveled on.

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