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Reflection - 12/20/10

For me, this is the time of year where I tend to reflect on my accomplishments. I've come to some realizations that may be helpful to you. So often we get caught up doing things that come naturally whether they work or not. Call your attention to these things so you can determine whether or not they are working for you. Think of it this way, stop doing what comes naturally and instead, do what works! Here are some ideas to think about ... If you have a tendency to move slowly, then speed up. If your tendency is to move quickly, then slow down. If you tend to wait for instructions, take the initiative instead. If you spend a fair amount of time getting ready, instead, take action. If you tend to spend your energy on problems, begin thinking about solutions. If you tend to blame others for wrongs, begin taking personal ownership. When we begin thinking about "what works" instead of "what comes naturally" we have the opportunity to make changes that are likely to change our results!

Evaluating Progress - 12/13/10

The natural tendency for many people is to focus attention on all the things that didn't work and didn't get done.

Instead, shift the focus to celebrate the progress that has been made and acknowledge everything that has been accomplished!

Pay particular attention to how that shift in perspective changes how you think and feel about yourself, your progress and your future!

Happy Holidays!!!

Managing Stress - 12/6/10

Tis the season where most of us find ourselves feeling overwhelmed from the pressures of year end deadlines, budget restraints and impending goals. To move through this period with the least amount of stress, it's important to recognize how our mind processes information and how that affects our body and ultimately our results.

Here's what happens .... an event takes place, we have an interpretation of the event, that interpretation causes an emotional response (example: panic, fear, anxiety), which causes a physical response (example: internal; increase in blood pressure; or external; and undesirable action) and ultimately and outcome/result (based upon our action). Please note, this process happens within a fraction of a second!!

To move through any stressful situation it's critical that we interrupt the cycle before it begins. The only way to do that is to pay attention to our interpretation of the event. That's where we have all the control!! When we successfully change how we are perceiving the event, we will change the emotional and physical responses to it and ultimately change the outcome.

Effective Communication - 11/28/10

Since I do believe people are well intended and desire to do a good job, when organizational results fall short and/or miss targets, consider this ...  It’s possible organizational deliverables are too vague and/or not being shared with all levels inside the organization. 

When organizational goals are too vague, it leaves the interpretation open to the leader/employee rather than creating a vivid understanding of what the deliverable is.  Be mindful that for organizations get traction and gain momentum, teams have to work together. Too many directions equals very little forward movement.

Lateral Alignment - 11/15/10

Most Executive Leadership teams are very effective at aligning their respective teams vertically and/or divisionally to achieve results.

A common problem organizations experience, which truly impedes their ability to be successful, is the inability of the Executive Leadership team to align laterally. Organizations are best served when Executive Leadership teams understand their purpose is to discuss the priorities and direction of the business and are responsible for contributing to the achievement of those results through their respective Divisions/Departments.

It’s critical for Executive Leaders in any organization to agree on the direction of the business and the results to be accomplished, then making sure that each of their respective divisions/departments are in fact working together to achieve those results. Without these types of discussions during Executive Leadership meetings, while divisions will be aligned vertically and be ripe for execution, they are likely to impede the progress of their complimenting divisions or worse yet, be operating in direct opposition of what other divisions/departments must accomplish. When this happens, you have teams of people working very hard, putting forth tremendous effort only to find they are not moving at all and feeling the frustration of it all.

The best remedy here is to encourage your Executive Leaders to see themselves as the Primary Team, encourage them to speak openly and candidly with each other to ensure they are aligned horizontally before executing vertically.

The “Upside-Down” Organization - 11/8/10

Most companies visually depict their organization from the “top down”. In other words, when looking at an organizational chart, the President/CEO is at the top, the Executive Leadership Team beneath him/her, the Department Heads/Division Heads next, followed by Managers, Supervisors and underlings beneath them. In short, the people charged the with responsibility of leading the organization are at the top and the rest of the organization, the folks touching and serving the customer are at the bottom.

Consider this ... flip your org chart upside down visually representing customers at the top (indicating most important) followed by the employees directly interfacing with them beneath them, followed by leadership, the executive team and the President/CEO at the bottom. By representing customers at the top followed by employees, indicates that customers and how to best serve them is what is most important to the business and how valuable the employees touching the customer are to the organization. It further demonstrates that the leadership of the organization has been put in place to support the employees directly interfacing the customer to drive business results.

Communication - 9/27/10

When interacting with others be mindful that we think in pictures. That means when we hear a word, a picture flashes on the screen of our mind. For example, if I say think of your house, think of your car, or think of your family, pictures appear in your mind.

Keep in mind, there is a high probability that the words we choose are likely to create different pictures in the mind of others which is likely to cause communication to breakdown.

An easy solution ... when providing direction to others, at the end of the conversation ask them to share with you their understanding of what was just discussed. This will give you the opportunity to clarify any misunderstandings immediately.

Perception - 9/20/10

Have you ever attended an event with others (family, friends or colleagues) and after the event, you learned through discussion that each of you had an entirely different experience or interpretation of the experience? I have to share with you sometimes my personal experience is so different, I question whether or not I attended the same event.

This happens because each of us has a tailored lens, an imaginary pair of glasses we wear, if you will, which determines how we perceive and process the information we receive. This “lens” is created over time from all our previous experiences and filters the information we receive (what we hear and what we see) based upon those experiences.

Ultimately this lens influences everything ... the judgments we make, the way we communicate and the actions we take. When communicating, remind yourself that everyone sees through a different lens. When working with others, debrief the experience with them to confirm your understanding and their understanding are the same. This extra effort will help you gain clarification and help you move forward toward desired results more quickly and efficiently.

Self Empowerment - 9/13/10

Life is an adventure ... most of us already know this! There are so many quotes out there reminding us. For example, Ralph Waldo Emerson’s quote ... “Life is a journey, not a destination” and “Life is 10% of what happens to us and 90% of how we respond to it” a quote shared by Lou Holtz. So why is it then, the vast majority of people seem to blame others when they fall short achieving their results? This appears to be an epidemic all over the world! Now would be a good time to help clear this up so that we can begin coaching ourselves and others away from this victim mentality.

Maybe this will help ... begin thinking of life this way ... Life is a movie. Each of us is the producer, the director and the star of the movie of our lives. We are the creators, we get to choose the direction we want to move, we hold the starring role!!!

Let’s help ourselves and others to stop playing the role of an “extra”. Life doesn’t happen to us ... we make life happen!!! Begin thinking about what is most important to you, which directions you want to pursue and begin taking action. Life happens from the inside out ... it all starts in the mind with a dream or a desire and when followed up by action, dreams are realized. Challenge yourself ... Dream Big and Take Action!

For additional inspiration, listen to the song "The Climb" by Miley Cyrus. From my perspective her lyrics sum up the mindset we need to employ to achieve all our dreams! Enjoy!!

Navigating our Course - 9/6/10

Whether relating to business or personal endeavors, as we navigate our course, the circumstances we experience from time to time may not be ideal, be what we’d like them to be or be what we hoped for. When this happens, the best course of action we can take is to bloom where we’re planted, be the very best version of ourselves, by capitalizing on the resources we have available to us in the moment.

When we shift our perspective, knowing we can only do what we can do in any particular moment, we are more likely to move through unpleasant circumstances more smoothly and more quickly while yielding better results.

Intra-Personal Management - 8/20/10

Each of us have our own special gifts and desires. Our job is to identify what they are and pursue them. As we journey through life, the people closest to us, with the best of intentions, will attempt to influence our decisions based upon their knowledge and experience.

While it is important to consider the feedback we receive from others, take what resonates best with you and leave the rest behind. When we master the ability to identify what is most important to us, honor how we feel and take appropriate action, we’ll always achieve the greatest amount of progress.

There will be times during our journey where we’ll meet with resistance ... either from people or circumstances. Keep in mind, feedback from the environment is a good thing! It’s an indicator ... an opportunity for us to make adjustments, change our process/direction or find another way to accomplish our goal. Too many people mistake resistance as an indicator to quit ... instead, remind yourself it’s an opportunity to reshape.

Setting Performance Objectives - 8/23/10

When setting performance objectives be sure individual performance plans reflect objectives that are in alignment with the overall business strategies. Objectives should be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time Bound) and reflect WHAT each individual will do and HOW they will achieve that objective.

Far too often objectives seem to focus on activities or tasks. For example: “Attend Training” or “Complete Report”. To improve business outcomes, coach your employees to develop objectives which focus on their contribution to the business. Using the examples above, training is a means to help improve the metrics of the business. The objective should be focused around changing specific metrics. “Completing Reports” should be focused on the trends of the data from the report and how that impacts the business.

When we help employees understand where to focus their attention, business results will follow. Good Luck!

Objectives versus Expectations - 8/16/10

There is a significant difference between “Expectations” and “Performance Objectives”. Performance Objectives contribute to the achievement of expectations and are statements of conditions which exist when a particular part of the job is being performed adequately. Performance Objectives are measurement driven and outcome based.

Alignment - 8/9/10

To determine whether your team is aligned with the priorities of the business simply ask the following question of any employee on your team or working for the organization ... “Tell me how what you do everyday impacts the business results of the company”. If they cannot answer the question appropriately, there is a high probability the business goals and priorities of the company and the daily behaviors of your employees are mis-aligned.

To resolve this, share the business priorities with the team frequently, through various methods of communication ... social media, print, verbal, website, town hall meetings, etc and include milestone behaviors reflected by daily behaviors into the company's performance management process. Sounds like a minor adjustment, yet it makes all the difference in the world!

Transfer of Knowledge- 8/2/10

More and more organizations are seeing the value of providing training to their employees to raise their level of performance and to achieve their business goals. While this is an excellent first step, to ensure a high return on investment there are several things we can do to make learning stick. Having people participate in a development program is one thing, seeing the benefits of the transfer of knowledge is something entirely different.

Upon the completion of any development program, there are two things leaders should do.

1. Sit down with your employees to debrief their experience. Have them provide you with a written synopsis of what they learned and how they will apply it in their role and how that will benefit the organization.

2. At your next team meeting have the employee share what they learned with the other members of your team along with how the team may able to apply the techniques and strategies they learned so the entire team benefits.

Leadership versus Management - 7/26/10

There is a significant difference between “leadership” and “management”. A leader’s primary responsibility is to develop people. Managers typically focus on the tactical day to day activities and the processes that drive results. Successful leaders are more strategic focusing on aligning performance with business initiatives. Their attention is primarily focused on the areas of creating a sense of belonging, providing recognition and coaching people in accordance with their specific job roles and career aspirations. Both are necessary for business to be successful. Coach your managers to incorporate more of the leadership behaviors into their daily routine as the return on investment will prove to be very fruitful!

Customer Service - 7/19/10

One of the most important objectives for any organization is to generate business. Since there are so many choices available today, customers are valuable! To keep our existing customers happy and to generate new business, it’s necessary to deliver world class customer service! In fact, every time we are in front of a customer we should be focused on creating an incredibly positive experience for them ... one that is so good they can’t wait to come back and see us!

One of the most common problems I’ve seen is that people are often more focused on the work they need to to and the processes they must follow they lose sight of the customer’s experience. We all know that mistakes happen ... no one is perfect, yet when mishaps happen it’s our responsibility to resolve those issues quickly and efficiently.

Remind yourself and coach your team to begin thinking in terms of solutions ... “how can I” as opposed to “I can’t”; How can I serve this customer best? How can I solve this problem? How can I create a win/win? What is possible? What options are available?

When we do this the customer believes that we care and are looking to serve them as best we can. Another tip ... when solutions require more time to rectify, keep the customer informed of the progress being made. Simply touching base to let them know you’re still working on something goes a long way in the eyes of the customer and it’s something that very few people are willing to do.

Performance Management - 7/12/10

To achieve your annual business goals be certain key metrics are incorporated into your performance management system and key behaviors are aligned with your business strategy. Remember what is measured gets done!

Significance of Emotional Engagement - 7/5/10

Our emotions are significant! In essence they are our Internal Navigation System or GPS. They tell us two things ... the direction we are moving and the speed at which we are moving.

Keep this in mind ... Regarding Direction Positive Emotions represent a “green light” and that we are moving in the direction of our intended outcome. Negative emotions represent either a “yellow light” or “red light” indicating something is wrong, proceed with caution and/or change direction and represent an indication we are moving away from our intended outcome. When negative emotions are present, it’s time to “recalculate” and look for a detour or another way of achieving our goals.

Keep this in mind ... Regarding Speed The speed at which we are moving is determined by the intensity and/or frequency of our emotions. If we are really angry, frustrated, upset or consumed with doubt which may be weighing heavily on our mind, we are quickly moving away from our intended goal. When we are motivated, joyful and engaged with positive emotions we are moving quickly toward our intended goal.

As soon as you recognize that your emotions are moving you away from your intended target, immediately change your perspective and look for a new direction.

Collaboration - 6/28/10

Mind power generated by a group is one of the most powerful opportunities to achieve success even when there is disagreement. Differing opinions are critical for growth because they help us to see and consider alternatives we may have overlooked.

Encourage others to share their perspectives and opinions and listen with an open mind. Too many people become more concerned with being right or taking sole credit for ideas when in actuality aligning and implementing ideas as a group is where the strength is.

Help others to reframe their thinking, encourage collaboration, encourage discussion, encourage ideas and listen objectively!

Internal Alignment - 6/21/10

To achieve any goal whether it be a business goal or a personal goal, alignment is the key. The universal rule is that thoughts, feelings and behaviors always fire in alignment like a chain reaction. Every result in life is thought driven. Thoughts control feelings, feelings drive behavior and behavior determines outcomes.

Given that we process over 400 billion bits of information per second and are only consciously aware of 2,000 bits of information at a given time, the best way to confirm we are in alignment is by paying attention to our emotions and how we feel about what is happening inside of us. If we’re feeling negative (doubt, frustration, anxiety, etc.) our behavior will reflect that and impede our outcome.

From my perspective the most difficult part of this process is identifying the outcome we desire. Once we are clear the next step is simple ... determine what supporting action can be taken today and do it.

As we receive feedback from the environment (people and circumstances), evaluate that feedback and how you feel about it. If it’s undesirable use the information to your advantage by asking yourself “if this is not what I wanted, then what was I hoping for?” rather than thinking “I can’t believe this happened” and being angry about it. Our tendency is to give our attention and focus to what is wrong and what is not happening. Remember ... thoughts control feelings, feelings drive behavior and behavior produces results. Use your current experience as an opportunity to further define what is most important to you, what you would like to see and what supporting action you can take right now to move forward.

Mid Year Strategy Update - 6/14/10

As you know, developing a business strategy involves understanding the nature of stakeholder expectations, identifying strategic options, evaluating/selecting the best options and transforming that information into daily action. As you may also know, as we begin to execute these strategies anything can happen. June is an excellent time to revisit the expectations set back in January to determine where you are and the progress made year to date. As you do this exercise you may find your business priorities have shifted due to changes in the economy. When this is the case (as it often is), take the time to communicate all the changes to the business strategy to your team to ensure their daily activities are aligned with your new business priorities. Failure to do this will certainly impact the results you expect to attain by year end.

Decision Making - 6/7/10

One of the biggest challenges I have seen inside of businesses is the lack of or willingness of employees to make decisions. It is so important to empower people to make decisions. Coach them to evaluate the facts at hand as they are presented at that moment and encourage them to make the best decision possible. If a decision is made (other than one you would have liked or made), use that as an opportunity to further develop yourself as a coach by having a discussion with the person about the situation. Open the discussion by asking questions which will enlighten you about how they are processing information. This will enable you to determine how best to coach the person. You will find by doing this you will remove fear from the decision making process, help your team learn from their experiences and empower them to make better decisions going forward.

Ambiguous Words - 5/30/10

Words mean things and very often we use ambiguous language which inadvertently causes confusion and ultimately … unexpected and unwanted outcomes. When establishing individual objectives, refrain from using words like frequently, regularly, usually, often and sometimes as these words mean different things to different people. Instead use percentages to insure everyone understands the objective and is on the same page. For example: When setting performance standards for leaders who are expected to coach their team, instead of saying “Coach your team on a regular basis”, say “Coach your team between 75% and 90% of the time. This will help remove individual interpretations, create clear expectations and achieve results.

Sharing Ideas - 5/24/10

When asked to share ideas, before answering, ask yourself the following questions ... What do I think? Why do I think that? What data do I have to support what I think? When you have successfully answered those questions in your mind, it’s time to respond.
Begin your response with your supporting data first, what it demonstrates and then state your opinion.
You’ll find this strategy is one that stimulates meaningful conversation.

Development Plans - 5/17/10

One of the questions I’m often asked relates to the creation of Development Plans. Development Plans should be established to bridge the gaps between what the person does well and the areas requiring improvement. Please understand when creating Development Plans, focus on the knowledge, skill or competency area to be developed, the benefits to the organization and the benefits to the person. Development plans can focus on one of two areas: improving areas of deficiency and/or enhancing existing strengths. Far too often we are spending time and money helping people to develop skills in areas which they require improvement. Makes sense right and guess what, that is counter-intuitive. Research on successful development programs consistently comes to the same conclusion: people and organizations benefit more from building on strengths than from focusing on areas of improvement. That is because when we are doing the activities we like, we do them faster, more accurately and enjoy the process. What happens to the activities we don’t enjoy doing ... that’s right, they find their way to the bottom of the pile. That said, unless an area of improvement is job critical, spend more time and resources leveraging the strengths of your team. If you’d like to learn more, read “Go Put Your Strengths To Work” by Marcus Buckingham.

Recognition - 5/10/10

To date, I have had the distinct honor and pleasure of teaching in 15 countries.  In every country so far, including the US, when asked “How many people receive too much recognition?” the response is laughter!!  My follow up question is ... “How many of you provide recognition to the members of your team?” and guess what ... most hands go up in the air.  That’s when I laugh because the truth is if I were to empty the room and replace the leaders with their team members, the responses to both questions would be exactly the same!! What this tells me is that far too often we spend our time telling others what they can do better instead of taking the time to recognize them for the contributions we appreciate.  Sounds simple ... yes?  I’m sure most of you will agree that a simple “Nice job!” from time to time is appreciated.  That said, we can all do better!! One of the characteristics of a great leaders is the ability to identify and communicate the strengths their team members demonstrate.   Albeit identifying strengths is easier for some people than it is for others.  Sometime we have to dig deep to find them and that is our role as a leader. Try this ... begin paying attention to what the people around you do well.  Instead of simply saying “Thanks” or “Nice job”, take a moment to be more specific so the recognition you are sharing is more meaningful to the person receiving it.  For example:  Sally, I really appreciate your commitment to the team!  I say this because the extra time you spent collecting data was instrumental in developing our business case and ultimately responsible for securing the funding for our upcoming project.  Thank you! Which version do you think will make a greater impact on the person?   Try it and watch what happens!

Fostering Collaboration - 5/1/10

One of the biggest challenges people face is continuing a conversation when differences of opinion exist. Quite frankly, one of two things happen.
People become conflict avoidant, shut down and terminate the conversation allowing the dissension to continue, or worse yet ... The conversation escalates into an argument where both parties are more concerned with being “right” and are attempting to change the other person’s opinion which only adds fuel to the fire. I know you’ll agree, neither of these strategies are ideal and are potentially toxic to you, your business and the relationship at hand!
Keep this mind, when you disagree with someone’s point of view, remind yourself the objective of the conversation is to be heard, not changing the other person’s opinion. Try this, instead of beginning with “I disagree”, which is guaranteed to bring the conversation to a screeching halt or turn it into an all out brawl, instead, ask a question to gain clarity and insight. This will help continue the conversation while providing additional information ... “why” the person feels the way they do.
For example ...
Scenario One:
The only way we will complete this task is to do it this way! I disagree, if we want to reach our outcome, it must be done this way!
Scenario Two:
“I’m curious, tell me why you feel so strongly about moving in this direction?” or, “I can see you are passionate about this process, tell me why moving in this direction is so important to you?”
Which one sounds better to you and will likely keep the discussion flowing? Try it and see what happens!

Knowing & Doing - 4/26/10

It is often said that … “knowledge is power“ I used to believe that until I realized that “knowing” and “doing”, are entirely different. I now believe this, …“applied knowledge is power” … the results come from “doing”, not simply just “knowing”. This is important because a significant amount of what we learn and do everyday is influenced by what we hear and what we see. The more consistency there is between what we know, what we say and what we do, the more influence we have on the growth and success of our team and organization. As you move forward through your personal and professional lives, there will be times you may think to yourself “I already know this”. If you do, remember, “applied knowledge is power” and challenge yourself by asking … “Even though I already know this, am I actively doing it”?

Communicating Via Email - 4/19/10

Much research has been conducted regarding the way we communicate. There are four major components influencing messages when communicating face to face. They are Words (7%), Facial Expressions (13%), Inflection (25%) and Body Language (55%). When communicating via email two of the four components impacting the message are lost ... body language and facial expressions. Since so many people are communicating via email and text, the danger here is that only 32% of the message is conveyed ... words and inflection. Since punctuation is the way we convey inflection via email, a mis-punctuated sentence is likely to change the entire meaning of the message. For example ... A woman without her man is nothing
This sentence is clearly NOT punctuated!!! As you read the punctuated version of this sentence, notice how the message has changed. A woman, without her, man is nothing! This simple example tells us that it’s best to use email to set up and confirm appointments. Please deliver important and sensitive messages either face to face, via video conference or telephone.

Responding vs. Reacting - 4/12/10

There is a significant difference between “Responding” and Reacting”. Not only do they feel entirely different and produce entirely different results, they are generated from two separate areas of the mind. Responding is a slower process, requiring thought and generated by the conscious or “thinking” mind. Reacting is a reflex generated by the subconscious or “emotional” mind. Everything we’ve been exposed to since birth is stored in our subconscious mind. It is the home of our emotions, habits, programming and conditioning. Triggered by the environment, people and situations, the subconscious mind accesses information relevant to every past experience we’ve ever been exposed to during our lifetime as quickly as we could run a google search. Based upon the information received, the subconscious mind sends back an instantaneous message telling us how we reacted in the past which immediately sets us in motion. There is no conscious thought involved in this process ... it is instantaneous! Pay attention to when you feel yourself reacting ... immediately, take a deep breadth and step back from the situation to broaden your perspective. Since responding is thought driven and a much slower process, this strategy alone will allow you to engage your conscious or “thinking” mind giving you the opportunity to transform your initial reaction into a response. Try this ... the next time you are reacting to something, pay particular attention to your initial interpretation of the situation. Ask yourself which version of yourself is reacting ... is it the 5 year old version, the 13 year old version, the 20 year old version, the 30 year old version, etc. because you can almost bet it’s not the current version of yourself. Good Luck!

NLP - Neuro Linguistic Programming - 4/5/10

Neuro Linguistic Programming is the study of how words impact the mind and influence behavior. Since we learn primarily through repetition, when coaching others call the attention to behaviors you want to see them do rather than emphasizing behaviors you want them to avoid. The same effort made through discussion will yield much better results. For example let’s say a member of your team has a problem with lateness. Instead of addressing lateness, talk about the importance of being on time.

Leading / Lagging Indicators - 3/29/10

To maintain the alignment of people with strategy, there are two key areas of focus necessary to achieve results ... Leading and Lagging Indicators.  Lagging Indicators represent the actual goal itself and/or the many milestones necessary to achieve very big goals.  Be certain to keep final outcomes clear in the mind of all that are expected to achieve them. Leading Indicators represent the daily activities necessary to achieve final outcomes. When Leading Indicators are established correctly, they will serve as a way to hold yourself and others accountable to the key deliverables.  Be certain Leading Indicators are measurable and represent key behaviors that will increase momentum and drive business results.

Performance Management - 3/22/10

Since we are quickly approaching the end of the first quarter of 2010, it's time to take the pulse on the progress made year to date. Are modifications are necessary to the plan and the performance?
Leaders, meet face to face with your direct reports. Speak candidly and openly about his/her performance. Share what they have done well to date and discuss any additional contributions required on their part (and perhaps yours) to improve performance. Tell them what needs to change and why it's necessary. Paint a clear picture by providing specific examples.  It's silly to think behaviors (or results) will change by withholding information and/or skirting around issues. It's important to share information even when it's difficult and uncomfortable to discuss. After all, the purpose of coaching IS to improve performance. Your Goal: Each of your direct reports walks away knowing what must change, what he/she must do and feels good about the discussion.

Feedback from the Environment - 3/15/10

We all have been taught to set goals and to create plans to achieve those goals. When moving in the direction of any goal, it is critical to consider the feedback you are receiving from the environment.

When things seem to go according to plan, easily and effortlessly, continue in that direction. If you are met with any resistance at all, rather than changing your goal or continuing on that path, change your direction instead. There are always multiple ways to reach the same destination!!!

“I” and “We” vs. “You” - 3/8/10

Communication is definitely an art especially when it's necessary to provide coaching and hold others accountable when outcomes are less than desirable. The goal should always be to share the intended message and have the person receiving the message walk away knowing what to change AND feeling good about the conversation. That in and of itself can be challenging. Try this ... when coaching use the words “I” and “we” instead of “you”. For Example: You didn’t do what I asked you to do and now the client is upset. Instead say ... “I’m very disappointed that we missed an agreed upon deadline. Tell me what can be done next time to insure we achieve the desired outcome on time". Which one sounds better to you? The latter statement is a much more effective way to coach someone to higher levels of performance.

Focusing on Strengths - 3/1/10

Far too often when creating development plans and providing feedback our natural tendency is to focus on areas of improvement. Unless the areas requiring improvement are job critical, instead change the focus to leveraging employee strengths as the results far exceed the investment of attempting to enhance areas of improvement. Marcus Buckingham has written a tremendous amount on this topic. Check out the following books ... “Now, Discover Your Strengths” and “Go Put Your Strengths to Work”.

And vs. But - 2/22/10 

As a general rule of thumb, when communicating replace the word “but” with the word “and” as “but” has a tendency to negate a previous statement when in fact both statements may be true. Here's what I mean ....You did a great job, but you didn’t finish on time. Instead say, You did a great job and going forward let’s see if we can complete the activity more quickly. Another example ...He's a fabulous person, but he talks too much. Instead say, he's a fabulous person and may benefit from listening more. Just for today, challenge yourself ... pay attention to when you feel compelled to use the word "but" and replace it with "and". Pay attention to how that changes your sentence structure. You'll be amazed!

Internal Dialogue - 2/15/10

Internal Dialogue, or "Head Trash" as I prefer to call it, is one of the biggest challenges we must overcome! We are capable of far more than we can imagine and hold ourselves back because we lack the belief and confidence in ourselves and our ability. Pay attention to the internal dialogue taking place in your head. Is it critical and judgmental? If so, it's also getting in the way of your progress! Optimistic, supportive and encouraging thoughts are the only way to move forward!!

Intrapersonal Management - 2/8/10

Intrapersonal Management is the ability to manage ourselves and our circumstances to determine how we are contributing to our outcomes. Believe me, this is a full time job!!! In business and in life we can only control ourselves ... what we think, how we feel and what we do. Rather than focusing on what someone else did or didn’t do, or what happened or didn't happen, give consideration to what YOU can do and take the appropriate action.

Business Strategy - 2/1/10

Keep your business strategy simple so that employees at every level of the organization can keep it fresh in
their mind. Choose five to seven key focus areas representing the framework of your organization, provide
employees with broad, core deliverables for the current year and have employees set individual objectives in
each of those areas. This process insures your employees are aligned with the appropriate business

Business Strategy - 1/25/10

Determining a company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats is an important step in developing an effective strategy to achieve business deliverables. Once identified, build on strengths, resolve weaknesses, exploit opportunities and avoid threats. Next, implement by creating an execution plan; complete with time frames and target dates and accountability assignments.

Employee Engagement - 1/18/10

Employee Engagement is a critical measure of how aligned an employee is with their organization. Employees who are engaged with their work share a common set of attitudes and beliefs which, when joined together, reflect a vital aspect of organizational strength. Employees who are engaged with their work know exactly, how their individual contributions, make a measurable difference to the bottom line results. If you want to experience explosive results in 2010, be certain your employees are aligned with your strategy and engaged in their work.

Perspectives - 1/11/10

When differences of opinion exist, remind yourself and coach others to consider multiple perspectives. As a general rule of thumb, consider at least six different, relevant perspectives in any given situation. (There are usually many more!!) The first two are easy ... there’s your perspective and their perspective. Expand the view to consider all the possible perspectives ... the business perspective, the financial perspective, the customer’s perspective, the stake holder’s perspective, the employee’s perspective, etc. Pay attention to what happens!

Gallup Organization - 1/4/10

The Gallup Organization has statistical evidence showing that companies with high levels of employee engagement experience substantially stronger financial results. Companies where 80+ percent of employees answer “yes” or “I strongly agree” when asked “I know what is expected of me at work” … can expect the business results to follow.