Hey Guys – Stop Chasing Your Tail !!!!!!!

Ever watch a cat or dog chase their tail? To be sure, it is quite humorous. The real question is when was the last time someone watched you chasing your tail?

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As I reflect on various chapters of my life I know I was chasing my tail. I also hear friends and colleagues share various experiences from the lives, it strikes me that some of us are just as guilty of chasing our tail as our beloved four-legged friends. While cats and dogs literally chase their tails for no good reason, we humans figuratively chase ours. Here are a few thoughts to consider.

Look at the Circle

Are you running in tight, crazy spirals? The kind that feels fast, frenzied, and dizzying? It does not take long in that type of tail chasing to recognize you are, in fact, running in circles. So it becomes easy to identify the pattern and attempt to stop the cycle.

The tougher challenge is those large, slow, looping circles that may actually lull you into believing you are gracefully gliding through the current chapter of your life. If you return to the same place and outcome multiple times, you are chasing your tail.

Wise Ones

Seldom in the animal kingdom will you see an older, wiser creature chasing its tail. In contrast, the human race is not immune to repeating old habits regardless of age. The truth is, we never really stop chasing our tail in one area or another until we finally agree to learn from past experience. Input from trusted friends and loving family can certainly help us break old habits, but each of us must come to our own understanding of the forces that drive us to chase our tail in the first place.

Don’t Get Involved

It’s not wise to stick your hand into the middle of someone else’s frenzy while they are running at full speed. I did that once when one of my cats was so engrossed in chasing his tail that he seemed to have forgotten all other things. What I did not know was that the cat was intent on biting the catch as hard as he could once he found it. My hand substituted for the catch. Wow, that hurt.

Yes, I stopped the cat and saved him from who knows what, but I paid a big price. As noble as trying to stop someone else’s frenzy may sound, there is a point at which outsiders must stay out of the way. It’s far easier to intercede and assist with helping someone stop a cycle in the early stages before the momentum builds.

Break the Cycle

STOP!

Attempting to stop running in circles is to agree to make a change. Change a habit. Change an attitude. Change a belief.

That said, one of the toughest things about embracing change is getting stuck in the cycle of convincing ourselves that our past habits have been successful and, due to that success, there is no need for a change.

[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”#d98310″ class=”” size=””]In business, the market has a funny way of showing us we are foolish to NOT embrace change.[/perfectpullquote]

For many senior business execs and managers agreeing to change a business model, marketing approach, or sales delivery message is painful, almost blasphemy.

They insist on using old, stale ways to get their message across and wonder why sales have dropped or business is going to the competition. It’s change my friend. If you are one of those owners or managers who believe in operating that way, you know, saying “we’ve always done it this way”, you may just be chasing your tail.

Question: In what ways have you discovered you have been chasing your tail?

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The Surf is Up Before the Tsunami v2.0

success

 

There is an old Beach Boys song with this lyric. “The surf is up before the tsunami.”

SUrfer

It makes me think of a phenomenon I have seen time and again in business. After almost 20 years in commercial banking, I saw a lot of highs and lows with my business customers. Companies on a good, perhaps even great, growth track are sometimes headed for a big storm. I am not talking about the tide shift when the economic conditions go bad. No, I am talking about having the success of the company outpace the change within.

[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]When the company’s leadership fails to recognize and act upon the things that need to change to sustain growth and prosperity, the company may ultimately fail. I’ve named this condition “The Paradox of Success”.[/perfectpullquote]

All companies will go through various life cycle stages. As they mature from start-up to being a going concern, there are critical changes that the leadership and management must execute. These are things like capital investment in equipment or facilities, people, and process. The thrill of riding a wave of early success can obstruct your view of things to come.

A Sad Tale

I once knew a company owned by a very successful husband and wife team. Their little baby (the business) grew mightily. First, they dominated a local market. Then they branched into statewide operations. That too was very successful. It seemed they had a Midas touch for turning everything they touched into gold. Eventually, they went national with their service offerings. That’s when the trouble started.

At the local level, it was easy to keep the owner’s hands in all things. Even at the state level, it was more difficult to control but relatively easy to expand the support functions by adding a few key people, still keeping the owners involved in virtually every key decision required to run the show.

However, once they launched nationally, the business challenges grew exponentially.

  • There were state regulators with different requirements.
  • Remote operations were needed to expedite the timing of service deliveries.
  • Cash flows were more complex.
  • Worst of all, some of the key staff members who helped build the original business were just not capable of handling the diverse nature of all the new problems the national market created.
  • The business outgrew its team.

The Big So What

Sometimes the leadership team itself needs to grow or change. Founders often fail to see these things coming. Often with entrepreneurs, the business gets bigger than their own management ability. The wise founder will accept advice from consultants, coaches or investors and allow the reins of control to be handed to other, more qualified leadership.

A talent management friend likes to remind owners “If you want to grow your business from $5 million to $10 million, don’t hire more $5MM people to do it. Hire the guy who already operates with a $10MM mindset. Let them bring their system to you.”

It is this kind of change that is most difficult for entrepreneurs to recognize and adjust. Just because things are going well, be ready for the next growth spurt. Embrace the change that is needed, make plans, seek wise counsel, and deal with making the right change.

Question; Is your company on the brink of a growth cycle? Are you really ready for it?

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Leaders: Looking for Advice? Where Do You Go?

managing up the organization

Leaders are looking for advice. Business people often need it. New challenges and ever-changing priorities leave us looking for fresh ideas.

advice

Businesses operate at such a fast pace that owners and leaders are looking for advice wherever it is available. More often than not, you may reach toward the wrong resources. Un-tested advisors and questionable sources can send you down the wrong rabbit holes.

There are so many demands upon entrepreneurs and senior management of companies. Each organization is confronted with challenges and opportunities, both real and perceived. Without new ideas, it is tough to tackle all the obstacles and feel that substantial progress is being made.

It Is Lonely at the Top

From the owner’s seat, the need exists for comprehensive business ideas and growth strategies. Problem-solving solutions are valuable commodities. Couple these with the ever-present need for leadership development among senior executives and finding improved management skills, you have a serious thirst for new thoughts and ideas.

Top management regularly needs the creative inspiration to take the company to new heights. Cutting-edge executives (the very top and those about to take the mantle) need seasoned advice and inspiration.

The Go-To Ways We Find Answers

Here is where senior leaders and managers tend to go to get ideas, strategies, and help; in the order commonly used. The lower numbers represent the early choices. The higher numbers are where you should be reaching.

1. Hearsay and third hand – the “low lying fruit”, easy to find in abundance. Examples are comments heard at parties and networking functions, uninformed sources, friends of friends, high participation networkers, random research, and surveys.

2. Special Interests – narrows the expertise just a little more. These sources include websites containing educational material as a way to sell services, surveys, and their feedback.

3. People Selling Stuff – the Internet and social media is flooded with teaser offers to look like good information; vendors who distract you, using expressions like “funding to grow your business”, online marketing firms, Internet solicitors and sellers, website consulting

4. Internal Management – your own team should be reliable sources but can be risky at times. These are the people you work with, Mid-managers and supervisors, and Corporate leadership

5. Niche Experts and Consultants – moving up the chain further towards more reliable information: Trainers, Freelance consultants, niche solutions like banking, insurance benefits, human resources, etc. Then there are technology consulting firms and researchers.

In general, consultants are ranked lower on this scale for two reasons. First, the consulting field is over-crowded with sole practitioners who have lost jobs and cannot find work elsewhere.

Selecting a consultant is tricky business, not always much better than choices 1, 2 and 3 above. Plus, the better, more proven consultants quickly advance themselves to the higher ranking categories below; senior business advisors or outright gurus.

6. Educational Programs – better still might be dedicated educational platforms like speakers, seminars, panels at forums, workshops, trade conferences, webinars, and material published or broadcast in the media.

7. Books and Articles – sounds old school, but still valuable inspirations and information; books that withstand the test of time, articles excerpted for meetings, blog material posted online, self-published books by people with credible platforms, online articles and blogs, reputable authors already recognized as experts, and lastly cutting-edge books with original material (think Seth Grodin and Simon Sinek).

8. Advocacy Groups – these are everywhere. Some have long tenure, others not so much. Evaluate the reputation as you know it. Yet these can be rich resources for counsel and advice.

  • Business clubs
  • Chambers of commerce
  • People with whom you work in community and charity leadership roles
  • Boards of directors
  • The Better Business Bureau
  • SCORE
  • Small Business Development Center
  • Trade industry groups
  • Associations
  • Community alliances
  • Professional alliances
  • Consortiums of business
  • Cross-industry cooperative initiatives

9. Mentors – having a trusted advisor serving in a mentoring relationship can be a rich and rewarding experience for valuable ideas and wisdom. These are some of the better-known sources:

  • Peer advisory groups such as Vistage, Silver Fox Advisors
  • One-on-one coaching
  • Peer-to-peer CEO roundtables
  • Corporate heir apparent training or high potential programs
  • Programs such as Shark Tank, Fox Den, Ted Talks
  • Leadership programs

10. Senior Business Advisors – these are the professional service firms, including lawyers, accountants, marketing, public relations, quality management.

11. Major Business Gurus – top of the heap, proven thought leaders with wide, effective audiences who have used their advice and prospered. These experts have proven track records with many years in strategic advising, consulting or mentoring. The price point might be high, but the results are often 5x to 10x the investment.

Choose Wisely My Friend

With the field so full of choices, you must select wisely where you look for ideas, Then you must carefully decide which information to use for your next big decision.

Question: Where do you turn to look for inspiration and clear thinking about new ideas? 

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Author’s Note: Portions of this article were produced by permission from Hank Moore, a colleague of mine at Houston’s Silver Fox Advisors.

Hank Moore is that rare 1 out of 100,000 senior business advisors, a Big Picture strategist, with original, cutting-edge ideas for creating, implementing and sustaining corporate growth throughout every sector of the organization. His Business Tree™ is a trademarked approach to growing, strengthening and evolving business while mastering change.

Who’s Going to Lead Them?

leadership

Better than anticipated results have recently been reported for the US job market.  According to a recent Houston Chronicle article, “Employers added 223,000 jobs last month, more than economists expected and an uptick from April’s hiring rate of 159,000.”  The US Department of Labor released more data.

leadership[perfectpullquote align=”right” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”#d98310″ class=”” size=””]“Never before have we had an economy where the number of open jobs exceeds the number of job seekers,” said US Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta.[/perfectpullquote]

With the lowest unemployment rate in over 18 years and the rise in new opportunities, the competition among employers for qualified candidates is strong. And, with a growing job force, the need for qualified leaders grows too. There is an ever-increasing need for qualified managers with effective leadership skills to guide businesses to achieve the results they expect.

Next Man/Woman Up

Sadly, we are plagued with a business mindset that resorts to promoting the best performer when there is an open manager seat. And, without effective leadership coaching, the person who gets this job either sinks or swims. If they sink, the company loses in many ways. If they swim awhile, they might even get promoted further. All of that without effective leadership training.

In the small business and entrepreneurial realm, we see people with great product and service ideas start companies, but fail within the first 5 years. Why? Generally, because the great thinkers aren’t always the best managers and leaders. The bright idea may only go so far without strong leadership muscle. “If you build it they will come” doesn’t work very often either. Without leadership that can sustain forward progress and growth for the enterprise, the business folds.

Leadership Coaching Naysayers

In another article circulated on LinkedIn, the author questioned the impact of leadership coaching, calling it the “buzz du jour.” He argued we all can’t be leaders, citing an army of generals and no soldiers. The basic word picture is true, we don’t need everyone equipped to lead at the highest levels. Yet we must equip leaders who are put into those positions so that the outcome potential for the organization is realized.

Back to my First Statement

I’ve known too many professionals and business owners who land on great opportunities but quickly hit the ceiling of their own ability to lead. We know this phenomenon as the “Peter Principle.” Or, the observation that in an organizational hierarchy, people tend to rise to “their level of incompetence.”

As people are promoted, they become progressively less-effective because good performance in one job does not guarantee similar performance in another. Named after the Canadian researcher Dr. Laurence J. Peter (1910-90) who popularized this observation in his 1969 book The Peter Principle: Why Things Always Go Wrong.

The perceived incompetence for senior managers is seldom about technical ability. Rather it is about the ability to manage and lead a larger team, balancing people issues with business growth and change. John Maxwell calls the Peter Principle “The Law of the Lid”. Leadership coaching can help raise the lid on leadership effectiveness.

Don’t Invest in Coaching, Invest In Results

Busy executives and business owners don’t need reasons to spend money, they need results. Leadership coaching can help you get the right results:

  • Find new ways to better utilize direct reports
  • Improve communication
  • Foster higher levels of team trust
  • Provide sound advice for change management initiatives
  • Uncover blind spots in a person’s leadership ability
  • Raise executive presence

In addition to all of those opportunities, solid leadership coaching also provides the Executive with a private and confidential sounding board for ideas, fears, doubts, and concerns.

“It’s lonely at the top” is a very real and present danger for leaders. You can’t share just anything with anyone. Having a coach to hear the thoughts keeping you awake at night can be very freeing.

On that note let me stress, coaching is not psychotherapy. That is reserved for other licensed professionals. Coaching is about looking forward to a future state you plan to achieve, not looking back at one’s past.

coaching call

The Choice Is Yours

Whether you believe in coaching or not, someone is going to have to lead the next wave of our growing workforce. Why leave it up to chance?

Before you choose an executive coach, there are things you should consider. Learn more about what to look for from your coach. Click Here.

Originally posted on DougThorpe.com

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A Leader’s Vision Needs Buy-In

While there are many attributes that define good leadership, we usually think of a leader’s ability to share a vision as the real indicator of that leader’s reputation. Vision is often thought of as being synonymous with leadership. Having a vision for where the team is going is what being a leader is about, right?

a Leader's vision needs buy-in

You don’t have to be the owner or CEO to commit to a vision for growth and success. You can lead from within an organization by being able to inspire others to get on track for driving toward a vision; a vision set by others above you.

However, there is a breakdown that can occur when a person in authority tries to execute on a vision. I’ve seen managers, very senior managers, who know the vision. They helped write it. Yet their ability to lead others to achieve that vision fails. Why?

Once a vision is crafted and carefully written, you have to get buy-in from those who must execute the vision. Your team has to embrace the merits of the vision. They need to understand why and ‘what’s in it for me?’ Those are fair questions for employees to be asking.

Obtaining buy-in is where a Manager may fail as a Leader

Buy-in is hard to achieve because people don’t buy into ideas, they buy into people. The person sharing the idea must be credible, relatable, and someone with whom others can identify.

Your people need to buy-in to you before they buy-in to your vision. Being just another talking head in a management seat will not go very far.

[easyazon_link keywords=”John Maxwell” locale=”US” tag=”thredoth-20″]John Maxwell[/easyazon_link] writes about the principle of the buy-in in his book “The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership”.

[perfectpullquote align=”right” bordertop=”false” cite=”John Maxwell” link=”” color=”#d98310″ class=”” size=”18″]People don’t follow worthy causes, they follow worthy leaders who promote causes they can believe in.[/perfectpullquote]

Having an understanding of that will change your whole approach to leadership. When your team begins to process the content of the message you may be sharing, they first filter it through you.

Ask Yourself This Question

What is the current level of buy-in for the people you lead? If your team is small, make a list. Rate each team member’s buy-in on a scale of 1 to 10. A 1 means they wouldn’t follow anything you say. A 10 means they’d follow you anywhere. If your overall ranking is low, you have a lot of work to do before the team decides to find another leader.

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What to Do?

Here are some ways you can earn credibility and increase your leadership.

  • Develop better working relationships
  • Be honest and authentic as you earn their trust
  • Hold yourself to high standards, setting a good example
  • Give them the tools to do a better job
  • Help them achieve personal goals at work
  • Develop others as leaders; mentoring them along the way

Make your strategy unique to each person. As Maxwell says “If you make it your primary goal to add value to all of them, your credibility factor will rise rapidly.”

Question: How are you doing with earning buy-in from your team?

Leaders: Solving Problems Through Re-framing

reframing

Many leaders build their careers and reputations solving problems. Often, the problem as you know it is not really the problem. Finding ways to maximize success, reduce risk, and win the day is what can make a leader’s problem-solving skills so special.

reframing

Yet when faced with a new challenge, you sometimes feel stuck. How do you get unstuck? “Re-framing” is one of the most effective ways to find creative solutions to pending problems.

The Background

A “frame” or frame of reference is a complex set of unquestioned beliefs and values we use when inferring meaning. The meaning changes if any part of the frame is changed (hence ‘reframing’). Then the meaning that is inferred may change.

To “reframe” is to step back from what is being said to consider the frame or ‘lens’ through which this reality is being created. Understand the unspoken assumptions, including beliefs and schema that are being used.

Then consider alternative lenses, effectively saying ‘Let’s look at it another way.’ Challenge the beliefs or other aspects of the frame. Stand in another frame and describe what you see. Change attributes of the frame to a reverse meaning. Select and ignore aspects of certain words or actions, and reframe to emphasize and downplay various elements.

Thus, for example, you can reframe:

  • See a problem as an opportunity
  • See a weakness as a strength
  • View an impossibility as a distant possibility
  • See a distant possibility as a near possibility
  • Look at oppression (‘against me’) as neutral (‘doesn’t care about me’)
  • Think of unkindness as lack of understanding

You can often change a person’s frame simply by changing their emotional state, making them happier, more aggressive, etc. When they are happier, for example, they will be more positive and optimistic (and vice versa).

The Challenge

Reframing may sound easy. However, it is not. We all have a natural tendency to rely on past experience to drive future results. If your track record is a good one, why wouldn’t you use old answers for new problems?

The chief reason NOT to rely on old solutions is that new problems may contain just enough variation in facts or circumstance that your old answers no longer fit.

Reframing creates a new vision. By looking at things through a different lens, you see new opportunities. Taking contrarian views can even eliminate some situations that may otherwise be seen as problems.

Making Your Own Changes

Re-framing is also very helpful when you are trying to make changes in your own life. Your visions for the “new you” may create natural roadblocks. Limited thinking might prohibit forward motion. Yet by re-framing the proposition, you can make progress.

Throughout my life, I hated going to the gym. I just wasn’t a gym rat. It was a big turn off for me. Then one day talking to friends, I decided it was time to make some big changes for long-term health. The master plan included finding a workout activity that made sense. Ultimately it involved a gym membership.

My decision to make the bigger changes had me re-framing my view of the gym. It was no longer simply about doing some time there. It was about adding to the plan I had developed. Plus, by shopping for a suitable solution, I found a place with a different culture. It was more of a community event than a solitary workout. I scheduled my sessions that were group workouts led by qualified coaches. The energy created by the group pushing and encouraging one another made the experience far more rewarding.

Try for Yourself

When the next big change or challenge happens, try re-framing. Flip it around. Don’t let old habits influence your view of the new opportunity. Instead of telling yourself what won’t work, list the benefits that might happen.

Originally posted on DougThorpe.com

If you enjoyed reading this article, please recommend and share it to help others find it!

Call To Action

If you want to increase your influence as a manager, business owner, or community leader and learn some valuable life hacks, then subscribe to my private mailing list.

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Making It Real with People, Productivity, and Profitability

Lead-follow-getoutofway

Executive coaching is a growing business. It is no longer limited to Fortune 500 companies. Entrepreneurs and owners of private businesses of all sizes have turned to coaching for business and personal growth.

Lead-follow-getoutofway

Back in 2004, the Harvard Business Review reported that executive coaching got started in the 1980s, yet still lacked reliable information for measuring success. The report estimated $1 billion spent on corporate coaching in 2004. It was anticipated that the coaching industry would continue to grow due to the considerable need for executive improvement.

Even after the 2008 recession, the executive coaching industry has continued its wide adoption by leaders everywhere. The attraction is simple: executive coaching prepares new executives to lead and equips established executives to master their own abilities. This potent combination has driven the substantial growth seen in the executive education marketplace. A 2012 study released by the International Coach Federation (ICF) “estimated the industry’s annual revenue at about $2 billion,” according to Frank Kalman of CLO Media.

While the individual executive coaching practice has been widely adopted, business coaching has emerged as its own specialty. With business coaching, the client hires a coach to provide an independent, third-party look at what is going on in the business. Coaching eliminates the blind spots business owners and operators tend to develop.

Yet with all of this market growth, I still get asked from time to time about the exact benefits of executive coaching. Occasionally, people think “coaching” is still too vague. On one hand, I find an odd disconnect here. Some of the same business owners who question the validity of business or executive coaching spend thousands of dollars at the gym on personal trainers or with golf coaches. My answer to them rings with the same logic from the sports world. If you want to move your game to a new level as a business leader, you should consider hiring a coach.

Measure What Matters

With any business endeavor, whether entrepreneurial start-ups or bigger corporate giants, the results from executive coaching can be measured in one of three ways. Good leaders impact all three.

 

People

Unless you are that very rare entrepreneur who operates all by themselves, you need a team to conduct business. The people making up the teams just may be the most valuable measure of the effectiveness of an executive’s growth from coaching. As a leader, your ability to influence the team around you makes up the essence of your effectiveness.

Leaders who broaden their influence and strengthen their ability to lead can realize significant gains with the people they lead. When a leader is on his game you can measure:

  • Team morale
  • Devotion to the purpose of the team
  • Alignment with vision and mission
  • Engagement
  • Retention
  • Continuity
  • Reduction in turnover
  • Reduced talent acquisition costs

Productivity

Finding ways to do more with what you have is productivity. Time, money and materials can be wasted or optimized with effective productivity. The leader can directly impact productivity by finding ways to streamline procedures and process, improve workplace conditions, set reasonable goals, and inspire the team.

The leader must see the process from end to end. If the business owner or senior executive is struggling with seeing the big picture, productivity can suffer. I’ve said before, you must inspect what you expect. Knowing when and how to do that can increase productivity.

Profitability

Profitability, the last measure of coaching effectiveness is obvious. Seeing profitability improve is a direct gauge of executive effectiveness. Making the right changes, implementing the best practices, negotiating good deals, and all the other aspects of running a business result in bottom-line performance.

As the senior executive, your own ability to impact profitability can make or break your success. Entrepreneurs who have great ideas, but no business skills, need help. Executives who climb the ladder but never get training for the technical aspects of business management need help.

Best Practices

If you do decide to hire a coach, ask how they measure what they intend to do for you. If the outcome doesn’t include one or all of these three areas, you may have the wrong coach.

Coaching can be measurable, whether for your personal growth or your business growth. Ask your prospective coach to walk you through these tangible ways to gauge success from the coaching. If they either can’t or won’t do that, you may need a new coach.

Originally posted on DougThorpe.com

If you enjoyed reading this article, please recommend and share it to help others find it!

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It’s Not Over til It’s Over

finish strong

There’s an interesting phenomenon in business and in personal affairs. When a work project or season of life has been particularly protracted, some of us have a hard time staying the course to reach the period at the end. People don’t always finish well.

sliding homeThere is something about sensing the finish line that causes us to lose focus as we stop doing those things which have proven successful or when we celebrate prematurely.

Here’s a quote from a colleague who was sharing experiences at a big client project.

You’re halfway between 3rd base and home. Don’t start sliding now.

Finishing Well

Some long-running TV shows are notorious for having less than satisfying ending. Skeptical? Think fade to black for “Sopranos”. Or the confusing ending to “Lost”. Even the wildly popular “Seinfeld” had its detractors when the final episode aired.

It’s not easy to finish well. Finishing is a great deal more difficult than starting. Day 1 holds much more excitement than both Day 2 and certainly more than Day 176. It is why New Year’s resolutions die early deaths. We don’t finish well.

What can we do? Here are five things to consider.

  1. Renegotiate your relationship with Perfect. Perfectionism is the enemy of good. Too many of us stop what we have started because we realize it won’t be perfect. Instead of accepting a good outcome, we stop altogether. If we believe it cannot be perfect we decide to abandon the effort.

How sad. Would perfect have really made that much difference? How much is the incremental difference between good and perfect worth anyway? Change your need to be perfect. Get a new deal. Then use your skills and talents to generate as much good as you can muster. Forget about being perfect.

  1. Manage the right thing or things. Is time management really more important than managing your energy? Regardless of the time of day, energy levels vary. You can produce better outcomes when your energy levels are at their peak.

Brain function and awareness operate better with increased energy levels. Instead of watching the clock, learn to pay attention to your energy cycles. Save the really big tasks for windows of time when energy levels are high.

  1. Set achievable, incremental (and achievable) goals. Leave the huge, impractical ones alone. Those will only serve to frustrate and overwhelm you. The guys who choose to climb Mount Everest do so by training on smaller climbs. They work up to the big goal.

Remember the old joke about “how do you eat an elephant?” Answer “one bite at a time”. Goals are like that. By failing to choose the right set of incremental goals, we can become discouraged by one monumental goal.

Keep your goals measurable, achievable, and shorter duration. Build up the cumulative effect of completing a consistent series of smaller goals.

  1. Build in accountability. I tend to be somewhat a loner. Solitude is actually good for me; I like it. Yet staying in a solitary operating mode gives me way too much opportunity to avoid deadlines. I can find dozens of convenient excuses to not do the important things I should be doing.

This is where accountability comes in. Being accountable to a partner or a team wipes out the easy excuses. Promising deliverables to others makes you aware of the need to complete the task at hand.

finish strong

  1. Don’t stop short. Just like the baseball quote above, don’t start sliding into home base too early. You’ll never get there.

Run through the finish line. Sprinters even lean into the tape. They don’t hit it in an upright position. They lean in.

Make whatever last lap effort you must to give yourself the power to finish strong. Lean into your finish. You can relax and celebrate after you reach the end of your task.

Question: What have you done lately to finish strong? Leave a comment

PS – This article’s title came of course from the great Yogi Berra. American baseball legend Yogi Berra first uttered the phrase about baseball’s 1973 National League pennant race. His team was a long way behind when he said it and they did eventually rally to win the division title.

It’s not the only offbeat quote from the sportsman – there’s also the existential “It’s like deja-vu all over again” or the wry “Always go to other people’s funerals, otherwise they won’t go to yours” – but there is something about the never-say-die, no-matter-the-odds-we-can-do-this spirit of “It ain’t over…” that finds a place to inspire, time and time again.

Originally posted on DougThorpe.com

If you enjoyed reading this article, please recommend and share it to help others find it!

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If you want to increase your influence as a manager, business owner, or community leader and learn some valuable life hacks, then subscribe to my private mailing list.

Click here to subscribe right now!

 

Level-Up by Dumbing Down

Moving up the professional ladder requires nimbleness. Yet many would-be SVPs and CEOs miss the mark by hanging onto their technical roots too long.

What do I mean? I watch very capable people hide behind the technical jargon of their business. Getting these up-and-comers to explain something without a post-graduate thesaurus in hand is next to impossible.

You don’t have to sound like the smartest guy in the room to be the smartest guy in the room.

Very commanding C-suite leaders explain themselves in very simple terms. Using plain language is not talking down to anyone. Rather it is creating an open door for clear understanding.

It’s one thing to have mastered a very complex subject matter, like medicine, quantum physics, fluid mechanics or engineering, but it is something very different to be selected a leader in the field.

During my years as a CEO, I observed that people who are confident in their knowledge wouldn’t hesitate to share it with others in terms that are easily understood. Whereas, people who attempt to talk over people’s heads through the use of overly complex terms and descriptions were typically those who lack a true understanding of the subject themselves and are trying to mask that fact.

It was Albert Einstein who said; “If you can’t explain it, you don’t understand it well enough.”

Too often, people over-complicate things in business in an attempt to display their intelligence. In reality, they end up pushing people away and ultimately losing credibility. They come off as an elitist, rather than a team player. Truly intelligent people are not afraid to share their knowledge because they don’t view other people gaining knowledge as a threat to their own. Rather, they take pleasure in sharing and teaching others. As a result, they become builders of people, and they contribute tremendously to a company’s overall success.

“Genius is the ability to reduce the complicated to the simple.” C. W. Ceran

Keep it simple

We’ve all heard the phrase, “Keep it simple, stupid.” The truth is that keeping it simple requires confidence and humility. We can all benefit if we can recognize that we don’t have to talk like a super genius to be seen as intelligent. There is a tremendous genius in our ability to keep it simple.  Don’t ever forget that many of the world’s most difficult problems have been solved with the simplest solutions.

Question: How is your communication style?

Is Your HR Department Lying to You?

Employee Performance Review

It might seem silly to even suggest this. Human Resources is supposed to be the very definition of ethical behavior; creators of the fairness and equity policies, modelers of proper corporate standards.   Yet when it comes to employee performance review, there is a lot of slanted truth. In my 30 plus years in business, I have found two significant ideas coming from today’s HR departments that are just troubling to me.

Telling the truthIdea #1 The Revised Employee Performance Review

The first idea got a lot of press.  It is the premise that organizations can eliminate their annual employee evaluation process in favor of quarterly check-in sessions. The hope is to improve both the quality and quantity of manager/employee communication.

Lowe’s, the home improvement giant, calls their program, “Sync Up” and provides managers with a series of seven questions they are supposed to ask each employee quarterly (“What is going well?”, “Where are you getting stuck?”, “Last time we talk about…, “, “Do you have everything you need to do your job?”, “What are your career goals?”, “Where do you see yourself next year?”, and “What can I do to better support you?”).  These questions, and the discussion that occurs when these questions are asked probably do work to improve communication and enable alignment. Heck, I even endorse these questions (see my prior article).

What Lowe’s does not address is the need for documentation that must be collected and available should there be any disputes that might lead to claims or charges.  Are they still doing annual performance appraisal in addition to the quarterly check-ins?

The related premise, also making the news (Netflix, Amazon, Microsoft) is the elimination of scores or ranking in the employee performance review process.   This practice may or may not be effective but has little impact on one key fact. All of us must collect data to justify our employment decisions like hiring, firing, promotion, corrective action, and compensation. No amount of creative quarterly check-ins can change that fact.

Idea #2

Less progressive HR professionals rally around a second idea that traditional, annual, employee appraisal systems work well “if only managers would take it more seriously.”  The key, in their mind, is that we just need to provide more training for our management teams.  Once they realize just how important this issue is, they will step-up and improve the time and attention they place on employee development.

Nonsense.  Managers are smarter than most think they are.   Bosses know, all too well, that today’s traditional, annual employee appraisal is a compliance process, not a coaching exercise.  How do they know?  Those in HR have taught them.  After all, HR checks to make sure the process has been completed but rarely have the time to ensure the quality of the feedback.

Managers know that the process is not effective and that their personal return-on-invested-time for their effort is a simple case of “the juice not worth the squeeze!”

So the traditional process does not work and efforts to modernize the process don’t seem to be effective either.  What are we to do?

Here’s The Fix

For the past three years, Roger Ferguson, of iSi Human Resources Consulting in Houston has been evangelizing an innovative idea he calls Big Five Performance Management.

In its most basic form, Big Five requires employees to submit monthly production reports to their managers providing two simple but effective pieces of information:

  • the employee’s five most significant contributions from the last month and
  • their five highest priorities for the current month.

Nimble, concise communication is valued over lengthy narratives. Most employees can adequately respond to each item with only one or two sentences.  Managers read the employee reports and then provide affirmation and praise. Managers can then coach to help improve the planned outcome. If needed, possibly corrective guidance can be shared if the team member is not aligned with departmental or organizational goals.

Twelve of these monthly reports put together provide a much better picture of the employee’s contribution for the entire year rather than the traditional employee performance review. Over a one year period, Big Five will provide the manager (and your labor attorneys) with 120 (10 a month for 12 months) rock-solid data points regarding the employee’s contributions. You get the built-in documentation needed.

How well does this process work?

In organizations that have installed Big Five so far:

  • The frequency of coaching has increased 37.6%,
  • 95% of employees say the amount of coaching they receive is “About right”,
  • The quality of coaching (openness, honesty, directness) has improved 8.7%,
  • Traction- the coaching actually helps to improve bottom line performance is up 9%,
  • 6% of employees say Big Five takes less time, and
  • Employee satisfaction with the process has improved 49.8%!

And the best news?  Big Five totally replaces the need for the tired, ineffective, traditional, annual appraisal process!

Plus, Ferguson and his team have developed a cloud-based app to deliver Big Five in client companies of all sizes. Using mobile-friendly technology, the process is even easier to administer. Behind the scenes, the system keeps up with reporting and documentation for easy access as needed.

Personal Testimony

I don’t share solutions like this without direct, personal experience. I have known about Big Five long before it was a commercially successful (and award-winning) HR solution. Big Five is scalable. I once used it to manage a project that had a very short fuse.

Weekly status reporting was required. I adjusted the Big Five tools to accumulate weekly status reports and set priorities. The team worked exceedingly well, winning the client better than a 10x return on the money invested in my team. Big Five helped drive the high returns and smooth operation.

If you want to know more. visit Big Five Performance or click the button below.