Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Honesty Does Pay

Recently after having concluded a ‘Getting ahead as a Young Professional’ workshop (which is part of a leadership development program for the Faculty of Law at Monash University in Melbourne Australia) one of the students, Steph Wallace, shared a story regarding the power of honesty with me and I’d like to share her story with you.

Steph had applied for a clerical assistant role for a law firm and the role was due to start mid December 2010. At the time Steph had a year to go to complete her degree and was aware that graduate positions going into 2012 were going to be few and far between. As a result of this knowledge Steph had hoped to gain the clerical assistant’s role so that, after the firm having experienced the quality of her work throughout 2011 she would be well positioned to obtain the graduate position in 2012.

From my perspective this is a very sound strategy.

Steph successfully negotiated the first round of interviews and was invited for a second interview, this time with the person to whom she would be reporting if she gained the position.

It was at this point that Steph confronted a dilemma. Her father was ill overseas and Steph had already booked a 6 week visit to spend time with him. Her trip commenced the second week of January, a mere three weeks after she was to start the position. As there was a lot ‘riding’ on getting this job in terms of increasing her chances of obtaining a graduate position, Steph was unsure whether she should reveal in the second interview that she would be away for 6 weeks three weeks after starting her new job, or wait until being offered the job before revealing this information.

What would you do in this situation?

Well this is exactly the question that Steph asked her friends, family and colleagues. Interestingly the majority of people said, “Don’t tell them in the interview. Get the job first, then tell them.”

Steph’s mother had a different view. “How would you like people to treat you if you were in your future bosses’ position?” she asked.

After their conversation Steph decided to go with her intuitive response to this dilemma. “If I didn’t get the job and I bumped into this lady in five years time, I’d want her to remember me for being honest.”

At an appropriate time in the second interview Steph shared her dilemma with her potential boss.

“I know that what I am about to tell you will probably kill my chances of getting this job, but I feel that it is important that I am honest with you.”

Steph then went on to explain her situation.

The outcome: Steph got the job, and has been mentored in the role ever since.

Given that our conversation was nine months after Steph had successfully gained the job I asked her if she had repaid their support.  

"Many times over Gary! I really do everything I can for them because they were so supportive of me, even when they didn’t even know me. I now participate in Subcomittees and try and give that extra bit of work/ effort whenever I can. From the IT team to my boss, to the Chairman they are both supportive colleagues, friends and mentors in a variety of ways."

What I have found fascinating is that I have shared this story with many people. The vast majority have said that they would not have told their new boss about the trip until after getting the job.

If you stop and think about the mental models underlying this response one that keeps popping up for me is that people have a theory that if they are honest, bad things will happen.

Hopefully this story will help to challenge this theory.

In this case, honesty was rewarded and well done to the organisation for having the courage to do so.

What are your experiences of honesty in the workplace? Does it pay?

Monday, April 29, 2013

Why you should write daily

This weeks sparkenation.

In January 2007 a colleague suggested I start blogging.  I wasn’t so sure.  I began writing 500 words every day, a habit I have stayed with ever since.  I started publishing some of my thoughts via this blog in May 2007.  My Changing What’s Normal book was an outcome 4 years later.  

The biggest outcome of writing daily however has been the clarity it leads to.  I have learned that being clear is a key to everything else in my life.

Write daily and you too will be clearer.  Being clear will lead you to where you’ve never been and to where you truly belong.

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

How well do you trust yourself?

The proverbial phrase “He who hesitates is lost” is often taken to mean that when we know what we need to do to solve a problem, we should act immediately, or our window of opportunity is likely to pass. 

More than 50% of my work is helping people to do what you know you should.

Why do we hesitate to do what we know we should?

“To know and not to do is really not to know.”
attributed to Stephen R. Covey in some circles and simply as Zen wisdom in other places.

I believe the key reason we fail to do what we know we should do is because we don’t really trust ourselves.

Most of my 1:1 mentoring work is about helping people to be more self-aware because the greater our self-awarness the greater our understanding of who we really are and what is special (unique) about us. The more acutely aware we are of the one-of-a-kind that each of us is, the more we can trust ourselves in any given situation.  Equally the more we become trustworthy and the more trustworthy we are, the greater our influence and the greater our success.

Once knowledge was power reserved for the elite who had access to information.  This is no longer the case.  We can Google pretty much everything.  

Today trust is power.  And a lack of trust in ourselves leads to less trust by other people in us which renders us less powerful than we need to be to stand out in the modern world.

Trusting ourselves and acting on such trust means we have the personal power to influence.  Personal power is always more influential than position power.

3 ways to trust yourself more

1) Spend at least 1 hour per day working on yourself.  

All change is personal first.  We cannot change other people.  We can change ourselves.

“Work harder on yourself than you do on your job” 
Jim Rohn

In my Changing What’s Normal book I provide 23 sparkenations (sparks that ignite passion that lead to action that changes what’s normal) about personal change.  If you don’t yet have my book there are 3 ways you can download it with my compliments.  Check out the 3 ways.

One way to work on yourself everyday is to read and integrate.  I have been in the habit of reading a book a week for 40 years.  I read everyday. I recommend it.  Read and integrate what you learn about yourself into your life and work.  Real leaders are readers.  Keep a journal. You might like to start with my recommended reading list.

I also recommend writing everyday even if you never publish what you write.

2) Do what you fear the most

We are remarkable beings capable of amazing feats. Have a go.  Do what you fear.  Afraid to speak out?  Speak out in situations you haven’t in the past.

There are many great insights in Daniel Pink's book Drive – the surprising truth about what motivate us. One is “there is a mismatch between what science knows and business does.”

There is also a great mismatch for most of us between what science shows as that we are capable of and what we actually do.  Have a crack. You have got nothing to lose except not living the life you were born to live.  Google neuroscience, get a book on this subject.  You can rewire your brain.  Get going.

“You are ten times better than you think.”
Colin Pearce

3) Practice Feedforward

Feedforward is a tremendously powerful concept created by Marshall Goldsmith.
You can learn about feedforward in my Changing What’s Normal book - 3 ways you can get my book free, or go direct to the source.  I find feedforward many times more powerful than feedback, and, it is a great trust builder.

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

“If you don’t believe little things make a big difference then you have never been to bed with a mosquito!”
Anita Roddick, Founder, The Body Shop

Monday, April 22, 2013

The customer is whoever gets your work next

This weeks sparkenation.

The famous Japanese Industrialist Kaoru Ishikawa once remarked
"The customer is whoever gets your work next."

In moving house recently I have experienced some brilliant customer service and some very poor customer service.  The challenge in one instance has been when excellent and poor are from different organisations and one is relying on the other.  As a result of the poor I have not yet received what I need.  Of course the brilliant is now a distant memory.

Are there strong links in every aspect of your supplier-customer chain?

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

More sparkenations.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Web Site Guide: What Not To Worry About

Web developmentEven though social media has become more prominent in your marketing, your Web site is still one of your most important online tools, because it's the place people go before they eventually decide to do business with you. However, many business owners are making some common mistakes with their Web site, possibly because of things that used to be true in the past. Here are five things you don't have to worry about with your Web site.

1. Don't worry about re-doing your graphic design.

It seems some Web site owners change their site design more than they change their underwear. A new design alone won't magically transform your Web site - any more than a fresh coat of paint will magically transform a retail shop.

Sure, if your site looks dated or amateurish, and that's turning away business, it might be worth considering a new design. But most Web sites aren't in that situation, so a new design won't help.

For most Web sites, though, the real problems are in the navigation and content - in other words, how people find their way around your site, and then how useful they find the information they read. So do worry about that, and leave the design to another day.

2. Don't worry about a fancy home page.

The home page is the first page that most first-time visitors will see. Its purpose is to show them immediately the site is worth investigating further, then convince them you understand their problems, and then lead them to another page within the site. You can't do this with a big graphic or flashy animation. It's OK for the home page to look good (in fact, it should), but not at the expense of leading the first-time visitor to the next page.

3. Don't worry about social media links.

It's become a common trend to include links to your social media platforms - Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and so on - prominently on your site. Although there's nothing wrong with that, think about what this is trying to achieve. The real purpose of these social media sites is to lead people to your Web site, not the other way around.

Do worry about making it easy for people to get in touch with you directly. Include contact information, including your e-mail address, phone number and perhaps even a postal address if appropriate, prominently on your site - preferably on every page.

4. Don't worry about a static Web site.

It wasn't so long ago that I was recommending that you keep constantly updating your Web site with new articles, videos and other content. That helps to keep the site fresh, and encourages site visitors (and Google!) to keep returning to it.

However, that's because less important now, as long as you have a blog for this purpose. Your blog should be the place where you keep posting new, relevant, high-quality content - and that will lead visitors back to your Web site.

If your blog happens to be part of your Web site, then the site automatically stays fresh and current. But even if your blog is separate, it will still attract visitors to your site.

5. Don't worry about getting more traffic.

What??? Am I really saying you shouldn't care about getting more traffic to your Web site? Yes ... sort of!

Of course, in theory the more visitors you get to your Web site, the more successful it will be. But in practice, most Web site owners try too hard to get more visitors and don't work enough on convincing those visitors to take action.

If you're already getting some visitors to your Web site, look at ways of making the site more appealing to them, and focus on converting them to take action. That will probably be far easier - and more profitable - than trying to get more visitors.

Look at it this way: If 1 out of every 100 visitors to your site takes action (and that's not an unrealistic amount), then 99 of them are not taking action. If you can convince just one of those 99 to take action, you'll double your profits! Contrast that with the effort it takes to double your traffic.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Gifts and high performance with Jim Cathcart - the recording

In case you weren't online this morning below is the recording of my changing what's normal candid conversation with Jim Cathcart on gifts and high performance.

Jim provides some truly great insights into as he says "nurturing our nature" including our velocity and our natural values.

My next candid conversation is on May 9th.  My very special guest will be David Penglase, author of Intentionomics.  Details here.

Be the difference you want to see in the world.
To purchase your copy of Jim's wonderful book The Acorn Principle that includes a chapter on our natural values please go here.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Knowing when to clear and when to be ambiguous is a hallmark of great leadership

This weeks sparkenation.

"The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say NO to almost everything."
Warren Buffett

Clarity is a characteristic of real leaders meaning they are really clear before saying yes or no.  Real leaders are also often ambiguous saying "I don't know, let's explore this or I'm not certain what do you think?  The end result maybe saying no more than yes.

I would say knowing when to be ambiguous and when to be clear is a hallmark of great leadership.

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

More sparkenations here.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Handling Appraisals: A Leadership Challenge?

Appraisals are tough time for any leader. Not only does he have to  face his team members whom he has interacted with so closely for the past year in sharing common goals and drawing their best from them to achieve the set targets, he has to first start by handling his/her own appraisal results.

Over the past 24 years, I have worked in an environment where the year's hard work translates into a setback for most employees, whether due to the steep pyramid-like hierarchy in the Army or the Bell Curve Method of Appraisal in the Corporate.  

The manner in which a leader reacts to his/her own appraisal sets the norm for rest of the team indirectly, as the team members tend to exhibit similar behavior due to the mirroring effect. It is very painful for a leader who has been demanding the best results for his/her team to discover that his/her own performance fell short of the expectations of the organization. At the same time, due to exuberance, many leaders after being rated as a top performers, fall into the trap of displaying behavior that takes the entire credit for the excellent rating. Either way, the teams under them will get conflicting signals that will spiral into deeper frustration.

Handling your Own Appraisals
  1. Excellent Appraisals - Give Credit to Your Team. You have every right to enjoy the moment that is culmination of your hard work. However, the rating is also a measure of contribution made by your team. Make your success a measure of the team's collective performance and express your gratitude to the team publicly. Not only will your team share your happiness, it will give them inspiration.
  2. Average Appraisals - Display the 'Never Give Up'  Behavior. Throughout the past year, you have been egging your team to deliver on each project/task, coaxing and mentoring them to tide over challenges and obstacles, now its your turn. Remember, the next financial year has already started, and you have goals ahead of you. 
  3.  Poor Appraisals - Decide your Options now. You should have known it coming if your boss has rated you poorly. Surely, you have not delivered somewhere. The options are to either resolve to make a dramatic recovery to prove your bosses wrong, or to quit and move on. Clearly, your organization considers you dispensable. The choice is your's; to prove them wrong or right. However, the main requirement still remains - remain stoic, and in control. If you do that, your team will develop a greater respect for you for displaying such leadership behaviuor
Handling the Appraisals of your Teams
Have a formal meeting with each of your team members. Some points to ensure before and during the meeting:
  1. Before the Meeting. Make sure that the location allows meaningful and respected discussion, with no interruptions. This appointment should not coincide with a period of great work urgency. Give sufficient notice to the team member for sound preparation and allocate sufficient time to do the occasion justice.
  2. During the Meeting. Go through the job profile along with the goal sheet of the employee.  Highlight the real priorities and recall if there have been changes in targets, methods and/or people. Also recall the general performance level of the employee  during the period and recollect details of any highs/lows in performance. Consider if employee needs more knowledge or increased skill and recall any other known need. Prepare some key points to make and key questions to ask.
  3. At the Meeting. Give due recognition for good outcomes in performance and put shortfalls in context of the total job. Keep in mind that the purpose of performance review is to move towards improvement in job performance and personal attributes, hopefully on a joint basis. Remain watchful for reactions of any kind to all that happens at the meeting and then respond appropriately. Keep a firm grip on own emotions.
  4. Dealing with ConflictIf conflict does arise, it needs attention. This means that you should have already considered what your reaction should be. The following are some of the techniques that you could use: -
  • Hostility must not be ignored; it must be dealt with
  • Don’t fall into the trap of responding with an emotional reaction
  • Listen attentively and show you are doing so
  • Listen open-mindedly; this comes through to the other party
  • Keep control of your own features, smile when you can
  • Make frequent eye contact
  • Control your body language, for example, don’t tense up
  • Show you appreciate the importance on the issue to the other person
  • Use the other person’s name quite often
  • Be courteous and friendly and control your voice
  • Let the other person see that you expect normal behaviour
  • Analyse the true cause of conflict and apologise, if appropriate. If not, don’t
  • Gently, but firmly, get back to any unfinished business
  • Don’t let the meeting end on a bad note
Finally, if after reasonable attempts you cannot get the employee back to normal behavior  defer the meeting to another occasion. This delivers a message to the effect that both the outstanding business and the breakdown in communication will still be addressed. After all, you as the appraiser are, or will be, in ultimate control.

Additional Tips
  1. Use ‘I’ language. The employees should speak for themselves and express feelings and opinions clearly.
  2. Direct Criticism. The criticism should be directed at something said or done. It should not take the form of a personal attack.
  3. Tell Consequences of Action. The employee should be told exactly and concrete terms what has been done or left undone and what the consequences were.
  4. Identify Behavior Changing Possibility. The criticism should be directed at something the employee has the possibility of changing in the future. He/she must be given the chance to express feelings and explain behavior.

Why team building is out and team growing is in

The old model of “building” a great team is outdated.

The concept of growing a team instead of building a team has been around a long time. It seems to have started with Frederick P Brooks in his book “The mythical man-month” written over 30 years ago. He believed that:

“The building metaphor has outlived its usefulness. The conceptual structures we construct today are too complicated to be accurately specified in advance and too complex to be built faultlessly, then we must take a radically different approach”.

This concept continues to be reinforced by current day commentators. Sir Ken Robinson, the leading British educationalist, writes in his book “The Element” that:

“Farmers base their livelihoods on raising crops but they don’t make plants grow. They don’t attach the roots, glue on the petals or colour the fruit. The plant itself grows. Farmers and gardeners provide the conditions for growth. Good farmers know what those conditions are, and bad ones don’t”.

Peter Senge the author of “The Learning Organisation” is also quoted as saying:

“The most universal challenge that we face is the transition from seeing our human institutions as machines to seeing them as embodiments of nature. We keep bringing in mechanics when what we need are gardeners”.

The problem
So why do we persist with the term “team building”?

I believe it’s because it’s easier for many technical managers to deal with inanimate objects than it is to deal with people. Building involves taking materials and logically turning them into something productive. You can determine in advance what you want to achieve and, with the right skills and equipment, reproduce an exact replica of a blueprint.

People aren’t like that. Just because someone has the skills to perform a role doesn’t mean they will perform it. Just because a reporting structure should work doesn’t mean it will work. Just because you give someone the title of manager doesn’t mean they can manage. Things get in the way. Things like personalities, past experiences and perceptions.

We have moved on from the industrial age and are now in the information age. People are at the heart of most organisations.  Today, most successful organisations are based on intellectual capital not capital works. So stop treating people like pieces of wood you can build into a structure and start treating them like living beings that will naturally grow if given the right conditions.

Like a good garden, what makes a good team comes down to intangibles and most technical managers aren’t good at dealing with them. They want the black and white, right and wrong, one size fits all solution.

Gardeners know that doesn’t work.

They know you can put five plants in the same garden bed, four will thrive and one will die. Often there is no logic to it, just as with people. You can do all the right things . . . give them good soil, water them, fertiliser them regularly and protect them from pests and they will still die! That’s nature.

You can’t command a plant to grow faster and you can’t command a person to work harder.

So let’s stop talking about team building and start talking about team growing. Let’s look at what we can do to let people naturally develop rather than force them to conform to our plan.

The solution
As a keen gardener and someone who advises organisations on leadership development and employee engagement, I can see that there are many similarities between creating a thriving garden and creating a thriving organisation.  

Whether you have one pot plant sitting on your desk (one employee) or a plot of land that would rival the botanic gardens (many employees) the basic rules are the same. Get it right and your plants will thrive (your people will grow). Get it wrong and you will be left with a dead and dying garden (high turnover or, even worse, high disenagement). 

My workplace gardening philosophy is based on the same principles that successful gardeners follow.

1.     Great teams aren’t built, they grow organically
2.     Work with the nature of your people, not against it
3.     People will grow at their own pace, not yours
4.     You can’t force people to grow, you can only set up the conditions for it to happen
5.     The difference between having a green thumb and a brown thumb isn’t knowledge or skill, it’s attitude

I believe those organisations that will thrive in the future are the ones that embrace the concept of team growing rather than sticking with the outdated model of team building.

Are you going to be one of the leaders who are forging ahead or are you going to be left behind as others around you learn the secrets to growing in changing times? Make an investment now in the future of your people.

Become a workplace gardener and watch your organisation bloom!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Build more of a home wherever you belong

This weeks sparkenation.

My wife and I are in the process of moving into a new home.  We dreamed of a cottage in a wood and have achieved our dream, albeit that it is somewhat different to what we envisioned.  In time we will make it exactly how we want it to be.

We all have homes where we live, work, and play, places where we belong.
Together we are making them exactly as we want them to be.  
Or are we?

This week build more of a home wherever you belong.

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

"Home is the place where, when you have to go there,
they have to take you in."
Robert Frost

More sparkenations here.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Dual Leadership: Success or Failure?

Recently, Mr Arun Jaitley criticized the Congress's dual-leadership with Sonia Gandhi as a powerful party president and Dr Manmohan Singh as PM. The model is being internally debated by the Congress, which is torn on whether it will repeat the experiment with Mrs Gandhi's son, Rahul. Mr Jaitley said the Congress's model was faulty; the elected leader must have the last word, the ability to over-rule and take the biggest decisions. 

In a dual leadership structure, the leadership role is split into two positions that are held by different individuals. In case of the ruling UPA government, the Chairperson Mrs Sonia Gandhi (with her inner circle of trusted party loyalists) is the behind-the scenes-leader involving politics, planning future strategies for success and forging/breaking alliances with the voter base and the party image in mind. On the other hand, the Prime Minister Mr Manmohan (along with the Council of Ministers) handles the protocol dictated responsibilities involving administration, governance and economic planning.

The dual functions of guiding people's activities and an organization’s administration—even in the best-run companies fosters structural complexity, competing sets of goals, multiple stakeholder claims and values in some tension with one another. Wherever organisations need to have a structural cohesion, the integration of the structure demands unitary leadership. However, where organisations have matrix reporting and interwoven structures, dual leadership is possible through structural separation. Firms having separate people in the two top positions appear to be having a stable leadership structure.  

While the empirical evidence on leadership structure is limited, much of the recent evidence appears to support the view that separating the titles of a CEO and Chairperson would improve corporate performance. Firms that switched to a dual leadership structure had better long-term performance than firms which maintained combined leadership. 

To an extent, the shared leadership between the Mrs Sonia and Dr Singh has worked to an advantage. At times when Mrs Sonia bore the brunt of the opposition over her loyalties, or her plans to prop her Rahul Gandhi for the PM slot, it was Manmohan who deflected the attacks by highlighting more important decision making and economic issues. And when Prime Minister drew flak on his timid nature and display of lack of aggression and urgency in certain sensitive issues, Sonia was able to take a step forward to plan some strategic alliances to create a political climate that engrossed the other parties and the media and gave him the much needed space. 

However, in a blog on the same subject,  the author says,   "The duo of Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh was once hailed as a perfect combination – she directs the policy as the UPA and Congress party chief and he implements as the head of the executive. Somewhere down the line the combination has stopped working and instead has paralyzed normal functioning of the government. Sonia Gandhi’s proclivity has been populist and supposedly pro-poor measures like the NRGEA which leak with corruption on way to delivery. She is not enthused about economic reforms and growth measures which the Prime Minister would like to take up and which are expected to bring in prosperity to be shared among countrymen. But Manmohan Singh cannot move an inch without approval from 10 Janpath which is not readily forthcoming. So there is a paralysis both in policy planning and implementation."

Dual leadership obviously cannot work where a strict hierarchy is required, like the defence forces and the bureaucracy, as these areas also demand accountability. However, in areas where pooled talent may be required for effective decision making and results, dual leadership makes sense So clearly, there are advantages and disadvantages of dual leadership. To make the format of dual leadership work, there are two essentials (these being amply demonstrated in the Sonia-Manmohan Model): -
  1. The dual leaders must complement each other. This have been formalized in the Bales-Parsons model and according to these ideas one leader should be instrumental and one expressive. The instrumental leaders is characterized by a more instructive, enterprising approach and the expressive leaders are characterized by a more solidary, thought provoking view on leadership. Even though the model makes clear that one leader could posses both the instrumental and the expressive leadership abilities it is made clear that the case with two leaders complementing each other is the preferred one.
  2. The leaders must know how to cooperate and respect the authority of the other leader. Any differences in the leaders (e.g. the growing divide between the opposition party BJP's leaders Rajnath- LK Advani  )
When choosing leaders it is important to take this in consideration otherwise it will result in an ineffective and a dysfunctional team that will be detrimental for any organisation.
Meanwhile, one can only wait and watch if the UPA's dual leadership model will continue to produce results as in the past.

    Friday, April 5, 2013

    How many times have you really wanted to do something – take your leadership the next step up, follow your heart’s desire, committ to a new goal but have shied away? Pulled back because you felt you weren’t ready, the time wasn’t right or you got distracted from what really mattered?

    It is one thing, if there were legitimate reasons for not taking action. However, many a time, we have also not done what we really wanted or taken that next step because of our limiting self-talk and underlying beliefs. Thinking and beliefs like – “I just need to do one more course before I am ready” (then another and another!); “can I really do that” or “what if it doesn’t work out?”

    We talk ourselves out of things even before we begin. Our dreams, desires or goals beckon but we don’t honour them sufficiently; instead – prioritizing it to a vague another day, another time, maybe never.

    But what if this was the only time you had and the time is now? Last week while having coffee with my friend and colleague, Amanda Fleming and discussing our work and business, we both agreed that, “the time is now.” This is also a sentiment I have heard echoed with my clients, colleagues and friends. Perhaps it’s a gift of the aging process, a recognition that we need to move and do what it takes if we want to give our dreams, aspirations and inner knowing a chance. There is potency as we realize that life is not limitless and we feel compelled to give it the best shot we can; whatever it takes.

    Interestingly studies have also shown that when older people were asked about their regrets, their answer was not what they did but more what they didn’t do. From a mindfulness practice, the time is indeed now as this is the only moment we get to live in and experience. And in the moment, as Eckhart Tolle says – there are no problems or issues; only awareness.

    So how about you?

    1) Is there something you would love to do or be but you are putting this off and have been doing this for a while now?
    2) If the time is now, what might you do that you aren’t doing currently?

    3) What might you commit to and what might you let go off?

    Regardless of our age – the time is now – so give it all you got!

    Jasbindar Singh is a coaching psychologist and leadership development coach based in Auckland, NZ.

    16 ways to help your employees to feel more valued, fulfilled, and loved

    Below are four typical definitions of employee engagement.

    “The extent to which people enjoy and believe in what they do and feel valued for doing it.”

    “The extent to which employees are emotionally and intellectually committed to the organisation as measured by three primary behaviours - Say, Stay and Strive.”

    “The extent to which employees commit to something or someone in the organisation and how long they stay as a result to that commitment.”
    Corporate Executive Board

    “A state of mind in which employees feel a vested interest in the company’s success and are both willing and motivated to perform to levels that exceed the stated job requirements.”

    I define employee engagement as “the degree to which the majority of employees feel valued, fulfilled, and loved.”

    Why valued, fulfilled, and loved?

    In my work with leaders in 40 countries since 1991 the above three are the standout pathways to unleashing the unique talents/gifts that are lying dormant in most people.

    The results of this unleashing

    Higher levels of productivity and engagement from employees, higher sales, lower costs and lower employee turnover, and more time for you to pursue what really matters to you.

    People are often referred to as assets, resources, and even capital. We are none of these things! We are flesh and blood beings with needs, wants, fears, and aspirations.

    When we are respected and treated as the one-of-a-kind that each of us is, we respond with remarkable performance.

    16 ways to help your employees to feel more valued, fulfilled, and loved

    1. See people as they can be not as they are.
    2. Understand the defining moments in people’s lives and help them to bring the lessons learned in these moments to their work.
    3. Be aware of and have continual conversations with people about what really matters to them.
    4. Help people identify what is special about them, their unique gifts/talents, and then make it simple for these gifts/talent to be enhanced
    5. Lead people in ways that inspire and positively influence them.
    6. Manage systems and processes not people.
    7. Catch people doing things right and let them know you caught them by having appreciation conversations with them.
    8. Formally celebrate with people at least every 90 days what’s going really well and what could be better.
    9. Help people to create personal and business development plans that mean they own their piece of your strategy execution plan.
    10. Ensure conversations about performance are about what has been agreed to in their plan.
    11. Help people to be accountable when things don’t go according to plan, not by being critical, rather by asking great questions that inspire candor and authenticity.
    12. Be kind at every opportunity.
    13. Excel at telling and sharing authentic and inspirational stories about other people’s successes. Publicise these stories widely.
    14. Be open and honest about mistakes and celebrate and share the learning.
    15. Recognise and reward people for remarkable performance in ways they suggested.
    16. Gift without attachment to getting back.

    When people feel valued, fulfilled and loved, they live the values written on the wall and deliver the value to other stakeholders that they demand, desire, and feel that they deserve. Valued, values, and value are the keystones of success in every organisation on earth that is thriving.

    How well are you thriving?

    Take the Valued, Fulfilled and Loved Performance Possibility Pulse Check here and find out exactly where you are at.

    As a reward for completing the pulse check you will be able to download my Changing What’s Normal book or if you already have it you can access my ebook that many people use as a 1 year personal development program - 52 Actions of the Wise.  

    Be the difference you want to see in the world.

    Thursday, April 4, 2013

    Is Your Optimism Sabotaging Your Online Success?

    Blazing FlowerMany business owners are optimistic, and that's usually a good thing. There's a lot of evidence to show that optimists tend to be healthier, happier, and have better relationships than pessimists. But it isn't all good news! There are also some things that optimists don't do as well as pessimists, and they can be holding you back from achieving your goals. This applies in many areas of life, but is very common with Internet marketing, which usually takes more time and effort than most people expect.

    Here are five common mistakes that optimistic business owners make with their Internet marketing strategy, and how to overcome them.

    Mistake #1: Setting expectations too high

    There's nothing wrong with dreaming big dreams and setting "stretch" goals, but if your expectations are unrealistic, it's easy to become disappointed quickly.

    For example, you might start publishing a blog or e-mail newsletter, and expect it to bring you a lot of incoming traffic, and a lot of profitable incoming traffic as well. Unfortunately, this rarely happens you're very lucky. Building a following online takes time and persistence. If you expect too much too soon, you'll be disappointed - and there's a risk of giving up too soon as well.

    So don't expect too much too soon. When you start, focus on the process, not the outcome; and measure your success by the quality of your material and the consistency of your publishing it.

    Mistake #2: Expecting it to be too easy

    This is related to the previous point, but it refers to the process rather than the outcome. Overly optimistic people under-estimate the amount of time, effort, focus and money involved in doing tasks. In other words, they expect things to be easier than they really are, which can lead to disappointment, frustration and stress when the rubber hits the road.

    For example, you "know" creating video is easy, because millions of amateurs upload video to YouTube every day. But when you come to record your own videos, you might be surprised at how long it takes to get it just right.

    With many online tasks, the only real way to know what's involved in a task is to actually do it. So to overcome this problem, get started as soon as possible, and then use that experience when making future estimates. In other words, don't estimate how long it will take to record 20 videos. Record one video instead, and then estimate how long it will take to do the other 19.

    Mistake #3: Overlooking potential problems along the way

    Overly optimistic people also don't think about problems and obstacles along the journey, so they don't have contingency plans, alternatives and backup strategies in place.

    For example, you might delegate your social media management to a smart, savvy, Gen Y staff member in your organization, but what if she leaves one day - and leaves you in the lurch? If you don't have some backup plan in place, this can bring your entire online strategy to a grinding halt.

    The solution to this problem is easy: Create contingency plans. You don't have to cover every possible thing that could go wrong, but at least consider the most obvious possibilities. You will usually find it doesn't take much to be able to recover from small bumps along the way - as long as you have considered them in advance.

    Mistake #4: Failing to learn from failure

    Most people who go on a gambling trip to Las Vegas will lose money. But the optimists who return to Las Vegas are likely to lose more money than the pessimists. That's because the optimists brush aside their losses from the first trip (for example, "Oh, well, at least I didn't lose that much") rather than learning from their mistakes.

    This happens with online marketing as well. I've seen many people try something online, discover it isn't working, and then give up with a shrug of their shoulders, happy that it didn't cost much time and money. That might be true, but they often never find out why it didn't work, and will probably make the same mistake with the next thing they try. This is especially true with many online marketing techniques, because they really don't cost much to get started, so it is easy to shrug them off if they don't work, rather than investing time and effort in making them work.

    Mistake #5: Not putting a safety net in place

    Overly optimistic people jump into a new venture head first, cutting all ties with the past and assuming they will never have to take a step back. Now, there's certainly something to be said for creating this sort of forced commitment, but it isn't always appropriate, and it's sometimes very risky.

    For example, when Facebook first launched its "Pages" service, which allowed organizations to create their own presence on Facebook, some business owners (foolishly) decided to close down their Web site and e-mail newsletter, and turned their full attention to their Facebook page. But that wasn't a smart choice, because they no longer owned their online properties, and were subject to Facebook's whims.

    Be a realistic optimist!

    Have you made any of these five mistakes? If so, at least realise you're not alone!

    This doesn't mean you shouldn't be optimistic - far from it. The secret is not to be overly optimistic. Be optimistic, but be a realistic optimist.

    Wednesday, April 3, 2013

    Are you listening and taking appropriate action when your employees tell you the truth?

    Below is my most recent Changing What’s Normal Candid Conversation where I interviewed Gary Ryan from Organisations That Matter about candor and high performance.  Gary is an accredited mentor of my Enhancing Their Gifts System. 

    Candor is a key to high performance.  How much candor is there at your place?

    Are you listening and taking appropriate action when your employees tell you the truth?

    And are you telling the truth to your employees?

    In his most recent newsletter John Kotter says:

    “We want the truth from our leaders. But we have become cynics, accustomed to twisted messages from politicians and company marketing communications so wordsmithed that they lack meaning. These things do not inspire us, or pull us toward someone in a leadership position, with an attitude of wanting to help. They do the opposite. Great leaders have the ability to surprise and reassure people with their direct and honest communication. This is an essential part of what makes them great. And it is especially important in times of big change and uncertainty - such as CEO transitions - where it can smooth the way for the incoming leader.”

    My next Changing What’s Normal Candid Conversation is on April 15th (USA)/April 16th (Australia) with Jim Cathcart, 2013 Top 5 Sales & Marketing Speaker (4 years in a row!), 2012 Sales & Marketing Hall of Fame, Professional Speakers Hall of Fame, The Cavett Award, Lifetime Achievement Award, National Speakers Association , The Golden Gavel Award, Toastmasters International 

    Most of all Jim is a great and wise human being. I have no doubt that during this webinar you will gain unique insights into how to bring your best self to your life and work.

    I have been a big fan of Jim Cathcart since I began speaking professionally in 1991 when one of my early mentors suggested I check out his work.  I then had the privilege of interviewing Jim in New Orleans in 2004 and then heard him speak to a very special event for professional speakers held at the United Nations in New York in 2008.

    I will be exploring true charisma (gifts) and high performance with Jim.
    Details here.

    "I believe that everyone has a gift, something to contribute.  In most cases there are multiple gifts within us" from The Acorn Principle by Jim Cathcart

    Be the difference you want to see in the world.