Monday, April 27, 2015

These 14 are the key signposts on your road to a remarkable workplace

This weeks sparkenation.

I developed the diagnostic pictured as a simple way to help my clients to get on or stay on their remarkable road to prosperity and success in ways that are good for people, our planet, and for profit.

You can download the diagnostic here.

To work through the diagnostic with me please contact me on +61 (0) 418 807 898. This is a complimentary service and you'll be under no obligation to proceed further.

Be remarkable.

More sparkenations here.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Can You Trust Your Team Members To Use Good Judgement?

Can You Trust Your Team Members To Use Good Judgement?Nordstrom, the US department store, has the best social media policy in the world – and it created it long before social media existed. Here's the relevant part from the employee manual:

Rule #1: Use your best judgement at all times.
There are no additional rules.

When I say this is from the manual, that’s true. In fact, the entire employee manual goes like this:

We're glad to have you with our Company. Our number one goal is to provide outstanding customer service. Set both your personal and professional goals high. We have great confidence in your ability to achieve them. Rule #1: Use best judgement in all situations. There are no additional rules. Please feel free to ask your department manager, store manager, or division general manager any question at any time.

You might say it's impossible to create an employee manual that gives people so much leeway. After all, there are procedures to follow, policies to uphold, legislation to meet, and rules to enforce.

That might be true, but these are generally constraints imposed by HR, legal and other administrative roles in your organisation. What about just thinking about the people – in other words, your own team members? Are you confident enough in their judgement that you could trust them?

If not you're not alone. Most leaders and managers – if they are being honest – would admit they can't yet trust their team members to that extent.

If you have children, you know this intuitively. Young children don't know about the dangers of electricity, so you protect all your wall sockets when they start crawling. They don't understand why it's rude to interrupt conversations, so you have to teach them. They don't know how easy it is to drown in a small amount of water, so you build a fence around your swimming people.

Of course, your team members aren't children, but some organisations treat them as if they are – and are then surprised when they (metaphorically) stick a knife in an electrical socket or fall into the swimming pool.

Your people are smart, talented, savvy citizens who already know how to exercise good judgement in other areas of their life. They raise families, operate heavy machinery to get to your office, organise events, and manage dozens of other complex situations every day. Is it possible that they might be able to do the same at work – if you just gave them the chance?

Monday, April 20, 2015

The number one reason your work is meaningful

This weeks sparkenation.

This is an insightful article by Adam Grant.

How will your work become more meaningful?

What will you do to help others to do more meaningful work?

Doing meaningful work is a key to the new world of work.

Every role in every organisation on earth can be meaningful. Imagine that.

Do your work.

Be remarkable.

More sparkenations here.

PS Your invitation to join me in an important conversation

It’s very appropriately called a ‘Conversation that Matters’.

It’s a conversation that might just change the way you think about your working life. Things like:

1.     What gets you out of bed in the morning?

2.     Why do you do what you do?

3.     What really matters to you in your work life?

I'll be exploring these questions with my friend and mentor Paul Dunn on the 30th April at 12.15 pm AEST. Just go here to register for this complimentary event. 

Monday, April 13, 2015

Fuelled, Fascinated, and Focused

This weeks sparkenation.

Be remarkable.

More sparkenations here.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Leading and Managing in a VUCA World

Leading and Managing in a VUCA WorldYou might have come across the term "VUCA", which has been borrowed from the U.S. military and is now often used in a business context to describe our world today. It's an acronym that stands for "Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous" - and that's a pretty good description of our world now:

  • Volatile: Things are changing fast, often and in big ways
  • Uncertain: It's difficult to predict the future - even in the short term
  • Complex: There are many factors that affect anything
  • Ambiguous: Things are hazy, fuzzy, and not clearly defined

In a nutshell, it says: Our world is messy.

Many leaders struggle to lead in this VUCA world.

If you're a leader who has been used to leading by example, leading from the front, leading by showing the way to your people, or leading because you have greater knowledge and experience, you might struggle in this VUCA world. After all, if the world keeps changing, how can you possibly give your people the guidance and direction they have come to expect from you?

The answer, of course, is that you can't! That might have worked in the past, but it doesn't anymore.

If you really want to lead effectively now, you need to harness the skills and talents of your entire team. You certainly can't shield them from all the uncertainty, and you might be pleasantly surprised at how well they can cope with it. After all, they smart, talented, savvy citizens who raise families, buy property, operate heavy machinery to get to your office, organise events, and manage dozens of other complex situations every day. Is it possible that they might be able to do the same at work – if you just gave them the chance?

Here are some specific things you can do to help your entire team thrive in this VUCA world.

1. Expose Volatility: Do Rock the Boat

Instead of trying to shield them from the volatility, expose them to it so they have a better understanding of what happens outside their role. Don't throw them in the deep end without any support, but do give them some opportunities "above their pay grade". Look for opportunities where they can stretch and grow, but also environments where they can fail safely. For example:

  • Making an internal presentation to the team before making an important presentation to a client
  • Managing a small non-critical sub-project before managing a large task on the critical path
  • Taking on a new role, but with you (or somebody else) mentoring them in that role

2. Use Uncertainty: Start Before You're Ready

The future is uncertain, so there's no point trying to know everything before you get started. Gather enough information to make an informed decision, and then take action fast (and encourage your team to do the same), so you get the chance to try things and get feedback. For example ...

  • Not sure how the market will react to a new product? Offer it to a small test group and get their response.
  • Not sure how a team member will cope with additional leadership responsibility? Push her in the deep end, but stay close to provide guidance and support.
  • Not sure how to use webinars to deliver your courses? Start with a small webinar on a familiar topic to a small trusted group.

3. Challenge Complexity: Cut Through The Clutter

Yes, we live in a complex world, but we don't need to know everything in order to do something. Teach your team members to use better judgement, so they can cut through the clutter and focus on the things that really matter. A key part of decision making is not about making the "right" decision, but knowing which factors matter and which can be safely ignored.

The easiest way to help your team build this good judgement is to give them more opportunities to make decisions! Again, you would start with small, non-critical decisions, of course.

4. Act On Ambiguity: Seek Clarity

If uncertainty is about the future, ambiguity is about the present. Not only is the future fuzzy, but we don't even have a clear picture right here and now!

The good news is that you can leverage this ambiguity by using it to guide your decision making. If you've already determined which factors matter the most (see the previous point about challenging complexity), focus on those areas first. If they are too ambiguous, then figure out what you need to do to get clarity.

For example, if you put your project plan in a Gantt chart, it looks like a beautiful piece of planning. But, as any project manager knows, there's a huge gulf between the project plan and reality! It's just a snapshot of where you are now, not a map for where you're going tomorrow. If you want it to be useful at all, you have to know which items matter the most (those on the critical path), how confident you are about doing them, and - if that confidence is low - how you can become more confident.

The same applies to your people. If you're thinking of promoting somebody to a management role but aren't sure how they will cope with it, you wouldn't send them off to do a two-year MBA first! You would give them small opportunities, mentor them in the role, get their feedback, monitor their progress, and so on. That will give you the clarity and confidence to decide what to do next.

Does all this advice sound obvious?

So what does this boil down to? Give them more opportunities, take small action fast, know what matters most, and get more confidence in fuzzy things.

If that all sounds obvious to you - and you're already doing these things with your team - great! I'm not surprised to hear that leaders are doing some of these things. And you might be one of the leaders that's doing them all.

But if you're one of the many leaders who aren't doing these things, and are struggling to cope in this VUCA world, try some of these things now in your team. They are all low-risk, low-cost, high-potential ideas that could transform the way you lead your team.

Monday, April 6, 2015

How are you embracing the third mind?

This weeks sparkenation.

Aside from self-leadership and working with mentors being a member of a master-mind group or groups is a key to personal and business success.

Where and with who are you embracing the third mind?

Be remarkable.

More sparkenations here.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Words to lead by

The slide deck below contains the key insights that have helped my clients in their own way to lead and manage remarkable businesses.

You can download the above as a PDF here, or listen to the 12 minutes and 12 seconds audio version here.

How we can work together

Because you’re a great leader wanting to be remarkable you’re already taking many wonderful actions. A key to working together therefore is agreeing on how I will best add value to, as well as integrate with, what you’re currently doing.

I work 1:many (conferences and events) + follow through with a few, 1:few (teams and peer groups) + follow through, and 1:1.

Is this you?

You have a small percentage of people bringing their best to their work every day. I refer to these people as the Happy Being Magnificent.

You have a similar small percentage of people who drive you crazy. They’re not bringing their best to their work. These people take up a lot of your time and energy. They’re disengaged, disruptive and discouraging. I refer to these people as the Happy Being Miserable.

And then you have the majority of your people who are doing their jobs, yet not consistently bringing their best to their work every day. I refer to these people as the Happy Being Mediocre.

You don’t have to be bad at leadership to get better.

Stephen C. Lundin Ph.D. Author of the five million copy best selling FISH!

While I agree with Stephen, in today’s technology driven, mobile centric, and self-centred world you have to be a remarkable leader to move up the Mediocre to Magnificent and move up or move on the Miserable.

Helping you to do the above is what I’m passionate about and really bloody good at (that’s Aussie for remarkable). It’s why I get up in the morning. Find out more here.

Be remarkable.