OPTIMIZING BUSINESS PERFORMANCE

performI have coached a number of companies whereby management is doing everything right– clear vision, core values, mission statement, USP (Unique Sales Proposition), and have clearly branded themselves in their respective market.  The problem is the team members have not bought into these changes.  So, what is the problem?

The foundation for getting your employees to take ownership in the Strategic Plan, is to give them a game worth playing. Please keep in mind that your business certainly is not a game, but nonetheless you must create an environment where people are given the expectation and the understanding that only their personal best is allowed to support the team effort.

It is no longer just a matter of properly motivating and inspiring your people; every game worth playing has to have rules that are designed to help everyone win. So, what are the rules of your game? Does everyone know what the rules are? How do you get everyone to buy into the rules of the game?

Preparations

Without the preparation of clearly defined roles and responsibilities, the rules of the game are never clearly defined. What ultimately happens is that employees make up their own rules, many times not aligned with Strategic Plan. This leads to mismanagement and further miscommunication, and that is a recipe for disaster. What are the necessary steps to avoid the chaos?

1- Agreements

Managers and employees establish clear agreements for the expectation about the work that is to be done, the quality of the work, and how and when it is to be done. Within the body of these agreements are the Roles and Responsibilities, Accountabilities, Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s), the Systems, and the Work Flow.

Unless these items are clearly defined and clearly documented, you are left managing by abdication. By establishing an environment of Management by Agreement, only then are the standards fully communicated and documented.

2- Communication

Any and all changes in the Roles and Responsibilities and the Mapped Procedures, occur only after there is mutual agreement between the manager and employee. Agreement needs to be reached about anything that might deviate from the expected results, work, and standards.

3- Responsibilities

By having an agreement, employees take full responsibility for performing the work and achieving the results as agreed upon. The managers are accountable for providing the employee with the necessary resources, tools, guidance and training to achieving the work.

4- Changes

The employee and the manager are accountable for immediate notification for any and all changes or exceptions to the established agreements.

5- Space

Managers can assume the work is being done as agreed upon, unless notified by the employee. To avoid micro-management of the employees, a mindset change needs to happen to allow employees the space to do their job, with the understanding they know what is expected of them, when it is expected and how it is expected.

6- ‘Huddles’

Schedule regular ‘huddles’ with the employee and manager to communicate and update the progress of the work and the KPI’s. By regular communication, testing and measuring, only then can you confirm that you are on track with the plan.

7- No Exceptions

Failure to notify each other of changes, exceptions, or missed due dates is unacceptable. Period. Your management strategy can only be effective if you are willing to hold your employees and your managers accountable for their agreements, and if you are willing to hold yourself accountable to those agreements.

8- Trust

Relationships built on trust are developed as managers and employees keep their commitments and successful results are achieved. Trust is an ideal to live by, without trust your management strategy cannot work. Find a way to implement these Rules of the Game, and make them rules that you live by in your business. You will find that you start taking huge strides toward consistency in your business and predictable results. You will also go a long way toward creating a company culture that people are attracted to and fulfilled by.

Conclusion:

Problems with getting your employees buy-in?  Just contact me for a free 2 hour consultation.

RULES TO LIVE AND DIE BY

BChief Tecumsahy:  Chief Tecumseh

So live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart.

Trouble no one about their religion; respect others in their view, and demand that they respect yours.

Love your life, perfect your life, and beautify all things in your life.

Seek to make your life long and its purpose in the service of your people.

Prepare a noble death song for the day when you go over the great divide.

Always give a word or a sign of salute when meeting or passing a friend, even a stranger, when in a lonely place.

Show respect to all people and grovel to none.

When you arise in the morning give thanks for the food and for the joy of living. If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies only in yourself.

Abuse no one and no thing, for abuse turns the wise ones to fools and robs the spirit of its vision.

When it comes your time to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with the fear of death, so that when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way.

Sing your death song and die like a hero going home.

IMPORTANT LIFE RULES

Sam Biz Card BackI remember my twin boys just learning to play the game of baseball when they were just eight years old. The laughter of the parents when a child who finally hit the baseball and ran down the wrong base line– directly to third base instead of first base.

Then, there was the experience of my twins learning the fine game of soccer. At this age, there was no real offense or defense, rather it was an entire swarm of small bodies chasing the ball, with the only player staying in their respective position being the goalie.

Finally, the basketball game when a child got so excited that he got the ball and forgot to dribble on the way to the basket.

I have coached a number of my children’s sports teams, and learned the importance of learning the simple rules of the game. Initially, coaching involved managing the level of chaos and confusion as children learned the rules of the game. But over time, it was profound that the once-confusing rules become second nature, and I finally watched children play together as a team without a second thought about the rules.

RULES TO LIVE BY

Playing a sport without knowing the rules leads to chaos, confusion, and even injury. Likewise, in your life and in your business, without clearly defined rules, the result is disorder, dissatisfaction, and even harm. Here are some simple rules that can help you navigate life and your business. I hope they provide you with thoughts to ponder and reevaluate the rules in your life and your business.

RULE #1: Family is always first.

Many leaders give lip service to putting family first, but they don’t actually practice this concept by giving their spouse or kids top priority. What does it mean to put family first? It involves redefining success. Do not measure success in terms of career accomplishments, money, cars, or a big house. Rather, success is when those closest to you truly respect you and refer to you as an good example. Practically speaking, make sure to schedule family time before setting your work time. It is far more important to have quality family time than to have work demands that result in the continuous 60 hours per week.

RULE #2: Follow the Golden Rule

Ask three questions about our leaders:

1) Do they care for me?

2) Can they help me?

3) Can I trust them?

As a leader, ask these same questions of yourself: Am I caring? Am I helping? Am I reliable? Set the example to those under you to treat others the way you would like to treated.

RULE #3 Take care of yourself

Doing things for yourself is not a selfish act; it’s a critical and important act. Brian Dyson, CEO of Coca Cola said, “Imagine life as a game in which you are juggling some five balls in the air. You name them- work, family, health, friends and spirit and you’re keeping all of these in the air. You will soon understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. But the other four balls- family, health, friends and spirit are made of glass. If you drop one of these, they will be irrevocably scuffed, marked, nicked, damaged or even shattered. They will never be the same. You must understand that and strive for balance in your life.”

A very dear friend and mentor of mine learned the importance of this rule the hard way, through the trauma of a heart attack and a quadruple bypass. If you are not managing the necessary time to rest and replenish, to exercise, and to monitor your mental facilities, then eventually you and your body will breakdown. When that happens you have no value to anyone around you.

RULE #4 Choose a positive attitude

Happiness cannot be won, bought, or brought to you by another person. Rather, it results from a conscious choice to be grateful and to make the best of life’s challenges. Whatever happens to us, we always have control of one thing: our attitude. Yes, attitudes are contagious.

RULE #5 Always have a plan.

The key to personal growth is to have a beginner’s mindset– remembering when you first started your business. Beginners admit they do not know everything and proceed accordingly. As a general rule beginners admit that they are open, humble, willing to learn and grow, willing to make the necessary changes, and are noticeably lacking in the rigidity that accompanies experience, success and ego.

RULE #6 Always give more than you receive

Looking back over your career, make a list of those that served as your mentor. Everyone at many points in their career ask for help, but not everyone has the capacity or willingness to give and mentor others. When you stop trying to ‘use’ people around you, only than can you learn ways to add real value to your personal relationship with others and only then can your influence truly soar.

SEX, ETHICS AND BOSSES

bad bossesAn AICPA Economic Outlook Survey, which polls chief executives, chief financial officers, controllers and certified public accountants with executive roles in U.S. companies, found that businesses expect an increase in recruitment, staff training and spending in the next 12 months as economic conditions improve. Most of the executives questioned (56 percent) say their companies have the right number of employees, but 15 percent said they planned to hire immediately, up from 13 percent last year. Meanwhile the portion of those surveyed who said their companies had too many employees shrank from 10 percent to 8 percent.

Part of the problem with C level executives when dealing with employees, is that the employees don’t share nor understand the Type A+ personality of their bosses and they judge them harshly for it during tough economic times. Some mentioned that executives were thought to be ‘job slashers’ and lacked concern for their employees. In fact, based on executives’ own survey responses, they agree that they are getting worse at basic human interaction as the economy improves.

What’s the Disconnect?

A survey conducted last year by Booz Allen (BAH) found that executives largely believed the job was out of their hands and that they couldn’t help their company achieve its’ goals. A full 64 percent said they had conflicting priorities, while 54 percent said they don’t believe employees and customers understand their strategy.

That’s bad news for companies where executives’ capabilities in no way support the strategy. In that scenario, only 14 percent of such firms report above-average growth. It’s particularly troubling when 64 percent of managers don’t feel their company’s strategy will lead to success.

Being Ethical

A study released last year by the Economist Intelligence Unit, titled “A Crisis of Culture: Valuing Ethics and Knowledge in Financial Services” found that executives in the financial services industry didn’t see much to gain by conducting their business ethically. Does anyone remember the economic downturn of 2007-2008 which had a direct correlation from the securitization and purchase of ‘subprime’ mortgage loans?

Although 91 percent of those surveyed placed equal importance on ethical behavior and financial success, more than half (53 percent) think advancing their career would be difficult without being “flexible” on ethical standards. Only 37 percent believe their firm’s performance would improve if employees acted in a more ethical manner.

While 97 percent of those same executives feel qualified to handle their job — and 67 percent have raised awareness of the importance of ethics at their firms — 62 percent of financial executives admit they care very little about what goes on in departments beyond their own. But many of those same execs think their own departments are an ethical breach waiting to happen.

Sexism

Harvard Business School professor Boris Groysberg and research associate Robin Abrahams reviewed interviews of nearly 4,000 C-suite executives conducted by the school’s students between 2008 and 2013. Of those executives, 44 percent were women.

What is interesting is that 88 percent of male execs were married, compared with 70 percent of women. A full 60 percent of male execs had spouses who don’t work full-time outside of the home, while only 10 percent of women did.

Most male executives saw work-life balance as women’s work. Each side found it inconceivable that a man could pick up the slack, address work-life conflicts and actually contribute something other than money to the household. Meanwhile, the amount of stay-at-home dads has doubled since 1994.

What this review found is that executive’s contracts are locked-in and 16 percent said their company didn’t have a succession plan in place and that it would take up to three years to find their replacement.

Conclusion

Executives have lost the trust and understanding from their employees, and therefore honest and open communication has ceased. To engage employees, it is imperative that all executives and employees fully understand and embrace the strategic plan for the business. It is no longer acceptable to point the finger and say it’s management, and visa-versa. The real disconnect is the lack of accountability, with shared core values and a common and shared goal.

THOUGHTS FOR DUMMIES

Mcgovern.2You likely never heard of Pat McGovern until this week, but the man behind the ‘For Dummies’ series of books and many other media brands left a lasting legacy.

The world lost a multibillionaire entrepreneur recently–a great leader whom most Americans have probably never heard of. Given that he was the person behind some very successful media brands, that says a lot.

Pat McGovern, 76, began his business career in the 1960s, as the founder and chairman of International Data Group. He was the man responsible for magazines such as Computerworld, Macworld, PC World, and many other brands in the U.S. and abroad, including the “For Dummies” series of instructional and self-help books.

Think Big / Be First

McGovern wrote an article for Inc. in 2007, in which he talked about the importance of expanding your horizons to be successful. He was one of the first American CEOs to establish a joint publishing venture in China, for example, and his company was a pioneer in venture capital in Vietnam and India. With the establishment of a website operating from Antarctica, IDG became the first company in the world to have a presence on all seven continents.

“When a company ventures abroad, its point person should be its CEO, traveling frequently and acting boldly and enthusiastically,” McGovern wrote. “IDG launches businesses in three to five new countries each year, and for virtually all of them I’m first on the ground, meeting with potential customers, government ministers, and management candidates.”

Step Aside and Trust

McGovern was thinking globally long before most of his peers. His companies launched titles in Japan and the Soviet Union in the 1970s, and he reportedly spent four months of the year traveling overseas to drum up new business. Yet he was a hands-off leader, allowing the people he put in charge of overseas divisions to make decisions.

“His primary control is financial,” Inc. reported in 1988. “His headquarters works as an investment bank, putting money into each unit’s worthwhile ventures, denying or withdrawing it from ones that are not worthwhile, while McGovern cruises from office to office like a cheery potentate on a magic carpet, bringing enthusiasm and bonuses wherever he goes.”

Get Out of Your Way

Inc.’s Leigh Buchanan started out at IDG as a copy editor in the late 1980s, and she described her surprise when McGovern stopped by her cubicle to hand her a year-end bonus check.

Pat thanked me for my contributions. He asked how things were going and looked vaguely disappointed when all I could muster was an unilluminating “Fine.” Then he complimented me on a column I had ghostwritten for some technology honcho. The column was my most substantive accomplishment to date and the thing I was proudest of. But my name didn’t appear on it anywhere, so how did he know? After three or four minutes, he handed me my bonus and proceeded to the next cubicle.

When she interviewed him years later, Buchanan said she learned that McGovern made one-on-one visits like that to every single one of the company’s 1,500 employees at the time, and that the process took almost four weeks.

Be a Personality, But Be Humble

McGovern was worth an estimated $5.1 billion, but he cultivated a modest image. He lived in a same house in Hollis, New Hampshire, which he bought in 1989. He flew coach and drove used cars, reported The Wall Street Journal. He would show up at employees’ 10th anniversaries to take them out for dinner.

“I don’t think he did these things because he was naturally outgoing,” wrote Harry McCracken, who covers technology at Time, but who spent 16 years working for McGovern at IDG. “If anything, he seemed to be on the reserved side–but…he believed that one of his responsibilities as IDG chairman was to make other staff members feel good about their work. Even when I was a low-level editor, I got occasional complimentary notes from him–always written on the same ultra-cheery letterhead, with GOOD NEWS! and a rainbow at the top. He must have bought it by the truckload.”

Earned a Lot and Give it Away

In 2000, McGovern and his wife founded an institute for the study of the brain at his alma mater, MIT, with a $350 million gift. It was one of the largest donations ever to a university in the U.S. To put it in context, the donation dwarfs the entire endowments of more than 640 American colleges.

BRAND YOUR PURPLE COW

Purple CowYou can have the greatest product in the world, the most superb service, but, if no one knows about it, you will have a warehouse full of excellent products, and you will be sitting around your office, waiting for the phone to ring.

Strategic Positioning

This is where companies make a big mistake with their marketing. It’s important to have great products and great services. But too many companies fool themselves by thinking, “If people knew how great our products or services are, they’d buy us every time.”

They try to market themselves by saying things like: “We’ve got the best quality, the best product, the best customer service, and the best people.” I’ve got three words for you: WASTE OF TIME. Yes, all those things are important, but they won’t help you be successful with your marketing.

It’s not about the product; it’s about the positioning. Strategic Positioning or Brand Positioning is a statement of who you are. It is what your target customers think about when they hear your brand name. Red Bull owns the words “Energy Drink.” 1-800-GOT JUNK? owns “junk removal.” What words do you want to own? What will make you stand out from the herd?

Seth Godin in his book The Purple Cow says that you should stand out from the herd of competitors the way a purple cow would stand out from a herd of cows. That’s not just a little different. We’re talking “dramatically different,” and that takes courage.

The old rule of marketing was playing it safe. So, you created a good product or service, and then you sold it with sales people and advertising. You took out ads, you spent money, and you tried to drive customers to your business that way. That used to work, but it doesn’t any more.

Today it is different, you need to create remarkable products or services that your target market customers will seek out and talk about. They will spread word‑of‑mouth about your brand.

It starts with being dramatically different. You’re either a Purple Cow of a product or service, or you’re a commodity (whereby you sell only on price). But that’s only part of the challenge. You must also be dramatically and meaningfully different to your ideal target market customer.

Just being good is not enough. Your competitors are good. Your customers won’t even start down the path to buy your product unless they think you’re remarkably, distinctively, and meaningfully different. You don’t win the marketing battle with the best product or service. You win the marketing battle with Strategic Positioning. So let’s think about how you can position your company.

There’s no one best way to position your company (or brand) so you appear uniquely different from your competition. You need to choose a position that sets you apart in a way that appeals to your ideal target market customer. There are six basic ways to achieve that:

1. Position your company based on price point.

Walmart, for example, offers “everyday low prices.” Price positioning can work the other way, too, when people use a high price as an indicator of high value. Consider this story told by Dr. Robert Cialdini, the author of Influence.

The owner of a jewelry store that specializes in Indian jewelry purchased some good quality turquoise pieces and priced them reasonably, based on her experience. But, even though the store was full of tourists, those pieces didn’t sell. That happens in retail.

The store owner did what store owners have probably done since the beginning of commerce. The night before she left on a buying trip, she wrote a note to her staff, directing them to display the turquoise pieces prominently and to cut the selling price in half. She imagined that customers would snap up the jewelry at the low price and she could move on to other things.

When she returned from her trip, she was pleased to note that, as she expected, the pieces had all been sold. Then she discovered that her staff had not done what she had asked. Her assistant misread the note, and, instead of cutting the prices by half, the assistant had doubled them. The jewelry sold better when the higher prices sent the message to customers that the pieces were of higher quality. There are many stories like this that marketers tell each other.

2. Position your company by creating a new category.

That’s what Red Bull did. Before them, there was no “energy drink” category.

3. Position your company as something different from the category leader.

In rental cars, the classic Avis advertising campaign, “We’re number two, so we try harder,” is a great example.

4. Position your company as a specialist.

1-800-GOT-JUNK? is the specialist in junk removal. There are coffee shops all over the country that sell coffee and a host of other things like hamburgers and breakfast, but Starbucks positioned itself as the coffee specialist, the brand you know offers premium coffee.

5. Position your company as the master of a distribution channel.

L’eggs was the first supermarket pantyhose brand and became the largest-selling pantyhose brand in the country. Paul Mitchell became a $600-million hair and skincare brand by focusing on the professional hair salon channel. Ping did the same in golf clubs by focusing on the pro-shop channel.

6. Position your company by being explicit about Who your target market customer is.

Curves is the gym solely for women. AXE (or Lynx, in some countries) cologne positions itself as the cologne that makes young men irresistible.

How to find your Strategic Position

Here are two questions that I recommend to help you identify your Strategic Position:

  1. In what area(s) could you be perceived as the leader of a category or niche in your industry?
  2. In what area(s) could you be perceived as being dramatically and meaningfully different from your competitors?

ARE YOU A BAD BOSS?

Bad BossYour staff avoids you. No one stops by your office, desk or “skypes” you to check-in. This is a probable sign that your employees are afraid of you or have simply lost confidence in your leadership.

Inability to make decisions without your input. You staff constantly asks you for advice on the smallest details. It’s likely you haven’t empowered your employees, or they’re just too afraid of potential consequences if they don’t approach you on everything. There’s definitely a balance so make sure you check out my colleague’s post (Stephen Lynch) about having an open door policy.

A high turnover. Look at how many people you’ve directly or indirectly managed and have resigned within 1-2 years. Leaving for more money is likely not the initial motivator. People typically leave their boss not the company (unless you have a terrible company culture). Quite obvious, but few fail to face this reality.

Former employees disappear, forever. Nothing says it more than anything if your ex-employees don’t keep in touch or you don’t get recommendation requests. Good bosses typically become mentors or role models for ex-employees.

Lack of feedback. You fail to communicate with your team and may not have set expectations, goals or timelines. Bad bosses often change their mind frequently leaving their team feeling off balance. You’re also not available to receive feedback about yourself. Most people like to see progress and to progress in their careers. It’s important that you provide timely feedback. Positive feedback is typically best and constructive feedback is important if something needs to be improved or corrected.

If any of the above is true, here are 4 simple tips you can use to engage your team and help you get out of that bad boss category:

  1. Create transparency. Don’t keep your team in the dark. Share your company’s performance, track and communicate progress. It will help your team understand that the things they work on directly impact the company’s success and ultimately their own.
  2. Make work meaningful. Reinforce the importance of everyone’s role. Provide clarity and direction by defining both team and individual goals. Avoid ambiguity at all costs. This will help foster ownership and will help get things done.
  3. People-Focused Culture. Promote the sharing of ideas, suggestions and improvements. Recognize people for their achievements. Live your company core values and have your team nominate colleagues who meet different core values.
  4. Nurture employees and create a path for growth and opportunity. Create opportunities for career development and progression. Talk to your employees about their career plan. Does their current role make full use of their strengths and abilities? Provide feedback (both the good and constructive) sooner than later.

CONCLUSION

Take the time to think about the points above and keep in mind that highly engaged employees are 26% more productive and on average their company’s earned 13% greater returns. Creating a more engaged workforce benefits the company, your team, and yourself.

EXCERPTS FROM WARREN BUFFET’S ANNUAL LETTER

Warren Buffet“Investment is most intelligent when it is most businesslike.” –Benjamin Graham, The Intelligent Investor

This tale begins in Nebraska. From 1973 to 1981, the Midwest experienced an explosion in farm prices, caused by a widespread belief that runaway inflation was coming and fueled by the lending policies of small rural banks. Then the bubble burst, bringing price declines of 50% or more that devastated both leveraged farmers and their lenders. Five times as many Iowa and Nebraska banks failed in that bubble’s aftermath as in our recent Great Recession.

In 1986, I purchased a 400-acre farm, located 50 miles north of Omaha, from the FDIC. It cost me $280,000, considerably less than what a failed bank had lent against the farm a few years earlier. I knew nothing about operating a farm. But I have a son who loves farming, and I learned from him both how many bushels of corn and soybeans the farm would produce and what the operating expenses would be. From these estimates, I calculated the normalized return from the farm to then be about 10%. I also thought it was likely that productivity would improve over time and that crop prices would move higher as well. Both expectations proved out.

In 1993, I made another small investment. Larry Silverstein, Salomon’s landlord when I was the company’s CEO, told me about a New York retail property adjacent to New York University that the Resolution Trust Corp. was selling. Again, a bubble had popped — this one involving commercial real estate — and the RTC had been created to dispose of the assets of failed savings institutions whose optimistic lending practices had fueled the folly.

Here, too, the analysis was simple. As had been the case with the farm, the unleveraged current yield from the property was about 10%. But the property had been under-managed by the RTC, and its income would increase when several vacant stores were leased. Even more important, the largest tenant — who occupied around 20% of the project’s space — was paying rent of about $5 per foot, whereas other tenants averaged $70. The expiration of this bargain lease in nine years was certain to provide a major boost to earnings. The property’s location was also superb: NYU wasn’t going anywhere.

Fundamentals of Investing:

  • You don’t need to be an expert in order to achieve satisfactory investment returns. But if you aren’t, you must recognize your limitations and follow a course certain to work reasonably well. Keep things simple and don’t swing for the fences. When promised quick profits, respond with a quick “no.”
  • Focus on the future productivity of the asset you are considering. If you don’t feel comfortable making a rough estimate of the asset’s future earnings, just forget it and move on. No one has the ability to evaluate every investment possibility. But omniscience isn’t necessary; you only need to understand the actions you undertake.
  • If you instead focus on the prospective price change of a contemplated purchase, you are speculating. There is nothing improper about that. I know, however, that I am unable to speculate successfully, and I am skeptical of those who claim sustained success at doing so. Half of all coin-flippers will win their first toss; none of those winners has an expectation of profit if he continues to play the game. And the fact that a given asset has appreciated in the recent past is never a reason to buy it.
  • With my two small investments, I thought only of what the properties would produce and cared not at all about their daily valuations. Games are won by players who focus on the playing field — not by those whose eyes are glued to the scoreboard. If you can enjoy Saturdays and Sundays without looking at stock prices, give it a try on weekdays.
  • Forming macro opinions or listening to the macro or market predictions of others is a waste of time. Indeed, it is dangerous because it may blur your vision of the facts that are truly important. (When I hear TV commentators glibly opine on what the market will do next, I am reminded of Mickey Mantle’s scathing comment: “You don’t know how easy this game is until you get into that broadcasting booth.”)

During the extraordinary financial panic that occurred late in 2008, I never gave a thought to selling my farm or New York real estate, even though a severe recession was clearly brewing. And if I had owned 100% of a solid business with good long-term prospects, it would have been foolish for me to even consider dumping it. So why would I have sold my stocks that were small participations in wonderful businesses? True, any one of them might eventually disappoint, but as a group they were certain to do well. Could anyone really believe the earth was going to swallow up the incredible productive assets and unlimited human ingenuity existing in America?

Summary

When Charlie Munger and I buy stocks — which we think of as small portions of businesses — our analysis is very similar to that which we use in buying entire businesses. We first have to decide whether we can sensibly estimate an earnings range for five years out or more. If the answer is yes, we will buy the stock (or business) if it sells at a reasonable price in relation to the bottom boundary of our estimate. If, however, we lack the ability to estimate future earnings — which is usually the case — we simply move on to other prospects. In the 54 years we have worked together, we have never forgone an attractive purchase because of the macro or political environment, or the views of other people. In fact, these subjects never come up when we make decisions.

KEYS TO EFFECTIVE COACHING

helpBusiness coaching has gone from fad to fundamental. Leaders and organizations have come to understand how valuable it can be, and they’re adding “the ability to coach and develop others” to the ever-growing list of skills they require in all their managers. In theory, this means more employee development, more efficiently conducted. But in reality, few managers know how to make coaching work.

According to the 2010 Executive Coaching Survey, conducted by the Conference Board, 63% of organizations use some form of internal coaching, and half of the rest plan to. Yet coaching is a small part of the job description for most managers. Nearly half spend less than 10% of their time coaching others.

With such limited time devoted to coaching, organizations need to be sure their managers know how to do it right. To improve the quality and impact of your coaching efforts, start by giving your individual managers tangible information about how to coach their direct reports. Typically, managers meet their coaching obligations by giving reviews, holding occasional meetings and offering advice. For coaching to be effective, they need to understand why they are coaching and what specific actions they need to take.

Coaching focuses on helping another person learn in ways that let him or her keep growing afterward. It is based on asking rather than telling, on provoking thought rather than giving directions and on holding a person accountable for his or her goals.

Broadly speaking, the purpose is to increase effectiveness, broaden thinking, identify strengths and development needs and set and achieve challenging goals. Research has boiled down the skills managers need to coach others into five categories:

1. Building the relationship.

It’s easier to learn from someone you trust. Coaches must effectively establish boundaries and build trust by being clear about the learning and development objectives they set, showing good judgment, being patient and following through on any promises and agreements they make.

2. Providing assessment.

Where are you now and where do you want to go? Helping others to gain self-awareness and insight is a key job for a coach. You provide timely feedback and help clarify the behaviors that an employee would like to change. Assessment often focuses on gaps or inconsistencies, on current performance vs. desired performance, words vs. actions and intention vs. impact.

3. Challenging thinking and assumptions.

Thinking about thinking is an important part of the coaching process. Coaches ask open-ended questions, push for alternative solutions to problems and encourage reasonable risk-taking.

4. Supporting and encouraging.

As partners in learning, coaches listen carefully, are open to the perspectives of others and allow employees to vent emotions without judgment. They encourage employees to make progress toward their goals, and they recognize their successes.

5. Driving results.

What can you show for it? Effective coaching is about achieving goals. The coach helps the employee set meaningful ones and identify specific behaviors or steps for meeting them. The coach helps to clarify milestones or measures of success and holds the employee accountable for them.

You should seed your organization with coaching role models. All managers need some guidance on the whys and hows of coaching, but most organizations can’t afford to train them on a large scale, so the least you can do is make an effort to create a culture of coaching. The key is to create a pool of manager-coaches who can be role models, supporters and sustainers of a coaching mindset.

When you select the right people and invest in their development and position them as coaching advocates, you plant the seeds for expanding coaching well beyond the individual manager-direct report relationship. Your role models demonstrate effective coaching both formally and informally, and they help motivate others to use and improve their own coaching capabilities.

Always link the purpose and results of coaching to the business. Managers have to know the business case for coaching and developing others if they’re to value it and use it effectively. Where is the business headed? What leadership skills are needed to get us there? How should coaches work with direct reports to provide the feedback, information and experiences they need to build those needed skills? Set strategic coaching goals, tactics and measures for the organization as well as including coaching as an individual metric.

Conclusion:

Finally, give it time. It’s not surprising that managers feel they don’t have enough time for coaching. Even if you make learning and coaching explicit priorities, time is tight for everyone. But as your coaching processes and goals become more consistent and more highly valued, in-house coaching will take root. Your managers will have a new way to develop and motivate their direct reports. Individuals and groups will strive to build new skills and achieve goals. And your business will be on track to a more efficient, comprehensive system of developing people.

NOT SUCCESSFUL AS YOU SHOULD BE . . .

Success 2So with January behind you, how are those 2014 Goals coming along? Feeling down about your business these days? Is the broken economy hurting your sales and keeping you up at night? Need some motivation and tough love to help you stop pitying yourself? Well, here you go, here are 13 reasons you might have in your head about why you’re not as successful as you should be.

#1 Reason You Are Not As Successful As You Should Be – LAZINESS!!

I don’t think there’s an easy way to put this. I have to assume that you’re lazy. Every single successful person works their butts off to get where they are. It’s ok to be lazy. Just admit it. But don’t whine about not being rich and successful, Ok?

#2 Reason You Are Not As Successful As You Should Be – ENTITLEMENT!!

Only a few people in the world are part of the lucky ‘Reproduction Club’, neither You and me. We have to work to get what we want. Quit thinking you are owed something. You’re not. Get to work Now!

#3 Reason You Are Not As Successful As You Should Be – FEAR!!

You are afraid, plain and simple and afraid of looking silly. Afraid of what your friends and family will say. Are you afraid of everything? Look, you’re either going to stop being afraid, or you’re not. Nobody can convince you to stop. Imagine though… what awaits you when you stop with the fear excuses?

#4 Reason You Are Not As Successful As You Should Be – NEGATVITY!!

You may not realize it, but the people you associate with might be negative. They could be soul-sucking beings who don’t want anyone to be successful. Get rid of them, now! Surround yourself with successful people. People you want to be like.

#5 Reason You Are Not As Successful As You Should Be – STOP THINKING, START DOING!!

How much do you want to bet you have Analysis Paralysis? You think way too much about what you could or should do. Doers get what they want, and everyone else gets what they get. Stop Analyzing and start Doing.

#6 Reason You Are Not As Successful As You Should Be – NO GOALS!!

You plan nothing. You believe that someway, somehow, everything you always wanted will just magically happen. So you “play it by ear” and wait. You need goals to shoot for. Otherwise, you’re just treading water.

#7 Reason You Are Not As Successful As You Should Be – “THEY”!!

There’s no “They”. There’s no secret group of people who controls your success or failure. You’ve made that up to make you feel better about yourself. The truth is you, and you alone, control your success in life/business/everything. It’s easy to blame “Them” though, isn’t it? Don’t be Weak.

#8 Reason You Are Not As Successful As You Should Be – THERE IS NO “X” FACTOR!!

You can’t do it because you’re not pretty or smart enough. Or don’t have a strong personality? You don’t have the “X” factor? Wow, what an unbelievably lame excuse. The truth is that even jerks, idiots and boring people can be just as successful as anyone else. Your problem is you don’t believe it yet.

#9 Reason You Are Not As Successful As You Should Be – ARE YOU A TIME WASTER?

You’re a classic time-waster. You spend hours and hours every day working on not-working. You do things that aren’t productive. How are you ever going to get anything done, or reach any goal if you keep wasting time? You’re not. So you might as well give up now if you’re going to keep this path.

#10 Reason You Are Not As Successful As You Should Be – SOCIAL MEDIA IS B.S.!!

You spend way too much time in social media land.  You waste probably about 50% of your productive hours of the day doing this. The sad part is, you know it, but you can’t Stop. So, you can’t get anything done that matters.

#11 Reason You Are Not As Successful As You Should Be – YOU ARE THINKING TOO SMALL!!

You think way too small. You are constantly looking only a day or a week ahead instead of years ahead. Because of this, you never get anywhere, and you never lead; you always follow.

#12 Reason You Are Not As Successful As You Should Be – YOU DON’T WANT IT BAD ENOUGH!!

You don’t really want to be successful. Sure, you like to dream about it like everyone else. But in your heart you are afraid of what might happen if you really get it. That’s B.S. fear your brain is feeding you. Success is change, and it feels really, really good. Tell your brain to shut the [foolishness] up.

#13 Reason You Are Not As Successful As You Should Be – YOU DON’T BELIEVE!!

You never believed that it’s possible. Society taught you that only a few “exceptional” people get what they want. Everyone else should just settle. If you really want to believe that, go ahead. The rest of us will be at the front of the line because we believe.

Jim Kukral latest book is Business Around a Lifestyle Volume 2.