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.

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.

PRIDE

PrideAs John Maxwell writes, that when you think of the word pride, does it strike you as positive or negative? There are certainly many positive types of pride. It’s good to “take pride in our work.” We like it when someone tells us, “I’m proud of you.” And nearly everyone wants to live in a neighborhood where people display “pride of ownership.” All of these expressions communicate a positive kind of pride: dignity, respect and honor, traits that we all can embrace.

But pride isn’t always positive. Pride can also mean conceit, arrogance, or superiority. This kind of pride is based on self-centeredness, and it’s destructive.

Selfish pride is especially destructive to relationships. That’s because the opposite of loving others is not hating them but rather being self-centered. The great writer and apologist C.S. Lewis had this to say about pride:

“The point is that each person’s pride is in competition with everyone else’s pride. It is because I wanted to be the big noise at the party that I am so annoyed at someone else being the big noise…. Now what you want to get clear is that Pride is essentially competitive, is competitive by its very nature, while the other vices are competitive only, so to speak, by accident.”

Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man. We say that people are proud of being richer, or cleverer, or better looking than others. If everyone else became equally rich, or clever, or good looking, there would be nothing to be proud about. It is the comparison that makes you proud: the pleasure of being above the rest.

So how do we solve the problem of pride? I believe there are several steps we can take to counteract our tendency toward self-centeredness.

1. Recognize and Admit Your Pride.

C.S. Lewis said about acknowledging pride: “If anyone would like to acquire humility, I can, I think, tell him the first step. The first step is to realize that one is proud. And a biggish step, too. At least, nothing whatever can be done before it. If you think you are not conceited, you are very conceited indeed.” You will not solve a problem that you don’t know exists.

2. Express Your Gratitude.

Henry Ward Beecher said, “A proud man is seldom a grateful man, for he never thinks he gets as much as he deserves.” There is something about saying “thank you” that takes our eyes off of ourselves and puts them back on the blessings we’ve received and the people who’ve blessed us.

3. Practice Servanthood.

A person who is truly great is always willing to be little. But pride fights against servanthood, because a proud person demands to be served. Serving others requires us to focus on their needs rather than our own, and this also reminds us of how we are part of something bigger than ourselves.

4. Laugh at Yourself.

There’s an old saying, “Blessed are they that laugh at themselves, for they shall never cease to be entertained.” Once you begin to look for the humor in your behavior and situation, you find it everywhere. Prideful people take themselves way too seriously. By laughing at yourself, you begin to see how absurd we can all be sometimes.

If your pride pushes you toward performing with excellence, doing your best, and finding joy in the accomplishments of others, it’s probably helping you become a better leader. But if there’s even a hint of competition or self-promotion in it, it’s probably having a negative effect on your relationships. That can hurt both your life and your leadership. If that’s true, do what I try to do: shift my focus onto others and follow the tips above.

LIFE LESSONS FOR 2014

Sam Headshot cropped1. Life isn’t fair, but it’s still good.

2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.

3. Life is too short enjoy it.

4. Your job won’t take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and family will.

5. Pay off your credit cards every month.

6. You don’t have to win every argument. Stay true to yourself.

7. Cry with someone. It’s more healing than crying alone.

8. It’s OK to get angry with God. He can take it.

9. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.

10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.

11. Make peace with your past so it won’t screw up the present.

12. It’s OK to let your children see you cry.

13. Don’t compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.

14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn’t be in it.

15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye, but don’t worry, God never blinks.

16. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.

17. Get rid of anything that isn’t useful. Clutter weighs you down in many ways.

18. Whatever doesn’t kill you really does make you stronger.

19. It’s never too late to be happy. But it’s all up to you and no one else.

20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don’t take no for an answer.

21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don’t save it for a special occasion. Today is special.

22. Over prepare, then go with the flow.

23. Be eccentric now. Don’t wait for old age to wear purple.

24. The most important sex organ is the brain.

25. No one is in charge of your happiness but you.

26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words ‘In five years, will this matter?’

27. Always choose life.

28. Forgive (and don’t forget to Forgive Yourself)

29. What other people think of you is none of your business.

30. Time heals almost everything. Give time, time.

31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.

32. Don’t take yourself so seriously. No one else does.

33. Believe in miracles.

34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn’t do.

35. Don’t audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.

36. Growing old beats the alternative of dying young.

37. Your children get only one childhood.

38. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.

39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.

40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else’s, we’d grab ours back.

41. Envy is a waste of time. Accept what you already have, not what you need

42. The best is yet to come…

43. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.

44. Yield.

45. Life isn’t tied with a bow, but it’s still a “gift”

46. Lastly and one of my favorites, from Jim Valvano,“To me there are three things everyone should do EVERY day. Number one is LAUGH. Number two is THINK — spend some time in thought. Number three, you should have your emotions move you to TEARS. If you LAUGH, THINK and CRY, THAT’S A HECK OF A DAY”

NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS DON’T WORK . . .

So let me ask you, have you made your “New Year’s Resolutions”?  I have a recommendation for you– STOP IT.  But why, for you make new resolutions every year.  There is part of the problem, it becomes a vicious cycle. So stop making New Year’s Resolutions that just don’t work.

A former client that owned several health club facilities said that he sells more memberships in the months of December and January than the rest of the year.  Why is this?  This is due to our human desire to get in shape and change our body image.  He said is that you will find his facility packed to capacity during the month of January and February- with long lines at the machines and the classes full of people.  But, wait until March or April– 70% of the people that started working-out in January just QUIT!!

The problem with making New Year’s Resolution is that it sets you up for failure.  The best test for you is to determine if have S.M.A.R.T goals.  S.M.A.R.T. refers to goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time Framed.

Specific: Goals need to be specific. Often we set goals that are so loose, therefore it’s nearly impossible to judge whether you achieve these goals or not. For example, a statement like “I wish I will lose weight” is too vague. How will you know if and when you’ve reached your goal? Setting a goal like, “I will lose two pounds each and every week for this year”, is more specific. At the end of each week and month it will be a simple matter of weights and measures: take your measurements and get on the scale.

Measurable: Goals need to be measurable. For example, many of us want to increase our number of contacts. But, “meeting new clients” is an ambiguous statement. A clearer objective is “I will meet three new prospects each week, and at least one of each of these prospects will become a client.”  It’s a simple, concrete goal. This makes it easy to see if you hit your target.

Achievable: Goals need to be reasonable and achievable. Nearly everyone has tried to drop a few pounds at one time or another. Often their success or failure depends on setting practical goals. Losing 15 pounds in 30 days is unrealistic (unless you’re planning a medical procedure). Losing two pounds per week is reasonable and achievable. So in order to lose just two pounds per week, you decrease your caloric intake by 7000 calories per week (a reduction of 3500 calories equals one pound of weigh loss) and you can do this by reducing your daily intake by just 1000 calories and increasing your activity. Make it easy, enjoyable, and achievable; however don’t set yourself up for failure by setting goals that are out of reach.

Realistic: Goals need to be realistic. Guess what, we are not 18 years old anymore, so stop thinking you can still do everything as you once did. As adults, we learn that while we can achieve a great deal, you can’t have it all at once– the point here is to reasonably pace yourself.  It’s important to honestly assess yourself and your personal and physical limitations. Also, do you have the ability and commitment to make your dream come true?  For example, you may love to play tennis, but do you have the time, ability, talent and commitment to become a pro? So be honest with yourself.

Time Framed (and Tested): Goals need to have a specific time frame. Having a set amount of time will give your goals structure. For example, many of us want to find a new job or start their own business. Some people spend a lot of time talking about what they want to do, someday. But, without a specific goal and date there is no sense of urgency, no reason to take any action today. Having a specific time frame gives you the motivation to start today.  It also helps you monitor your progress during the process.

I devised a quick and simple 2014 Personal Goal Setting Exercise . . . .

1-  Write down your ‘magical’ and memorable moments for the past year.  Identify those moments that will live with you the rest of your life.  It may be something simple as having a ‘belly laugh’ with an old friend.  For example, seeing your newborn grandson or granddaughter for the first time.  It might be getting that promotion you worked so hard the past 5 years. ______________________________________________________________________

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2-   So what didn’t work in 2012?  Now this is a tough one.  What will you do differently?  What will you NEVER do again?  What do you need to change? ______________________________________________________________________

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3-   So what are you committed to changing this year?  This is a tough one.  You need to get very specific and detailed- remember these must be S.M.A.R.T. goals.   The bigger the goal, the more commitment and measurement needs to take place.  So, break these goals into smaller manageable goals, or KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators).  But also clearly identify the consequences if you don’t achieve your goal and ultimate cost in your life?  Put these goals in front of your ‘nose’, so they are seen on a daily basis.  One client puts the S.M.A.R.T. goals above the bathroom toilet, so they are seen each and every day. ______________________________________________________________________

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4-   Set up a Daily Ritual.  An example of a Daily Ritual is, “When I wake up every morning, the first thing I will do is go for a 45 minute run”.  Another might be, “I set 5 hours every weekend that I can read one book per week”.  What you need to do is clearly identify what you need to change, and make the change.  Changes start with Your Daily Ritual.  ______________________________________________________________________

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5-   Make a list of every person that you will share your S.M.A.R.T. goals with, including key persons within your organization, your spouse or partner, your friends, and your Business Mentor.  Keep in mind that your ’accountability partner’ will agree to hold you to the goal, and ask that you supply regular accountability, and also keep you accountable to making the necessary changes in your life or business to attain these  S.M.A.R.T. goals ______________________________________________________________________

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TERRIBLE TEAM? ARE YOU MAKING IT WORSE?

I was working away at my desk when the phone rang. It was the CEO of a medium-sized organization. He was looking for help with what he referred to as his “toxic” executive team.  I told him about our “flu shot for teams.” “Do you have a rabies shot?” he replied. Wow, I thought, could it really be that bad? I imagined a room full of executives foaming at the mouth.

It wasn’t quite that bad, but it was still pretty horrible.  Members of the team had stopped trusting each other and essentially stopped communicating. The organization used to be one of the area’s best employers but now employee engagement has suffered. Business wasn’t going well, either. Thanks to internal squabbles, the team couldn’t deliver the necessary tools the sales force needed to keep up with the increasingly tough competition. He also admitted that sales had been falling for three years. Therefore, there is no time to waste in getting this team back to health.

When we started, everyone was focused on their grievances. They felt wronged, and they wanted to see public trials for the offending teammates. Some had publicly accused their teammates of not knowing how to do their jobs. One Vice President had instructed her direct reports to ignore instructions from her executive peer. Another refused to share an important document with a colleague because she didn’t trust her with the sensitive material.

It was our third session with them before things started to improve. One member of the team, the CFO, realized that he was contributing to the problem.  He raised his hand and said, “I have to take ownership of my part in this.  I realize I’m grabbing the reins and not leaving you room to prove to me you’re capable. For my part, I promise to give you more room to do your jobs.” When everyone entered the room they fully expected that they would have a rockem-sockem no-holds-barred battle and here was the ‘bully’ CFO short-circuiting it all with an admission that he was a part of the problem.

The next person to speak quickly took on her share of the responsibility for what had gone wrong. It was the VP HR; one of the people who had been most affected by the CFO’s lack of confidence.  She replied. “I was hurt when you didn’t trust me to do that work, but I shouldn’t have responded by shutting you out.  I’m sorry.” One team member after another stepped up and took ownership for what they needed to change.

When things on teams go wrong, most people spend their time blaming everyone else for their predicament.  They have plenty of ideas and excuses for how their bosses and teammates can shape up. Seldom do I talk to a person who includes their own actions – or inactions — in the story of their team’s dysfunction. Instead, they wait for someone else to change their team.  If you’re waiting for someone else to change your team, you’re wasting your time.

Accountability for Your Team

Start by admitting that you are part of the problem and accept OAR (Ownership, Accountability and Responsibility). Few people are aware and honest enough to see the role they play in the dynamic of the team.  Instead, they focus on the aggressive behavior of a teammate or the lackluster leader.  Like any relationship, a bad team dynamic is never the result of only one person’s behavior. Think about how the things you have said and done have affected your team. But you can also be part of the solution. Everyone has an opportunity to change the dynamic of an unhealthy team.  Figure out what role you’ve been playing and change accordingly.

The ‘Sniper’

Some team members actively sabotage the team dynamic.  Their tactics can be overt; such as yelling, belittling, or interrupting.  They can also be covert; such as gossiping, negotiating through back channels, or just ignoring someone.  There is hope. With greater self-awareness and some coaching, you can change.  In my experience, this team member (who I call the ‘Sniper’) is actually the easiest to convert. Usually this is because they are smart and want to have an impact.  If you give them a way to make a more significant and positive contribution, they are willing and able to make the shift.

The ‘Victim’

When one finds a ‘Sniper’, the wounded are always close at hand.  You can identify the wronged by their below the line attitude BED (Blame, Excuses, Denial) and their inability or unwillingness to stand up for themselves.  At some point, the frustration tends to boil over and the ‘Victim’ goes on the attack.

It’s time to change how you show up.  You might be surprised to learn that, it’s more likely to be the ‘Victim’ who is voted off the island than the ‘Sniper’.  That is because the ‘Victim’ often lack the energy and resilience to make another earnest attempt at making the team better.

The ‘Bystander’

Not everyone on a dysfunctional team will be participating actively.  While cutting and insensitive remarks are lobbed across the table, some watch, just waiting for things to simmer down.  The ‘Bystander’ are the first to throw up their hands and say that life on the dysfunctional team is unbearable.  Unfortunately, commiserating does nothing to change the course of things, and their disengagement costs the team, too. It’s time to get them into the game.

Conclusion

Any one person can change a team, for better or worse. What will you do today to change your team for the better?

With parts from Harvard Business Review

HAPPY THANKSGIVING

Sam Headshot croppedAt this time of Thanksgiving we pause to count our blessings.

 We give thanks to the freedom of this great country of ours,

And its’ opportunity for achievement.

 We give thanks to the friendship and confidence you have shown in us.

 We especially give thanks for all things.

 Our best wishes for a Happy Thanksgiving.

History of Thanksgiving

There are many myths and misconceptions surrounding the people responsible for the American Thanksgiving tradition. Contrary to popular opinion and the writings in classroom text books, the Pilgrims didn’t wear buckles on their shoes or hats, nor were they teetotalers. In fact, they smoked tobacco and drank at lot of beer- they drank beer due to the quality of the water.

When the Pilgrims landed in the New World, they found a cold, rocky, barren, desolate wilderness. There were no friends to greet them and there were no houses to shelter them. During the first winter, one-half the Pilgrims died of sickness or exposure. Though life did improved for the Pilgrims when spring came, however they did not prosper.

Part of the reason for the lack of prosperity, involved the original contract the Pilgrims had with their merchant-sponsors in London. This contract called for everything they produced to go into a common store. Each member of the community was entitled to one common share under a communal agreement. Furthermore, all of the land they cleared and the houses they built also belonged to the community.

What didn’t’ work was the motivation for people to work without incentive or ownership.  Contrary to the original agreement, the decision was made to assign plots of land to each family to work and manage, thus turning loose the power of free enterprise. What was the result?

It was reported that, “for it made all hands industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been.” As a result, the Pilgrims soon found they had more food than they could eat themselves. They set up trading posts and exchanged goods with the Indians. The profits allowed them to pay off their debts to the merchants in London much faster than expected.  Thus, it was found that the entrepreneurial spirit worked.

Reasons to be Thankful

I’m thankful for the flexibility and freedom of entrepreneurship. Ever since I decided to start a business, I get to work my own hours, chart my own course, and have an awesome career. I’m grateful every day for being able to spend time with my kids and grandchild, and the flexibility that comes from being my own boss makes this even easier.

I’m thankful for the chance to serve and get the opportunity to help business owners. I love helping people develop systems and procedures in their business, recruit and train the best possible team, develop a ‘real’ strategic business plan, and ultimately exit their business. Every day I hear amazing, energizing stories from people who are doing great things in their business and in their life.

If you believe in what you’re doing, and if you find a way to deliver your exceptional products and services and delight your customers, we will help you to become more successful.  That truth is, as entrepreneurs, we have the power to shape our success and create the lives we want, which is the biggest cause for gratitude of all.

This Thanksgiving, I hope we can all take time to reflect on the amazing power, freedom and excitement that comes from being a business owner and entrepreneur.  Keep focused and don’t get distracted by negativity or petty slights; assume the best in people, and forgive everyone everything. Remember that no one is in charge of your happiness but you – and this is especially true when you decide to start a business. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don’t take No for an answer.

Conclusion

Thursday we all will continue that tradition of having a Happy Thanksgiving. So, have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

RETHINK YOUR KPI’s

Experts tell us that between 60 percent and 90 percent of all strategic initiatives fail to achieve their objectives. So at the end of every month and quarter and year, your company probably generates a balance sheet and a profit and loss statement. However, no matter how these numbers are, they represent a look in the rearview mirror.  So, how can you get your people focused on the numbers that are truly important to move your business forward?

Numerical targets and Milestones

In order to establishing numerical targets, everyone should understand exactly what the number means. Yes, you can track financial results as Numerical Targets, but what most people really understand are visible, concrete things; things they could count if they chose to. You will track these numbers publicly, so select measures that you don’t mind sharing. Remember that you want the people in your company to be aware of these numbers and discuss them.

These numbers will be the basis for your budgets, financial forecasts, human resource planning, and more. Budgets and forecasts should not be done until you have created your company strategy and they must be aligned to the strategic choices you have made.

The Tropical Island Test

The “Key” in Key Performance Indicators means that you concentrate on the most important measures- choose no more than five. Then give your choices the “Tropical Island Test.”  Imagine that you’re vacationing on a distant tropical island. It’s lovely there, but it’s very remote and communications are severely limited. In fact, you can only receive a single five-line text message per week to let you know how things are going at the company. Your challenge right now is to identify the five Key Performance Indicators that will predict and drive the success of your current business model.

Start with the minimum acceptable level.  The minimum acceptable level is the level of performance where you can keep the lights on but not much more. You’re not making any progress at that level. How about good performance? Now set the threshold for good performance.  This is the level of performance you need to see delivered consistently every week if your company is making progress.

Choose your Numerical Targets

Now it’s time to get to work. Get your team together and do the following:

  1. Choose at least one, but no more than three Numerical Targets
  2. Make sure they are numbers that have meaning for all your people
  3. Project them over three time periods: 90 days, one year, and 2 or even 3 years
  4. Identify the person who’s accountable overall for achieving those numbers
  5. Decide how you will make the targets visible.
  6. These targets and your progress should be a regular topic of interest, conversation and accountability
  7. Make these Numerical Targets noticeable and provide frequent progress updates

Now list the outcomes you are looking for- or the end result. Now ask yourself the following two questions:

  1. What is the measurable activity that if you perform enough of them, will drive the desired end result?
  2. How could you measure the quality or effectiveness of that activity?

KPIs do more than simply measure activity or effectiveness levels. They send a message to the people in your company, telling them what’s important. KPIs tell your staff what you will pay attention to and what you pay attention to drives behavior. KPI’s help align individual priorities with company priorities.

Daily and/or Weekly KPIs

Choose KPIs that you can measure every day or every week if possible. If your measurement cycle is longer than a week, you don’t catch problems early enough. You drive better performance with shorter measurement cycles. Shorter cycles let you spot trends earlier and spotting a problem early means you can solve it sooner. Those below-par numbers might be down for another week while we worked together to set things right, but they’d usually be back up in the fourth week.

There’s another advantage to catching problems early: they’re usually easier to solve. The longer a problem lives, the bigger and the nastier it gets. Tracking KPIs on a daily and weekly basis is also more engaging for your people, because it gives them the opportunity to experience the satisfaction of “winning” on a regular basis.

Now Choose Your Company KPIs

Based on what you know to be true right now, what do you expect to achieve by the end of the current year? What about the year after that? The further you project into the future, the less certain you can be, because, as we know, your current reality is always changing. Nothing is more demoralizing than displaying annual targets that bear no resemblance to the current reality.

Now it’s time to get to work. Get your team together and do the following:

  1. Pick KPIs that will drive and predict the financial results of your current business model (or if you are a team manager – the numbers that drive the performance of your team)
  2. Pick KPIs that you can measure every week (or even every day), where possible
  3. Pick only the five (or fewer) KPIs that will make the biggest difference for your company (or team)

You will maximize growth and profits when:

  1. You have clear duties and KPIs for each functional role
  2. You have the right people in each role
  3. Those people concentrate on the right things
  4. They are held accountable for performance every month

Single Point Accountability

Many people can be involved, but ultimately only ONE person can be held accountable. Identify these persons by respective KPI’s and manage these numbers, and accountability to these individuals.

Conclusion:

Accountability is meaningless without consequences.

MANAGER MEETINGS & MOTIVATION

performAre employees’ needs being met by one-on-one time with their managers? The answer is, “No,” according to a survey conducted by Training Magazine and The Ken Blanchard Companies.

Employees want more meetings with their boss, according to a survey conducted by Training magazine and The Ken Blanchard Companies. More than 700 Training magazine subscribers were polled to learn about their experiences having one-on-one meetings with their managers—something that can play a big part in their job satisfaction, performance, engagement, and motivation. Readers were asked what they wanted out of their meetings and how that compared to what was really happening. This research gives an important new look into what is being discussed and how that is meeting—or not meeting—the needs of today’s workers.

MOTIVATION

Are employees’ needs being met by one-on-one time with their managers? The answer is, “No,” according to a survey conducted by Training magazine.

HOW OFTEN?

One of the first questions respondents were asked was how often they currently meet with their direct manager versus how often they wished they were meeting with him or her. Participants could choose answers ranging from “rarely or never” on the low side to “more than once a week” on the high side.

  • Some 89 percent of people want to meet with their manager on at least a monthly basis, with 44 percent of the people polled wanting to meet at least once per week.
  • Only 73 percent of people actually meet at least once a month. Only 34 percent of people actually meet at least once per week.
  • A closer look at responses by gender reveals one sex prefers more frequent check-ins to talk: men! Some 89 percent of women want to meet at least monthly and 40 percent at least weekly. Some 92 percent of men want to meet at least monthly and 52 percent at least weekly.

AGENDA

The survey also looked at some of the details regarding length of time for the meeting and who respondents felt should be responsible for setting the agenda.

  • Some 65 percent of people want to meet for 30 minutes to 60 minutes when they get together with their manager.
  • Some 69 percent of people believe that they should set the agenda, not their boss.

TOPICS

Next, the survey looked at what people want to talk about during their one-on-ones versus what they actually do talk about. Several common topics usually discussed by managers and direct reports were identified: goal setting, goal review, performance feedback, problem-solving, soliciting support, problems with colleagues, and personal issues.

  • Some 70 percent of people want to have goal-setting conversations often or all the time, but only 36 percent actually do. And 28 percent say they rarely or never discuss future goals and tasks.
  • Some 73 percent of people want to have goal review conversations often or all the time, but only 47 percent actually do. And 26 percent say they rarely or never discuss current goals and tasks.

DESIRED VERSUS ACTUAL

  • Some 64 percent want to discuss problem-solving often or all the time, while 50 percent actually do. And 19 percent say they rarely or never do.
  • Some 63 percent would like to solicit support often or all the time from their boss on projects, but only 49 percent experience it. And 18 percent say they rarely or never have soliciting support conversations.
  • Only 5 percent of people want to discuss personal issues often or all the time, and only 5 percent actually do. Some 68 percent don’t desire to discuss personal issues, and 76 percent don’t do so.

FOR LEADERS

One-on-ones are an important way leaders can demonstrate they care about employees. Spending time is a clear indication that an employee’s work is important, and that he or she is a valued member of the team. It’s also a way for manager to make themselves available to help direct reports as needed.

  • 89 percent of respondents identified that they would prefer to meet with their direct supervisor on at least a monthly basis and 44 percent of the people polled indicated that they wanted to meet at least once per week.

CONCLUSION

Managers must make more time for their Team.