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.

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.

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.

WHERE’S MY OLD MARKETING MACHINE?

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????It’s time to crank up the old marketing machine!! Not only marketing for customers but for talent. As with most business owners, you need to dial-back almost a decade to find a time when marketing was as badly needed as it is today.

So, you are not sure where I put my marketing machine? Last I saw it, I think it’s sitting over with sales, but I’m not sure. I know we spend a lot of money to produce lots of marketing ‘stuff’, but I’m not sure who’s really leading the charge.

What we find is that the marketing function is simply missing in many of the company we meet with.  Or, a bigger mistake is take marketing and lump it in with sales with someone titled VP of Sales and Marketing running the show. And for many entrepreneurial firms, it’s the founder/CEO who is the default Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) with insufficient time to focus on the critical marketing tasks needed to drive profitable revenue growth.  So, here are four things you need to know about marketing:

Separate Marketing Function

The first step is to recognize the need for a distinctly separate marketing function with someone clearly accountable other than the VP of Sales. One of the first hires Michael Dell made, when he took back the CEO position recently, was a CMO, a position that had been vacant for over two years. It’s hard to get back market share without someone driving marketing.

Though marketing needs to work closely with sales, it must come out from underneath the sales function and stands alone within the company. Marketing requires different metrics, different conversations, and different personalities than sales. And in many cases the head of marketing should report directly to the CEO if it’s not the CEO driving the marketing process themselves.

In identifying someone to drive marketing, it’s vital to recognize that marketing professionals are different human beings than sales people. One is relationship driven, the other is process driven. It’s not surprising to see marketing leaders with degrees in physics, engineering, or even accounting. One of the best marketers of our time is Steve Jobs and he studied physics (along with literature and poetry) at Reed College.  As the CEO, if you are the best person to drive marketing, then it is imperative that you clear your plate of other functions and get focused on marketing. Marketing is a full time job from day one!

Get Data from Customers and Employees

You need market intelligence to drive your marketing decisions around price, place, promotion, and product, the 4 Ps of marketing – you just can’t be making these decisions in a vacuum.

The simplest approach is for each executive to call one customer per week and talk with one front line employee per week. Find out about their priorities, challenges and pains; inquire what they are seeing in their own industries and demographics; and ask them what they are seeing and hearing from your competitors (by doing a SWOT Analysis). Only last do you ask for their feedback on your firm.

You also need your sales organization calling in DAILY and reporting on what they’ve learned in the field. And the best way to get them to do this is to threaten with weekly sales calls reports!

Meetings and Metrics

The third step is setting up a weekly one hour marketing meeting, distinct from your weekly sales meeting. Here you will discuss what has been learned from the marketplace, any updated decisions around the 4 Ps, SWOT information about the competition and set marketing priorities for the coming week. This has been the universal key to driving marketing that high tech companies like Apple, Intel, and Genetech have implemented.

Besides the CEO and head of marketing along with any outsourced marketing resources you’re employing, I encourage as many of the other executives to participate as possible.

You also want to brainstorm this key question “what are the key influencers we need to reach this week that can fuel the word-of-mouth marketing of our products and services and how will we reach them?” Think tipping point!

As for metrics, the primary function of marketing is Lead Generation. ALL marketing activities must eventually drive leads, into qualified leads, and into buying customers or clients. Therefore, measure hits to the website; page views and time on the website; inquires tied to various promotions or ads; and referrals garnered from your word-of-mouth activities.  You want to measure the cost per warm lead so you can maximize the effectiveness of your marketing expenditures.

Last, to continue feeding ideas and topics for your weekly marketing meeting, become a great student of marketing. Read every book, attend every workshop, and visit every company that represents world-class marketing. Particularly in the field of marketing, it takes just one great idea. Start by reading most of Seth Godin’s books: Permission Marketing, Purple Cow and All Marketers are Liars, Is Your Marketing Out of Sync. Also sign up to receive Seth’s blog; and “google” his 43 minute presentation to Google.

Also study Dr. Robert Cialdini’s classic book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion and master his six keys to persuasion and read Malcolm Gladwell’s bestseller The Tipping Point. Read Gilmore and Pine’s Experience Economy and scan through Jay Conrad Levinson’s classic guerilla marketing books. I would also suggest Jim Cecil’s “Cure for the Common Cold Call” off his nurture marketing website.

There has never been a more explosive global economy – now is the time to grab market share. If you don’t, others won’t wait!

STRATEGIC THINKING . . . THE WAY TO THE TOP!!

Strategic ThinkingDuring my career, I had the opportunity to work under two different Harvard MBA’s, (coincidentally both were females).  Both of these Harvard MBA’s intellect were far superior to almost everyone I ever known, yet I still wonder if they rose to the pinnacle of their career due to their intelligence, their education, or their ability to think strategically far and above the ‘rest’ of us.

However, during my tenure under these Harvard MBA’s, I felt almost invisible, and became little more than a statistic.  I also found that from this experience and as I went my about my career, as the proposals ended up in a pile, my only acknowledgement was an occasional raise- usually once per year. More often than not, I sensed that my individuality and input became buried.

Jack Welch (former Chairman of GE) called this feeling of anonymity “being in the pile,” and he recommended thinking as the means of escape. Most people go with the ‘herd’ doing what’s asked of them but not much more. In Welch’s estimation, the key to elevating your business is to go above and beyond expectations whenever someone asks you question or you have a customer or employee complaint.

As Jack Welch wrote, “If you understand that the question is only the beginning, you will get out of the pile fast, because 99.9 percent of all employees are in the pile because they don’t think. If you understand this principle, you will always be given more critical questions to answer. And in time, you will be the one giving out the questions to others!”

I would like to offer five ways to begin thinking your way to the top.

Where to think . . .

Today’s work environment is incredibly fast-paced and fraught with demands and huge workloads. Unless you’re deliberately get away from the noise of day-to-day operations, you will never break free. The first step to getting out of the pile is giving yourself permission to disconnect. You have to get away from all the daily challenges by retreating to a space free of any and all interruptions. Initially, you might think that scheduling this time feels incredibly unproductive. However, this is the only way and the beginning to gaining perspective to working smarter and more strategically.

Shape your thoughts . . .

In the beginning most ideas lack clarity. Our initial ideas are unclear due to the clutter in our mind. As a leader, challenge yourself to translate your gut feelings into distinct ideas and plans, which you can document and articulate to your team. Next, strategic ideas never come fully formed. As a leader, your job is to test your ideas by asking critical questions. Does the idea proceed from reasonable assumptions? Does the idea align with the mission, core values and strategic vision of the organization? Does the idea make sense given the structure and strengths/weaknesses of the organization? Lastly, thoughts spring into existence with huge possibilities. However, they must undergo tests. For instance, how would the idea actually take shape in your organization? What would it cost to pursue? How long would it take to implement? What significant changes (positive and negative) would impact the business?

Stretch your thoughts . . .

Throughout my career, some of the best ideas have come from others. Many times my ideas start out small until we got ahold of them and found ways to stretch them to their maximum potential. Isolated leaders never obtain as much influence as those who surround themselves with an inner circle of key advisors.

Land your thoughts . . .

Before an idea can take shape, it must take on a concrete existence. The number one question to ask when landing or implementing an idea is: Who will own it? Who will champion the idea and push it forward? A leader must prepare the way for the idea to touch down safely. This means winning the support of your team and communicating clearly with those most likely to be impacted by the idea’s implementation.

Fly your thoughts . . .

If you wanted to fly an airplane, you would begin by taking lessons from an instructor.  To fly an idea, you first need to learn from an instructor or a practice flight. Testing your idea on a small scale will expose weaknesses before a major launch. Sometimes the flaws are fixable, and the idea can be reworked. On rare occasions, you may even have an idea that tests out brilliantly on the first attempt. However, other ideas are not feasible in real life and ought to be scrapped. A practice flight confirms that an idea can actually withstand the challenges of real-world application.

82 WAYS TO BEING A BETTER LEADER

Leader 3There is a huge difference between being an effective Manager and a Leader.  If you consider yourself a leader, or are interested in becoming one, you must first understand that becoming an effective leader is a process, one that never ends. Here’s a few tips (actually 82 of them) to guide you on your journey to becoming a better Leader.

Planning & Strategy

•Understand what the core principles of being a leader are. It’s not about power, but rather about vision, mission, core values, direction and setting the standard for others to follow.

•There are different ways of managing people.  So what is your leadership style?

•As a leader you are constantly studying and getting more information to continually improve.

•As you build your business, know how to maintain it and prevent serious failures in the business and the team.

•Constantly analyze and improve the process and systems.

•Be prepared in the event of a ‘disaster’. Have a plan ready and be ready to recover from it and move on.

•Keep ‘garbage’ out of your trash cans and out of your employees heads.

Team Building

•Know how to identify, recruit, hire and train exceptional employees.

•Having a standardized interviewing process, which means asking the right questions to find the persons core values and work ethic.

•Constantly building trust in your team and your team trusting you.

•Develop and effectively communicate your vision.

•Having your team ‘Own’ the companies goals and vision.

•Interdependence – making sure your employees are sharing responsible principles.

•Mentoring your team by being a strong positive role model.

•Improve yourself by being influenced and studying great leaders.

•Control the culture and core values of your organization and never stray nor sacrifice these.

Communication

•Never sacrifice ethics in the workplace as well as your company’s image in your industry.

•Develop strong public speaking abilities to get the message across to larger groups.

•Keep your employees up-to-date with things they need to know.

•Command your own body language and your team members as well.

•Improve your proactive and effective listening skills.

•Speak clearly and concisely using economies of words.

•Proactively deal with difficult situations and set the standard.

Build Trust & Confidence

•Clearly understand and communicate the definition of Trust.

•Believe in your team, and work hard to find the good in all your team members.

•Be open minded to accepting new people, new concepts and ideas into your life.

•Be credible and real by showing vulnerability.

•Be prepared to face your fears, only then can your empower yourself and others.

•Know and understand your positive characteristics and when to use them.

•Know, understand and work hard to improve your weak characteristic and shortcomings.

•Take a look outside yourself and see how others perceive you.

•Set the standards for confidence and charisma and others will be drawn to you.

Time Management

•Set goals to get you focused on getting important things done first.

•Have an action plan to achieve those goals.

•Stop procrastinating. Remember you can only manage yourself not Time.

•Know when and how to delegate work.

•Get rid of any and all kinds of distractions while working.

•Keep track of your life by writing things down.

•Keep a schedule and stick to it.

•Know your bad habits and how to break them.

Being Responsible

•Be responsible for all your actions, words and deeds.

•Be responsible and never deviate from your culture, core values, mission statement, name, brand, and company.

•Practice what you preach.

DWYSYWD (Do What You Say You Will Do)

•You must always be aware of what you’re saying and what your not saying. Does the listener get the message you were trying to communicate?

•Create responsible employees, but also be responsible for their actions.

•Assume responsibility, even when it is not your fault.

•Take care of your health. If you don’t care for yourself, why would anyone think you care at all?

•Teach responsibility to others, including your children.

•Surround yourself with the best and brightest team.

Continuous On-Going Learning and Improvement

•Continuously build your leadership skills by reading management and leadership books.

•Keep a leadership blog to document your learning’s.

•Attend management seminars.

•Find yourself a Mentor; shared wisdom proves to be priceless.

•Learn from your employees and associates.

•Embrace new technology, it only makes smarter.

•Understand and learn from yourself. And, don’t be afraid to laugh at yourself.

Become a role model

•Maintain a positive mental attitude- when times are tough, you need to be tougher.

•Great leaders exude strength before power.

•Lead by example in all matters.

•Demonstrate small and large acts of chivalry.

•Treat customers and co-workers with respect.

•Always dress for success.

•Set the standard for the office.

•Always encourage and nurture others; they will encourage and nurture you back.

•Be calm and exhibit patience in all your efforts.

•Know how to properly manage disappointments, both inside and outside of work.

•Value and cherish all life.

Being Real

•Show your employees and customers, that you care about them.

•Know that it’s okay to share your emotions from time to time.

•Allow people to see your shortcomings, for no one is perfect.

•The truth will set you free, so never lie to your employees about what’s going on.

•Don’t be afraid to put your foot down and redirect employees actions and attitudes when necessary.

•Look and learn from your employee’s vantage point.

•Promote job “ownership”.

•For everybody’s sake, make sure you have a life outside of work.

•Have fun at work! It will show.

Pay it Back

•You and your business donate to charity.

•Start your own charity or benefit.

•Help your employees learn, grow and develop.

•Good leadership means sharing your knowledge and mentoring those around you.

•Recognize exceptional performances and reward publicly.

•Use your skills and knowledge to write a book.

INCREASE BUSINESS BY NETWORKING

Networking 2During the past year, or so I’ve attended a number of networking and referral groups. It never ceases to amaze me how many people simply don’t come prepared…or don’t seem to know what to do at these events.

They don’t wear the nametags usually provided for them…and if they do, they don’t write their names or business name large enough or legibly.  They don’t bring anything to write with (or on), and more often than not, they don’t bring business cards, or the right mindset to make the investment of time and money really pay off.

At a recent event I found myself speaking to a business executive.  It sounded like the company was doing some fascinating things.  I had some questions I wanted to ask, and a few ideas I wanted to share about how to possibly improve her business…but on the floor of a networking event wasn’t the best place to get into such a discussion.  I wanted to follow up with this person after the event, so I asked for one of her business cards, as I was reaching into my pocket for one of my own. In an embarrassed tone she mumbled to himself about not being sure where they were, or if she even had any with her.

She pulled out her purse and began looking through the various sections, becoming more anxious as the seconds crept by and the silence of our interrupted conversation became more and more uncomfortable. As I watched her it felt as if I was an eye-witness to an archaeological expedition.  She pulled out credit card receipts, credit cards, family pictures, her driver’s license, and other people’s business cards…most with notes scribbled on the back. Sheepishly she said, “I know I’ve got one…somewhere.  Let me look in my briefcase.”  The search continued.  She opened her briefcase, which was packed with files and papers, memos, reports, newsletters, newspapers, and perhaps at the bottom, a business card. Finally she found a shabby, dog-eared one and handed it to me.  We agreed to speak again…and moved on.

Wanting to make a few quick notes on the back of her business card to facilitate adding her to my database, and planning to give her a call in a few days, I turned the card over…and there were notes already scribbled all over it.  I made my notes in a small white space I found in one corner.  When I got back to my office I updated my contact database.  Who knows where the business card I gave her might have ended up?

A few moments later, I began a conversation with networking partner. We spoke for a few moments, and when I asked if he’d be interested in hearing more about one of my marketing approaches he said he would.  So I asked him for a business card. He opened his portfolio, and began a similar ritual rummage through its contents.  He found just about everything…except a business card.

Finally, after a minute or more of silent searching I handed him one of mine…along with a pen, and asked him to write his name, e-mail address, and any other contact information on the back.  When I retrieved my card back I handed him another of mine…which got promptly added to his bulging portfolio.

Business cards are not terribly expensive.  You can buy five hundred for $50 to $150, depending on whether you go for black & white or color, and how much graphic work is required.  You can even create your own, quite simply, on your computer.  But if you forget to carry them around with you…what good are they. You never know when you’ll meet someone who could become a customer, business associate, or ‘circle of influence’ contact.  Rule # 1…always be prepared for opportunity.

While waiting for my flight I found myself sitting in the departures lounge next to a business owner- who was also headed to Denver. We arranged to sit together during the flight and had a great conversation.  When the plane landed, we continued our conversation as we walked into the terminal and collected our luggage.  During the few hours we spent together we discovered we shared a number of common philosophies and business interests.

Before saying goodbye we both made notes to ourselves…on the backs of each other’s business card…about what we would do next.  We’ve since exchanged e-mails and have agreed to exchange additional information.

Tips & Suggestions:

1-    Always keep a large quantity of business cards in your briefcase, wallet, or purse and replenish your supply after every meeting and networking event.

2-    Create a system for giving and taking business cards.  You might consider keeping yours in your shirt pocket or left-hand pants pocket (or a certain pocket in your purse or briefcase) and put the cards you receive in your right-hand pants pocket (purse or briefcase).

3-    When you receive someone’s card carefully review it before you put it in your designated ‘place.’  Look at their name, look at their face.  Make a mental picture of both their name/face so you can have more than a printed card to remember them by.

4-    After meeting someone, note key pieces of information on the back of the card, and any action items or follow-up you have committed to (or want to) when you return to your office.  If you don’t want to follow up or put them in your database, discretely write an X across the card.

Your Job Is To Follow-Up

Giving someone your business card isn’t nearly as important as getting the other person’s business card. If you hand someone your card, and then expect them to call you up, you’re going to be sitting by the phone for a long time.  In fact when others ask me for mine, I often teasingly reply “I only get cards…I don’t give them.”

The real reason most of us aren’t effective net-workers is that we don’t have a good follow-up system. When you meet someone, and want to keep in touch with them, take the responsibility to put their name in your database, schedule a follow-up call, and then…call them.

GET EMPLOYEES ACCOUNTABLE

One of the most common complaints I hear from business leaders is about a “lack of accountability” in their company. They claim to have the “Vision” identified – they know where they are going (even if their people don’t). They claim to have a Strategic Plan (more likely a set of projections and goals – but unfortunately goal setting is not strategy). And they think they have the right people on their team (sort of). But what really frustrates the business leader is the struggle to get their employees to do what needs to get done – and do it faster!

So I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt. Let’s say you do have a well-articulated vision of what your company can become. You have crafted a winning strategy to get there, and you have made your plan visible to all your staff using a One Page Strategic Plan. You have followed a rigorous recruitment process and have hired a team full of high performing “A” Players.  So, now what?

Business Execution is still the #1 Challenge

Even with all these elements in place, execution is still the #1 challenge for business leaders. A good starting point to drive execution and accountability is to clearly document the performance standards for each role:

1. The key duties and outcomes that each role and employee is accountable for

2. The Key Performance Indicator (KPI) number(s) that will be used to measure successful performance in the role

3. Every role should have at least one tangible measure of successful performance – that can be tracked every week (or at least monthly).

YOU drive Accountability

Assuming you have recruited the right person for each role who; (a) “fits” with your company Core Values; and (b) has the necessary competencies to succeed in the role – the onus is on YOU the manager to provide the necessary training and support – AND you must hold the person accountable for meeting the required performance standards.

This is where many managers struggle. Accountability requires the discipline of giving your people regular feedback on their performance. We recommend this feedback is given every week.

What are the consequences?

Every week, when your employee completes their tasks, moves their projects forward, and meets their KPI targets – the consequence should be that they receive genuine praise from their manager. Good performance must be recognized and reinforced.

Poor performance must also be confronted immediately. If there are no consequences, the manager is implying that poor performance and lack of accountability is acceptable. The consequence should be that both the manager and the employee discuss the poor performance, identify the cause, and agree the specific actions that both parties will take to improve the results before the next weekly meeting.

Increase Employee Accountability

1-    Time and Attendance Software  –  Once an employee clocks-in, the information is recorded and can then be uploaded onto the time and attendance software allowing for accurate tracking of employee attendance. This software can also be incorporated into the billing software, allowing the track of hours by client or project.

2-    SMART Goals  –  Empower your employees to set their own SMART Goals  SMART goals are specific, measurable, achievable, results-oriented and time-bound. Note that all individual SMART Goals drive the Strategic Plan.

3-    Team Incentive Programs: Team incentive programs will allow employees to reach their highest accountability and potential. Employees will work together towards completing common goals, and will be compensated for going above and beyond the goals set out for them.

4-    Prioritization: Employees often struggle to balance tasks and goals and eventually become overwhelmed and unable to complete their tasks on time. It is important to help your employees prioritize their responsibilities in relation to your company’s overall goals. Helping to prioritize will allow your employees to feel more organized and competent in the tasks they are assigned.

5-    Monitor Progress: Monitoring your employees’ progress will help motivate them to be more productive and accountable. It is only natural that when we know someone is watching our progress that we will try to perform to our best abilities. Along with monitoring employee progress, it is equally important to share progress reports with them so they may learn what areas need more attention and what areas they are excelling in.

SUCCESSFUL BUSINESSES DO THIS

Success.2What are the reasons that some companies (and people) reach their goals, while others never seem to fulfill their potential.

Playing to your companies’ natural strengths and talents is one of the major keys to success.  In other words, doing those things that comes naturally and easy – things that are enjoyable and fulfilling.  In addition, successful companies achieve their goals not only because of who they are, but more often because of “what they do.”  Here is our take on what successful companies (and people) really do:

Be Specific

When you set a goal, make it obvious exactly what you want to achieve and by when.  Just expressing an outcome (e.g. sell 100 widgets this quarter) is not as powerful as expressing your goal as a specific, tangible project that will achieve the desired outcome when successfully implemented.  Your goal should not be that easy ‘reachable’ goal; rather it should be that goal that you have never been able to achieve even when it may seem a little uncomfortable.  So how much ‘stretching’ outside your comfort zone are you willing to do, in order to achieve that goal?  Remember, change never happens until your drive yourself out of your comfort zone.

Test

Goals and projects should be expressed in a way that it is obvious what the finish line is that you intend to hit by the due date.  For long term projects – what are the desired milestones that you must reach by the end of this quarter?  Is it clear to everyone at which point they can pop the champagne cork to celebrate achieving a specific milestone?

Optimism with Realism

Just when you set yourself up to succeed, ‘stuff’ happens and fires need fighting.  By setting SMART (Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely) goals and due dates that take into account that you will also may need to deal with any fires (or Chaos) that normally comes along in the process – yet can still achieve your milestones.  Don’t underestimate the difficulties and challenges you will face along the way, rather allow for these as a business variable in your plan and for the opportunity to identify and fix a weak link. Don’t forget to DWYSYWD (Do What You Say You Will Do).

Make Time

“Business as usual” must keep happening in the meantime. You still need to create opportunities, make sales, deliver products and services, and collect money – the stuff you do every day to pay the bills.  But you still need to manage your own time to work on the strategic plan– we suggest a half-day every week. Then, you must take specific meaningful actions on a regular basis that will move your strategic priorities forward.

Specific

What number one action can you “complete” by the end of the week that is going to move your progress forward another step?  Be specific.  It needs to be a binary (yes/no) action that is within your control that you can check off and be held accountable for saying, “Yes, I completed that action this week.”  Also, build an accountability system designed for all key persons involved in execution of the strategic plan, with a weekly action chart to track the activities and accomplishment of the key milestones.

Measure Progress

You can only measure, by tracking exactly how far you have come and know exactly how far you have left to go.  Measure your progress every week.  Are you on schedule?  Or do you need help?  Are you behind schedule and in danger of missing your due date?  Be honest and confront the brutal facts.  Don’t wait until the near the due date to signal that you are running behind.

Man Up!  (or the female equivalent)

Show that you have whatever is necessary to overcome the obstacles and get it done.  The more you exercise your courage muscle, the stronger it becomes.  There are things we have to do that we don’t particularly enjoy doing in order to achieve success – but everyone has to “eat your veggies” before you get to have any dessert.

Celebrate

Pop the cork when project goals are reached.  The bigger the achievement the bigger the celebration.  Hard work, commitment and vision needs to be recognized and praised on a regular basis. So, put away “the whip” and enjoy those moments of success!

ARE YOU A BAD BOSS?

NormanLeadership traditionally begins with Position. Someone joins the Army, and he or she becomes a recruit, working to earn the rank of private. A person gets a job, and along with it usually comes a title or job description. It is the bottom floor and the foundation upon which leadership must be built. Now the Upside and Downside of Leadership and Position (or Rights)

THE UPSIDE:

1. They Have Leadership Potential

Most of the time when people enter a leadership position, they do so because it was granted or appointed by some other person in authority. It usually means that the person in authority believes that the new leader has some degree of potential for leading.

2. Authority Is Recognized

When an individual receives a position and title, some level of authority or power usually comes with them. Often in the beginning that power is very limited, because most leaders need to prove themselves. As the Infantryman’s Journal (1954) says, “No man is a leader until his appointment is ratified in the minds and the hearts of his men.”

3. An Invitation to Grow as a Leader

There should always be a relationship between receiving a leadership position and fulfilling the requirements demanded by it. One of the main requirements is personal growth, we all have a responsibility to learn and grow so that we could make the most of it.

4. Shape and Define Their Leadership

The greatest upside potential for people invited to take a leadership position is that it affords them the opportunity to decide what kind of leader they want to be.  However, the position they receive may be defined, but they are not.

THE DOWNSIDE:

1. Having a Leadership Position Is Often Misleading

The easiest way to define leadership is by position. Once you have a position or title, people will identify you with it. However, positions and titles are very misleading. A position always promises more than it can deliver.

2. Devaluation of  People

People who rely on position for their leadership almost always place a very high value on holding onto their position—often above everything else they do. Their position is more important to them than the work they do, the value they add to their subordinates, or their contribution to the organization. As a result, departments, teams, or organizations that have positional leaders suffer terrible morale.

3. Feed on Politics

When leaders value position over the ability to influence others, the environment of the organization usually becomes very political. Positional leaders focus on control instead of contribution. They do what they can to get the largest staff and the biggest budget they can—not for the sake of the organization’s mission, but for the sake of expanding and defending their turf.

4. Placing Rights Over Responsibilities

Poet T.S. Eliot asserted, “Half of the harm that is done in this world is due to people who want to feel important…they do not mean to do harm…they are absorbed in the endless struggle to think well of themselves.” That’s what positional leaders do: they do things to make themselves look and feel important. Inevitably, positional leaders who rely on their rights develop a sense of entitlement.

5. Often Lonely

Positional leaders can become lonely if they misunderstand the functions and purpose of leadership. Good leadership is about walking beside people and helping them to climb up the hill with you. If you’re atop the hill alone, you get lonely.

6. Branded and Stranded

Whenever people use their position to lead others for a long time and fail to develop genuine influence, they become branded as positional leaders, and they rarely get further opportunities for advancement in that organization. They usually move laterally, but rarely move up.

7. High Turnover

When people rely on their positions for leadership, the result is almost always high turnover. Remember that . . . . People Quit People, Not Companies.

8. People’s Least, Not Their Best

People who rely on their positions and titles are the weakest of all leaders. They give their least. They expect their position to do the hard work for them in leadership. As a result, their people also give their least.

From:  The Five Levels of Leadership by John Maxwell