Below are several of my blog posts from over the years, enjoy!
"Leadership and Follow Through"
Whether you like it or not, as a leader people are watching you. They are watching what you say, how you dress, how you handle stress, how you handle success and pretty much your overall behavior.
I'm not mentioning this to make you paranoid but to help you leverage your modeling to increase your team's productivity, loyalty, and morale. The leadership behavior I want to discuss is follow through. What do I mean by follow through?
Joe told his struggling worker that he would be monitoring his documentation completion weekly until he was caught up and consistently productive. After two weeks Joe stopped requesting the documentation because other issues came up. As a result, the employee went back to not meeting performance expectations.
Sandy promised to introduce her employee, Tom, to a contact that would be a key connection in completing his project assignment. Despite Tom's reminders, Sandy never got around to making that introduction.
Juanita was charged with putting together a sub-committee to address safety issues in her department. Three months later, after an initial push to recruit members and schedule a meeting date, Juanita dropped it and the first meeting never happened.
Let's look at the consequences of not following through using these same fictitious examples. Joe's worker continues to struggle because he didn't have enough accountability to form the habit of timely documentation. His view of Joe is that Joe doesn't think this issue is that important since Joe dropped it. The worker continues to under perform.
Tom is frustrated with Sandy for not connecting him with this important contact and without any intended malice, he acts out and talks badly about Sandy to his colleagues.
When the department head decides that another subcommittee needs to be formed to address an important issue, the new committee chair decides she has too much to do and only half- heartedly tries to pull a committee together. She is not concerned about getting reprimanded because Juanita still hasn't had her first safety committee meeting.
It is challenging to follow through with everything and even the best leader's make mistakes and drop balls. The best thing you can do when you recognize that you haven't kept a promise, met your stated goal or you let someone down, is to acknowledge it openly. Be clear that you messed up and are sorry. I've met several leaders who struggle with this and would rather ignore the mistake and hope it goes unnoticed. I promise you, it is not unnoticed. Besides, if you are modeling the behavior you would like to see in others, what would you want from your team?
As my personal trainer says as I attempt to do more than 3 pushups at a time, "progress, not perfection"!
In what areas are you already following through, both professionally and personally? Where do you struggle in either keeping your word or following through? What's the impact on your team?
I wish you a happy start of fall and let me know how I can support you in your leadership journey!
"Are You Taking Away Excuses From Your Team, Or Leaving Them Out There?"
I've had several visits to my physical therapist in the last month and each time I go I am so impressed with the work culture of the staff and their leader's ability to give clear and credible instructions. The work environment is sometimes very hectic and fast paced, serving several patients at once and requiring each PT to juggle the monitoring, instruction and treatment of more than one patient at a time. At other times, the work environment is slow, the ratio of PT to patients is almost three to one and I always wonder if the PT's are bored (although they don't show it and seem to be having fun).
My physical therapist, Kim, is in charge of the other PT's who seem to be at varying levels of experience. Here are five things Kim does well in modeling leadership without excuses:
1) Kim makes her expectations clear to the staff. She tells them which exercise they need to help me with and if it's not a common exercise, she'll demonstrate exactly what she's looking for. She does not assume her common sense is their common sense about how to work with me.
2) Even though Kim is often super busy, she will always take time to give clarity about an assignment. This includes providing a rationale for why a particular exercise needs to be done in a particular way.
3) Kim ensures that staff have the capacity and capability of executing their assignments. If capability is unclear, Kim will take a moment to teach the assigned intervention or make a staff switch to a more experienced person.
4) Kim sets up frequent, brief check points to ensure that her team is following the treatment plans correctly and managing their array of patients smoothly. She doesn't wait until a problem occurs nor does she wait until the end of the day to address concerning issues.
5) Kim treats high performers differently than average performers. I have overheard her mentoring and advising a less experienced (but high performing) PT during downtime about this person's career opportunities. How great does that young PT feel about working there and giving 100%?
Your turn. Are you taking excuses away from the team by implementing some of these strategies that Kim uses? If not, I challenge you to take a small step in implementing Leadership Without Excuses.
"How Ready Are You To Change A Flat Tire?"
I am training for a big cycling ride with a friend and we were discussing the high probability of getting a flat tire as we were riding on one of our several epic training rides. We were both saying that it would be a great idea to take a mini-course in changing flat tires and also to carry a spare tube and pump. Three weeks later we had a similar discussion, no action taken.
You can guess what's next... This past weekend I noticed my tire was low as I was leaving my house to meet friends for a long ride. I pumped it up and went on my way hoping to get lucky since I did not have a spare tube. Sure enough, it became fully flat and I needed to turn around.
Was I prepared? No way. I found several tubes at my house, none fit my bike. In fact, I didn't really know how to change the tire, although I knew with enough time, I could figure it out. However, I didn't have time! My friends were already at the site, the temperature was going up and we had other things to do that day. What did I do? I grabbed a different bike and hustled down to meet my friends. The final result: I was slower with the other bike (and more tired at the end), I held up my friends unnecessarily, and we biked in hotter weather than we needed to.
How does this compare to the "flat tires" we encounter at work? The phone calls that we procrastinate returning that turn into a crisis; the piles of documentation that await us that we put off until the audit; the problematic employee who needs crucial feedback or disciplinary action that you hesitate to give until the situation gets out of control.
What would it be like to have the initial concern/task/idea and then take pro-active action?
How much time is lost changing the proverbial flat tire when you are blindsided by the sharp object?
Being ready means having the knowledge, the resources (material and people), the time, and the motivation to manage the issue. Instead of pushing away the initial concern, I invite you to get ready for the situation and take action.
I wish you an awesome start to the fall season.
"Are you acknowledging your employees enough?"
I’m back after a long hiatus and I hope this note finds you well. I’ve been busy traveling, coaching, training and overall having fun.
I have been reflecting on my Thanksgiving holiday and have noticed that it is often an easy time to be grateful and acknowledge those who are important to us. It was nice to get e-mails from friends and family expressing their gratitude for me being in their life. We tend to express gratitude really well during this holiday but how do we carry it over into the other 364 days of the year? More specifically, do you as a leader acknowledge your regular workers who are dependable and consistent? These are the folks who don’t get the big awards and are not considered your superstars but they do their job well on a regular basis making your job easier as a result.
There is a lot of research on the impact of positive feedback in the workplace. The field of positive psychology applied in the workplace promotes organizational productivity, employee retention, high morale and overall strong businesses. I know I’ve written about them before, but in the last 30 years, the Gallup organization has surveyed over a million workers across multiple industries asking twelve simple questions that are linked with employee engagement and retention. You can read all the questions here: http://www.workforce.com/section/hr-management/article/12-questions-measure-employee-engagement.html.
One of the questions states, “In the last seven days, have I received recognition or praise for good work?” Notice that the question refers to “good” work rather than “excellent” work. Who are your good employees? What unique talents do they bring that can be fostered and leveraged? What weaknesses do they have that need to be managed or minimized?
That’s right, I am not ignoring weaknesses here. I recently took an assessment called the Realise2 developed by Alex Linley. This was the first strengths assessment I have done that listed my weaknesses as well and I found it to be helpful. He defines weakness as “those things that you find hard to do and drain you.” One of my weaknesses was Detail and I agree that managing detail is hard for me to do and can be draining. Does that mean I can’t get into the details? No, but in a work team I’m sure going to link myself with someone who is good at managing detail so this weakness will be less exposed.
My challenge to you is to acknowledge your employees more for what they are specifically doing well and for who they are being while they are doing the work. Notice how your acknowledgments land and any follow up comments or results.