Archives for category: Performance

bankrupt

I firmly believe that one key differentiator between successful versus struggling businesses is the ability to effectively execute their plans.

Sounds logical enough, right?  Nonetheless, I am dumbfounded by how a business team can typically plan and prioritize the most critical action items necessary for success, and yet when it comes to implementing & executing the required important activities, there often seems to be some excuse as to why they weren’t able to effectively follow-through and complete those actions!

As noted in a previous blog on Execution Excellence, the ability to do what you say you are going to do tends to separate great visionary leaders from the “wannabes”.

Winston Churchill stated that He who fails to plan is planning to fail”.

Margaret Thatcher advised us to “Plan your work for today and every day, then work your plan”. 

My philosophy is a bit more assertive…“Not executing your business plan may lead to an unplanned “execution” of your business”.

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head-heart

In my personal and professional life, I have observed a pattern with regard to how decisions are made…anatomically.

Starting with the Southern part of our body and heading North…

  • Especially in the heat of the moment, the knee jerk reactionis very common. This technique employs minimal insight and information when responding to a given situation.
  • From there, we may opt to the more sophisticated seat of the pantsapproach, where we use our limited personal experience and judgment to come to a conclusion without considering procedures, planning, or other available technology or input.
  • Then, we may advance North to “gut feeling.” At this stage, we utilize intuition, both our own and that of others, coupled with additional data in order to come to a conclusion on how we believe things will turn out.
  • Improving upon this practice, we might continue upward to “listen to our heart,” wherein we now allow our deepest emotional inclinations to have a stake in determining next steps.
  • Finally, we can move to the final stop in this anatomical journey…where we “make decisions with our head.

Incorporating the aforementioned components of personal experiences, available information and technology, valued input from many prudent sources, and then mixing in the proper amount of emotion and logic, we arrive at the “best decision:” one derived from your brain’s coordination of all available data points.

This fact-based decision making may take a little more time and discipline, however, our entire anatomy will thank us later.

In the press of business (and life), it is so easy to get caught up in things, to feel trapped in the “whirlwind,” and become overwhelmed by all that is going on in “your world.

The rapid evolution of technology during our current stage of the “Information Age” makes it even more challenging to stay focused and deliver on our commitments.

Among certain individuals, there exists what I consider to be a truly exceptional trait, an oddity that, given my personal experience, exists in about 10 % of the business professionals that I have worked with and/or coached…

“doing what they say they are going to do,

and by when they say they are going to do it!”

Given this ultra-competitive world in which we live, it amazes me how often people or businesses are slow to, or in some cases don’t, follow-up on requests, obligations, vows, inquiries, etc.

Those unique people who indeed do what they say, and within the time frame that they promise, truly separate themselves from the majority who either are delinquent with, or worse yet, abandon their commitments.

Here’s a closing thought…perhaps we should consider delivering more than what we promise, faster than it is expected!

do what u say

A question for you to ponder: Do the best leaders surround themselves with great people, or do they help the people around them become great? 

My experience tells me the answer is…both!  But let’s start with the first part…

During a recent conversation with a highly successful manager, who operates in the challenging food & hospitality industry, a point was made about team development. He noted that one of his key objectives was to hire people who were better, smarter or more talented than he was.

This resonated with me as this has become one of my essential success tenets.

Decades ago, once I became mature enough to put my ego aside, the realization that if I secured, & surrounded myself with, really talented people, perhaps my leadership role would become much easier. And it did!

Often I’ve worked with leaders who feared talent that was potentially as good, or even better than they were.  They let their ego’s and foolish pride get in the way of doing the smart thing, which subsequently led them toward hiring marginal talent compared to what was available in the market place.  This ultimately resulted in less than optimal performance.

These “bosses” shared an underlying concern that the potential “superstar” would make them look inferior, or even worse, eventually “steal” their leadership position away!

This type of self-centered thinking not only limited the team & businesses success, but truly restricted that leader’s ability to grow through the organization.

The reality is that leaders who surround themselves with the best possible talent tend to produce better-than-average results. Further, they consistently demonstrate the ability to develop talent for the organization, which often facilitates professional growth and advancement.

Perhaps you have seen this happen in your experiences as well.  Or even worse, if you happen to be one of those who has unknowingly inhibited your success by falling into this trap, this could be the perfect time to take on that new approach for building your team.

surround

In reference to a prior blog on “The Review”, this process is often challenging and ineffective in terms of generating the desired performance improvement that Managers are seeking.

The traditional performance appraisal reviews past performance, and is often an inaccurate reflection of true performance due to:

  • inadequate preparation or effort,
  • poor documentation or record keeping,
  • any number of biases.

I believe that what really matters to is to provide your employees with input that leads to the development of their skills, which ultimately benefits them personally as well as serving the organization’s future.

There is much discussion in HR circles about eliminating the annual or semi-annual review process altogether. Such a change should foster more frequent conversations and updates about an employee’s performance, which is what most workers want.

ConstantONGOING coaching and feedback is one of the keys toward achieving continuous employee growth and development.

I’m not saying micro-management, but rather taking the time to ensure that every employee:

  • understands the clear expectations surrounding their role and responsibilities,
  • knows where they stand in terms of their performance,
  • and has a vision of how to grow and improve.

feedback

Bruce the BossWhile observing Bruce Springsteen’s E-Street Band’s recent induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, I observed “The Boss” as a genuine and caring leader in action.

Bruce exhibited multiple leadership traits, including:

  1. demonstrate great passion for what you’re doing and how you do it
  2. create a fun working environment for all stakeholders involved
  3. surround yourself with the best talent available (his E-Street band includes awesomely skilled musicians)
  4. exhibit non-stop high energy that creates infectious enthusiasm
  5. be unselfish and empower your team to perform their part
  6. appreciate and acknowledge the importance of everyone on the team

Not surprisingly, the majority of this tribe has been together for decades, following the same leader with an unrivaled camaraderie and success that most leadership could only dream of achieving!

Managing your life’s activities and consequently how you spend your valuable time is controlled by no one other than yourself.

Of course, its easy to let circumstances overcome your personal power and, as a result, you can fall into the trap of “feeling like the world is conspiring against you.”

For the most part, the reality is that we, as individuals, are responsible for the choices we make.

Having dealt with employees, bosses and/or clients who have expressed their discontent with how their lives are at the apparent mercy of others, I quickly remind them that they are in control of their schedule and destiny.

A simple starting point is to begin every day with your personal game plan, allowing some time for the unexpected surprises and time-bandits that WILL occur, and then implement your personal discipline to ensure that your day is spent the way that YOU had intended.

Priorities

Confused EE

During my career, I’ve been involved with business environments where there was great concern about publicly sharing how the company was performing.

The underlying paranoia was that if “P&L” or strategic information was shared with employees of the organization, then that data might (would) somehow be used against the company by the competition.

My belief is that as a leader, whenever you attempt to conceal performance (or other essential) details from your team, that not only fosters an environment of distrust but further reduces employee engagement. A 2012 Forbes article noted that of engaged employees are 87% less likely to leave the organization than the disengaged.

In leading your team,  it is imperative that we take the next step beyond communicating visions, strategies and goals by candidly and consistently reporting how we are doing.  Not openly sharing performance results is akin to playing any sport with no scoreboard…why bother if we can’t determine who is winning?

 

Dickens determination

Wow, was Charles Dickens ever ahead of his time when he made this declaration in the 1800’s!

The art of time management rightfully reinforced the importance of such traits as planning, proactivity, prioritizing and punctuality as essential in achieving your goals (see the blog on the 6 P’s for more).

In the late 1960’s, the computer industry introduced the concept of multitasking, the apparent improved performance by an individual via handling more than one task at the same time.

I recall an era when job seekers proudly touted multitasking as a skill on their resumes!

The reality is that multitasking results in wasted effort due to human context switching and apparently causing more errors due to insufficient attention.

A 2009 study by Hewlett-Packard revealed that multitaskers performed much worse at tasks involving cognitive processes and memory than did those who focused on single tasks.

As alluded to in The Electronic Leash blog, modern day technology has forced us to heed Dickens’ direction. Those who indeed can demonstrate the skill of concentrating on one task at a time will surely outperform the others who remain at the mercy of allowing distraction to occur.

One of my favorite quotes comes from leadership guru John Maxwell who made the profound observation that “The longest distance between two points is a shortcut!”

My business experience has provided me with countless examples where employees or organizations attempted to get results as quickly and easily as possible, often leading to disastrous outcomes.

The only place that success comes before work is in the dictionary!

When thinking in terms of employee performance, leaders should closely monitor not only the results but also how they are being achieved. Taking shortcuts tends to leave a trail that includes less than optimal consequences.

In business and life, anything worth doing is worth doing right.  The quality of one’s work is often in direct correlation to the amount of “heavy lifting” that has occurred in route to the finished product.

jordan shortcuts