By the Numbers – Capturing Lessons Learned

Much institutional knowledge in companies is lost through turnover and poor communication. Such institutional information is often critical to successful operations and execution of company goals. One way to preserve and share knowledge and expertise is to actively capture, store and share “lessons learned”. However, for most, it’s easier said than done.

This infographic compiles the numbers related to capturing, retaining, and sharing lessons learned:

lessons learned

 

 

How to Shift Your Leadership from Park to High Gear

shift leadership into high gearLeadership is the process of inspiring others to achieve what you have in mind. And it will be one of the most challenging things you set out to do. You may have found out soon enough that you can’t do everything to achieve your business goals alone. It may be even more surprising that your employees aren’t mind readers. Consequently, they often do things in ways you never anticipated . . . or not at all.

Like a finely-tuned machine, the component parts of your company must work together in a highly-coordinated and high-functioning manner. You can use the following touchstones to coordinate and maintain your “machine”, and you will shift your leadership from park to high gear:

1. Formulate and Convey Your Vision

Leaders create a compelling vision of the future to create mutual understanding and to enlist the enthusiasm of others to join in the bringing of that vision into reality. Create a detailed picture in your mind of where you want your company to look like in the foreseeable future. Then, share that vision, or at least relevant aspects of it, with employees in almost every interaction. This serves to describe the finish line you’re heading to and ties what employees are doing now to where the company is going.

2. Practice Humility

Truly powerful leaders know their capabilities and are comfortable in their own skin. Hold on to your confidence but set your ego aside and acknowledge that others have talents and capabilities that you don’t. Take yourself out of the center and out of the role of “doer” and see yourself as the conductor of a very capable orchestra.

3. Put Strengths in the Limelight

Great leaders know that strengths will move your goals forward, not weaknesses.That’s why it’s important to know which strengths you need in each position in your company, so you can hire employees who have them. Then harness and highlight those strengths through coordinated effort to move the needle on your company goals.

“A leader is best when people barely know he exists. Of a good leader, who talks little, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say, ‘We did this ourselves.'”  — Lao Tzu

4. Make Performance Discussions the Norm

Dynamic leaders know that high performance doesn’t happen if things are left to chug along on autopilot. It’s important to continually channel people’s focus and efforts on the right activities and to the standards required. Focus these discussions on key performance indicators and high-value activities for employees. Meeting regularly keeps you abreast of how they are doing. It also allows you to assist with removing obstacles and gives you an idea of training employees need. Additionally, you can more timely celebrate “wins” with each employee.

[bctt tweet=”Dynamic leaders know that high performance doesn’t happen if things are left to chug along on autopilot.” username=”@FirebrandCoach”]

5. Access the Wisdom of the Team

Leadership is about bringing employees together to access all available wisdom and using it to the company’s advantage. In small and large companies alike, employees depend on each other to get their work done. The beauty is that each has a different perspective and can see things the others can’t. Create regular opportunities for work groups or teams to come together to share what’s working and what’s not working. This will also allow them to provide advice and support to keep things moving forward in the right direction.

Your employees need your attention and guidance. Your leadership will shift into high gear when you learn that it’s less about you “doing” and more about you “allowing” others to do.

 

WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR NEWSLETTER, BLOG OR WEBSITE? You can, as long as you include this information with it: Beth Strathman works with women in leadership who want to have more positive impact within their organizations by gaining greater focus, self-awareness, and influence with their teams. Learn more at: firebrandconsultingllc.com.

 

This post was inspired by a conversation with colleague, Clay Neves.

Clay Neves Personal Sales Dynamics - Sales Leadership

Clay Neves brings 35 years of sales management experience to solve your specific sales challenges, with several Inc.500/5000 awards for sales growth. He designed, implemented and managed successful campaigns for Fortune 500 companies like Pacific Bell, Sprint, AT&T, Citibank, Showtime, and others. He has worked with thousands of business owners throughout the United States and Canada to grow their businesses, through seminars, workshops, and one on one coaching. He served as Executive Director of the Murray Area Chamber of Commerce and was awarded the Book of Good Deeds Award from the Murray Exchange Club for his community service.

Clay lives in West Jordan with his wife JaNae. They have two children, Janessa and Jordan. He enjoys playing his guitar, singing, writing poetry, solving puzzles, history, reading, and hiking the many canyon trails along the Wasatch front. He’s an award winning competitive speaker.

Contact Clay at clay@personalsalesdynamics.com or at 801-792-7929 for a STAR (Standards/Training & Tools/Accountability/Rewards) worksheet.

Employee Engagement: Ready to Call Off the Wedding?

employee engagementTired of hearing about employee engagement or ready to give up? For some companies, it is an elusive concept that’s been around for decades. So, it’s telling that companies are still struggling to figure out the magic formula for attaining employee engagement nirvana.

Perhaps the quest to attain the optimal level of employee engagement comes from the fact that “engagement”, “motivation”, and “satisfaction”, while related, are confused as the same phenomenon. I think of these terms like this: engagement is how committed employees are to taking action that will benefit the company; motivation is the reason someone will put forth effort and take action to benefit themselves or the company, and satisfaction is how employees “feel” about everything once it’s all said and done.

Engagement, therefore, is intentional, committed action taken by employees to contribute, which is the opposite of being on auto-pilot. It happens when employees are so involved in their work that they take ownership in what the company produces because the see big picture for how they fit into the whole.

It all starts with respecting employees for their talents and contributions. While there may be generational differences, every employees wants to be respected and know that their contributions to the overall endeavor count for something.

With that, Liz Stincelli, DM. of Stincelli Advisors suggests these 4 actions you can take to create greater employee engagement.

  1. Be seen so each direct report knows you as a real person. Know at least basic personal information about your employees and retain appropriate workplace boundaries in place. “I do care about you, but we’re not friends – I’m still your boss”.
  2. Communicate the big picture. Give employees information about company goals and how they contribute to achieving them, basic financials, and what’s on the horizon for the company and the industry.
  3. Ask questions and listen to the answers. Find out what’s going on at the employee issue and follow up on what you did with the information you gathered.
  4. Invest in employee professional development. Bolster their skills to further company goals and to build their capacity for future career development.

If your company is still struggling to achieve greater employee engagement, don’t call off the wedding or give back the ring yet. Be mindful that you might need to adjust the way you operate to move closer to your employee engagement goals.

 

WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR NEWSLETTER, BLOG OR WEBSITE? You can, as long as you include this information with it: Beth Strathman works with women in leadership who want to have more positive impact within their companies by gaining greater focus, self-awareness, and influence with their teams. Learn more at: firebrandconsultingllc.com.

 

Liz StincelliThis post was inspired by a conversation with Dr. Liz Stincelli. Find out more about her and her company Stincelli Advisors:
Her blog site: stincelliadvisors.com
Twitter: @infinitestin
Google+: Elizabeth Stincelli
Facebook: www.facebook.com/stincelliadvisors
LinkedIn: Liz Stincelli

How You Might Be Undermining Your Team’s Drive for Results

business team

I was recently asked, “How do I get my team to run with the ball instead of relying on me so much to tell them what to do? They should know how to and when to move things forward!”

Every leader wants a highly competent and motivated team who, with some planning and reflection, can move their areas of responsibility in the right direction, based on company vision, values, and goals.

When this doesn’t happen, you must look at yourself first. After all, you control the conditions employees work within.  So it’s a safe bet that you might be encouraging or discouraging certain behaviors – in this case, an over-reliance on you and your opinion.

In general, I assume you have the right people in the right roles, but that is something to take a look at. Maybe a team member isn’t competent or is in the wrong role. Well, that at least tells you something about your hiring process and criteria. Maybe you need to look at that. But assuming you have capable individuals in place, here are some things to consider:

1. You could be sending mixed messages.

That is, your actions say one thing and your words say another. For example, you might tell a direct report to “run with” an idea, but if you believe that you are the smartest person in the company or that no one does as good a job as you do, you might criticize decisions your direct report makes or grill him on how things are being done, even when his judgment calls are perfectly acceptable. You might say you trust him to move forward, but you end up breathing over his shoulder for every move or even wrest back control by inserting yourself into decisions or conversations with others. In effect, your actions end up cancelling out your words.

2. You may not have set a clear path.

If your team does not know where they are going with an aligned vision, goals and priorities, they will be lost. Having a clear path forward empowers them to know what to do, when, and how to work together. That means that they won’t need to check with you so frequently about what to do next.

3. You may not have put in place supportive work structures.

If you don’t build supportive work structures, your team won’t work together the way you want, such as being interdependent, cooperative, and accountable to each others. These structures include fair compensation that is internally equitable and externally competitive, bonuses that don’t get in the way of taking appropriate risks, and recognition for things like creativity, innovation, surpassing customer expectations, etc.

4. You may not have created a culture of responsibility and accountability.

This means behavioral expectations are lacking for handling conflict, working across “silos”, taking risks, etc. Hey, we would like to think that adults do this automatically, but they don’t. You have to make sure there are clear behavioral norms in place, so your team knows how to act. And of course, you need to enforce them, too.

Assuming you have the right people on your team but are disappointed that they don’t seem to take responsibility, you are probably doing something or have failed to do something to be clear about your expectations. It all starts with you.

 

WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR NEWSLETTER, BLOG OR WEBSITE? You can, as long as you include this information with it: Beth Strathman works with women in leadership who want to have more positive impact within their organizations by gaining greater focus, self-awareness, and influence with their teams.  Learn more at: firebrandconsultingllc.com.

The Insider’s Guide to Employee Motivation

employee motivation

Often, it can feel as though you are only one who cares and is willing to do the “heavy lifting” in your company. So, how do you get your employees to care enough to work hard like you and treat customers with care like you do?

Well the research has been around for decades, actually almost 100 years, but for some reason you might be fighting it. What seems to be the case is that your employees are already motivated to get out of bed each morning and do something they love. That’s called “intrinsic” motivation. You know, but might not want to admit, that you don’t motivate anyone but yourself, so stop trying to “make” your employees do things. (Want to see your employees go passive aggressive really fast? Try to put your thumb on them to control them. They’ll subvert you every time – and with smiles on their faces pretending to conform to your wishes.)

“Leadership is the art of getting someone to do something you want done because he wants to do it.” — Dwight Eisenhower

Alfie Kohn in his book Punished by Rewards, reviewed decades of research that showed that Skinnerian behaviorism might work well on dogs and birds, but really doesn’t work on people. He boiled down what gets employees revved up to: Content (say over what they do), Control (say over how they do it), and Collaboration (be able to work with others to get it done). Daniel Pink did a similar review of the research in his book Drive, summing up the salient factors as Autonomy (self-direction), Mastery (develop and hone talent), and Purpose (have a really impactful reason for why they do the work).

In the late 1960s, an actual researcher, Frederick Herzberg concluded there were two factors required to keep people happy and productive, companies needed to (1) get rid of “dissatisfiers”, like bad policies, bad supervisors and unfair pay that caused employees to gripe about work, then (2) build in “satisfiers”, like meaningful work that gave employees a sense of responsibility and provided job opportunities appreciation, recognition and continued skill development.

So what can you do to unleash your employees’ natural intrinsic motivation?

First, set your ego aside.

Have you examined your abilities as a leader? Are you someone who others want to follow or work for? Or maybe your ego comes into play when you hire or promote people and they don’t work out. Are you willing to admit your mistake and let them go or move them back to a position that fits their skills and temperament?

Same goes for making sure that the company culture you created is not squelching your employees’ natural inclination to do something great. Make sure you don’t have restrictive or nonsensical policies, procedures, or pay structures that may be administered inconsistent or unfairly.

Second, focus on building relationships.

To build relationships with your direct reports. You should do things like:

  • Take stock their talents, current performance level, and long-term potential. This helps to determine what trajectory each employee is on — promotion, move to another position, redeploy, monitor more closely, etc.
  • Treat your people like people, not cogs or machines. Get to know them personally to a certain degree.
  • Appreciate their talents and the roles they might play in your company: devil’s advocate, trickster, historian, herald of danger ahead.
  • Set and communicate clear expectations for each direct report, tied to company goals
  • Acknowledge contributions made and note where they need to contribute more, better, or more often.Determine frequency and type of feedback they to hear from you.
  • Acknowledge their good work and willingness to go the extra mile when it happens. A simple thank you is good enough usually.
  • Reward them for their performance and commitment.
  • Develop their skills and competence.

As Zig Ziglar said, “You don’t build a business – you build people then the people build the business.” Spend time building your people, and their motivation will shine through.

 

WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR NEWSLETTER, BLOG OR WEBSITE? You can, as long as you include this information with it: Beth Strathman works with women in leadership who want to have more positive impact within their organizations by gaining greater focus, self-awareness, and influence with their teams. Learn more at: firebrandconsultingllc.com.

Coordinating Action Through Communication

Coordinating Action Through CommunicationI haven’t known a company yet where employees didn’t complain about a lack of communication. It isn’t that there is silence going on. To the contrary. People talk to each other all the time at work. The words are floating out there, but we don’t truly connect to each other’s meaning.

So many words are wasted at work because you assume that everyone else shares your assumptions about what you said. Really communicating – at work or at home – involves aligning your own expectations and assumptions with the assumptions of others. Based on our assumptions, Judith Glaser in her work, identified three types or levels of conversations:

Transactional – These tell/ask conversations are the most superficial of all conversations. They are an exchange of simply factual information. You share what you know and seek to bring your facts into alignment with facts that others have.  For example, “I have a dentist appointment today at 2:00 and will leave the office early.”

Positional – This type of conversation is about advocating/inquiring and happens when you inform others of where you stand on an issue and seek to persuade them to seeing things your way. Problems occur when we cling to our own perspective, needing to be right, instead of showing a willingness to adjust our information based on what we hear from others.

Co-Creative – In these conversations, you and others explore a topic through sharing/discovering and remain connected to each other as you move through the topic together. The point of these conversations is to be open to information you don’t know and to be open to the fact that you don’t know what you don’t know.

“We live in historical conversations . . .
and live our assumptions as though they were true.”
– Julio Garreaud, Human Architect

Within these conversations, you make statements and ask questions using the following linguistic distinctions:

Assessment – an opinion based on your perspective, beliefs, and assumptions.
Assertion – a statement based on your expertise in a certain subject matter
Request – a stated desire that includes what you want, by when (date/time)
Promise – a YES/NO/MAYBE response to a request, indicating whether or not you will fulfill the request as stated, renegotiate the terms of the request, or revoke an earlier promise due to changing circumstances
Declaration – a statement based on authority/power
Offer – an unsolicited promise made without getting a specific request in advance.

Of all the linguistic distinctions, requests and promises are critical for coordinating action because they drive results. The trick is to ensure you make your request explicit enough so that someone else knows what you want and how they can successfully give it to you.

In meetings, for example, the key is to share enough information about a situation, so the people involved can make specific requests about what they need, and others can make informed promises to fill those needs. When you request “an executive summary on the ABC issues by Thursday at 3:00 p.m.”, others know whether or not they are capable of promising to do so.

When you are skilled at knowing which type of conversation to have to serve your purpose along with the specific linguistic distinctions you can use to craft your conversations, your company or work group can become a symphony of communication that results in harmonious action.

 

WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR NEWSLETTER, BLOG OR WEBSITE? You can, as long as you include this information with it: Beth Strathman works with women in leadership who want to have more positive impact within their organizations by gaining greater focus, self-awareness, and influence with their teams. Learn more at: firebrandconsultingllc.com.

5 Reasons Your “Team” is Not a Team

teamAlthough there are countless books about creating better teams, participating on and leading teams remains a top frustration in most companies. Here are 5 reasons your “team” might not actually be one:

1. There are no shared goals or values.

Your “team” may believe it is working together and headed in the same direction, but when push comes to shove, each of you pursue activities that serve your individual interests and behave without accountability to each other. In other words, your oars are rowing in different directions.

In contrast, you know you are a team when you are a group that shares a few core values and pursues a measurable goal that will define the team’s success. Once a measurable team goal is set and values identified, each of you ensure every person on the team understands how to behave according to those values and is held accountable to do so. Further, you understand how each person contributes to achieving the team goal through individual competencies (e.g., ability to build consensus, drive for results, etc.) or technical expertise.

“Finding good players is easy. Getting them to play as a team is another story.” — Casey Stengel

2. There is low trust or no trust.

With little or no trust, members of your so-called “team” withhold their best and secretly look for ways to “win” at someone else’s expense without regard to a common goal. 

Team trust is strongly correlated with team commitment and follow-through on promises made to each other. To work together effectively as a team, each or you must believe the others have your back.  Also, when setbacks occur (and they almost always occur), you have to believe/trust everyone else is doing his best. This helps your team avoid the blame game and to get back on track quickly.

3. There is not a clear path to achieve the team goal.

When you only have a destination but no map to get there, a group of individuals will spend precious time wasting uncoordinated effort in different directions.

Mapping the route to achieve the common team goal assists your teammates in understanding how and when all team members’ contributions come together to achieve success. A clear path often includes quick wins to gain momentum and milestones to mark the way.

4. Communication is not open, honest, and transparent.

If people on your “team” are more concerned with withholding information and opinions while masking what they really see happening, team accountability and effectiveness are severely hampered.
To behave as a team, you must communicate in a forthright manner to get on the same page, to stay on the same page, to coordinate action, and to hold each other accountable to team commitments and values. 

5. “Team” members are overly focused on their own contributions, wins, and reputations.

Ever seen a scoring basketball player point to the teammate who passed him the ball? Acknowledging contributions by teammates reinforces the notion that each person’s success is dependent on the contributions of others, no matter how small or behind-the-scenes.  No one does it alone. Recognizing each other’s contribution to the team fosters better relationships and, in turn, more trust.


WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR NEWSLETTER, BLOG OR WEBSITE? You can, as long as you include this information with it: Beth Strathman is the adviser for senior leaders who want increased productivity and profitability by becoming firebrands in their own companies. Learn more about her company Firebrand Consulting at: bethstrathman.com.