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Showing posts from February, 2019

Build Your Team Through Community Service

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If you manage a small business or a department within a large organization, a great way to improve the cohesiveness of your employee team is to engage them in an activity away from the workplace.

Engaging in a community service activity is a great example. Your team can work at a food bank. Or, they can pick up liter along a highway. Or, they can provide a service at a local senior citizen center.

When you and your team are away from the workplace, working together and giving back to the community, everyone bonds in a way that is often difficult to do within the workplace. Away from work, it's an even playing field. Job titles and position levels disappear. Walls come down. Discussions open up.

Shoot for having your team do one activity per month. Make it voluntary. You may start out with a small group, but as the months go by and participants benefit from the team-building and the good feeling of providing service to their community, you'll soon likely get close to 100% particip…

Acknowledge Employee Personal Milestones

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Your employee will appreciate your acknowledging his/her birthday, advanced degree graduation achievement, wedding engagement, wedding, or other personal milestone event.

If they share with you information about any important event in their life, take the opportunity to congratulate them, honor them and acknowledge them. You can give them a card. Or, take them to lunch. Or, even a simple handshake can go a long way.

Taking an interest in your employee goes a long way and it's one of the easiest, meaningful actions you can take.

If you manage a large team, you'll likely want to create a way to help you remember upcoming milestone events for each of your employees.

The Importance Of Your Soft Skills

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Soft skills, all too often deemed the less important skills for a leader, are needed now more than ever.
Soft skills are interpersonal skills that demonstrate a person's ability to communicate effectively and build relationships with others in one-on-one interactions as well as in groups and teams. According to Maxine Kamin, author of the book, Soft Skills Revolution, "The practice of soft skills aids in communication and promotes problem solving, negotiation, conflict resolutions, and team building."

Each of the book's nine chapters, listed below, provide dialogue, questions, tips and recommended activities:
What Are Soft Skills?The Hidden Side of CommunicationThe Power of Positive IntentionsTack and DiplomacyThe Challenge of Problem SolvingSoft Skills and TeamsThe Personality FactorTaking the Sting Out of FeedbackConflict and Cooperation One of my favorite parts of the book is where Kamin explains the common expectations of staff members when it comes to the Princip…

Explain Decisions

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Making a decision is one of the most important actions you'll take as a leader.

When communicating your decisions to your team, be sure to explain both the process (how you came to the decision) and the reason for making your decision.

Sometimes, unfortunately, managers announce a decision without clarifying the process and the reason for the decision.

If you take the time to be clear you'll get better understanding of your decisions from employees, and also more buy-in from your team.

Six Questions To Ask During A Project Review

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Here is some great advice from the authors of, Helping People Win At Work. Those authors, Ken Blanchard and Garry Ridge, recommend you ask the following six essential questions whenever you do a project review:
What did we set out to do?What actually happened?Why did this happen?What will we do next time?What should we continue to do?What should we do differently? Seems simple enough, but how often do we really take the time to step back and ask ALL six of these questions?
And, these questions are important to ask even if there was no mistakes made during the project. Continually planning and executing without the value of a review can blindside you.

Let It Sit

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As a leader a time will come when you have to write an email, memo or letter to address an issue of great importance or concern to you. Or, perhaps in response to something that displeased you, disappointed you, frustrated you, or upset you.

Write that document. Then, let it sit. Preferably, let it sit for 24 hours.

Then, re-read it. It's almost guaranteed you'll end up tweaking the document. You might add a fact that you accidentally omitted in the heat of the moment the day before. Or, more likely, you'll alter the tone so it will achieve a better response from the document's recipient. You may even decide not to send the document at all, and instead will discuss the matter in person or over the phone with the intended recipient.

Usually, time and circumstances permit you to let your document sit for a day. And when your document sits for a day, you'll end up ultimately crafting a better message.

Know When To Change Your Decision

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Leaders make decisions.

Good leaders are willing to modify their decisions as changing circumstances and data dictate.

If you are stubborn about a decision and think that tweaking your decision will be a sign of weakness, think again. In fact, just the opposite is true.

Often, circumstances change and new information becomes available after a decision has been made. If that takes place it is a sign of strength to modify your decision to fit the new situation.

Meet Face-To-Face

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The power of meeting with your team members face-to-face cannot be overstated.

Unfortunately, in today's world of email and electronic communications, meeting with someone face-to-face, or for that matter even speaking with him/her over the phone, has become something that doesn't happen nearly enough.

Resist the temptation to email or phone an employee or team member when you can meet in-person with him/her.

The best way to build rapport, respect, an open line of communication and a team, can-do spirit, is to have face-to-face interaction as often as possible.

Get Things Done

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If you want to be a leader who can get things done, be sure you:
Engender trust.Instill confidence.Earn respect.

The Team Member Handbook For Teamwork

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Check out Price Pritchett's book called, The Team Member Handbook For Teamwork. It provides you good, practical, useful information. In fact, you can even learn a lot just from reading the handbook's Table Of Contents.  

You'll learn as a manager how to build a strong team. You'll learn as a team member how to be effective on a team.

Here's the Table Of Contents:
Push for high quality communicationBring talent to the teamPlay your positionTurn diversity to the team's advantageBack up others who need helpPracticeBe prepared to sacrifice for the teamHelp new teammates make entryPlay down yourself and build up othersSpend time with your teammatesHelp drive discipline into the groupMake sure you make a differenceGive attention to group processHelp create a climate of trustStrengthen the leader through good followershipBe a good sportThat's 16 great "how-to's" for you!

10 More Ways To Be A Better Leader

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Here are 10 behaviors, techniques and tips you can use to be an effective leader:
Respond to questions quickly and fully.Take an interest in your employees and their personal milestone events.Give feedback in a timely manner and make it individualized and specific.Be willing to change your decisions.End every meeting with a follow-up To Do list.Support mentoring -- both informal and formal.Don't delay tough decisions.Do annual written performance appraisals.Explain how a change will affect employee's feelings before, during and after the change is implemented.Have face-to-face interaction as often as possible.

Share The Bad News

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Of course it's much easier to share good news with your employees, but it's perhaps even more important to share the bad news.

If revenue is down, or if you've lost a large customer, or if a new competitor has entered the market, let your team know. Your employees need to know about the health of your company or organization. And it's only when they have the full picture -- the good news and the bad news -- that they can rally together with you to brainstorm possible solutions.

Don't keep your team in the dark. Don't give them a false sense of the situation by sharing only good news. Keep them fully informed. They can handle the bad along with the good.

Most likely they have a sense of the bad already. Or, they'll hear it second-hand. You'll gain their respect when they hear the bad news directly from you.

How To Lead With Purpose

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“Purpose is the why behind everything within an organization,” says author John Baldoni, of the book, Lead With Purpose.

Baldoni also believes that it is up to leaders to make certain that organizational purpose is understood and acted upon. And, to harness the talents of their employees, leaders must recognize their responsibility to instill purpose in the workplace.

Other recommendations include:
Make purpose a central focusInstill purpose in othersMake employees comfortable with ambiguityTurn good intentions into great resultsMake it safe to fail (as well as prevail)Develop the next generation According to Baldoni, purpose forms the backbone of what an organization exists to do; upon which you can build vision and mission.

To define an organization’s purpose, you must ask three questions:

1. What is our vision — that is, what do we want to become? 2. What is our mission — that is, what do we do now? 3. What are our values–that is, what are the behaviors we expect of ourselves?
Some…

How To Evaluate Your Customer Service Phone Team

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Every business leader should periodically call his/her company to observe how their customers are being treated by their employees -- because, all too often a phone conversation becomes a customer turnoff rather than a relationship builder.

So, here's a checklist that is primarily from sales expert and author Paul R. Timm that you can use to evaluate your organization's customer service via the phone:

1. Was the phone answered after two rings or less?
2. Did the employee use an appropriate greeting?
3. Did the employee identify himself or herself by name?
4. Was the employee's tone of voice pleasant and businesslike?
5. Was the call handled efficiently without being abrupt?
6. Did the employee provide accurate information or refer the caller to an appropriate person?
7. Did the employee reflect the best image for the company?
8. Did the employee thank the caller?
9. Did the employee make prudent use of putting the caller on hold if it was necessary to do so?
10. Did the e…

How To Give Constructive Feedback

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Eric Harvey and Al Lucia wrote a booklet called, 144 Ways To Walk The Talk. They provide the following great, simple and straight-forward advice about giving feedback:
Make it timely -- give your feedback as soon as possible to the performance.Make it individualized -- tailor your feedback to the feedback receiver.Make it productive -- focus your feedback on the performance and not the performer.Make is specific -- pinpoint for the receiver observable actions and behaviors.

Never Say These Words To A Customer

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Author Harvey MacKay wrote the following spot-on advice years ago in a column in the Kansas City Business Journal.  He wisely points out that all employees at every level should never use these four words in front of a client/customer for both obvious and perhaps not so obvious reasons:
Can't -- As in, "We can't do that."  "We can't meet that deadline."  Unless you honestly cannot produce and then be honest and help them find another vendor.Busy -- As in, "I'll call you when I'm not so busy."  "I'm really busy right now." The word "busy" gives your customer the impression they are a low priority.Safe -- As in, "Let's play it safe."  Customers typically want to engage in calculated risks versus playing it safe.Fear -- As in, "I fear that we may be moving too fast."  That tells your customer you haven't done your homework. MacKay writes, "Common sense, thorough research and sound ad…

10 Ways Leaders Make Work Harder Than Necessary

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In the book, The Leadership Contract, author Vince Molianro shares that not only is leadership hard work, but also a lot of us inadvertently make the hard work harder.

Therefore, Molianro recommends you:
Don't get in over your head -- where you are in situations where you are unable to take your performance to a higher level. Where you are creating risk to yourself and your organization.Confuse rough with tough -- Mistreating, disrespecting and insulting others is rough, not tough.Mistake effort for results -- Keeping yourself busy by toiling away at drudgery is very different from tackling real hard work of leadership.Feel like the victim -- Everybody gets frustrated at work. That's normal. But leaders need to be able to move through the frustration.Be insecure -- The key to overcoming insecurities begins by admitting that you have them.Need good news -- Your job as a leader is not to avoid, ignore, or deny bad news. It's to find out the bad news as early as you can so yo…

Let Employees Learn From Their Mistakes

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Mistakes happen. The best thing you can do as a manager and leader is to help your employee learn from his (or her) mistake.

If your employee is afraid of ever making a mistake, he will be paralyzed from taking action or taking even calculated risks. If he knows that mistakes happen in the course of doing business and that one learns from making mistakes, you will have a more productive employee.

Most important, be sure your employee knows that if he makes a mistake, he should let you know as soon as possible.

As soon as he does, quickly rectify the situation.

Then, discuss with him how the mistake happened. Find out what he did or didn't do. Ask him what he thinks he can do in the future to avoid the mistake from happening again. Chances are he has already figured this out. If not, teach him what he needs to do differently to avoid the mistake from reoccurring.

Finally, you may discover that the mistake happened because policies, procedures or your assignment instructions were confusi…

Listen Well And Do Exit Interviews

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Knowing why an employee leaves your company can help you to reduce your employee turnover rate.

That's because you can use the reasons a departing employee provides to gather information about processes, people and departments that might need some redirection to correct situations that may have contributed to the employee's reasons for leaving.

So, do an exit interview whenever possible with each departing employee. Ask each person:
Why they are leavingWhat they liked about their jobWhat they would have changed about their jobHow they felt about the cooperation level among co-workersHow they felt about communication and interaction with co-workersWhether they received the necessary training to do their jobWhether they received frequent coaching and balanced feedback from their supervisorWould they recommend a friend apply for work at your companyHow they felt about their payHow they would describe the morale in the company and in their departmentWhat they would change about th…

Book Review Of Full Engagement By Brian Tracy

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Best-selling author Brian Tracy's book, Full Engagement, provides practical advice for how to inspire your employees to perform at their absolute best. He explains that above nearly every measure, employees' most powerful single motivator is the "desire to be happy".

So, Tracy teaches you how to make your employees happy by:
Organizing their work from the first step in the hiring process through the final step in their departure from your company so they are happy with you, their work, their coworkers, as well as in their interactions with your customers, suppliers and vendors.Full Engagement includes these chapters and topics:
The Psychology of MotivationIgnite the Flame of Personal PerformanceMake People Feel ImportantDrive Out FearCreate That Winning FeelingSelect The Right PeopleInternal Versus External Motivation At a minimum, Tracy suggests that managers do the following when managing their employees:
SmileAsk questionsListenBe politeSay "Thank You"Keep…

Five Ways To Get More Ideas From Your Employees

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Your employees have lots of ideas. So, be sure you provide the forums and mechanisms for your employees to share their ideas with you.

Hold at least a few brainstorming sessions each year, as well.
And, when you are brainstorming with your employees, try these five tips:
Encourage ALL ideas.Don't evaluate or criticize ideas when they are first suggested.Ask for wild ideas. Often, the craziest ideas end up being the most useful.Shoot for quantity not quality during brainstorming.Encourage everyone to offer new combinations and improvements of old ideas.

Your First 100 Days As A Leader Will Make Or Break You

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There are seven major onboarding land mines that you are likely to come across as a new leader and there are specific points in the first 100 days where you are most likely to encounter them, explain authors: George Brant Jayme A. Check Jorge Pedraza in their new third edition of, The New Leader's 100-Day Action Plan.
Ill-prepared, without a plan, and lacking proper onboarding, the land mines will get you. And, if you miss one or more of the critical tasks that must be accomplished in your first 100 days, you'll likely fail.
The book is packed with: Examples and case studies Action plans Tools, techniques and tricks of the trade The authors also explain why you need to start even before your official first day on the job. For example: Cultural engagement is extremely important in a successful transition; and it is essential that you know what your cultural engagement plan will be before walking in the door for Day One. A new leader's role begins as soon as you are an acknowle…

Turning The Flywheel

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February 26 brings Jim Collin’s monograph to his iconic bestseller, Good to Great book. Titled, Turning the Flywheel, Collins explains why some companies build momentum and some don’t.

Eighteen years after writing Good to Great, Collins delves deep into the flywheel approach and how successful flywheels grow through four key stages – Through: Disciplined PeopleDisciplined ThoughtDisciplined ActionBuilding to Last
“One you get your flywheel right, you want to renew and extend that flywheel for years to decades – decision upon decision, action upon action, turn by turn – each loop adding to the cumulative effect,” explains Collins. One good flywheel example is Amazon’s, discovered in 2001: lower prices led to more customer visits, which increased sales volume, which attracted more third-party sellers, which boosted efficiency.
“Look closely at any truly sustained great enterprise and you’ll likely find a flywheel at work, though it might be hard to discern at first,” shares Collins.
Key to cr…

10 Quotes From John C. Maxwell's The 5 Levels Of Leadership Book

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In the meantime, here are some of my favorites quotes from John C. Maxwell's book, The 5 Levels of Leadership that I believe should become a must-read book by any workplace/organizational leader:
Good leadership isn't about advancing yourself.  It's about advancing your team.Leaders become great, not because of their power, but because of their ability to empower others.Leadership is action, not position.When people feel liked, cared for, included, valued, and trusted, they begin to work together with their leader and each other.If you have integrity with people, you develop trust.  The more trust you develop, the stronger the relationship becomes.  In times of difficulty, relationships are a shelter.  In times of opportunity, they are a launching pad.Good leaders must embrace both care and candor.People buy into the leader, then the vision.Bringing out the best in a person is often a catalyst for bringing out the best in the team.Progress comes only from taking risks and …

Explain Each Employee's Relevance

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Your employees appreciate clearly knowing how what they do each day specifically contributes to your company's or organization's success.

So, it's important that you explain the relevance of each person's jobHelp each employee or team member to understand how what they do makes a difference.

Answer their questions about the significance of their work. Demonstrate how if their job isn't done well, or isn't fully completed, how that negatively impacts the rest of the process or your business' overall product or service.

Sometimes in organizations too much time is spent explaining the relevance of sales positions or management positions. But, everyone on the team needs to understand their relevance and the importance of what they do.

Start Meetings On Time

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You call a meeting. Chances are one or more people will show up late. Perhaps 10 minutes late.

If there are six people waiting on the latecomers, that's 10 minutes times 6. Sixty minutes. One hour of collective wasted time.

If you hold a lot of meetings that each start late, the wasted time will really add up.

So, start your meetings on time. It won't take long before the habitual latecomers will start coming on time, particularly if you start your meetings with a piece of really important news that your employees would much prefer to hear first-hand.

Today's Leadership Lessons

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As leaders, let's take a few minutes today to be sure we are doing all of the following:
1. Praise when compliments are earned. 2. Be decisive. 3. Say "Thank You" and sincerely mean it. 4. Show and demonstrate trust. 5. Communicate clearly. 6. Listen carefully. 7. Teach something new. 8. Work hard and lend a hand when deadlines are tight. 9. Show respect for everyone on your team. 10. Follow through when you say you will. 11. Allow learning to happen when mistakes are made. 12. Allow prudent autonomy. 13. Respond to questions quickly and fully. 14. Take an interest in your employees. 15. Give credit where credit is due. 16. Be humble.

Knowing When To Say Thank You To Your Customers

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In your leadership role, it's vital that your team members know how to deliver excellent customer service. "Knock Your Socks Off" type service as book editor Ann Thomas and Jill Applegate would say.

Part of delivering excellent customer service is saying "Thank You" to your customers and knowing when to say "Thank You".

Thomas and Applegate recommend telling your customers "Thank You" during at least these nine situations:
When they do business with you...every time.When they compliment you (or your company)When they offer you comments or suggestionsWhen they try one of your new products or servicesWhen they recommend you to a friendWhen they are patient...and even when they are not so patientWhen they help you to serve them betterWhen they complain to youWhen they make you smileYou and your team members can say "Thank You":
VerballyIn writing (and don't underestimate the power of personal notes via snail mail)With a small, tast…

Act Quickly To Gain Customer Loyalty

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A customer who complains and receives a fast response will actually be more loyal to your company in terms of future sales and referrals than a customer who never complained at all. That is what author Mark Thompson and Brian Tracy proclaim, and I agree with them.

They also say in their book, Now...Build A Great Business!, that:
a slow response to a customer complaint triggers fear and anger.And, when that happens, the customer is afraid that he/she is going to be stuck with a product/service that doesn't work and feels angry that he/she went ahead with the purchase in the first place.

So, lead your team to:
Respond quickly to customer complaintsRefuse to defend or make excusesOffer to make the customer happy immediatelyBe open and honestTell the truth and tell it as soon as you know itBottom-line...assume that anything you do or say will become public knowledge quickly. So, resolve to build and maintain trust in everything you do.

Today's Leadership Quotes

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The leader of the past was a person who knew how to tell. The leader of the future will be a person who knows how to ask -- Peter Drucker

It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit -- Harry S. Truman

No man becomes rich unless he enriches others -- Andrew Carnegie

Perception, visibility, and influence will help you stand out from the gifted group of stars that surrounds you --  Joel A. Garfinkle

The Leadership Test

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One of my favorite books about leadership is The Leadership Test by Timothy R. Clark. You can read it in an hour and its message will guide you through your entire career.

Here are some important points from the book that are particularly powerful:
Leadership is the process of influencing volunteers to accomplish good things.The spectrum of influence ranges from manipulation to persuasion to coercion.Only persuasion is leadership.  Manipulation exploits.  Coercion controls.  Neither manipulation nor coercion can produce lasting results or consistent good results.Leadership is based on the influence-through-persuasion at the front end, combined with accountability at the back end. Clark further points out that:
Leaders qualify themselves based on the manner of their influence and the nature of their intent. If you haven't read this gem of a book, pick up at copy today.

How To Be A Healthy Leader

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If you're like many leaders, you're "too busy" to exercise on a regular basis. And, you don't give yourself time to renew and refresh. Truth is, there are ways to fit exercise and healthful habits into your busy day that will pay off in dividends.

From Experience Life magazine awhile back, here are 10 tips for how to fit even just moments into your day (at work, on the road and at home) to help you become more healthful:
Make a plan to exercise. Include exercise times, even if they are just in 10-minute increments, on your calendar.Find time to exercise and build on that time. Start off by walking for five minutes at lunch and add to that every few days until you've worked up to 30 minutes every few lunch hours.Limit screen time. Set a timer for how long you'll watch TV or surf the Net. Then, use the time you aren't in front of a screen to exercise.When you are watching TV, do squats, pushups, lunges, yoga poses and crunches.Think positive. Psychologist…

How To Run A Better Workplace Meeting

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Research shows that unfortunately, many workplace meetings are not nearly as productive as they could be.

To help ensure the meetings you host are productive, lead them by:
Observing nonverbal feedback and encouraging everyone to participate.Summarizing group consensus after each point.Reminding the group who is responsible for taking care of each follow-up action.Encouraging team-building, networking and problem-solving among your meeting participants.

How To Be A Manager With Class

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The sixth edition of the best-selling book, The First-Time Manager -- originally published in 1981 is a must-read for new managers and leaders in business.

One of my favorite sections of the book is the one about class in a manager:
Class is treating people with dignity.Class does not have to be the center of attention.Class does not lose its cool.Class does not rationalize mistakes.Class is good manners.Class means loyalty to one's staff.Class recognizes the best way to build oneself is to first build others.Class leads by example.Class does not taken action when angry.Class is authentic and works hard at making actions consistent with words.The First-Time Manager is an excellent how-to guide for anyone new to managing people.

Teach An Employee Something New Today

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Take the opportunity today to teach an employee something new. Nearly everyone likes to learn and is capable of tackling a new challenge.
Teach your employee something that expands his (or her) current job description.Teach something that will help him to get promoted within your organization at a later date.Teach him a skill that uses new technology.Or, teach him something that will allow him to be a more skilled leader and manager in the future.You can even teach something that you no longer need to be doing in your position, but that will be a rewarding challenge/task for your employee.

The benefit to your employee is obvious. The benefit to you is you'll have a more skilled team member who is capable of handling more work that can help you to grow your business and/or make it run more efficiently.

Be a leader who teaches.

Productive People Secrets

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According to entrepreneur and authorMargaret Hefferman, as reported a few years ago in Inc. magazine, the secrets of the most productive people are that they do these three things:
They take breaks. Breaks refresh the mind and allow you to see new situations. They aregreat collaborators. They have lives outside work. In fact, the most successful have rich private lives that include interests that hone different skills and that let them think in different ways.

Five Tips For How To Write A Company Policy

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Keep these five tips in mind when you craft your next company policy:
Keep the policy short and simple.Get rid of two old policies for every new policy you implement.Make sure that your organization's policy and procedures are written to serve your employees and customers--not just your organization.Don't write a policy in reaction to a single incident.  The problem may never arise again.Don't write a policy longer than one-page, no matter how large your organization may be.Thanks to author Bob Nelson for these great tips from his book, 1001 Ways To Energize Employees.

My Favorite Nelson Mandela Leadership Quotes

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These are my favorite Nelson Mandela leadership quotes:
"Lead from the back--and let others believe they are in front.""The greatest glory in living lies not in never failing, but in rising every time we fall.""It always seems impossible until it's done.""I like friends who have independent minds because they tend to make you see problems from all angles.""I've learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it.  The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.""Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again."