Preparing for 2019 by Jim Johnson

2019

This is that time of year.  Budgets have been turned in.  We are closing out one year and getting ready for a new year.  Strategic planning sessions have happened.  Follow-up sessions may still be on the calendar.

What are you expecting for your business in 2019?  Growth?  Increase in revenue?  Larger market presence?  I’m sure most of that and more is true.

But what about YOU?

What are you expecting out of YOU in 2019?  Now is the time to prepare.  Here are some things you may want to consider:

Read

If you know me, you know I am a big advocate of reading.  The past 2 years, I set a goal to read 12 books/year.  I did it 2 years ago.  This year, I’m on track to read 19.  My goal in 2019 is to read 24.  How will I do that?  I’ve already established a simple process that I learned from Jeff Olson (author of the Slight Edge).  Read 10 pages/day.  Most business books can be read in 1 month with this process.  I am capable of reading 20 pages/day.  This process works.

Connect

Make 2019 the year you better connect with the community of leaders around you.  Find a meaningful networking group.  Or start one like my brother and I did last year (we can help you do this!).

Serve

Make your work and your passions about serving others.  What you receive back will be more than you can imagine.

Create

Take time to think about big ideas and then take action on it.  Experiment.  Collaborate.  Innovate. The world needs your creative passions to emerge!  Get out of your rut and start asking yourself, “What if…?”

If you are looking for something to jump-start you, pick up the book Atomic Habits – Tiny Changes, Remarkable Results by James Clear.  I just recently heard about this book and ordered it.  I started it last night.  It’s not about goals but about the processes (habits) we can create to help us achieve far more than we thought possible.  It is outstanding so far!  If you have read Charles Duhigg’s The Power of Habit or Jeff Olson’s The Slight Edge, this book is an excellent compliment to those.

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Creating Culture Confidence by Jim Johnson

In this final post on Culture Confidence, I want to share some practical things you can do to help build your company’s culture and by merely doing these, you will gain more confidence in becoming a team member who PROMOTES, PRACTICES, and PROTECTS your culture.

Just do it.  Intentionally, sincerely PROMOTE, PRACTICE, and PROTECT your company’s culture.  I know this sounds obvious, but we are all prone to getting in and remaining in a rut at work (and in life).  Watch and listen to your work environment and find ways to positively impact others.  Such as…

spotlight

 

Spotlight coworkers.  If your company periodically recognizes outstanding work coming from the team, do you part by nominating someone for this recognition. Even if the other person never knows you nominated them, do it!

 

High 5.  At my company, we have developed a way to send digital “High 5’s” to coworkers when we “catch them” doing great things.  This High 5 – one of our superstars created this process in Hyland’s OnBase – is a simple form filled out and then sent to the identified team member and sent to their supervisor.  The supervisor can then save this to our company’s performance software for review considerations.

thank you

Thank You Notes.  Yes, actually sit down and in your own hand writing jot down your appreciation of someone and send it to them.  Or walk it to their desk and give it to them.  People LOVE to receive these.  Be thoughtful and specific.

 

“I appreciate you.”  This one may be a little bit harder for some of us, but actually tell someone you appreciate them – out loud.  Or at least write it down and send your thoughts to them in a note, email, instant message (not my favorite because it typically cannot be saved).  These are powerful words that can turn someone’s day around, lift their spirits, and build better relationships.

Assume the Best.  Too often, culture suffers because we assume the worst.  Turn it around.  Assume in best in what you are hearing or seeing.  If an email comes off fuzzy in its meaning, get up and go talk with the sender to get the clear meaning.  Assume the best.  And expect the best – from yourself and your team members.

 

questionsAsk Questions.  Asking great questions will help you get to the heart of an issue.  Asking great questions helps you learn more about a person’s role in a project.  Asking great questions helps you understand the other person’s point of view.  Ask great questions and listen carefully.

 

coffeeLunch/Coffee.  Ask a colleague out to lunch/coffee with no agenda other than to get to know them better.  How do you do that?  Ask great questions about them.  It may shock your colleague, but this earns great relationship dividends.

 

Self-Talk.  Be careful of what you say when you talk to yourself.  We so easily talk ourselves out of becoming more confident.  We talk ourselves down when considering our performance.  Your company hired YOU.  Step up and shine!  Reprogramming your self-talk will surely help you to become more confident in your work, your behaviors, your thinking, and your significance.  You are worth it.

We spend so much of our lives at work.  Let’s make that work meaningful by creating great company cultures.

You will benefit from this.  Your team will benefit.  Your company will grow.  Your community will be positively impacted.  Your customers will notice.

Culture Confidence.  We can do this.

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Protecting Your Company’s Culture – whose job is it? by Jim Johnson

In my last post, I introduced how team members can have confidence in building their company’s culture.  I shared about those critical moments when an employee has to make decisions about how to respond to counter-cultural situations.  The best course of action, in my opinion, is to do these 3 things as a matter of habit:

  • PROMOTE – This is where we actively, intentionally promote the very best of our company.
  • PRACTICE – The best way to promote a company’s culture is to practice it.
  • PROTECT

By protecting the culture I mean intentionally standing up for it.  Let me give an example.

You are in the company’s lunch room.  You hear one employee gossiping (assume negatively) about someone who is not present.  Others are around listening and sometimes joining in. Others are doing and saying nothing.

At that moment, what can you do to PROTECT your company’s culture.  You know what you are observing is NOT going build a healthy culture.  You know what you are hearing is hurtful and not helpful.  So what can YOU do?

protect

In my opinion, you have the right – and responsibility – to approach the gossiper.  Wait…what?!?!  Yes, YOU  have this right.  But take the right approach:

 

  • Approach the gossiper in private.  Don’t create even more negative drama by calling them out in front of a group.  That rarely, if ever, works.  Yes, what that person is doing is wrong, but professionally meet with them in private.  This will truly help “save face” to the one in the wrong.
  • Explain what you heard.  Tell them that the company’s culture is too valuable to make room for hurtful talk about each other.  Tell this person you believe they are better than they portrayed themselves to the group in the lunch room.  Maybe even ask them, “How do you think people perceived you when you talked about that other person in the way you did?  Do you think any of them may believe you’d do the same thing about them?  I want you to be better than this.  I hope you would want the same thing for me and others here.”  Help this person understand you care not only for the person being maligned but that you care for the gossiper, too.  Face it, most of us become blind to certain behaviors and attitudes.  But approach this person with the intent to help them become better.  
  • Tell them that you are not their supervisor, but as an employee of this company, you care about things that move the company forward.  And you care about things that hold the company back.  And you care about the people that work here.

Please note:  this is NOT simple to do.  Too often things get in the way of us making the right choice to protect our culture:

  • Easy. It’s just as easy to not act as it is to act. Just like losing weight or exercising or reading or being intentional in a relationship….easy to do and not easy to do.
  • Fear. We fear taking a stand.  I’ll admit it, it is scary!
  • Deflection. “It’s not my job. I’m not a manager, VP, CEO…”
    • Since when is protecting our culture the sole responsibility of a supervisor?
    • If you saw someone trying to kidnap a child at the mall, you would step in, right? Or would you tell yourself, “hey, it’s not my kid…”?
  • Self-worth. Too many times, we don’t take a stand because of what we say to ourselves.
    • “I’m just a low-level employee.  I have no authority.”
    • “People will make fun or treat me badly.  I don’t want to risk that.”
    • “I’ve only been with the company for 18 months. I don’t know enough to speak up.”
    • Who am I to speak up?  What do I know? I should shut up.”

But your company’s culture is worth protecting and nurturing!  Every time to PROMOTE, PRACTICE,  and PROTECT your culture, you help build momentum.

And when momentum builds, it becomes the norm.

You help raise the standard.

You don’t settle.

You refuse to live to the lowest common denominator.

The culture becomes more alive.

You/We become the culture.

 

Next, I’ll share some practical ways to PROMOTE and PRACTICE the culture.

 

Why Your Company Needs Culture Confidence by Jim Johnson

Culture Confidence main screen

This past week, I had the privilege of presenting to a group of team members a topic that was inspired by one of my own department’s team members.  Stephanie and I had been talking about how to develop more confidence at a lunch we had weeks ago.  She asked me if I could address how to have more confidence in the process of building our company’s culture.  And that got me thinking…so, put together a presentation that I will be sharing here in a couple of posts.

I have been fascinated by confidence – who has it, how do I get more of it, how to temper it, why it is so important to have it in life, etc.

When thinking about a company’s culture, much of what I have read centers around the organization’s leadership and/or C-suite executives.  But I believe a company’s culture can be built and developed by all team members regardless of their position in the company.

You see, there are moments, many moments, that occur where a member of senior leadership are no where to be found.  If culture is left primarily to senior management, so many opportunities to build culture will be lost.  That is why I want ALL of our team members to own culture-building.

In practical terms, we have all experienced times when we heard/see one team member gossiping about another team member who is not present – they are being talked about behind their back.  And more times than not, the comments are not positive.

In THAT moment of observation, what can ANY employee do to turn that situation into a culture-building experience?

From my perspective, culture-building isn’t a mantra that we hear from leadership or see printed and framed on walls.  That’s the easy part.  Culture-building can be hard, messy, uncomfortable, risky – and it is WORTH IT!

So in the moment when we have to decide how we can build culture during a negative situation, we have 3 choices:

  1. Do Nothing.  Building culture is easy to do.  It is also easy NOT to do.  And for many people, doing nothing is the easy thing.  Say nothing.  Just walk away.  But this does not build a positive culture.
  2. Join In.  A lot of us, unfortunately, join in on the negative conversation.  We “gang up” on the person who is the subject of the gossip.  Group gripe takes over.  Is this a good thing to bolster your career path?  Will the company become stronger with this sort of interaction?  NO!  There is a better way.
  3. Promote, Practice. Protect.  I believe that every team member has the right and responsibility to do these 3 things.
    • Promote.  This is where we actively, intentionally promote the very best of our company. At our company, we have a way to give each other a digital “High 5” where we catch someone doing the right thing and then promote culture by sending them a High 5 which goes to that person directly as well as their supervisor.  Promoting the culture also means getting involved in the community as a representative of the company.  We offer many opportunities to serve in our communities and encourage volunteerism.
    • Practice.  The best way to promote a company’s culture is to practice it.  Be a cheerleader for a project you’re involved in.  Get results.  Encourage others.  Tell a team member that you appreciate them.  Send a team member a thank you note on work they’ve been doing.  Practicing a company’s culture helps build momentum towards the healthy and the positive.
    • Protect.  This is hard.  I can’t candy-coat it.  But this part of culture-building is vitally important and anyone in any position can practice this.

I’ll share more about how to protect your company’s culture in the next post.

Bottom line:  your company is worth doing the 3 P’s.  Your fellow team members are worth it.  Your customers are worth it.

 

 

Recruit a Problem that needs Solving by Jim Johnson

problem solver

This morning, I read an excerpt from T.D. Jakes’ book, Soar!   It was a simple yet profound statement that got me thinking:

“Recruit a problem that needs solving”

He was primarily referring to someone who was interested in becoming an entrepreneur.  But I believe this statement applies in a few other ways.  See if you agree with me.

First of all, I do agree with Bishop Jakes.  If an entrepreneur is going to become successful, their intended business must solve a problem that exists for consumers.  If not, what’s the point?  I met a local entrepreneur who is working on a brace to help speed the recovery of a common sports injury (ACL).  If he can successfully create this brace, his future will become very exciting.  Pro athletes, college athletes, and even high school athletes will benefit from this.  He recognized a problem (slow/ineffective healing), and he is applying his engineering background to solve this in a new way.

But what if you are merely wanting to move up the corporate ladder at work?  Would solving a problem help with that?  YES!  Your path to promotion can be paved with your reputation as a problem solver.  Where can you find problems to solve at work?  Listen!  Look!  They are every where.  Spend time with others outside of your department and find out what issues drive them crazy.  Then work through a process to collaborate with them to solve the problem.  By doing this, you will make an impact, create influence, and be seen as a trusted resource.

Wait.  There’s a process to this?  Why, yes there is.  Let me share what I teach to my call center team when they encounter a service recovery call.  We lovingly call it the “Laffy Taffy” approach:

L = Listen.  Listen to the problem/issue.  Really strive to understand exactly what is being shared.

A = Ask questions.  Don’t start advising!  Ask clarifying questions to hone in on the true issue at hand.  Ask open-ended questions.

F = Feel.  Feel what the other person is feeling.  This will help you understand the true nature of the issue/problem.

THEN, and only then…

T = Think.  Think about the resources needed to help solve the issue.  Think about possible solutions.  Who else could be brought in to help?

A = Act.  After you’ve done all of this, now ACT.  Don’t just pat your co-worker on the back and say, “good luck with that.  It sucks to be you!”  NO!  Act!  Take action to solve the problem based on all that you’ve learned.

F = Follow-up.  Most of us fail here.  We do not follow up.  If you are given the opportunity to help solve a problem, follow-up to see how things are going once the issue is resolved.  Did the solution produce the desired results?  How is the person feeling now?  What have you all learned from this?  Follow-up!

You can also recruit a problem that needs solving in your efforts to help make your community better.  You can also take an honest look at your personal habits and discover issues that are getting your way of success.  You always want to become better as a leader.  Look for problems to recruit and then solve them for your own betterment.

Problems are all around us.  Recruit one!  Help others become better.  Become a problem solver.  Deploy the process of LAF TAF. Become that trusted resource.

It works when you work it.

A Life-Long Learner by Jim Johnson

This is an excerpt from my workbook, The Path to Promotion.  (previously titled “Right On”). This section is from the “be the right person” chapter…

Think about your current job responsibilities.  Have you mastered them?  Does the quality of your work reveal this?  Too often individuals believe they should be promoted but yet they have not mastered their current responsibilities.  How shallow and blind!

You need to develop a life of learning to prepare for future opportunities.  It begins with where you are today.  If there are areas of your job that you are not completely proficient in (proficient not perfection), then make it a priority to learn what you need to learn.

Proficiency brings so many benefits to you.  You will gain confidence.  A can-do attitude is hard to ignore and is “infectious”.  Job mastery demonstrates your competence.  You can control to some degree what others think of you.  Competency is always a favorable attribute.  And proficiency provides job security.  In today’s economy, you definitely want to be thought of as indispensable as possible.

A life of learning does not only take place on the job.  Are you learning outside of your daily shift?  One of the best ways to develop a life of learning is to read.  Your local public library is full of current magazines, journals and books that can aid in your personal development.  Read about current trends that affect your company, your department, and your daily duties.  You will be preparing yourself with useful knowledge for future projects and even for future interviews.

Area colleges and universities offer courses and degrees designed with the working professional in mind.  Degrees can be earned through in-class and online offerings.

Bottom line:  always learn.  Grow.  Develop yourself.

Being the right person means that you are committed to learning more               about yourself, your job, and your company.