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:
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.
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!).
Make your work and your passions about serving others. What you receive back will be more than you can imagine.
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.
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 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 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.
Ask 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.
Lunch/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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
I set a goal for 2018 to read at least 12 books this year. In the spirit of accountability, here is what I’ve accomplished so far:
- Leverage (January)
- Mindset (3/4/18)
- The CEO Next Door (3/15/18)
- Millionaire Success Habits (3/4/18)
- High Performance Habits (4/3/18)
- The Energy Bus (4/4/18)
- Everyone Communicates, Few Connect (4/17/18)
- Strengths Finder 2.0 (May 2018)
- Born to Build (Clifton) (7/1/18)
On deck for me are the following books:
- Third Door
- Sharpen Your Verbal Edge
- The Future Belongs to Those Who Dare
- Super Connector
- The Surprising Power of the Coil
What are you reading?
- Set meaningful personal goals and work on them every day.
- Practice gratitude every day.
- Do random acts of kindness.
- Read inspiring, challenging books every day.
- Listen to inspiring podcasts.
- Follow impactful leadership blogs.
- Find and meet with a mentor.
- Mentor someone.
- Network with other leaders.
- Volunteer your time in your community.
- Do more than expected at work.
- Intentionally meet new leaders in your community.
- Write someone a personal note of appreciation.
- Say “please” and “thank you”.
- Open the door for others.
- Smile more.
- Listen more than you speak.
- Spend time with family and friends.
- Laugh – don’t take yourself too seriously.
- Develop positive self-talk.