W.A.I.T Why Am I Talking? – A Better Meeting Guide by Alan O’Rourke

We have all been at those meetings. The ones where people talk for the hell of it and without thinking. Before you know it the meeting is over and nothing is decided, much less discussed.

Less is definitely more when it comes to meetings. The smart people know what to say, when to say it and keep it concise.

Inspired by a note I spotted in the occupied office I have designed a handy flow chart for your meeting room that might keep things on track.

Find out more about Alan, see his flow chart on this topic, and reading more great content by following this link:  http://workcompass.com/w-a-i-t-why-am-i-talking-a-better-meeting-guide/

 

 

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“But Enough About Me”

My boss just shared the following with our Lead Team.  It is worth your time to read this.  I’m not sure where he found this, but read it, let it sink in, and then let’s all do it. 

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But Enough About Me…

I sat in on a solid coaching session with a regional manager and two area managers while traveling last week.

Okay, to be honest, I sat near the session and not “in it”.

The hotel I was staying in was under construction and the temporary dining area was not very large. 

I was given the one open table near three guys having dinner and talking shop.

Not having earplugs or a television close enough to focus on, their conversation became the soundtrack of my meal. Thankfully, the most senior guy in the group doled out some pretty good advice.

Beyond the nuts and bolts of their particular business (some type of manufacturing), there was a more general piece of advice he gave that had me smiling and trying to see the reactions from his mid-30-years old dinner mates.

He told them, “Don’t take this the wrong way, but I heard way too many complaints about First World problems in front of your teams today.”

As his dinner mates smiled sheepishly, he continued, “You guys are doing well. I know you work hard and believe me, I’m proud of our results. But your teams don’t need to hear about how much your kids’ private schools cost or how frustrated you are with the guys putting in your new pool.”

I will give him credit.

He made that point in a clear, yet non-scolding way.

As they joked around a bit about not wanting to sound like “that guy”, the senior manager put a nice ribbon on the subject.

He told them, “Look, sometimes the difference between the boss that you are inspired by and one that you resent is what he or she talks about most. If you are always talking about yourself, they see you as a ‘me first’ person.”

He continued, “If you are asking questions about their jobs, their families, their goals… they’ll walk through a wall for you because they know you are interested in their success…not just yours.”

I fought off the urge to lean over and high-five that senior manager.

Well, mostly because that would have been really weird.

Whether it is the employees working for you, the peers working with you or the customers you work for, how much of your conversations are centered on them?

Folks who focus their attention on others tend to attract more goodwill and success towards themselves.

Strive to be that person.

-Dave Martin

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Adding Value – Kindness & Consideration

Leaders seek to add value at every opportunity.  Some tend to think of this as primarily offering advice or come up with a solution.  I want to encourage you to look to add value by doing this:

Demonstrate Kindness & Consideration

We life in a harsh world.  Sometimes that harshness creeps into our team members’/coworkers’ lives when least expected.  Add value to them during these times by showing some kindness.

How do you do that?

  • Listen – not as a counselor, but as someone who cares.
  • Encourage – write a short note to say “thank you” to someone you noticed has been working hard and getting results
  • Praise – don’t underestimate your spoken praise for a team member. This simple action can carry them for many days (weeks?)
  • Share – share a resource that might be of help to someone you know is struggling (I had the privilege of doing just this today!).

What else could you do to add value to someone who truly needs it? Be creative.  Share addition ideas in the comments below.

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The Power of Praise by Jim Johnson

In my experience as a manager/leader of people for the past 30 years and in observing leaders I’ve led, a key behavior is too often missed.  Sure, we’re all good at pointing out areas of improvement.  We follow-up on the progress of a project.  We question our team member on an expenditure.

But we miss something.  Something that is powerful.  Something that is impactful.  Something that can help turn an indifferent team member into a passionate player.

PRAISE

Why is it we overlook this crucial part of leadership?  When a team member has done something great, overcome a hurdle, landed a significant sale, helped move the company forward, or shown initiative beyond their position, we might give a nod.  But so often we skirt by that and move on to “our” agenda.

The Results of Not Praising

What happens when we don’t verbally (or even in writing) praise a team member?

* We show our ignorance.  That’s right.  If our team member has done something significant and we don’t acknowledge it, they most likely will think “he/she has no clue what I do or how hard I work to make an impact here.”  And that is true.

* We exchange price tags.  What we focus on demonstrates what we value.  If we continually focus on what has gone wrong (according to our perspective), we show our team members what we value.  When they have really hit a significant goal or company metric and we basically ignore it, we have taken the “price tag” off that achievement and placed it on “well, we need to talk about how you…”  Where does that leave the team member?  Frustrated.  They just accomplished something that they are required to do – and exceeded expectations.  And what do we as leaders do?  Place value on something else with barely a recognition of their work.  Don’t ever let a team member feel “well, I’m damned if I do and I’m damned if I don’t”.

How to Praise

*Be specific.  It may seem like this is out of the “Mr. Obvious” playbook, but praise them specifically for what they have done.  Document this achievement and put it in their quarterly/annual reviews.  I’ve never had a team member be unhappy to review once again a major accomplishment.  They loved seeing it again.

* Make eye contact.  Look them in the eye when you are praise them specifically.  I’m bad at this.  But when I do it, it positively impacts me AND the team member.  It gets all of the focus on what you’re saying.

* Smile.  Again, I’ve got work to do here.  But if you are saying something positive, look positive.

* Remind them of their accomplishment.  Weeks or months down the road, you may be in a coaching session with this team member and they are not having a good stretch.  Remind them of what they can accomplish.  Remind them of what they did “back then”.  They can do it again.  Encourage them.

I just had a coaching session with one of my leaders yesterday.  I was so encouraged to hear how an online class had gone for her.  She took the lead in the class and was recognized for it by her professor.  I was able to put into my own words why this experience is true at her work, too.  She is very passionate about her job, her team, and her impact.  I was able to speak encouragement to her.

A few weeks ago, I sat in on an interview with the leader of my call center.  We were meeting a young lady who was hoping to get our part-time position.  She said at the beginning on the interview that she was nervous and not very experienced in interviewing.

But as my team leader worked her way through the conversation, this young lady spoke clearly, specifically, and confidently of her experiences and what she would bring to the table.  At the end, I said I had something to say.  I asked the young lady to look at me and I said, “you did an excellent job in this interview.  You did not come across nervous.  You gave specific examples of how you handled various work scenarios.  You demonstrated confidence in you as a person and your abilities.  You interviewed very well.”

The young lady almost cried.  She then said that she so needed to hear that.  She told me how much that meant to her.

Oh, yes, we hired her and she started this past Monday in training.

Don’t underestimate praise.  Don’t forget it.  As a leader, you probably don’t know how much your words of praise means to a team member.  The benefits for them, for your team, and for your company are endless.

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So There’s a Problem on Your Team…by Jim Johnson

No manager/leader will ever have a career where everything goes according to the plan.  Something is wrong on the team you lead. The wheels get wobbly on the wagon.  Sometimes they fall off.  Sometimes you have folks in the wagon that you wish were on someone else’s wagon.  Stuff happens.

There are times where a turn-a-round is a pretty simple fix.  Then, again, you’ll be faced with a team that is out of sorts – with each other, with you, or both.  Those times can be tough.

As the leader of your team, it is your responsibility to keep everyone on the same page, right?  Your boss will expect this of you.  Your company’s culture, I’m sure, demands it.  Teams that don’t function appropriately quickly stand out.  Managers who lead these teams also stand out.  So if you’re “stuck” in this situation, how do you handle it?

First, own it.  Whatever is happening…whatever has been said…what ever is the complaint…own what you can of it.  Take responsibility.  There is truth in difficult situations.  Find it and act upon it.  Yes, there will be drama, lies, and innuendos.  Stay clear of those.  Acknowledge the truth and act.

Second, understand your role and your team’s role.  As the leader, you will be setting the tone and leading the charge towards change.  Your team will be watching you.  That’s good.  Model the appropriate attitude and behaviors.  And know that it’s not all on you.  Each member of your team needs to be committed to helping the team out of its hole.  Personal opinions and biases get in the way.  Leaders can fall into the trap of blaming the team.  The team will talk about the leader behind his/her back.  Everyone is looking for a personal win.  But in business, “the house wins”.  You and your team needs to realize that the success of the business is paramount.  The best scenario is to bring alignment from both the leader and the team to what will be the “win” for the company.

Third, communicate.  If things aren’t going as you wish they were, don’t stop communicating.  You are still the manager.  Tell your team where they are succeeding.  Share with them where they are not.  Communicate change clearly.  If you don’t, your team will fill the “holes” with what they assume is happening in the change.  

Fourth, coach.  Spend significant time moving your individual team members forward.  A difficult team environment is not an excuse to stop developing your team.  They need you more than ever.  Keep the conversation on personal growth and your team’s/company’s metrics.  Don’t get caught up in the drama of one employee talking poorly of another employee.  Keep the conversation on what that team member can control and encourage them to meet/exceed their goals.  Give them the resources to do it.  Be there for them.  

Fifth, listen.  If you don’t, someone else will (i.e. HR, CEO).  Practice active listening.  Ask questions and then listen.  Take notes.  Follow up and follow through on what you hear.  Your team has a voice – listen to it.  

If you’re in a rough team environment, take heart.  You have what it takes to lead them out of it.  Keep short accounts with your team.  Don’t ignore bad behavior.  And by all means, DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT your interactions with your team.  You’ll be glad you did.  

You are a team leader.  If your team is off track, lead them back on it.  It won’t be easy.  But it’s your job, right?  You can do it.  

 

“Nothing will work unless you do.”  Maya Angelou

 

 

Speaking Potential to the Next Leader by Jim Johnson

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I’ve been fortunate, blessed to have influential people in my life who have encouraged my growth as a leader. Their influence has come in the form of mentoring and observing them living their lives. One of the things that has “stuck” with me, though, is the way they spoke potential into me.

Chuck Yoke successfully ran a large grocery change in the Spokane, Washington region. He was called home from the war to run his parents’ small grocery in Deer Park, Washington. Chuck quickly grew the business with his smarts and his keen understanding of people. He retired years ago having created a solid brand and customer experience in his stores.

I had the privelege of working for Chuck as a bookkeeper and then as an assistant manager in a new warehouse market in Spokane. One day, Chuck told me, “I’ve watched you work and learn new things. I’m convinced that there’s nothing you can’t do.” That comment has stayed with me for decades now. I remind myself of this when I’ve faced difficult situations. Someone somewhere back in time believed in me – I need to believe in me. Chuck spoke potential into me.

I had the wonderful opportunity to travel with the music organization The Continentals. I went on 10 tours in all over a 10 year period. My last 5 tours, I was the music director on one of many tours that would travel throughout the world. Cam Floria founded this incredible organization that has postively impacted leaders all over the world. As a fledgling music director, Cam would tell us that out on the road we would face some tough situations. He taught us to never give in to the idea “it can’t be done.” He taught us to be flexible. He taught us to make things happen even if everyone around us wants to give up. “There is always a way,” he would tell us time and time again. Cam saw my leadership potential before I did. I haven’t given up. Cam spoke potential into me.

When I was in the 6th grade, my Sunday School teacher was Al Schrock – everybody called him Shorty (he was). Shorty got me hooked on Dr. Pepper. He was a Bible scholar. He and his wife, Lizzy, were both brought up Amish. He helped me buy my first guitar by having me mow his lawn and help him with various building projects. He taught me the lesson that I can get what I want if I’m willing to work hard for it. He encouraged me to follow my passion of music (it has taken me around the world). He taught me the value of thinking and listening and asking questions. He loved his wife and he loved others. This man with only an 8th grade education taught me more than many of my college and master’s degree professors. Shorty spoke potential into me.

So here’s the million dollar question: who are you speaking potential into right now?

  • The new manager you just promoted?
  • A teen at your church?
  • Your children?

Don’t ignore the power of your life poured into someone else.