The Ripple Effect at Work

I’m leading a couple of groups at work that I’m calling “Emerging Leaders”.  I meet with both groups for just 1 hour each week.  Currently, we are working through Jeff Olson’s book, The Slight Edge.  Starting in November, we will be studying John Maxwell’s The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth.

For today’s session, we will be discussing the Ripple Effect.  Olson explains this:

“When you create positive improvements in your life, you create positive ripples that spread out all around you, like a pebble of positivity dropped in a pond.”

And the ripple effect can impact others to do the same…

“When you reach out and positively affect one other person through your interactions and words, you create a slight change in that person, who is then more likely to reach out and positively affect someone else.  Simply put, one touches another,                    who touches another, who touches another.”

Are you looking for improvements within your team?  Are you overwhelmed at the thought of moving the entire team to better results, increased improvement?

Take the time to invest in a couple key team members who are positive influencers.  Help them see their potential.  Give them solid tools for success.  Fan their flames.

If they are truly people of influence, the ripple effect can work.  As these key team members demonstrate positive results, work habits, healthy collaboration, this can ripple to others.  As you coach all of your team, encourage growth and development.  Point out the positive and address what needs to improve.  But get your team to work together towards success.  Make this your culture within your department.

The ripple effect can work for you.

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The Slight Edge to Success

I was introduced to the book The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson.  I began reading it yesterday morning while waiting for some work to be done on my wife’s car in the shop.  I am enjoying it and highly recommend it to you .  

I sent the following in an email to my team here at work.  Olson makes a great point on success, and I want to share it with you now.  

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Jeff Olson shares that most people in life want to experience success but only around 5% actually do something to become successful.  According to Olson (and I agree with him), “success comes through simple, productive actions, repeated consistently over time.”  That is TRUE.

Here’s an example of that.  In the past 3 years, I’ve lost nearly 50 lbs.  I did not wake up the other day and BAM! those 50 lbs were mysteriously gone (wouldn’t that be great!?!).  No, here’s how that happened:

  1. I decided to fight my diabetes by changing the way I ate.
  2. I researched eating a LCHF (low carb/healthy fat) lifestyle.
  3. Every day, I concentrated on reducing my carbs.  For me, I worked to keep my daily carbs to <100g
  4. Every day, I used My Fitness Pal app to keep track of what I ate and how many carbs I consumed at each meal.
  5. Every day, I stuck to my plan.

 

I didn’t intend to lose weight.  My goal was to reduce my blood sugar numbers – I was unhealthy!  But as a “side effect”, I was losing weight by focusing on reducing carbs every day.

Did you read that?  “every day”  My weight loss success was due to the “simple, productive actions, repeated consistently over time.”  I lost 30 lbs in less than 120 days earlier this year.  I’ve kept it off, too.

Here in your job, you can be successful. It will require daily disciplines that are easy to do.  Really, they are easy.  But just like trying to lose weight, disciplines are also easy not to do.  The choice is yours.

So here are 10 Core Commitments for you.  This is my challenge to you.  Work on these commitments every day at every opportunity.  There may be days when you don’t get to all 10, but if you make it a focus, I bet you’ll do more than you think.

10 Core Commitments

  1. Follow-up (issue resolution, member service one step beyond)
  2. Follow-through (keeping our promises)
  3. Ask for the business (connect to our experts)
  4. Be pleasant & professional (smile and use their name)
  5. Ask for referrals (members who are “fans” will promote us – ask them!)
  6. Communicate appropriately (in-person, on the phone, email, texts)
  7. Add value (be helpful)
  8. Use our resources (and apply what we’ve learned)
  9. Take action now (to delay can mean losing)
  10. Listen more (to get to the core of the issue)

 

Actively, Daily doing this will:

  • Build our business
  • Bring us success (and you personally!)
  • Bring our members success
  • Bring our co-workers success

Power Follow-Ups for Leaders & Their Teams by Jim Johnson

From an earlier post…

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Observation coaching involves something called “power follow ups”. If you see or hear something that is not the standard you set for your staff member, try the following:

You observe an employee, Joe, waiting on a member. During the interaction, the employee rarely made eye contact and he did not use the customer’s name (both standards for your company). As soon as the customer walks away from the transaction, turn to Joe and say (quietly to them directly), “Joe, I noticed that while that customer was here, you hardly made eye contact with them. You also did not use their name. We’ve been trained that those 2 simple interaction skills make a big difference in how we build important relationships with our customers. I’ll be here observing the next several transactions. I need you to work on those 2 skills. In a while, I’ll give you my feedback on how you did. I know you can do this.”

Do you think Joe will make the changes? You bet! He knows that you know how he is interacting. You just witnessed it. He also knows that you are intentionally watching him and that he now has his marching orders. After several more interactions with customers, watch what happens in the following interactions:

Joe begins to make eye contact, intentionally uses the customer’s name and even smiles.Here’s your power follow-up, “I knew you could do it, Joe! That was great. Did you see how Mrs. Jones responded to you? She even asked you some additional questions that allowed you to talk about that new product. You’ve proven you can do this. Remember, our commitment is to do this at every encounter every day. It will become habit. Super job, Joe. I appreciate your concentration on this.”

You have just provided immediate, specific feedback on your employee’s performance.

He performed + you observed + you praised = a power follow-up

Chances are he will become more consistent with his customer interactions. By the way, don’t make this the last time you ever observe this employee on this issue.

Observing coupled with a power follow-up also works with negative behavior. The secret here is to give your power follow-up in a more private environment such as your office or a side room away from other employees. You never want to embarrass a team member in front of others on the team. It will only demotivate or anger that person.

As someone once said, “you have to inspect what you expect” and that means getting out and observing.

Focus Means Sometimes Having to Say “NO” by Jim Johnson

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When a leader is focused, things get done. When things get done, others take notice. When others take notice, the leader (many times) gets presented with more things to do.

WARNING: your focus could be in great peril!

You know your goals. You’re on your way to producing great results. You have your team focused on the right things.

Then someone from another department comes to you and says, “Hey, I’m leading a project. You are recognized as someone who gets things done. Your team is doing great. I would love to have your expertise on my project team. Would be willing to join this team to insure its success?”

Ego inflates. Common sense begins to fog over. WAIT!

There is a time and a place for everything. Is this project commitment the right time for you? Think about these things:

* Will this project help move the company forward or not? If not, say no.
* Is your involvement in the project that critical? If not, say no.
* Is the project leader desperate to build a project team? If so, say no.
* If you get involved, can you delegate some of your other tasks to others on your team? If so, say yes.
* Who will “own” this project initiative once the project is done and something new is implemented? If it’s you or your team, you should get someone on that project.

Saying “no” is not the end of the world or your career. If you say “no”, be sure to give a professional, clear explanation as to why you are not going to be involved.

Sometimes, being focused means you have to say “no”.

“My Co-Workers Are Like Zombies” and Other Survey Items I’d Like to See by Dr. Marla Gottschalk

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Over the years, I’ve reviewed (and written) my fair share of items for attitude surveys and culture assessments. These instruments can be pivotal — serving as a barometer of sentiment within an organization. The data can help us understand shifting attitudes among contributors and the general state of “well-being” within an organization. Moreover, the data sets are often utilized to explore dynamic constructs such as job involvement, organizational commitment, job satisfaction and engagement — topics which we strive to fully understand.

The best of survey items are honest, to the point and utilize a “conversational” tone. It actually takes quite a bit of thought to write an item that effectively “captures” the spirit of a construct — and in this medium, items can sometimes appear uninspired or “flat”. Avoiding this problem often involves creative strategies. Stephen Race, an organizational psychologist who crafted a culture assessment for Jiibe, contracted a TV and film writer to edit the items he created to become more engaging. (A great idea. You can see examples of the items below marked with an asterisk.) Interestingly, each writer has their own style — some direct — some incorporating a bit of dry humor behind the core message. A few of the more “direct” items about leadership that I have drafted have been met with a moment of pause. (But happily, the items were eventually included in the final survey instrument.) Ultimately, the hope is to connect with employees and attain an honest view of their work environment.

Classic items such as “Overall, how satisfied are you with your job?”, will always prove useful. However, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at some of the more candidly worded items I’ve seen over the years — and a few I’d like to see going forward. The items touch on varied workplace topics; leadership, feedback, decisions, work spaces, stress, and engagement.

A few items to consider, for your next survey:

I honestly don’t know who is running the show around here.
People don’t speak up here, even if they have something valuable to add.
My work aligns with my strengths.
I do the same mind-numbing tasks, over and over again.*
My colleagues are like family to me.
I avoid my boss.
I brag about the work we do in this organization.
I’m not sure that my boss knows my last name.
There are so many interruptions during my day, I find it difficult to work.
Sometimes we are so tired around here that we can’t see straight.
My boss asks me how I am doing.
I dread going to work.
People here say they are teams players, but in reality they are not.
I wouldn’t recognize our company CEO, if seated next to me.
The organization learns from its mistakes. It makes changes based on what it has learned.*
No one stops to say “thank you” in this organization.
It has been forever since my manager has told me I have done a good job.
I am recognized for what I am doing right, not wrong.
If I had my way, I wouldn’t work on another team.
I can expect to be rescued by my coworkers, if I’m drowning in work.*
People in this organization have a high level emotional intelligence.
Meetings around here are so useless, that I often feel like screaming.
My ideas are valued.
As far as the quality of my work goes, I have no idea where I stand.
I often leave work thinking that I never want to go back.
I’ve grown as a contributor since I’ve worked here.
In my opinion, open offices are “for the birds”.
Sometimes I am so focused on my work, that I delay using the restroom.

Finally, here is one from the Jiibe culture assessment, that captures a telling observation.

My co-workers are like zombies — at least like the kind of zombies who don’t joke around or have any fun.*
What are the best (and worst) items that you’ve seen? What items would you like to see? Share them with us.

Dr. Marla Gottschalk is an Industrial/Organizational Psychologist. She also writes The Office Blend.

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