Posts Tagged ‘High-Performance Culture’

Be direct

Monday, May 5th, 2014

Every employee who disagrees with a policy or a decision has a choice: ignore it, whine about it, or be direct.

Ignoring something you don’t agree with is fine, so long as you feel the difference of opinion is not a serious error. If you feel that a policy or decision is harmful in a way that really matters, you have an obligation as a member of the team to voice your concern.

But here’s the thing: Don’t whisper your concern in a “meeting outside of the meeting.” That’s destructive to the team. Don’t cross your arms, roll your eyes, and whine to your colleagues who have no way to influence the outcome.

If it doesn’t matter, forget it! But if it does, you have an obligation to put on your grownup pants and head straight for the decision makers who can do something about it.

If those decision makers are worth their salt, and you present the idea calmly and clearly, your stock will only go up in their eyes.

Let down your defenses

Monday, April 7th, 2014

Picture yourself in a physical defensive crouch. You’re huddled close to the ground, eyes closed, hands clutched by your head. You’ve given up trying to move. Instead, you’re preparing for a beating, or to strike back.

Emotional defensiveness is just the same. The mental “crouch” paralyzes you. It keeps you from moving forward or growing.

Defensiveness often comes from a place of low self-esteem, which in turn creates a self-reinforcing downward spiral. Everyone around the defensive person walks on eggshells, including those who might otherwise try to help. Worst of all, the defensive person is fatally uncoachable, and therefore unpromotable.

So why are people defensive? People hear things through their filters. Based on their life experiences, if they feel unworthy, you can mention to them that the moon is beautiful last night and they’ll likely hear it as, “You were expecting the sun instead.” They hear it as yet another way you’re telling them they are inadequate.

If you become defensive in the face of criticism, it’s time to get a handle on it. Realize that someone offering advice is not attacking you, but critiquing your work in order to help you. Instead of pushing back with a “tone,” ask questions to get more information.

Let down that drawbridge, blow the doors off with your coachability, and there is NOTHING you can’t achieve.

Gossip takes two

Monday, February 17th, 2014

Gossip is the mother lode of dysfunctional behaviors—the worst poison in a workplace culture.

And it’s an epidemic. In a survey by the American Society for Training and Development, 85 percent of people admitted to gossiping in the workplace, and 21 percent reported gossiping frequently.

This crazy and dysfunctional behavior has been “normalized.”

In fact, a survey by Equisys found that the average employee spends 65 hours a year gossiping at the office. That’s a week and a half that’s completely non-productive. No, it’s worse than that—the average employee spends a week and a half each year actively undermining the health and productivity of the workplace!

You might think you’re off the hook if you only listen but don’t spread it yourself. Fat chance. If you listen, you are the “buyer,” creating the need that the gossip is fulfilling. If you stop listening, they will have to stop dealing.

There comes a time when we have to grow up, and that time is now. That means no spreading gossip and no listening to gossip. Commit with every cell in your body NOT to participate.

If someone comes to you speaking negatively about another person, it is your ethical obligation to say something like, “I can see you’re concerned. Let’s get a productive result here. Let’s go together right now to talk to Janet and make sure you hear each other’s concerns so something changes.”

Now THAT’S a healthy agreement.


Monday, January 13th, 2014

A Princeton study shows that work is more overwhelming than ever—or at least that’s our perception. Three-quarters of the workers in the study said work is more stressful than it was a generation ago.

That’s certainly true in some ways. But overwhelm often has just as much to do with a conversation going in your head as with the real world. When you tell yourself, “I don’t even know where to start,” a feeling of helplessness sets in. Every task seems to be shouting your name.

STOP. There are priorities here. Take a deep breath and figure out what has to happen first, what can wait until later, and what doesn’t have to happen at all. Then take the things that need to be done first and sort them further. Are they all world-endingly important? Which items can have the deadline renegotiated without causing a problem? Which can be delegated?

Suddenly the priorities are standing in line, waiting patiently for their turn. What had seemed like a mountain is actually an orderly assembly line.

Finally, stop telling others how overwhelmed you are. That adds to everyone’s feeling of overwhelm, and it gives the tasks in your head permission to jump out of line again. They are not in charge—you are!

Once you step off the treadmill of overwhelm, you’ll NEVER go back.

Blow expectations sky high with the product of the product

Monday, January 6th, 2014

Imagine that your boss has asked you for something. That “something” is the product. If you give her the product, she will be satisfied.

But “boss satisfaction” is a goal as unworthy as “customer satisfaction.” You don’t want customers who are merely satisfied—you want customers who succeed wildly because of your efforts, so they rave to all of their friends and family about you and your company.

Same thing with the boss. Satisfying him or her is a mediocre response to the challenge of your job. The boss is not likely to go home and say, “Wow, guess what happened today, honey: Steve did what he was supposed to do! Again!”

Instead, when you get a task, see that as the product, and immediately start thinking about how to deliver the result at a higher level. That’s the “product of the product.”

Say that your manager asks you for a file folder. That’s fine, but she doesn’t really need a file folder. She needs what the file folder will produce for her. Suppose she needs it to prepare for a meeting with a client. Wouldn’t it be helpful if, instead of just throwing the file in front of her, you attached a note that said, “FYI, I looked in LinkedIn to find out more about this client and thought you might want to know that this year is the 25th anniversary of their business. And by the way, remember that the last time you talked to him, his daughter was headed off to college.”

THAT’s the product of the product. Don’t just give what is requested. Anticipate what is really needed and deliver on that. That’s what an “A” player does, while a “C” player just delivers the file folder.

See the difference?

So from now on, deliver not just the product, but the product OF the product, and you will be a superstar.