Posts Tagged ‘Managing Employees’

Turning Workplace Clark Kents into Superheroes of Service

Tuesday, May 11th, 2010
© Dmitroza |

© Dmitroza |

Someone’s late for a meeting. Nobody calls the person on it. Next week, three people are late.  You try to convince yourself it’s a coincidence. Eventually, there won’t be a meeting in the entire organization that starts within 15 minutes of the scheduled time. Before you know it, everyone’s repeating the mantra that “starting late is the ABC Company way!”

You create sales reports to make sure the right people are called on and the right process is followed. Then some sales reports aren’t done accurately or aren’t timely. But it’s your top producer so…what can you say?

Then the top achiever stops doing the reports all together.  The rest of your team members follow the leader. Sales take a nosedive. Your sales team blames the economy and the competition.

Yeah, right.  It’s somebody ELSE’S fault.

Everybody knows the rules—but no one is calling others on it when they break the rules.  Your organization descends into lazy anarchy.  How could it not?

Look at any successful organization and you’ll see a group in which EVERY team member cares enough to call every other team member on it whenever a service standard is breached, a deadline missed, a sales process isn’t followed, or an honor code value violated.

Struggling organizations have folks who just want to be “nice.”  Think Clark Kent. When they see standards breached, they let it all slide.  Why?  So others will let THEM slide when THEY mess up. Eventually they’re all scratching each others backs, watching the iceberg pass by, and wondering why their socks are wet.

People need to understand that it isn’t “mean” to challenge each other—it’s uncaring and unloving to NOT challenge each other for falling short of what’s required. It keeps others small.

A leader’s role is to lead people to a level of greatness they thought was reserved for others—to tear the shirts off these Clark Kents, revealing the ‘S’ of the superhero below.  Your role is to help ordinary people get extraordinary results by using the most basic fact of human psychology:  People move away from pain and toward pleasure.

If somebody doesn’t do what they’re supposed to do and there is no immediate pain, that behavior continues. If there is no pleasure, that behavior isn’t reinforced.

Your job is to celebrate the many wins with rituals of pleasure and to let ALL your people know that celebrating those wins is part of their contribution to the team. It is also your job to make sure that when people don’t do what they’re supposed to do, they experience the pain of addressing the slip-up directly.

A balance of pain and pleasure serves as twin guardrails to guide continuous improvement in behaviors and results.

The ultimate job of a leader is to run an organization in which every person calls every other person “tight.” Only then do you know your people have the maturity both to challenge and to be challenged. When in the history of time has there been a profound result without a profound challenge?

Creating an extraordinary organization doesn’t mean finding extraordinary people. It means helping ordinary people discover that they can be extraordinary.

Create Better Results by Revisiting Your Company Values – Video

Thursday, April 8th, 2010

The core that everything else is based upon is your company values. Revisit the values that you stand for as an organization because as you grow and become better and different, your values change. Do you suppose Bill Gates has the same values today as he did when he was 19 years old starting his first business? No – he’s become much more philanthropic and had to grow as a human being. His values had to change to create better results. There’s always a need to go back and revisit your values.

You don’t have to have the standard values that every company has. Here’s a list of company values my team came up with a few years ago:

  1. Extreme commitment to customer success. Customer satisfaction doesn’t matter. Customer Success is what it’s about. Everything anybody does should be defined by “Does this help the customer succeed more?”
  2. Blue Vase. Watch the video to hear the whole story about the blue vase. Do you ever have people who are really busy telling you why something can’t be done when they could be spending just a little bit more energy to just figure out how to get it done? Blue Vase in our office is code for “I know this is impossible, but figure it out anyway because it needs to get done.”
  3. No excuses. Excuses don’t replace results. Instead of making excuses say, “I blew it. Here is my massive corrective action so that this doesn’t happen again.” Making excuses to cover up mistakes really creates chaos in organizations. As soon as you start allowing excuses, you will see a decrease in your results.
  4. Having and Spreading Fun!
  5. Commitment to personal growth and commitment to professional growth. In order to have an organization that grows, you better have people who are committed to reading and learning. You should read at least one book a month in your profession so you can make yourself better at what you do.
  6. Sense of urgency. One of the most limited resources that we all share is time. People’s time needs to be used effectively.
  7. Positive reinforcement to fellow associates. People always think they don’t get enough appreciation from their manager, but the research show that it’s really from their fellow employees where it matters. So you better have people who are givers and always showing their appreciation for others.

What are some of your company values?

Screw up? Chin up! ‘Fess up—then clean up

Tuesday, April 6th, 2010
© Nruboc |

© Nruboc |

You’re human, so you’ll make mistakes. It’s part of the bargain. You’ll miss deadlines. You’ll drop the ball in a hundred different ways.  No matter how hard you try, you WILL disappoint people by not meeting their expectations and living up to your commitments.

That’s why it’s crucial to have the ability to (1) admit your mistakes, and (2) clean up after yourself.

A clean-up has two parts—acknowledging the result wasn’t okay and committing to take corrective action. When you miss a deadline, you owe it to your team to say, “I’m so sorry I missed that deadline. There’s no excuse. It shouldn’t have happened. I’m putting a tickler system in place to remind myself earlier in the process so it won’t happen again.”

In a world of wall-to-wall denial and deflection of blame, just IMAGINE the reaction that kind of honesty will get.

When a document slips through with errors—and you know it will sometimes—your boss expects to witness a duck-and-cover drill.  Imagine instead if she hears, “I can see that I made mistakes in this document and I know that’s not acceptable. I will put a reminder at my desk to checklist each document before I submit it to make sure they are double-checked and accurate. I want you to be able to trust me.”  It’ll stand out like a stallion in a herd of mules.

If someone DOES react badly to your honesty—and again, sometimes they will—just grin and bear it, knowing you are not responsible for the reactions of others.  Make an honest willingness to clean up your messes a way of life, and 99 times out of 100, the world will beat a path to your door.

The Chat that Launched a Thousand Transformations

Thursday, February 11th, 2010
© Nruboc |

© Nruboc |

Of all the transformative tools in all the coffee joints in the world—search ye in vain for anything more effective than The Conversation.

The Conversation is not an hour-long lecture.  It isn’t a debate.  It isn’t complicated to learn or deliver.  In about 15 seconds, The Conversation can take someone with a crummy, destructive workplace attitude and turn them completely around.

Say you’ve got a co-worker who never misses an opportunity to grouse about management, or peers, or underlings, or the furniture, lights, weather, health plan, the pattern in the break room floor tiles…I can see by your expression that you know who I’m talking about.

If I’m right, and you DO know someone like this, a pure vortex of energy-sucking dark matter who seeks only to derail any hope of progress, then it’s time for YOU to engage this person in The Conversation.

Here’s how it goes:

“I’m so excited about where our team is going. And I could be wrong, but my sense is you don’t share that excitement.  That’s okay, because maybe this isn’t your thing.  But if this isn’t your thing, you have to go find your thing!”

That’s it.  That’s the whole thing.  But take a moment to see what’s packed into that tiny paragraph.  You’re excited, and you’ve noticed she isn’t.  You validate that (“That’s okay”), then invite the person to find her bliss—wherever it is!

You don’t need to be the boss or even in the same department with this person to have The Conversation. It is extremely direct yet exceptionally loving because it demonstrates that you care enough to get them to make a choice between bringing their whole heart to their current situation or going to find a new situation that makes them happy.

Delivered well, The Conversation has transformed a lot of people from being miserable blamers to on-fire contributors. And the beauty is that it works in an instant.  Ninety percent of the time, the bad apple person says, in these or other words, “You’re right. I’ve been a jerk”—and then becomes a star performer because the boundless energy they were using to manipulate their coworkers into joining them in their misery is now channeled to productive use.

As for the other ten percent—well, anyone who refuses to respond to an intervention that gentle and reasonable has essentially fired himself.  The pink slip is just a formality.

TGIM e-Zine: July 20, 2009

Monday, July 20th, 2009

Welcome to the TGIM e-Zine!
Transform your team from “snooze-button hitters” to “rock-star performers” and create a buzz-worthy environment your clients will love.

Issue 35 Topics Include: READ NOW

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