Posts Tagged ‘performance’

Critical Thinking: Overcoming Bias

Monday, November 16th, 2015

American executives have identified a lack of critical thinking skills as one of the most worrying deficits in the American workplace.

But what is critical thinking? If we’re going to fix it, it has to be more than a vague buzzword. Most people think that critical thinking just means being smart or knowing a lot. But that’s not true. Critical thinking is not about what you KNOW, but how you THINK. It’s the systematic attempt to avoid errors in reasoning, especially errors that creep in because of our own biases and preferences. Everybody has those biases, but a critical thinker knows how to counter them well.

Start by identifying your preferences. You would prefer to be one of the best performers in your company, right? But it’s important not to fool yourself into thinking you are already among the best if you’re not. That’s how we get crazy results like a Businessweek survey that found between 84 and 97% of employees think they perform in the top 10% in their companies!

Instead of trying to wish away the biases that get in the way of critical thinking, bring in the perspective of people who don’t share your bias. They’ll still be biased about THEMSELVES, of course. But they can provide a valuable point of view outside of your own bias.

Performance reviews, both formal and informal, are one way of doing this. Ask people you trust to tell you the truth: Do you think my work is solid? Do you think I’m a good candidate for promotion? If not, what can I improve?

Done right, critical thinking can be the secret weapon that allows for massive effectiveness and powerful results and returns in your organization.

Who You Are When No One is Looking?

Monday, November 10th, 2014

Imagine that your boss goes away for a few days. You’ve been working soooo hard, and now, finally, you’re free from the pressure of your employers.

You still come into work, of course. You still sit at the same desk. You still drink the same coffee and eat at the same time. But how have you changed?

Do you still bring the same energy, seize the same opportunities, work just as hard as before? Or do you find ways to cut corners and slack off because, you know, who’s gonna know?

Only you can truthfully answer these questions.

At the end of each day, you can convince yourself that you worked soooo hard, can convince yourself that you’ve contributed soooo much. And maybe you have. Only you know.

And the best indicator of who you are for real is who you are when no one is looking. Character is revealed when no one is watching.

As if your life depended on it

Sunday, August 17th, 2014

Years ago I had a friend with a crazy sense of humor and a vivid imagination. He was also absolutely reliable—never missed a deadline, and always delivered precisely what was needed.

I finally asked him for his secret. “If I don’t finish on time,” he said in a whisper, looking both ways, “They’ll push the button.”

Ooooh-kay. I slid a little further away from him and asked what on Earth he was talking about.

He laughed and explained. Whenever he was on an impossible deadline, he imagined he was in one of those implausible movie situations. Some unseen bad guys have planted a device in his body and instructed him to meet the deadline or…they’d push the button.

“I don’t know what happens if they do,” he said, “but I don’t want to find out.”

He doesn’t really believe this, just in case you are wondering. He’s just playing his version of a mental game that really works. Act as if your life depends on it, and you can do just about anything.

How would everything you do be different is you acted as if your life depended on doing it, and doing it well?

If your life depended on it, could you get your weekly report in on time? If your life depended on it could you hit your targets? If your life depended on it, could you get that new product out on time?

The answer, in every case would be “Of course!” Because you decided up front to make it happen, based on the level of stakes.

So why not bring those high stakes into your mental game every day? By tempting yourself with a reason that is bigger than life, you trick your brain into finding ways to do things instead of ways to not get the result. Everything becomes possible.

If You Were The CEO

Monday, June 16th, 2014

Let’s imagine for a second that your fairy godmother comes along, and “poof” you’re now the CEO of your organization AND you are featured as running the #1 organization in your industry, AND you’re doing it without breaking a sweat.

Let me ask you: Would you be operating on the same habits, decision-making skills, and thinking as you have now? Of course not.

Well, what if today, you made every decision, managed your calendar, and thought and performed AS IF you were at that level? Would that change your performance on the duties you currently are in charge of? Of course you would!

AND would it make you infinitely more promotable and allow you to get more done with less time and effort—and focus on what really matters? There’s no question!

Imagine your success if you grew by 10 to 25 percent every quarter in your ability to do your job and the job of the person you report into. Think of how much more effective and promotable you would be. The way to get there is to let go of the “story” about why you’re too busy to sharpen your skill-set. Start sharpening it every day without exception.

What’s Good for the Company

Saturday, June 1st, 2013

I’m forever mystified when someone tells me they really don’t care much about the good of the company they work for. “It can fall into the ocean as far as I’m concerned” was one especially memorable one I once heard.

“Hmm,” I said. “Your paycheck is gonna get awfully wet.”

Companies are made up of people. What happens to the company happens to the people in it. If you harm a company, it doesn’t harm the building it’s in. It doesn’t harm the computer systems or the products on the shelves. It harms the people. And if you make a company successful, it’s the people who benefit.

A company is made up of individuals with their own hopes and dreams and ideas of success. But it only becomes a company when all of those individuals come together to put the critical drivers of the company first.

I can hear it now: I do have my own hopes, you know! Well of course you do—we ALL do. But a rising tide lifts all boats. And when all those individuals put self-interest aside and focus on the good of the company, the success comes back to them in spades.

It’s not a contest between the good of the company and the good of you. One leads to the other.

Focus your work on the key results and critical drivers of the business—because the success of the business is YOUR business.