Walk The Talk #5



Every person I work with knows something better than me. My job is to listen

long enough to find it and use it. -- Jack NicholsTo get what we've never had, we must do what we've never done.
-- Anonymous Today's Topic: We want to know where we’re headed!

Dear Leader,

Why “Listen Up” about direction? Ever boarded a plane without knowing the destination? Ever driven a car blindfolded? Absurd, you say! Yet, these questions summarize the frustrations of many employees today. Why do we need specific direction? Read on!

Want to know one reason why people leave our company? They’re confused about the direction we’re going (or not going)! It may be hard to see from your position, but there’s not a lot of clarity – not a lot of direction – in what we’re supposed to be doing. Too often, the mission statement hanging on the wall says one thing, you can tell us another, and our compensation rewards us for something else.

On top of that, many of our “current” job descriptions were written years ago – in another time, for another purpose. And then when performance reviews come around, you sometimes tell us we should have been doing something completely different. No wonder we’re confused!  Believe it or not, many on our team waste as much as five and a half hours a week because of unclear communication about where we’re headed and what we’re supposed to do. That’s seven weeks per year – per person!

If you want to achieve better results and improve our morale, clearly communicate where we are going and why.

Your employees
 It is literally true that you can succeed best and quickest by helping others to succeed.-- Napoleon Hill Coaches have to watch for what they don't want to see and listen for what they don't want to hear.-- John MaddenAn optimist is the human personification of spring.-- Susan J. BissonetteDear Larry,We all define success differently. For some, success may include having a highly decorated career, owning the dream house, or living a life of luxury. For others, it may involve being a devoted spouse and parent, serving others, or living with a clear conscience. While our pathways to success may be different, I feel that most of us would agree that true success is about being fulfilled in life. In the powerful book The Nature of Success, Mac Anderson shares his twenty-eight keys to success. Today’s excerpt inspires us to discover our reason for being.

As a leader, your word is only as good as your last promise kept…or broken.-- Barbara "BJ" GallagherBe thankful for problems. If they weren't so hard, someone with
less ability might have your job!
—UnknownChaos often breeds life, when order breeds habit.-- Henry Brooks AdamsToday's Topic: Set the Example…And the Tone

LEADING BY EXAMPLE. It’s both a management responsibility and a moral obligation. And, it’s the most powerful tool in your leadership toolbox.

You have a strong influence on the thoughts and behaviors of your employees – probably much stronger than you think. Regardless of what appears on job descriptions or in employee handbooks, your behavior is the real performance standard that team members will follow. They’ll rightfully assume that it’s okay and appropriate to do whatever you do. Why wouldn’t they? So it’s critical that you set the proper example and desired tone…that you model the performance and behavior you expect from others. Do otherwise, and you’re a hypocrite. Ouch!

There’s no rocket science here – it’s pretty simple stuff. Just pretend that everyone on your team is from Missouri (“The SHOW ME State”). From conduct to commitment…attendance to attitude…respect to responsibility…work ethic to ethics at work – SHOW your people what you want them to do. Let employees know that, in order to be successful, all they have to do is play a game. The name of that game is…
“FOLLOW THE LEADER!” If you're doing everything right, but can't seem to come out on top, be patient. Hold the course. Success is rarely an immediate, overnight thing. -- Eric Harvey and Steve VenturaIt takes two to quarrel, but only one to end it.-- Spanish ProverbWhat Matters Most

Companies invest a lot of money in trying to find ways to help their employees work smarter and faster. In my working lifetime, I have spent countless hours attending seminars designed to improve my job performance. Twice I attended a class on “how to get along with difficult people.” But no one has ever sent me to a seminar on how to be a better person.

I doubt that Marty ever attended a training session on customer service. He didn’t read self-improvement books, either. What he did do was try to be good to people.

During one of his performance reviews, his supervisor, following management’s procedures on conducting such reviews, asked him, “Do you have any goals?”

“Yeah,” Marty said. “My goal is to stay here long enough that you have to carry me out.”

Marty loved his job. “I get all pumped up going to work,” he told me one night at his kitchen table. “It energizes me. People do this to me. The way I’ve got it figured, in life you get what you give.”

Night after night, sitting at Marty’s kitchen table, I learned life lessons. That was the first:

Relationships matter most in life.
 Copyright Simple Truths, LLC, all rights reserved and reprinted with permission. The best executive is the one who has enough sense to pick good people to do what he wants done, and self-restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it. -- Theodore RooseveltIt's better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.-- Chinese ProverbToday's Topic: Coaching the Falling Stars

Here’s something to consider: Even in the very best organizations, almost every manager will have to deal with at least one problem employee – uncooperative, emotionally unstable, chronically late, “just getting by” performance, etc. – each year. It may not make it easier, but you are not alone when it comes to the uncomfortable task of addressing performance problems.

Falling stars represent only a small percent of any team. Yet some managers spend a great deal of their time with people in this group. That means that the super stars and middle stars are not receiving the valuable coaching and other forms of attention from you that they need. And spending so much time dealing with performance problems doesn’t do a whole lot for the coach’s job satisfaction either.

Sometimes when a team member consistently underperforms, the manager assumes that he or she has failed as a coach. That’s not necessarily true. A good coach helps employees get to where they need to be. But, ultimately, it’s each employee’s responsibility to decide whether to be a super star, a middle star, or a falling star. Truth is, you can influence that decision but you can’t control it.

If you have established a positive work climate, you have a decision to make with each problem. You can close your eyes, live with the situation, and accept the negative impact of your falling stars’ lower performance. Or, you can conduct a performance improvement session in which the employee will either commit to your standards – or choose to ignore the problem and face the logical consequences.
Some time, in the not-too-distant future, these will probably be known as "the good old days."-- Eric Harvey and Steve VenturaIt's not enough to merely believe in recognition. You also have to behave like you believe in it!-- Eric HarveyWhat separates winners from losers is the courage to persist long enough to win.-- David CottrellWelcome Inconvenience

At the beginning of 1996, Lance Armstrong was the number one ranked cyclist in the world. And by early October, Lance had been diagnosed with testicular cancer, which had spread to his lungs and brain. He was given a less than fifty percent chance of survival. With the help of specialists and chemotherapy, he fought the illness and won. Lance then went on to win seven Tour de France titles.

Despite the pain and suffering, Lance Armstrong considers cancer to be the best thing that ever happened to him. In his book, It’s Not About the Bike, he said, “I don’t know why I got the illness, but it did wonders for me, and I wouldn’t want to walk away from it. Why would I want to change, even for a day, the most important and shaping event in my life.”

I would certainly consider cancer to be the most inconvenient thing that could ever happen to me. But by Welcoming Inconvenience, Lance says, “When I was sick, I saw more beauty and triumph and truth in a single day than I ever did in a bike race.” If you cannot change what happens, then for your happiness, you must change your mindset.
The knowledge that life’s events can be blessings
in disguise can help us weather the toughest storms.
“An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered.”
~G.K. Chesterton
 I've come to realize that the difference in success or failure is not how you look, how you dress, or how you're educated. It's how you think!-- Mac AndersonThe signs of outstanding leadership are found among the followers.
-- Max DePreeGo for singles rather than home runs. They're a lot easier to hit. Besides, every four singles equals a run…and the bases are still loaded! -- Eric HarveyOpportunity may knock only once, but temptation leans on the doorbell.—UnknownExcerpted from Finish Strong by Dan Green

It Ain’t Over Till It’s Over

Going into the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, expectations were very high for Paul Hamm. He was the reigning world champion – the first U.S. man to ever win a world all-around title. No American had ever won the men’s all-around gold medal in gymnastics and Paul was expected to change that. The only U.S. gymnast to ever medal was Peter Vidmar in the 1984 Olympics. Paul Hamm seemed destined to at least join Vidmar by winning some sort of medal and the expectations were high that he may even win the all-around title.

Hamm started strong in the first three events and held a first place lead in the all-around by .038 points. Then, disaster struck. During his vault performance, he under-rotated and missed his landing, causing him to sit down and nearly fall off the platform.

His score reflected the “cardinal sin” of gymnastics and after the vault competition was over Hamm found himself in twelfth place. I remember watching the telecast and seeing him sitting on the sidelines with a pale look on his face. It was pretty clear by his reaction that at that point in time he believed he had blown his chance of making history.

But, this is where Paul Hamm demonstrated the difference between mediocrity and greatness. He decided at that point in time to put his fall behind him and move forward, giving his best effort to finish strong. His next event was coming up and he was first up. During the next rotation, a few of the competitors in the 6-11 places struggled. His great performance on the parallel bars coupled with the struggles of his competitors helped to move Hamm into fourth place in the all-around with his last and strongest event left to play out – the high bar.

Paul was determined to take advantage of this positive turn of events and make sure that he at least won the bronze medal. He was a master of the high bar and he scripted a highly technical routine in order to have a shot at earning the most points possible. The die was cast as the other competitors had finished their routines. Paul was the last to go. As I sat and watched the broadcast I could see Paul pour his heart into his routine – you could feel his energy, focus and determination. When he nailed his dismount it was electrifying and even before his score was revealed, you could see on Paul’s face that in his own mind he had won; regardless of the outcome. He came back from a crushing failure on the vault and proved to himself that he could execute beyond failure. And as it turns out, in one of the most dramatic comebacks in all of sports he won the gold medal in the men’s all-around by 0.012 points, becoming the first U.S. man to ever win the Olympic title. Talk about finishing strong.
Copyright Simple Truths, LLC, all rights reserved and reprinted with permission.  I'm continually amazed at the number of business people I meet who complain about spending "so much time" selecting a new employee, yet are often willing to spend twice that time researching a new copy machine.-- Barbara "BJ" GallagherOne of the best ways to persuade others is with your ears.-- Dean RuskThere is no magic in magic, it's all in the details.-- Walt DisneyWe could never learn to be brave and patient if there were only joy in the world.-- Helen KellerToday's Topic: Conflict: What Leaders Can Do

Certainly, when it comes to interpersonal conflicts, employees have the primary responsibility for resolving issues that develop with coworkers. But leaders play an important role as well.

First and foremost, every leader must encourage cooperation and open communication within his or her work group. Doing so will help to reduce the number of conflicts that otherwise might occur and increase the overall effectiveness of the team. If you’re a leader you may be thinking: “That’s great. But how do I do it?” Here are a few ideas that should help:
·         Clarify your expectations. Make sure each team member knows that cooperation and communication are job requirements.
·         Set the example. Model the behaviors you expect from others.
·         Reinforce desired performance. Recognize and reward team members who work well with others.
·         Hold everyone accountable. Include “teamwork,” “cooperation,” and “open communication” as feedback categories on all performance reviews you conduct. And make sure there are consequences for failing to meet expectations. The first key to greatness is to be in reality what we appear to be.
-- SocratesStarting right now, work on adopting the mindset that you're a huge stake holder in the success of your organization. Fact is, you really are one.-- Steve VenturaWhile bias-free communication takes ongoing effort, it will help you build a foundation of trust with your listeners.-- Leslie C. AguilarThe best leader is the one who has the sense to surround
himself with winning people.
—UnknownToday's Topic: Focus on the Facts When Dealing With Performance Problems

The most important part of defining (and understanding) a performance problem is separating the facts from your judgments and opinions. Facts are observable – the things you know for sure because they are seen or heard. Judgments, on the other hand, represent opinions and conclusions. They are relative and subjective. They attack a person rather than the problem – increasing the odds that the employee will respond defensively. And that gets in the way of effective problem solving.

But what if my judgment is correct and accurate? you may ask. Well, that really doesn’t matter! Opinions are debatable (“I don’t do that a lot”…“There’s nothing wrong with my attitude”), but it’s hard to dispute facts. So don’t get hung up with judgments and generalities. If you have the facts, stick to them. If you don’t have the facts, GET THEM…before you talk! That way, you and the employee can spend your time working on solutions rather than debating the existence of problems. And that’s one less headache for you!