Vacation Reverses Progress: Reinforce Routines on Return

After a few days of rest, the human mind plays an ornery trick on managers. Staff members have a frustratingly human characteristic of change reversal. Ignore it and you will continually lose ground. Leadership management considers this rule and makes adjustments to reduce impact.

Here is the rule: Humans tend to revert to the deeply ingrained pattern of behavior that existed prior to the last major change under stress, duress, or rest.

Here is an example: Manager X implemented a new routine for checking work quality in line with the process in March. The results have been good. All staff have adapted and are working under the new approach. Prior to this, many production orders had to be returned to the beginning and rebuilt. The shop standard had been to only check product at time of packing and shipping. Problems at this point required many hours to fix and a great waste in complete orders produced multiple times. The changes implemented to utilize steering controls along the production path had resulted in an 80% reduction in waste as problems were caught in time to correct and make adjustments along the path.

Over the July 4th holiday, many staff members took extra days of vacation and enjoyed themselves immensely. Manager X was surprised and happy to see the team enjoy time with family and friends and morale looked better than in years. But, waste was creeping back up to last year levels and customers were complaining of late orders. On a walk-through, it was obvious that a few of the colleagues were not performing the steering controls that had been implemented and stabilized into the production process. In fact, it seemed that every staff member was skipping some control point at random. The team had reverted to depending on the last check point to catch errors before they impacted the customer.

This was not a purposeful sabotage. This was human nature. Upon return from vacations, orders had picked up. Customers came back from vacation with a backlog of rush orders. Suppliers were slow with needed inventory. The new production checkpoint pattern had not had time to fully integrate into a subconscious activity. The team had been good at performing, but had not subconsciously integrated the process. That takes many months. Each person had reverted to a different pattern of work that was a mishmash of prior procedure and present process.

What To Do? An astute manager is aware of this phenomenon. School systems are working to address this across the United States. They notice students returning from Summer vacations seem to have lost major portions of knowledge they had been taught in the last semester. Some schools have shortened Summer to attempt to address. They may find that the amount of time off consolidated may have little effect on the phenomena. The biggest effect is brain rest and disconnect. That can happen in a few days. The difference between one month and three months is probably negligible. But, what does a manager do? How can he or she keep production running smooth?

1. Get ahead of the vacation curve. Right before a major holiday make a concerted effort to reinforce training on any critical changes made within fours months of the holiday. Bring it fresh to mind and communicate priority immediately before vacation.

2. Notice those on your team that do this most frequently. Spend some time with them on return from vacation or other time off to reinforce changes. Give them time to ask questions and rethink through routines before they run back to the production floor. If you can’t pull them away, at least show up at their workstation and ask how the modified routines are working. Put priority on the changes by asking questions about them.

3. Don’t use banners or wall posters or email to get this job done. Get personal. Presence communicates priority. Your face and voice in the mix will mean a lot and can do a lot to stir good adherence to right routine. Those other methods are okay to reinforce personal involvement, but will never get the job done by themselves.

4. Consider holidays into project plans when implementing major changes. Don’t put a change into place too close to a holiday. Make sure major changes are implemented at least two to three months prior to big holidays, when you know you will have many staff members taking time away from the job. Give people time to integrate change before the rest periods.

Summary: Managers manage change. There are rules of change that are attached to human nature. Ignore them at great pain. Acknowledge them and see better results in your teams.

Build Better Business… Manage Well… Best Wishes, Phil

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Presence Communicates Production Priority

Managers and leaders communicate priority by where they spend their time. Production teams make America happen. A walk through a production press room tells the workers they are important and what they do is important. Stopping by the front desk in the morning and looking the receptionist in the eye followed by a specific word of appreciation tells the company that guests are important. Openly discussing decisions and gaining feedback from the team along the way gives them a stake. Presence communicates production priority.

30 years of overseeing production teams 24/7 leaves me with a little insight on helping a shift through their day. Every shift is a day in itself. Each one needs right attention and priority.

Every meeting you attend, every walk down the hallway, every lunch in public communicates your deepest heart. You are being watched. An encouraging word, a kind action, opening a door for someone else, or a playful interchange all communicate compassion and priority.

An ancient proverb tells us to not muzzle the oxen as they tread grain. One visual picture we draw is of an ox pulling along in a field being harvested. He needs to munch a little every once in a while. He needs to gain benefit while working, not just at the end of the season. Your presence and encouragement is one of the daily benefits you can give with little cost and great results. Corporate parties, big meetings and bonuses help. They can never replace personal attention and involvement. Presence communicates production priority every day and communicates concern for the people.

Early In The Day Sets A Tone
A manager starts the day for work teams. A little whistle up the hallway in the morning tells the team it is a bright day. P lesant greetings communicate positive expectation and confidence. It is not just physical presence but emotional engagement that builds a productive team of individuals bound by mission.

Middle Of The Day Stimulates
By mid day in a production crew, sales team, customer service group, or any other set of individuals bound by mission, there have been problems. Opportunity to turn dour has come many times by noon. This is one perfect moment to inspire and prioritized. Where you spend the last minutes before lunch tells the team where to focus.

A purposeful and thoughtful communication to key team members on priority projects can keep problems from dominating. Customer service needs to keep moving while issues are resolved. Down equipment needs attended. Production schedules may need adjusted considering current availability. Sales teams may need a pep talk to overcome any weight of complaints.

End Of The Day Rules Over Tides
By the end of a good day, there have been powerful moments and struggling moments. Tides have pressed against the team attempting to bring them to defeat. They need presence. They need reinforcement that the customer is king and the team is in your heart. You need to let them know you are one their side. Before you go home, visit the oncoming team and give them the same whistling start you gave the first team.

Summary: Presence communicates production priority. Production is the ox of your company. Sales must happen. Production must run seamless. An ancient proverb tells us to not muzzle the ox as he treads the grain. Consider your time and attention and presence as unmuzzling the oxen. Invest in your people. They are the strength of the company.

Be Busy Building Better Business.  Have a Great Day!

Phil

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Make a definitive difference in the community!

I need your help. I need you to join me for lunch.  (It is okay if you want to just give to the work also if you can’t come.)

Register now. http://www.championfatherstourney.org

On Sept 16th at 11:45am join Carey Casey, CEO of the National Center for Fathering, Hon. James Lankford, U.S. House of Representatives, Chuck Bowman, Larry Campbell, Imagenet+ Consulting, R.K. Black, Kimray, Tom Hill, keyevado, Shepherd Consulting, Willow Creek Golf and Country Club and others.

  • Understand the immense fatherless crisis impacting our nation, state, and your neighborhood.
  • Get insight on positive action you can take to change the statistics.

Your registration goes directly to works in progress at Tulakes Elementary in North OKC, Epperly Heights Elementary in Del City, East OKC, West OKC, Dad’s University, and Matamoros families. Through the support of a friend, lunch expenses are covered. That means your registration goes directly to the work.

You can join for golf afterwards, if you would like. But, I need you to join me for lunch.

You can sponsor more, but, I need you to join me for lunch.

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Exceptions Are Not Rules: 3 Safe Guards

The life of a manager would not be complete without that wonderful day where she finds herself stumped as to why a staff member acted in a certain manner inconsistent with policy.  After several months of training a colleague, you find them going a different direction than guided.  It is inevitable.  It will happen.

The next surprise is when they tell you it was  your idea.  What?  My idea?  What incredible bump do you have on your head that caused such a thought?  Have you lost your mind?  Where did you get that idea?

Then you remember.  You remember the question you answered last week in the middle of a major emergency.  A customer needed an exception to your normal policy for a critical project.  You authorized the team to process the job in a different manner.  It was an exception needed and specific to that day and that job and that customer.  Now, it is a rule.  Now, it is embedded in the minds of staff as the way to cut a job short.

Of course, if you take this exception route on a routine basis you will lose all your profits, mix up customer work orders, and generally destroy the business.  One time on a special project is okay with manager discretion.  Any time on normal jobs with a staff discretion is chaos.

Every manager must understand exceptions, communicate them clearly, and contain expanded usage.

Understand Exceptions

The impact of an exception on the minds of team members is big.  They watch you, manager.  They take clues for action from your action.  When you step out of the normal, they believe it is okay to do the same anytime they so choose.  Get it?  Get it!  Guard it.

Understand your own decision.  You cannot simply make an exception without understanding and being able to explain to someone else.

Exceptions are not meant to be rules; however, if you don’t take the next two steps, they will become rules.

Communicate Clearly

Exceptions will cause a problem.  They will.  You have order and rules to prevent problems.  Okay, accept that and be prepared to contain the problem.  Of course, you accommodate for that in your decision.  Explain the problem.  Explain the accommodation.  Explain why this is a onetime decision.  Be prepared for questions and distrust.  Yes, you worked hard to communicate why you would never do what you just did and then you did it.  But, it was an exception, right?  You really did have a reason other than you just wanted to do it?  Right?

Let your leaders and decision makers know this is an exception, why you made it, and how they might follow your logic in their next decision.  Logic?  You had some, right?

Contain Expanded Usage

After an exception, reinforce the rule.  Take time to pull documentation if necessary and explain why this is a onetime decision and why not to do it with any regularity.  Be honest.  Did you do it for political purposes?  Then explain the urgency of the situation and protocol you followed.  Did you do it to prevent  Don’t hide behind, “Because I said so.”  That is weak and lacks open communication to the team.

Summary:  Do these three things when you make an exception and they won’t become a rule.

Be attentive and cautious when making exceptions that they really fulfill your direction.

Always enjoy managing the exceptions and the disciplines.

Be Busy Building Business  Have a Great Day!

Phil

========================================

I need your help. I need you to join me for lunch.  (It is okay if you want to just give to the work also if you can’t come.)

Register now. http://www.championfatherstourney.org

On Sept 16th at 11:45am join Carey Casey, CEO of the National Center for Fathering, Hon. James Lankford, U.S. House of Representatives, Chuck Bowman, Larry Campbell, Imagenet+ Consulting, R.K. Black, Kimray, Tom Hill, keyevado, Shepherd Consulting, Willow Creek Golf and Country Club and others.

Your registration goes directly to works in progress at Tulakes Elementary in North OKC, Epperly Heights Elementary in Del City, East OKC, West OKC, Dad’s University, and Matamoros families. Through the support of a friend, lunch expenses are covered. That means your registration goes directly to the work.

You can join for golf afterwards, if you would like. But, I need you to join me for lunch.

You can sponsor more, but, I need you to join me for lunch.

Register Now: http://www.championfatherstourney.org/

Are you a PMO or a PCO?

Entitlement breeds discontent.  There really is no productive way to look at entitlement.  Don’t read this if you like entitlement organizations.  Don’t read this if you enjoy getting something for existing.

“The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.”  Margaret Thatcher

Business, NGO, and government must face the question.  Are a PMO or a PCO?

“You have to do your own growing no matter how tall your grandfather was.”  Abraham Lincoln

PMO – Poverty Maintenance Organization

PCO – Positive Change Organization

PMOs proliferate under social thrusts.  The easy part of being a charitable organization is asking people to give for compassionate repair and reparation and life needs.  Food, clothes, housing, and basics are all needed.  People will give to maintain a certain level of poverty in another’s life.  Poverty is the mentality that there is never enough resource and my efforts will never be rewarded adequately.  Poverty is a codependent focus instead of an interdependent cooperation.  Poverty is not an economic condition.  Lack of economic resource is a result of poverty mentality and living.  Societies and organizations that promote systemic adaptation to low rewards encourage economic, moral, and mental poverty.

PMOs proliferate under corporate mentality.  Oops, you thought this was about charities.  Any business that purses entitlement mentality of ‘get the minimum done to get paid and get benefits’ is as life force destructive as a charity giving out groceries to people who need growth.  Businesses that emphasize fun and frivolity and fairness and equality usually end up with a work force bent on work avoidance and entitlement expectation.  Those are all good things.  They need to be built alongside productivity and profitability.  After all business is about a fair return on investment.  Jobs happen when profits happen.

PMO is the way of life of the government.  Government consumes more and more of the community resource as laws get added and modified and bureaucracy grows and grows.  It is impossible for all the government entities to pay off the exorbitant early retirement programs that are inequitable and inconsistent with business productivity.  More and more cities, states, and nations have reached bankrupt points of no return.  PMO.

How do you become a PCO when you are a PMO?

Positive change organizations proliferate under reward and recognition.  Now, reward and recognition do not mean everyone gets the same dole or the longest tail gets the  biggest piece of the pie.  In a PCO, reward comes in relation to present contribution not position or power or political expertise.

In parenting theory we call that love and logic.  Raising children in a positive environment keys on establishing positive and negative consequences for behavior.  Reinforce that environment consistently and a productive citizen is formed.  Oh, that is also a great system for correction systems and addiction recovery.  Entitlement is an addiction.  I used to believe nicotine was the hardest addiction to break.  Entitlement is tougher.

So how do you change from PMO to PCO.  This little graphic maps the path.

entitlementtoconsequenceDocument the state of entitlement.  Confront the facts.  Identify where behavioral consequences are missing.  Quantify the cost to your organization of death by indecision. Decide which battles you are willing to fight.  Any reversal of entitlement will be met with violent resistance and revolt.  Better to build with encouragement and consequence systems, but PMO happens.  So be real and be honest.

Communicate change repetitively to those involved.  Give plenty of lead time to the change but not so much that griping and groaning have time to build barriers.  That is a fine balance.

Start rewarding productive behaviors before removing entitlement doles.  This won’t change anything, but it will establish a new thought pattern in those affected.  It might have been so long since they had positive reward for productivity that they have forgotten what dignity feels like.  Entitlement strips dignity and inner drive.  Dignity based on reality has to be instilled fresh.

Move to consequence and positive reward.  You might find this difficult.  Your management team may have no idea how to identify positive and productive behavior.  They are used to promoting entitlement and systemized to zombie workplace.  Dilbert might be their favorite cartoon for a reason.  Of course, as the executive leader admit your guilt in leadership.  You will have to change, too.  The greatest failures of organizations wanting to make this move is that top leadership credits the workforce for being more powerful than the executives and blames them instead of the mirror.  Truthfully, it takes combined efforts of management and work team to enter entitlement and to exit entitlement.

Measure Shock and Fear.  This will be large.  Get ready.  Get poised.  Backbiting, blaming, and bickering will explode.  But it will pass if you hold ground.  Keep focus on where you are going, encourage the afflicted, and do not let this stop you.  If you stop here, you will find it doubly difficult to work on this in the future.  Many companies sell out at this point and leave the issues for the new owner.  They may scuttle great managers and executives as sacrifices to the masses.  Don’t doubt in the dark what you know in the light.  Keep moving forward.  Plan to run.  Run the plan.

Productive Behavior and Growth.  Here is where you land.  Here is where you focus.  Here is where you want to be.  The Positive Change Organization promotes, inspires, and realizes productive behavior and growth.  Not everyone can exist in this environment.  Yes, you may lose some people you had believed to be key.  Not everyone wants to change.  Try to salvage them, but don’t sink productivity in the process.  New leaders will rise.  They’ve been poised for this new environment and potential was shadowed in the old system.  Now you can see them.

PMO or PCO?  You decide every day with every decision what environment you wish to build.

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Change is Never Straight

Controlled chaos is a normative term in the management of change.  Change is never straight.  Change defies a linear constraint.  Change is messy and change is curved.   Leaders must be curved people.

Mentoring a growth team, we reviewed normal impact of change on the growth leader.  In this model vision leads to planning and implementation leads to problems and pressures leads to perseverance leads to accomplishment and success leads to celebration and rejoicing leads to increased vision.  Or you can choose crisis instead of perseverance which leads to exhaustion and withdrawal can lead to restoration can lead to increased vision.  Or crisis can abort the progress.  There are hundreds of divergent paths that may happen.  Change is messy and curves a lot.

Change is not for straight line people.  They are good at regular performance and processes.  Change bothers them.  A leader must learn to be a curved person.  Change is inevitable and needed. Leaders lead through the curves.

There is one major curve in change you should explore and master.  It is the curve between your starting level of productivity and your landing level of productivity.  In that curve lies all the potential for disaster and triumph.  In that curve many leaders lose sight of vision.  In that curve success is assured and failure is certain.  Master the curve and master change.

Starting Level: Preceding productivity curve is your present level of productivity and accomplishment.  How successful are you?  What are your measurements?  Know them and get them recorded. changecurve

Plan: Now, plan the change that you intend to take your business or other endeavor into the next level of productivity.  Go from 100 widgets a day to 200 widgets a day.  Add a new product line while keeping current production levels on others.  Penetrate a new market.  Implement improvement in service.  Change for growth.

 Launch: Launch the change.  Communicate, take action, and plunge into the change.  Paralysis by analysis is deadly.  There is a moment and point of demarcation.  Take it.  Fall off the mountain.  That’s right fall off the mountain of your current productivity level.

Freefall:  Change causes freefall.  Problems come from change. Teams get confused.  Productivity decreases while people absorb new information.  The right screw becomes the wrong screw.  Questions abound.  Production plummets.  This was in your plan, right?  You made allowance for this, correct?  No?  Whoops.  Fingers get pointed.  Doubt crawls up the ladder to challenge the change rationale.

Adjust:  Light shines.  People push through learning curves.  The services straighten out on the planned track.  There is smiling in the camp instead of groaning.  You knew you would get here, you just wished it had happened on schedule and without the problems.  The changes begin to push productivity above your starting level.

Landing Level:  Why endure the pain of change?  Reach new levels.  Plan diligently.  Execute well.  Adapt strong.  Obtain outcomes.  Receive reward.  Of course, it does not always look so pretty.  You might drag onto the landing level scarred and scattered.

Summary:  This conversation is one I’ve had with hundreds of learning leaders.  Every new leader expects smooth change, gets into the curve, panics, and needs some encouragement.  Have your eyes open when you enter the change curve.  You still might get blindsided, but you will be ready.  Adapt with good and frequent communication and intentional feedback points.   Go ahead and fall off the mountain.  The landing spot is higher than where you stand.

6 Summer Tips for Business Development

This AP article stimulated good thought.  It is  a quick read.  Take out a piece of paper as you read an write down at least 3 action items you are going to make happen.

What do you do when you are in downtime?

Every business hits downtime.  Sometimes it is planned or seasonal or just happens for no explainable reason.  It can be some of your most profitable time.

This AP writer – Jennifer WitterJennefer Witter does a good job noting six downtime action items:

Grow Your Network – Refresh Your Web Presence (include social) – Assess Goals – Get Staff on Track – Automate – Get Away

Enjoy….The Big Story 6 Things Small Businesses Should Do This Summer

The Rule of Synergy: Three Have to Have Accelerators

“The whole is greater than the sum of the parts.” Phil

Engage others in creative and synergistic endeavors.  Purposefully find ways to force team member interplay for power results.  Be sensitive and firm.  This is not a day at the ropes course.  This is in the work place on real tasks that have real risk of failure and real potential for success and reward.

“Ineffective people live day after day with unused potential. They experience synergy only in small, peripheral ways in their lives. But creative experiences can be produced regularly, consistently, almost daily in people’s lives. It requires enormous personal security and openness and a spirit of adventure.” Steven Covey

It takes a LEADER: Good executive leaders understand this rule.  Leadership is required.  Manager thought tends to avoid this risky behavior. Lead.

Personal Security: The workplace should ooze with personal security and powerful self esteem and a sense of individual dignity.  Of course it might not be happening where you lead.  Then you need to work on it.  People need to understand accountability and responsibility and the safety of making mistakes from which we learn.

Accountability means I understand my actions and results impact all those around me and I account that into my decisions.  Others will hold me accountable for what I do.  They will rejoice in tandem, forgive forthright mistakes, and hold me responsible for results both individual and together.

Responsibility means my action will impact me directly.  I get it.  I understand it.  I welcome it.  Good or bad results, I am responsible for my actions.

Personal security can only be reinforced in such a dual environment.  Many lack personal security and are looking for everyone from mom and dad to the government to supervisors to take responsibility for their success or failures.  Those people cannot thrive in synergy at optimum levels.  But they can start where they are, grow, and experience more daily.

Openness: Every team has to find the place of what Jim Collins calls, “brutally confronting the facts.”  It is not negative.  It is a direct and non-personal approach to dealing with the blips, glitches, misstatements, wrong turns, customer complaints, and missed deadlines.  Dancing around the issues because a team member is overly sensitive inhibits synergy.  You have to want synergy.  You have to desire synergy.  You have to yearn for synergy to get past covered conversations into open, intelligent discussion.

Spirit of Adventure:  A community leader speaking at a business leaders’ lunch asked for a show of hands.  “Who loves to do things with uncertain results and a high risk?”  Only one hand among 450 went up.  “Well”,  he said, “that is the definition of adventure.”  Among all of these senior executives, bankers, lawyers, CEOs, and wizened warriors of the workplace, the sense of adventure had died.  For synergy to happen every day, the third ingredient is a spirit of adventure.  Individually and together the team needs to led into a continual spirit of adventure.

On a powerfully synergistic team, a client came with a bothersome technical improbability.  Theoretically, what they were doing should work.  But, it was failing at several levels of production and the supporting vendors had sent them to us for resolution.  After some frustrating attempts, one of the team just would not let it go.  He tested and tried and worked with the other members to come up with a solution.  At first, we discovered how to force it through our production engine, but only with effort.  Then synergy exploded.  A simple solution was implemented that allowed the originating production shop to perform without having to upgrade their equipment or outsource the job to us.  Our team invented themselves synergistically out of a job that was highly profitable.  Openness means honesty.  Sense of personal security means do the right thing for the client.  Spirit of adventure means taking on the improbable and finding a way to do it anyway.

The Three Hats Of A Mature Manager – Syncing Yourself For The Next Step

Don’t read this if you are under 35.  It won’t make much sense.  Then again, if you read and understand it, you can improve your ability to work well with mature managers.

Professionals are intentionally developed.  Through involvement in projects and initiatives and departments through your career, the best of who you are is evident.  There is a skill to gaining enjoyment and value out of who you are.  There is an art to applying that value to your daily business endeavors.  You can be the best you, doing the most fit assignments and have a great amount of fun.  Or not.  Choose. Make sure you consider your Three Hats before you choose.  Be you.

A friend reminded me that people focus on your weaknesses because they struggle with allowing your strengths.   People are like that.  They pick at what they don’t understand in the most negative ways.   But you don’t have to let pickiness impact your confidence and connection.  You just need to work on your Three Hats.

 This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day,Thou canst not then be false to any man  

William Shakespeare

Three Fields of Play

First, let’s take a look at three fields of play.  Then we can talk about the Three Hats.

Play to your strength.  You know this.  Do what you do best.  But, you need to really know what that is.  Strength can be as limiting as weakness if not tamed.  A hard-nosed, goal-driven executive can find herself isolated by dwelling too strong on this strength.   Soften the edges of your game. Don’t dominate the play, just lead with excellence. People can mistake strength for rigidity.  That won’t help you or others.

Cover your weakness.  Of course you have them.  You’ve found them haunting you every turn of your career.   Six courses of style management can’t change these core items of who you are.  As a manager, I’ve always had to focus hard on listening.  Why?  I’m 50+% deaf since birth. So, I arrange my office for optimum face to face contact and limit noise interference.  People are usually amazed when I tell them about my limitation as I’ve mastered masking through sitting in middle spots in conferences and making sure I get directly across from those I expect to be key stakeholders in any meeting.  What is yours?  Find a cover.  Bad note taker?  Make sure a good one gets that assignment in every meeting.   Take double notes.  Find  a cover.

Build disciplines.  There are some skills that just have to be at a good level whether they are a weakness or not in your specific regimen.  Know what they are and find a way to strengthen them.  It is not an option to be weak in an area that must be strong.  Sorry, it is tough, but you need to fix it.  If promptness is hard for you, you must repair.  If attentiveness is hard for you, you must repair.  You must.

Three Hats

So what the heck am I talking about, Three Hats?   Each of us over time discovers from 3-5 core areas of expertise.  For me it is operational excellence, communication, and people development.  After working multiple companies in multiple industries, these items just keep coming back on top.  Sure, I have many skills and abilities like project management and administration and meeting management and facilitating brainstorming,, and marketing, and sales, and, and, and… But what are the Three Hats that never come off no matter what I am doing?  Find yours.  Know them.  Develop.

Hat One:  This is your core passion.  When you get up in the morning, what gets you started?  At the end of the day, what are you thinking?  What is that core?  For me?  People development.  I love to see people grow.

Hat Two:  This is your core performance.  Okay, when you example “velocity”, where does it happen.  Velocity is the ability to do the right thing at the right time that advances you and everyone around you and the business.  For me?  Operational excellence.  Seeing how to adjust an operation to perform the charter is a natural for me and advances the organization.

Hat Three: This is the core producer.  This is the trait that makes the other two shine.  What is it that you do so well that enables core performance and passion to be energized?  This is all about ‘vitality’.  This puts energy into the performance and keeps you engaged long after others would give up.  This secret brings it all together for you.  I love encouraging with communication and clarifying with communication and setting vision with communication.  Communication enables my passion and let’s others walk along with operations.

When your Three Hats are working well they become one hat.  The brim, the bill, and the band form one unit for others to see and appreciate.  That maturity developed and seen in you can be applied to your next career steps in the position you have or the one you are getting ready to have.  Just make sure the hat fits before you engage.

Want To Develop Yourself and Your Business?

Busting Barriers: Two Tips To Activate Leadership In Others

Phil Larson, Director Shepherd Consulting and Community Transformation Initiative

Every leader is challenged to develop leadership in key followers.  It is frustrating to look out and yearn for true leadership in our team. Yet, we find that people today don’t stay with any company for any length of time.  Leadership takes time.  You can get long term commitment.  It is possible.  You have to do things differently.

One of the greatest managers of all history, Solomon, put it this way in his comprehensive book on managing life, relationships, business, and government, Proverbs:

To know wisdom and instruction,
To perceive the words of understanding,

To receive the instruction of wisdom,
Justice, judgment, and equity;
To give prudence to the simple,
To the young man knowledge and discretion—

 

Good Goals: Seems like a good objective.  For centuries others have read Solomon’s snippets of wisdom.  Solomon transmitted what he knew to others that were managing his affairs.

Sun Tzu attempted the same objective from the Chinese war lord perspective and penned, The Art of War.  It really is much more about living than dying.  It is about managing and relationships in a turbulent society.  He was intent in training others.

Others have done the same.  My bookshelf is full of snippet books from great managers and leaders.  The lessons of great men and women can give us guidance in tough situations.

Time Counts: But, if no one stays the task to work out the wisdom and be developed in the fine nuances, you simply lose your investment.  They move on and build another business that may in fact take away from your business.  Astute business managers are not happy when they lose the value of an investment in either people or property.  People are not property.  They have wills and emotions and desires and must be treated differently.

Tip One:

Be Loyal: Handle Conflict Up Front and Fast  The common business practice of today is to demand loyalty from staff, yet make decisions without being loyal to them and their families and lives.  Making the legal decision is not always a loyal decision.  Listening to accusations and gossip concerning staff without direct clarification and consultation is not a position of loyalty but fear and low self-confidence and politicking of the negative kind.

“The first job of a leader—at work or at home—is to inspire trust. It’s to bring out the best in people by entrusting them with meaningful stewardships, and to create an environment in which high-trust interaction inspires creativity and possibility.” ― Stephen M.R. Covey, The SPEED of Trust: The One Thing that Changes Everything

Greatness: A great leader for whom I worked early in my career came into my office with an anonymous letter. It accused me of some indiscretions.  The letter had gone to the president of the company.  We had been in a turnaround organization situation where hard decisions were being made daily.  Of course people were not in 100% agreement.  Of course people are people. The prior management of the company had been prone to politics and finger pointing.  Everyone knew that and knew how to trip the wires to get what they wanted.  This new management had better integrity; otherwise, I would not be working for them.

Openers: The leader’s opening comment set the stage.  “Phil, before you read the letter you need to know that both the CFO and I told the president that this does not sound like you.”  He started from a position of loyalty and honesty and open communication.  We discussed the contents, who might have sent it, why they might have sent it, was there anything I needed to adjust in managing, and moved on.  The company came out of a chapter 11 situation in record time and we all enjoyed our time together.  Loyalty and trust were the words of the day and the owners received great benefit.  I would go to work beside this man again in a minute if the opportunity arose that was mutually beneficial.

Dear Failure, I am writing today….  Failure on this point costs dearly.  Typical management style would have been to have secreted the letter into the unofficial personnel file, brooded over the contents, discussed it with others, and promoted politics.  That is how most organizations roll.  Yes, you do.  Admit it and quit it.  Little birds leak that style into the hallways and the entire organization suffers loss of key staff at the most inopportune moments.  Disloyal behavior in the board room promotes disloyal behavior at the point of customer contact.  It is not a secret.  Get real and get honest.

Tip Two:

Go Ahead And Share Insights:  All of us have insights gained in leadership.  Most of us hold them close to the chest and make upcoming leaders dig them out like some buried treasure.  Why are you leaving leadership undeveloped by forcing them to guess?  Are you afraid you are wrong about what you know is right?  Take a few minutes every day to intentionally leak leadership.

An Amazing Gift: Last year my team brought me an amazing gift.  It was thirty-one leadership wisdoms they had learned from me over the course of the prior three years.  They could repeat them and could apply them.  They made them into a flip calendar.  I was amazed and humbled.  It shocked me that they had discerned so willingly tips of leadership and management and relationship and had integrated them into their work and home habits.   Somehow, great leaders had taught me to be open with wisdom and it was building other leaders.  Pass it on.

Starting Right: My mind goes back to my first assistant supervisor position.  One day I went into the manager’s office somewhat nonchalantly for a meeting.  He looked me direct in the eye from across his desk.  “Phil, go get a pen and paper and come back.  Don’t ever go into a meeting with a leader without expectation of receiving instruction, noting it, and being responsible to follow up.”  Now, he probably said something different, but that is what he communicated.  Wow!  I listened and have repeated that wisdom hundreds of times to those for whom I’ve had responsibility to develop as leaders.  Leak leadership.  Do it intentionally.

To Work, Two Work: Do these two and you’ll increase your leadership impact.  These are core items.  They can guide you and prevent major mishaps.  Sure, I can tell you stories of when I’ve violated them or seen others violate them and the destruction it caused.  You know those stories.  None of us are perfect.  But perfect practice might just result in better performance as a leader, longer relationships with other leaders, and some real fun and satisfaction watching development of trusted leadership and sustained organizational progress.

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The People We Serve… Consider Well..

The People We Serve… Consider Well… This is a great comment on the Print Production Professionals group  from one looking for great service.

Jayne Bennett • I believe solid relationships are built on positive working experiences, mutual education and growing trust. Suppliers can create those positive working experiences through performance and service. They can also earn my respect when they bring me up to speed on something they offer or can offer ways to enhance what I do for my clients/end users. Brownie points if they try and understand my clients’ needs and industry/marketing challenges. They can establish, nurture and grow trust through performance, honesty and integrity.

Yes, folks, price is important! It always will be. But it’s not the only game in town and buyers who look solely to price aren’t adding ANY value as a buyer. As a buyer, I try and hold up my end of the teeter-totter by sourcing judiciously (let’s face it–as a supplier, you do NOT want to get another quote you know you aren’t suited for–it’s a waste of your time), communicating thoroughly and honestly and being a fair, but admittedly demanding, customer.

In my opinion as a buyer, you can build strong relationships and still get the pricing and service you need–there is no need for browbeating and haggling. I source to those who are equipped and able to do the job–the competitive pricing flows from there. My vendor pool is bidding on work that suits their shop, not to try and put a number under my nose and hope I bite this time. In fact, when you have to perform the impossible, isn’t it great to have someone in your corner who WANTS to make you look good vs. one that grudgingly has to do so because it’s a “good job to get in this market?