Why Leaders’ Words Matter…..A Lot

It is true. Words are free. Underestimating their power is costly.                                Haven’t we all said something we later regretted? In some cases, we are unaware of the impact of our words for good or ill. Words have power; choose them wisely. Business leaders, for example, unwittingly stymie creative thinking with “Have you thought about this ______?” How can a simply question shut down the very behavior a leader wants to encourage? By virtue of your position as the leader, your words carry significant weight. From the boss, “Have you thought about this….” is more a directive than a question. When the boss suggests something that’s permission to act without owning the decision. If the action has a bad outcome, it wasn’t your idea. After all, the boss told you to do it, right? Command and control is an efficient style of leadership. First, the boss knows best and he has the path to success mapped out. The only thing employees have to do is show up to do what they are told. Thinking, creativity and innovation are not valued. These behaviors can be messy. In addition, it’s difficult to engage people when the only idea that matters is the boss’s idea. Businesses with this culture have a track record of high defection. Make the most of the words you choose. Flattery and hyperbole hold empty promises which are easily detected. Blatant lies and falsehoods—well, no need to state the obvious. Use your words to build an engaged team that understands how they contribute to your company’s success. These questions are a good place to start. Five questions every good...

What Experts Are Saying About Employee Reviews

Employee reviews are not only time consuming, they are also dreaded by the giver and the receiver. How can an employee review be truly useful with so much fear and loathing? Saving your feedback for an annual review, reminds me of “Wait until your father comes home.” There is a better way. Such companies as Goldman Sachs, IBM, Accenture, Adobe, GE, and Microsoft have revamped the employee review process. The annual performance appraisal may be going the way of the dinosaur. The intent of the employee review is to help people improve job performance. With improved job performance, they make a bigger contribution to the success of the company. When they are aligned with the vision, mission and values of the company, employees are engaged. They see what they do matters. They are more likely to want to stay. It’s expensive to have a revolving door of employees who seek employment where they feel appreciated. Seven steps to improve employee reviews: 1)      Have clarity about what an employee is expected to do to contribute to the success of the company. 2)      Create goals that are simple, measurable and important. 3)      Transform feedback to coaching regularly and frequently. 4)      Use a monthly to quarterly schedule to coach [a.k.a. give feedback] your team. 5)      Make it a two way conversation: “How can I help you?” and “What do you need from me?” 6)      Separate coaching and compensation. 7)      Develop a nonthreatening, feedback rich environment. When you have frequent meetings with your team to provide coaching, you set up an environment of trust. With the purpose to support employees not to punish them, you...

Why Giving Is Risky But Worth It

Giving is a worthy endeavor. It has its downsides, however. It can be dangerous on the high road of giving. Adam Grant writes in Give and Take that givers are some of the most successful people. There is more. Givers are on the other end of the spectrum, too. They are the least successful. If your time, money, and creativity are flowing in only one direction, away from you, it’s a set up for burnout and depletion. To do your best work, you cannot be operating on an empty tank. When I think of giving, I am reminded of my dear friend. She looks for ways to give just because she can. It is her nature. Plus, she is brilliant at her work in the field of communication with a lot to offer. She takes giving to an extreme. So much so her bank account is on life support; her health is at risk; she is baffled. It is so natural to her she does not understand why everyone else does not operate with the same generosity. Well, they don’t. And, that’s the problem. People interact in different ways. Using Grant’s model, there are three types of social interaction: 1) giver—expect no payback; 2) taker—get more than they give; and 3) matcher— keep the exchange even. The lines between these approaches to interacting with people are blurred. In the work place the takers are the norm. It’s mostly a zero-sum game. For you to win, someone must lose. To me, giving seems the best way to go. Especially because some of the most successful people I know and admire...

5 Simple Tips to Improve Productivity

Nothing drains your productivity like feeling overwhelmed. Everyone at one time or other feels overwhelmed. It is easy for distractions to get the best of us. These five tips are fail-safe ways to improve your productivity: 1. Like goes with like Batch like activities together. For example, make phone calls in a block of time. If you have appointments outside the office, schedule them on the same day instead of different days. The goal of batching enables you to use like resources to complete your task with minimal distractions. 2. Five minutes can change the world You can accomplish an amazing amount in five minutes. Water the plants in your office. Return the books you finished reading to the shelf. Put junk mail into the bin to be shredded or recycled. RSVP to an invitation. File the bills you paid on the 1st and the 15th. You get a good hit of dopamine, the feel good hormone, when you accomplish a goal. It motivates you to repeat it. 3. Smart phones may not be a smart idea Give smart phones a break and your colleagues, too. Can you imagine how much more productive a meeting would be if everyone in the room was paying attention to who was speaking and what was being said? Successful People Never Bring Smart Phones into a Meeting, an article that explains why it is a lack of respect and prevents full attention. Like Pavlov’s dog, responding to an electronic message is a conditioned response. How smart is that? 4. Pomodoro—the silver bullet for focus Having trouble getting a job done? Break it into...

The Best Change Agent Is You

Many people attend events and leave inspired to make changes.  Often there is so much to do that they are defeated before they even start. Marshall Goldsmith, author and leadership thinker, spoke to 800 women entrepreneurs from around the globe in Dallas at the annual Women Presidents’ Organization conference.  He shared strategies to develop individually to go to the next level.  He did not say one word about how to change others.  Not one. In fact, he told the audience “No one who doesn’t want to change will change.” So much for changing your business partner, spouse, sibling, offspring or friend. As for changing yourself, Goldsmith said, “If you do not care, do not bother.” For example, if your colleagues think that you are rude, disrespectful and condescending, do not bother to change if you really do not care about your reputation with them. Change is an inside job. Imposed from the outside, it rarely lasts.  There may be short bursts of improvement only to return to the same behavior. In Mojo:  How To Get It, How To Keep It, How To Get It Back If You Lose It (2009), Goldsmith states that finding happiness and meaning in life is the basis for mojo.  His definition is “Mojo is that positive spirit toward what we are doing now that starts from the inside and radiates to the outside.” The solution to go to the next level, however, you define the next level, is to engage in activities that are meaningful to you and that make you happy. Sounds simple.  It is simple but may not be so easy. To...

Failure Leads to Success

Failure is misunderstood.  Many make an effort to avoid failure at all costs because it means they are less than perfect. Having a failure affects the way many see themselves as winners. When you equate your personal value to achieving a desired outcome, you set up a thinking pattern that undermines your success.  “I did not make my sales goal.  I am worthless and not good enough.” Contrast that to “I did not make my sales goal.  I missed the mark and this was not the outcome I wanted.” Can you identify with either of these? Somewhere along the path, we have accepted the idea that outcomes or results equal personal value.  The internal dialogue goes something like this, “I am worthy because I achieved this or because I have that.”  No wonder job loss and financial insecurity takes such a toll on someone’s self worth. I have noticed that children receive ribbons, rewards, accolades and atta boys for everything—well maybe that is an exaggeration. It seems like everything and anything.  Are we teaching the leaders of tomorrow that perseverance, effort, hard work, self-mastery, kindness and respect take a backseat to results? What would happen if we acknowledge not only children but also colleagues, employees and friends for such behavior as good thinking, nice effort, ability to look at multiple options, and sticking to a task? Reward behavior first. Of course, achieving results and making the numbers are important in leading a successful business.   As my Uncle Frank often said, “There’s many a slip twixt the cup and the lip.”  The path to success is paved with failures; that...