Monday, August 20, 2018

Show yourself to those you care about....

When we start a new position, there are often questions about the person we’ll be reporting to: are they fair, knowledgeable, and good to work for. One of my early bosses had previously been a World Champion of Poker which made him especially hard to get to know: his poker face masked many of the thoughts and emotions we normally watch for in our supervisors. I had to learn to read him and eventually trust him by the overall way he conducted himself: he was a careful and thorough communicator, was consistent in his approach and thinking, and ultimately revealed himself through his actions rather than his emotions. The best bosses show themselves in the care and concern they have for those that report to them. Learn to care more about others than you do for yourself and enjoy their loyalty today.

Megan Whalen Turner (b. 1965): American writer of fantasy fiction for young adults. She is best known for her novel The Thiefand its four sequels

Friday, August 17, 2018

Say what you mean and mean what you say....

Companies want good employees that come to work every day and are engaged, and employees want fair treatment and straight answers. This seems like a simple and fair exchange, but low morale and high absenteeism seem to suggest the deal isn’t working as well as it could be. This suggests the need for change, not in policies or procedures but rather in the way managers approach the employment relationship.  It’s not about money – it never is; it’s about the way we communicate. Managers need to learn how to talk to employees, listen to their concerns, empathize with their issues, accept the responsibility of getting this right, and own the outcomes of their efforts. Don’t fabricate or sugar coat the information or answers you give to employees – they’ll see right through those and resent them. Employee satisfaction relative to this issue determines your company’s level of morale, productivity, attendance, customer satisfaction and profitability. Nothing is as strong as the simple truth, period. So, be responsible for communicating clearly, honestly, and effectively today.

Charles Dickens (1812-1870): English Novelist and Social Critic, best known for his fictional characters and regarded as one of the greatest novelists of the Victorian era

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Improve the feedback you give....

My consulting partner likes to ask clients “at the end of the year, how will your employees know if they’ve been effective”. This goes to the heart of the work we do and the ways it’s measured: unfortunately, most job descriptions and performance evaluations fail to answer that question. Those two policies tend to explore and explain what to do and how rather than why and to what effect. Changing the focus like this takes work: objectives need to be carefully crafted, outcomes clearly identified and explained, feedback open and honest, and all of this needs to be wrapped in a culture of trust and respect. Sounds obvious and simple, but when you realize that most people hate giving or getting evaluations it becomes clear that changes are needed. Go back and review your job descriptions and the evaluation processes you use and see if they promote integrity and honesty as defined by today’s quote. Start on that goal today.

Spencer Johnson (1938 – 2017): American physician and author, known for the ValueTalesseries of children's books, and for his 1998 motivational book Who Moved My Cheese?

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Do what's right....

Years ago, I took a group of employees on a trip: when driving with them I inadvertently hit another car while parking our van in an airport garage.  Ours was unscratched, theirs was scraped and it showed, and the group I was with, who knew I could just pull out, park somewhere else, and not fess up to the other car’s driver, was anxious to see what I would do. I wrote a note on my business card apologizing and asking the car’s owner to call and put it on their windshield. When I got back into my car the tense and questioning mood had dissipated: they were relieved and knew that my actions had prevented that mistake from turning into a failure of leadership, integrity, and trust. We all knew that was the right thing to do and later when the other driver called he was amazed that someone had done that. We are often faced with decisions that could go either way when nobody is looking: that’s’ the best time to do what’s right. Act with integrity in all you do today.

James Altucher (b. 1968): American hedge fund manager, entrepreneur, best-selling author, venture capitalist, and podcaster

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Be your best everyday....

An old college roommate visited us yesterday and it got me thinking about why some relationships endure. I first met Jim the day we moved into our freshman dorm at Cornell 50 years ago this week: like me, he was a little overwhelmed by our new surroundings and it impressed me when he said so. Everyone was trying to make a good impression on others and his quiet demeanor told me he was someone I should get to know. College is quite an experience and the people you meet there often have a significant impact on your life.  Those I was attracted to were open, honest, focused and fun: qualities I admired and which helped them and me navigate through those 4 years and beyond. Today he’s bicycling across the US and stopped for an evening of sharing and reminiscing: he’s still the same warm and sincere person I remember from long ago. Live your life well and leave a rich legacy today.

William Shakespeare (1564 – 1616): English poet, playwright and actor, widely regarded as both the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Stand up for what you believe....

We all know people who have taken circuitous routes to leadership positions in spite of their qualifications and skills: their success is partly the result of statutory and regulatory developments and partly the acceptance, sometimes grudgingly, of societal changes. People generally don’t like change and often refer to those advocating for or benefitting by it as pushy or worse. Issues relating to change often seem most acute in companies where management is forced to deal with them in order to maintain morale and productivity - they can do more by openly discussing the issues, allowing people to express their views, and encouraging tolerance by highlighting the positive aspects of those changes. And while some may not like it, change relating to more inclusiveness is the right thing to do. Don’t waver on integrity today.

Mary Barra (b. 1961): Chairman and CEO of General Motors Company; prior to that she served as their EVP of Global Product Development, Purchasing and Supply Chain

Friday, August 10, 2018

Find what's waiting over the horizon....

It’s popular these days to ask people what they want to be when they grow up: the answers are often a kind of personal vision statement. People, like companies, struggle to craft just the right message about their future aspirations. A great example is the ‘vivid vision’ statements that graduates of Hope for Prisoners reentry program write and share with each other. These tell what they hope to achieve one year later and are very thoughtful, hopeful, positive, and motivating. None of us know exactly where we’ll be in the future, but having a goal inspires dedication, motivation, and innovation. We can’t actually see all the invisible things that are waiting over the horizon, but if we dream and work hard enough these visions might come true. And if we keep our eye on the future and stay true to the things we want and believe in, there’s a good chance we’ll achieve our goals. Write down and begin working towards the great things in your vivid vision today.

Jonathan Swift (1667 – 1745): Anglo-Irish satirist, essayist, author (Gulliver’s Travels), political pamphleteer, poet and cleric who became Dean of St Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin