Stop Trying Harder!

I adopted five-year-old Gracee a couple of months ago from the Dumb Friends League. She had broken her back leg when she was a kitten and her gimp is very noticeable when she walks. However, you wouldn’t know it by watching her zip around chasing her toys. One of her favorite activities is to race down the stairs to fetch a bouncy ball.  It’s a combination of a run and bunny hop!

How many of you are willing to go for it? Regardless of your challenges?

Or, have you fallen into the tiring and endless trap of “trying harder?” One of the biggest challenges for executives and business owners is learning that “trying harder only creates more of the same challenges.” It leaves you, and them, tired and cranky at the beginning and end of each day!

How can you be unstoppable? It’s inspiring when handled in a biz-savvy manner.

Banish the illusion of the “perfect time.” What are your excuses for not pursuing your goals? Write down these time mongers! You won’t find anything new or inspiring! Instead, write down what you really really really want to accomplish.  Rewrite it into a goal. Develop “I can do it and I do it” attitude and proceed forward. Talk with your coach to help you through the inevitable “walls of life.” 

Stay connected. Pick up the phone. Stop relying solely on emails or social media venues to stay in touch. It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you talk with others and allow them to contribute their ideas. Sometimes the simplest suggestion can spark the right change required to move ideas forward.

Focus on priorities. It’s very easy to get caught up in the swirl or chaos of too much to do. Pick two key items to get completed during the day based upon priorities, or boss or client mandates. Regardless of whether you like to do them! These accomplishments will create naturally-centered confidence.

Have fun.  Take a couple of minutes at the end of each day to write down today’s achievements and setup tomorrow’s “must do’s.” Now, enjoy quality time without worrying about work. It will be there tomorrow!  Be good to yourself and learn appreciation. Gratitude helps you work smarter and achieve your goals faster!

Learn to Brag! Bragging to others in a biz-savvy manner gives voice to your accomplishments. Why is sharing important? You find out you’re not alone in your challenges. It encourages you, and others, to build on your strengths, achieve your goals and work smarter to enjoy your job and life. (TimeToBrag.com)

©Jeannette L. Seibly, 2012

Are You a Moody Leader?

  • Do you thrive on drama?
  • Do people calculate your approachability before talking to you?
  • Do you gossip about your employees or clients?
  • Do others consider you untrustworthy?
  • Do you make decisions based upon your feelings at the moment?

Leaders set examples for the rest of the organization to follow. If you lack consistency in how you communicate, disrespect others in word or deed, or don’t trust others to do their best, employees respond accordingly. If you react (or over-react) before getting the facts, they may be afraid to speak up for fear of retribution. You create more of an issue.

If others are concerned about your effectiveness as a good leader, they will withhold valuable information. In these situations, often your employees’ focus is not on the organization’s goals. They are focused instead on how to work around your moodiness and still keep their jobs.

As a leader, immediate help is required to reaffirm your leadership position and move the enterprise forward. What can you do to resolve this?

Hire a business advisor. Being coachable is critical to anyone’s success, particularly top management. It can be lonely at the top; too often leaders don’t have someone else to talk with and their job can feel like a burden. Talk weekly with a business advisor. Focus on less dramatic ways to handle issues and have the benefit of consistent clarity to guide your organization forward.

Communicate effectively.  #1 concern for any leader! Be prepared to listen more than talk. Learn to ask the right questions. Be open to news you may not like, or new ideas you had not considered. Stop the internal chatterbox ; it inhibits your ability to actually hear what others are saying. When you need to deliver unpopular news or decisions, first think through what you need to say. Write it out. Read it out loud in the mirror. Keep it short, not long-winded.

Stop “should-ing.” Too often we believe people should have known or shouldn’t have said something. We forget the mistakes we’ve made ourselves over the years! A good rule of thumb: When someone does something great, let them know. When they make a mistake, take time to discuss it as soon as possible, one-on-one. When performance concerns are addressed in a consistent and respectful manner, it provides clarity about your expectations. Your employees will usually make the corrections required. If you scream at them, even once, it can damage your long term effectiveness.

©Jeannette L. Seibly, 2012

Effectively Manage Your Leaders’ Focus

Many companies today are moving away from the traditional skill-based job descriptions, toward performance-based job descriptions for their leaders. What’s the difference? Skill-based simply means they have the skills and knowledge to do the tasks. They may or may not use these skills to work in the direction of the Vision and Mission of the company. Performance-based is focused on the design and execution of goals and focused action plans to achieve the Company’s intended results.

When companies can clearly define performance expectations up front, both leaders within the company and the newly-hired know what is required. They can focus their efforts with a clear direction, communicate these metrics to their employees and manage accordingly. This takes the guess work out of hiring the right person and conducting effective performance appraisals.

To ensure these new descriptions are successful, you must:

Focus on the results.  Start with action verbs to ensure their role is clear. For example:Lead an initiative to upgrade financial reporting from monthly to weekly. Convert 100 customers to new product/service. Sell 30 customers product/service each month. (Fill in actual name of product or service.) Be sure to include a timeline and budget. The key is to now manage with these numbers to determine what’s working and what needs improvement on a weekly basis. This will ensure no surprises at month end (e.g., people, price point, budgets and/or systems).

Allow for innovation. New ideas are critical for growth. People create workable and sustainable systems and follow them – or not. At the end of the day, these processes must meet the demands of your customers. The leaders within your organization must be able to work with and through others to achieve the intended results, sometimes on a global basis. Use a qualified assessment to ensure clarity of the person’s interest, thinking style and core behaviors. These are critical for hiring for job fit and ongoing laser-like coaching.

Tell the truth.  In order to grow the enterprise for on-going success, it requires truth-telling today. To transform anything, you must succinctly tell the actual issues/circumstances that prevented the results previously or created the new challenges. Share appropriately. For example: when developing an IT system: company experienced 50% growth during the past twelve months, lost 25% of current customers since the system could not handle volume of orders and lack of training prevented managers from up-selling and cross-selling repeat orders.

©Jeannette L. Seibly, 2012

Are you a trustworthy boss?

I recently received a call from a new boss who wanted to know what type of “penalties” he should apply because his employees were not responding to his emails fast enough.

The more important question would be why are they not responding? Are they unclear about his request and timeline? Are they incredibly busy handling his clients’ needs? Does he have a bad tendency to make all his requests “Urgent?” Although his employees might not see his management style as autocratic now, it won’t take long for them to stop trusting him if he relies upon “threats” to get the job done.

The bottom line is that in order to build a company of loyal employees, you need to create a level of trust between you and each of your employees. Continually threatening people with loss of jobs, perks, or being written up, will only cause them to lose their trust in you. It’s hard for employees to do their work when they are fearful.

Emails. If you need to send additional requests, mark them “Second Request,” THIRD Request,” or FOURTH REQUEST at the beginning of the subject line. If it is Urgent, do the same. However, don’t use these terms often or they lose their attention grabbing effect. Normally give them at least 24 to 48 hours to respond. If it’s not urgent, provide a suggested “due date” for their response.

Pick Up the Phone. If it is truly urgent or complicated, or you don’t have strong writing skills, call them. Person-to-person dialogue often prevents misunderstandings. It’s your responsibility as the boss to exercise persuasive listening skills to ensure your employees understand what you are requesting.

Quality of Work. If someone does not have the skills to do the work, simply sending it back along with an implied or even overt threat will not get you the quality of work required. Take time and walk them through exactly what you need, and the format you need it in (e.g., Word, Excel, numbers, graphs, columns, etc.). Keep your requirements simple if someone is developing their skills.

A woman with specialized technical skills was hired by a company to help them avoid lawsuits. However, her manner of interacting with the management team had them failing to respond to her demands. Instead of her boss talking with her and offering her guidance, he simply waited until the lawsuit had been averted and fired her!

Coaching. Simply getting what you need from someone and firing them without warning only compels others not trust you or your leadership style. If someone needs help to improve interpersonal, management and/or project skills, provide them with the necessary training. Arrange for their own coach (from outside the company) to help them excel in their current position or as they move through a necessary job transition.

Bottom line? When people are not responding in a respectful manner and are busy taking copious notes, there is no trust. Work with your business advisor and take an objective look.  What do you need to transform in your approach and management style to be a leader who elicits trust, a leader others want to follow.

(c)Jeannette L. Seibly, 2012

Not Producing Intended Results?

Leaders often are perplexed when a project or plan is not working. Everyone wants to change the goal. The plan was created to achieve a specific goal; changing the goal is a strange way to produce those intended results! A compelling goal that is well-crafted requires commitment, focused actions and the right people. Too often the success of any team effort is contingent upon the leader’s people, project and profitability skills. Leaders often derail a team by failing to include others, building upon their ideas and staying focused on the ultimate goal of a profitable venture.

Difference of opinions. Many groups crash when they don’t take the time to effectively work through differences of opinions. Team members must be heard; otherwise, they can become trouble-makers! Productive discussions, sometimes seen as confrontational, are required to build better outcomes, uncover overlooked problems and build agreement.  Team leaders and members need to provide on-the-spot training to show others how to use persuasive listening skills to encourage everyone’s contributions.

Doomsday conspiracy. When people on a team are not committed to the plan designed to achieve the goal, or the goal itself, the project will fail, for either reason. A conspiracy of nay-sayers will evolve to rationalize their point of view when leaders don’t listen. Every member of the team has the responsibility for ensuring others’ concerns are addressed.  Many people view change as difficult, not necessary or are fearful of an unknown outcome. As the leader, it’s your role to facilitate actions and conversations to support the intended results, while positively impacting the bottom line, client relationships and a positive workplace.

What’s in it for me? Employees today want to know what’s in it for them. It’s important to provide insight into how their contributions are part of the solution. Start by sharing the situation or problem needing to be resolved, along with the proposed goal and plans to achieve the goal. If it impacts their potential bonuses and/or paychecks, share this in a positive manner. Honesty is key.  If they are not readily agreeable with the goal or project, they may be hearing it for the first time and need additional time to process it. Remember, you’ve been thinking about it for hours, days, or months!

©Jeannette Seibly, 2012

5 Attitudes to Fast Track Career Derailment

Wonder why so many business professionals, executives and biz leaders are included in the ever increasing statistic of job shopping? These qualified professionals live under the false illusion that finding the perfect career or job will automatically have them earning mega-bucks, working for a great boss, while having fun in life!

  1. I can do anything. Sixty-three to seventy-nine percent of the workforce toil in jobs that don’t fit them. They continue seeking similar work with similar responsibilities only to achieve similar dissatisfaction.  (Think, do the same thing over and over, yet expect different results). Or they leap into a different type of industry that poorly suits them while arrogantly thumbing their nose at their past employers. Stop blindly seeking job satisfaction at the expense of your resume. Build bridges, don’t burn them.
  2. Gimme, Gimme. Most people jump for extra pennies or dollars in their paycheck, but leave those jobs because they are unhappy! Job gratification is personal. Satisfaction can be achieved meeting deadlines within budget, completing work to customers’ needs, etc. Your fulfillment comes from within you by building on your strengths to stretch your skills. 
  3. Grass is Greener. All companies have similar problems. The list is long: bosses who are poor managers; compensation and benefit packages that need improvements; economic focuses on financial results that negates a balanced work-life style. Job fit is critical to minimize these concerns. Employees (and executives) in the right job are much more productive and tolerant than others with the same challenges.
  4. Not My Problem. If you’re someone who creates elephants for your bosses and co-workers, or is continually putting the monkey on someone else’s back, no one wants to hire you! Learn how to handle issues by turning monologues into dialogues with the right person who can make the difference. Be part of the solution. Clean up your elephant tracks. 
  5. More is Better. A bigger company does not mean it is better run, regardless of their bigger budgets! Don’t assume your boss will be more understanding or the tools you need to do your job will be readily forthcoming. Millions of dollars are spent each year obtaining more certifications and more education, hoping this will transform people into fitting their work requirements. If people are not in jobs that fit them, additional education will not transform them into rock stars.

Rather than believe you’re stuck in a job or career, recognize you’re there because of your unwillingness to make an actual and real difference! Only you are responsible for your work-life happiness!

It’s an attitude. The time is now! Take charge of your career. Professionals who hire a career advisor have a competitive edge, with their current employer or their next one. They don’t wait for someone else to show them the right direction. They take a qualified assessment to clarify job fit. The assessment determines thinking style (major component in job satisfaction), core behavior (how they use their job skills vs. how the company needs the job done) and occupational interests (little or no interest equals poor quality, iffy results). They learn to how sell themselves in a biz savvy manner (http://TimeToBrag.com). They write down the top three qualifiers for their next job. The result? New opportunities appear quicker. They are sought after by their next employer or boss. They are on the right track to fulfill their career goals. (http://SeibCo.com)

©Jeannette Seibly, 2012

Leaders! Learn to lead in 3 steps.

There are leaders amongst us today who achieved their status by domineering, controlling and scheming how to use the organization’s resources and connections to their own advantage. For them, it’s not about serving their clients or employees or other benefactors. It’s about “what’s in it for me.” They falsely believe this makes them successful long term leaders. The truth?  It’s a short term fix, with long term consequences. Career derailment is inevitable.

Want to learn how to be a good long-term leader? Want to possess skills and attitudes that consistently work? First and foremost, hire a business advisor to help you see what you’ve been unwilling to see about yourself. To do what you’ve been unwilling to do. Remember, long term executive savvy requires a higher quality of leadership competencies and expertise.

1 – Straight talk. Attempting to out-talk or manipulate people into thinking the way you do is not the mark of a true leader.  Listen to others’ ideas and build upon them. Understand there is always more than one way to achieve the required results.

2 – Goals. Set true and compelling goals on behalf of the company. This is different than focusing on your own personal financial or professional gains. One Regional Manager wanted his people to get out there and sell so he could purchase his dream sailboat. Needless to say, this manager’s self-serving attitude permeated the team and discouraged them from playing full-out. Their buy-in was to achieve the company’s sales goals, not rack up big boy toys for him. His career as a sales manager sunk. Be prepared to understand and communicate what is in it for your team. Focus 100% on your employees winning. You are only as successful as your people!

3 – Elicit the best in others. Lying, playing people against each other, and using punitive threats to get your way or achieve goals does not bode well in the long run, although it may appear to provide needed short term gains. This type of leadership style creates havoc, litigation and bad will with internal and external clients. Learn how to manage people or hire someone else to do it for you. Learn to talk straight and tell the truth appropriately. It will make a difference in people wanting to work with you. It will build your career as a leader.

©Jeannette L. Seibly, 2012