When Winners Lose

There are times you can win simply by quitting. Or, losing gracefully.  You recognize them. Times when there’s been a financial drain. Resources are unavailable. No one is willing to work with you. It’s time to move on. If you’re unwilling to hire a biz advisor and incorporate their ideas, it’s doubly time to quit.

Feeling Bad. Regret rarely makes a difference to your team, investors, boss or customers. While many people will need to process it emotionally, moving forward is important so it doesn’t overwhelm you, your team or the company. If you’re not committed to the goal, consciously and unconsciously, your internal dialogue will stop you! Turn your monologue into a dialogue quickly instead of reinforcing “why it should’ve, could’ve and would’ve worked if only it had been different.”

Get clear. Every success and every failure provide “lessons learned.” These will be repeated in future projects and ventures until they are learned!  Complete a review of what worked from the project or venture. Clarify specifically what didn’t work. Using numbers will often help you see it more objectively. Incorporate these lessons into future plans.

Be Coachable.  Too often, people will give up too quickly due to entrenchment in how it’s always been done, or unwillingness to learn a new method. They might hang on too long due to their boss or leader not moving them forward.  Learn to quit gracefully after talking with a biz advisor to determine if the project, plan or venture can be turned around profitably and fulfill the intended outcomes.

©Jeannette L. Seibly, 2012

Want a Fabulous 2012? Plan it.

It’s that time for you to complete 2011. Review. What was successful? What lessons did you learn? Then, create 2012! Build upon your successes. Avoid pitfalls! Be sure to include your business advisor during the strategic process. A qualified facilitator will keep you focused on the right things, point out avoidable pitfalls and help you recognize new opportunities to build upon for financial growth.

Lone Wolf approach. Turn monologues into dialogues!  Many business owners attempt to go it alone. They believe they are the only ones that know what their company needs. They use the excuse that others will only cloud the process. Or, take up too much time or money. The reality? It costs a lot more time and money to implement anything, if at all, when they are not part of the planning process. Hire a qualified business facilitator. Work alongside your core team to create plans with positive ROIs. You’ll be amazed by the positive difference!

Group Consensus. On the other end of the spectrum are executives that will negate the strategic process because it’s impossible to get everyone to agree. A 100% consensus is an illusion. Use a thorough brainstorming process to capture everyone’s ideas. Write them all down. Then, work towards alignment, not consensus. Can everyone align with the goal? What are the additional steps to be considered?

Bright Shiny Objects. These pull you away from your core, money-making business (think, positive ROI). Properly designed strategic plans will cause a magnetic pull forward. Focused action plans provide the sustained effort required to achieve this new reality. The keys for success are to stay focused and clear. If you simply can’t resist the allure of the shiny object, on your own time, create a blueprint and review the ROI. Get others’ input before investing time and money to implement it. Don’t neglect your core business!

©Jeannette L. Seibly, 2012

Promote Yourself – No One Else Will!

Many of us are perplexed that people with lesser skills, results and abilities win the job, the sales contract or the award. They woo away our clients and potential investors, even when we have a superior product. What’s the problem?

Unfortunately, we’ve been taught from a very early age that bragging is wrong. Even in adulthood we are still careful not to be seen as a braggart. So we attempt to look and sound like everyone else. It doesn’t work. They’ve heard all the similar sales pitches. They are bored by the same old introductions or elevators speeches. They are unimpressed when you spiel off a list of all the tasks you can perform.

“The analogy? Too often we pretend we are raccoons when, in fact, we’re cats. Everyone knows we’re cats. The raccoons know we’re not one of them. The raccoons expect us to act like a cat when we are interacting with them. Obviously, as a cat, you can never be a raccoon. Attempting to be someone you are not is unimpressive, even when you act in a respectful and tactful manner! Sadly, you hide your true abilities and accomplishments.”  Taken from It’s Time to Brag (TimeToBrag.com)

The point? People are less likely to purchase your products and services when they are unable to distinguish a difference between you and so many others competing for their attention. They’ve heard (or seen) all the traditional benefits and cost analyses. We misinterpret people’s glazed-over look, if we even notice it at all.

People do business with people they feel comfortable with. They like to work with people who will help them be successful. If you’re comfortable with yourself, they will be too. If you look and sound like everyone else, people won’t see the need to meet you, talk with you or do business with you. If you’re trying to be like everyone else, they will simply shut out everything you say and think, “I’ve heard it all before.” 

Whenever you hear yourself starting to sound like everyone else, stop it! Think of the cat and raccoons. Hiding out (as someone you are not) won’t pay the bills. It will not earn you money or any well-deserved recognition. Nor will it win you a job or promotion.

How do you show you’re a winner? How do you “Wow!” them subtly and clearly and depict your product or service as the best?  In my recently released book, It’s Time to Brag! (TimeToBrag.com) I outline five amazing steps to differentiate yourself when selling or vying for that promotion or job. I have found these exercises also help keep clients who are ready to go with your competition. The results from the exercises can also attract potential investors and bankers. They place you at the top when you are nominated for an award.

Learn how to brag with biz savvy skills! It’s time! (TimeToBrag.com)

©Jeannette Seibly, 2011

How do you manage talent incompetence?

We’ve all had to work around them, to the detriment of the organization or clients. These troublemakers refuse to work well with certain people and blame others for their own inadequate skills. They make it impossible to resolve issues since they believe they have the authority to say “no” and use it too often. They can wreak havoc on any business if left alone to do what they want, if they want.

Why not simply fire them? It may be due to longevity, specialized job knowledge, or they simply know where the company skeletons lie. They fail to take responsibility and know how to manage their boss. Their false sense of bravado may have started with overly positive performance appraisals, an over-inflation of their abilities reinforced by a boss with poor managerial skills. They refuse to develop their skill-sets to keep up with industry or profession changes.  Or they may rely upon manipulating the system and/or their boss for their own interests. This type of chronic behavior makes it difficult for employers to take corrective action. Some companies actually give promotions – not-earned commissions or extra bonuses – hoping these tokens will give incentives to improve. But it only exacerbates the problems.

Come Down to Reality. If you inherit one of these people, don’t automatically fire them. They may have insights and job knowledge crucial to keeping current customers, building systems for the future and handling nuances not readily apparent in a system or product. This type of employee may simply require the right boss!

Take time to talk and work with them. Review the job description and job perception. Then, let them know exactly what your expectations are, including the scope of their authority and the quality you need in their work and people interactions. Since these employees often keep procedures in their heads to ensure their employment, be a step ahead and require them to cross-train others on their job. Some may be afraid of technology or have poor reading and writing capabilities. Do not allow them to continue to believe they are an exception to the rules. Insist they come up to speed. It will take time to break old habits. Be consistent. Be clear. Follow-up!

Qualified Assessments. Have the person take a qualified assessment. Use a tool that meets or exceeds the Department of Labor Guidelines for pre-employment tools; these tools have the highest validity and reliability on the market.  It’s very hard to effect change if you rely upon the results of a tool that has face validity (how a person wants to be seen) but no predictive value (actual correlation between the results and job requirements). Adjust job responsibilities accordingly. Provide skill development training.

Hire Bosses who can manage. Hire and promote people into management positions who are great motivators, unafraid of managing actions to produce actual results. Train them on how to conduct performance reviews. Remember, most employees want a coveted manager’s job since it’s the only way to earn more money and/or take on additional job responsibilities. The reality is many may not have the ability or interest to effectively manage or lead others. Some may simply need additional training. Create career ladders that allow non-managerial talent to be promoted and receive pay increases.

©Jeannette Seibly, 2011

7 Sure-Fire Ways to Derail Your Leadership

Leaders today are busy addressing new challenges in this uncertain economy, many times without considering their own behaviors and attitudes in light of how others see them. This can be detrimental. Leaders need followers: loyal employees, suppliers, vendors and customers. It may be time to slow-down, assess and repair any damage before it’s too late.

Speak up without thought. Don’t confuse fearlessness with confidence and tactfulness. Be responsible for what and how you say anything, both spoken and in writing. Otherwise, people will tune you out. Those taken aback by your message will scrutinize your actions and infer a low level of core values. Truly listen. Hear things you don’t want to hear. Respond diplomatically. Be genuinely effective.

Accuse others of spam or junk. Too often social media connections are viewed as accumulating numbers. Accusing others of Spam or Junk when they reach out to you can hurt your ability to attract new clients. You never know who they know! Learn to reach out to others to make a difference – not just make a sale – and respond appropriately.  If you don’t wish to receive their information, simply unsubscribe.

Lack of follow-up. Many people today don’t follow-up if they don’t readily see a purpose in doing so (aka Hot prospect ready to buy now). Unfortunately, people can be very shrewd in what they share with you. Too often you find out later they purchased from your competitor, who did follow-up.

Do it my way. Leaders in their quest to keep their bottom lines positive forget that their employees know their job better than their boss. But learning new systems and procedures by management’s mandate is not easy for employees. Stop pretending to listen! Ask employees for their input and incorporate their ideas appropriately. Ensure they feel valued. Make ongoing training and development a priority.

Bits of information. We make decisions and declarations based upon the tiniest pieces of information. Many times there is no factual basis. This behavior will have others see you as a poor decision-maker. Respect differences in opinion and balance this with the facts. Disparaging or bullying others to your way to thinking will not elicit the best response from others.

Delay important decisions. Uncertainty about which path to choose is understandable. Continually using it as an excuse is not. Your co-workers are tired of hearing about it!  Ask the right people for input. Hire a business coach for guidance. Make certain you understand the pro’s and con’s of your decisions. Don’t dismiss legal and financial implications as unimportant or as something that won’t happen to you. Develop sustainable practices to ensure replicable results.

No strategic direction. It’s time to dust off your goals for 2011. Review, recharge and get back in action to wrap up 4Q. Work with your business coach to determine which goals that seemed promising last January will provide the best ROI now. Reliance upon your own mental monologue will not provide the clarity required to move forward. Establish focused action steps and stay away from busy work. Learn how to manage for results.

©Jeannette Seibly, 2011

Is indecisiveness plaguing your results?

For many leaders, it’s fun and inspiring to create the future during a strategic process. New goals. New business practices, products and services. However, the problem arises when it’s time for the rubber to meet the road in a focused, tactical implementation of the Plan. This is the danger zone, the time when a great idea can become a bad idea due to nothing more than a leader’s (or group’s) indecisiveness. They may simply be uncertain as to how to close the gap between today’s circumstances and tomorrow’s goals. Or unsure how to handle the natural dissension inevitably caused by change.

The Plan will never be perfect while still in progress. Changes can cause apprehension and new challenges even if they create opportunities. Change brings out the fear in otherwise fearless leaders once everything is in motion. They may feel as if they can no longer control the outcome, or people’s perceptions. Team members worry about making wrong choices. Nay-sayers reinforce these doubts! The economy, community opinions and even natural disasters are often used as excuses for maintaining the status quo. Resorting to comfortable Band-Aid modifications rarely work long term. The key is to be flexible without taking your eyes off the end results. Create a step-by-step Plan. Elicit other’s ideas at the beginning and incorporate them as is appropriate. Communicate the Plan and walk people through it. Try it for thirty days and do not make any ad-hoc deviations; these variations will create unnecessary confusion and dissent.

Budget and time constraints are really an opportunity. To resolve an issue, get the team started by asking simple questions to get the team’s thought processes started. Stay away from conceptual or abstract questions since they tend to stifle creativity. When following a team’s recommendations, be sure to ask the right business questions of them and make sure they think through and answer those questions adequately. Do not focus on reaching group consensus; this idealism has thwarted many companies from meeting timely business challenges and making positive advances. Strive for alignment. This means team members can agree with the Plan even if they have some reservations.

Sustainable Plans require a team effort. Sole reliance on one person rarely creates lasting outcomes. Poor leaders quickly stifle followers if they micro-manage everything and everyone. Their team members only participate to dot i’s and cross t’s, then, blame failure on the leader. Unfortunately indecisive leaders make up the process as they go along, dismissing any structured plans along the way. They lose even the staunchest of supporters since the Plan cannot be replicated. Strong leaders trust their teams, working with and through them for results. Even if team members would not do it the same way, they have confidence in their leader! Decisive leaders know how to check in (verbally and in writing) with their teams to assess progress, the reality of reports and viability of solutions.

©Jeannette Seibly, 2011

Is your team’s project destined to fail?

Today’s teams can be large, virtual and geographically spread out. The more dispersed the team, the more challenging it is to manage for results. Regardless of a team’s size or location, excellent communication and people skills are required. Without adept handling of the people side, any project is destined for failure. A leader’s career can be derailed when their team misses the mark.

Material Side of Meetings. Is critical to ensure decisions and responsibilities are documented and communicated. Agendas keep teams on focus and on time. Minutes clarify accountabilities and assure others the team is on track. Be sharp as a leader. Ensure agendas are distributed ahead of time, and minutes sent out within 48 hours of the meeting’s conclusion.

Human Side of Meetings. People management is crucial. If the team leader has poor people skills or an inability to effectively facilitate a meeting, participants will simply go through the motions in order to keep their job (aka busy-work). They will use a myriad of excuses, such as why the project can’t be completed, who is to blame and why the end results shouldn’t matter. A team like this will fail. A true leader enables the team to produce unprecedented results on time and within budget by utilizing brainstorming and taking turns, persuasive listening and acknowledgement.

Social Media. To help virtual team members learn about each other, use Facebook, LinkedIn or other resources.  Encourage local teams to meet and get to know one another at company-sponsored functions. It will build a stronger sense of community. Ensure your Social Media and Code of Conduct policies have been clearly communicated to reduce inappropriate comments and activities, and ensure confidentiality of proprietary information at the same time.

Technology for Meeting Resources. People learn differently. When working with off-site team members, use on-line resources to help participants visually understand others’ ideas and keep them engaged. Keep graphs and charts simple. People also read and comprehend in different ways. So distribute any narrative materials days before the presentation and require attendees to read them ahead of time. Have someone other than the facilitator handle the logistics during the meeting, and keep everyone focused on the discussion.

Strategy and Focused Action Creation. Depending upon the size of the team, include team leaders (and if possible, team members) along with the executives to create goals and intentions. This will increase clarity and reduce future ambiguity when “group think” attempts to thwart results. Executives will be emulated! They not only need to know how to work well with others, they need to remember that their job status doesn’t make their insights more important or correct than anyone else’s. This provides an opportunity for everyone to learn from one another. Develop good decision-making skills while avoiding potential pitfalls.

©Jeannette Seibly, 2011

Leaders Hire Coaches – They Need the Help!

By Jeannette L. Seibly and John W. Howard, PhD

 

  • Do you think of yourself as a leader?
  • Does someone pay you to be a leader?
  • Do you want to be a leader?

If your answer to any of these questions is an emphatic “Yes!”, ask yourself some more questions:

  • Do you promote a vision, mission, and purpose for your company–yet no one follows you?
  • Do you empower others–yet these same people criticize you?
  • Do you allow ongoing conflicts among managers?
  • Do you avoid admitting a mistake?

If you answered any of these questions “yes”, you are among the vast majority of us who could benefit from coaching! A good coach can be critical to any leader’s success.  Listening to, even learning, theories and concepts will not necessarily result in leadership. Coaching provides real-time feedback, while projects and people issues are being handled. It can develop and strengthen solid leadership skills. Coaching accelerates growth and contributes to success!

A good coach can help you:

  • Set and achieve goals! If you don’t know where you’re going, how will you know when you get there? To achieve results, you must set goals and develop a structure to track and ensure progress. Put together action plans and review them frequently!
  • Be consistent! Maintain your commitment to fulfill your goals, even when “you’ve hit the wall” and it looks like failure may be imminent. This sends a very clear message to your employees.  It says they can trust you in good times and bad. It helps them make better decisions, and keeps them in action.
  • Work with and through others! This will help ensure that your results will be on time and within budget.  Poor communication skills are a major factor in leadership failure. People are too often promoted for their successes, without assessment of their communication skills.  Simply put, the higher up the corporate ladder you climb, the more people rely on your communication skills.  A leader with poor communication skills must improve, or negotiate another position without people responsibilities. The good news: Good communicators are coached, not born.
  • Listen to those with different ideas! Most people consider themselves good listeners, but they do not always hear the critical factors that keep customers and co-workers happy and satisfied. Knowing how to get a point across while listening to others, particularly when what you hear is unpleasant, can make or break your career!
  • Handle conflict promptly. The sooner you’re able to resolve conflict, the less likely it will negatively impact your people, projects, and customers.  Work will always include disagreements, differing points of view, and concerns that people bring from outside. The key is to resolve issues promptly, effectively and efficiently, while empowering the people involved to work them through.
  • Being accountable for ALL the results, including your own growth, is a true mark of a leader.  Being accountable entails managing details, and acknowledging results—both positive and negative. Let others take credit for a job well done.

As a leader, hiring a coach can accelerate your growth and success. You will see your weaknesses faster and more clearly, and develop your strengths sooner and more fully.  The fact that you are open to coaching will inspire confidence in your co-workers and customers. If your goal is to be a good leader, start by hiring a good coach!

© Jeannette L. Seibly & John W. Howard, 2005-2011

Jeannette Seibly, Principal of SeibCo, LLC, Transform Your Business. We provide straight talk with million-dollar results. Contact SeibCo, LLC @ 303-660-6388 JLSeibly@SeibCo.com Jeannette is also the author of Hiring Amazing Employees.

John W. Howard, Ph.D., owner of Performance Resources, Inc. helps businesses of all sizes increase their profits by reducing their people costs. His clients hire better, fire less, manage better, and keep their top performers. He may be reached at 435.654-5342, OR jwh@prol.ws

Do Leaders Use Common Sense with Social Media?

In today’s world, social media venues keep people connected and let others know about your products and services. They can develop the camaraderie necessary to trigger the waterfall effect of “know me, trust me, buy from me.” However, as leaders, social media can make or break your career or business if not used wisely.

There are differences in what is appropriate for business professionals to post and repost, versus an individual who is merely exercising her/his personal liberties. All too often, there is such a fine line between the two, it is best to keep in mind these postings can be viewed by everyone, not just your friends. Unfortunately, most people will not differentiate between what they consider to be poor business acumen and personal fun.

Some examples:

  • Posting inappropriate pictures of people’s anatomy, signs, etc.
  • Dissing a company, or venting about your boss, co-workers or customers.
  • Inadvertently violating privacy laws (e.g., HIPPA in the United States).

Company Policy. Today many companies have already faced the challenge of writing social media policies to communicate clearly the difference between acceptable company and personal usage. These guidelines help employees (and executives) clarify what is appropriate to be posted and reposted. Keep in mind that any posts (e.g., pictures, commentaries, ideologies, etc.) must clearly be viewed as your own, and not a reflection upon your company/employer. Understand current and future employers and customers may view your postings from a different perspective. Unfortunately, they may infer that you don’t have the business savvy or leadership common sense to work in their company or be promotable within your own company.

Global Market. Although it is true citizens in many countries throughout the world have the freedom to say what they want, when they want, doing so can hinder their ability to attract new clients, or keep current ones. Especially since most social media venues are world-wide, take into consideration any cultural differences when posting. What may be considered normal in one country may not be acceptable in another one. Writing disparaging remarks about your company, boss, co-workers, product, and services might cause slander claims in many places around the world. Adhere to this familiar personal rule: If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything.

Privacy. Complaining about your customer’s requests or client’s peculiarities will only hurt you, and may even cause them to leave. Or they may be vocal in return, and cause you to be terminated. Be sure your employees (and you) understand confidentiality and how to abide by it. Not talking about others on social media venues would be the best practice. If you need to vent, talk with your coach. Here’s a sobering thought: Once posted, your rants may be available for others to view for a long time … maybe even throughout your lifetime and beyond.

©Jeannette Seibly, 2011

Is Innovation Thwarting your Business?

Many companies today want to get on the technological fast train. They love to change systems simply for the joy of having the newest best thing! They falsely believe that to be competitive they need to be different, innovative, or ahead of everyone else. The problem is when companies move too fast, their creativity may cause them to lose sight of the company’s vision and mission. By moving too fast they may fail to create the buy-in necessary to embrace change. They make it difficult for their customers to understand time-saving value and actually enjoy the new product or service.

Remember, change requires people to operate outside their normal habits. Most people don’t like to be forced to do that!

First, listen to the customer. The old adage, “If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it!” may no longer be appropriate. However, if it normally works most of the time, simply make small adjustments to simplify, save time and allow others to work smarter. Communication is the key. Anything new needs to be easily and quickly understood. Be sure that you include your customers in a structured brainstorming process when creating any new product or service, or overhauling your systems.  Failure to do so may have customers talking with your competitors.

Second, keep it simple and straightforward. Unfortunately, people who design systems may not have a comprehensive business perspective or direct interaction with the customer. Innovation costs money. Ineffective innovation may result in losing customers. Create the blueprint. Run it by the people who actually will use it. Calculate a Return-on-Investment prior to launching an initiative. It is good business to run a parallel system while piloting the new – just in case.

Last, but never least! Training is the cornerstone for success. Start with your internal users and others within the company. Be sure they understand the reason and benefits for the change. Help your sales and customer advocates understand how to communicate the changes in a positive and easy to understand manner. Everyone will have a conceptual opinion about whether something should work or not, particularly if they are hearing about it for the first time. Before following those suggestions and making any changes, require people to use it. If you’ve included them in the planning for execution and implementation, you’re less likely to get any pushback until real issues arise.

©Jeannette Seibly, 2011