Delay Judging Others

In today’s fast paced world, we judge others in a nano-second. We base our verdicts on fact-less perceptions. Often, we are wrong! Successful business leaders have learned to bide their time before making irrevocable decisions about others. They know this trait can be held against them in litigation for employment-related concerns, in negotiations for contracts and special pricing and in their abilities to achieve the intended results for a project.

The following are six key points to minimize our misperception of others. The benefit? We will make better business decisions, develop stronger partnerships to grow our enterprise and enjoy positive financial impacts.

How to delay judging others:

1.     Emails. Many people don’t proof their work merely for the sake of expediency. They often forget mistakes create a long-term impression of their competence, and skip taking the extra minute or two necessary to proof their work. Review several emails to see if it’s a one-time oversight before sending them a friendly reminder.

2.     Social Media. Some people truly do not know how to use social media venues in business. “Spam” is an overused and misused phrase. Simply hide them on your newsfeed or disconnect without being offensive.

3.     First Impressions. Our internal chatterbox will focus on the person’s physical factors. It can be as simple as how they are dressed or shake your hand! If their “sound-bite” isn’t of interest, we automatically tune them out. Take time to get to know the real person before throwing away their business card. Be sure your own introduction is polished and engaging. (TimeToBrag.com)

4.     Network Meetings or Sales Calls. Some people create a weak impression or use an interrogative questioning style. Before discounting their credibility, set an example by sharing about yourself. Ask appropriate questions about them. It will help you make a better decision about any future connectivity.

5.     Manage your feelings. Your feelings about your employees, co-workers and clients will impact your ability to work with them effectively, even if you falsely believe you’ve kept your opinions well hidden. Learn to like someone by focusing on one or two things they do well, such as their success interacting with tough clients. Be careful of showing favoritism to those you naturally prefer. It can limit your ability to hold all your employees accountable.

6.     Don’t be afraid of the tough questions. If you’re working with a business advisor, banker or VC, they will ask hard questions. They don’t care if you like them or not! Their commitment is for your success and to provide you the clarity required to make better decisions. Learn from them! Take responsibility for asking the right questions to ensure the best welfare of your employees, clients, projects and bottom line.

©Jeannette L. Seibly, 2012

Honor the Fear Factor

New ideas, products and/or services can be difficult for many people to grasp if they are not part of the creation process. Too often when a boss, business development group or sales team comes up with the “new big money-maker” idea, others become fearful. Instead of creating a thought-out blueprint and return on investment on paper, they simply attempt to wing it! Worse, they attempt to control every aspect of the process as issues arise. Steamrolling others and not enrolling them into the process usually creates disastrous results. Employees and customers become fearful. Want to turn this loose/loose scenerio around? Honor their fears for positive outcomes.

It’s OK. Create an environment of innovation where mistakes happen and everyone learns from them. An environment where “What if’s….” are welcomed. Implement according to a well-designed, focused and simple blueprint. It keeps everyone on the same page. Allow others the opportunities to voice ideas or concerns, and explore them without repercussions. This sort of transparency prevents covert squashing!

Stay focused. Don’t make changes to simply change or falsely make others happy. Stop allowing the newest “bright shining object” to deter the process. Detours usually cost money and valuable time while wreaking havoc.

Come Down to Reality. When the team is concerned about an outcome, take time to listen. It’s usually based upon sad experience of past errors in poorly executed projects. Nay-sayers do quietly sabotage efforts, often due to their fear of the unknown or mistaken assumptions (e.g., changes in job duties, unwillingness to learn new systems, poor relationship with project leader or team members, etc.) Share the economic and market impact of the new service or product constantly. Repetition is the key to quell fears. Don’t make promises about big bonuses or payouts without the ability to follow through.

Keep it simple. Share the plan and idea in small bite-size pieces. Start with very simple questions to hook others’ interest, get them thinking and help get them on the same page. For example, asking a broad question can be a deterrent, i.e. “How can this company save a million dollars?” Instead, ask simpler engaging questions, such as “What is one idea you could implement today to save money?”

©Jeannette L. Seibly, 2012

5 Ways to Combat Never-Ending Excuses!

I recently received an email from someone I had met several weeks ago. We had created a great idea for her business growth. It was a simple and sound plan with a positive ROI. Her excuse for not following-through? She wanted to stay focused on what she was currently doing and wouldn’t  be able to implement the idea. Huh? Then, like most of us do to when confronted to move outside our comfort zones, she listed several “excuses” and included a quote from a well-known author to support her rationalization.

Our automatic excuse-maker kicks into full gear and we can come up with amazing reasons to justify not acting upon ideas or following-through on plans! The problem is,    we engage our mental monologues in time-consuming thoughts that take more time than implementing the process would require! Then, we spend additional time (yes, and money) to enroll others into our justification for achieving poor results. We falsely await an epiphany without doing the necessary work! We rely upon mysticism that if we don’t act upon something, or follow-through, it wasn’t meant to be. Unfortunately, these cyclical excuses intensify as we use them more and more often.

How do we break out of this nasty trap? How do we move outside our comfort zones before they shrink to ensnare us completely? How do we achieve our goals with ease and positive financial results?

First – Hire a life coach or biz advisor who will propel you forward. You are still required to do the work, yes. The difference is a coach helps you break through the barriers  to do what you have been avoiding, so you can have what you always wanted!

Second – Complete the five exercises in the book, “It’s Time to Brag!” (TimeToBrag.com) and become aware of your past accomplishments. You can’t build on weaknesses. Use these “brags” in a biz savvy manner for sales presentations, retaining clients, and asking for new job assignments.

Third – Create a blueprint based upon future goals, not simply recreating what you did in the past. This can be a challenge since human beings love to operate inside their comfort zones, which include either generating strategic ideas that cannot be implemented, or tactical plans that only regurgitate our current work with a new twist. Neither provides “value-added” results.

Fourth – Ensure a positive ROI.  It’s like any investment of time or money. Ask yourself, “Does the plan provide a potential positive cash flow as it is designed, based upon the hours, days, or months involved?” If it does not, modify.

Fifth – Learn to recognize and shift your automatic excuses immediately. Saying “no” to requests may feel liberating. But in reality, if it’s not used judiciously, it only serves to entrench us deeper into our ruts. Learn to maneuver successfully through inevitable challenges via conversations with your biz advisor for positive results!

(c)Jeannette L Seibly, 2012

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