Be Grateful for Conflict

There are many articles written about conflict: the good, the bad and the ugly. The truth is when we fail to listen to others’ ideas and respect individual opinions, conflicts naturally occur.

Why? We have an illusion that our perceptions are the right way to think, behave or interact with one another. We are taught to speak up against someone who does not agree with us, or quietly dis them to others, negating the value of their contributions. The yeller that everyone complains about is actually no different than the silent screamer who fails to notify someone in authority of a problem.  Both cause loss of customers, low morale, poor quality of products or services and profitability. It is disrespectful toward others inside and outside the organization.

The time is now to put aside your preconceived judgments of others’ ideas and develop persuasive listening skills. Be open to hearing thoughts you would normally dismiss, learn to build upon these viewpoints and use them to create new systems, products and/or services. Often, there is a hidden gem of genius in many ideas. To determine the value, you need to develop the potential worth. Exercise facilitation skills that bring out each person’s opinions.  Listen to differing facts about the workability of internal and external factors – these can add to or hinder financial results.  In the end, whether your nugget shines, is used to create a better solution or set aside, be grateful for the “conflict” or differing mindsets that helped build a viable outcome.

©Jeannette Seibly, 2013

Jeannette Seibly is a business advisor for business owners and executives of $1MM to $30MM enterprises creating million dollar results. Contact her at JLSeibly@SeibCo.com for a free consultation on how to achieve amazing results.

When has “conflict” helped resolve a problem or open up a new product or service for your company? What did you do to facilitate it? Please share your ideas!

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

Accountability Elephants

A company wanted to terminate an employee who was not achieving results. She had a multitude of excuses, blamed her boss for his lack of support and refused to be held accountable for her employees’ actions. When the boss had had enough, the HR Director stressed, “Her employees won’t be happy. She is well liked.” The reality? Many of her employees were happy to see her go since they already realized she was the bottleneck for not getting things done, poor decisions being made and low morale.

Laissez-faire leadership has been creating a devastating impact on companies worldwide, according to Herman Trend Alert, August 22, 2012. Many business professionals are not holding themselves accountable for their results or their employees’.  They blame increasingly complex business environments, workloads and lack of financial and other resources. To complicate these concerns, many leaders have become more concerned about being liked, holding onto their power of control, not rocking the boat or micromanaging to the point of exhaustion.

Delegation. Work-life balance is something we strive to achieve. We blame our employers for our failure to achieve this ideal. The truism is there are time periods when personal concerns (e.g., health, family, and home) will take precedence in your life. There are other times when your professional considerations require stronger attention. Be proactive. Learn to manage these inevitable transitions by requesting help (at home and work).  Stop waiting for the perfect time to cross train. Do it now before the need arises. Learn to trust others to make decisions appropriate for their experience and abilities to alleviate bottlenecks before they start.

Build on strengths. When you are in a job that aligns with your strengths, work life becomes easier to manage. The same is true for your employees. Learn how to hire people who fit their work, and how to manage them accordingly. Hold your employees accountable for results, sales quotas and other objectively set metrics. If employees are unable to meet these measures, it may be time to review their fit with the job. A good person in the wrong job can inhibit her/his own ability to accomplish normal tasks with ease, and issues seem to get muddled and, never resolved. Take the time and spend the money to hire the right people. Learn how to create a work flow that recognizes a person’s strengths.

Handle the Elephants. Most people love to put off until tomorrow what isn’t urgent today. Unfortunately, this growing stockpile doesn’t deplete naturally and unaddressed issues actually grow exponentially.  Hold yourself accountable by enlisting the help of your business advisor as an objective sounding board. Determine effective resolutions for both potential and long-term elephants. You may be pleased to find some can simply be crossed off your list!

Need immediate help to transform your leaders into fearless, effective, no-nonsense contributors? Contact your business advisor today to transform your business! JLSeibly@SeibCo.com

Want to be leader of excellence?

Many business professionals have the goal of becoming leaders of a team, company or industry. Yet, many fall short. They fail to develop the key characteristics so crucial to giving them and their company the competitive “edge factor” required for excellence.

Great leaders inspire.

They are visionaries. Often strong employees and managers focus too narrowly on their own little sphere. They fear political corporate pushback. They hope someone else risks making the changes required for the company to become successful. As a result of this paralysis, they fail to create the opportunities, systems and attitudes necessary to generate a positive ROI. Visionaries, however, are fearless and know that if someone isn’t listening, they can find someone else to support their efforts.

They believe there isn’t a problem that can’t be resolved. Leaders have a mindset that recognizes problems and obstacles, but do not allow themselves to be limited by them. They formulate ideas and know how to enroll others into devising solutions to “make the results happen.”

They are driven to excel. While many companies rely upon incremental steps to achieve goals, great leaders look beyond 100% success. They create goals to achieve what may initially seem impossible. They hire the right business advisors, coaches and trainers to support their people to succeed.

©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

Your Career as a Leader is at Risk!

“About 40% of executives who change jobs or get promoted fail in the first 18 months.” New Job? Get a Head Start Now, February 17, 2012, Fortune, written by Anne Fisher

 

More than ever, great leadership skills are required of executives, in both the private sector as business owners and in the C-suite of large public corporations. Failure to acquire these skills is a critical error. You can’t force others to become loyal and trusting followers. If you have no one to lead you’ll get fired!  It takes concerted effort on your part, each and every day, to balance the requirements of your company’s needs while supporting your employees abilities to thrive. You’re only as great as your employees’ results!

Stay Ahead. Today, companies are promoting record numbers of people who lack the required management skills or essential interest in being the boss. Not surprisingly, many executives are fired because they are unable to effectively lead their teams and deliver the results. Regardless of the leader’s level of expertise, create a 30-60-90-180 day plan with specific results, projects and training required. Consider including one community involvement activity or on-site customer visit. Keep it simple in design to ensure time to practice and learn.

Clear Focus. Employees readily accept advancement into leadership roles due to better title, corner office and compensation. If it’s solely for the power trip, the “me” focus is a serious problem that leads to failure! A strong leader takes care of her/his people by first being committed to the organization in thought and action. They are more committed to everyone getting a paycheck, than just getting their own!

Be Resourceful. Too often you hear a common complaint, “I don’t have what I need to get the job done.” “I don’t have the budget to do what I want to do.” These are excuses that get in the way of being successful. Learn to ask the right questions of others, and implement ideas appropriately. Some of our most treasured successes began with the innovation born from not having enough (obvious) resources!

Cultivate Trust. If no one trusts you, they may still follow your lead; albeit very reluctantly. They may unconsciously sabotage your efforts and nitpick your manner. Building trust takes time. Work with your business advisor to develop true confidence in yourself and your decision making skills. Then, develop a plan to resolve the previously created issues with your employees. (Visit: SeibCo.com)

Strength/Weakness. Every strength has a potential weakness. Likewise, every weakness has a positive strength. Take a qualified assessment to learn how to navigate these paradoxes with your business advisor. Also, participate in a qualified 360-degree assessment to fine-you’re your effectiveness (See: SmartHiringMadeEasy.com)

Invest in Self.  Many times we falsely believe we’ve reached the pinnacle of our success and have nothing new to learn! Strong leaders engage in ongoing education and remain open to improvement. Strong leaders hire business advisors to help with strategic building of their companies and handling nuances inherent in tactical implementation. These same leaders participate in technical training to better appreciate the challenges their employees may have. New awareness brings about new opportunities. You’re never too old to learn something new; you’ll never be too smart with nothing new to learn!

©Jeannette Seibly, 2012

Learn How to Work Well with Bad Bosses

I recently received an article in my Inbox from a business associate’s employee. It was about bosses being difficult (a nicer title than the actual one sent to me!). I, myself, have worked for bosses who truly understood the technical aspects of the job and industry, but did not know how to manage. I learned a lot from them. I’ve also worked for a couple who received their job title for reasons unknown. And I learned how to work with them to achieve needed results, too. In any company, there will be bosses who earn their title, while others happen to be in the right place at the wrong time. These bad bosses often exhibit poor communication styles, lack of organization or project skills and show favoritism.

The goal? It’s your job to learn how to work well with them in order to receive your paychecks, acquire job expertise, and support your own career aspirations. A career lesson to be learned. Otherwise, there’s an excellent chance your next boss will be the same with a different name!

A true story: a client was disparaging his boss, and his actions. He believed his co-workers felt the same way. One example was how this difficult boss distributed quarterly bonuses after completion of a major project. As his coach, I recommended he talk with the boss and clear up any misunderstandings. He did so very reluctantly and was happily amazed by the outcome! Not only did his boss stop sharpening the pencil, my client became known for his ability to work well with a difficult person. Other employees came to him for advice when dealing with this boss, and others. The President of the company acknowledged his executive growth and promised new opportunities in the future.

Hire your boss a coach. Obviously, this needs to be accomplished very diplomatically. Most bad bosses do not know another way to behave. They hate people challenges due to a lack of logic. They may become emotionally inept at handling these issues because of their own need to be liked. Maybe your boss takes the job more seriously, believes you and your co-workers should too, and is simply more demanding than others as a result. A good coach will help the boss see him- or herself objectively, develop more effective ways of interacting with others and develop people or project management skills to get results.

Eye of the Beholder. While you can always find others who will agree with your assessment of how bad the boss is, look for others who have a different perspective about the things your boss is doing well. Listen to them. Maybe s/he is fair in bonus distribution and allocating OT. Perhaps s/he offers great ideas and ensures you receive the credit for implementation. When dealing with more controversial concerns, handle the roadblocks provided by your boss in an assertive manner to resolve customer or project difficulties. Remember, your boss (and others) may find productive disagreements helpful and getting to the source of excuses beneficial in order to achieve required results consistently. Needing to be liked or overly nice does not equate with being effective.

It’s a process, not an event. It is natural for employees to expect an immediate difference and readily noticeable changes when a boss is advised of deficiencies. The reality? Bad habits take time to correct, regardless. For example, how long does it take someone to quit smoking cigarettes? It takes most people more than a few months, before it is deemed successful. So keep acknowledging any positive change. Hire yourself a coach to help you deal with your own life goals and interpersonal fears. You’ll be amazed by the difference it makes when you learn to be patient with yourself and are effective at achieving your own goals. Your new awareness makes it easier for others to get along with you!

©Jeannette Seibly, 2012

Jeannette Seibly is a Business Advisor and has successfully coached 1000’s of business owners and executives to be successful leaders while growing their businesses. Three of them became millionaires!