Archive for July, 2011

When you joined the company, you did so because what

When you joined the company, you did so because what? You had certain needs to be met. Not so? Perhaps needs for money, status, training, location. But as time went on…something curious happened, probably without you even noticing it.

Sure, you may have felt it. But few realise before it’s too late what happened.

Let me tell you. What happened was that the BALANCE OF NEEDS shifted big-style. No sooner had your needs been met, than the company put it’s needs continually higher on the agenda, whilst yours slid to the bottom.

Time-off? What about the project? More money? In the present competitive climate? A transfer? We need you here! More interesting work? Where do you think you are, a sweet shop?

Sound familiar?

A good sign that we have bought into the company game, or their version of the world, is when we feel stuck.

Here’s what we need to do in order to redress the balance of needs, and put our needs up their with the company’s…

1. Get Yourself a Much Bigger Game

Think long term. Think about what you want to do after this work. Consider what your heart it whispering. Put the job to one side for a moment, and ask yourself, if I wasn’t doing this, what would I love to do?

2. Spend Time Enriching This.

Consider your feelings on the matter. What it would mean to you? What might you need to learn to bring it about? How much fun you would have? In a nutshell, what kind of journey do you want?

3. See The Company as a Resource.

Now, clearly you have signed a contract and have certain responsibilities to undertake. That is fine, and you should do them to the best of your abilities. That said, you can also look at the way you approach your work, and consider what skills, contacts, qualities, information you want to develop that would stand you in good stead in your much bigger game.

Just make a list of some of the things you want to have in place when you leave.

Yes, when you leave. Because you will. Either of your own free choice, or circumstances will kick you out, or you’ll be carried out. One of the three.

So this is by way of a strategic approach. You with me?

4. See Each Day as a Framework for Learning

Rather than see each day as “another day at work” ask yourself, “What can I learn today that will bring my much bigger game a step towards me?”

See those 8 hours as potential. Sure you have a job to do, but there is much you can learn by adapting your APPROACH.

For example, you might want to develop determination, confidence, creativity, organisation, time-keeping, discipline, or a whole range of other qualities.

You might want to develop a range of contacts with interests that would support your much bigger game. Go find them as you go about your day.

5. Notice the Gratitude

A curious side-effect of this approach is that you may start to feel gratitude for the company for providing you with so many opportunities to grow.

Any resentment you may have felt can easily turn into a willingness to achieve even greater results!

The company will often wonder what it has done to engender such a turn-a-around. Hey, they may even promote your manager!

6. Spot the other Players

As you work with this strategic approach, you will start to notice others within the company who are on the same page.

You will notice a lightness in the way they handle “stressful” situations. Why? Because for them, this is not the be-all-and-end-all. It is a stepping stone, and so everything is in a more healthy context.

7. As the Pieces, Come Together

As the pieces of your puzzle come together, prepare well for your jump from this stone to the next. Having developed the resources you need, you will have confidence in your ability and a clear plan to hit the ground running.

So remember to step back from the company game you are in to see the wider, broader picture. See where this vehicle is taking you and what else you might learn from the ride. Consider where you want to go next, and how this journey can support that.

Most importantly, redress the balance of needs, and put your own back up there with the company’s.

Make you job work for you! 🙂

Have a great time

Around the world, there has been a recent backlash against corporate executives

Around the world, there has been a recent backlash against corporate executives. Citing massive bonuses and minimal oversight – critics have attacked business leaders and have brought the reputation of being a senior manager crashing down. It’s such a shame that the mistakes of the few have tarnished the efforts of many to build successful businesses that create jobs and improve the prosperity of their local area. There are ways, however, that you can walk against this tide of public hatred and become an admired business veteran – whatever the bottom line.

The first area to focus on is image. The vast majority of grass roots critics of executives don’t actually know one. Unsurprising, as top jobs are rare, but a power fact all the same. What this means is that no matter how you act with your immediate colleagues and friends, you aren’t making an impression on the thousands of people your community who have heard of your company or maybe you personally as a leader. Image is therefore everything, as public image is the only outreach (so far) you have in communicating with those dissenters around you.

You will need to tone down your lifestyle and flamboyance, and rethink how you present yourself to the rest of the world. Do you drive an expensive German saloon, wear a designer suit, or mount a luxury watch upon your wrist for a mere ‘pop down to the shops?’ if so then you will be arousing a quiet resentment in many people you pass. Is the feeling of superiority and success really worth that? These are your neighbours, and deserve some respect, so treat them as you would your closest friend. In other words, when economic times are hard – don’t highlight the fact that you’re still earning a good salary. You don’t need to ‘hide’ it either – just simply act like a normal, humble human being, and the admiration for your leadership position will slowly come creeping back!

The second thing you need to focus on is the local newspaper. These are very brilliant at passing on the message that you’re trying to help the community and have a great deal of passion for the business you work for, and more importantly – it’s employees. Hold a charity event where proceeds will go to an employment initiative, or give out a press release if you hire a batch of staff. Newspapers may publish a lot of bad news in a recession, but they’re also on the lookout for the ‘diamond in the rough’ stories that will bright light to these dark and troubled times.

And finally, a real boost to your popularity as a leader will come from your salary. Fred Goodwin’s pension scandal has become part of the core reason why the public is angry with senior managers – compensation in the largest of the country’s companies has swelled in recent years, and has continued to grow despite the terrible financial results. You have to become a martyr for your board and publically take a pay cut to restore confidence in leadership once more.

Keep these two things in mind and you’ll see people warm to the leadership of your company once more.

Decision-making is a favorite topic for me and previously i have written a number of other articles on the subject including decision-making rule #1

Decision-making is a favorite topic for me and previously I have written a number of other articles on the subject including Decision-Making Rule #1. Today, I want to revisit Rule #1 from a little different perspective and talk a little about some of the other rules that I have learned. Hopefully this will be of some benefit to you without having to suffer the mistakes that were part of my learning process.

If there is one mistake that most of us make, it might be called the “Lone Ranger Syndrome” where we feel we have to make every decision ourselves. The truth is, we should be trying to delegate more or enlist others in the process. Research shows that group decisions are better than individual decisions. When I wrote that the first rule of decision-making is, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” I wasn’t just referring to the action you take after the decision. I also meant that you should include others in decisions that affect them. How would you like it if someone made a decision that affected you without talking to you about it beforehand? Successful implementation of any decision depends on the buy-in of those charged with executing the decision and there is no better way to get buy-in than involving those people in the decision-making process.

Most of us have been trained to think of decision-making as problem solving and I have come to the conclusion that this thought process limits our options and has the potential to reduce our effectiveness as decision-makers. I now approach decisions as the construction of a preferred future. This makes a huge difference in my processing. I don’t have to make sure that the problem is defined properly. I don’t have to make sure that I understand all of the positive and negative aspects of the issue and I don’t get stymied when the option I decided on doesn’t work because of some obstacle in my way. Instead, I have the grand picture of the desired outcome in my mind and will self-correct automatically to achieve that preferred future. Consequently, my second rule of decision-making is that it is not a problem solving activity. It is an exercise in the construction of a preferred future.

My third rule of decision-making is that “Stuff Happens.” Even if you have considered every possibility, you still don’t know what you don’t know. In addition, there is always luck, imperfect knowledge and unintended consequences. The good news is that decisions are windows to opportunity and can be reopened and closed as often as necessary. In other words, decisions can be changed. The best manager or leader in the world cannot save a bad decision. Don’t be one of those people who made a bad decision and then spent untold time and energy covering it up. Supporting a bad decision is a downward spiral and the longer you support it the more difficult it becomes to recognize and change. Fix bad decisions quickly and move on. I know this is a difficult thing to admit, but once you remember that half of all decisions fail, it is much easier to reject bad decisions and move to a better decision.

Implementation is the final step in the decision-making process and can be full of potholes. My fourth rule of decision-making is that the success and the speed of success of any implementation are directly related to the involvement of the implementers in the decision process. (See Rule #1.) I have witnessed more prolonged and failed implementations than you can shake a stick at. Yet executives continue to force decisions on people and organizations with horrendous results. It is so much easier, faster and less expensive in the long run to involve those people who must implement the decision in the actual decision process from the beginning. My experience is that the result is much improved when approached with the implementers on board from the beginning.

Perspective is critical in decision-making and you can read more about my thoughts on perspective in the March, 2004 issue of Taking Aim. You have to have all of the perspectives represented in the process in order to understand the facts from all sides. Perspective is the fifth rule of decision-making, but I might even expand it to suggest that good decisions serve multiple constituencies. There is much being written about the triple bottom line of People, Profits and Planet. In my own decision-making process, I look for solutions that benefit three constituencies: the customer, client or patient, the employer and fellow employees.

Decision-making is an age old problem that is being compounded today by increasing knowledge, population, complexity, speed, change and much more. If 50% of all decisions fail, as Paul Nutt suggests in his book, “Why Decisions Fail”, then we need a better process and maybe a few rules for decision-making wouldn’t hurt either. If you have any rules you would like to add to the above list, please email me at bob@decisionmakingtoday.com.

? Copyright Bob Cannon/The Cannon Advantage, 2005. All rights reserved.

Recent work with several healthcare clients has taught me a lesson

Recent work with several healthcare clients has taught me a lesson. My encouragement that leaders and managers help employees maintain focus on organizational goals and objectives may be premature.

If the organization doesn’t have a clearly defined vision, what are employees to focus on?

Please note I am not referring to a “vision statement.” That is typically no more than an advertising slogan. If there is no vision behind the words, the statement has little meaning and less impact.

I offer three quick, simple steps you can use to build a true and clear vision for your organization, your department or your team.

Articulate. Build your own picture of where you want the organization to go, what you want it to become. Without describing your picture to the extreme detail, share it with your team in clear, everyday language.

Allow. Hold several discussion sessions. Invite people to express their perceptions of the vision fulfilled. Ask them for specific examples of what they “see.” Encourage them to be more and more specific. (Prepare to ask repeatedly, “What does that look like?)

Actualize. Using images suggested by team members, construct a true and clear organization vision. You may translate it to a verbal vision statement. However, a visual vision statement will have true value in its visibility. Consider a poster filled with scenes and situations representing the vision achieved. (Bonus: use pictures of your team members in that poster!)

The cost: probably less than $200 for a “visual vision statement.” Otherwise, just a bit of your and your people’s time.

The reward: increased engagement by the employees who know their foresight contributes to their organization’s vision of the future.

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