Go to www.heartbeatradiott.com – and Click on “Live Stream”(second button top left hand side, under banner – see below)
Join me with host Marcia Miranda as we talk about Self Mastery and Taking Charge of Your Life.
Go to www.heartbeatradiott.com – and Click on “Live Stream”(second button top left hand side, under banner – see below)
Join me with host Marcia Miranda as we talk about Self Mastery and Taking Charge of Your Life.
As the business owner or leader of your team what is your most important job and focus? I want you to think about this question carefully because in it is the answer as to why the changes you want to see aren’t sticking. Sure any change that is driven by a bull pistle on its behind will happen but it will also have to be a change process that will involve you expending an enormous amount of energy telling, controlling and directing people every day. This is not something that you can sustain over a long period of time. And chances are you’ve resorted to statements such as “I am not here to parent people. Why can’t people do what they’re told? I’ve told them to do this countless times – I’m not telling them about this again!” Yet you do – the very next morning! Because while you are fed up it’s your ultimate responsibility and you need your people to act in a certain way and your only method so far is to tell them. So have you concluded that your main focus is to just keeping telling and telling your people what to do until that magnificent day when they finally “get it”?
Ask any owner, team leader or entrepreneur what she wants for her business and she’ll talk about financial success, competitive products and services, a fabulous team culture and all that good stuff. Compare that to asking a new parent what she wants for her child and she’ll say “I want him to be healthy.” And I do remember my best friend giving me this exact response when I asked her if she wanted a girl or a boy. She went for healthy baby.
Ok. I’ve kept you in suspense long enough! Your job as the leader of your organization or team is to take 100% responsibility for keeping your company healthy so think back to my example in the first paragraph and ask yourself “is this approach a healthy one?”
Going back to the parent analogy – the real job of parents is to give their children the environment and the tools they need in which to thrive and to prepare them for the world which is full of uncertainty, paved with unrelenting disappointment and untold of joy and everything else in between!
In his new book ‘The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else in Business’ author Patrick Lencioni says “Ultimately, parents can neither predict nor control how their kids turn out, but they can give them a life free of unnecessary dysfunction and stress – and clarity about boundaries. Similarly, the head of an organization has to make it healthy. The key is to create an environment where people can thrive, without unnecessary dysfunction, confusion and politics. This requires a cohesive team at the top, clarity, communication, and reinforcement through human systems. By doing this, owners can provide their people with the opportunity to succeed in ways that even they couldn’t have anticipated.”
Change initiatives flop usually because
If you are not clear or your leadership team is not clear how in God’s name do you expect your staff to be clear?
It’s one thing to be clear but do you believe in the change goals that you’ve set for yourself and your team? If you don’t believe then the first person to sell on the change initiative is yourself. Your employees will smell your lack of conviction a mile away and respond to THAT more than anything you TELL them. And even if you believe it can happen, you must believe that it will because your present employees can carry it through. If you don’t believe that your employees are capable then whose fault is that? If you didn’t hire them or spoke up regarding your concern about your company’s hiring policy you might have a different situation on your hands.
If you do not understand your company’s culture any change initiative will false-start.
“Where is the culture of your business? Is it in the building, the equipment, the intellectual property, in your products and services?” Of course not! It’s in your people. But where in the people is the culture? Your answer needs to be “in their hearts and heads.” Culture is the sum total of the emotions, experiences, beliefs and expectations of everyone involved in the organization. This is the collective mind. Until you figure out how to change this – NOTHING WILL HAPPEN.
Of course you can change your culture in a day by firing 100 percent of your people!
In ‘The Seven Arts of Change’ David Shaner says “The need to change is usually met with resistance. Most people value predictability, even if it’s predictable mediocrity. If the leader of change cannot offer a consistent and compelling rationale for change, he will fail to win the collective mind of the organization and change will not happen.”
This compelling reason to change must not only be due to the urgent business crisis or because you are the boss and you think that it’s best. It must also include a commitment to support and enable each individual to grow and develop personally.
So for all of us who keep thinking that our parenting skills are only for home – think again! If the workplace is not a vehicle for desirable personal growth and development then forget about pursuing any change initiatives.
Only when people can trust you, when they understand their roles and can participate meaningfully in the direction of the business, when they can participate in the rewards that accompany superior achievement – then and only then will you have an organization that will undergo transformation with people who know why they are giving you 120%!
“Despite all our gains in technology, product innovation and world markets, most people are not thriving in the organizations they work for. They are neither fulfilled nor excited. They are frustrated. They are not clear about where the organization is headed or what its highest priorities are. They are bogged down and distracted. Most of all, they don’t feel they can change much. Can you imagine the personal and organizational cost of failing to fully engage the passion, talent and intelligence of the workforce? It is far greater than all taxes, interest charges and labor costs put together!”
Sobering words from Stephen Covey in his book the 8th Habit yet oh so true and as relevant today, as when the book was first published in 2004. Perhaps the situation has got worse. I have no data to support this bar what I observe on a daily basis as I work with small businesses and the other stuff that I do in any given week – go to Hi-Lo, fill up with gas, go to the mall, etc.
I see employees assemble dutifully at morning meetings and go through the motions, handling everything efficiently with expressionless faces and no passion. Cashiers cash. Gas station attendants fill cars up with gas. Vendors vend.
Are they doing as they ought? Of course! But they are almost robotic in their actions not trying to connect, build relationships, advance as a team…it’s as if when we arrive at work we are asked to leave our hearts at the door, pick them up on our way out as we clock our cards and wave goodbye to the place we must come to again tomorrow, not because we WANT to but we MUST.
In his book ‘God is a Salesman’ bestselling author Mark Stevens describes the usual versus the exceptional taking place in a furniture store. You walk into a furniture store and you could almost feel the sales associate eyeing you and then the well-practiced pounce –
Sales associate: “May I help you?”
You: “Perhaps. We need a kitchen table.”
Sales associate: “Very good. I’m sure I can help you. How much do you want to spend?”
This was of course “the usual” experience
Mark describes his exceptional experience this way “When my son and I walked into Kurt’s store on a snowy February, he asked if we’d been skiing earlier in the day.
‘Oh yes, perfect day on Mt. Mansfield.’ And then Kurt connected the dots. ‘And now you want to find the ideal table for those equally perfect après ski dinners with your family. Am I right?”
Kurt: “Wonderful. I love to hear that. The greatest thing about skiing is the way it brings families together. You’re not really looking for a table, per se, you are seeking the ideal centerpiece for sitting down with the people you love and sharing stories of the great times you have together schussing down that mountain. All of the tables you see here would be great for that, but let me show you an antique table that captures the spirit of what you are after.”
Kurt had the gift, the insight and knew not to sell a product.
My question: Can we train for this behavior?
Winning organizations have figured that not any kind of person will do except if that person is RIGHT for your business. The right people are those who would exhibit desired behaviors anyway, as a natural extension of their character and attitude, regardless of any control and incentive system.
The challenges for most businesses is not to train all people to share your core values but to find people who already share those core values and to create mechanisms that so strongly reinforce those values that the people who don’t share them either never get hired or if they do, work their way out of the job i.e. decide to leave on their own.
Begin listening to the PAIN signals within your business. Do you regularly hear yourself or your employees say any of the following:
“I’m in a rut”
“I have no life; I am burned out and exhausted.”
“I’m not making a difference.”
“I’m stressed. Everyone wants EVERYTHING yesterday!”
“I’m here just killing time.”
“I’m sick and tired of all the backstabbing and politics in this place!”
Covey’s 8th Habit is about you finding your voice and helping others in your business find theirs. Sometimes their voice may not be the one you need in your choir. No matter how much training you provide they would not fit in. So the first step is to acknowledge that you are feeling pain and then begin to look for where you’re feeling that pain and finally take steps to heal.
This is a creative process. You can of course get great ideas by looking at what other businesses are doing but the best solutions are idiosyncratic adaptations. And remember not all solutions are to be created by your management team. Invite other members to participate in the ‘best solution find.’
Author John Gardner said “Most ailing organizations have developed a functional blindness to their own defects. They are not suffering because they cannot resolve their problems, but because they cannot SEE their problems.”
I’m hoping that you’re already seeing your challenges and if not feeling the painful effects of those challenges enough to do something about it!
Do you think that you perform better when you feel healthier and happier? I am almost certain that your answer would be “Yes!” So my next question would be “Do you regularly invest in your own health and happiness and does your business invest in your people’s health and happiness?” Very few when faced with this question can mouth a truthful “Yes.”
Take a step back as you read this and examine your own life. Is this what you saw for yourself? The picture isn’t very pretty is it? Are you working long hours and feeling as if you have not got the luxury of stopping right now? Do you arrive home at night with very little energy left in you? Do you (with good intention) say to yourself that “this” HAS to change, that you can’t continue like “this” for much longer but yet you do AND continue as if unable to stop yourself from the maniacal ride.
What is it going to take for you to reconsider that perhaps HOW you’re working and how you have your team working ISN’T working?
CEO of accounting firm KPMG, Eugene O’Kelly lived exactly like this. “My calendar was perpetually extended out over the next eighteen months. I was always moving at a hundred miles per hour. I worked all the time. I worked weekends. I worked late into many nights. I missed virtually every school function for my younger daughter. My annual travel schedule averaged conservatively, 150,000 miles. Over the course of my last decade with the firm, I did manage to squeeze in workday lunches with my wife. Twice.”
In 2004 at the age of fifty-four, O’Kelly was diagnosed with a terminal brain tumour. During the final months of his life, he wrote a book entitled Chasing Daylight, about the life he’d lived. “What if I hadn’t work so hard?” he wondered. “What if, aside from doing my job and doing it well, I had actually used the bully pulpit of my position to be a role model for balance? Had I done so intentionally who’s to say that, besides having more time with my family, I wouldn’t also have been even more focused at work? More creative? More productive? ….But I didn’t. Not in the many years I was pushing. It took inoperable late stage brain cancer to get me to examine things from this angle.” O’Kelly died shortly after writing those words.
So I ask you again – a little more seriously: “what is it going to take for you to reconsider that perhaps HOW you’re working and how you have your team working ISN’T working?”
I remember hearing some friends discuss ‘duty travel’ – i.e. travel for work – their bosses got to leave several days earlier than they did for the same conference. They got to rest and recuperate before the start of the event while the employees attending the same conference flew in the night before with an early seven am start of the proceedings.
Many executives can usually tell you which time of the week is best to fly, which hotels you should stay at, and how to schedule meetings so that you fit two in the same day though in separate cities. Yet many executives are overweight. They rarely take time to exercise while on the road, they skip meals , never get a full nights rest and spend hardly any time just relaxing and recuperating.
Consider these facts from a the Well-Being Journal Blog Post by John Harris, VP and Chief Well-Being Officer for Healthways, Inc. called – Is your Boss Making you Fat? “While we don’t yet understand exactly how this works, it seems to go something like this. People who have emotional or social burdens, such as a frustrating work environment, lack of time to spend with their friends, care-giving responsibilities for a close relative, financial problems, or marital strife simply have less time, energy, interest, and propensity to follow the behaviors that result in a healthy weight. So, a less than supportive boss may not make you fat directly, but it is a factor in an employee’s ability, or lack of ability, to take good care of him or herself.”
Think about that…if you are not supporting your own self in following behaviors that result in a healthier lifestyle how can you even begin to think about this for your staff? Without you even speaking they will usually follow what you do except in the case where bosses clearly communicate that they are MORE important than staff are and as such are entitled to a much better way of life as in my friend’s bosses above!
In their book Be Excellent at Everything, Tony Schwartz with Jean Gomes and Catherine McCarthy PhD described a talk given by a company CEO. He opened his remarks with a story about how he’d returned a few nights earlier from an extended overseas business trip and landed back home at 4 a.m. “It was dark outside, and I could have gone home to get some sleep, take a shower, and change clothes,” he explained exuberantly, “but I realized that this was an incredible opportunity to go straight to the office and get a couple of hours of work done, with no interruptions, before anyone else arrived. And that’s exactly what I did.”
The thing is we cannot change what we do not notice. For this CEO this might by fine for him. For someone else – this way of operating just will not work. Too often we almost seem to let our egos drive us with an insatiable desire to create mini clones of ourselves. What is the point? What will happen when we collaborate if we are leading robots – expecting them to follow our “not always good” lead?
Find out what it takes for you to be healthier and happier. You’ve already said you perform better when you’ve aced both. Then help employees find out how they could be healthier and happier too. You’ve already said that their performance will improve when they’ve aced both.
And now I look you in the eyes and ask once again…just in case you haven’t yet realized the gravity of the question: “what is it going to take for you to reconsider that perhaps HOW you’re working and how you have your team working ISN’T working?”
Are you pretending to search for answers when truthfully what you have done is given up and resigned yourself to the fact that people are never going to change and with that knowledge your business won’t either?
When I coach clients I always encourage them to start off by saying “This isn’t happening right now. But what if it were possible – how would that look?” Asking “what if it was possible” begins to expand and open our minds just a little to allow new thoughts and ideas to germinate.
Except that as business leaders we aren’t “fooled” by word and phrase games. Business is serious and the truth is that “I have on my hands the worst team one could ever ask for competing in times that feel rougher than kneeling down on a grater in the sun with two heavy stones in either hand!”
Has your business become a painful game of survival? Taking from Peter to pay Paul? Running just one step ahead of the bank? Stretching every facility just beyond the limit so that you are constantly playing a month end game of whether the bank will pull the plug or not?
Is this what you really signed up for? Have you been telling yourself that this is just a sign of the times and how things are going to be from now on?
Look at that preceding sentence again. Do you recognize it for what it is – a limiting belief?
Coach Jinny Ditzler, author of Your Best Year Yet says “we’re so hard on ourselves, filled with negative beliefs, assumptions, thoughts, feelings and paradigms about what’s wrong with us or why we’re the victims of our circumstances. And most of the time we’re unaware how the mindless self-talk is guiding – and limiting – everything we do.”
If you want to change some things in your business you need to change some things in your business. The first thing would be your thinking – beginning to recognize your limiting beliefs – one by one and then changing what you’re telling yourself right now is “THE TRUTH.”
You need to master the art of the paradigm shift. Imagine what could happen if you approached your biggest problems with the “anything is possible” mindset rather than the current “I’m right, you’re wrong” paradigm?
We’re already masters of shifting our paradigms and of manifesting matching results. Ever heard or said to yourself any of the following?
I’m sure you have. But what you’ve done is intellectualized it. You understand it from a logical point of view. In your head it makes sense. In your business it doesn’t apply. You have no faith in logic.
But I’m going to tell you that you are an extremely powerful person and that you are constantly using this power either in a positive way or in a negative way – either you’re predicting success or you’re predicting failure.
If you truly want your business to transform you have to first believe that it can and then have faith that it will. If you want a recipe for how to fix others in your business then this is it: simply fix yourself first. Others will see and feel the difference in your commitment level and follow suit.
So let’s start with your negative paradigm “Your business is doomed to failure. You can’t keep running this business as is and the economy is not giving you enough breathing space to get creative. You’ve tried just about everything and you’re convinced that things won’t change.” If you truly believe this then the actions you take (or fail to take) will be synced to this paradigm, and it will naturally follow that your results will be a perfect match for your actions NOT your intentions and what you want.
Using your same power that you used in creating and reinforcing your negative paradigm you can experience a more powerful shift towards getting what you want. So you might start off with “Anything is possible for me. If it were possible for my business to change it means that first I have to change. I am not quite sure where to start but what if I knew where to start what would I look at first?”
The combination of the right paradigm leads to the right actions leads to the right results.
Contemplate this new belief “If I want to change my business I first have to change myself and my thinking. When I change me, I change how people behave and when people change how they behave together we can change what the business can achieve.”
Have you ever had a situation get completely out of hand only to have it come and bite you in your butt and causing you to swear that “you shoulda do what you were supposed to do a long time ago?”
Let me get even clearer still.
You have an employee on staff that you think is a “good” employee. Yet this employee is NEVER on time. Other employees complain to you that nothing ever happens to Ralph when he comes late. Yet you continue to let Ralph’s transgression slide because Ralph is a “good” employee otherwise.
Ralph could also be the top performing sales person who you allow to get by with not attending mandatory training sessions because he after all – the top performing sales person.
Ralph could also be the employee you’ve given so many chances to despite his carelessness and attention to detail with the accounting figures because you think that deep down inside he is a “good” boy and you will continue to try with him because you know his heart is in the right place.
Get the picture? Fabulous!
Now let’s fast forward to the day that you have finally had it with Ralph. Ralph does something that is the proverbial straw that breaks your back! You feel like you could helicopter slap Ralph into exile – you’re so mad. And so on that fateful day – in a fit of rage – you begin seeking legal counsel as to whether you can dismiss Ralph because “Oh God! I’ve had enough!”
You can’t believe what you’re hearing. You cannot fire Ralph just like that. “Have you ever spoken to Ralph about his actions?” “No” is your only reply in fact nothing has ever been documented. Then you are told that if you dismiss Ralph – that you could be charged with wrongful dismissal and you will be required to compensate Ralph handsomely because you have taken away his property from him – his job. You can barely speak. Whose side is the Union on? “They have no idea the nonsense I’ve had to put up with – with Ralph!”
Sadly – they don’t. But what they do have is a clear idea of good industrial relations practice and what is supposed to happen 1st, 2nd, 3rd, to 100 if necessary, before any firing etc can take place.
And frankly – so should you! Who needs to be protecting your rights is YOU! Stop letting things slide.
Lack of consequences will aid and abet any employee to continue to do that which they shouldn’t. If there are no consequences for not performing in the desired fashion, most people will take the path of least resistance. In the Six Disciplines of Breakthrough Learning authors, Wick, Pollack and Jefferson cite this case: “One poor learning professional in one of our workshops had been asked to put together a half-day program on hardhat safety because workers were not wearing their hardhats on the job site. We asked what happened if they were on site without a hardhat. The answer was “nothing” – which was the problem – NOT a lack of knowledge or skill.”
It is your ship. Be the Captain that you are and direct what happens and does NOT happen on your vessel.
Keep in mind that many performance issues in business are the result of systems or process problems. To begin getting your “ship in order “- ask yourself the following questions:
The time has come, particularly in these times for employers to really address performance in their businesses. You must not tolerate sub optimal performance by making ridiculous sounding excuses that these are the kind of workers you are getting and there’s nothing you could do about them.
First things first – begin working on your Strategic Objective. Make it only a page. Determine what you want to be known for, the kind of people who work for your organization and all your competitive advantages. Then start working on your hiring system. This is no one off exercise. Tweak your system until you start attracting and getting the kind of employees you want to have on board.
Being proactive versus being reactive is your only insurance against protecting yourself and your business. If you decide to do nothing – please be quiet and quit complaining about how unfair the Unions can be! They have systems and processes in place. Do you?
Business is bad! This is the general consensus of many business owners I’ve spoken to on returning to Trinidad and Tobago from my vacation. “Is it the food industry being affected?” I ask. “No. Retail.” When I press for possible solutions I get many “I don’t knows” and despondent, vigorous head shaking.
I toss reasons about in my own head, why some businesses may be suffering. I’m thinking that what is being experienced now is not an immediate effect but something that has been taking place over a much longer term – perhaps going unnoticed or perhaps ignored – because business appeared “ok”. Now the consequences are severe.
One owner said to me that she was often told that regardless of the state of the economy, that “Trinis doh let nutting mess wid dey Christmas.” However she observed that this year that Christmas trade was the worst she’s experienced in ages. Apparently she’s also heard that “Trinis doh let nutting interfere wid dey Carnival!” She’s waiting to see.
Conversely, in the service sector, many of my colleagues seem to be doing well. Apparently business leaders are in search of answers and are willing to pay to find out what could be done to turn things around.
Unconsciously, many of us have been practicing how to lose friends and alienate clients. We’re so busy doing what WE think is important forgetting that the only way that we can talk about productivity and return on investment is if money is being made. Sometimes we’re “doing” so much and not “thinking” enough that our busyness masks the fact that we’re losing more money than we’re making.
Illana Burk, Project Pathfinder, Vision Accomplice and CEO of Makeness – a Sacramento California company says “I hear people complain all the time about their lack of business or their frustration about not retaining clients. Lately, my mind is increasingly more boggled by how frequently those same people stare blankly at me when I ask about how much thought they give to the overall experience their clients have with them. Usually, it goes something like this:
So, how do you follow up after a project is completed?
“Well, they’re on my email list.”
So, the next time they hear from you, after giving you their money, will be when you broadcast something to all?
“Uh, I guess so.”
So how often do you send something to your customer list that isn’t sales-related?
“……….. uhhhh……why would I do that?”
The number one way to lose clients is to ignore them. Many of us do. The only time we pay attention is if a customer complains loudly enough and embarrassingly enough that we feel compelled to do something about it. We keep searching for ways to get NEW business while ignoring those who continue to do business with us. Sometimes we don’t even know when these “loyal” customers leave us but we still think they’re with us because they’re on a list that we boast about regularly – “We have 400 customers on our list” – get the picture?
I’ve realized that to keep in touch with customers is a pain in the butt. Think about the insurance company that covers your car or house or personal items. How often do you hear from them? Yes that’s right – when they send the renewal notice or you might hear from them if you had said out loud that you were considering the competition.
Here are just a few more ways that you can alienate customers.
Make promises that you don’t keep – from the minute – “I’ll call you back in ten minutes” – to the mega – “I promise that I will deliver that order by noon today!” How much of that can you take and why do you think that your customers will tolerate it over the long term? Which by the way is really lying to your customers, but you don’t really call it lying because it sounds bad. You give various reasons as to why you couldn’t deliver including the cure all of “just not getting good people to work with these days.”
Make up as many excuses as you can in the hope of explaining why you couldn’t do what you said you would. You got a flat tyre. T&TEC took electricity and so it was out of your hands. Your phone died, battery went, Bmobile is screwing things up because you text but the client never received the text.
The truth is that if you just ignore the Golden Rule every single time, you will ensure that you continue to alienate clients and lose business.
Is the economy bad? Probably…and people are not spending as they use to…that’s true.
But how many ways are you single handedly destroying your own business?
Think about this first before jumping on the “woe is me” and “woe is the industry I’m in” bandwagon.
Think: Golden Rule
Who is in charge? Is it the trouble maker in your office, the voice in your head, or the worries that keep you up at night? According to Marlene Chism author of Stop Workplace Drama – “If you’ve been a leader for any length of time, it’s probably common knowledge to you that drama is the number one productivity killer. Drama shows up as office gossip, backstabbing, bickering, and any form of negativity and stress that negatively impacts the productivity, profitability or the mission of the organization.”
I have experienced this first hand as I help both individuals and small businesses navigate change and reinvention. In fact it is the one thing that takes the wind out of my sails having to deal with all the ‘behind people’s backs’ talk that I hear and everyone claims to have good intentions. It’s a ‘the problem is THEM not ME’ attitude! Up until I happened upon Marlene’s site though I didn’t have proof of how debilitating drama could be both on the people involved AND on the profitability of the business.
Marlene says that complaining, and excuse-making are big time-wasters. Negative attitudes spread like a virus and eventually lead to increased absenteeism, low morale and can even contribute to physical symptoms like headaches or more serious illness. Did you know that even recalling an angry experience suppresses the immune system for as much as six hours? That was an eye-opener for me!
So even if we didn’t realize the full extent of the damage that drama could cause I wonder why so many business owners and leaders ignore the drama kings and queens in the workplace or for that matter their OWN drama until if festers like a cancerous tumor? And then decide to hire someone (consultant, coach, trainer) without admitting that there is a ‘cancer’ and ask this person to fix it? Is there some kind of denial going on here?
I have seen business owners identify trouble-makers time and time again, agonize over the disruption and destruction they cause behind closed doors and then give me every possible reason why it would be almost impossible to let this person go. Who’s the REAL boss here? Are we playing the avoidance game because if this is the game – the problem is NOT going to just spirit away. It’s almost like being in a toxic relationship and hoping that the other person ends it so that you don’t have to!
Nip drama in the bud would be a wise thing to do. It’s like the noise you hear in your car or the red light you see flashing on your dashboard. Ignoring it won’t make it go away.
If you have a leak in your boat you can paddle as fast as you want, (working longer and harder) but you aren’t going to get to your destination as long as water keeps filling up your boat.
Denial is addictive. It starts insignificantly enough – then the dreaded situation is gone again. Things revert to normal, and the incident is explained away, or simply not mentioned again. There may be an apology or maybe not and in most cases through forced smiles, you accept that perhaps you’re wrong or making a big deal when you shouldn’t.
Many people opt to work harder and longer but until we fix all the leaks in the boat paddling faster or strapping a motor to your dinghy is not going to be very helpful. Eventually you will sink.
If you’ve been in business long enough you know that inevitably drama will enter the mix. Sometimes it’s short-lived – sometimes it seems to linger especially when there are personality conflicts and no one’s going anywhere soon!
Don’t live in denial. You can deny the leak, meditate, pray, focus on the positive or hire a coach to improve your rowing abilities, but until you admit you have a leak you are at the mercy of the hole in your boat. You can blame the boat maker but that doesn’t fix the hole in the boat.
The only thing for you to do is to face up to the truth of your situation and take responsible action. Drama is an indicator that transformation is taking place. Change and reinvention always bring opportunity for spiritual and transformational growth personally and professionally. Drama in any area of life impacts the other areas, and that is why you need to stop the drama now and be the leader you were meant to be! Focus on what you want (not on what you don’t want) – ask for what you want and then work on fixing it NOW!
The business climate is still a shaky one. Uncertainty reigns supreme. Because of the State of Emergency, many businesses have no choice but to lay off staff because the volume of business just isn’t there to warrant retaining as many employees to serve during the limited operating hours and dwindling customer base.
This decision has come at a price. Those employees who remain on payroll are now being asked to do more for the same compensation. Although unhappy about this arrangement, after seeing their coworkers laid off, these employees accept the unspoken truth: “Be happy that you still have a job at all.”
The happiness level that these remaining employees express regarding having a job in these times does not however transfer to the job they’re actually doing. As glad as most are to still be working, their level of satisfaction and their loyalty to the businesses they work for have eroded. With fears about job security and few prospects for changing jobs in the present economic climate, these employees “soldier on,” – biding their time.
Biding time is not a very good attitude or approach and does not create an environment that will yield profitable results any time soon.
Whenever I am working with a small business towards reinvention there is a questionnaire that I give to all the employees which they answer anonymously. This approach gives me some assurance that they are answering truthfully and not saying things so that they are not singled out or in some cases victimized for their answers.
The Gallup Q12 employee engagement survey starts with the question “Do you know what is expected of you at work?” and ends with “In the last year, have you had opportunities at work to learn and grow?” Once the survey is complete I tally the results and present it to the management team and almost always the team members are shocked by the employee’s responses. They argue, and fret and in some cases feel hurt that their good intentions go unrecognized by the very people that they lead.
There is a definite disconnect between what employers perceive and what employees actually feel. Although the economic climate is a toughie – many employees are actively looking for work and hoping to work elsewhere within the next year. Employers on the other hand, perceive employees to be more loyal than they are.
Business owners need to wake up and pay attention. Employees can get on your best nerve at most times but without good employees where will you be? And when things get better as we know they will – will your business be the kind of business that employees voluntarily choose to remain loyal to, even though the benefits are not as attractive as your competitor who is persistently head hunting in your territory?
There is a reason Gallup’s Q12 employee engagement survey starts with the question “Do you know what is expected of you at work?” It’s because crystal clarity is the single most important factor in determining whether or not you have a workplace that will attract and retain top performers. Even marginal uncertainty can undermine the focus on an entire organization.
Michael Hyatt of Intentional Leadership recently provided some useful nuggets to providing the kind of work environment where people are happier operating in an environment of accountability:
While this sounds simple enough, pitfalls are common and managers and leaders must focus, think long-term, and seek to eliminate these non-progressive beliefs:
There is no simple solution. Increase in pay does not mean a corresponding increase in loyalty or the happiness factor amongst your employees. However you need to start really living what most pay lip service to – that “People are an organization’s most valuable asset.”
Your organization is filled with people with varying talents in all different combinations. Start looking at what each person is bringing to the table and quit trying to fix “weaknesses” and perhaps by getting to know the people who work for you better and showing them how to leverage their strengths you will end up with happy employees (the authentic way) – and a more profitable business.
Whenever the economy is volatile – businesses tighten their belts. This is a good thing. In better times there is a tendency to not look too hard at what is being spent. There’s more money to go around and many activities get the ‘ok’ from top management. When things are tight however, immediately the ‘luxury’ activities get axed and all hands on board deck are instructed to focus on cost cutting and improving efficiency.
This strategy worked well before – so why isn’t it working now? Why do we still see our profit margins shrinking?
You’ve probably had your time in the sun – you know – you were the first to introduce the product or service, your product was unique – and you enjoyed a strong market share with almost no clear competition. Now everyone is selling what you’re selling – doing what you’re doing. Everyone is saying that they’ve got the best quality, the greatest service and providing the best return on the customer’s investment. All hollow statements to the customers I assure you as they are hollow to you, but you are completely lost and not sure what else to do.
When you get to here, the only real solution is to slash prices. In 2002 James K. Clifton then Chairman and CEO of The Gallup Organization asked this question “Are we great customer managers or have we just talked a good game at company conferences, and at the end of the day become merely the world’s biggest price slashers?” Nine years later and that question is still a valuable and thought provoking one.
We have according to Clifton developed great expertise as “cost cutters”. We listened closely to Dr. Edwards Deming and Dr. Joseph Juran and they showed us how to greatly lower production costs brilliantly by ‘reducing variation’. Then came “reengineering” -We all did this too and it worked.
We’ve spent a lot of time cost cutting but no one is really telling us how to grow margins. We have also painted ourselves into a corner because what we now have is a customer relationship based solely on price. Sales people are having the worse times of their lives because all that they have as a factor of differentiation is price; which means basically that everyone – every product and service is just a commodity.
What then is the solution? Simply put: it is mindset – understanding it in your customers and leveraging it in your employees. In 1966 psychologist Liam Hudson (no known relation of mine) suggested that there are two methods of thinking: convergent thinking and divergent thinking.
Convergent thinking is when you use material from various sources and present it in such a way as to provide a correct answer. Pretty much like what students are required to do. They gather information from textbooks, journals and articles and transfer it to exam papers in the way they have been taught. They provide rote answers.
Divergent thinking on the other hand, involves some more creativity. An individual would bring together a broad elaboration of ideas to find a solution. Thinkers of this type tend to stretch the boundaries and let their imagination generate lots of possibilities.
Although business owners interview for skills and qualities that best suit the company or organization, it’s more difficult to interview for mindset. Hiring is risky. We believe a candidate to be a good fit and then before long we complain that we don’t understand how they think – why they’re not seeing things in a particular kind of way. The reason is as Liam said – from school, we’re taught how to pass exams not how to think.
The success of your organization does not depend on your understanding of economics, organizational development or marketing. It depends on your understanding of psychology: how each employee connects with your company and how each employee connects with your customers.
Why do employees stay with one company when others are willing to pay them more?
Why do some employees innately know how to deal with customer complaints without alienating those customers while others – in the same situation – simply don’t know what to do?
You need to – starting today – learn how to harness the power of human nature or you will never get off the cost cutting slide – and who knows how long you will last sliding down that razor’s edge?