See This, Skip That

You’ve probably seen travel/leisure articles online or in your Facebook feeds that highlight a particular destination. Essentially, the authors of the articles identify the things that you should definitely see or experience. They also identify attractions that they believe to be overrated.

As I was reading one of those articles recently, I realized that the theory of “see this, skip that” can be used to help organizations get more efficient and productive.

Here’s how:

Operations – keep this, dump that. If you’re still paying for but not actually using a system or product, dump it….NOW. Keep only the things that increase efficiency. Everything else is wasting space and time. Be brave and let those things go!

Servicebe this, improve that. Be the shining example of outstanding service in your industry. Mediocrity sucks. Monitor behavior. Fix mistakes immediately. Stop doing things that piss people off (quoting policies, etc.) When you identify the things that you’re GREAT at, improve upon them. Make them better.

Marketing– analyze this, eliminate that. Get used to collecting and reviewing data. It’s not the future. It’s the now. Eliminate wasteful spending by avoiding the use of materials that end up in garbage cans or recycling bins. HINT: you shouldn’t be spending a ton of money on anything that is printed anymore. Put everything on your website and make sure that it is mobile-friendly. Don’t make people squint if they’re accessing your site through their phones.

Training/Professional Development – offer this, lament that. If you want a top-notch organization with top-notch talent, you’ll need to offer professional development opportunities. Your best employees will want it and will expect it. If you don’t, you’ll lament the fact that your best people are walking out the door to go work for your competitors.

What else can you do to get better? Share your comments below!

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After The Planning: 3 Things To Do NEXT

It is vital that organizations go through a process of introspection, self-critiquing, and quality assessment.  For many companies, this kind of analysis is conducted during a Strategic Planning session.  The issue is that not every employee gets to attend those meetings. But they still need to be informed about the organization’s performance and benchmarks and time must be carved out to have this important discussion.

Here are 3 suggestions on how to make this process more meaningful:

Start with the positives.  When reviewing performance, a lot of businesses make a mistake by starting the discussion on what went wrong.  That’s not a very good way to begin.  Think about it- do you like it when someone starts a conversation with you by telling you that you didn’t get the job done?  Of course you don’t.  Your employees don’t either.  Now you might be thinking, “Well, we eventually get to the good things…”  That may be true but, unfortunately, your people will still be thinking about the bad things and may miss the well-deserved accolades that you are rendering to them afterward. If, however, you start the discussion by focusing on all of the positive aspects of performance, your people will be bolstered and encouraged and will be more receptive to the next part of the discussion that will deal with areas of improvement and shortcomings.

Write it down.  It is very important that when you conduct this analysis that you provide your findings in writing to the people that will be involved in the discussion.  Countless scientific studies have proven that thoughts, beliefs, and goals become more “real” to us if they are written down.  That’s why anyone who talks about goal-setting (including me) will tell you that your goals will be useless unless they are written.  In addition, you will be providing a point of reference to the people in your organization or on your teams. It is also crucial that you appoint a scribe when you gather everyone together to discuss the findings.  This person’s job during that discussion will be to capture as much of the discussion as possible and compile what is discussed into a well-written summary that will also need to be distributed to those who participated in the discussion.

Respect this process.  This kind of critical discussion isn’t something that you “fit into” a regular staff meeting.   It isn’t something that you just send out in an e-mail.  This is an important process that needs to be appreciated by your employees.  This meeting needs to have a feeling of urgency and importance.  Set the date/time for this discussion that is different than your usual staff meeting time.  And remember that this is a mandatory meeting – employees will only be excused in very special circumstances.

Again, it is critical for organizations to go through this process of informing their team members about performance.  It has to be productive and meaningful.  It has to be respected.  It has to be mandatory.

It has to happen….period.

For more information on Your Full Potential’s Strategic Planning services, click here!

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Strategic Planning: 3 Tips for Success

3 Considerations for Strategic Planning

 The best organizations plan. They do so meticulously. It is an ongoing process for many. However, despite its ongoing nature, there is also a need for a focused meeting or session of some kind. The best organizations and companies know this. They understand that if they’re not planning….they’re not growing. They understand that that they have to work the plan. They measure progress and hold people accountable for getting the work done.

When considering your strategic planning session for this year, focus on the following 3 considerations:

Plan on identifying 3 or 4 strategic initiatives.   You don’t need 10 or 15 goals for your planning session to be a success. If you are really going to strategize, you should be able to identify 3 or maybe 4 “big-ticket” items for which you will prepare realistic action plans. Stay out of the minutiae. Keep your discussions at a higher level.

Don’t keep secrets. After your planning session is done, the very worst thing that you can do is to keep the discussions a secret. You’re not committing espionage.   You employees should be told about those 3 or 4 strategic initiatives.   If they don’t know what’s important, they won’t be able to help achieve the goals that have been set. Give them the resources and tools that they will need to succeed. The first and most important of these is knowledge.

Get out of the office. If you can, try to conduct your planning session outside of your office. If you just use a conference room in your building, there is a good chance that you will be distracted. Instead of focusing on the planning, you’ll be thinking about what’s going on in the office. You’ll be tempted to “run upstairs” to check your e-mail or voicemail. If your team members know that you’re in the building, you may be interrupted by a false “emergency.”

If you’re off-site, these distractions won’t be as prevalent.

Your Full Potential, LLC offers Strategic Planning services.  Click here for more information.

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4 Signs That Your Company Is In Trouble

Not very pleasant to think about, right? Sorry but the reality is that there are some companies and organizations that are in danger of slipping off the radar. In the vast majority of cases, I firmly believe that steps can be taken to reverse course; however, in order to do that, affected organizations must accept that they are in danger, resolve to take action to “right the ship” and then ACT before it’s too late. Here are 4 red flags that signal your company may be in trouble:

You can’t seem to retain young employees. Young professionals are looking for very specific things when they go to work for someone. They want to be compensated properly, want access to professional development opportunities, want to be acknowledged for doing great work, and do not want to be micro-managed. Of course, the job market isn’t great so there may be a temptation to think that these young people should consider themselves lucky to have a job. Not only is that very dangerous thinking but it also ignores the fact that the job market is already on the road to recovery. Therefore, young professionals who don’t feel appreciated have many more opportunities to go elsewhere. And they will.

You haven’t updated your strategic plan in a while. A plan is a necessary component of any organization’s short and long-term growth strategies. But these plans need to be examined and reviewed often. Metrics must be put in place to measure and gauge the progress being made. And you must be flexible and realize that plans should be altered and adjusted from time to time to adapt to the ever-changing marketplace.

You are trying to do too much by yourself. It is understandable to take steps to save on expenses. I get that. But in many cases an outside and objective viewpoint is needed. A couple of examples are strategic planning (see above) staff training, and leadership development. A third-party can provide an honest and objective opinion of what is going on at your organization. Be prepared – what he or she has to say may shock you BUT more importantly, an honest analysis will help you!

You’re technologically impaired. Get with the program. Electronic marketing, social media, a GREAT website, mobile-based solutions. Hire experts.

These are just a few examples of the red flags that exist.

The question now is – will you have the courage to take a slice of “humble pie” and then take the steps to make things better?

Are you looking for a facilitator for your STRATEGIC PLANNING session?  Your Full Potential, LLC would appreciate the opportunity to discuss our services.  More information here.

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When The Rains Come

You’ve probably been hearing about the deluge of rain and flooding that’s been hitting Texas over the past few days. It’s bad. Luckily for my family and I, the worst flooding is located to the south and west of us. Of course, we are keeping the many victims and their families in our thoughts.

As the rain was falling, the idea for this post came into my head.

Like an impending rainstorm, it is fairly certain that challenges will present themselves at your organizations. No company is perfect. No industry is perfect. No individual is perfect. There will be times when the pressure is seemingly unbearable. That’s part of the human experience and part of operating a business in today’s marketplace.

Here are a few tips on how to mitigate the challenges when they come:

Remember Your Priorities – while putting things off for no reason other than laziness is never acceptable, there will be times when there are valid reasons that projects have to be postponed or even scrapped altogether. During challenging times, it is crucial that you remember your priorities and continue to work on those items despite the obstacles that you are facing. Not everything can be labeled a “priority.” You’ll have to make some difficult decisions. You’ll hurt some feelings along the way. Don’t shirk your responsibilities. Be the decider.

Have a backup plan – contingency plans are a necessity. Have these plans at the ready for the priority list that you have created. It’s important to have responses to at least the most likely obstacles. If you’re planning correctly and have done your due diligence, you already know what the potential shortfalls are.

Get information from multiple sources – if the rains come, don’t be reactionary. It is important to get as much information from a variety of reliable sources.   Just as no weather forecast is exactly like another and we look to many sources for the most accurate forecast, the information that you will use to ultimately make decisions should come from multiple channels. Nobody knows everything.

Stay focused – it’s your job to steer the ship through the storms. Even if it’s not in your job description, be the one that remains focused on the important tasks at hand. Panic in private. Persevere in public.

ALL of these are covered in more detail in the ABSURD! Leadership program.

Check it out here!

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Are You Walking On Eggshells?

You’ve probably seen posts on Facebook about how people hate going to work. Or their boss sucks. Or they feel like they’re stuck.

I saw a post recently from one of my friends that got me thinking. She said, “why do I tolerate the ongoing feeling that I have to walk on eggshells at my company? It feels like I can’t say or do anything right.” I replied to her post with a simple question, “why DO you tolerate it?”

I once had a job like this. No matter what I did, my boss always found fault – he was quick to criticize and not once did he ever pay me a compliment. I wish I could say that his criticism was constructive – after all, feedback that is meant to nurture is a good thing. But it was just mean-spirited. Luckily, I wasn’t at this company for very long, just a few weeks to be exact. I woke up one morning and decided that I didn’t have to endure the nonsense any longer.

We spend most of our lives working. It’s a reality that we’ve created for ourselves. My point is – if we’re going to spend most of our time working, shouldn’t we be happy doing it? If you can’t seem to ever please your supervisor, if he or she says no to anything new or different that you want to try, if the only time you hear from your boss is when they think you’ve screwed up, why stay there?

If you’re not working for a true leader, it may be best for you to move on to an organization that will appreciate your value.

Walking on eggshells all the time? Take the hint.

Please remember to take a look at ABSURD! Space is filling up!


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The Thing About Progress….

The renowned Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein wrote, “the thing about progress is that it always seems greater than it really is.”

There is certainly truth in that statement. How many times have you heard (or said yourself) that “we’re making progress” after a meeting or when giving a report? Chances are, it’s probably more than you would care to admit. I’m guilty as well!

The problem with “we’re making progress” is that the “progress” referenced is not usually defined. If you’re truly making progress, you should be able to answer an inevitable follow-up question from a true leader. Namely, “what does that mean, exactly?”

You don’t ever want to be unprepared to answer that follow-up. You want to have details at the ready. You need to be able to demonstrate the progress to which you just attested. If you can do all of these, you are indeed being truthful when you say that you’re making progress.

Let’s look at the other side of the “making progress” statement. Here are some pretty lame reasons that people try to get away with by falling back on “making progress.”

We didn’t actually meet.

We’re getting nowhere.

We have no idea what we’re supposed to be doing.

We can’t agree on anything.

We’ve been too busy to have any meaningful discussions.

Honesty is one of the most important qualities that we look for in each other. If you’re really not “making progress,” then say so. Ask for help if it’s needed. If you’re really not getting anywhere, shake things up – perhaps you need new people or a better sense of direction. You may even need to scrap everything and start from scratch.

Any of those suggestions are better than saying that you’re “making progress” if it’s not true.

Progress is a tangible thing. Be careful when you’re claiming it.

Please remember to take a look at ABSURD!   Space is filling up!

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