The Middle Ground

Which of these phrases sounds best to you?

“Find the middle ground.”

 “Let’s come to a compromise.”

 “Can we meet somewhere in the middle?”

 “Let’s work towards a mutually beneficial arrangement?”

 Personally, I prefer the last one. The first three are overused and even misused. How does one define the “middle ground?” The concept alone is arbitrary and frankly, too subjective. Why? For starters, my definition of the “middle is always going to be slightly different than your definition. Additionally, the “middle” opens the door to too many outcomes. Finally, human nature never really allows us to be completely satisfied with the “middle.”

In business (and in life,) we need to let go of the misguided belief that every agreement should be 50-50.  That’s simply not realistic in today’s environment.

Indeed, the best we can and should be working for is coming to arrangements that are, as stated above, “mutually beneficial.” We need to accept that 50 isn’t always mandatory. If we get 30 and the arrangement benefits everyone involved, shouldn’t we consider that a “win?” Too many worthy projects or ideas are indefinitely stalled or altogether scrapped because of our need for 50.

Further, not everything involved in a deal or agreement is tangible – so how exactly can it be precisely measured in numbers? As long as there is VALUE (numeric or otherwise,) and the “what’s in it for me?” question is satisfactorily answered, go for it!

Instead of working for the “middle ground,” work for the solution that benefits everyone. Life and business are not based on exact mathematical equations.

 

By the way……SOMETHING ABSURD! has arrived…..

Announcing the launch of ABSURD! Leadership – “where ABSURD! is a GOOD thing!”

  • Are you SERIOUS about taking your organization’s leadership to the next level?
  • Do you want a program that goes WAY beyond Leadership 101?
  • Intense, interactive, engaging – this is only for organizations that are FULLY COMMITTED to improving.

Please visit the ABSURD! Leadership website for more information and to schedule an information sharing session. No games. No pressure, Just a chat.

Check it out: www.absurdleadership.com

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Get Rid of the Nonsense!

If you’re involved with social media, you’ve probably seen the acronym “SMH” attached to posts or tweets. It means “shaking my head” and is used to express disgust, confusion, disbelief, etc. about a particular situation, story, or circumstance.

In all likelihood, you’ve had SMH days at your workplace. It’s inevitable. People do things that downright baffle or even anger you. It’s normal to have days like this. But if you find that you’re spending too many of your days in SMH mode, it’s most likely because something is seriously wrong and needs to be fixed ASAP.

It is vital that organizations rid themselves of nonsense – in whatever form the nonsense presents itself. Nonsense kills, demotivates, and hurts productivity (and thus, profitability.)

As a consultant, I have the privilege of working with many organizations. Leaders of organizations that seem to be stuck in SMH mode call upon me to provide an objective assessment of what’s happening. Believe me, some of these assessments have me not only SMH but PMHO (pulling my hair out.) A lot of the nonsense that I’ve seen has been allowed to fester for months or even years with countless hours of lost productivity and wasted time.

Here are some thoughts on 5 of the most frequent SMH causes:

Meetings that suck. I don’t like meetings. In fact, I hate them. I’d be willing to bet that if you asked your organization’s employees what they really thought about meetings, many, if not most, would shake their heads. Never have meetings for the sake of having meetings. If you must have a meeting, make sure you have an agenda, purpose, and bona fide reason for taking people away from their work.

Complainers. If you have employees that resist every change, gossip about anything, disrupt the harmony of the team, or are just unproductive in general, they need to go! You can’t afford to have these people working for you. Here’s a policy to implement: “Constructive criticism or even complaints are allowed. However, a potential solution to whatever ails whoever must also be suggested.”

Policies and Procedures that are outdated or no longer appropriate. If you haven’t updated your policy manual in the last 3 years, you’re probably hanging onto things that aren’t effective anymore. Perform a hard, candid audit of your policies and procedures (or hire someone to come in to give you an objective assessment.) It’s amazing that in today’s fast-paced market that’s filled with technologically savvy consumers, there are still some organizations that cling to “we’ve never done it that way before.” SMH.

Ineffective Leadership. No one is perfect. But leaders have extraordinary responsibilities. If they’re not up to task, it’s time to say good-bye.

Stifling Creativity and Innovation. Why would you NOT want your best and brightest employees creating and innovating? NEWS FLASH: there is a limit to the number of times a creative employee can hear “no” before walking out the door. Are you going to act on every suggestion? Of course not. But if you’re saying “no” because you refuse to take even the slightest risk or are more concerned with your personal reputation than the welfare and progress of the organization, you don’t belong in a management role.

What are your SMH moments and how have you fixed them? Feel free to comment below.

 

SOMETHING ABSURD! IS COMING from us here at Your Full Potential, LLC. Stay tuned!

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What If ABSURD! Was a Good Thing?

Being good at your business isn’t enough. There, I’ve said it. In order to compete, you need to go way way way beyond good. You need to go way way way beyond great. You need to go way way way beyond excellent. In fact, you need to reach the realm of the ABSURD! But doesn’t ABSURD! mean crazy or insane? Sure, if you only use it in negative contexts. But ABSURD! has another meaning and we’re going to redefine it.

How so? Well, for one, consumers simply don’t accept mediocre (that is, good) anymore. They want fabulous, ground-breaking, and out-of-this-world. If you don’t believe me, listen to the consumers themselves. They’re telling us exactly what they expect – they’re talking to the press, they’re talking to your competitors, and they’re even telling you. But are you listening? If you are, you know that they want absurd!

Here are 4 things that should be ABSURD! at your organization.

CommitmentAbsurdly committed professionals are top of the line, hard to get, and even harder to keep. They have a definite outcome in mind when they start out. The very act of committing to a task or initiative is sacred to them. They treat commitments very seriously and they are at their best when teamed with like-minded colleagues.

Work Ethic –An absurdly unwavering work ethic is something to be celebrated. Shortcuts aren’t acceptable because something will be missed. Something is always missed. Solid action plans and the tasks contained therein provide a roadmap to the realm of the ABSURD!

Flexibility – We’ve been using the word ABSURD! so far as a positive and powerful descriptor. Now, let’s take a look at something that can be absurdly bad – that is, not being flexible with planning. You want your people to be ABSURD! about providing service, innovating, and working hard. But you also need them to understand that flexibility is necessary – especially when making plans and decisions for large organizations. So to not be flexible is well, absurd – in a very bad way!

 Professional Development – The absurdly talented professional doesn’t relax for too long after accomplishing something big. Sure, they are proud of their achievements but there is always something inside that nags them to do more, learn more, create more, and be better. The absurd professional has a strong desire to keep learning. And they approach their learning in such a way that not only will they possess even more knowledge about their disciplines but also acquire knowledge about other ones. Then the absurd professional will think of ways to incorporate one set of knowledge into other sets to maximize efficiency. After all, the absurd professional understands that everything is interdependent. So why not create ways for people to work together at an even higher, more absurd level?

You’ve probably noticed that the word ABSURD! and its variations are highlighted throughout the article. There’s a reason.

SOMETHING ABSURD! IS COMING from us here at Your Full Potential, LLC. Stay tuned!

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What’s the Problem?

Have you ever been asked that question? More importantly (at least for this post) have you ever had to ask that question of colleagues or direct reports? If you’ve been in a leadership or management role for any considerable length of time, chances are pretty good that you have. Or, that you have wanted to.

When I was a kid, I used to say things like, “Can’t you just be my friend?” to my parents. Their consistent response to me was that I already had enough friends – a not-so-subtle reminder that they were my parents and the buck stopped with them.

Now let’s shift the conversation to the workplace. It is natural for leaders to want to be liked (even loved) by the people who work for them. There are exceptions to this, of course. There are still some leaders that would rather be feared. That’s no way to lead – but that is a topic for another day.

Sometimes, in the course of wanting to be liked, some leaders fall into the trap of acting not like leaders, but like friends who don’t want to ruffle feathers or cause confrontation. I facilitate a lot of leadership development training and consultation and one of the most frequent questions that is asked of me is “how do you deal with an employee that has a bad attitude and doesn’t seem to want to work?” My answer to this, just like my parents’ answer to the “friend” question above is always the same. I instruct the questioner to meet privately with the employee and ask one simple but very direct question, “what’s the problem?” It’s certainly a blunt question. It requires a response. It gets directly to the point. It sends a message to the employee that you intend to hold them accountable for their behavior.

Why waste time and effort having multiple conversations with the same employees that seem to go nowhere? Why should you continue to look the other way with this employee because you don’t want to create a conflict or risk getting the employee upset? But these things happen all the time. As a leader, it’s up to you to stop the nonsense.

Here are a few reminders for leaders:

  1. In the workplace, you’re not their friend. You’re their boss. They already have enough friends.
  2. You are expected to hold people accountable for everything from their attitudes to their productivity to their ability and willingness to work with other people.
  3. You are paid to lead. Your primary responsibility is to get the job done.
  4. You are encouraged to care about the well-being of your employees, especially those that are struggling with their work. No one wants a boss that takes no interest in his or her development and aspirations. But this should never be done at the expense of other team members.

Speaking of Leadership, something ABSURD! Is coming! Stay tuned!

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The Joy of TAKING

Originally posted on CU Insight 12/23/14

Sounds strange, doesn’t it? Usually (and especially during this time of year) we’re talking about the joy of giving and we find ourselves on a constant quest to find stuff to give to others. Please don’t think that giving isn’t important. Of course it is. But organizations should also experience the joy of taking. Here’s how:

Be joyful and thankful when taking constructive feedback from your company’s patrons. You should be asking for it and you should also be prepared to hear the good and the bad. Use a cloud-based scorecard to keep track of the feedback and use it to improve relationships.

Be vigilant in taking care of your employees. If your employees are happy, feel appreciated, and are empowered, they will work harder. Earlier this week, Forbes released its annual list of “Best Companies to Work For.” Read the article and recognize that one of the characteristics that all of them have in common is that they have happy employees.

Learn from the unpleasant experiences that come with taking things for granted. Let’s face it – we all do this. When we do, we tell ourselves that we’re not going to do it anymore. But do we have a plan to help us fulfill that promise we make to ourselves?

Take the high road. Yes, it’s cliché. But this is a bit of ancient wisdom that we simply can’t ignore. Professionals – we have a lot on our plates. There’s no doubt about it. Why waste time getting caught up in adolescent tantrum over inconsequential matters? Be the better person. Move on.

Take time to reboot. It’s not selfish. It’s smart. Is it time for your organization to take a fresh look at people, processes, policies, and projects? Is it time for you personally to find the time to relax, refresh, and restart? Creativity & innovation should be celebrated. But these things don’t happen when the tank is empty.

See, taking isn’t all that bad, is it? Happy Holidays and here’s to a fantastic 2015!

 

Posted in Building Relationships, Change, Collaboration, Conflict, Decisions, Employees, Gen X, Gen Y, Human Resources, Innovation, Leadership, Management, Networking, Performance, Productivity, Strategic Planning, Succession Planning, Training | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

12 Things To Do BETTER In 2015!!

It’s that time of year – time for cheer, being good, forgetting about our Cleanse, Mediterranean, Atkins, South Beach, (fill in the blank here) diets, packed malls and parking lots…..

And of course, my annual list of suggestions and tactics on that organizations can take to make 2015 great.

This year, I’m using the “12 Days of Christmas” theme so please SING ALONG when you read this.  It will just be more fun that way!  Here goes:

The first step in O’15 that would be great to do…make sure your staff is happy!

The second thing for O’15 that is priority…great leadership, and make sure your staff is happy!

Want to grow in O’15 exponentially….take more risks great leadership, and make sure your staff is happy!

Also on the list for O’15 should be….integrity, take more risks, great leadership, and make sure your staff is happy!

O’15 will be a waste if you don’t have this too…. TECHNOLOGY, integrity, take more risks, great leadership, and make sure your staff is happy!

In O’15 do not neglect to bring these in line ….drive and ambition, TECHNOLOGY, integrity, take more risks, great leadership, and make sure your staff is happy!

O’15 will be boring if you can’t create this….customer loyalty, drive and ambition, TECHNOLOGY, integrity, take more risks, great leadership, and make sure your staff is happy!

An easy way to achieve a fulfilling O’15….empower workers, customer loyalty, drive and ambition, TECHNOLOGY, integrity, take more risks, great leadership, and make sure your staff is happy!

Back to the loyalty to build in O’15….customer focus, empower workers, customer loyalty, drive and ambition, TECHNOLOGY, integrity, take more risks, great leadership, and make sure your staff is happy!

Answer this question for your patrons in O’15….What’s In It For Me?, customer focus, empower workers, customer loyalty, drive and ambition, TECHNOLOGY, integrity, take more risks, great leadership, and make sure your staff is happy!

In other words for O’15, this better be solid too….your Value Proposition, What’s In It For Me?, customer focus, empower workers, customer loyalty, drive and ambition, TECHNOLOGY, integrity, take more risks, great leadership, and make sure your staff is happy!

And for O’15 this and the rest will take you to the top….Peace and Harmony, your Value Proposition, What’s In It For Me?, customer focus, empower workers, customer loyalty, drive and ambition, TECHNOLOGY, integrity, take more risks, great leadership, and make sure your staff is happy!

Did you sing it – well, did ya??

Happy Holidays everyone!

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90 in 90

90 ideas in 90 minutes. I’m writing this in a hotel room in Harrisburg, PA. When I went in search of my morning coffee earlier, I saw a bunch of signs for an event called “90 Ideas in 90 Minutes.” I had to know more. Here’s the short version – a group of industry leaders get together and listen to 9 of their peers (who have been pre-selected to speak) share 10 ideas on topics ranging from increasing productivity to staying motivated to strategizing.

This blog has offered several posts encouraging business leaders to cut back on the time that they spend lamenting about what’s holding their organizations back and to spend much more time deliberating about what can be done to make things better. So this “90 in 90” concept is like a triple shot, extra hot, skip-the-whip, non-fat something or other. After doing some research, I found that most of these kinds of meetings are done first thing in the morning (think breakfast or before.) Attendees are encouraged to arrive early to network before the program actually begins. Then, in rapid-fire-succession, each of the 9 speakers stands at the podium and lists their 10 specific items.

Think about your organizations for a minute. Honestly answer these questions: What kind of strategy meetings do you have? How productive are those meetings? Do you even have strategy meetings or are you too busy dealing with the daily grind? Do you just have that one big strategic planning session every year? If so, do you supplement that session with others to help manage projects, track progress, and discuss new ideas?

Is your organization conducive to sharing ideas, innovation, and creativity? Do the employees know that their contributions are valuable and that their suggestions will be considered? How do you celebrate success? What kind of culture and environment have you created?

Perhaps it’s time for a “90 in 90” type of program at your organization. Or are you just too busy?

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