“You don’t build a business. You build people – and then the people build the business.” – Zig Ziglar
The truth in that statement is so profound that I say to myself, “why don’t more business executives understand this?” I have been speaking a lot recently to executives and directors about the importance of developing employees. One of my favorite things to say is that an organization only grows as much as its people are allowed to grow.
Sometimes, I get a lot of head nods that indicate to me that at least some in the audience are agreeing with me. Then there are the dissenters that challenge me. Healthy debate, as long as it is respectful and constructive, is never a bad thing. But I must admit that I hear some pretty lame excuses from people that don’t think training or professional development are important. Here are 3:
Why should we hire consultants or trainers from the outside when we can do all of the training in-house? Not a terrible question; however, while your inside trainers are more than capable of teaching new hires the benefits of your organization’s specific products and services, they may not be as strong on the soft-skills – leadership, conflict management, project development, sales & service, etc. For stuff like that, you will benefit more from hiring an expert in those areas to come in with an objective point of view and a clean slate. This person will take an unbiased look at what is happening and will try to discover the root cause of the issue. Then, he or she can design a program to address the issue and provide solutions. Trainers from inside the organization may not be able to be unbiased and objective. Or, perhaps, they are part of the problem.
Training costs too much. Well, you get what you pay for I guess. Yes, there are costs associated with hiring professional trainers. You don’t expect us to work for free, do you? Many companies that have a great need for professional development are the same ones that haven’t kept up with the ever-changing demands of the marketplace. My point here is that some organizations really need to prioritize and realize that there are things that you must spend money on. If they don’t start to concentrate on helping the employees get better, they do so at their own peril.
If we provide all of this training, our best employees will just leave for better opportunities. Get over it. That’s the world we live in. If you are running a business, you have to accept that eventually some of your best employees will leave. And know this….if you decide against providing training and development opportunities to those same employees that you think will leave, they are already polishing their resumes and are looking to leave you anyway.
It’s time to get serious about attracting and retaining top talent. Professional development is guaranteed to help you do just that.
IT’S ALMOST HERE! My new book, What’s In It For Me? The Driving Force Behind Making Decisions & Better Leadership, will be available soon!! Be on the lookout for more information.
“Be decisive. Right or wrong, make a decision. The roads of life are paved with flat squirrels who couldn’t make a decision.”
The most effective leaders in history have a lot of things in common. To name a few: a great work ethic, high moral and ethical standards, an understanding of the principle of accountability, the ability to assemble a team of close advisors, etc.
There are others that are sometimes overlooked. The most effective leaders aren’t afraid to make decisions. They don’t keep people in the dark regarding their decision-making process. They are transparent and forthright. Most of all, they don’t ignore the people who are expecting them to make decisions.
Here are 4 of the lamest excuses that ineffective leaders use to avoid any semblance of making a decision.
I’m too busy – join the club! If you’re a leader, part of your job is to make decisions. So if you’re making time for all of the other stuff, you need to make time for decision-making as well. Enough said.
The timing isn’t quite right – Human beings are imperfect. Therefore, we are unable to do anything perfectly. That includes making important decisions. If leaders continue to use this ridiculous excuse to “kick the can down the road,” what they’ll find is that the opportunity that they did have is now gone because they put it off while waiting for the “time to be right.”
It might not work – It might not. Plenty of decisions have been made and the results weren’t exactly what were expected. That’s life. That’s business. But if you want to be an outstanding leader, you must accept that part of your job is to make the decisions that you think are the right ones by analyzing the potential services or solutions, trusting your gut, and taking action. Many organizations are stagnant. They are rudderless. They merely exist. More often than not, one of the biggest reasons for these unfortunate situations is that there exists a crippling fear of doing anything different because “it might not work.” Leaders that continuously use this crazy excuse need to step aside and make room for people that aren’t afraid to take calculated risks.
We have too much going on right now – that’s a good thing! Would you rather have the alternative? It’s perfectly acceptable and necessary to prioritize tasks. However, once you’ve decided which projects are the priorities, it’s important to move on those. But what happens sometimes is that people use this lame excuse to avoid moving on anything. A lot of organizations conduct planning retreats after the summer to prepare for the next year. This is the perfect time to identify the strategic initiatives that are the priorities for the organization. Once identified and agreed upon, make sure to budget for the various action steps for each initiative. Will things “come up” that may need immediate attention? Of course! That’s why you also budget an appropriate amount of money and resources for those items. But you make every reasonable effort to not let this extra “stuff” get in the way with the existing priority list.
No more excuses! Trust your gut, rely on your experience, gather all of the pertinent information and then…..DECIDE!
EXCITING NEWS!!! My new book, “What’s In It For Me?” will be published shortly. Keep an eye out for the announcement and help me “break” Amazon by purchasing a copy on the day it comes out!
First, Happy St. Patrick’s Day!!
It’s a gloomy, rainy day here in Houston, completely unbefitting the holiday. But I digress….
But as I was sitting on my patio early this morning surrounded by the gloominess, I was also able to reflect on the so-called “bright side” of things – hence, this post was born in my mind.
In our personal and professional lives, it is inevitable that the rains will come. Meaning, there will be times when we feel like giving up, the pressures get to be too much, or there is so much happening that we find it difficult to keep everything straight.
So when the rains do come (and they surely will) try these tactics to remind yourself of how very fortunate you really are….
When there is so much happening that you can’t keep things straight, remember that you are fortunate to have work to do. Too many people still don’t. Take inventory of everything that is fabulous in your life or work. You’ll most likely realize that things aren’t that bad.
When the pressure gets to be too much, do something that frees your mind. Take a walk, pick up a good book, or listen to some of your favorite music for a few minutes. In other words, allow yourself to take a break. It’s OK. It’s healthy. It will make you more productive and will at least give you a small respite from the pressure you’re feeling.
When you feel like giving up, remember that the next step is always more fruitful than the last.
Once again, Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
Is your organization looking for a motivational and knowledgeable trainer or speaker? Look no further! Your Full Potential offers a variety of speaking and training services. Full or half-day, keynote or breakout session, webinar or recorded training to use at your leisure – we have it all! Contact us for more information! Remember, it costs NOTHING to have a conversation!
The following is an excerpt from my upcoming book, What’s In It For Me? The Driving Force Behind Decisions and Better Leadership, due to be published in the Spring of 2016.
“We change people’s lives.” Talk about a great WIIFM (What’s In It For Me?) response! Wouldn’t we all love it if every person, product, or service had the actual ability to change people’s lives? Now, some do change lives – for better or worse – but there’s no argument that lives are indeed changed. But to “change a life” is such a broad and ubiquitous term. Now that we know that relevant and unique marketing is what’s needed, “changing lives” seems a tad too generic. It also sounds hokey. (Yes, I just used the word hokey.)
Consumers are weary of the same old sales pitches, the same gimmicks, and the same over-the-top promises that aren’t kept nearly as often as they should be. And their fatigue is certainly justifiable. Indeed, just about every company promises to deliver the “best service.” Saying this borders on sociological cliché.
People are tired of being disappointed. And they’re calling bluffs – more so now than ever before. Organizations are faced with a litany of new challenges. In the past, if someone received bad service, they’d probably tell a few people. But they would be limited to the times when they were in another’s company or perhaps talking on the phone. And after a while, the anger dissipates. The situation is put aside.
Fast forward to now….with the dawn of social media, an unsatisfied customer can express his displeasure to hundreds or thousands of people in seconds. Twitter still limits most messages to 140 characters. But saying “XYZ Company SUCKS” is way fewer than 140. Facebook has 1.2 billion users. That’s about 1/6 of the world’s population. We have a 24 hour news cycle where nothing is kept secret for long. Google +, Pinterest, Instagram…..you can get a headache trying to keep them all straight. And let’s not forget about Yelp….seems everyone has an opinion and they’re not afraid to share them, good or bad.
You’ve probably heard phrases like, “rise above the pack,” “stand out from the crowd,” and “differentiating factor.” You know that you have to identify your “WOW aspect.” It has to be different, unique, and dynamic. For this reason alone, it should now be clear why saying “we have the best service” is not an option. Everyone says it. It’s stale. And once again, people are tired of hearing it and getting disappointed when that promise turns out to be empty.
For our purposes, we are going to use the term VALUE Proposition instead of “differentiating factor” or “WOW aspect.”
The VALUE Proposition is defined as the reason anyone should listen to you, do business with you, and trust you. In the simplest of terms, it’s the ultimate answer to WIIFM – what’s in it for me?
Easy enough, right? If it were only so. Creating a true VALUE Proposition is painstakingly difficult. It requires focus and determination. It requires commitment and compromise. It takes time. But you shouldn’t even attempt to sell anything, make a decision, issue an order, or try to lead people until you have it.
There are way too many organizations that overcomplicate this process. They’ll create “focus groups” that will meet monthly for a year or more to get it “just right.” They’ll ask for input from everyone with a pulse. They’ll try to sound smarter than is necessary and want to incorporate superfluous or lofty language into their masterpiece. None of this is needed. In order for your VALUE Proposition to resonate, it needs to be simple and short.
Here’s the process to follow when creating your VALUE Proposition.
Get your senior leadership team in a room. Make time for this. Do not try to coordinate schedules. Do not try to accommodate everyone. Pick a day, pick a time, and make sure everyone is there. Don’t invite everyone who works for you. Invite only the people that are responsible for the highest level of decision-making. That isn’t to suggest that other people’s input isn’t important. But this process has to be compartmentalized for it to work properly.
Make sure no one comes in with an agenda of his or her own. The SOLE purpose of this meeting is to discuss and create a VALUE proposition. Nothing else will be discussed.
Have everyone answer the following questions IN WRITING:
What do we stand for?
Who do we serve? Who HAS to do business with us?
How do we change people’s lives?
Why are we different?
What problems do we solve?
What solutions do we offer?
In other words, your VALUE proposition is the answer to WIIFM!!
If you’re not willing to take the time to create your VALUE proposition (whether you’re self-employed or a leader in someone else’s organization,” close this book now. The rest of it will not make any sense.
In order to become a better decision-maker, a more effective leader, or change lives, you have to be crustal clear on your WIIFM answer. I’ve worked with numerous business owners and leaders on crafting their personal or professional WIIFM answers. Most have wanted to start with creating financial projections or a list of tasks. This just doesn’t work. It’s out of order. When they realize and understand that the only acceptable starting point is to create an impactful VALUE Proposition, then and only then are they prepared for the next steps.
Did you know that every decision you make is a result of a very important question being satisfactorily answered by the decision-making part of your brain? It’s true. We would not be able to decide on anything until this question is answered. Usually, the question and answer happen unconsciously and non-verbally. But the process does happen…every time.
OK – enough about the science of the brain. What’s that question? It’s usually represented by the acronym, W.I.I.F.M.? Or, What’s In It For Me?
Organizations that enjoy the most success do an outstanding job of answering that question for consumers. The answer to that question is known as the organization’s value proposition. Put another way, the question could be “Why should I ever do business with you?” The delivery of the answer is critical. How it’s communicated is vital. Here are 3 irrefutable laws of communicating VALUE:
The answer must be your own. If your answer to that question is earth shattering, unique, and succinct, your business will grow. If it’s a canned answer or it’s clumsy, your business will fail. Consumers are savvier than ever before. “Caveat emptor,” “Let the buyer beware” means more today than it ever has. Make sure your value proposition is yours. You own it.
It must be easy to do business with you. Competition for consumer business is at an all-time high and the marketplace will continue to get more aggressive. Convenience is King. In some form or fashion, your value proposition needs to include that it is easy to get things done with your organization. If consumers think that it’s difficult to do business with you, if you make them jump through hoops to accomplish anything, they’ll just find one of your competitors and do business with them instead.
You must go further than saying you have the best service. Every business thinks it has the best service. Many businesses like to use that as their value proposition. Sorry but relying solely on your belief that you have the best service is just not enough anymore. “Great service” is a commodity now – everyone is saying it. Your value proposition has to go further. It has to mean more. Consumers are tired of hearing about all of this wonderful service….and then having experiences that are lackluster. Your value proposition should WOW the consumer. It should be emotional so as to create emotion in the consumer. It needs to be outstanding.
Keep an eye out for my upcoming book, What’s In It For Me? The Driving Force Behind Making Decisions and Better Leadership. It will be out in approximately 30 days!!
Also, you might want to take a look at ABSURD! – A Leadership Thought-System. If you complete the Contact form, I’ll send you a free copy of the new book once it’s published. No obligation! We’ll have a chat; you get the book – even if you decide not to pursue ABSURD! further. Nothing to lose!
I think it’s safe to say that there are a lot of professionals who want to be excellent at what they do. Who wouldn’t? But if history has taught us anything, it’s that a select few actually become excellent.
Why is this? There are a few things that excellent professionals have/do that others don’t. And that’s not to say that those who don’t lack the ability to acquire the same skills or are unable do the same things that excellent professionals do. On the contrary. They can.
So what are these characteristics that excellent people have that make them excellent?
Commitment – Excellent professionals make a commitment to something. They have a definite outcome in mind when they start out. The very act of committing to a task is sacred to them. They treat commitments very seriously.
Work Ethic – Excellent professionals have an unwavering work ethic. They don’t take shortcuts. They create action plans and perform the tasks contained therein with a fierce determination to see things through. It’s akin to an obligation that they make to themselves. In some cases, it borders on obsession. Sometimes obsession can be healthy. But the excellent professional knows that obsession can also be dangerous and can end up detracting from the tasks at hand. So, excellent professionals also have something else in common….
Flexibility – You’ve all heard what happens to the “best laid plans,” right? Having a plan of action is essential to the successful completion of a project or undertaking. There is no question about that. However, the excellent professional knows that things can and often do change. They understand that their original plans may not be sufficient anymore and that modifications to the original schematic are in order. They have the ability to recognize and the courage to admit that a previous course of action or tactic may have been wrong or ineffective. Think about Thomas Edison. He tried and failed over 2,000 times to invent the light bulb. When something wasn’t working, he didn’t insist on doing the same things. Rather, he made adjustments and tried another way. In essence, excellent professionals don’t fall into the abyss of insanity.
Keep Learning – The excellent 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 excellent professional has a strong desire to keep learning. And they approach their earning 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 excellent professional will think of ways to incorporate one set of knowledge into other sets to maximize efficiency. After all, the excellent professional understands that everything is interdependent. So why not create ways for people to work together at an even higher level?
After reading this, I’ll be hoping that you take some time to do an inventory of your organization’s employees. Can you point to the ones that exhibit these characteristics or have the potential to do so in the future? Once you’ve identified them, will you pay special attention to their professional development? Will you reward your very best so that they become even more motivated and committed to being excellent?
Is your leadership absurdly excellent? Learn more about ABSURD! – A Leadership Thought System by clicking here. (BONUS: If you complete the information request form, I’ll send you a FREE preview of my upcoming book, What’s In It For Me?)
Until next time…..
Before we move onto discussing the ethics of What’s In It For Me (WIIFM,) take a look at the last paragraph from my last blog post on what WIIFM is and why it’s so important.
WIIFM – Answer this question!! The acronym WIIFM stands for “what’s in it for me?” Decisions are made based on the specific answers to that question. Human logic and reasoning are in no small part based on WIIFM Have a GREAT Value Proposition and deliver on that value promise. My upcoming book, “What’s In It For Me? The Driving Force Behind Making Decisions & Better Leadership” discusses WIIFM in greater detail. Keep an eye out for information on how to get the book once it’s published (Spring 2016.)
Human beings are seriously complicated. We do things that make us feel better, look better, be better. We help others, we volunteer serving food to the poor and homeless, we donate to charities, and we drop a few bucks into the Salvation Army kettles at Christmastime.
One might think, “well, I’m just selfish if everything I do, every decision I make, and every action I take is to benefit me.” DON’T FALL INTO THIS TRAP. Look, humans as a species have been doing what’s best for them for many millions of years – it’s called, “Survival of the Fittest.” Perhaps you’ve heard of the concept? WIIFM is not about selfishness. It is about VALUE: finding it, proving it, living by it, loving it, and using it.
Because the WIIFM question has to be adequately answered before your brain will allow you to make a decision does not, in and of itself, make a person selfish. It makes you human. In a world that needs higher ethical standards, I’d say that acting like a human being is a good start.
If you’re still not buying any of this and if by chance you’re still reading this, look at it another way. Let’s say you volunteer at a soup kitchen once a month to serve meals to the poor. The reason you do it could be anything from the act of helping others makes you feel better or more hopeful for the world to you were once in an unfortunate position yourself and this is your way of giving back. No go back and read that last sentence again. The word “you” and its derivatives appear exactly 5 times in a rather short sentence. Yes, you are helping others. But you’re doing it to make yourself feel good in addition to rendering service to the other people. You donate to charity out of a sense of obligation to “do something.” Sound familiar? Each time you give a donation, no matter the size, a chemical reaction in your brain allows for the release of dopamine – that’s the “feel-good” stuff. It happens unconsciously – you cannot control it. But it only happens when your brain is the recipient of something good happening to ITSELF.
There is no need to be ashamed to recognize and acknowledge the possibility that the good deeds you perform provide direct and tangible assistance to others while at the same time make you feel pretty darn good about yourself in the process. THAT’S humanity! And it’s a beautiful thing. It is not something to be skittish about.
For all of its simplicity, WIIFM is an incredibly complex concept, isn’t it?
What are your thoughts about WIIFM? Share them by commenting. Let’s get a discussion going!
Is your organization’s leadership ready to get ABSURDLY great? Click here for more information about ABSURD! – A Leadership Thought-System. Complete the information form and you’ll receive a FREE preview of the book I mentioned above. I’ll send you the first 3 chapters!! No obligation!