Anamcgary's Blog

Leadership thoughts from PeopleFirst HR

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Time Management Killers

One of the greatest challenges of leadership is managing time, a limited resource that has to be used with the utmost care and consideration. As the saying goes, there are “only so many hours in a day“, and as a leader you must be able to stay focused on those tasks and activities that truly matter.

That task is complicated by the daily presence of many distractions that a leader must avoid so as not to put themselves (and their company) at risk.

In my role as consultant and business partner, I find the three distractions that are particularly dangerous:

The “Fire Drill” –   Your boss calls you and is upset because he spoke with a customer who said they were unhappy with the service they received.  When you dig into it, it appears to be an isolated case that could be routinely handled by your customer service staff, since you had set up a protocol for cases exactly like this one.   Your boss looks at it differently – it’s a complete breakdown of customer service that needs an extensive review of processes and staff.   You then start the fire drill – two days of meetings, phone calls, and e-mails, involving many members of your team, devoted to that single customer complaint who by the way already forgot about it.

The “Black Hole” – The Company has committed a lot of money to a particular project and you are trying to guide it to a successful finish.  The trouble is, about 25% of the way in it becomes pretty clear that things aren’t going well (and you are going to be over budget also), and you face the decision – pull the plug now (with all the resulting hand wringing and blame), or, ask for more money and move on.  You choose the latter, and enter the black hole – pressing dangerously on in the hope that somehow, someway it will get pulled through in the end.

The “Something New” –   It’s a new product, service, client, a new venture, or a new partner that catches your attention.  It sounds really exciting and the possibilities are endless.  The problem is, it’s not really right for your company, or it’s a long shot for success, or maybe even the timing is off.  But it really is exciting!  So you devote a lot of time and energy on it, at the expense of other, more viable and profitable things.

These kinds of distractions CAN be avoided.    It’s all a matter of leadership perspective – that ability to take a step back, and “see” the bigger picture.   It also requires something else that is even more essential – Courage.

The courage to put down a bright shiny object in the face of all that “excitement”.

The courage to stop a black hole project dead in its tracks and take the heat.

And, the courage to tell your boss you will not conduct a fire drill because of a single and isolated incident.

Perspective and courage are your best tools for time management – use them well, and wisely.

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True Value in Effective Feedback

If you don’t give your employees feedback on their performance—whether on a daily basis or, at least, at performance reviews—they’ll never improve. Then why do so many entrepreneurs do such a horrible job of providing feedback?

Many of us aren’t “people persons” and it simply doesn’t occur to us to tell people how they’re doing. Often, entrepreneurs are take-charge types who, if something isn’t done the way they like it, grab the reins and do it themselves, not giving their employees a chance to improve. Finally, some of us want to give feedback, but fear coming off too harsh with negative criticism.

How can you get over these hurdles to provide feedback that will help your employees learn, grow and improve their job performance? Here are some tips all leaders can use.

  • Set a goal.      Consider what you want the feedback to achieve for your business. Don’t      criticize someone simply to vent your frustration; always have a larger      goal such as helping the person to improve, preventing customer issues, or      increasing sales. By showing the employee that you have a larger goal in      mind, feedback will seem less of a personal criticism.
  • Begin with the good stuff. Try to find something positive about the way an      employee handled a task or situation. This will put them in a receptive      frame of mind. After they have absorbed the positive praise, bring up any      negative criticism. (Keep in mind, not every instance of feedback has to      involve negativity. Rewarding employees with positive feedback for a job      done well has a strong reinforcement effect.)
  • Provide detail.      Give specifics as to what was done right or wrong and why this was helpful      or hurtful. (“You answered the phone on the first ring, which conveys a      positive impression to our customers. Great job!”) If you want the      employee to change how he or she is doing something, be specific about      what they should do and why.
  • Allow questions.      Always make sure the employee feels comfortable asking for clarification      on your feedback. You can ask them, “Does that make sense to you?” or “Do      you have any questions about that?” to confirm that they’ve understood      what you said.
  • Follow up.      If you ask an employee to do something differently, pay attention to see      whether they learn from the feedback. If so, comment positively on the      progress. If not, continue to provide feedback until they get it right.

You’ll be surprised how much feedback can improve your business when it’s used correctly.


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Who you are really does matter!

I hope 2013 found you with happiness, Joy and Success.  Remember that you cannot change your past, but you can learn from your mistakes to make a better future.

Real leadership isn’t in a title. A title is the role an organization says you’re supposed to play. That can change in a brief moment. Leadership is about who you really are.

Why is who you are so important?


1. Who You Are determines how you are.

2. How You Are determines the quality and depth of your relationships.

3. The quality and depth of your relationships determines your ability to mobilize people–workers, family, or friends–in time of need.

4. The quality of your relationships determines the breadth and depth of help you’ll receive in your time of need.

5. Who You Are determines your brand while you’re alive and your legacy afterward.

Take time this year to build a firm foundation that won’t shake and crack with the first sign of adversity.