Anamcgary's Blog

Leadership thoughts from PeopleFirst HR


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Move beyond your current circumstances

As an entrepreneur life can sometimes be a roller coaster with lots of uncertainty and chaos. When you’re struggling it can be tough to see a clear path to success, but it’s crucial to let your vision guide you and NOT your current circumstances. You must embrace those challenges, because that’s where your hunger for a better life is developed.  No one wants to be broke and certainly no one wants to struggle, but according to Peter Voogd the author of the best-selling book “6 Months to 6 Figures”, asking the right questions, and taking the right action while in the struggle is what can change everything. At Peter’s toughest spot he was dead broke, yet six months later he earned a six figure income.  Many successful people who I speak with today experienced similar desperate situations before they were able rise to success.

What it took to make the change is available to everyone. What he realized to make the changes necessary to succeed:

Absolute clarity. 

It’s easy to make decisions once you determine what your real values are.

Reflecting back on the lowest points of my life, I have realized I didn’t take responsibility for anything. I was playing the victim role. I was blaming the economy, my company, lack of resources and my location. I soon realized my focus was jaded and what I needed to change was myself. The moment I got clear on that, my life shifted from complexity to simplicity.

Clarity is the ultimate power, and if you want results you’ve never had you need to get 100 percent clear on what you want. Only when you take full responsibility for your current reality can you change it. Minimalism is a great way to run your business, and a great way to run your life. Get rid of the messes and noise in your head and figure out who you are, what you want and what you must give up to get there.

Your Confidence Account.

Insecurities will destroy you, while real confidence will take you to a level very few attain.

An interesting thing happens when you start to gain clarity. Your confidence follows. If you don’t have confidence, you will always find a way to lose. Everything you accomplish is based on the confidence you have in yourself and your ability to “make it happen.” The bigger the goals, the bigger the challenges.

You must realize the moment you go after your biggest goals, obstacles will show up. They are there to test your character and faith, and to see if you are serious about your goals. The person with the most confidence always wins. When I got clear on the actions needed to start thriving, I felt my motivation and energy elevate. These days, the only security you have is the confidence in yourself and your ability to make things happen.

Shifting your circle of influence.

There comes a point in your life when you realize who really matters, who never did and who always will.

Once you get clear on who you are and what you want, you must re-evaluate your Circle of Influence. Who you associate with is who you become. The term “role model” is not used enough in our society. It’s extremely important to have role models. A role model will raise your standards. A role model will not let you get complacent. Finding a role model or mentor will spark your mind because they are playing the game at a higher level than you are.

  • If you hang around five confident people, you will be the sixth.
  • If you hang around five intelligent people, you will be the sixth.
  • If you hang around five millionaires, you will be the sixth.
  • If you hang around five idiots, you will be the sixth.
  • If you hang around five broke people, you will be the sixth.

It’s inevitable.

Such a simple concept, but what a difference it can make on your performance and business. There’s no faster way to advance into the top 5 percent of your industry than this. Yet, most people don’t do it. I challenge you to find those people, because you’ll become a lot like the people you spend the most time with. Their belief systems, their ways of being and their attitudes are contagious. Once you elevate your peer group, your standards will follow.

Crafting your ideal result rituals.

The amount of stress you have in your life is in direct correlation to the lack of rituals you have in place!

Without the right rituals and habits, your long-term growth will be stunted. Once I learned where my results were coming from, I created “result rituals” that moved my business forward. Intentional action is the only thing that will get you out of the struggle. I had been working 60 to 70 hours a week, but nothing seemed to change until I started asking myself what are the 20 percent of activities that I needed to focus on that created 80 percent of my results. Then I organized my schedule around those priorities.

The greatest wisdom of all time is in astutely choosing what not to do with your time. Say “no” more than you say ”yes”. Don’t be a slave to your phone. Design everything around the lifestyle you want, not for the convenience of other people.

There has never been a better time in the history of our economy to create your ideal life. Whether you’re in the midst of struggle or thriving, I encourage you to continue challenging yourself. When you make a definite decision on what kind of person you will be, on an everyday basis, you start to gain control of your financial destiny. If you continue to choose growth in the moment, and show up better than you were yesterday, you will astound yourself at what you can accomplish. You’re a lot closer to your success than you think.

 

 

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Job Performance or Job Satisfaction

Which comes first for you?  Depending upon your own inclination, you may marvel or  frown at the opposite choice. But, if you want to “get it” as a manager or as an individual contributor, then think about this: Statistically it’s a 50/50 split. About half the population wants to work toward a specific goal in order to achieve job satisfaction.  The other half wants to make sure that the elements of their job offer a “good fit” so they can perform at their optimum level.

I do a lot of individual assessments for organizations and have found that the inclinations are quite inherent. However, each type can learn how to adapt to what is required at the moment.

What can you do?

Increase your awareness. Look at your own preference and then start watching those around you. Who has to work before they can play? Who is making sure that the group is in harmony before moving forward?

What does it take to achieve the goal? If you’re in a crisis situation or up against a deadline, feeling-good-first may put you out of business. You’ve got to get it done! When you are focused on long-term projects which require a lot of cooperation and solid relationships, then take the time to build them. People will need to trust each other a lot in order to get through the inevitable difficulties that will take place. That can’t happen if people are only allowed to pay attention to a checklist.

Both types want some sense of acknowledgment when goals are achieved. I have more than one client who has told me “They get to keep their jobs. What else should I have to do?” Well, human beings look for recognition of some type when they know they’ve done a really good job. It doesn’t cost a thing to acknowledge people by name and what they specifically contributed to a project.  And it might just improve performance and satisfaction for everyone involved.


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Informal Recognition: A Powerful Tool!

Formal employee recognition programs can be effective, but many formal programs only pay lip service to recognizing employee performance.

Real praise should reward effort and accomplishment, reinforce positive behaviors, build self-esteem and confidence, and boost motivation and enthusiasm.

Do your formal recognition programs accomplish all that? I’m guessing maybe not.

Here are four informal and powerful ways to praise your employees:

Ask for ideas. Don’t just ask, “Do you have any ideas for how we can help you do your job better?” (Certainly ask that, but sometimes go farther.) Build off skills or insights they possess to use them in other ways.

Say a production employee is incredibly organized. Say, I am always impressed by how organized you are. I wish there was a way to clone you.” Then ask if she has thoughts about how to streamline order processing, or ways to reduce the flow of paperwork, or how another department could more efficiently collect data.

Not only will you get great ideas, but you also recognize skill and ability in powerful way.

Ask for help. Asking another person for help is one of the sincerest ways to recognize their abilities and value. Ask employees for help and you show you respect their skills and you extend a measure of trust.

The key is to ask for help partly or totally unrelated to their function, and to make the assistance relatively personal to you. Early on in my career I attended a meeting to talk downsizing; by the time I got back to the office word had already spread that layoffs were coming. One of my employees said, “So, layoffs, huh?” I didn’t have to confirm it; she knew. I said, “I’m struggling with what to tell our employees. What would you say?”

She thought and said, “Just tell everyone you’re doing your best on their behalf. Then talk about where we go from here.”

Simple? Sure, but powerful too. She later told me how much it meant to her that I had asked for her opinion and taken her advice.

Create informal leadership roles. Putting an employee in a short-term informal leadership role can make a major impact. Think how you would feel if you had a boss and she said, “We have a huge problem with a customer. If we don’t take care of it we may lose them. Can you grab a few people and handle it for me?”

Informal leadership roles show you trust an employee’s skills and judgment. The more important the task, the higher the implied praise and the greater the boost to their self-esteem.

Team up. You and your employees are on unequal footing since you’re the boss. A great way to recognize an employee’s value—especially to you—is to take on a task together.

What you choose to do together doesn’t have to be outside work, of course. The key is to do something as relative equals, not as boss and employee. Unequal separates, while equal elevates.

Verbal praise is great, but at times implied praise can be even more powerful. Ask for help or ideas, put an employee in charge, drop hierarchical roles, and work together. Each is a powerful way to recognize the true value of your employees—and to show you trust them, which is the highest praise of all.


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Managers – Mediators of Motivation

Watch a manager who is hard at work. Chances are you’ll see a person struggling, intellectually and emotionally, to create a desire in others for goal-directed action.

Here’s the thing: people are motivated to do what they like doing. Everyone is motivated to do something. The slacker who sits across from you may also coach the State Champion little league team, 3rd year in a row, the result of vigorous practice every week.

Someone I respect as a leader very much told me the best advice he ever heard about motivation was a quote from former U.S. President Harry Truman. When asked how he managed to get people onto his team and fired up, he responded: “I find out what people want. Then I help them get it.”

Important message hereTake time to discover people’s interests and what is important to them. Just ask them. I haven’t met anyone yet who won’t talk about themselves and their interests. If you find that job security is paramount to one person, emphasize the relationship between new long-term projects and the potential security they provide.

Discuss your own interests and goals with your team members. Then, have a discussion about aligning personal goals with the business targets and related tasks. You’re not going to satisfy every desire; people understand that. But when people feel that their own input and interests are valued, they are more committed to the business results—and to each other.

 


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The best way to motivate your team….

The simple answer to the age-old question of how to motivate depends on the organization’s culture, the leadership style of management and current circumstances, including the economic environment.

Does your company have a “take no prisoners” mentality when it comes to competition and winning? If so, the organization probably focuses more on the stick to motivate.  Typically, younger companies drive results this way because of the scarcity of money, the pressures on time, and the realization that mediocrity and too many misses can prove to be lethal.

In established organizations, a lighter collegial style is more common, as is the frequent use of the carrot. For example, call centers are noted for celebrating just about everything. A rep receives a relatively unremarkable compliment from a customer and bells go off and high fives fly. Everyone in this type of facility expects to get a carrot on a more regular basis. When infractions occur, the supervisor will have a conversation with the offender, though the talk will likely be punctuated with an abundance of positive reinforcement.

Many type-A personalities wouldn’t be productive nor enjoy a purely “carrot patch” workplace. Go-getters tend to get a high from the pressure always on them to produce. They covet the rush of the thrills and chills of getting the tough job done. Many do their best when they are under the gun, fearing that if they slip and fall they may not get up again. Fear of failure, is their hot button, as perverse as it may sound. Sure, the carrot does motivate, too, but it’s the challenge of the chase, having someone with a stick on their tail that pushes them into overdrive. Can a company thrive with only type-A employees? Absolutely not, because it’s probable that this would create a constant state of anarchy.

Every business needs plenty of the Steady Eddies who can be counted on to consistently do the job day in and day out. This type thrives on predictability and the gratification of periodic praise. If the boss was to approach him or her with a stick to make a point, it would scare the heck out of him or her.

In between the top and bottom rungs of your corporate ladder, there are dozens of iterations of what it takes to get people to do their best. The skill is in figuring out what size fits each individual category. Creating the appropriate environment for your type of business will set the tone as to how people will respond. A utopia for overachievers could become a living hell for those who prefer a setting in which they can do their jobs where the only excitement is watching paint dry and grass grow. It takes a variety of all types to build an organization, and when all are carefully mixed together in the proper proportions, the team will jell, and that’s what gives a company its unique personality that works.

As people grow and mature, what worked in the past may have to change and the formula may need to be reconfigured to fit a company’s evolving needs. Also, when economic circumstances outside of your personnel’s
control deteriorate, smart companies know it’s time to lighten up a bit and use more carrots, primarily because the stick can’t change the reality of a negative business environment. Much like beating that dead horse, it won’t do any good, and it will harm a company in the long run, as employees won’t forget how they were treated when the chips were down.

To most effectively craft your company’s motivation techniques, you must listen to what your employees are saying and then translate their words into what they really mean.  Learning when and with whom to dangle the carrot, use the stick, or add thrills and chills to the work environment will help drive your company’s sustained success.


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Don’t Fight Your Own Culture War

Executives and managers going into a new company often believe that because they are being brought into a leadership role, possibly even strongly pursued, that the company culture will bend to fit them.  However, nothing could be further from the truth.

If you don’t find a way to fit in, the existing culture will reject you.  Fitting in means being willing to learn things like company lingo and acronyms; product names and roadmaps; company history; what the appropriate balance is between work and play; whether the culture is competitive or collaborative; and what kind of relationships and behavior are acceptable.

If everyone else is putting in 12-hour days but you’re not, that’s as bad as pulling all-nighters when the company softball team is playing for their league championship.

Fitting in is not rocket science, but it is crucial, because the same type of behavior that helped you succeed in one culture can get you fired or ostracized in another.  You can learn a lot about a company’s culture from reading the website, by talking to people who work there, or reading what’s been written about them in the media.

Once you’re onboard if the culture is such a far cry from where you are and you can’t seem to achieve a comfortable fit, it’s probably a good time to re-evaluate your decision.  Prolonging the wrong fit is never the answer and it can make you miserable.


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“Fear” The enemy of achieving your goals

...non fidarsi è meglio - my scared cat / gatto

Image by Paolo Margari via Flickr

We all know people who are talented, possess great ideas, values and goals. When they communicate their goals to you they are passionate and you can’t help but get excited about their journey.  And I believe they are sincere at that moment when they are talking. But as soon as it is time for them to follow through on their intentions with actions, it doesn’t happen. Somewhere between talking and action, they get caught up in something else, I’m too busy, there is a lot going on in my life, etc.  Succeeding is easy if nothing scares you. If nothing makes you hesitant, shy or nervous.

When you do not act, it is probably because some fear doesn’t allow you to follow through.  When you have a disparity between your goals and your actions, your actions will always be the truth.

It is difficult to move forward in reaching your true potential when you are stuck in fear and inactivity.  Yet we sometimes want all the stars to line up before we can take action.  Well, reality is the stars won’t always line up just right; however, you can do things that get them lined up close enough to take the plunge.

What goal you are working towards.  What are those things you need to do to meet that goal?  The things you do on a daily basis, are they supportive of your intention and the things you say you care about for yourself? If not, then what do you need to do to correct that? Are you willing to make those changes?

If not, then you may want to re-examine your goals. So often, people have created values and goals for themselves based upon what they think they “should” be doing or what someone else thinks is best for them. This approach might work for a while, but not for the long run.

Once you know what your true goal is, begin to take specific actions to move in that direction, establish some deadlines for yourself.  The next step is to let others know your action plan. Telling other people about your intentions is very important. You are making a public affirmation.

Remember leaders impact others by taking actions which reinforce their values. They have found something they truly believe in and are living by their values. Be a leader in your life. Be, think, feel and act in a way which is in accordance to your values and your goals for success. Opportunities will begin to appear.