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Posted by on in Communication
A recent study discovered that 70% of small to mid-size businesses claim communication is their primary problem. A business with 100 employees spends an average downtime of 17 hours a week clarifying communications. This translates in an annual cost of $528,443.00. Could this be your reality? What can be done about improving communication, and how to get those wasted dollars back and reinvested in our other areas of your business, your division, or department? Communication is where it all starts. The importance of open communication, simply, cannot be overstated as it is fundamental in building trust, managing conflict, gaining commitment, maintaining accountability, and identifying team results. Much has been said and written about clear and concise communication. Much has been said about listening carefully. What if you are doing all of that but you still are having problems with your communication? We know that our message is affected by several things...

Posted by on in Attitudes and Behaviors
Most people looking at obstacles standing in their way fail to see the obstacles they create for themselves. The biggest obstacle is one’s under valuation of their own potential. This leads to second guessing and ultimately procrastination. Procrastination is something that we all must confront and deal with from time to time. It's only natural to procrastinate at times, but the way you deal with your procrastination patterns will determine what effects procrastination has on your life. Why is it that so many people start out with good intentions to achieve a goal but never achieve that goal? When you procrastinate you simply fail to act on the very things you know will bring you the rewards that you desire. You know you want the rewards and know you must act but you hold off, make excuses and, in short, procrastinate. Procrastination can be caused by a fear—a fear of failure...

Posted by on in Strategic Leadership
If you want your employees to take initiative they must have skin in the game. You can do that by letting them take ownership and pride in their work and their decisions. Rather than giving them very detailed instruction tell them what needs to be done and make them accountable for the results. This is the best way to get things done. If you are frustrated with the results of your team, here are two questions that you need to ask yourself. First, have you provided them with the tools to succeed? Second, have you clearly communicated the objectives and desired results?   You may have you given plenty of detailed directions without explaining reasons and objectives. The first thing you need to do is let go and empower your team. Instead of giving assignments with specific instructions try something different. Here are two different approaches to giving an employee an assignment....

Posted by on in Communication
Your attitude comes through in your communication. A positive uplifting message will lead to positive results. Unfortunately, the opposite is true when you have a negative message. Some time ago I had started working with two leaders of an organization. They complained of their many problems. It was their location, their clientele’ but most of all it was their employees. “We can’t get the right people to work for us,” they said. I spent some time interviewing them as well as a sample of people in their organization. There was a big disconnect. The employees wanted the organization to be successful. However, one owner was abusive in constant criticism and the other was running around putting out fires. This father and son team could not convey the goals of the organization and they were not even communicating completely the upcoming projects. The staff was frustrated. The father was totally exhausted because...

Posted by on in Motivation and Goal Achievement
How do you create a culture of accountability and create a high performing team? The best way to accomplish this is by motivating staff and team members to be proud to be accountable. Dwight Eisenhower said, “Leadership is getting people to do what you want them to do because they want to do it.”   Many times, we fear discussing results and performance because we feel we will not change behavior and we might create alienation. However, by avoiding we only have continued failure. Doing nothing and avoiding accountability is not an option if we want to create growth through improved results. How does a manager hold members of the staff responsible for performance? What about an employee who needs help but fears asking for help? The results can be devastating when we fail to have accountability discussions. The book, “Crucial Confrontations”, by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzer...

Posted by on in Strategic Leadership
What is your leadership and management style? Have you ever thought about it or has anyone asked you? It is true that different environments require a different style. Leadership and management is much more complex than mastering an individual job. For that reason and others as well, the failure rate of managers is higher than for individual performers. I had the opportunity a while ago to be part of a group invited to listen to Ken Blanchard discussing building trust, creating positive work cultures, customer loyalty, leadership and organizational change. Ken reinforces some of the values and beliefs that been proven to create positive corporate cultures. You have it wrong if you consider yourself a leader because you have been placed in charge. On the other hand, a person with no direct reports can be a very effective leader. The reason that is so is that you need to learn how...

Posted by on in Strategic Leadership
What is good about your business and what could be improved? Would you like to know? Before you answer that question, I have another. Can you handle the truth? Sometimes when an organization asks for help and receives feedback it could be surprised to learn some inconvenient truths. If you really want to improve your organization you will want to learn the good, the bad, and the ugly. If you can’t handle the truth you won’t have an opportunity to make things better. If you want to learn how to improve your organization, you will want to have an organizational assessment of your business. There are very effective assessment instruments available to generate a fact-based picture of organizational performance. However, it is important to have a mutual understanding of the process first. So, before I begin the process I want to make sure that it will have a meaningful impact. I...

Posted by on in Vision and Values
It is important that a business clearly define its values and work with those who share those values. Unfortunately, many businesses still need to clearly define their core values so that there is no question where they stand. For that matter, how many businesses can say why they are in business or articulate their basic business foundation? You might be surprised at how few really can. Any successful business needs to have vision—that is what the business will look like when it is successful. You must have a dream if you want to have a dream come true. Your core values are of greater importance than vision. These are your ideals you live by. These are your non-negotiables. If you know why you are in business, if you have a vision, and you have values you may then build your marketing plan and you will know how to make the right...

Posted by on in Attitudes and Behaviors
Some people find the task of selecting the right employee to be a very difficult task. But that does not have to be the case. A diligent hiring manager may spend time studying a candidate’s resume and asked questions about experience. But then, as one manager told me with a sign, you really have no idea until they are hired. Sadly, most organizations fail at hiring the right people. This occurs at organizations with a human resources department as often as it happens with the small business owner. The good news is that you can begin to hire the right people. Here is a simple fact. Managers tend to make hiring decisions by looking at background in the industry, jobs held before, and job history. Many companies even do background checks. They spend a significant amount of time looking at a candidate’s skills and knowledge before extending an employment offer. Later...

Posted by on in Strategic Leadership
It is important that a leader exercise proper control. However, if you exercise too much control you could hurt your business. But it can be tough to let go. Here is how it can happen. A business is started by an owner with a vision to create a great product or service. The owner must spend much time working in the business to make sure that the product or service gets out, the money gets collected, and the bills get paid. That is very important for business survival. The owner works hard IN the business. He or she must attend to every detail and, if he forgets one thing, it could be a disaster. The business owner spends most of his or her time working IN the business and virtually no time working ON the business. Why is this problematic? When the owner starts the business he or she needs to...

Posted by on in Competencies and Strengths
You will be so much more productive if you are able to know your strengths. In most cases you like what you do well. So why are people beating themselves up trying to improve their weaknesses. I think it is foolish to try to improve your weaknesses or limitations. Even if you attempt to do it you will never be fully satisfied, and you will be in a constant state of stress. But isn’t that what many of us try to do?   When your child comes home from school with his or her report card and it shows, for example, an A in math, B’s in history and science, and a C in English, what is your response? That’s right. Most people will talk to their child about raising the grade in English. But what if your child might have a real talent in math? He or she might become a...

Posted by on in Vision and Values
Many people start a business and develop a plan to market and sell their product and service.  But if that is all they have, in my opinion, there is a key ingredient missing.  Your need vision if your business is to survive and thrive.  And you also need values.  They should make it perfectly clear what type of company you are.  Surprisingly, many businesses cannot say why they are in business nor can they articulate their basic business foundation and founding principles.  Why you are running the business is more important than how you run it.  If you find that statement hard to believe then read on. Any successful business needs to have vision—that is what the business will look like when it is successful.  Your vision is your dream and as Walt Disney said, you must have a dream if you want to have a dream to come true.  Of...

Posted by on in Employee Engagement
We have heard much about sexual harassment in the workplace lately. While this is a practice that is illegal is also destroys a well aligned diverse workplace. Diverse teams led by good leaders are highly productive teams. Creating a dynamic workforce involves valuing and respecting every individual. Diversity and Inclusion is really all about engaging employees and customers for more success. It involves valuing all cultures, all races, genders. And it also involves respecting all ideas—that is—diversity of thought. Why do you and your company want to embrace diversity? Most would answer that they would do it because it is right. But there is an ROI. You will get more business and more customers. Gaining loyal customers and engaged employees is built on trust. Here is how diversity helped one company. The company has restaurants in a metropolitan area located in suburbs as well as downtown cities. The company found that...

Posted by on in Communication
Do you feel that sometimes you have a failure to communicate? That line from Cool Hand Luke sums up one of the big problem—our communication does not work. I recently met with the leaders of one of my Westchester County New York organizations to present results of an employee survey. The staff felt that there were a lot of changes, but the staff also felt that management was not keeping them informed. Productivity almost always suffers in times of great change because employee stress dramatically increases due to the universal fear of the unknown. Often senior executives genuinely believe they are communicating with employees when it comes to matters that affect them. Unfortunately, they often underestimate the number of matters that includes. Can you say with certainty that you know what is important to employees and what to tell them? The only way to know is to put yourself in their...

Posted by on in Strategic Leadership
You are moving in a direction toward you goals and assume that your team is on the same path. You assume that they know what the objectives are.  In other words, are you taking a course of action, assuming the team is following but turn around and there is no one there. You know what happens when you assume! You ask your staff to follow then turn and find no one there.  The best way to insure organizational alignment is to be a focused leader who empowers and engages your team. When this happens, they will in turn create loyal customers leading to growth and success. Focused Leader - You may be the owner, the manager, or CEO but that does not mean you are the leader. You appoint yourself CEO but your team will follow you only if you show you can lead.   As manager you can influence the process...
Tagged in: Team Leadership

Posted by on in Motivation and Goal Achievement
Many Westchester County business owners have told me that they feel like a hamster on a wheel. They are overworked and overwhelmed. Many blame the rapid pace of business or the economic fact that business must do more with less. Technology has made our lives easier, right? Yes, but it has also created more pressure. Instant communication on handheld devices gives us the sense of urgency and feeling that we must always be working. Everything seems to go faster, leaving everyone feeling overworked, overloaded, and overwhelmed.   Some people may suggest that this is an issue of time management. The real issue is not time management but understanding your goals and your purpose. Here are some tips on surviving being overwhelmed. 1. Know Your Purpose. Do you have a roadmap and purpose? That would be your vision, your goals, and your plans. Each day identify the tasks you must accomplish and prioritize...
Tagged in: Goal Achievement

Posted by on in Motivation and Goal Achievement
Goal achievement is the most important key to achieving your dreams. The most successful people are the ones who have specific, written goals. Unfortunately, there are many people without written goals. If you were to ask them why they are likely to respond that they have them in their head. But ask the same people if they have plans for their next vacation and they will produce elaborate written plans.   There is so much more to goal setting than just writing it down. That is just a wish. Just wishing and hoping for something isn't going to make it happen. Setting a goal involves having target and an action plan to hit the target. When planning your goals, choose which categories you would like for your goals. Establish the time frame. They could be lifetime goals, 10 year, 5 year, 1 year, 6 month, 3 month, 1 month, or weekly goals....

Posted by on in Strategic Leadership
You may have heard of The Peter Principle. Lawrence Peter’s book by this name argues that, in a hierarchy people tend to be promoted to the level of their incompetence. He noted that although this is not planned it is the unintended consequence. You get a promotion usually because you performed well in a previous job. Some very important reasons exist for doing this. Rewards encourage engagement and increased performance. However, companies make a flawed assumption that employees who do well in a previous job will continually do well in increasingly more difficult jobs. Inevitably, according to the Peter Principle, the person ends up being promoted to a job where they are no longer competent. This is referred to as their "level of incompetence". The employee has no chance of further promotion, thus reaching his or her career's ceiling in an organization. We can see examples of The Peter Principle in...

Posted by on in Improved Business Results
How can you tell if your business is growing? Very simple, you measure it. You may have heard the expression, “If you can’t measure it you can’t manage it” In my consultation with my business owners in Westchester County we work on success through focusing on their vision, their values, and goals. Then they execute their goals and measure results. You need to have a strategic outlook on your business. Another way of saying this is that you look at the whole rather than the parts or you must work ON your business rather than IN your business. What you measure is just as important as having and plan and executing it. For example, many business owners are familiar with the acronym EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization), or more simply said profit. That, however, is a measure of what has happened in the past. It may not predict...

Posted by on in Strategic Leadership
Are you laser focused or are you a multi-tasker? Being a multi-tasker in running your business may create problems. Instead, staying focused and staying sharp on the things necessary to grow and change will yield the best results. Sometimes owners get lazy and in a rut. The owner stops seeing the big picture. Maybe the business has had years of successful sales and profits. Since the business is still making money and continuing to operate the reasoning is, if it’s not broke don’t fix it. Eventually, the business could reach a stage on leveling off or declining sales or profits. Maybe there are changes in the industry or in the economy. To remain successful, the business owner must refocus. Here are five essentials for refocusing. 1. Make sure you know what business you are in. If you make cell phones do you provide smart phones, or do you create facilitated mobile...

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