Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Bowling Through a Curtain

At the company picnic the VP of Operations watched the softball game between two groups of employees and she was amazed at how intense the competition was. People were playing hard with a clear determination to be a contributing player on the winning team and actively encouraging their teammates to play well. If only she could get that kind of energy from them on the job, she thought, we would be ahead of our plan instead of behind.

Many leaders have had similar thoughts. Why are people highly engaged in what they do when they are off work yet disengaged at work? A simple answer is most people work at jobs where they are essentially bowling through a curtain. They know what they are supposed do and may even do it quite well, however because of the curtain they have no idea how they are doing let alone how the whole team is doing. They simply do what is asked and once a year or so they get told the score along with some suggestions on how they can improve.

As Stephen Covey explained in The 4 Disciplines of Execution performance falls behind plan because people don’t understand the goal; if they know the goal they don’t understand what they can do to help achieve it; they are not sure how well they are doing; and there is no timely feedback and accountability. The secret to getting things done on time with excellence is to have no more than two to three major goals; focus on lead measures that people know they can control and directly influence the goal; have a compelling scoreboard in a place everyone can see that tracks the lead measures; and have regular accountability and feedback meetings to celebrate progress and adjust to overcome problems. Those disciplines along with people who fit the job and a leader who helps them feel and fare better create an outstanding team. Like a lottery number if you don’t hit all of them you don’t get much.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Response Ability

On a bitter cold and snowy winter day in the Midwest two sales people prepare to start their day. One sees the weather report and decides it is a good day to catch up on paperwork since no one will want to talk to a salesperson on such a terrible day. The other one bundles up eager to get out and start making calls after concluding that most people he wants to call on will be in the office, especially the average sales people.

What gets in the way of success? Common excuses are government, taxes, weather, traffic, relatives, neighbors, economic conditions, illness, bosses, and company policy. The better, but not common, answer is “me”.

We are the difference makers in our journeys. All sorts of things will happen to get in the way of our plans for success but those things generally happen to everyone at one time or another. The difference is in each individual’s ability to respond to those disruptions and detours. Jim Rohn, the famous motivational speaker and network marketer said “It’s not what happens to you that determines the quantity and quality of your life; it’s what you do that changes everything.”

Will 2014 be a ‘wow” year because of your different response to things that happen or will it be like previous years with standard excuses and responses to what happens? 
Develop response-ability and make it a “wow” year.

Thursday, January 30, 2014


In January it is common to be considering possibilities for achieving better results this year than last year.  As we’ve discussed here many times before, results are produced by a combination of skills and action so to get better results either better skills or more actions are necessary.  New skills and behaviors generally require time to develop; however, leveraging existing skills and actions can be accelerated to produce amazing results more quickly.  It is done by focusing actions toward one specific result and eliminating or at least reducing distractions that interfere.  In other words having a goal that is your focus and then to actually focus your attention and effort on it.  Doing that for a day can be difficult; doing it for a year is rare but those who can do it are the ones who achieve success.   If you want more focus in 2014 it may be helpful to keep in mind its definition as both a noun (a main purpose or interest) and a verb (to direct your attention or effort at something specific).

The two keys to being able to maintain your focus are it cannot not be a detriment to other important aspects of work or life but at the same time it is vitally important to you.  Most often people fail to maintain focus because the end result is not significantly energizing and other good ideas, daily routines, or suggestions/requests from other people, become distractions.  Avoiding such disruptions requires another aspect of focus; adjustment or re-focusing.  Other people and the rest of the world will not remain in place while we do our thing.  To achieve the end result of a yearlong goal we will need to repeatedly focus and refocus on our focus.

Whatever your focus is in 2014, we wish you great success!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

The Magic Formula for Success

A common question coaches pose to a client is ‘what would you do if you couldn’t fail?’ It helps the client identify dreams and aspirations that are limited by fear of failure. It can be freeing to think of a risk free venture; it opens up new possibilities when confidence is at a high level. However, another way of considering that question is in the context of high risk. If the stakes are so high to have life threatening consequences you would be acutely aware and deliberate to take necessary action.

As we all look forward to a new year and plans for business and personal success it may be helpful to consider ‘what will I do in 2014 if I can’t fail?’  Applying both aspects – high confidence and deliberate actions – is the magic formula for success. We wish you the best for the holidays and the new year!


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Will You Reach Your Goals?

We all have goals, dreams and aspirations that we work to achieve. The probability of realizing them is largely dependent on the regularity and frequency of our actions along with our level of skill in performing those actions. However, the right strategies and tactics are also vital to success. If a hammer is your only tool you will be a great success at nailing but not so much at cutting and trimming. When obstacles or challenges interfere with our progress toward our goals we naturally shift tactics and use different tools.

Sometimes however there are opportunities or new tools to help us reach our goal but unlike obstacles and challenges, we may over look these opportunities. Adapting to new possibilities and quickly capturing new opportunities is a big differentiator of great from average. 

In our era of rapid technology advancement deploying the right new technology at the right time can be a huge opportunity requiring – you guessed it – skill and action. To help you know about some of the productivity related technology opportunities available a new series begins with this article.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Average Versus Exceptional

A couple of weeks ago three winning tickets split a $448,400,000 Powerball jackpot. Those three had a very exceptional return on their $2.00 investments!  Millions of others had no return on their ‘investments’.  In games of chance luck is of course the differentiator between average and exceptional results.

In most of life, exceptional results are derived from exceptional actions. Average effort usually produces average outcomes yet many people dream of success far above their average activities. They want the joy and satisfaction of exceptional results but at the same time resist taking exceptional risks and working exceptionally hard.

Results are always derived from a combination of capability and action. High capability coupled with low action will produce low results similar to low capability coupled with high action.   Exceptional results however will be produced when high capability is matched with high levels of action. That may be common knowledge but it is not common practice. Coaching helps change behavior and helps create exceptional action and results. Just ask!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Managing What You Can’t Measure

When we talk with leaders about improving performance there is often initial skepticism.  After all they have typically been leading their organization for several years and they ‘know’ what to do.  In fact they may actually be successful in several tangible ways.  However, with several minutes of open conversation there is usually some source of frustration that comes to light.  It often is something they haven’t been able to change because they have not figured out how to measure it.  If they have data it is most often a lag measure rather than the lead measures which predict the end results and can be influenced by actions of one or more employees.  It is not always easy to do but most every aspect of business can be measured and when it is results tend to improve.  Contact us and we'll show you how it can be done.