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Posts Tagged ‘passion’

Reducing your Employee Churn/Burn Rate & Getting Results

What is the most value asset you have in your company? You shouldn’t have to think too hard! It’s the people that execute on your strategy.

So why do you always seem to be “the last man left standing” in your organization?

I’ll share with you the answer, followed by two key lessons & one practical example/result as to the “why” of so many company’s having challenges in retaining staff these days. An especially complex issue to understand, given the current economical crisis, is the unemployment rates around the world are still incredibly high.

The Answer is that we, as leaders, typically do a very poor job of recruitment, induction, ongoing management & assessment of our most valuable assets. And the general root cause is through poor communication and lack of courage!

Personally, even though sometimes hard to swallow, I firmly believe in the 90/10 rule, which states that if one of your staff isn’t working out, it’s 90% YOUR fault.. & only 10% theirs!

Do you think I’m being harsh, unfair & unrealistic? Well, consider this.. who’s in the drivers seat?

  • Who (ultimately) did, or approved the hiring?
  • How clear were you in defining and communicating the Mission & Vision of the company?
    • Did you receive acknowledgment, or other form of undeniable proof that you were clearly understood?
  • How clear were you in defining the role to be fulfilled & the specific outcomes to be expected of the role?
    • Key words being “role & specific outcome”.. forget job description!
  • How clear were you in communicating the behaviors you expected whilst your team executed on your plan?
    • How did you manage the first signs of lack in performance or alignment with your vision, message and/or expectations?
  • How often did you sit down to agree S.M.A.R.T. objectives/goals?
    • How frequently did you follow-up to make necessary adjustments?
    • How quickly did you put someone on a performance plan when they didn’t deliver on what was agreed?
  • How much planning & thought went into the induction, education/training, mentoring or skills acquisition process the individual needed to succeed?
    • How much coaching or mentoring did you consider to be required from yourself, or senior/more experienced staff?
  • How quickly, and how brave were YOU in having “the difficult & uncomfortable conversations”?
    • Are you paying & rewarding your staff to perform?
      • Are you doing the opposite?
      • How are you motivating/encouraging non-performance/conformance?

I could go on & on.. but I think you get the point! It’s YOUR company, YOUR department or YOUR team, and therefore YOU are the ultimate responsible person for the outcome/output of everyone’s role. If things aren’t working out then look inward before you look outward, and once you’ve completed this assignment take responsibility to make the immediate & necessary adjustments.

Lesson #1

  • Be crystal clear on Your Vision & communicate it… communicate it… communicate it…
    • Who needs to do What, How & by When?
      • This requires acknowledgment & buy-in, however remember you’re the boss (90% responsibility), so make sure that “your team” buys into “your plan”, even if you need their help in constructing it, and not the opposite!
    • Where do you want your company, area or department to be?
    • When do you expect specific results?
      • When do you expect escalations when things are in danger, or aren’t going according to plan?
    • How do you want (expect) your employees to behave, handle themselves and handle adversity (which is sure to come)?
      • What are the rules of engagement?
    • What are the boundaries & non-boundaries that you expect people to respect & understand?
      • What are the focus areas they’re supposed to be focused on in order to achieve success?
  • Be crystal clear on Your Mission… & communicate it… communicate it… communicate it…
    • Why do you want your people to behave in a certain manner?
    • Why do you need your people to achieve certain results?
    • Why do you require specific results within specific time frames?
    • Why is the company in business to begin with?

I’ve embedded the Core Values, which are the “behaviors” or “rules for the road” within the context of the Who, What, Where, When, Why & How above. That, in short, is your Core Ideology!

Lesson #2

The next biggest lesson you might have to learn, is regarding COURAGE. Courage to stand-up to the “know-it all’s” who’ve never run an enterprise but have every theory in the book as to how your organization should run! I find these days far too many companies have “grayed the line” between “boss & employee” and between responsible for direction & responsible for execution. If you’re going to take 90% responsibility for the failure of an organization, you need to get straight, and clearly understand, who’s “experienced” and better still “paid to run the show”.

In order to deliver on the above, you need the right skill-set that’s for sure, and you also need to have the backbone to “listen first” and “act accordingly second”. Acknowledging someone’s perspective and giving them voice doesn’t mean that you have to take their advice or recommendations over your own experienced opinion or gut instinct/intuition. It only makes you more responsible and accountable to the eventual decisions you make.

Once you’ve guaranteed success, then you can stand back, be humble and allow your team to bask in the glory of having executed excellently on a plan. Take 90% of the responsibility, give 90% of the credit and you’ll have an effective & motivated team!

I’ve spent hours-upon-hours giving practical workshops to MBA students who have paid a pretty penny to gain a highly valuable education, just like I’ve spent hours-upon-hours with both managers and employees who’ve read the latest books containing magical and earth moving experiences. What I always share with them is that “now you have the logic, it’s time to go out into the real world to implement and execute”.

The execution of an idea is always more important than the brilliance of a thought, or even a strategy. A brilliant thought without effective execution is merely an illusion. A brilliant strategy, without effective execution, is merely a waste of everyone’s energy & time.

Practical Example/Result

I recently walked into an assignment that demanded many changes in a short period of time. Multiple colleagues had just been fired for non performance and conformance. I was walking into an understandably hostile environment!

I stood in front of a room and shared my “what” followed by my “why”. Then came my “how”, where I told them that I only expected  1/2 (!?!?) of the output, dedication and commitment that I was willing to put in myself! However, I also advised them that I typically give 300% to every assignment!!

I explained that I would give them 48 hours to go through the grieving process of having lost their colleagues, followed by 15 days to be at 80% or better, and showing signs they would be at 150% by day 30.

I committed myself to complete transparency & communication, just as I would to holding them as accountable (where & when) as I would hold myself. I shared with them that there would be 2 day, 15 day & 30 day milestones, at which time I would have conversations with non-performers & either implement a performance plan or retire them. I would also make it a regular habit to commend the good performances along the way.

I shared with them that in a 24 hour weekday, I’m hoping you have 8 hours of sleep, and I’ll guarantee you that more than 50% of the remaining 16h will be based on, or thinking about, “work”. Therefore, if you’re going to dedicate more than 50% of your “awake” time to “work” during a 5 day work week rather than to your loved ones & special interests, it’s absolute lunacy to work in a place where you’re not motivated and inspired. As a consequence, if I ask you or if you decide to leave, then we’re only doing each other a favor based on a general concern & well-being for all.

Result

One person left within 48 hours, a few more within the first 15 days, then a few more within the next 15 days. Along the way change happened, a pride which previously didn’t exist filled the department! Results, followed by customer satisfaction, started to sparkle where it didn’t exist before. THEY, the last ones standing, did all of the work. I merely gave them direction and the opportunity to be everything I already knew they could be.

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How an “Elevator Pitch” & is like Public Speaking

January 28, 2010 1 comment

A good mate of mine Conor Neill recently “enrolled” me to help him facilitate his Persuasive Speaking workshops, with which he’s very successfully engaged by the likes of big corporations & leading Executive MBA programs such as those at IESE.

Is he good at what he does? Well let’s just say that

  1. I chose the word “enroll” because that’s just what he does
  2. If you don’t believe me have a glimpse at his blog & get a taste for yourself
  3. This blog article is actually a part of a “homework assignment”

In a nutshell, what I’ve taken away from our frequent conversations is that Persuasive Speaking is all about getting people to do things that they wouldn’t typically do. And writing about Elevator Pitches & Public Speaking is not something I commonly do, so I guess you get my point 😉

Further on this topic, I want to leverage an HBR article I read this weekend on “The Elevator Pitch”, as I believe it bridges perfectly onto the topic of Pubic Speaking, and I would even dare say Persuasive Speaking itself.

The article starts off with the accounts of a famous casual encounter between an entrepreneur & Warren Buffet outside The Plaza Hotel in NYC, and how with one short sentence, he kicked the door of opportunity wide open! It goes on to describe the Elevator Pitch as “the ability to successfully deliver a quick and concise explanation of your case”. Now that sounds like the strong basis for a public speech, or even a persuasive conversation!

As I read further, I picked up the following points:

  • Grab the attention of listeners, convincing them with the promise of mutual benefit, and setting the stage for follow-up
  • Speak in terms your audience can relate to
  • And communicate with the passion that comes from knowing that this opportunity may never come again

How am I doing so far? Do you know of anyone who would sit through 90 minutes of chatter that didn’t fulfill on at least the above? Now allow me to continue with the following key tips of a successful elevator pitch as presented in the article:

  • Know the goal
  • Know the subject
  • Know the audience
  • Organize the pitch (a.k.a. speech)
  • Hook them from the opening
  • Plug into the connection
  • Presentation matters
  • Incorporate feedback

Again, sounds like the routine I often go through, tick-off & rehearse before I get up in front of any audience, even when it’s an audience of ONE.

Further supporting my rational, Milo O. Frank, author of How to Get Your Point Across in 30 Seconds or Less, suggests looking at each of the points in an extended presentation as individual 30-second messages. “During the two, three, five, or ten minutes that your speech lasts, you’ll have an opportunity to ask—and answer—several provocative questions, paint more than one picture, use more than one personal anecdote or experience”.

Now I’ll be the first one to admit that public speaking hasn’t come easily for me. A naturally introverted personality, as much as that may surprise the majority of the people I’ve engaged in the past, it’s taken me allot of hard work, discipline, practice & allot of receptiveness to constructive criticism to get me to where I am. Over the course of time, and many mistakes along the way, I will be the first one to admit that anytime I didn’t tick-off each of the above bullets, I walked away from my engagement very disappointed with m performance.

So what do you think? Have I made my case? It was allot longer than a 30 second elevator pitch, but then again I’m still working at getting better at it! 😉

Passion as a Profession

December 27, 2009 1 comment

Question; Have you ever done anything that you just weren’t that passionate about? How did it turn out? Not your proudest moment.. I’m willing to bet. When I read John Hagel’s article on “Passion” in the Network Age in the The Social Customer Manifesto, I came across his reflection “We have to make our passions our professions. If we don’t, this [the economy] is going to be uglier and uglier, and we’re going to feel more and more stressed.” and that in turn inspired this post.

I’ve seen and heard from too many people that seem to just be going through the motions! And trust me, it doesn’t look like much fun! Point in contrast is the case of some friends back in Barcelona who recently created an experience for a dear friend of theirs. Now talent aside, my mates Piero & Ana are an example of people squeezing as much as they can from life. They are a great example of living on-purpose & blending a healthy dose of life, love & laughter into that formula. You see, when you dare to challenge the status-quo, and do something you love, then it’s all happy days ahead. 🙂 Sure life will still through you some challenges, but that’s what life’s all about, great learning opportunities.

A few years back, during a research phase I was doing for a client of mine, I came across the following 10 Core Principles of The Dream Coach Process which helped me gain allot of perspective on my own desires, and how to design a business that was conducive to the life that I desired.

Summary of the 10 Core Principles The Dream Coach Process…

  1. Set An Intention – Objective: To understand the power and importance of intention and for you to set an intention such as find a new job or career, or get a promotion.
  2. Maintain Integrity – Objective: To learn how to live with integrity by removing incomplete actions and keeping agreements with yourself and others. It is essential that you remove or clear up anything from your past that might be in the way of you having what you want.
  3. Live On Purpose – Objective: To understand the meaning and importance of purpose in order to live more aligned with your purpose. Dreams without purpose, even a job without aligning to your purpose, can be unfulfilling. We can take steps to avoid this.
  4. Access Your Dreamer – Objective: To create a dynamic relationship with the Dreamer inside of you, and a dream you are passionate about. No matter how realistic you may be, there is a part of you that knows what will make you happy and what you want.
  5. Learn From Your Doubter – Objective: To create a powerful and dynamic relationship with the Doubter inside of you, and to learn from the lessons this part of you offers. Left unattended, this is part of us that often sabotages our dreams. This does not need to happen.
  6. Believe In Your Dreams – Objective: To create a belief as a solid foundation for making your dreams come true. If you don’t believe in yourself or your dream, no one else will either. This is a life-changing step.
  7. Failure Can Lead To Success – Objective: To learn to use all of life’s lessons as powerful tools, and to create daily practices to deepen what you learn. In this work, we look at what happened and what you learned and design practices for strengthening your Achilles heel.
  8. Take Serious Steps Forward – Objective: To plan the essential action steps to insure that your dreams come true. In the end, it all comes down to taking action and the practical steps for making your dream real.
  9. Building Your Dream Team – Objective: To be able to ask for help, making your dream more easily attainable. There are resources that you know and do not know who can open doors and make your life easier. Learn essential skills for asking and getting help
  10. Live As A Dreamer – Objective: The objective is simple, to create a dream come true life. Once you are clear about your purpose, dreams and resources, you can look at all areas of your life and decide what you want. This process works on any dream.

As a consequence of this research, I became a certified Dream Coach®, including ICF accreditation, but that was just a fortunate circumstance. These tools, as with anything else of significant value that comes across my radar, have in part been adapted to my own processes which govern both personal & professional life. The pure “Dream Coaching” per-say, I now leave for intimate friends, families or other people who come across my path and inspire me. It’s become yet another hobby, or a way to “give back”.

Now.. looking at the 10 steps, can you see where step #3 “purpose” could be the business term for “mission”? Or how step #4 “dream” could be “vision”?  How about all of the other key steps of intention (goals), integrity, learning, belief, success from failure, serous steps forward & team.. do they all sound familiar?

What could you learn from exploring your passion & turning it into a profession?

My greatest gift & take-away from the 7 day Dream Coach certification course was the thought that “the only thing standing in the way of you realizing any desire (dream) is either a limiting belief or an effective strategy”. And both of these can be quickly overcome by surrounding yourself with the right like-minded individuals. 🙂

Another quote that I love to mimic is “The supreme accomplishment is to blur the line between work and play.” by Arnold Toynbee. How’s this coming along for you these days? How much of your life seems to feel like work? How much of the time you’re spending on work, do you feel is contributing to your “living”?