Monday, September 29, 2008

Purpose at the Task Level

"I know you all are really busy but the client needs this done before Monday, so if everyone can work late for the next two days ... that would be great, thanks."

Have you ever heard anything like that? Ever said anything like that? It might work, it might not. Depends on the audience. If that is what you might say all the time, to everyone, chances are it will hardly ever work. It sounds a little bit to me like Lumberg in the movie Office Space (20th Century Fox, 1999). It is not personalized and probably motivating to nobody.

Mission statements may not matter, but missions do. Purpose matters, even at the micro level. Why is it some of us can feel pride about doing mundane tasks where as others might balk? It's not about the level the person is. I have seen managing partners and CEOs perform some of the most simple tasks with great pride.

Corporate purpose is hard to "incorporate" into every employee all the time. That is why corporate mission statements are more difficult to be used as an across the board "fuel" tool at a micro (task) level. What fuels one person, might not fuel another. It is about personal, authentic purpose and that takes real leadership ... personalized motivation and "purpose-uncovering".... even personalized purpose uncovering. Try saying that three times fast.

Some final questions:

How do you look for ways to personally motivate your employees and colleagues? Can you see unlimited potential from your staff if they are highly motivated and purpose driven?

Do you feel everyone is motivated the same way?

How can you make the time to look out for their growth and personal motivation before delegating most tasks?

Should the blogger/author just shut up and stop telling us we have to hold hands with our staff or is there something to this?

"If you put a gun to the heads of your employees and said, recite our mission statement or die, they'd all be dead." - Jeffrey Gitomer

Friday, September 26, 2008

Reverse the Question

Try something next time someone asks you for some advice or a question: Turn it around on them.

Unless it is a question where there is a simple answer which you know and they do not, try turning it back to them. Ask them what they think is the answer and then see if you cannot work with their answer in giving your opinion/answer.

Why might this be more effective?

It might be an answer they remember better because of the way you involved them.

They might get the feeling that you actually are searching for their intelligence some, not just your own.

They might surprise you that they already know the answer! Sometimes people are not looking for answers, they are simply looking for affirmation of their own intentions. A "What do you think? ..." might be the best way to go.

I can still remember an exchange I had with my dermatologist 20+ years ago when she was advising me not to put a certain medicine on my face right after I washed it. Why? Because it would be irritated if you did not let it dry properly. But why do I remember the exchange so well? Probably because it was a case where I asked the initial question and she had me answer it!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Ingredients Police

If you are a health nut, a wanna be health nut, of if you are just trying to improve your diet, you may have heard lately about the trend towards eliminating "trans fats".

Hydrogenated oils - I am not sure what "hydrogenated" means exactly, but it sounds like most people think it is bad for you. Partially hydrogenated oils (or "PHOs" for short) are viewed the same and these things are also called trans fats. You may have heard of some local governments banning these ingredients in restaurants, including New York City!

High Fructose Corn Syrup - This looks to be the newest evil ingredient getting some exposure....think cheap processed sugar. The scary thing is how many food items you will find at the grocery store that contain these things.

So now you know what "PHOs" and "HFCs" are and if you want to, take a gander at the next set of ingredients of food you are about to put in your cart ... but beware for a let-down on many processed foods.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Your Personal Success

How much do you measure your success based on others' success? Let me put that another way: Do your yearly, quarterly, monthly, weekly, etc. goals include anything about helping other individuals to succeed? Are such goals specific and measurable? Are they explicitly communicated to those people?

One quote I will never forget came from a colleague I was working with a little while back: He said to me on a voicemail: "One of my goals this year is to make you very successful. I have a few ideas and I would like to hear your ideas too."

Woooaaaahhhhh, that took me by surprise. That made me feel great and I put some detailed thought into coming up with some ideas before we talked live.

You know what else it did - it really made me feel like wanting to return that attitude in kind.... to him AND TO OTHERS. You know what else? I did support him as well. You know what else? That attitude was contagious. One more thing: It directly added to our company's success in terms of client service, profits, and MORALE.

Ask yourself a few questions as you look at your goals:

How can I support those (individuals) around me to achieve their goals?

How will doing this "come back to me"? Should I even worry about that? What type of an effect might doing this more have on my teammates?

Can I create some "hero" questions, like the one mentioned above, to ask my reports? How can they be authentic questions (to me and the situation)?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Running the Treadmill Every Time?

I recently discovered a new machine at the gym. The elliptical. OK, I am sure many of you know what that is and many of you have probably used it a lot. I run a lot of 5-Ks, I run on the treadmill a lot, but I never had used an elliptical before last week. Why? Maybe I was being sexist. I saw women on that machine more than men, maybe I assumed it was more designed for women? That sounds bad. When I first jumped on it I found out I was in over my head. After conferring with someone who knew what they were doing, I fell in love with it. Ohhh and I paid for it the next day ... I was walking like a duck.

Are you trying to expand your repoitore? A treadmill and an elliptical both may give you a good aerobic workout but the more variety you can introduce, the more fun you might have, and the more you might push yourself to new physical heights. How many new "ellipticals" are out there for you to try?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Email - a Procrastination Tool too?

Have you ever been in a day where you feel so overwhelemed that an email gets you excited? ... Because you know what to do with it. You can accomplish what needs to be done with that particular email, and if only for a second, you feel productive.

What just happened there? An email grabbed your attention because it simply showed up! What ever else you were doing, or what ever else you should be doing, were put on hold. Answering that email enabled your procrastination.

Ask yourself:

Do you ever measure your day based on the number of emails left in your in-box?

How many times a day should YOU be checking email a day? Should it be open all the time?

Is email a productivity tool for you?

Is email a distraction tool for you?

How many emails are in your in-box right now that were also in your in-box last week?

Do you set your daily goals before you check your email?

Sunday, September 7, 2008

The Power of Visualization

You probably heard about a lot of Olympic athletes using "visualization" techniques last month. Lisa Leslie, of the USA women's basketball team, not only spent a lot of time in preparing for the Olympics by visualizing the last Gold medal game and how they would win it, but also visualizing the Gold Medal ceremony! She thought about how it would feel to be able to wear four gold medals around her neck in her last Olympic experience. That is exactly what she did on the medal podium in Beijing.

Think about the very important smaller or bigger (maybe even extraordinary) goals you have for yourself....personal or professional goals:

Have you thought in detail about what those goals will mean to you when you reach them?

What does the end look like? What specifically is the last hurdle?

What do such goals not only help you to achieve, but also help you to "become" as a person?

How will you feel emotionally? Physically? What does that "picture" look like and what happens to you at the end? Who else is involved? How do you celebrate?

If you believe your chances of achieving your goals rise dramatically by the need for hope first, and then the need for genuine belief, try VISUALIZING victory.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Checklists - Yuck!?

When I was an auditor I always felt inundated by checklists. We had a checklist for everything. I was not a big fan.

But over the years, maybe due to a memory capacity that is in decline or a longing for simplicity, I have seen more of a value in creating checklists, especially personal ones that will save time and the headache of forgetting certain items.

One simple example is a travel checklist, which includes real simple (yet forgettable) things like a razor, a belt, and even snacks. Without it, I almost always forgot one item when making a business trip ... and some items were harder to replace than others.

One of the most enjoyable checklists to make, and I bet we all would like to be going over these more often: your vacation checklist!

Ask yourself:

Are there areas of your personal and professional life where a reusable checklist can save you time and stress?

How about a "trip" checklist, a "weekly personal errand" checklist, a "morning routine" checklist, or an initial "client meeting" checklist?

You get the point. You can probably think of others that will save you time in the future. One added bonus - you are getting things out of your head and onto a list that you can use over and over again when the situation arises.