Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Negativity Is Not In Your Job Description

Negativity breeds negativity. Sometimes you need to remind your team (leaders and employees) that negativity is not in the job description.

As a leader, when you walk through the door, you're on stage. Your every move is being watched and imitated by your employees. Therefore, you must be consistent and predictable in how you interact with your employees and how you deal with life’s (organization) challenges.

Your attitude is the foundation for your employees’ attitude. If you come in to work smiling, optimistic and approachable, then it's easier to expect a positive work day. If you come to work with a scowl on your face, are angry or have a "don't talk to me until I've had my coffee" attitude, you can expect to be working in a negative work environment - and have no one to blame but yourself.

In addition to watching yourself, moderate the flow of gossip. If you notice rumors being circulated among your employees, verify them from the source. Despite what people may think, work is not the place to gossip. And besides, most gossip is just plain made up. It creates animosity, tension, and ill-will. When dealing with the gossiper, call their bluff! Invite them to join you in confronting the other individuals that are being gossiped about. Chances are, that will be the end.

If employees are allowed this negativity for too long, it becomes habitual and they can't stop. It becomes who they are. You'll begin to realize that every time you come in contact with these people, you'll be hearing complaints. Negativity will spread like a disease. Negativity breeds negativity.

What you send out is what you get back. Everyone is in control of their own/your own attitude - it's sometimes one of the only things you can control at work.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

To Do Lists

A few months back I saw writer Larry Winget for the first time on FoxBusiness's Happy Hour. I was immediately intrigued by his attitude towards business life. He writes/talks about business in a straight forward, to the point manner. He "tells the truth and doesn't give a damn if you like it or not". Yesterday I started reading his book "It's Called Work for a Reason". I found a fantastic idea in the first few pages.

In his book Winget suggests that you get rid of your "Things to Do" list and replace it with a "Things That Have to Get Done" list. How many times have you taken time to make a "to do" list and only partially gotten any of it actually completed? Herein lies the problem. According to Winget, your "to do" list is nothing more than a wish list. "Your "Things That Have to Get Done" list is more focused and concise, and acts as an action plan for your day." It has a more psychological effect.

Lists that you make up of things that you need to accomplish are part of your time management. By making a list you hope to be able to accomplish more. But if you're constantly only getting bits and pieces done, you're not really accomplishing anything.

It's time consuming to manage time. Winget says that "Everyone should forget about managing time and should instead focus on managing priorities. When the right things get done, time takes care of itself". Focus on what has to get done, not what should get done or would be nice to get done.

Roy Disney once said, "When priorities are clear, decision making is easy." Set the right priorities and everything else follows.

Thursday, February 12, 2009


I read a quote in a recent American Management Association (AMA) publication that hit my funny bone. Not only because it was comical but also so true - "After spending so much money on organizational change programs and leadership development, why do I always end up with Dilbert and re-runs of The Office?" Sound familiar?

The issue, a lot of times, is that we come up with a "theory of the month" on why things are the way they are. We quickly put our resources together to come up with a training "program" on coaching, or diversity, or motivation techniques. The problem is that in order to be a "program" there has to be follow-on training, follow-up, and follow-through. Like throwing a football or hitting a tennis ball, you can't be effective without follow-through. You can't hold one class or seminar and expect people to "get it". Sure it may be all great at first, but doesn't it usually die a slow, or often fast, death?

A good example is the Rockhurst or Padgett seminars. They're good seminars to attend and give you some great tools. But without someone back at the ranch to help you keep those ideas going, they normally die off very quickly.

Another good example (my soapbox again) is orientation classes. For the most part, they're worthless. New staff get thrown into these classes, told to read a bunch of stuff, and take a test. Then that's the last they hear about the origins of the organization, the vision, the mission, and how their job impacts the rest of the organization. What's been accomplished? Next to nothing.

Point is, you need to follow-up and follow-through if you want programs of any type to continue.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Ask What YOU Have Done

I bet I can describe one of the top leaders of the world and you won't be able to guess who it is. Okay, here goes - he runs an organization that you know of but you've never seen. He runs his own manufacturing, packaging, AND distribution companies. His many employees are among the happiest in the world. He doesn't sell any products, yet he continues to stay in business. Any guess yet? 100% of distribution is completed in one night. He's a very jolly individual - his belly even shakes like a bowl full of jelly. Yes, it's Santa Claus.

As "magical" as Santa may be, he still has to possess great leadership skills to get everything accomplished. Employees (elves) must be kept happy. In order to do this Santa must continuously monitor progress through self-evaluation. There are a few questions he asks of himself to ensure that he's keeping a focus on his most valuable asset - no, not reindeer - his employees. Santa asks himself - "In the last several months, what have I done to . . .
  • Be accessible (physically and mentally) to employees who would like my attention?
  • Be considerate of staff-member needs?
  • Provide employees with the training, tools, resources, and feedback required for success?
  • Keep employees in the "what's happening" information loop?
  • Help team members maintain an appropriate balance between their professional and personal lives?
  • Demonstrate respect for employees' time and talents . . . as well as respect for them as individuals?
  • Solicit, and listen to, staff-member ideas and concerns?
  • Help everyone develop and grow?
  • Fairly distribute the work and workload?"
It doesn't take a lot of extra effort to be a caring leader. There's no extra costs to ask yourself a few questions. It doesn't take but a few minutes. But what you'll get is more time since you'll have more dedicated and motivated employees - you won't have so many problems to deal with.
For more information on Santa's leadership skills check out the book, "The Leadership Secrets of Santa Claus" at www.walkthetalk.com.