Be Sure to Let ‘Em Know

It’s THAT time of year. Summer is over, school is back in full swing and the year-end crunch is upon us all! Planning meetings, budget meetings, annual reviews. The list goes on and on. Believe it or not, NOW is the perfect time to be sure to say “Thanks”.
BE SURE TO LET ‘EM KNOW
What’s that you say? Give “thanks”? Isn’t that just for Thanksgiving? Not in my book. The holidays are absolutely my favorite time of year to thank people for their efforts, dedication, accomplishments, loyalty and results for the past year. It is also a time when I always try to take a much more personal touch and check in on them to see how they are doing, what their plans are for the holidays, how they feel about the year just passed and what they look forward to in the new year. BUT….you don’t have to wait for the holidays to implement that! Now is probably the absolute best time for you to take a deep breath, really think about what folks have done and are doing that is GOOD and THANK THEM, ENCOURAGE THEM and RECOGNIZE THEM. It helps everyone reboot, recharge and recommit for the push to the end of the year.
Really let people know how you feel about them and let them know that that they are recognized and valued not just as employees, but as friends, confidantes, colleagues. In other words, the whole spectrum of “people possibilities”. Not just those at work. Why? IT FEELS GOOD. It makes us appreciate what we have to be grateful for in our lives with them. It builds long-lasting relationships that will sustain us through tough times ahead as well as build a better network of people to also help us celebrate our successes, exchange ideas with, learn from and most of all….count on!
Look folks, it’s a much more complex, demanding, challenging and often frenetic world we live in today. NOW is the time of year to make sure we really take the time to look around, see clearly and let people know you noticed them. It’s mighty lonely out there without that. And it’s been proven time and time again that no matter how independent someone may be or think they are, our health, vitality and longevity are positively impacted by strong connections to others. It’s true, no human is an island unto themselves.
And if I may take a moment, THANK YOU for helping me have such a wonderful, rewarding and awesome career since starting GCI . Thanks to most of you reading this, the month of September 2019 marks the start of year 18!! Hard to believe and I am oh so grateful. Follow my lead and don’t just send an e-mail. Whenever possible, find the time and place to reach out to people face to face. And another great option is to send hand written cards, notes and letters. Just remember, while e-mails and texts can mean well and seem really easy to use, they also can be misread, misinterpreted, even missed completely. I myself have been proven guilty of that one. And it is always dicey and sometimes exhausting to have to clean up the mess we never intended to create in the first place!
Hey, we learn from our experiences and I am no exception to that! One thing I know means a lot to all, even if they profess “that wasn’t necessary” is the personal thanks. To this day I have an array of thank you cards, notes and letters from Coaching clients who I  am honored to have worked with in the past. Those personal touches and the time it took to do that little thing meant a lot to me. HINT!
So, what’s the message? Value relationships no matter what type. Nurture them. Celebrate and sustain them. Especially this holiday season. But also….ALL YEAR ROUND. They deserve it. And so do all of you!

Lessons from our Four-Legged Friends

Hi and welcome back, everyone! We are almost to the end of June and soon….the 4th of July!! And it finally, finally feels like Spring/Summer after a long delay for many of us. And soon, rather than rain and cold, we will suddenly be in the midst of Summer. Or as it is know once the heat kicks in “the dog days of Summer”. Fitting based on what this month’s newsletter is going to be all about. So, for those of you dog lovers and observers out there, and even those who are not……read on! I think you will enjoy it.

This month’s lesson is straight off of Facebook of all things. The following is a post just viewed by me last night. I felt it was SO good and so worth reading, I made a last minute change to the topic for this month. Sometimes the best stuff you just don’t change…you share. Here ya go!

Life Lessons from Our Four-Legged Friends

Facebook post by Bill Overton
October 8, 2018

WHY DOGS LIVE LESS THAN HUMANS
Here’s the surprising answer of a 6 year old child.

Being a veterinarian, I had been called to examine a ten-year-old Irish Wolfhound named Belker. The dog’s owners, Ron, his wife Lisa, and their little boy Shane, were all very attached to Belker, and they were hoping for a miracle.

I examined Belker and found he was dying of cancer. I told the family we couldn’t do anything for Belker, and offered to perform the euthanasia procedure for the old dog in their home.

As we made arrangements, Ron and Lisa told me they thought it would be good for six-year-old Shane to observe the procedure. They felt as though Shane might learn something from the experience.

The next day, I felt the familiar catch in my throat as Belker’s family surrounded him. Shane seemed so calm, petting the old dog for the last time, that I wondered if he understood what was going on. Within a few minutes, Belker slipped peacefully away.

The little boy seemed to accept Belker’s transition without any difficulty or confusion. We sat together for a while after Belker’s Death, wondering aloud about the sad fact that dogs’ lives are shorter than human lives. Shane, who had been listening quietly, piped up, “I know why.”

Startled, we all turned to him. What came out of his mouth next stunned me. I’d never heard a more comforting explanation. It has changed the way I try and live.

He said, “People are born so that they can learn how to live a good life – like loving everybody all the time and being nice, right?” The six-year-old continued,
“Well, dogs already know how to do that, so they don’t have to stay for as long as we do.”

Live simply.
Love generously.
Care deeply.
Speak kindly.

Remember, if a dog was the teacher you would learn things like:

When your loved ones come home, always run to greet them.
Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joyride.
Allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to be pure Ecstasy.
Take naps.
Stretch before rising.
Run, romp, and play daily.
Thrive on attention and let people touch you.
Avoid biting when a simple growl will do.
On warm days, stop to lie on your back on the grass.
On hot days, drink lots of water and lie under a shady tree.
When you’re happy, dance around and wag your entire body.
Delight in the simple joy of a long walk.
Be faithful.
Never pretend to be something you’re not.
If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it.
When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by, and nuzzle them gently.

That’s the secret of happiness that we can learn from a good dog.

I don’t know about you, but I think sometimes it would serve us all well to read this, think, smile and APPLY some of these lessons. I know I will!

Thanks so much for reading.
Dave

RELATIONSHIPS ARE THE KEY !!

Getting things done correctly and on time is a daily challenge in today’s fast paced working world. Lack of time and resources, more responsibility, higher performance demands, restructuring, and job changes have fundamentally changed the way work is completed. Based on real world experience, along with a variety of research, it is obvious the majority of workers today are depending more and more on others to help them complete their work. Or they should be! Often these are individuals with whom you do not share the same goals and might not have any authority over.
Can you think of someone who didn’t have to help you with your workload but did so anyway? Ever wonder why the heck they decided to help you? Is it because they already knew you? Or is it perhaps because you had helped them in some way in the past? Maybe they did so just because you had developed a personal connection with this person based on some things as simple as mutual respect, common interests, and shared values?
The bottom line is, better working relationships help us do our jobs more effectively, with less effort and less stress. Always a good thing! I have said it many times and it holds true today more than ever, people generally like to help other people. Especially those they have gotten to know better, genuinely like, trust and also know they can count on you. Those that don’t just make it all about them. People are willing to help others who they know, like, and connect with, especially if the relationship is one of give-and-take. Knowing how and with whom to build these “strategic” relationships is an important part of any job and requires special skills.
Strategic working relationships can help you in a variety of ways. It can help you get assistance when you need it, often without even asking. Important information is often needed to complete a task or project and these same relationships can help ensure you get what you need, in a timely fashion. That in turn can help avoid problems that might occur otherwise. These same relationships can help provide you with an invaluable support network, as well as a sounding board and second opinion, when needed. And last but not least, building these more effective, strategic relationships can help us all have more FUN while achieving our goals and advancing and enhancing our careers.
Building strategic working relationships is often mistakenly labeled as not being genuine. Or it can be seen as using others for your own gain. It is NOT! Perhaps it is the use of the term “strategic”. It doesn’t mean just being nice to others. And it’s not purely about using others to benefit you and your goals. The KEY objectives of building better, strategic relationships at work are to:
  • Focus on and develop solid, long-term working relationships with people you count on to help you get your job done.
  • Taking the time to proactively build these relationships
  • Collaborating so that BOTH parties achieve their work goals. A win-win outcome!

 
QUICK TIPS FOR SUCCESS
 
*Send thank you notes(hand-written preferred!!) to those who have helped you.
 
*Make sure that the appropriate managers (unless that is you) know when one of their staff has helped you. Catch ’em doing something right today as I always say.
 
*Offer to help someone as least 1X per week.
   
*Be extremely aware and in tune with the need to pass along any and all needed information. Better too much than too little.  
 
*Here’s an important and often uncomfortable tip. Try it, it works over time when genuine and real. Identify the person you LEAST like working with and compliment them on something they have done. One Minute Manager praisings work well here!
 
*Be conscious of using casual work settings such as the elevator, break room, lunch area, etc. to introduce yourself to someone who could help you achieve your goals. Not always easy and comfortable, but it can pay big dividends for both of you, in many ways. If you struggle with small talk, chatting it up a bit, being proactive in this way I might suggest finding a book called “The Fine Art of Small Talk”, by Debra Fine. It has a lot of lists, tips and choices on how to break the ice and get to know people a bit better no matter your introversion or extroversion.
Leaders and successful people, consciously or unconsciously, have learned you “can’t go it alone”. The power of working with others, building better relationships at work, making it not just about you but also about them makes life much easier. And it can certainly help your career and the level of success you achieve!

SURVIVAL OF THE “FUNNEST”

I have been and always will be a strong supporter of employee engagement. If I have said it once, I have said it a thousand times, without the people in our organizations we CANNOT get where we need to be. They are the vital cog in the machine that can get us to new heights of success. We may have the best “mousetrap” in the world, but if our people practices are weak…we as an organization will be as well.
Any of us can go out on the internet and find companies being praised and written about for having dynamic, fun, engaging and highly productive workplaces. And when this happens, retention, productivity, morale and bottom line results increase while stress actually decreases compared to the norm. As I so often have suggested to a) individuals and b) organizations as a whole, try to find a person or company to mirror the best practices of in your world. As in any scenario like this, choose wisely when selecting a mentor or organization to mirror and learn from. It may be someone that is at the level you aspire to reach. Maybe it’s someone or some organization that while seemingly not much more “bottom line” successful than you, is getting there in a much more interesting, fun, engaging way. And that way of reaching success is certainly less stressful and creates all kinds of other positives. The most glaring and important is perhaps a new, improved culture. And the right culture is what cures a lot of ills in today’s world for sure. The right culture creates much more ‘Team” and much less “I”, “We”, “They” and my least favorite of all the term “Management”……as in “Management says”, “Management thinks”, etc. Aaaargh! Not good!
How many of you are going through dramatic change right now in your lives, at work and/or away? And if this change was not self-selected but rather forced upon you, that is almost always a key stress point. It always is and will continue to be. Soooo, Mr. Obvious, aka Coach Dave, what the heck do you suggest? See, I already beat you to the question hanging out there. Here are a few suggestions, in list format. And for you leaders out there, here is a BIG point to make that I have learned from first hand myself….it starts at the top and then works its way down the organization. Some of this may require YOU to step outside YOUR comfort zone in order to a) show you are wiling to take risks, try something different, do exactly what you are asking your people to do and b) shift your workplace culture to one of continuing to work hard but also recognizing and truly implementing the culture of also playing together as a TEAM, showing another side to ourselves, being a real person, diving in and trusting it will all work out. And guess who always has the absolute biggest impact on this? It is always the leaders that are typically seen as more work than play, somewhat to very subdued, quiet, distant perhaps, driven, focused, etc. Guess what boss, this stuff ties directly to all of those things. Okay, enough preaching! Here are few ideas to get the brain waves bubbling and flowing out there.
  1. Create a committee of people from each functional area, aka The Fun Committee.
  2. Have a brainstorming session with NO limits at first; anything is fair game(as long as it is legal, ethical and morally acceptable – with no injuries incurred!).
  3. If this is the first time for doing this, target some sort of quarterly activity/event/gathering and PUT IN ON YOUR CALENDARS!
  4. Market the events, once established, via e-mails, posters, mentions at meetings, word of mouth.
  5. Always, always, always have a debrief after the event to learn from what went well, what didn’t and what feedback did we get to help in that process.
  6. START the same process over immediately for the next event, no matter how successful or seemingly unsuccessful the current one.
  7. Do NOT get discouraged. Change is hard and if this is “new stuff”…it takes time but will gather steam and momentum as time goes by!!
Remember, nothing worthwhile ever came easy. And making the workplace more fun for all is definitely a worthwhile goal. In fact, the most recent statistics indicate it not only increases productivity and morale(duh!), it also carries over to health benefits big time!! And who wouldn’t want more fun, less stress and lots more smiles in the workplace!
If you would like more specific ideas, suggestions or discussion…..call me, e-mail me, hit me on Twitter, Linked In, Facebook. I have lots of ideas but it all depends on you and your teams’ needs and desires. I am here to help!!

Setting Clear Expectations – A Key to Better Employee Engagement

Management training shows how to establish, write and communicate clear job performance expectations effectively and create a solid basis for appraisal and performance management efforts.
Setting performance expectations is absolutely one of the most difficult jobs for most managers. Why? Few managers or supervisors ever receive this type of in-depth training.
A mutual understanding of what managers expect from employees is essential for improved performance, employee success, and good employee relations overall. Not to mention worker retention, attendance and “presenteeism“.
Without clear job expectations, employees can:
  • Waste effort due to a lack of priorities
  • Waste time with unnecessary work
  • Endure increased stress due to uncertainty
With clear job expectations, employees can:
  • Understand what is important and what they should be doing
  • Understand why they are doing their work
  • Know how they are doing and when to ask for support
  • Recognize where performance improvement can occur

 

Too often performance problems revolve around this question and this answer:
Boss:  “Why isn’t my employee doing what needs to do be done?”
Employee:  “But, I thought I was doing a good job.”
Poorly defined performance expectations leave the employee questioning how to achieve job performance goals and leaving them no way to track their efforts to meet job expectations.  The result is that both employees and their managers become frustrated.  The manager is frustrated because the employee is not doing the things that need to be done.  The employee is frustrated because they think they are doing the best they can and the boss is still not satisfied with the work they are doing.
When results are easy to measure (for example: parts per hour or sales volume per month), defining expectations seems fairly straightforward.  But what about adding in error rates, new customers, profit margins on sales, or other issues?  All of a sudden, it gets more complicated.
Now, add in the more subjective, but extremely important, performance criteria such as interpersonal skills, teamwork, quality customer service, and others.  How can managers effectively communicate these expectations?
If managers cannot effectively communicate all job expectations, they cannot expect the employee to meet those expectations.
HOW to Set Employee Expectations
As much as an employee needs a job description to know what their role is, they might need expectations of achievement to sharpen their focus. Although every company will have its own desired level of performance from employees, getting the best work out of employees requires knowledge of each employee’s strengths and techniques to motivate them. Employees usually start a job wanting to do well; managers should work with them to help them to bring their enthusiasm to work every day.
Set job-specific goals tailored to the position and employee . A list of job duties is a starting point to develop a series of targets for employees to meet. Especially in long-standing positions where the role of the employee is clear, the company will know what achievement levels are best for the company. These levels might have to be adjusted, however, to match the skill set and experience of the person in the position.
Allow new employees time to get settled in the position . It’s an unfortunate reality that high expectations placed on star hires don’t always pan out; giving new staff time to ease into the position and mentoring from a senior co-worker will avoid disappointment. Set early expectations to be achievable; instead of a long list of sales or productivity targets, be realistic about what’s possible and ask your staff to meet only a few key objectives during the first three months. Remember new hires are unlikely to ask a lot of questions until they feel comfortable in their jobs.
Make expectations part of an ongoing conversation . Meeting with employees on a regular basis, once a month at least, to discuss goals and progress will help employees understand t the employer’s expectations. Regular meetings help managers assess the workload of each employee and can adjust it if necessary to help employees meet the company’s goals. Learning what interests and engages employees can help managers to distribute work in a way that promotes enthusiasm for completing tasks. Expressing confidence in each employee’s ability and reinforcing past achievement is key to maintaining employee motivation.

Develop short and long term goals . Specific targets for employees are easier to meet than vague platitudes about stronger sales or greater productivity. Remember that employees work daily in their jobs and therefore might have a better idea of what goals are realistic and achievable. Maintaining an open dialogue about workload is a good way to assess employee capability and to find targets they can meet. Specific targets allow for clear tracking of employee performance.

Exhibit role model behavior when it comes to performance . Set goals for your own performance and share them as much as possible with employees. This demonstrates you are not simply managing in a “top-down” fashion; you expect as much from your own work as from your workforce.

Why We Need Annual Reviews

Today there are a number of people and some companies that are either questioning the need for annual reviews or even doing away with them completely. And some of those companies make a strong argument for why they did so, yet in explaining why and how they made this happen, walk right into what I feel is and always should be part of the review process. The bottom line for me is that I still believe there is a need and a value for the “end of the year review” with each employee. But I also strongly feel that these become exercises that can cause more harm than good if not done properly, thoughtfully, on time and that also fits into a bigger picture of feedback throughout the year. It needs to answer the question “What’s the plan for me, the business and our goals”.
TOP 10 REASONS FOR ANNUAL REVIEWS
–    It creates the opportunity to align goals and objectives of the company and the employee.
–    They can provide a sound foundation for development, promotion and succession planning.
–    Holding these can actually help employees be more clear on their strengths, opportunities for improvement and what the organizations expectations of them are for the new year.
–    Annual reviews can help to plan a more customized training & development program, by individual.
–    It forces you to have conversations that may not have happened during the past year. These can help eliminate confusion or gray areas, as well as reinforce the key objectives of the organization as a whole.
–    When done properly and regularly, they can actually help reduce workplace discontent.
–   These meetings can actually help in developing better interpersonal relationships and in turn enhance team building.
–   This type of performance management conversation can be a huge aid in more fair and equitable wage & salary administration.
–   It creates another form of control and planning for both the employee and the boss(and company). CLEAR goals and objectives mean a better plan for all!
–   Lastly, it almost forces the manager and employee to communicate more honestly and specifically on topics both good and not so good sometimes. COMMUNICATION that should happen has to happen at these meetings.
So, if you truly want to increase your chances of making these types of conversations fruitful, keep a few things in mind.
#1 – Commit to a simple, short template/rating system that is easy to both apply but also explain to the employee as they are reviewed.
#2 – DO THESE ON TIME. If you choose to conduct them on anniversary dates, keep them in a calendar with reminders hitting your inbox two weeks(or more) in advance of that date. This gets you thinking and preparing ahead of time, not throwing it together just to do it at the last minute. Or worse yet, not at all!
#3 – Give the employee a chance to provide their feedback and point of view, with that information coming back to you the manager prior to actually conducting the review.
#4 – Make your feedback time bound, measurable and as objective and clear as possible.
#5 – Ensure that these annual review sessions are short and crisp. Forty-five minutes to conduct these meetings should be perfect if done properly.
For more help on this just e-mail or call me and ask about a new training module I have created entitled C.A.A.R. Yep, Conducting Awesome Annual Reviews is possible with a little help, planning and preparation.

BE SURE TO GIVE THANKS…ALL YEAR LONG

What’s that you say? Give “thanks”? Isn’t that just for Thanksgiving? Not in my book. The holidays are absolutely my favorite time of year to thank people for their efforts, dedication, accomplishments, loyalty and results for the past year. It is also a time when I always try to take a much more personal touch and check in on them to see how they are doing, what their plans are for the holidays, how they feel about the year just passed and what they look forward to in the new year.
Really let people know how you feel about them and that they are recognized and valued not just as employees, but as friends, confidantes, colleagues. In other words, the whole spectrum of “people possibilities”. Not just those at work. Why? IT FEELS GOOD. It makes us appreciate what we have to be grateful for in our lives with them. It builds long-lasting relationships that will sustain us through tough times ahead as well as build a better network of people to also help us celebrate our successes, exchange ideas with, learn from and most of all….count on!
Look folks, it’s a much more complex, demanding, challenging and often frenetic world we live in today. NOW is the time of year to make sure we really take the time to look around, see clearly and let people know you noticed them. It’s mighty lonely out there without that. And it’s been proven time and time again that no matter how independent someone may be or think they are, our health, vitality and longevity are positively impacted by strong connections to others. It’s true, no human is an island unto themselves.
So, thank you for helping me have such a wonderful, rewarding and awesome year to date in 2016. And please follow my lead and don’t just send an e-mail. Whenever possible, find the time and place to reach out to people face to face. And another great option is to send hand written cards, notes and letters. Just remember, while e-mails and texts can mean well and seem really easy to use, they also can be misread, misinterpreted, even missed completely. I myself have been proven guilty of that one. And it is always dicey and sometimes exhausting to have to clean up the mess we never intended to create in the first place! Hey, we learn from our experiences and I am no exception to that! One thing I know means a lot to all, even if they profess “that wasn’t necessary” is the personal thanks. To this day I have an array of thank you cards, notes and letters from Coaching clients who I am honored to have worked with in the past. Those personal touches and the time it took to do that little thing meant a lot to me. HINT!
So, what’s the message? Value relationships no matter what type. Nurture them. Celebrate and sustain them. Especially this holiday season. But also….ALL YEAR ROUND. They deserve it. And so do all of you!

Being Inspired and Having a Dream Makes ALL the Difference

In thinking about this month’s newsletter and the topic of inspiration and fulfilling your dreams, miraculously a “message” came into view. Late last night(Sunday) on TV, while struggling to sleep, the movie “The Rookie”(the baseball movie, starring Dennis Quaid) came on. By the time it got to the end, despite having seen it several times before, I was inspired to say the least. In it’s own way, it told the story many of us have experienced, dreams of where we want to get to in our lives and the obstacles, speed bumps and real-world stuff that sometimes gets in our path to those dreams and aspirations. Life, family, obligations and financial responsibilities are a few touched on in the movie and I am sure those same factors have impacted all of us to some degree.
“The Rookie” was based on the real-life story of a gentleman named Jim Morris. Jim began playing baseball at the tender age of three. Unfortunately he ended up through numerous family moves in Brownwood, TX. Brownwood High School had no baseball team at the time so Jim resorted to what most Texas males do…football. But he never gave up on his dream of playing major league baseball. He was originally selected by the Yankees in 1982, but did not sign until the next year with the Milwaukee Brewers. After suffering several arm injuries and never making it past single-A minor leagues level, Jim gave up his dream in 1989.
Jim became a high school phys ed teacher and baseball coach in Big Lake, TX while becoming a husband and a father of three little ones. While coaching his team, The Reagan County Owls, in the spring of 1999, he promised his team that if they accomplished the seemingly impossible goal of winning the district baseball championship and advancing to the state finals, he would keep his promise to them and try out for a major league team…one more time. Cut to the end and a) the team wins the district tournament b) Jim shows up with his kids “in tow” for a tryout with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and…..after TWELVE consecutive 98 mph fastballs (you read that right), Jim signed a contract with them at the age of….35!
Jim moved up through the minors system quickly and when the Rays had expanded rosters in mid-September of 1999 he was called up to the big leagues. He was the oldest rookie in 30+ years in the majors and in his first game, in of all places, Arlington TX, Jim was called in to pitch to the Texas Rangers’ all-star shortstop Royce Clayton. He struck Clayton out, in front of his wife, kids and much of the town he came from. And he did so in just four pitches with the bases loaded. Wow!
Jim ended up playing only two years in the majors. He made four more appearances that year and sixteen more in 2000. Then, with recurring arm problems plaguing him, Jim was able to retire having lived his dream. He also has released an autobiography on Amazon entitled “The Oldest Rookie”. Jim now lives in Kerrville, TX and travels the country as a motivational speaker as well as taking an active part in his foundation, Jim The Rookie Morris Foundation. He works with underprivileged kids and conducts baseball clinics. To quote Jim today, “It’s a good life”. After much struggle, good for Jim.
So, why did this particular storyline resonate with me? Like all kids, I had lots of dreams growing up and many possible career ideas. But by the time I decided to go back to school for an MBA at the University of Missouri, I just knew in my gut that someday I wanted to run my own business. I had no idea what the basis of that business might be or that it would end up being just me as the sole employee. But I knew I wanted to do something that made an impact on people, their lives, their success and also how to deal with and learn from failure. Through a series of great companies, businesses and a bunch of different bosses, restructures, “revisioning” and CHANGE……it was time for a change for me. And time to take a BIG risk at a late age, 48. That is when I started my business. And the model then, while expanded, tweaked and retooled since then, still deals with what was and is of greatest interest and passion for me to this day. That is the people, clearly. Finding the right ones for your business, putting them in the right “seats on the bus” to optimize their(and your) chances for success, as well as how to manage, mentor and develop them more effectively. What’s the biggest challenge in business, generally? The people you work with and/or are responsible for in your roles at your various organizations. What also can be the most uplifting, rewarding, heartwarming and inspiring part of that business world? Those same people!
I had many who supported and challenged me to go down this path and I am forever grateful they pushed me, advised me, challenged me and have been there for me through thick and thin. Many of those folks are probably reading this right now. In 2003 when I started I had a slightly different vision in mind but in 2006-2007 I met a professional business coach. Which led me to hire one of my own to find out more about the profession, what it really entailed and to also help me figure out the real business model best for me. Funny how things happen and how they all work out. Without those encounters and people in my life, I don’t know where I would be today. I was really questioning whether I had made the right decision and why I felt something was missing. I no longer have those feelings or concerns.   To those unnamed “stars in my life”, I am forever grateful. And most I have or will thank personally next chance I get.
How about all of you? Who are your “stars”? Do they know how much they have inspired, encouraged or supported you along your path? Let them know! And be grateful. None of us goes along our paths alone, even if at times it might feel like it. And if you have dreams still to explore or fulfill, it’s never too late. Jim’s story (and mine), are walking testimonials to that.
One last thing, folks. If you haven’t heard, my first book is finally out and available on Amazon. It is designed to be a short, quick, easy read that might inspire you to try some new things with the people in your lives at work. Please check it out. Look for “Water Your People and Watch Them Grow” by Dave Goranson. It is available in paperback and in a kindle version.
  

Staying motivated through good times and bad

Here’s some real-world advice on how to stay motivated even during difficult times.
LIFE is an emotional roller coaster, and unless you figure out how to manage those emotions and keep yourself motivated, you’ll have a difficult time succeeding. This is particularly true right now. The economy continues to struggle and seems to always be in “recovery mode”. In addition to that, while there are jobs now opening up for people, lower pay has become more the norm. Many companies are still cutting back, and pressures to perform are greater than ever. It’s easy to lose our motivation.
However, even though the world around us may be dreary and depressing, that in no way reduces our personal need to do the best we can. That means that we all have a responsibility to stay motivated.
It is amazing what a difference a few degrees of attitude adjustment can make in our performance. Try this little exercise. Tell yourself these things:
“Business is terrible. Life is tough. Everyone is struggling. Nobody wants to see me, and when they do, it’s just to complain.”
Now wallow in those thoughts for a moment, and note how much energy and enthusiasm you have.
Now, think the opposite: “I have great opportunities. People need me more today than ever. I have valuable solutions for them. It’s a great time to have this job. It’s a great time to be alive!”
Roll those around in your mind for a while. Note how much energy and enthusiasm you have.
As you reflect on this exercise, it’s clear that your energy, enthusiasm and drive to succeed come about as a result of your thoughts. And here is one of the most powerful truths known to mankind: You can control your thoughts.
Going beyond “positive thinking”
Succeeding in difficult times depends a great deal on our motivation. Staying motivated requires us to take charge of our thoughts. I’ve heard dozens of people say, “I’ve tried positive thinking. It just isn’t me.” I agree that it is difficult to patch a bunch of positive thoughts on top of an essentially negative personality. The issue is deeper than that. Let’s, therefore, examine the deeper issues.
At the heart of motivation lies a set of powerful beliefs that you must embrace if you are going to successfully motivate yourself. Without a wholehearted commitment to these foundational beliefs, all the techniques and tactics for self-motivation are like spreading wallpaper over crumbling plaster. It may hold temporarily, but it is soon going to deteriorate into a mess.
Here’s the first foundational principle: You must believe that you can do better than you are now doing.
The second is this: You must accept that it is your responsibility to do so.
It’s simple and common sense, but, the more I observe people the more convinced I am that far too many people do not share these core beliefs. Rather, they are in the habit of making excuses for their situation. They believe fate, not their actions, determines their success. They believe success is for someone else, not them. They never really grab onto the first of these foundational principles.
Others believe that they can achieve greater degrees of success. They embrace the first principle, intellectually, but they never internalize the second. They become content with their situation and remain in pre-established comfort zones. They look at their manager as the person who is responsible for their success, or lack thereof. Maybe it’s their parent’s fault, or their spouse’s, or… the list goes on.
Whether you are struggling with a lack of energy that accompanies a bad day, or you’re depressed and frustrated with your lack of progress on a larger scale, examine your core beliefs first. If you really accept these two principles, you have the keystone in place to become highly motivated.

Setting Clear Expectations – A Key to Better Employee Engagement

Management training shows how to establish, write and communicate clear job performance expectations effectively and create a solid basis for appraisal and performance management efforts.
Setting performance expectations is absolutely one of the most difficult jobs for most managers. Why? Because few managers or supervisors ever receive this type of in-depth training.
A mutual understanding of what managers expect from employees is essential for improved performance, employee success, and good employee relations overall. Not to mention worker retention, attendance and “presenteeism”.
Without clear job expectations, employees can:
  •  Waste effort due to a lack of priorities
  •  Waste time with unnecessary work
  •  Endure increased stress due to uncertainty
With clear job expectations, employees can:
  • Understand what is important and what they should be doing
  • Understand why they are doing their work
  • Know how they are doing and when to ask for support
  • Recognize where performance improvement can occur

 

Too often performance problems revolve around this question and this answer:
Boss:
“Why isn’t my employee doing what needs to do be done?”

Employee:
“But, I thought I was doing a good job.”
Poorly defined performance expectations leave the employee questioning how to achieve job performance goals and leaving them no way to track their efforts to meet job expectations. The result is both employees and their managers becoming frustrated.  The manager is frustrated because the employee is not doing the things that need to be done.  The employee is frustrated because they think they are doing the best they can and the boss is still not satisfied with the work they are doing.
When results are easy to measure (for example: parts per hour or sales volume per month), defining expectations seems fairly straightforward.  But what about adding in error rates, new customers, profit margins on sales, or other issues?  All of a sudden, it gets more complicated.
Now, add in the more subjective, but extremely important, performance criteria such as interpersonal skills, teamwork, quality customer service, and others.  How can managers effectively communicate these expectations? If managers cannot effectively communicate all job expectations, they cannot expect the employee to meet those expectations.
HOW to Set Employee Expectations
As much as an employee needs a job description to know what their role is, they might need expectations of achievement to sharpen their focus. Although every company will have its own desired level of performance from employees, getting the best work out of employees requires knowledge of each employee’s strengths and the proper techniques to motivate them. Employees usually start a job wanting to do well; managers should work with them to help them to bring their enthusiasm to work every day.
  • Set job-specific goals tailored to the position and employee. A list of job duties is a starting point to develop a series of targets for employees to meet. Especially in long-standing positions where the role of the employee is clear, the company will know what achievement levels are best for the company. These levels might have to be adjusted, however, to match the skill set and experience of the person in the position.
  • Allow new employees time to get settled in the position. It’s an unfortunate reality that high expectations placed on star hires don’t always pan out; giving new staff time to ease into the position and mentoring from a senior co-worker will avoid disappointment. Set early expectations to be achievable; instead of a long list of sales or productivity targets, be realistic about what’s possible and ask your staff to meet only a few key objectives during the first three months. Remember new hires are unlikely to ask a lot of questions until they feel comfortable in their jobs.
  • Make expectations part of an ongoing conversation. Meeting with employees on a regular basis, once a month at least, to discuss goals and progress will help employees understand t the employer’s expectations. Regular meetings help managers assess the workload of each employee and can adjust it if necessary to help employees meet the company’s goals. Learning what interests and engages employees can help managers to distribute work in a way that promotes enthusiasm for completing tasks. Expressing confidence in each employee’s ability and reinforcing past achievement is key to maintaining employee motivation.
  • Develop short and long term goals. Specific targets for employees are easier to meet than vague platitudes about stronger sales or greater productivity. Remember that employees work daily in their jobs and therefore might have a better idea of what goals are realistic and achievable. Maintaining an open dialogue about workload is a good way to assess employee capability and to find targets they can meet. Specific targets allow for clear tracking of employee performance.
  • Exhibit role model behavior when it comes to performance. Set goals for your own performance and share them as much as possible with employees. This demonstrates you are not simply managing in a “top-down” fashion; you expect as much from your own work as from your workforce.