Three Reasons Employees Ration Their Effort

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This week I want to talk about why employees ration their effort. When you think about the word ‘rationing’ it has a negative connotation. If there are low food supplies you ration the food available and only provide the quantity of food necessary for survival. If there is a drought and or low water supply you ration your available water supplies.

Why would an employee ration their effort in the world of work? I think there are three reasons why.

#1 No clear future. When employees are unclear about the future state or direction of their department, of themselves, of their organization they take their foot off the accelerator and place it firmly on the brake. Ambiguity and uncertainty slows everything down.

What should you do? Provide the clarity that engages the hearts and the minds of everyone involved. Paint a picture of the future that is real, tangible and inspiring.

#2 No personal connection. When employees are unclear as to how they can actively help achieve the future state they disengage from the future and again, they take their foot off the accelerator and put it on the brake.

What should you do? Your job as a leader is to make a direct connection between what each employee does and the linkage to what the department or organization is working to accomplish.

#3 No accountability. When employees don’t take accountability and measure their results they do what they instinctively know how to do…they take their foot off the accelerator and put it on the brake. Some employees know where they are heading individually and organizationally, but without clear metrics and accountability for accomplishing the desired results will underperform.

What should you do? Look at the absence of metrics and accountability like playing a sport without keeping score. Successful leaders find a way to measure everyone’s performance and communicate regularly “this is what you are doing well and should keep doing. This is what you are not doing as well and can improve.”

Ladies and gentlemen, if you ever find yourself or someone inside your organization rationing their effort you now know there are three things that cause it and three things you can do to rectify it.

Which of these three reasons for rationing effort are impacting you?

Taking Stock of Your Human Capital

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This week I want to talk to you about taking stock of your human capital. The best way for me to do this Monday Morning Mindset is to show you a bottle of Westland single malt whiskey. This is an American craft single malt whiskey I learned of yesterday while on a tour with the Single Malt Tasting Committee from The Rainer Club. While there I met Matthew Hoffman who is a co-founder and the Master Distiller. Matt is twenty-six years of age, and is passionate and excellent at what he does. One of his whiskeys was named 2015 craft whiskey of the year. That is one of multiple awards Matt and his team is receiving at Westland.

Whenever I visit an organization I’m always looking at the leaders and asking, “what level of human capital is this person and what are they exemplifying?” When I watched Matt several things jumped out to me. Matt exemplified enthusiasm, passion, and a commitment to excellence. It was evident in all he said and did. As I watched him I thought, “Matt is a really strong leader and he’s going places.” If I was able to invest in the distillery I would feel very comfortable with Matt at the helm.

What does this mean for you? I suggest that the term taking stock can and does have implications for your employees and that you can benefit from viewing employees in similar ways as to stocks. I don’t mean this in a crass way, and I’m not suggesting you become a day trader with employees. What I am suggesting is that inside your investment portfolio are stocks that are going up in value and that you will keep, some that are remaining flat, but have high potential, and some that are going down and that you may eliminate. Your decision as an educated investor is to review each investment and determining which ones to keep, which ones to invest more in, and which ones to jettison. The same holds true with your human capital.

That begs the question, which employees are growing in value, which ones are flat, and which ones are going down in value and will never recover? For the latter group we need to find a dignified and respectful way to separate ourselves from one another.

So here’s one idea to transform your business. Find the top ten percent of performers inside your organization, and by that I mean the top performers with regard to their mindset and skillset. Find another ten percent that have the potential to become top performers and create a mentoring and learning relationship between the two.

Say to the top ten percent, “I want you to transfer your mindset and skillset to this second ten percent.” Say to the second ten percent, “you have potential that has not been fully realized yet, and in an effort to help you do so you’re going to partner with a mentor who will help you learn and grow in exciting new ways.”

The following next step is crucial. Once the mentee’s have learned to cultivate the mindset and skillset of a top performer, they are required to mentor one other person in a similar fashion. By doing this you take the very highest performing mindset and skillset and cascade it throughout your organization.

When you create a formal, structured and very enthusiastic process of changing the mindset and skillset of your employees, what will happen is you will achieve unprecedented performance. For example, if you have revenue of $225,000 per employee, my experience says you can increase that to $275,000 or $300,000. That’s how important mindset and skillset are.

Monday Morning Mindset Challenge

This week, identify your two groups of employees and find and or develop your mentoring program. If you do, you’re going to have a fabulous week, month and year.

Leadership Crunches

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This week I want to talk to you about “leadership crunches.” When you think of crunches you will likely think about sit-ups and planks; the exercises we do to have a strong core.

The value we gain from doing crunches comes in the form of a stronger back and a flatter stomach. But, crunches cannot be done for one day and then forgotten. Anyone can do crunches for one day, but what’s really important is if we are doing our crunches on the third, fifth, seventeenth and sixty-first days.

There are four types of leadership crunches that when done consistently puts you as a leader in a category above and beyond all other leaders. What are the four leadership crunches? They are:

#1. You have to stay on message. Staying on message means that the core message you want heard is continually presented in team meetings, emails, speeches or presentations…wherever two or more employees are meeting you infuse your core message into the conversation. You stay on message about what you’re advocating and why it’s important and what people can do to help achieve the goal.

#2. Tell the truth. Telling the truth is important, but there’s two ways to do it. One way is to adopt the “brutal honesty” approach where you hit people over the head with the truth regardless of how it impacts them. Or, you can tell people the truth “in a way they can hear it.”  This requires you understand the best strategy for communicating with your audience. The latter is much more effective.

#3. Be a role model. If you want people to follow your lead you have to be the exemplar of what you want to see people doing. Yes, you need to stay on message and talk about your vision for the future until you think you’ve said all you can, but the more important aspect of leadership is backing up what you’ve said with how you behave.

#4. Serve others. Servant leadership at work is about making your employees and customers lives easier and better. Servant leaders serve others first by putting aside their own interests and desires and striving to fulfill the interests of others first.

The above leadership crunches will pay handsome dividends if they are done weekly.  Which of the above are you best at? Which needs your attention and focus?

Driven to Distraction

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This week I want to talk about being driven to distraction. It is without reservation that the majority of executives and entrepreneurs are driven to distraction. I’ve started to notice I have clients, colleagues and family members that when we are together their phones are not only close by but also frequently checked.  I have executives that tell me they cannot find 15 to 30 minutes uninterrupted time where their phone is not ringing and their email is not pinging.

We have become driven to distraction and we cannot focus clearly. In turn, we’re not thinking deeply, and it is changing how we think and perceive the world around us. I want to suggest that there is one ritual that can correct this. There is one ritual that will significantly increase the quality of your life, and if implemented will significantly increase the quality of your leadership as well as increase the quality of your business.

My suggestion will be one of the hardest things you’ll do. It’s one of the hardest things to do because when we wake up in the morning our first inclination is to working through our agenda, our to-do list and all the things we need to accomplish that day. I’ve said here numerous times that we have become human doings as opposed to human beings.

So what is the one ritual? The one ritual that changes everything is to spend the first fifteen minutes of your day (if you can only start with five, that’s fine), in some form of meditation, prayer, visualization or contemplation. When you spend time focusing on that which is uplifting, positive, joyful or encouraging, you infuse that mindset into the rest of your day. This time is sacred time. It’s sacred because if we don’t spend time in meditation or prayer the likelihood of doing so later in the day is small.

The ritual that will be the most transformative for you is to take the first fifteen minutes of the day in how you define as meditation prayer. Taking time for yourself will feel awkward at first; it may even feel decadent, but it’s the most important ritual you can adopt because it helps you to become less driven to distraction. It helps you become grounded and thoughtful.

 Monday Morning Mindset Challenge:

Start one day this week without checking your email, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter accounts for the first 15 minutes. Instead contemplate or read something that is uplifting to you. At the end of the day, notice how your day went.

9 simple strategies for living a more rewarding and enriching day

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I like to keep things simple. When I overthink and overcomplicate things I feel bad about myself and I accomplish less. I’ve learned the hard way that simplicity is my best strategy for progress and satisfaction. If you ever feel the same way, I have nine strategies for creating a more rewarding and enriching day.

1. Have a purpose. Having a purpose and keeping it clearly in front of me is essential. I don’t simply keep it in my head, I have it physically and visually on my desk and in my planner. The out of sight out of mind admonition comes to mind here.

2. Tell myself a story. Having a compelling story I can recount easily about accomplishing something noteworthy is my second recommendation. My story can be my story or a story about someone that I admire, but in either case it is about overcoming adversity and accomplishing something noteworthy.

3. Expect hardship and adversity. Yup, hardship is certain, but when I know it’s coming I’m not thrown off when it arrives.

4. Connect the dots.. I’ve found that when I view each of my daily tasks or goals through the prism of my purpose I’m more engaged and enthusiastic. It has become quite exciting for me to link everything I do, great or small, to my purpose. My days are far more focused and I feel more successful.

5. Continually refocus. Having a mantra, prayer or meditation that quiets my mind and refocuses me has been a game changer for me. It is so easy for me to lose my focus as well as my enthusiasm in the midst of busy and hectic days. Having a prayer or mantra refocuses my attention, quiets my drunk monkey mind and has become enjoyable.

6. Have a plan and work my plan. This is so simple, but frankly, I have to exercise considerable disciple to create an actual plan for each day. I like to improvise and am good at doing so, but it does not serve me all the time.

7. Follow the 1% rule. As a recovering perfectionist this is very helpful for me. The 1% rule says that if I can learn something or get better at something I deem important by 1% each day, at the end of 72 days I have improved by 100%. This allows me to focus on progress and not perfection.

8. View my life as a statue of David. Michelangelo carved his statue of David; one of the most stunning pieces of art ever created, by carving away every piece of marble that he thought didn’t belong to his vision of the statue. When I see my life as a work of art, I praise myself for all I’m doing well and purify or remove all of the things that don’t serve me. I do this daily, weekly and monthly. Plato was bold when he said, “an unexamined life is not worth living.”

9. Love it or leave it. The greatest positive accomplishments throughout all of history come from people who loved an idea, a hope or an aspiration. When I focus on the ideas that I would love to bring to my clients, family or friends, my enthusiasm becomes contagious and helps me and others feel alive. If I don’t love something I’ve become ruthless in delegating it or simply no loner doing it.

I hope one or two of these nine strategies will be of help to you. If so, use it today then share it with someone. Each of us have an opportunity to help others live a more rewarding and enriching life.

Does Your Project Matter?

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Hand draw business sketches over grey background. Business idea concept

Photo courtesy of iStock Photo

Unfortunately, projects have earned a bad rap lately. Some projects are cumbersome and lumbering. They involve people who view the project as a time suck and in turn lack the creativity and enthusiasm for doing meaningful work. Or, projects can be a vehicle for doing meaningful, fun and transformational work.

To be the latter, a project needs to answer yes to five “does the project matter?” questions.

1. Does my project provide meaningful and significant value to my customer? Will it leave them in a considerably better position?

2. Does my project fulfill a compelling need for my team and/or organization? Or, is the project a milk toast project where it would be nice to have it completed, but there’s no real compelling reason to do it.

3. Does my project matter to me? Can I get behind this project with gusto, commitment and passion? Or, am I meek and lukewarm about this project?

4. Does my project require me to learn something new, grow and or become a more successful leader or team member? Is it stretching me in ways that are rewarding while also uncomfortable?

5. Does my project have smart, talented and enthusiastic people on the project team? Or, is it populated with people who were available, but disinterested and disengaged?

Make no bones about it, transformational projects answer yes to all five questions.

When you think of your biggest current project, can you answer yes to all five questions? If not, what’s one thing you can do today to convert your no to a yes?

The Three Steps For Working Twice As Fast

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This week I want to talk to you about how you can double the speed in which you accomplish your most strategic priorities. Would you like to do that? Or, stated another way, would you like to do things in half the amount of time? If you want to do that, there are four things that you will want to have in place.

#1. Belief. The first thing you need is the belief this can be done. You have to have the belief that somebody you know or can know is working in the manner, and they’re doing it successfully. They’re doing something important to you in half the amount of time. If that is true, then you move to the second piece.

#2. Organization. The second aspect of working twice as fast is excellent organization. By organization I mean your work environment as well as your mental environment. You have everything you need to do things in half the amount of time.

Sometimes you don’t necessarily know how to organize a particular project in order to do it in half the amount of time, which means that you have to identify the person who does it in half the amount of time and learn from them how they are doing so. When you have a process and structure your thinking and environment you can organize your work and accelerate your ability to work twice as fast.

#3. Discipline. You must have discipline. You have to be able to turn off my phone and email if need be. I hyper-focus even if it’s only for fifteen or thirty minutes without any interruptions. I am so disciplined that whatever is requires for me to work twice as fast I do it.

#4. Discernment.  You need to be ruthlessly honest with yourself. Which aspect of working twice as fast am I simply not doing? Are my beliefs not in alignment? Is my organization really not where it needs to be? Is my discipline really what’s hindering me?

Ladies and gentlemen, here’s the rub. The rub is that the vast majority of people don’t believe they can work twice as fast. And, when it comes to organization, discipline and discernment, they’re simply lacking in those areas.

Monday Morning Mindset Challenge:

If you want to have a much more effective week and dramatically increase the speed at which you accomplish the things that are most important to you, think about your beliefs, organization, discipline, and discernment. Identify the one or two areas where you need to improve and do one thing. What will you do this week?

The Three Most Common Negative Thinking Habits

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I’m releasing an eBook entitled, “Mastering Your Mindset: Nine Negative Habits that Hold Executives Back and How to Break Them for Accelerated Business Performance. It will be available within the next 30 days, but today I want to talk about three of them. The three I’ll discuss are very common in our world of work as well as in our personal life.

Here are my first three negative thinking habits:

#1. Living in the past. This habit hyper focuses on events from the past and determines to make sure it never happens again. Ladies and gentlemen, this is smart and pragmatic, but when taken to an extreme and neglects looking at what is possible in the future you’re bringing the past into the present and soiling the present. Do you bring the past with you, even if it’s not serving you well?

#2. Using defeatist language. Do you use language such as “I have to do this, I must do this or I can’t do that?” When you use contractions at the beginning of a sentence it always ends negatively. I suggest that defeatist language in the world of work creates a defeatist mindset, and when you have a defeatist mindset, you never perform at your very highest level.

#3. Living in fear. Ladies and gentlemen, I’ll raise my hand and say that at times I’ve lived in fear. It’s one of the worst negative thinking patterns I’ve used and it wore me down. Living in fear is irrational, because what we fear 99.5% of the time is not going to kill us. We don’t live on the Serengeti and have to chase our food and kill it to feed ourselves. We have to go to the local market and purchase our dinner. Fear in some instances is justified, but not the majority of the time. Fear inhibits our ability to make better choices and to address our issues in a healthy way.

These three negative thinking patterns will be addressed in more detail along with six more. Over the next four weeks you’re going to have the opportunity to receive a copy and work through the success strategies. It’s something I’m proud of and hope it will improve the quality of your professional and personal life.

Monday Morning Mindset Challenge:

Do you see any of those in the world of work and with your colleagues? Do you see any of those with yourself? What’s one thing you can do today to jettison or reduce your use of this thinking pattern?

Love in the World of Work

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What is the one thing people want more than anything else? If you watched my Monday Morning Mindset from four weeks ago you will know the answer. It is to be valued, cared for and loved. I’ve talked about infusing the word “love” into the world of work. Love really is important, but it is an awkward word to use in the world of work.

This is not a difficult theoretical leadership concept that needs explanation. A leaders primary job is to let employees know that what they want most is for employees to be happy, valued, and cared for. This is true in our personal lives as well as in our professional lives.

That need when addressed successfully by a leader, transforms their organization. In many faith traditions we are called to love. The Buddha said, “we are to get along with one another and all of nature.” In the Quran it says “we are to return evil with kindness.” In the Bible, the apostle John says “we are to love one another, as we have been loved.”

If every human being has a need to be loved, adored, cared for, appreciated and valued, that requires leaders to ensure employees and customers feel cared for, valued, and yes, loved. When they do it transforms the world of work and the customer/patient/client experience in ways that are truly remarkable.

As leaders, we have to recognize what is it that people want more than anything and to do something daily to help make that happen. If you do that, it will not only feel really rewarding and lift your spirits, but it will transform your business.

Monday Morning Mindset Challenge:

What will you do today and this week to address this need? What will you do to encourage people and to uplift the human spirit in the world of work?

How To Lead Personal and Professional Transformations

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This week I want to talk with you about individual and organizational transformations. As you can see here from my flipchart, I have spared no expense…none whatsoever, with visual aids this week.

I believe we all want to transform something. It may be ourselves, our work, our spouses, children or communities. Whatever it may be there is a transformation we all want to undertake. If that’s true for you, I want to map out three strategies you’ll need to address in order to be successful.

#1. You have a purpose.  There has to be a purpose to the transformation. There has to be something that is meaningful to you, and by that I mean something you care about. Purposes represent an idea you’ve fallen in love with and will not let go of. Your idea is so compelling that it prompts you to make new promises to yourself and to the people that matter most to you. Your purpose will change your priorities because it is so important to you. And your purpose changes your behavior. You will do whatever is necessary to role model your purpose in order to be successful.

#2.You accomplish work that matters. To be transformational, you must do work that matters; work that makes a meaningful difference in people’s lives. The work you do must be valuable, produce a high return on investment and make a significant difference. When you do work that doesn’t produce a high quality return for your most important constituents, you’re not going to be transformational. If you cannot find a connection to doing meaningful work, you’re at risk of becoming bored and disinterested in your work.

#3. You have to persevere. First and foremost, persevering in the face of adversity requires a compelling purpose. If you have a compelling purpose and are doing meaningful work that matters to the customers that matter most to you, you are highly likely to praise yourself as well as others and persuade people to strive to keep going. Perseverance is a real differentiator. You have to, under no circumstance, allow a barrier to stop you from pursuing your purpose.

When you put these three aspects of transformation together you’ll make a transformational difference. That could be at home with your family and friends, or at work with customers and fellow employees. If you embrace these three strategies you’re going to be a transformational leader and you’re going to make a significant difference.