Are You A Cost Center Or A Profit Center?

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Are you seen as a cost center to be minimized or profit center to be maximized? That’s a pithy question, but it’s also a very powerful question.

Cost centers are minimized because they don’t produce a lot of value. Profit centers get additional investments because leaders know that an extra $100,000 given to a particular department or person will be turned into $1,000,000.

Executives inside your organization are making financial decisions every day. Their question is similar to “Is this a valuable service or product that we should invest more money into? Or, is it not a value add and should we reduce our investment or spend it elsewhere?”

As an employee you want to be seen as a profit center. Not wholly in literal sense, but certainly in the sense that leaders see you as making a meaningful contribution to your customer. You want to be seen as a profit center so that if there are any additional resources to be given out, you would convert those resources into additional profit and performance for your organization.

How do you do that?

1. Cultivate a strategic business partner mindset. You’re not simply an employee. You now wear the moniker “Strategic Business Partner.”

2. Build your brand. Build your brand around being a strategic business partner. Think strategically about what’s in the best interest of the organization. Become known for fostering new and innovative ways of thinking.

3. Communicate passion for the customer experience. Talk about the customer experience relentlessly. Forget your methodology and become hyper-focused on what the customer is experiencing.

If you do those three things you will be seen as a profit center and your career will never be in jeopardy.

How To Create A Culture of Courageousness

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This week I want to talk about the number one strategy for creating a courageous culture. I was leading the Mastering Your Mindset Intensive webinar today and one of the questions asked was: “how do you promote, coerce, or condition yourself to move outside of your comfort zone and do something that might be labelled as courageous?”

That is a great question. It gets to the heart of what leaders are trying to do…have people move from the status quo to something much better. How do you do that? I suggest that courage is the secret ingredient. The word ‘courage’ comes from the French word coure, which means heart. That means you have to have heart for change.

I will contend that the best way to have heart for change, to do something that may be uncomfortable, is to have a much bigger yes. By that I mean you must have a purpose or aspiration that is compelling for you. Your aspiration must leave you announcing “I will not allow this to go undone” or “I really want to do this!” It’s then that you’ll find yourself doing things because you have a heart for them and because there’s a big idea, dream, hope or aspiration that’s compelling.

I also suggested that we each need to do something daily that is a little scary. If you get used to being on the edge and going beyond what’s normal, safe and predictable; doing something scary, over time you’ll build the habit of moving outside your comfort zone.

How do you cultivate a culture of courage? Have a much bigger yes and do something that’s a little scary each day.

The Ideal Perspective To View Your Results

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I want to talk to you about the optimal way to look at your results. We’ve been trained to look at our results as good or bad, right or wrong. This is a very binary approach that I don’t think is the right one. I believe it leads to judgement and harsh criticism, and most certainly doesn’t lead to doing our very best work.

I suggest you put this binary approach aside and optimize how you look at results by using the good, better, best approach. What does this mean?

Good:

The “good” response means that every result you get may not be the ideal result, but it’s a good result if the result teaches you something about your process or how you do your work. There is nothing wrong wth looking at a situation that didn’t play out the way you wanted and saying, “we got a good result because we accomplished A, B & C, we learned a lot, exerted a lot of effort and grew as a result.”

Better:

The “better” response is when you add “but there’s a better result that’s possible. If we modify what we do by implementing this new step or process we’ll get an even better result next time.

Best:

The “best” response happens when you add, “but if we did this we may get the best result imaginable.”

When in a leadership position, especially in a time when everyone feels overwhelmed and overburdened, it is easy and natural to default to ‘right or wrong,’ or ‘good or bad.’ Just tweak your thinking ever so slightly. When you do you will change the way people perceive their results, and you’ll continually find better and better ways to achieve your results.

Fuzzy Objectives = Fuzzy Results

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Most organizations speak clearly and eloquently about their most valuable asset – their people. They have a genuine desire to create a culture that retains the brightest and best employees, and can articulate how their employee development initiatives either ensure the organization flourishes, or relegate it to floundering.

What predicts flourishing or floundering? It’s the use of fuzzy thinking regarding your goals, objectives and the employee development initiatives that support them.

I recently heard a senior leadership team say “we want our employees to produce valuable work.” I asked how the executives defined valuable? For the next thirty minutes the conversation that took several twists and turns but ended with the CFO claiming that valuable is defined as having high degrees of quality and accuracy, and the CMO claiming that valuable meant building quality and meaningful relationships with potential and current customers.

Most executives miss the point regarding what a learning objective really is. An objective is something that is behaviorally specific – not general, broad, or fuzzy. An objective is measurable and describes something tangible an employee does. Robert Mager in his book Preparing Instructional Objectives gives the example of being able to tie a knot. It’s measurable and behaviorally specific because you can see knot-tying behavior and therefore can determine whether it meets your expectations.

Objectives describe the behaviors and or performance you want to see and involves having leaders think seriously and deeply about what it is they want to have employees do. If the end result of any employee development work is go beyond the talk-aboutto the do-about then the following three recommendations can serve you well:

1. Differentiate between willingness and ability. Some employees have the ability to do a task but aren’t willing. Some have the willingness and no ability. Whenever you find employees who lack willingness you no longer have a training or development issue – you have a motivation issue that needs addressing.

2. Use clear language. For example, language such as “be able to discuss and illustrate an understanding of Excel and Word” is fuzzy language. Explicit language such as “create two spreadsheets importing data from two different formats and export this into a pie chart within Word” . You have to be clear about what performance you want.

3. Don’t confuse instructional and administrative objectives. Instructional objectives are those that focus on employee performance and administrative objectives focus on instructor/teacher/facilitator performance. The most important objectives are the ones that focus on employee performance.

How clear are your objectives?

5 Strategies for Accelerating Team Performance

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It is commonly known that high performing teams attract and retain the best talent.  But what is not as readily known is that they also act as a role model for increased performance throughout an entire organization.  If developing a culture of high performance within your team is important to you, here are five strategies that will dramatically enhance your ability to create breakthroughs in team performance:
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