Give It Up!

April 13th, 2017

Give It up!

By Dave Anderson

 

In sports you hear much about an athlete being “in the zone,” where their focus is sharper and performance excels. But being in the zone doesn’t apply only to athletics; it’s relevant in any job or endeavor where performance matters.

The “zone” is defined as: a temporary heightened state of focus that enables peak performance. With that in mind, our objective should be to make the state of heightened focus less temporary, so that peak performance can continue—and to help our people do likewise. In order to get in your zone more often and stay there longer, it’s important to identify the things that can put you there, or take you out of a heightened state of focus. Following are five things we have to give up to get in our zone more often and stay there longer, so we can then go up to the next level of performance and results.

 

  1. Excuses. You can’t focus on what you can control, maintain a play-to-win mindset, or operate at peak levels while you’re making excuses. Excuses waste time and energy as you rationalize why you’re not responsible, rather than: owning your results, staying in your zone, and moving forward. If you dropped the ball or fall short just say, “I screwed up. I own it. I’ll be better because of what I’ve learned from it, and I’m moving on.” There is no retort for that brutal honesty, nor is focus lost on achieving the objectives that matter most. Excuses are zone-busters. Owning your results heightens focus and enables peak performance.
  1. Procrastination. Procrastination breaks momentum and wastes time as you continually revisit matters that should have already been decided or executed. Nor can you maintain a state of heightened focus when you’re going in circles. Action keeps you in motion and enhances focus. Even wrong action can benefit you—if you’re paying attention, realize your error, learn something in the process, correct your course, and then restart progress towards your goals. Procrastination is a zone-buster. Taking action on what needs to be done heightens focus.
  1. Obsessing over competitors. In one of my workshops I describe the differences between caretakers, playmakers and game changers within an organization. Caretakers hope they can measure up to expectations, or to what a competitor is doing. Playmakers study the competition and devise a plan to counter them. Game changers act as though they are the competition and set a pace others must study, counter, and combat. Of course, you should be aware of your competition; but, you can’t focus on what you do best and operate at peak performance levels when you’re obsessing over them.
  1. A focus on external conditions. The weather, economy, manufacturer’s decisions, product recalls, interest rates, a competitor’s advertising and actions, the time of year, and factors like these are among external conditions that can impact results but are beyond your control. There will always be external conditions you can blame for a lack of results, and by doing so lose a sense of heightened focus on what you can control—taking a giant leap out of your zone in the process. As a leader it’s essential that you get this—you are still responsible for results, and when you blame external conditions to justify your failures you are confessing two things: you don’t have control of your destiny, and you don’t have a solution. And leaders get paid to be in control and find solutions. By resolving up front that you will not allow external conditions to dictate outcomes, you heighten your focus on what you can do and control to get the job done. Navigating through obstacles with a locked-in focus on results keeps you in your zone. Blaming external conditions is a zone-buster.
  1. Complacency. By its very definition of being calmly content and smugly self-satisfied, complacency is an obvious and brutal zone-buster. Your chances of having a heightened state of focus that enables peak performance while calmly content are nil. A heightened state of focus activates energy, creates urgency and drives alertness; not something you’re likely to feel when smugly self-satisfied.

 

Excuses, procrastination, obsessing over competitors, focusing on external conditions and complacency are common conditions in even ultra-successful dealerships, from the top down to the front line. This is why so many businesses, while “successful,” also miss their potential by a mile. People go out of their zone too often, and take too long to find their way back in, often requiring a deadline, incentive, threat, or end of the month push to create the heightened state of focus needed to finish well. And while we’re all human and can expect to take the bait and step out of our zone throughout our lives—engaging in factors like these and others like them—if we are going to grow to our maximum potential two things must happen:

  • We must increase awareness of what our zone is, how to get in it, and then recognize when we’ve come out of it so we leave it less often.
  • When we do bust out of our zone we need to recognize it faster, and return to it as soon as possible.

If we can do those two things consistently well, we will far surpass our past results as an organization, as well as improve over our former self as a leader.

Stay in Your Zone!

April 13th, 2017

 Stay in Your Zone!

By Dave Anderson

 

Effective and consistent execution requires a combination of both skill set and mindset. The five-step execution process I lay out in my book, “It’s Not Rocket Science: Four Simple Strategies for Mastering the Art of Execution” provides a framework to develop the skill set. However, until you develop the mental focus, toughness, and consistency to want to execute daily—and to hold others accountable for doing likewise—simply having another process that is implemented only occasionally won’t help much, if at all.

Following are a handful of what I call “Game Changer Mindset Builders” (affirmations, of sorts) that focus on execution. I teach these in my workshops, and they have been helpful in influencing attendees to develop an execution mentality that helps them get more of the right things done both consistently and with more excellence. Reading them as a part of your morning motivational routine, discussing them in meetings, and working them into your everyday thinking and behaviors will be a key to executing the daily disciplines necessary to reach your vision—to help you close the gap between knowing what to do and actually doing it. The reality is, until you’re thinking right you are not likely to execute right.

Just like any athlete or other performer, we all have a “zone” where we are laser-focused, energized, effective, and resilient. Out of that zone, we are spread thin, overwhelmed, and trying to play catch up. It is tough to demonstrate a killer instinct or gain momentum when you are working outside your zone.  When you are in your execution zone work is fun, time flies, and you are getting results and making a maximum impact. By getting in your zone daily—preferably before you even get to work—you will get more done in less time, and do so with less people and fewer opportunities. That’s the power of execution: you accomplish more of what matters most, with less. Despite having a great execution process, until you are mentally checked in and locked in each day, you will miss your potential by a mile. Weaving these eight points into your thinking will help put you in your execution zone and keep you there day-in and day-out.

  1. I avoid zone busters.

Zone busters take me out of my zone. They break momentum, distract me, and drain urgency and killer instinct. I avoid zone busters, and if I slip into one I get out FAST. Zone busters include things like bitterness, blame, excuses, revenge, gossip, judging, wrong associations, garbage media, immoral activities, jealousy, envy, self-promotion, selfishness, worry, self-pity, complacency, taking offense, and the like.

  1. I prove myself over again every day.

Yesterday ended last night. I will prepare my mind, and prove myself over again today. I won’t borrow credibility, nor rehearse hurts from the past. I will bring it all, fully engage, and be totally used up by day’s end. I will live with a “stay hungry” Red Belt mindset.

  1. I don’t allow external conditions to dictate outcomes.

When things out of my control conspire against me, I still take responsibility. If I blame conditions it weakens me and takes me out of my zone, and I’m admitting I don’t have control or a solution—and I always proceed as though I have control and a solution. Thus, I will take responsibility and navigate through adverse conditions by focusing on the things I can control. I won’t let external conditions dictate the outcome.

  1. I have situations not problems.

Problems are negatives, and I won’t automatically label something as a negative, because it may be a positive in disguise. Problems weaken me and can take me out of my zone, whereas situations energize me and keep me laser-focused. I only have problems if I react wrongly to situations and thereby create them.

  1. I renounce excuses.

I don’t make excuses because excuses weaken me and others, and take us out of our zones. Excuses waste my energy and distract me from executing what matters most. I can’t have a killer instinct and make excuses simultaneously. Excuses are the DNA of underachievers, and they make me less as a person. They are the language of losers. I renounce them.

  1. I am responsible.

I take responsibility because doing so empowers me and keeps me in my zone. Taking responsibility preserves my self-esteem, earns respect, and keeps me focused on moving forward. Blame makes me a victim; blame is the anti-focus and is the language of losers. I will never blame. I will always take responsibility.

  1. I own it.

When it comes to my actions, doing my job, and handling any responsibility given to me, I OWN IT. Regardless of the conditions or outcome, I take complete responsibility, even if it is not technically all mine to bear. I own it without excuse or explanation because owning it keeps me in control and in my zone. When conditions beyond my control conspire against me, I STILL OWN IT, because my mindset is to navigate through conditions and still get results. I have two options every day: performance, or excuses—and I never choose excuses because I OWN IT.

  1. I will carry the load.

Going into every day, I’m aware that at least one person on my team may take the day off mentally, and possibly physically. It will never be me. I will pick up the slack, lead by the right personal example, and carry the team on my back if I have to. I’m the leader, and that’s what leaders do.

Most leaders develop a Game Changer mindset towards the end of the month, when time is running out and their paycheck and reputation are on the line. But if you want jump from being the occasional playmaker to the consistent game changer, you have got to develop the mindset to bring the necessary toughness, focus and energy to execute incessantly every day. And every day means EVERY DAY. #EDMED.

October 3rd, 2016

Listen now to Dave’s interview on the Small Business Advocate Radio Network where he talks about Undertakers, Caretakers, Playmakers and Game Changers and how to develop a Game Changer mindset! Three segments of about 6 minutes each.

Building A High-Performance Culture Part XXV

March 29th, 2016

Words that Hurt: Pride

In this post on building a high-performance culture, I’m identifying the word “pride” as one belonging on the “Words that hurt” column. The pride that comes from satisfaction in doing good work is not the pride I’m referring to. Rather, the ego-driven pride that incites a multitude of leadership failures is the kind of pride I will highlight.

Since it has been awhile since my last post, take a moment to review the strong and weak cultural words listed so you can conceptualize the ideal culture to move your organization towards—as well as what you must weed out of your culture in order to maximize your organization’s potential.

Words that work and must be woven into culture

Earn: to acquire through merit.

Deserve: to be worthy of; to qualify for.

Consistent: constantly adhering to the same principles.

Hope: grounds for believing something in the future will happen.

Catalyst: a person or thing that makes something happen.

Responsible: to be the primary cause of something.

Tough-minded: strong willed, vigorous, not easily swayed.

Loyal: faithfulness to one’s duties or obligations.

Passion: a strong feeling or enthusiasm about something, or about doing something.

Discipline: an activity, regimen, or exercise that develops or improves a habit or skill.

Commit: to pledge oneself to something.

Prune: to remove what is undesirable.

Wise: having or showing good judgement.

Diligent: giving constant effort to accomplish something.

Hunger: an intense desire, a compelling craving.

Fitness: being in good health, especially because of regular exercise.

 

Words that hurt and must be weeded out of culture

Fault: responsibility for failure.

Blame: to assign responsibility for failure.

Excuse: a plea offered to explain away a fault or failure.

Mediocre: average, ordinary, not outstanding.

Wish: to want something that cannot, or probably will not happen.

Entitle: a claim to something you feel you are owed.

Sloth: reluctance to work or exert effort; laziness.

Complacent: calmly content, smugly self-satisfied.

Maintain: to cause (something) to exist or continue without changing.

Apathy: a lack of enthusiasm, interest, or concern.

Interest: to be curious about (as opposed to being committed).

Foolish: lacking good sense or judgment.

Micromanage: to control with excessive attention to minor details.

Pride:  having or showing an excessively high opinion of oneself or of one’s importance.

 

Cultures with a prideful leader can expect to see the following:

  1. A leader who doesn’t admit mistakes.
  1. A leader prone to blame conditions or other people for his or her lack of success.
  1. A leader who withholds, or even hogs, the credit for team success.
  1. A leader who doesn’t delegate to others.
  1. A leader who fails to empower others, and personally makes all decisions.
  1. A leader who believes certain standards or values that others must live do not apply to him or her.
  1. A selfish leader who isn’t a team player, and who is primarily in it for himself or herself.
  1. A leader who fails to develop others, because he sees little value in others.
  1. A leader prone to becoming overwhelmed because she will not ask for help, or admit when she is in over her head.
  1. A leader uncommitted to personal development because he feels he is good enough as he is.
  2. A leader who believes certain tasks are beneath him, and thus leads   by the wrong personal example.
  3. A leader who treats front line team members poorly or with indifference.
  4. A leader who talks far more than he listens, and normally it is about himself.
  5. A leader unreceptive to ideas other than his or her own; who rarely seeks them out and quickly dismisses them when offered to him or her.
  6. A leader resentful of feedback, and who is more likely to argue with it than entertain its value.
  7. A leader who develops blind spots because people are afraid to speak up and share the reality about what is going on in the organization.
  8. A leader who focuses more on being served, rather than on adding value to others and serving them.

This list could continue for a while, but the seventeen points offered paint a fairly clear portrait of what a prideful leader looks like. The harm to culture, momentum, morale, trust and personal credibility for demonstrating some—or all—of these traits is staggering.

While any leader may demonstrate an unhealthy pride from time to time—after all, we are all human—the leaders who destroy cultures and people are those in whom these behaviors are dominant, rather than the exception.

The bottom line is this: do not expect to build a fit culture with an unfit leader. And prideful leaders are the poster-children for leadership unfitness—a culture’s most devastating and insurmountable infection.

Building a High-Performance Culture Part XXIV

December 1st, 2015

Words that Work: Excellence

In this post on building a high-performance culture, I’m adding the word “excellence” to the “words that work” category. While being better than the competition is noteworthy and motivating, true excellence is something altogether different.

I’ll explain more about cultural excellence below; but first, review the strong and weak cultural words listed so you can conceptualize the ideal culture to move your organization towards, as well as what you must weed out of your culture in order to maximize your organization’s potential.

Words that work and must be woven into culture

Earn: to acquire through merit.

Deserve: to be worthy of; to qualify for.

Consistent: constantly adhering to the same principles.

Hope: grounds for believing something in the future will happen.

Catalyst: a person or thing that makes something happen.

Responsible: to be the primary cause of something.

Tough-minded: strong willed, vigorous, not easily swayed.

Loyal: faithfulness to one’s duties or obligations.

Passion: a strong feeling or enthusiasm about something, or about doing something.

Discipline: an activity, regimen, or exercise that develops or improves a habit or skill.

Commit: to pledge oneself to something.

Prune: to remove what is undesirable.

Wise: having or showing good judgement.

Diligent: giving constant effort to accomplish something.

Hunger: an intense desire, a compelling craving.

Fitness: being in good health, especially because of regular exercise.

 

Words that hurt and must be weeded out of culture

Fault: responsibility for failure.

Blame: to assign responsibility for failure.

Excuse: a plea offered to explain away a fault or failure.

Mediocre: average, ordinary, not outstanding.

Wish: to want something that cannot, or probably will not happen.

Entitle: a claim to something you feel you are owed.

Sloth: reluctance to work or exert effort; laziness.

Complacent: calmly content, smugly self-satisfied.

Maintain: to cause (something) to exist or continue without changing.

Apathy: a lack of enthusiasm, interest, or concern.

Interest: to be curious about (as opposed to being committed).

Foolish: lacking good sense or judgment.

Micromanage: to control with excessive attention to minor details.

There’s normally a strong competition among peers in an industry, company or league to become “number one” in a given area. Many believe that once they’ve achieved this ranking that they’ve also attained excellence. However, it is entirely possible to be number one and also be worse than you used to be. Thus, you’re number one not because of excellence, but simply because others are worse than you.

Excellence is defined as being “superior” or “eminent.” Again, this makes it easy to believe that because one is ranked higher than another—since they are “superior” to a competitive entity—they have attained excellence. But strong cultures take and embrace a different view: they see excellence as being superior to what they once were. They are their own competition, and by continuing the quest to better their prior best, they become eminent—excellent—in the process.

By redefining excellence in your organization in this manner you will shift your team’s focus from the pride or smugness that may come with being number one in a league everyone else is in, to striving to get so good at what they do they create an entirely different league—and are the only ones in it.

Building a High Performance Culture Part XXIII

August 21st, 2015

Words that Work: Fitness

In this post on building a high performance culture I’m adding the word “fitness” to the “words that work” category. While a healthy culture is good, fit cultures become great.

I’ll explain the difference below, but first review the strong and weak cultural words below so you can conceptualize the ideal culture to move your organization towards, as well as what you must weed out of your culture in order to maximize your organization’s potential.

Words that work and must be woven into culture

Earn: to acquire through merit.

Deserve: to be worthy of; to qualify for.

Consistent: constantly adhering to the same principles.

Hope: grounds for believing something in the future will happen.

Catalyst: a person or thing that makes something happen.

Responsible: to be the primary cause of something.

Tough-minded: strong willed, vigorous, not easily swayed.

Loyal: faithfulness to one’s duties or obligations.

Passion: a strong feeling or enthusiasm about something, or about doing something.

Discipline: an activity, regimen, or exercise that develops or improves a habit or skill.

Commit: to pledge oneself to something.

Prune: to remove what is undesirable.

Wise: having or showing good judgement.

Diligent: giving constant effort to accomplish something.

Hunger: an intense desire, a compelling craving.

 

Words that hurt and must be weeded out of culture

Fault: responsibility for failure.

Blame: to assign responsibility for failure.

Excuse: a plea offered to explain away a fault or failure.

Mediocre: average, ordinary, not outstanding.

Wish: to want something that cannot, or probably will not happen.

Entitle: a claim to something you feel you are owed.

Sloth: reluctance to work or exert effort; laziness.

Complacent: calmly content, smugly self-satisfied.

Maintain: to cause (something) to exist or continue without changing.

Apathy: a lack of enthusiasm, interest or concern.

Interest: to be curious about. (as opposed to being committed).

Foolish: lacking good sense or judgment.

Micromanage: to control with excessive attention to minor details.

There’s a lot of talk within organizations about growth and not nearly enough about health; but there’s even less discussion on the concept of corporate fitness. Frankly, an organization won’t continue to grow if it becomes unhealthy, so working to create cultural health by weaving the words that work into your foundation, and weeding out the works that hurt is an ongoing priority.

Health is defined as “being free from illness or disease.” When a culture becomes unhealthy—sick—due to infections like selfish leadership, entitled team members, lack of accountability, the acceptance of mediocrity, pervasive bureaucracy, or the tolerance of toxic achievers, growth stops and decline begins. So while ridding a culture from illness and disease is essential to becoming healthy and building a good organization, it’s not enough to allow an organization to reach its fullest potential.

Organizational greatness isn’t possible without cultural fitness. Fitness is defined as “being in good health, especially because of regular exercise.” In great organizations there are regular exercises—key disciplines—that are implemented with consistent excellence that elevate it from being good to greatness. Some of these exercises are:

  • Rigorous recruiting, interviewing and hiring processes.
  • Highly effective and consistent training, feedback, coaching and mentoring.
  • Living, breathing, walking and talking the mission, vision and values.
  • Defining, then redefining whenever necessary, the performance standards most vital to optimize results.
  • Swift accountability to check poor performance or remove poor performers.
  • Creating a ferocious focus on the key lead measures—essential daily activities—in each job position and ensuring they’re executed with excellence daily.

Just as unfit bodies are limited in their effectiveness and lifespan, so are unfit organizations. To become fit corporately, one must dismiss the “ten day diet” versions of quick fixes or silver bullets and employ disciplines like those listed day in and day out, without excuse, and regardless of the cost.

Incidentally, the fitness of a culture is a direct reflection of its leader’s fitness. A “sick” leader has no chance of creating a fit culture.

Building a High Performance Culture Part XXII

July 28th, 2015

Words That Work: Hunger

In this post on building a high performance culture I’m adding the word “hunger” to the “words that work” category. Hungry cultures are those that regularly change, risk, and stretch—even while things are going well and all the seas appear calm.

I’ll dig deeper into hunger below; but first, quickly review the strong and weak cultural words below so you can conceptualize the ideal culture to move your organization towards, as well as what you must weed out of your culture in order to maximize your organization’s potential.

Words that work and must be woven into culture

Earn: to acquire through merit.

Deserve: to be worthy of; to qualify for.

Consistent: constantly adhering to the same principles.

Hope: grounds for believing something in the future will happen.

Catalyst: a person or thing that makes something happen.

Responsible: to be the primary cause of something.

Tough-minded: strong willed, vigorous, not easily swayed.

Loyal: faithfulness to one’s duties or obligations.

Passion: a strong feeling or enthusiasm about something, or about doing something.

Discipline: an activity, regimen, or exercise that develops or improves a habit or skill.

Commit: to pledge oneself to something.

Prune: to remove what is undesirable.

Wise: having or showing good judgement.

Diligent: giving constant effort to accomplish something.

Words that hurt and must be weeded out of culture

Fault: responsibility for failure.

Blame: to assign responsibility for failure.

Excuse: a plea offered to explain away a fault or failure.

Mediocre: average, ordinary, not outstanding.

Wish: to want something that cannot, or probably will not happen.

Entitle: a claim to something you feel you are owed.

Sloth: reluctance to work or exert effort; laziness.

Complacent: calmly content, smugly self-satisfied.

Maintain: to cause (something) to exist or continue without changing.

Apathy: a lack of enthusiasm, interest or concern.

Interest: to be curious about (as opposed to being committed).

Foolish: lacking good sense or judgment.

Micromanage: to control with excessive attention to minor details.

Hunger is defined as an intense desire, a compelling craving. Note that the definition isn’t limited to merely a “desire or a craving;” intense and compelling are the keys. If something is intense and compelling it moves you, which brings up the key point to this post: you can’t have a hungry culture without hungry people at all levels moving it forward. The challenge is that while you can motivate people—stoke embers that already exist—you cannot make someone hungry by putting the embers of desire within them. Thus, your team members must bring hunger to the table; they must give you something to work with. Hungry people normally have the following traits that make them easier to identify during an interview, or to evaluate the people already within your culture:

  1. Hungry people have compelling reasons—their “why”—that drives them to excel. Their why may include a range of motivations from buying a nicer car, moving into a bigger home, sending their kids to a private school, helping a sick parent, making a difference in the lives of others, to supporting orphans. People tend to lose their way when they lose their why, and wind up going through the motions as they miss their potential by a mile.

One purpose of an interview is determine just how specific and compelling a job candidate’s why is. This will give keen insight into how self-motivated you can expect them to be.

  1. Hungry people are rarely stuck in their ways. They change before they have to, enjoy learning and sharing new things, and would rather take a mature risk than defend a safe status quo.
  1. Hungry people want new responsibilities. They want an opportunity to learn and grow and to expand their skills. They also want increased latitude and discretion to make decisions without having to always check with a higher-up.
  1. Hungry people are more prone to seek out feedback. They know they need fast, honest, specific feedback to grow.
  1. Hungry people don’t need as many pep talks. Of course like anyone they appreciate pats on the back, but aren’t dependent on them in order to stay motivated and work hard to reach their goals.

Final note: A culture is in big trouble when the leaders have let complacency nudge out their hunger and begin leading more from the rear, than from the trenches; maintaining, presiding and administering but not having a stretch impact on the team. Frankly, lethargic leaders create lethargic cultures. Hungry leaders build hungry cultures, and more naturally attract those with the like levels of internal motivation necessary to build a great organization.

Building a High Performance Culture Part XXI

June 4th, 2015

Words That Hurt: Micromanage

In this post on building a high performance culture I’m assigning the word “micromanage” to the “words that hurt” column. Micromanagement is an often-misunderstood word, so in this piece I’ll explain what it is and is not, as well as the danger it poses to your culture, people and results.

I’ll dig deeper into micromanage momentarily, but first quickly review the strong and weak cultural words below so you can conceptualize the ideal culture to move your organization towards, as well as what you must weed out of your culture in order to maximize your organization’s potential.

Words that work and must be woven into culture

Earn: to acquire through merit.

Deserve: to be worthy of; to qualify for.

Consistent: constantly adhering to the same principles.

Hope: grounds for believing something in the future will happen.

Catalyst: a person or thing that makes something happen.

Responsible: to be the primary cause of something.

Tough-minded: strong willed, vigorous, not easily swayed.

Loyal: faithfulness to one’s duties or obligations.

Passion: a strong feeling or enthusiasm about something, or about doing something.

Discipline: an activity, regimen, or exercise that develops or improves a habit or skill.

Commit: to pledge oneself to something.

Prune: to remove what is undesirable.

Wise: having or showing good judgement.

Diligent: giving constant effort to accomplish something.

Words that hurt and must be weeded out of culture

Fault: responsibility for failure.

Blame: to assign responsibility for failure.

Excuse: a plea offered to explain away a fault or failure.

Mediocre: average, ordinary, not outstanding.

Wish: to want something that cannot, or probably will not happen.

Entitle: a claim to something you feel you are owed.

Sloth: reluctance to work or exert effort; laziness.

Complacent: calmly content, smugly self-satisfied.

Maintain: to cause (something) to exist or continue without changing.

Apathy: a lack of enthusiasm, interest or concern.

Interest: to be curious about. (as opposed to being committed).

Foolish: lacking good sense or judgment.

Micromanage is defined as “to control with excessive attention to minor details.” Here are seven thoughts on micromanagement and how it will influence your culture.

  1. Holding people accountable for tough standards is not micromanagement. It’s important to note that there are a handful of things within a culture that are not up for debate, must be held in a iron grip, and thus may be wrongly perceived as micromanagement. Managers who are diligent in holding others accountable for living company values and following prescribed processes are often erroneously accused of being micromanagers. This reflects a failure to understand that micromanagement involves “minor” details, and values and processes are major matters and must be vigorously enforced and upheld.

 

  1. Making every decision, solving every problem and having all the ideas are signs of micromanagement. You’ve conditioned people to count on you so heavily they cannot think for themselves. Micromanaged people lack passion and tend to play not to lose.

 

  1. Over-involving yourself in others’ jobs, especially in areas where you have little expertise, may constitute micromanagement. While your authority allows you to set clear expectations and deadlines for results for the various aspects under your charge, you err when you then nitpick and continually second-guess those responsible for producing the results throughout the process.

 

  1. If you hire the wrong people you’ll have to micromanage them. This is a sad truth, because it’s foolish to empower incapable or corrupt people with latitude and discretion and expect anything positive to come from it.

 

  1. Micromanagement is a primary de-motivator for top performers. High achievers resent having to check with you for everything. They feel that their past performance should earn them the trust to move faster and with less supervision than less-proven team members.

 

  1. Micromanagement works in the short-term. It’s always easier to personally make a decision or perform a task than to teach someone else how to do it. But this strategy causes you to plateau, and stunts the growth of others over the long haul; you become overwhelmed doing too much personally, and others never get to try new things or venture beyond their comfort zone.

 

  1. Micromanagement is rooted in pride and to a large degree, insecurity. Micromanagers feel that if someone else performs tasks or makes decisions without their involvement it makes them less important. They may also feel that “if they want it done right they have to do it themselves”, overestimating their own abilities while they sell short the potential of their teammates.

 

In summary, micromanagement overwhelms you, demotivates others, and creates an oppressive culture. Face it: if you’ve hired people who must be micromanaged that’s your fault; if you don’t train people to do their jobs more independently, that’s your fault; if your ego doesn’t allow you to empower others, that’s your fault. Are you seeing a pattern here? The good news is that you can fix what is your fault. The bad news is that most micromanagers are too full of themselves, or busy doing everything themselves, to even bother trying.

Building a High Performance Culture Part XX

April 30th, 2015

Words that Work: Diligent

In this post on building a high performance culture I’m adding the word diligent to the words that work column, although diligence can hurt you if you’re investing it in the wrong habits or activities.

I’ll expand on diligent in a moment, but first do a quick review of the strong and weak cultural words so you can conceptualize the ideal culture to move towards, as well as what you must move away from culturally in order to maximize your organization’s potential.

Words that work and must be woven into culture:

Earn: to acquire through merit.

Deserve: to be worthy of; to qualify for.

Consistent: constantly adhering to the same principles.

Hope: grounds for believing something in the future will happen.

Catalyst: a person or thing that makes something happen.

Responsible: to be the primary cause of something.

Tough-minded: strong willed, vigorous, not easily swayed.

Loyal: faithfulness to one’s duties or obligations.

Passion: a strong feeling or enthusiasm about something, or about doing something.

Discipline: an activity, regimen, or exercise that develops or improves a habit or skill.

Commit: to pledge oneself to something.

Prune: to remove what is undesirable.

Wise: having or showing good judgement.

Words that hurt and must be weeded out of culture:

Fault: responsibility for failure.

Blame: to assign responsibility for failure.

Excuse: a plea offered to explain away a fault or failure.

Mediocre: average, ordinary, not outstanding.

Wish: to want something that cannot, or probably will not happen.

Entitle: a claim to something you feel you are owed.

Sloth: reluctance to work or exert effort; laziness.

Complacent: calmly content, smugly self-satisfied.

Maintain: to cause (something) to exist or continue without changing.

Apathy: a lack of enthusiasm, interest or concern.

Interest: to be curious about. (as opposed to being committed).

Foolish: lacking good sense or judgment.

The word diligent is defined as “giving constant effort to accomplish something.” High performing cultures are those where the right things are done consistently, and where the team members diligently persist to see those right activities come to completion.

In order to maximize results, discipline must precede diligence. In other words, one must be disciplined enough to choose and execute the highest leverage tasks from the outset, and to say “no” to the distractions that arise in the process, before diligence is beneficial. Frankly, giving constant effort to stick with, or accomplish, the wrong something, or a low-return something, hurts an organization and stifles results.

The word consistent is a cousin of diligent. To be consistent means to “constantly adhere to the same principles”. Thus discipline chooses the right activity or principle; consistency ensures those same things are done repeatedly, and diligence ensures the actions are not only initiated but followed through to a successful completion.

Discipline, consistent and diligent are critical success traits demonstrated by highly successful people, and are a trait of highly performing cultures overall. Without discipline you’ll consistently put second things first, as you diligently move forward majoring in minor things.

Building a High Performance Culture Part XIX

March 18th, 2015

Words that Work: Wise

Words that Hurt: Foolish

In this post on building a high performance culture I’m adding the word “wise” to the words that work column, and “foolish” to the list of cultural words that hurt.

I’ll expand on traits of both wise and foolish people, as well as strategies for dealing with both below. First do a quick review of the strong and weak cultural words so you can conceptualize the ideal culture to move towards, as well as what you must move away from culturally in order to maximize your organization’s potential.

Words that work and must be woven into culture:

Earn: to acquire through merit.

Deserve: to be worthy of; to qualify for.

Consistent: constantly adhering to the same principles.

Hope: grounds for believing something in the future will happen.

Catalyst: a person or thing that makes something happen.

Responsible: to be the primary cause of something.

Tough-minded: strong willed, vigorous, not easily swayed.

Loyal: faithfulness to one’s duties or obligations.

Passion: a strong feeling or enthusiasm about something, or about doing something.

Discipline: an activity, regimen, or exercise that develops or improves a habit or skill.

Commit: to pledge oneself to something.

Prune: to remove what is undesirable.

Words that hurt and must be weeded out of culture:

Fault: responsibility for failure.

Blame: to assign responsibility for failure.

Excuse: a plea offered to explain away a fault or failure.

Mediocre: average, ordinary, not outstanding.

Wish: to want something that cannot, or probably will not happen.

Entitle: a claim to something you feel you are owed.

Sloth: reluctance to work or exert effort; laziness.

Complacent: calmly content, smugly self-satisfied.

Maintain: to cause (something) to exist or continue without changing.

Apathy: a lack of enthusiasm, interest or concern.

Interest: to be curious about (as opposed to being committed).

Wise is defined as: having or showing good judgment.

Foolish is defined as: lacking good sense of judgment.

Keep in mind that wise doesn’t necessarily mean book smart, and a fool isn’t necessarily an untalented dullard. In fact, sometimes the “fool” is the brightest person in the room. And while most people show signs of both wise and foolish behavior from time to time, the trait that dominates should best foretell their future with your organization.

What can accurately help you determine how to categorize one as wise or foolish is in how they respond to the feedback you give them on their behaviors. Author Dr. Henry Cloud specifically mentions the following differences. Pay close attention, because in order to build or sustain a strong culture it’s essential you have wise people throughout; those who respond as follows when receiving feedback on their behaviors and performance:

  • They thank you for it.
  • They own it; take responsibility for it.
  • They show remorse for unhealthy behaviors when you bring it to their attention.
  • Your relationship with them strengthens as a result of the feedback.
  • They change their behavior as a result of getting feedback.

You can take wise people far in an organization; your investments in time, dollars, training, coaching and mentoring return to you exponentially over time as they grow and increase their capacity to contribute to the organization.

Unlike a wise person, the fool does the following when you give him feedback:

  • Externalizes it: He will blame others, conditions, and even you for their behavior or results: “You do the same thing!” etc.
  • Minimizes it: He will try to convince you his behavior or result isn’t that big of a deal: “I was only ten minutes late. What’s the big deal?”
  • Rationalize it: He will excuse it; say he had no choice based on the situation he was in, the options available: “Given the hand I was dealt, I didn’t have a choice”, etc.
  • The relationship weakens as a result of your giving feedback; the person withdraws, pouts, resents and tells others how unfair you are.

Your future with foolish people within your organization should be brief, at best. They demonstrate character flaws you cannot fix or change. They can fix or change them, but don’t seem to see the need for it.