Archive for November, 2012

Motivating Teams & Getting Across the Bridge to “Why”!

Executive Summary:  Ideas for implementing new initiatives for successful team buy-in and commitment

As a leader, your ability to tactically engage your team in a non-combative manner and get the individuals within a team to embrace new ideas, initiatives, policies, procedures, projects and ways of being successful is paramount to success and survivability. Most teams resist what must be done to sustain success and thrive in today’s marketplace because management has a habit of not communicating the “why” factor. Conversations typically sound like this:

“While this is WHAT we have been doing and HOW we have been doing it, starting today, here is WHAT we must do and HOW it must be done.”

As soon as management completes this sentence, sends this email or posts this memo, the recipients immediately internally process and say to themselves or out loud to others:

“WHY can’t I do it the way I have always done it?” or, “I  don’t understand WHY I have to do that.”

At this point, an organization and, more specifically, that team will experience the following:

  1. Passive aggressive behavior from individuals
  2. Resistance and anger from individuals
  3. Undermining actions, comments and behaviors to implode desired outcomes
  4. Shifting of work loads and over burdening some individuals while others skate by doing minimal work
  5. Cliché warfare
  6. Stubbornness

It is not that individuals, managers or leaders are good or bad people, but rather they have fallen into systemic ways of engaging others. While managers and leaders have spent exhaustive hours rationalizing the reasons to take a particular action, they have failed to allow this same informative or investigative process to occur on the part of the team.

Consider:

  1. Make sure that when discussing any new way of doing something or the need to change something, you spend as much time on the WHY aspects of the dialogue as you would on the WHAT and HOW components.
  2. The WHY component is where the rationalization takes place. If one can’t easily rationalize a need for the new WHAT and HOW components, it is natural to resist.
  3. Identify the various parties that make up the team and determine the vested interest level of each individual to glean a better perspective of how to construct your WHY presentation.

As a leader with your team, if you feel that you are on one side of the river bank, fighting and pulling people to come across and meet you, you have not constructed the “Bridge To Why”. That is why the team is resisting you and defending the way they are comfortable with doing whatever they do.

Dr Jeff Magee
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Motivating the Group for Peak Performance!

As a leader, a testament to your legacy is your ability to have the presence of mind to know how to have an influential footprint on the group dynamics of your team, while not being physically visible.

As the great motivational sales speaker Zig Ziglar made the idea famous decades ago, to motivate an individual, you must realize that individuals listen to others as if they were listening to a radio station frequency. And as all radio stations have identifying call letters for their appropriate frequency, individuals own the call letter WIIFM (What’s In It For Me). Each person listens internally and determines his or her level of buy-in based upon processing over the internal frequency of WIIIFM (get your copy of ways to motivate individuals in the powerful book, What’s In It For Me, at www.JeffreyMagee.com/library.asp today).  Thus we must carefully craft the message individuals will receive.

In designing appropriate tactical ways to motivate the groups, teams and departments you lead, you must recognize that while individuals may listen to WIIFM, groups do not. Groups listen to WIIFU or What’s In It For Us!

As a tactical leader, your ability to play to this frequency is essential for group motivation. To craft an endless list of tactical ways to motivate groups and create a sense of “oneness” from a collection of individuals brought together as a group, start by eliminating all micro management endeavors that serve as team debilitators.

Consider these tactical ways to bring about peak performance from your team:

  1. Team Mission Statement – Make sure that all the members of your team actually know what the purpose of the team is. A mission statement serves as a road map for daily individual behaviors to ensure that the cumulative net effect of everyone is consistent with where you, as the leader, need everyone to be going. This mission statement will serve as a guidepost in your absence for individuals to gage their decisions and actions and ensure that, as a team, they are empowered and working toward the same goal.

The most recent edition of PEFORMANCE Magazine (subscribe at www.JeffreyMagee.com) indicates from a recent Franklin Covey study of U.S. Workers that 81 percent of respondents revealed they “don’t understand” the goals of their organization!

  1. Performance Assessments – Continually and regularly deploy action-oriented, solution-focused, performance improvement-directed personnel assessments within your team. Do so from a 360 degree feedback loop perspective. By creating an environment conducive for everyone to provide constructive, healthy feedback for continued improvement in everything one does, the team will have a greater sense of “oneness” and purpose for being in endeavors together.
  1. Group Think Exchanges – Create a depository of ideas to which individuals can submit productivity and efficiency ideas and from which they can withdraw. Find ways to globally capture “best practices” within your organization to ensure maximum effectiveness and reduced redundancies and allow for the free flow of ideas and synergies from which one can regularly grow outward.
  1. Incentive Idea Sharing – Make the sharing of ideas such a celebrated and rewarding cause that individuals are excited and evolve into constant success- generating machines. Place a reasonable yet powerful bounty on ideas to be submitted and communicated upwards, and that when accepted or implemented, the individual(s) that submitted the ideas are rewarded handsomely!

A powerful bounty becomes a compelling draw for ideas to be submitted. Consider even a revenue or profit-sharing bounty. Provide a payback of as much as ten percent cash back, stock from the net savings or profitability from any submitted idea.

  1. Intrinsic Motivators – Sociology has found that in studying group dynamics, the more individuals are allowed to do the following six action items, the greater their level of enthusiasm becomes and the more they tend to assume ownership roles. Consider your ability in the following: Choice in work assignments; Decision in to how to execute; Creative approaches; Feedback continually, fairly and solution- oriented to behaviors; Challenging work assignments; and Competitive climate.

As a leader, how you tactically engage your team and strategically set them up for success will directly influence how the individuals gel together and enthusiastically move forward with one another.

Dr Jeff Magee
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Motivating the Individual on Your Team for Sustained Peak Performance!

As a tactical leader within your organization today, through the process of moving beyond the hiring of motivated employees to maintaining those motivated and enthused employees and to appropriately tasking them, it is critical for peak operational performance to strategically motivate your employees continuously.

Whether you see yourself as a leader-peer or a leader-manager, engaging others to ensure peak levels of performance is continuously critical for the survival of your organization.

Whether looking to engage another person from an individual basis or motivating them forward, psychology reveals that, at the base level, human beings are motivated either in positive ways (gains, pleasures, betterment, etc.) or negative ways (loss, pain, danger, harm, unpleasant outcomes, etc.). Taking a page from these findings, organizations can couch all their motivational endeavors from one of these two reference points.

First, let’s take the negative or pain path to motivation. Sometimes as a leader, you should ensure that the obvious is obvious to everyone. If there is apparent negativity, loss or trauma that can be derived by not changing or doing something, make that very clear. Then, as a leader, have the fortitude to inflict that pain when appropriate.

Second, by examining the positive or pleasure path to motivating an individual, everyone involved will most likely remain more pleasant. Professionally speaking, organizational psychology suggests that there are three core ways to motivate individuals within an organization today:

  1. Finance
  2. Recognition
  3. Self-Fulfillment (intrinsic).

When looking for motivational delivery mechanisms, it is easy to fall into the traps of bonuses, incentives, perks and rewards. Nevertheless, your efforts should adhere to three specific guideposts:

  1. Meaningful – Whatever you offer or provide should always have meaning to the recipient for greatest yield. Many times, the gesture is appropriate, yet the impact is lost due to wrongly deployed tokens. If you give someone a ball cap or T-shirt, for example, and you have never seen them wear one, you may have just lost the sought-after impact due to hallow meaning on the recipient’s behalf!
  1. Lasting Impact – When extending the act of acknowledgement for a performance beyond expectations and for which you want to recognize in hopes of encouraging similar motivated performance in the future, scrutinize what you offer and ask yourself how soon the gesture will be forgotten. If the answer is shortly, don’t deploy that gesture. Change and determine what would bring the organization greater mileage as an act or gesture. For example, a $500.00 cash bonus or a 7-day cruise for $600.00…which one will be remembered a year from now?
  1. Repeatable – A true challenge to managerial-leaders is to determine which act or gesture should be extended to which person for the greatest individual impact. In addition, a managerial-leader must determine how to do so in a way that management will be able to repeat the act without painting themselves into a corner of feeling compelled to one-up or bear the last act, token or gesture!

How you tactically engage the members of your team to ensure that motivated, healthy, productive behaviors radiate as norms will distinguish you as not only a manager, but a true leader!

To make this entire endeavor easier and more impactful, consider the following action plan:

  1. Meet with your entire team before deploying the following action plan and communicate to each how you are going to proceed.
  1. Have each individual on your team take a 3×5 index card (or similar online drill) and create his or her own master list of items that could be deployed to them for powerful peak performance attainments in the future.
  1. This list should contain two sets of entries. One should be the items that have no monetary amount associated with them. The other should be items that have a monetary amount attributed to them. You can even determine a set ceiling on the appropriate monetary amount.

The beauty of this list is that it is individualistic, allowing you to draw upon it repeatedly for greater individual impact and meaning. Because the items come from the individual, the likelihood of lasting impact is greatly increased.

As a tactical leader, your ability to motivate and re-motivate the individuals on your team is essential to sustained productivity and performance.

Dr Jeff Magee
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Conditioning Others for Success: Converting Unions to Winners!

Executive Summary:    Do unions protect people in positions within an organization, or do unions protect positions for the sake of positions without the thought for productivity?

Her name was Jackie at the check in counter. His name was Paul waiting on flyers at 30,000 feet. His name was Steve on the ground outside the cockpit window. Her name is Donna at the gate, Art at the call center, and the list could go on. These are individuals that have forgotten more about being a business leader in the aviation industry, than most of the management team directing them today!

Does a union protect people in positions within an organization, or does a union protect positions for the sake of positions without the thought for productivity?

Do members of management serve as stewards for an organization or stewards for their own self interests?

A leader (whether on the management side of the line or the union/labor side) must navigate the traditional lines that pit one against the other. For the health of the organizations involved, the models that lead to managerial-leadership action from the post World War II era must be revolutionized for models of efficiency in the post 2000 reality!

As a leader, your ability to blend and involve all parties into the organizational strategies and tactics for a cohesive oneness is no longer a question for debate, but a real necessity. Both management and labor must work to recognize that any viable organization must recognize the essential, functional positions that are necessary for an organization, must be protected. Any individual that holds a functional position must be held accountable to continually increase his or her skill performance base. This will ensure the individual always remains relevant in that position for that organization.

Every position in any organization today must do one or a combination of, and ideally, all three of the following:

  1. Increase productivity (not activity)
  2. Increase profitability/revenue
  3. Save revenue

The following example could just as easily be your own business. The airline industry is an example of old models that protect people, regardless of functional need. As an avid aviation and American Airlines Executive Platinum multi-million frequent flyer, logging typically 20 plus fights each month, I am what Tom Peter’s would call a “raving Fan” or Herb Kelleher would call “nut’s about AA”. With the volume of monthly flights within the aviation industry that I travel on AA, in the month of October I will be onboard 32 different jets acrossAmerica, I am afforded a unique opportunity to observe greatness at work daily.

This is not a judgment of good people or bad people, but rather an observation of protecting people in positions that have evolved away and not kept pace with industry needs. In the endeavors of a management layer neglecting their responsibilities and union leadership run amuck in self-serving needs, both have nearly run an industry into bankruptcy. The victims are both the customer and the employees!

A September 2003 observational survey at airports such as,Chicago’s O’Hare,Dallas,OrangeCounty,Seattle,New YorkCity’s LaGuardia,St. Louis,San Diego, LAX, Houston Intercontinental and my homeportofTulsarevealed that it takes 3.5 employees of Southwest Airlines to turn an airplane in less than 27 minutes. American Airlines needs 9.5 employees and took more than one hour to turn a plane.

Today, an airline’s greatest expense is its labor costs. All stake-holders must recognize that joint ownership of functional positions (i.e. cross training and job responsibility sharing) and solutions for increased productivity and profitability is necessary for success in this new world economy. Realigning the task responsibilities and the compensation structure for everyone is no longer a consideration, rather an integral need. As a leader, pulling these traditional adversarial groups together will take both finesse and bold tenacity.

Maybe people just can’t be compensated in the future as they have been in the past for the same levels of output. Our scales of compensation economy may need to be realigned. This is neither a good nor a bad, but merely a reality if we are to stay in business!

Performance pay based on profitability may be a lesson for all airlines, as it has worked for Southwest Airlines and their 50th quarter of profitability, according to the Wall Street Journal newspaper this past month!

There are three immediate strategic ways for the airline industry to right themselves and which most all major carriers, including America Airlines, have not even addressed:

  1. Rebuild all High Touch Positions
  2. Rebuild all High Visibility Positions
  3. Involve all High Impact Customers

These three strategic areas are what all growth business today have kept their performance eye on and from which all tactically deployed actions come out of.  It is attributed that Einstein once said to the effect, “One can not resolve a problem with the same mindset that created it!” And so too is the manifesting problems of the aviation industry, when one involves the same minds to solve a changing industry that participated in its demise.

This observational model of aviation reality could just as easily be your business. Conditioning everyone for success and converting all work partners from a mindset of “me unionism” into “us’ism” will be the hallmark trait difference between those who survive and thrive and those who become lesson plans in a business history class.

Dr Jeff Magee
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Conditioning Others for Success: Dealing with the Institutional Whiner!

Like a cancer slowly killing off a living organism, American industry, business and society have cultivated the worker base to such a level of comfort and guardianship that one day, we awoke to find employees with an attitude of endless expectations to be met in exchange for the labor they delivered to the workplace each day.

With these over-pampered expectations has also come the occasional worker that arrives with such a whining persona that it erodes workplace energies, robs teams of quality performance output and leads to such levels of unhappiness that workers morph into amoebas, going through minimal motions for maximum pay.

To recondition this cancerous individual will require the individual – whether a peer, subordinate/employee or supervisor – to adjust their approach and commit to three new behaviors:

  1. Patience – In a world where everyone wants instant results and instant gratification, one must adjust his or her mindset to realize the conversion from whiner to winner may take repeated efforts. Therefore, avoiding frustration over impatience and maintaining a calm, non-combative demeanor will be necessary!
  1.  Consistency – A difficult habit for most is to repeatedly engage a person in a situation where a conversion in their attitude or behavior is sought with firm measure. Whiners will expect you to be inconsistent in your endeavors, and that will be the kink-in-your-armor they look for to derail your performance- engagement endeavors!
  1. Commitment – Most critical to your engagement approach to recondition a whiner and evolve them into a winner will require that you are committed to the engagement until either they change, leave, die or you leave. This is the most absolute step where individuals within organizations tend to fail, and whiners have learned that if they just whine long enough, they will get their way.

Whiners are the cancer to an organization’s wellbeing today. They learned their behaviors early on, learned they can get away with acts of responsibility early on and spent a life perfecting them. They are five-year-old brats in need of some serious tough-love discipline that merely massacred as adults and who are protected by systems of mediocrity – outdated unions, government mandates gone array and bad management!

To condition individuals to join the contributing universe of your organization in a non- combative or non-threatening manner, consider these performance-engagement strategies:

  1. Demand Alternatives – Each time the whiner would traditionally counter a new idea, initiative, proposal or suggestion with a resistant whining comment, don’t argue, fight, raise your voice, roll your eyes or any other behavioral act of challenge. Instead, calmly and respectfully engage them and, without defending or re-justifying what they challenged, inquire from them an alternative that allows for forward productivity momentum. If they cannot provide a response, but merely whine or comment negatively again, repeat yourself and seek a viable alternative. By this act, you will recondition them over time to consciously realize that, in your presence at least, they will be expected to “put up or shut up!”
  1. Assign 100 Percent Responsibility – That which the whiner repeatedly attacks, place them 100 percent in charge of (not jointly with someone else as all they will do is terrorize that one individual). Put them 100 percent in charge of something – anything – that they whine about, and you will all win. They either will produce now, seeing their name solely on the accountability line, or they will quit. Either way, the organization wins!
  1. Documentation Trail Building– What most whiners outlive is anyone’s ability to fully document their whining behavior and/or substandard performance. Start a serious and aggressive documentation trail (in a non-combative, non-threatening manner) of simple e-mails, letters (ideally, with some sort of receipt mechanism for legality purposes – a fax, signature required UPS or FedEx, etc.), group interactions and delegation opportunities. If you are a supervisor or engage in 360-feedback programs, regularly use performance reviews (weekly if necessary!). To these instruments, add any and all categories, behaviors and acts that need measuring and addressing with a solution-oriented approach. As appropriate (early on and often), make sure copies of all documentation are forwarded to all stakeholders, who could have a parallel influence on conditioning and converting the whiner into a winner. Keep backup copies of all documentation off site to protect yourself should the whiner go covert and place you into what would otherwise be a losing position without your documentation!
  1. Limit Your Exposure to Whiners – For your own mental health, recognize the volume of past interactions that were really not necessary and let that serve as a benchmark for future interactions. Whiners need an audience, and if you’re not available, they will either go elsewhere or change their behavior to what they recognize gets attention. Play to winners and you will cultivate (condition) more winners; conversely, play to whiners, and even winners get frustrated and complacent!
  1. Invite Winners – Recognize that even whiners started out as winners – they have merely been conditioned to evolve into the person they are today. Create an environment and demeanor that invites them to reengage the team. Let them know that deep down within them, there are traits of a winner that you desire and invite them into the organization.

Invite them and everyone else to evaluate the workplace from a survival standpoint. For everyone to maintain employment in the future, the cancer must be aggressively eradicated. Recall necessary measures that it is in everyone’s overall best interest to do – minus the world of politics that typically avail and feed the whiners. In the past decade, the number one on-site behavioral training classes presented to the major associations and the Fortune 500 have been classes on dealing with conflicts and confrontations in the workplace. This has been a true loss of professional growth, happiness and profitability that has been robbed from the winners by the whiners.

Dr Jeff Magee
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Conditioning Others for Success: Engaging Others as if They Are Your Internal or External Customer for Relationship Building and Appreciation!

Treating those that you work for and with as customers may be a mind shift worth considering for prosperity in today’s business world. How you go about engaging (conditioning) those that you work with will directly correspond to how you are valued, appreciated or taken advantage of in future interactions!

Consider the number of times you may feel you are going the “extra mile” for someone you work with. Consider that no matter how much “extra” you feel you invest into that interaction, some people never seem to notice, recognize nor appreciate the act that you would code as a “gesture” or “favor.” And in some instances, these people even come to expect this level of output performance from you or your department/team/business unit.

A simple means to reestablishing a more healthy relationship with others – and at the same time enlarging working collaborative relationships – is to better sequence your behaviors in a psychological chronological flow.

View the process as a mathematical sequence of key words all inked with an equal sign. This represents that one is inexplicitly connected to the next whenever deployed!

Extra=Favor=Qualify=Appreciation=Valued=Sustained Relationship

Condition others to appreciate what they have and receive from you, and thus enhance the level of interactive success everyone demonstrates and appreciates.  The next time you deliver an “extra,” either communicatively follow up in non-combative manner and “qualify” that act as a subtle “favor” or forever forget it.

When done, this will typically evoke from the recipient a response of gratitude and “appreciation,” and this feeds the ongoing “valued relationship” building needs of common respect, value and like.

As a leader, if you expect people to appreciate your efforts, you must first appreciate theirs. Communicate in a manner that makes it easier for others to appreciate the level of success that you afford to them.

Dr Jeff Magee
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Conditioning Others for Success: Individual Focused!

We live in a world today that has more negative and discouraging stimulants than ever before. An effective managerial-leadership mindset is to continually model success traits and endlessly encourage others to demonstrate the same.

In many businesses today, an organization’s greatest detriment and enemy is not the economy, government, outside influences, market demands, customers or competition, but rather the unfocused, negative individual that assumes a “terrorist” daily behavior!

To ensure the greatness that resides within each person on your team is regularly showcased and your ability to draw upon individuals as strategic personnel assets is raised, consider:

  1. Task Trait Assignment – Reevaluate which tasks you assign or delegate to individuals based upon which skills and abilities they truly posses versus tasking them out of habit. Psychology teaches us that when an individual does something from which they have a skill base and succeed, their self-esteem rises and, with that, their positive self talk, motivation, passion and commitment!
  1. Demand Solutions – Create a new rule that demands when a problem arises (and it’s inevitable), individuals must present a minimum of two action-oriented solutions!
  1. 360 on the Fly – Reestablish the culture and condition individuals to realize that everyone is now expected to regularly share success-oriented feedback with one another. In doing so, only solutions can be raised – never a mere critical analysis. In essence, you are dumbing down the traditional performance assessment approach to player performance improvement between a “boss” and an “employee.” You are also placing this responsibility and growth development action into the hands of everyone, at every level, at any appropriate time!
  1. Learned Behavior Busting – Recognize that when someone uses excuses for non- performance, abdicates work activities, knowing someone else will assume the work, or takes to long to accomplish a task, this person has likely learned how to play the game of avoiding work throughout life. To break both of you from this destructive and corrosive behavior, hold that person accountable in a non-threatening manner.
  1. Tough Love Them – Sometimes individuals on our team carry negative personal baggage and either display it to their professional peers or allow it to impede their productivity. In these instances, visit with them one-on-one, acknowledge the positive contributions they bring to the team and inquire if they realize that there is something interrupting that positive history and reputation, thus discrediting their public image. Allow yourself to be an enabler of success by partnering with them as an advocate for success and a willingness to be a sounding board for them if necessary. If this proves ineffective, elevate the need for a behavior adjustment on behalf by indicating the level of pain, discomfort, loss and trauma they may face if this unwanted behavior continues or elevates.
  1. Honey Versus Vinegar – Surround them with positive stimulants (people, activities, tasks, assignments, etc.) and limit their exposure to the obvious negatives (disagreeable people, events, tasks, etc.)
  1. Champion Them – Determine to where individuals on your team desire to ascend (where do you want to be next year or in five years within this business) and work endlessly and publicly to guide them and nurture them in that direction.

Leaders cultivate championship level attitudes and behaviors from their team, and a leader must occasionally ask him or herself how clued in are they to each individual on their team. Success leaves clues and like attracts like. If winners are what you want, condition individuals to be exactly that – winners.

Dr Jeff Magee
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