Archive for September, 2013

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 Journalnewspaper 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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Conditioning Others for Success: Creating a Work Environment for Peak Performance!

Executive Summary:  Blending systems and people for increased organizational success

Each day, managerial-leadership effectiveness starts from a perspective not taught in America’s leading business schools. A leader’s first objective is to create an environment conducive for success. This starts by recognizing that one’s attitude influences all actions and reactions one displays in business each day!

An effective leader has a heightened awareness of which obstacles impede success and accepts action plans to remove or eliminate them from a business environment.

American management icon Peter Drucker has long asserted that organizational success and effectiveness rest on two primary domains: systems and people. To attain a higher level of success, a leader should recognize that anything that can be done to improve the efficiencies of systems must be done. Leaders should also recognize what can be done to enhance the performance of people on the team.

The processes of conditioning both for success can be blended together through simple tactical action plans. Consider:

  1. Incentive Wealth Sharing Program – Institute a program with real incentives to invite all members of an organization to share suggestions on how to either save money, make money or increase productivity. Offer a 10 percent incentive for anything that is accepted, acted upon or implemented and that can be measured! 
  1. Remove Frustration Items – Recognize the policies, procedures, programs, etc. that you would have complained about before you evolved into a leadership role. Now that you are in management, assume the role of authority, responsibility and accountability and review the relevance of them. If you cannot make a powerful case for maintaining them, remove them!
  1. Environmental Plus-It – Determine all of the environmental resources, materials, equipment and trappings that work to create positive attitudes among individuals. When and where possible, add them to “plus” the environment!
  1. Limit Exposure – Increase your awareness of the things and people that push people’s “hot buttons” and limit the exposure of your peak performers to these negative influences. Surround them with positive and encouraging factors that further condition the forward momentum of an organization.
  1. Celebrate Regularly – Psychology reveals that our mind needs to see fulfillment and accomplishment for expanded energies, and when it does, it refuels itself. When individuals work on activities that do not generate immediate measurable results, people can become bored, burned out, complacent and disassociated. As a leader, it is your job to ensure that individuals and teams are acknowledged regularly for successes and that displays of celebration are allowed and encouraged!
  1. Individualize Appropriately – Allow individuals to individualize their work space, within appropriate perimeters, with comfort items that feed their psychology a sense of belonging, ownership and pride. People will have a greater level of buy-in to their work space, work responsibilities and overall organization.

Creating environments for success and prosperity is directly linked to how a leader conditions an environment to be conducive for the daily planting of success seeds and the regular harvest of achievement.

Dr Jeff Magee
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Leader as Counselor – Follow-Up for Success!

Anyone who has ever played a sport can still hear his or her coach saying, “It is all in the follow through!”

The same is true for the leader cast into a position of counseling a problem player and converting that undesired behavior into a desired one. “It is all in the follow through (up)!”

As a leader, how you tactically engage a problem player and, more importantly, follow through to ensure that the future behavior is healthy and wise is critical. To increase the odds of bad behavior patterns disappearing and constructive behavior patterns emerging, consider these tactical actions for following up after a counseling session:

  1. Set specific follow-up time frames daily (whether face-to-face or via e-mail, telephone, fax, video conferencing, etc.) to ensure there are no unexpected obstacles that have risen to impede performance improvement. Continue this follow-up until you are confident you have been there for the reinforcement period necessary for the behavioral change. When you feel you’re done, include another ten days for added security!
  2. Consider writing out action plans for performance improvement on a piece of paper, index card, reverse side of a business card, PDA or computer; post it where you will see it three times a day. Looking at your action plan at the beginning of the day will serve as a mental direction for what the goal is; midday will serve as a reminder of what one is supposed to be doing; the end of the day will serve to ensure work was contributed to the goal for that day!
  3. Engage others as a sort of support and reinforcement group to aid the individual in question and encourage their positive behaviors.
  4. Solicit support and active participation from any formal entities (networking groups, mentors, union leadership, advocates, colleagues, etc.) that can gain from the improved performance.
  5. Reward only the positive improvement – nothing less! No rewards for getting close or making baby steps!
  6. Have follow-up meetings in a location that serves to reinforce the significance of the desired behavior. Drawing upon the high school principal office syndrome can aid your cause, so meet in the boss’s office occasionally. This will add additional reinforcement to the seriousness and gravity of the counseling session and, thus, the follow-up expectations!

As a leader, how you follow through and follow up is a sign of your professionalism. “It is all in the follow through”.

Dr Jeff Magee
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