Promotions: Successful Past or Opportunistic Future

January 18, 2014 § Leave a comment

We all love to be promoted, verbally by friends, graphically in print, or professionally by a superior.  Promotions typically occur as a result of great past performance.  But is that the only reason?

I was recently invited to a regularly scheduled Black Belt class in the martial arts style I study called Sanchin-Ryu.  This invitation is NOT given regularly to non-black belts so I wanted to seize the opportunity.  At the end of our two-hour workout, I was called up to the front and presented with my promotion form to Black Belt.  You can imagine my elation.  But that is not the only emotion I was experiencing.

In any example of promotion, the emotions that most people experience are excitement, elation and pride to name a few.  These emotions are a result of the success from the past and are important.

It is normal to celebrate past accomplishments.  There are 5 reasons why you should focus more on the future.

  1. Continue Growing & Learning:  Promotion does not signify it is time to stop learning and improving.  It does not signal the end of the line.  In fact, the opposite is more accurate.  Promotions to great people motivate those people.  They want to do more.  They want to learn more.  They want grow more.  If someone stalls after their promotion, the promotion likely happened to the wrong person.
  2. New Future Opportunities:  After a promotion, interaction will likely be with different people in different ways.  This provides new opportunities that were not available before the promotion.  This is a priceless opportunity to help with #1.
  3. Others Are Looking Up To You:  If it hasn’t happened before, being promoted will make an impact on the journey of others that want to emulate your assent and learn from your wisdom.
  4. Leadership Opportunities:  Regardless if the promotion was to a management position or not, people want to learn from other successful people.  You are likely leading someone whether you realize it or not.
  5. New Perspective:  You are a new person entering into what is usually an existing position.  This “newness” provides you with a unique perspective you wont have forever.  Offer ideas for changes.  Ask questions about why something doesn’t make sense.  Offer praise for things that seem to be going really well.  You will never have this perspective again.

Spend time celebrating a promotion.  Be proud of the past and then quickly start focusing on the future.  What are some of the things you have reflected on after being promoted?  Leave a comment.  I would love to hear more perspectives.

Advertisements

Sometime Never Comes

April 7, 2013 § Leave a comment

Who makes the statement, “let’s get together sometime” and really means it?  If the invitation was sincere, it would not be for “sometime”, but for a specific date or specific date options. Being too general and non-specific will only lead to frustration for everyone involved.

Just the other day I asked someone in the office if they would start on a project “sometime soon”.  As it turns out, the other person thought I meant to start when they got around to it.  You guessed it.  They hadn’t gotten around to it yet.  I didn’t realize my communication error until I followed up with that person a few days later for a progress report.

I have thought of 4 simple ways to make sure that “sometime” DOES come.

  1. Be clear with your communication of due dates.  Use specific date/time references.
  2. If communication is verbal, make sure you follow it up with an email or a confirmation phone call.
  3. If a colleague uses the “sometime” due date, make sure you ask for a specific date.
  4. If a colleague simply says they will do something with no due date, make sure you get a specific date for this too.

Too often people assume clarity has been conveyed when in reality it has not.  Assumptions take over, deadlines are doomed and disappointment is inevitable.I am certain I am not alone in this experience.  I would love to hear your experiences in this area of sometime. How did you deal with it?

Keep your eyes open. Inspiration can come from anywhere.

This post was inspired by my recent personal offense of wanting something done “sometime”. 

Get Out Your Pen, Pencil or Crayon!

January 6, 2013 § 1 Comment

Many years ago my high school health class teacher would announce “get out your pen, pencil or crayon” when he was giving us a surprise quiz.  If he is still teaching today, he would likely tell everyone “get out your laptop, tablet or mobile device”.

I read an article recently in the Wall Street Journal titled The Lost Art of the Handwritten Note.  It mentions a British survey which states 1 in 3 people did not write a single thing by hand in the past 6 months.  I am shocked and not surprised at the same time. Is that possible?  This clearly illustrates how our society has gone nearly entirely electronic.  And I am no different.  I scan any document I need to save.  I use my iPhone & iPad to access files, take notes, and send messages.

Hand written notes have gone by the wayside.  As the WSJ indicates, it is truly a lost art and is nearly extinct.  For those that have received them, it is something very meaningful.  The sender took extra effort to write & send you a note.

This past holiday season, I decided to expand my professional holiday card list.  I also decided to write a note in each one of them.  It was not an easy task, but it felt better than simply signing my name or worse, just stuffing them in the envelope unsigned.

In our fast-paced world, if you want to be noticed in 2013, write a personal, hand-written note.  It will set you apart from everyone who only send emails & text messages.

Keep your eyes open. Inspiration can come from anywhere.

This post was inspired by years of guidance from Mick Parrott regarding the value of writing a note to people.  Thank you, Mick.  Once again you are right on the money.

Polls: Reflection or Creation?

November 3, 2012 § Leave a comment

With the Presidential election in a few days, we have been inundated with polls: taking them and hearing the results of them.  But I ask, what is the purpose?  I want to think it is to reflect the opinion of the public.  But the more I read, hear, and see for myself, it appears their purpose is to create public opinion.  No one wants to say they voted for the loser.  So the poll results saying one person is leading over the other is bound to be a factor in the votes cast.  The topic I will not approach is poll manipulation. If you want an interesting read, check out the Wall Street Journal article, “Can We Believe the Presidential Polls?”, from a couple of weeks ago.

In the workplace, some leaders take the approach of making decisions based on their own knowledge and experiences and in their own vacuum.  Other leaders “poll” the opinions of others to help make their decisions.  Good leaders use both of these approaches.  Great leaders understand the importance of when to use both approaches for maximum efficiency, effectiveness and buy-in.

Keep your eyes open. Inspiration can come from anywhere.

This post was inspired by Chris Lake, COO of Highmark Techsystems, during one of our Beer Summits while we always attempt to solve the world’s problems.

Chiefs vs Indians

August 3, 2012 § Leave a comment

How many times do you see this? You are at your son’s or daughter’s soccer game and the “sideline dad” is constantly yelling at his kid. He thinks he is coaching and helping. Wow, how far from the truth could it be? The team coach is coaching. When Sideline Dad tries to coach too, the kids get frustrated and not sure what to do. When there is one coach, everyone knows who to listen to and take direction from. When there is more than one coach, no one knows who to listen to.

We see this all the time. Not just in the sporting events of our children, but also in our professional career. It is usually well understood that each organization needs a leader – a President or CEO – but what about a project leader?

Projects need someone in charge for the same reason companies do:

Everyone needs to know their role. Who is the leader and who is the follower (or in my example above, who is the coach and who is the spectator)? People must be clear on their roles in order for them to perform at maximum efficiency.  If you simply form a project team and don’t put anyone in charge, the project is doomed to fail or at best the completion will be filled with challenges and will be delayed beyond expectations.

I would love to hear some examples of project team makeup and the resulting success or failure.

Keep your eyes open. Inspiration can come from anywhere.

This post was inspired by “Sideline Dad” at my kids’ soccer game.

Season of Giving – Part 2

December 29, 2011 § Leave a comment

In Part 1 of this series, I wrote about giving compensation increases for the wrong reasons. It is very easy to get sucked into doing this because that is the way it has always been done. That said, I neglected to talk about positive, meaningful and motivating variations for compensation increases.  This takes more creativity and a deeper understanding of each employee and what motivates them.

Typically, acceptance of additional responsibilities and/or significant improvements with current responsibilities are the primary positive and meaningful reasons raises are given. Some people want more responsibility and love to be rewarded when a job is well done. For some, this is all it takes for motivation.

But as I stated in Part 1, one-time pay increases tend to bring euphoria for a short period of time, but then dwindles fairly quickly in most people.  For these people, try a variable component to the compensation package.  Examples could be quarterly bonuses for meeting specific company financial goals. Another variation is to award individuals for completing a specific project that brings value to the company. Goals should be clearly defined for the award and payment given promptly after goals are met.

Regardless of the compensation plan, heed my advise. Completely think through what people are being incentivized to do.  People tend to literally do what you pay them to do. Keep compensation plans simple. Try to think about what people might do, both intentionally and unintentionally, to achieve the payments. For example, if some is paid to increase profitability, quality may be sacrificed in order to meet the profitability goals and obtain the award.

Be creative. Be motivating. Be simple. Dont give in to the easy way out.

Keep your eyes open. Inspiration can come from anywhere.

This post was continued inspiration from Sunny Taylor.  She is an inspiration to my daughter and to me. Thank you Sunny for all you do.

Miss Impatient or The Amazing Race Contestant?

December 20, 2011 § 2 Comments

While my kids were on Fall Break in October, we went to Turkey Run State Park outside of Indianapolis, Indiana. By the way, what is the purpose of fall break? I suppose that rant is for another post.

Turkey Run State Park is an amazing park to hike. I never thought Indiana had such rugged and picturesque areas anywhere. A few trails could have been used to film the scene from Jurassic Park II where the “research” team first gets to the Site B island, Isla Sorna, and they are looking for another research scientist in the plush, jungle-like ravine when a herd of stegosaurs come walking through. Turkey Run is exactly like that, well except for the stegosaurs.

We were walking along one of these streams when the bank on one side became impassable. We were approaching people coming from the other direction so we stopped and waited for them pass. At this time, a woman and her daughter (probably around 8-10 years old) came up behind us and barged her way through making everyone wait. While this was irritating, I was glad they were in front of us and not behind us.

The stream and the trail ended at a waterfall. In order to continue, ladders had to be climbed up the side of the ravine to get to the top. Miss Impatient was waiting at the base of the ladder because there were 10-15 people coming down the ladder. I could see she was getting anxious and antsy. She kept whispering something to her daughter. As a steady stream of people kept coming down the ladder, her daughter started up the ladder (at the direction of Miss Impatient I am sure). People on the ladder were startled to see someone come up when they were already on their way down. My wife and I mentioned this was unsafe with no response. Others on the ladder also commented on it as unsafe, but the daughter of Miss Impatient continued to climb. Finally, she got what she wanted. The people at the top stopped and let the daughter and Miss Impatient up the ladder. The only thing that made sense was she was on a Speed Bump leg of the Amazing Race and needed to get through quickly to catch up with everyone else. Or maybe she was rude and impatient. I am not sure which scenario is more likely.

Beyond being rude, Miss Impatient also seemed to be missing everything around her. The scenery was amazing. The opportunities to talk to her daughter about the natural world around her – the water erosion, rock formations, the history of time gone by and the hollowed out trees where the chipmunks lived – were unlimited.

There are many times where we are trying to hurry through our professional lives, whether it is a large project or small assignment. Problems and errors are inevitable to arise and when we are “barging through” to get to the end, it is very difficult to see the answers to those problems and to pick out the errors in the first place.

As leaders in business, we always need to slow down a bit. When problems arise, many leaders react by trying to solve the problem right away. Instead, it is more important for leaders to ask questions of the people working on the problem.  As a leader, you will likely not always know the answer, but you should always know the questions to ask that helps to figure out the answers.

This approach may take more time. It may even be frustrating for the people hurrying through their projects, but in the end, instead of only learning the answer, the person may also learn a way to figure out a similar problem the next time.

Giving the answer and getting to the finish line quickly works well for a short-term benefit. But by slowing down the process, helping people figure out the answers to their own problems, while it is certainly more time-consuming, the long-term benefits are tremendous.  Not to mention it is much more enjoyable to witness. Enjoyable like slow leisure hike through Turkey Run State Park.

Keep your eyes open. Inspiration can come from anywhere.

I was encouraged to write this blog by my wife. I was inspired to write this blog by Miss Impatient. I do hope she slows down to enjoy life…or wins the million dollars.

Where Am I?

You are currently browsing entries tagged with leadership at Observe Inspire Lead.