Golden Insights Blog Archive
Today more than ever, organizations are faced with the challenge to reduce costs and increase capacities while delivering increasingly better products and services. Facing global competition in the marketplace, organizations are struggling to be competitive, struggling to be profitable, and most importantly, struggling to survive. Dr. W. Edwards Deming once commented, “It is not necessary to change. Survival is not mandatory.” With the reality of going out of business, organizations in all industries are asking, “How do we change our approach to business to keep us relevant in our industry?”
As a Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt, I’ve been known to think differently than others and my family has noticed. And many people have no idea what it is or what it means. “Martial arts? When did you do that? And what does Lean Six Sigma mean?” Ugh! They’ll never understand. Or, maybe this is the perfect opportunity to let them see me in action and they might just gain some insight into, “What is Six Sigma?”
In any organization, work can be broken down into two categories – operations and projects. Operations are the organization’s on-going, repetitive activities, such as manufacturing, staffing or accounting. These activities are primarily focused on keeping things running. On the other hand, project work is temporary in nature, having defined start and end dates; project work produces unique outputs. Though both categories of work have some things in common (people, resources, goals), they require different sets of skills and tools.
Can you answer yes to the following question? At work, do you have the opportunity to do what you do best every day? According the author Tom Rath in the book Strengths Finder 2.0, those who answered yes to this question are six times more likely to be engaged in their work and three times more likely to have a better quality of life in general. According to this study by the Gallup organization of over 10 million people, only a third of them “strongly agreed” with this statement.
Say the phrase, “We need to hold people more accountable” to your team and most of them will likely have a negative reaction. Why? Because for many, the connotation of the word “accountability” was created by an unpleasant experience involving blame, coercion, criticism and more work. What we say we mean versus what they perceive is often contradictory.
Asking for permission to have a conflict conversation? Ned, I thought you were nuts when you suggested we get in a circle for our meetings, now I know you are.
Providing difficult feedback to an employee is one of the most challenging tasks for a supervisor. Nobody likes having to tell someone that they are not doing a good job. And certainly nobody wants to hear it. Employee defensiveness, even complete denial of the situation, can often be a typical employee response.
As we approach another end to the business year and, hopefully, are planning for the coming business year, I genuinely encourage you all to reflect upon the past year’s successes and failures to determine where that one extra degree of effort either made the difference or could have made the difference in your businesses.
In my last article, I wrote about two of the common traps decision makers can fall into. In this article, I’d like to share two key questions that must be addressed when making a decision – who should make the decision and who should be in involved in the decision. The answer to the first question is pretty straightforward – generally it’s the individual who is in charge. But the decision maker has some options when it comes to the second question. Let’s explore them.
Gather in a circle? Ned, are you crazy? This is a workplace not some hand holding kumbaya love fest! No I am not crazy and you don’t have to be part of a kumbaya love fest to pull this off. The circle is the most prevalent geometric shape natural to nature. Everything you see has a circular shape to it; the moon, earth, sun, clouds, trees, animals, (some of us are a little more circular than others) and so on.
What is it about someone that makes them a great leader? Is it their status, outgoing personality, likeability, relatability, vision, ability to create a great strategy and execute it? I’ve always been interested in the subject of leadership and what makes some people so good at it, while others (despite all the classes they take, books they read or coaching they receive) are not. As an avid reader on the topic and observer of others, I find that the foundation of great leadership is self-awareness.
Stripped down to its essentials, business is about one thing: making decisions. Therefore, decision making is an important skill of leaders in all levels of an organization. It’s also one of the toughest and riskiest skills. It is a skill that can be sidetracked by a number of psychological traps that can undermine decisions. These traps can even cause great leaders to make bad decisions at times. Sometimes the cause is bad luck or poor timing, but more often than not bad decisions are the result of biases that as humans we bring into our decision making processes.
Have you ever seen an adult engage in a tantrum usually exhibited by a toddler? Have you ever been the recipient of someone’s silent treatment? Have you ever found yourself doing a favor for someone while wondering how you allowed yourself to be maneuvered into doing something you really didn’t want to do? Most of us have had experience with people who regularly break the rules of polite decorum and who frequently disregard others’ boundaries.
It seems that in every class I teach, I’m asked, “How can I get my direct reports to do what they are supposed to do?” I hear comments like, “I feel like I’m a babysitter” or “No one takes initiative” or “Everyone comes in and dumps their problems on me and expects me to fix them.” These comments are all too common. So how do we get our employees to take initiative and get the job done?
Do you ever wish people would just do what you asked and that you could get people to follow through on their part of the project? Maybe you wish you could get your point across better, or perhaps you have trouble saying no? The solution to all of these situations is learning how to influence others well.
One of the most common questions that is asked during my presentation skills training program is “How can I better think on my feet?” You see, people may feel well prepared to deliver content, yet they feel unprepared to elaborate further on that content or they may fall apart when answering questions. Thinking on your feet spans three important areas that will be covered in this article, including: When presenting information, when elaborating and when answering questions. The key to thinking well on your feet is to decide the best approach to presenting information in a clear, concise and thoughtful way.
By now you have probably heard something about generational differences. The information is everywhere: magazine articles, news media, Internet blogs and corporate training programs. There are research institutions who are devoting entire divisions to studying the Millennial generation. There is even a TV show titled “Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X.” The question now is not whether you have heard about generational differences. The question is “What have you heard?”
Fifteen years ago twenty-five percent of major business change initiatives impacted less than fifty people and cost less than $100,000. Today, that same twenty-five percent impacts more than 5,000 people and costs more than $10M. This is a one hundred times increase in fifteen years! This growth has been driven by globalization and an increase in technology projects. That means projects have become one hundred times riskier.
Emotions interfere with our ability to identify and maintain focus on the issue during conflict. The reason we are so eloquent after the conversation is over is because emotions have subsided and rational thought is now in command of our thinking. Now we know exactly what we should have said. Sometimes the emotion subsides quickly, allowing us the immediate opportunity to identify the real issue, make amends and resolve the issue. Sometimes the emotion lingers, however, resulting in grudges, plans for evening the score and counter attacks. When this happens, the original issue may be lost in an on-going drama that can last a lifetime.
It’s not just what you say, it’s how you say it. Part of the “how” is nonverbal language. When you deliver a presentation, people observe two things: Your verbal language – the words you use – and your nonverbal language – what your body language says about you. In this article, I will present nonverbal language from two different perspectives: Your own nonverbal language that you use while delivering a presentation to others and the nonverbal language that your audience shows to you while you’re presenting.