Believe to Achieve

Can you achieve leadership status without having faith in yourself? Do you love who you are? Do you believe in yourself and your skills?

Having faith in yourself is a must for achieving success. Mother Teresa once said, “I do not pray for success, I ask for faithfulness.”  Success is a consequence of faith.

Since you were a little kid you have been learning what you could accomplish by having faith in yourself. As children we learned to do things we saw others doing, such as riding a bike, hitting a ball, or swimming, because we had faith that we could do it. Even though we had to fight our natural fears, we decided to ride that two-wheeler or jump into the water and start swimming. We kept trying no matter how many times we failed. Our faith told us that we could ride the bicycle, swim, or hit the ball, and eventually we did. We did not give up, and we achieved success.

Later in life, we began to try more difficult tasks and experience the consequences of failing or succeeding. Unfortunately, when we failed at some of those attempts we gave up, allowing fear of failure to stop us from trying again.

Everyday we find examples of people that have done things that we want to do. That desire alone should be enough to create the faith in ourselves to achieve those goals. You know that if others could do it, then so can you! Many of these people started from worse circumstances than yours, and they did it.

Faith in yourself is your ticket to success.

In 1877, Thomas Edison said, “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” Thomas Edison failed more than 1,000 times when trying to create the light bulb. (The story is often told as 5,000 or 10,000 times depending on who is telling the story.)  When asked about it, Edison allegedly said, “I have not failed 1,000 times. I have successfully discovered 1,000 ways to NOT make a light bulb.” How will having faith in my ability to succeed affect my business? It will help you to show you also have faith in others. Having a positive attitude will help you to always look for a way to help your customers. Look for a win-win scenario and more often than not you will walk out with a new prospect, a smile, and new business for you and your company. At the end of the day, you will be energized. That energy translates to a much better attitude and a large increase in sales.

When people believe in you, there is an incredible power that fills you up. Suddenly the impossible becomes possible. Our work as coaches is to help you visualize success.

How can you build faith in yourself and in others? Here are some tips.

  1. Think of your dream and imagine yourself reaching that. Remember, failure begins with disbelief.
  2. Stop thinking of what you can’t do, and begin to think of the things that you can do. Be a “yes” type of person, at least to yourself.
  3. When facing opportunities, put your heart into it. Again, believe that you’ll make things happen!
  4. Think BIG, believe BIG, act BIG. As that realistic proverb says, “Aim for the roof, you fall on the floor. Aim for the sky, and you fall on the roof.”
  5. Find a Strength. Instead of looking at weaknesses, look for strengths in yourself and others.
  6. Build on Past Successes. If you have to face a difficult or challenging task, take time to recall your past successes. This will give you encouragement for the future and help turn a difficult situation into a positive one.

As you can see, it’s all in the mind. Start with positive thoughts, and the rest will follow.

At Activate Group we help clients achieve quick, efficient and profitable growth through the easy implementation of proven methods. For more information, please contact us at [phone link=”true”] or send an e-mail to pjperez@activategroupinc.com.

Coaches’ Corner – Are you winning too much?

Winning too much is one of the most common issues we see in successful people, from the executive suite to the top salespeople. The suggestion that this might be a detriment is usually followed by an incredulous look from the recipient. After all, shouldn’t everyone want to win all the time? Actually, this one behavioral problem belies many others. Common indicators that this issue exists are as follows:

  • One does not realize that winning in a particular situation is more damaging than losing.
  • Someone shares a great experience, and the over-competitive person has to add one of his own better experiences.
  • One person takes credit for another person’s good deeds.
  • Someone tends to be argumentative in their desire to get you to see things their way.
  • An employee that is seen by most employees as hard-working, committed, and driving positive change is suddenly fired.
  • Belittling people who have a skill not possessed by the spoiler.
  • Regular withholding of information that is needed for others to be successful.

We are not suggesting that one should eradicate competitiveness or the desire to be the best. With that said, by engaging one of our coaches you might shift from “good to great” or “great to greater” performance by realizing when it is important to win and when it does not matter. Overcoming this issue has resulted in the following benefits:

  • More personal power in their organization
  • Greater sales performance
  • Lower employee turnover
  • Higher customer retention
  • More and stronger friendships
  • Higher degree of personal satisfaction
  • Stronger teamwork

We help executives deal with behavioral challenges like these on a daily basis. Review our website to understand how an executive coach or business coach can help you increase the success of your career and business, or contact Howard Shore at [phone link=”true”] or shoreh@activategroupinc.com.

* This concept is adapted from and explored more deeply in What Got You Here Won’t Get You There, by Marshal Goldsmith. We recommend reading this book.

Convincing Others To Willingly Accomplish Your Goals

Great leaders have mastered the art of getting things done through others. Even more impressive, their people do things required of them because they want to. This is a foreign concept to the many leaders and managers that seem to only get things done by doing it themselves or by brute force. Great leaders are able to achieve amazing things while the masses find themselves awake at night.

A key difference between great leaders and everyone else is found in understanding the distinction between “power” and “authority” and how to utilize them effectively. Unfortunately, these two words are typically used interchangeably. Understanding the difference between the two concepts can result in very large returns for you personally and financially. Before I begin, I have two questions:

Would you rather have “authority” or “power”? Why?

Authority derives from organizational title or position the right to enforce the rules, exact obedience, and command, determine, or judge. On the other hand, power may be defined as the ability or capacity to perform or act effectively in ways that influence the behavior of others. This is a personal talent that can be developed. It has little or nothing to do with title, rank, or authority. We can see this in our everyday world. How often do you see people in the same organization with the same position, title, or rank, yet one possesses far more influence in the company than the other? I have even seen those with far lower rank exact much more influence than their superiors.

Authority is necessary and serves a very important function in the operation of any organization, and it can be an efficient tool of management when used judiciously. However, I have seen many powerful leaders and managers allow authority to go to their heads. They get themselves so caught up in their own self-importance and expeditious attitudes that it destroys their power and ultimately company value. In other cases I see people trying to get promotions and accepting new positions to obtain authority when it is power they are really craving. While the ideal situation is to achieve both, every employee should start out each day asking “what can I do to increase power (influence) today.” The result will eventually lead to more power, job satisfaction, results, authority, personal growth, and profits.

How Do You Increase Power?

Power is earned, not given. It begins with building trust. A person that is not trusted unconditionally by others will never have true power over them. There are a lot of factors that go into building trust. However, my own coach actually shared with me a very powerful secret to earning more power that I would like to share with you. It is best illustrated through an exercise.

Exercise:

On a piece of paper draw a 3 inch line, and label this line “responsibility.” On the left side, write “least,” and on the right side, write “most.” Think about an organization where you have worked. Now in that organization I would like you to think of the person that took the most responsibility and write his/her name next to “most.” From that same organization, I would like you to think of the person who took the least amount of responsibility. Underneath the first line, I would like you to draw a second line and label it “power.” On the left side of that line, write “victim,” and on the right, write “master.” Thinking back to the same organization, if you are like most of my clients, you would put the person who took the least amount of responsibility next to “victim” and the person who took the most responsibility next to “master.”

Therefore, the secret to earning more power is taking more responsibility. If you find yourself feeling or acting liking a victim, ask yourself, how can I take more responsibility? In the end, you will find that you and others with more power find ways to take ownership when things go wrong and set things on course. Pointing fingers and placing blame on others, even when justified, does not earn you any power.

How do I know if I have Power?

Look at behavior and see how you answer the following questions:

  • Are my people regularly performing at exceptional levels?
  • Do I get what I need from others when I need them?
  • Are people on time for meetings with me?
  • Do people regularly cancel meetings with me?
  • How happy do my people seem to be when they are in my office?
  • How frequently do my people want to be in my office?
  • Do I have regular turnover in my departments?
  • What is the absentee rate in my department?
  • Do people in other departments regularly seek out transferring to mine?
  • Do people that do not report to me regularly seek out my input? Would they do this if they did not have to?
  • Am I invited to meetings that do not directly involve my department?
  • Do others regularly invite me to lunch at all levels in the organization?
  • When I invite others in the organization to lunch who are at or above my level, are they regularly too busy?

The decision is up to you! Master the art of earning power or using authority sparingly, and the results will speak for themselves.

Review our website to understand how an executive coach or business coach can help you increase the success of your career and business, or contact Howard Shore at [phone link=”true”] or shoreh@activategroupinc.com.

Reference and excerpts taken with permission from Leadership published by Resource Associates Corporation, Mohnton, PA.

Create A Habit of Goal-Setting

One of the most beneficial habits you can create in life is goal-setting. As an executive coach, one of my biggest priorities with clients is to get them to set and write down goals on a daily, weekly, monthly, and annual basis. By setting goals they dramatically increase success.

We are all creatures of habit and actually operate over 85% of our daily lives through these habits. For example, we drive to and from work pretty much the same way every day. This is because our brains are trying to operate efficiently. Once we find the best route, it is logical to stick to it. It takes less time and energy to follow a familiar route than to try to learn a different way to accomplish the same task.

If you make a habit of goal-setting you can increase your success level by at least three times what it would be without that new habit. Goal-setting works for the simple reason that human beings are goal-seekers by nature. Starting from birth, we behaved or didn’t behave in certain ways for the purpose of getting a parent’s approval or attention. As we got older we did things to seek our friends’ approval, or worked hard to get good grades to get to the next level of school. It is very unlikely that someone would get a law degree, for example, if they did not believe that it was integral to achieving a desired goal.

Goal-setting has five important benefits:

  1. Defines Winning – Sports give us a great example of the importance of being able to define winning. Watching the score while rooting for your team to win is an integral part of the allure and excitement of any sport. How many people would want to go and watch the Miami Heat for 82 games with no scoreboard? Even when a fan cannot watch the game, you will find them checking the newspaper or online to see which team won and how the players on their team did.
  2. Keeps You Focused – The most common obstacle to success is that people naturally gravitate to the symptoms of poor focus; day-to-day “fire drills.” By having goals and visiting them daily, we are better able to prioritize.
  3. Makes For Better Decisions – In simple terms, how can you make a decision without knowing what you want the outcome (e.g. goal) of that decision to be? By setting goals you are in a better position to know how much time to spend on the decision, what information you need, and which alternative is best.
  4. Increases Self-Motivation – As mentioned above, we are goal-seekers by nature. Once a person has decided on a goal, self-motivation begins.
  5. Develops Self-Confidence – Once a person has set and achieved a goal, it increases self-confidence. Higher self-confidence leads to more goal-setting, and as the next goal is achieved the pattern continues.

A great example of the benefits of goal-setting is a lawyer I worked with who wanted to increase his firm revenue without working any more hours. He actually wanted to work less. Prior to hiring me there was no firm goal for monthly billing. All that was known was that more was desired. The first step in our process was to establish some preliminary goals for monthly billing that, in this case, was 50% more than current levels. Within 150 days this attorney doubled his billings and was working no more hours than he was previously.

Once a goal is established, an organization or individual is in a position to have regular discussions that can focus around where actual results are compared to a goal. When on target, thoughts and discussion should focus on future trends or obstacles that can throw us off track. When not on track, it is important to identify causes and develop action plans to get back on track.

There are many examples of organizations and individuals who found that our goal achievement process dramatically improved their careers and business. Review our website to understand how an executive coach or business coach can help you increase the success of your career and business, or contact Howard Shore at [phone link=”true”] or shoreh@activategroupinc.com.

Employee Motivation – 5 Steps to Apply When Mistakes Occur

The better a man is, the more mistakes he will make, for the more new things he will try. I would never promote to a top-level job a man who was not making mistakes … otherwise he is sure to be mediocre.
– Peter Drucker, leadership expert

What do you do when you make a mistake? How do you feel?

How do you react when others mess up? How do you make them feel?

Do you find a way to gain benefit from mistakes and prevent them from taking you and/or your organization off track?

As an executive coach, I find many business owners, CEOs, and other leaders that continue to recycle employees who failed to make perfect decisions and act properly every time. On the surface you might be thinking, how big was the mistake? Many of these executives also use the cliché, “We pay them the big bucks NOT to make mistakes.” When you read my upcoming article, “Passing the Buck – Taking Responsibility for Mistakes,” you will see why blame is typically being placed on the wrong people. Worse yet, the leaders who don’t tolerate errors typically hold people to standards higher than those that they themselves achieve and attainable by less than 1% of the population, if that much. These are the very same leaders who cannot understand why their employees are not motivated, the same leaders who typically offer better-than-average compensation to keep people, yet still find it difficult to retain or attract top talent.

In a well-run organization, you should expect that the more “senior” the executive or leader is, the more mistakes he is likely to have made. As Peter Drucker says in the above quote, if they are not making any mistakes, they are mediocre at best and should never reach the senior ranks. The higher the position, the more responsibility, the greater the range of decisions and issues, and the more likely that mistakes will occur. It does not matter how many battles a leader has fought and won … no one can possibly know or have seen everything. The world, people, competition, and issues are constantly evolving, and so must leaders.

Even the greats like Jack Welch provide volumes of examples of when they have made poor decisions, handled a person incorrectly, misread a situation, and just did things that their bosses disapproved of. It is human nature and part of the game of business. Imagine that Jack Welch’s bosses ignored the great things he did and only saw his mistakes. They would have stifled and eventually lost one of the greatest leaders of the Fortune 500.

When problems occur, the challenge faced is not the mistakes, but the attitude towards them. Past errors, failures, and negative experiences do not inhibit the learning process – they actually contribute to it. Some of the best products in the world were the result of mistakes, and some businesses emerged from events considered mistakes. Here are some examples:

  • In 1905, eleven-year-old Frank Epperson left his fruit flavored soda outside on the porch with a stir stick in it. The drink froze to the stick and tasted good. He called his treat the Epsicle. Eighteen years later, in 1923, Epperson applied for a patent for a “frozen ice on a stick” called the Epsicle ice pop, which his children re-named the Popsicle. In 1925, Frank Epperson sold his famous Popsicle to the Joe Lowe Company of New York. Good Humor now owns the rights to the Popsicle.
  • Post It® Notes was a mistake that turned into big business. They are probably all over your computer at work. You use them at home to post the shopping list on the fridge, to leave a telephone message where it will be seen, or to flag a page in a catalog. This product innovation was actually considered a mistake since it was an adhesive that was not sticky enough for the project then at hand. Now it has become an office-supply staple produced in a myriad of sizes and colors.
  • One more well-known mistake was New Coke. New Coke was the unofficial name of the sweeter drink introduced in 1985 by The Coca-Cola Company to replace its flagship soda, Coca-Cola or Coke. Properly speaking, it had no separate name of its own, but was simply the new version of Coke, until 1992 when it was renamed Coke II. Public reaction to the change was devastating, and the new cola quickly entered the pantheon of major marketing flops. However, the subsequent reintroduction of Coke’s original formula led to a significant gain in sales.

Does the way a person respond to a mistake define him/her as a leader? Leaders who regularly punish and criticize people for mistakes, regardless of position, will actually reduce their personal power within an organization. The leader will eventually lose the respect of others, reduce motivation, and hold back the company. Moreover, by not utilizing mistakes as a learning tool, one is persisting in mediocrity, creating an environment where people will “play it safe” and “do things the way we always have” in order to avoid disfavor. Leaders might verbally tell people to “think out of box” and/or reinvent their positions; however, actions, body language, and tone can speak much louder than the words.

By attacking others for mistakes or mistakenly finding that it’s “easier just to do it myself,” a leader prevents others from learning what they are capable of becoming. Or, if a leader depends on someone else to prevent the possibility of failure, they will find that they are actually preventing themselves from developing leadership. Further, many leaders make the mistake of trying to be involved in every decision so that mistakes will not happen. All they accomplish is to make a bunch of people depend on them and stifle their organization. They need to stop taking themselves so seriously, and let their people develop.

Mistakes and errors are necessary steps in the learning process and can be a powerful tool in motivating employees to help take an organization to the next level. Reviewing errors should be a means to an end – not an end in itself. Once they have served their purpose, mistakes should be forgotten. No one enjoys making mistakes, but everyone makes them. Your leadership progress is determined by your attitude toward yourself and others. “Failure” is a state of mind, but when leaders view errors as learning experiences, organizations bounce back even stronger.

Apply these Five Steps when mistakes occur:

  1. Get the Facts – Learn all you can about the mistake.
  2. Reflect – Understand what might be done differently in the future and determine how to turn this into an opportunity for you and others to learn and to make the organization stronger.
  3. Communicate – Positively communicate what has been learned and what should happen in the future.
  4. Reassure – No one likes to make mistakes. Reassure those involved in the mistake that you are on the same team and that you view mistakes as progress.
  5. Forget – Do not dwell on past mistakes. Move on and think positively as to how you will bounce back even stronger.

Review our website to understand how an executive coach or business coach can help you increase the success of your career and business or call Howard Shore at [phone link=”true”], or e-mail me at shoreh@activategroupinc.com.

Reference and excerpts taken with permission from Leadership published by Resource Associates Corporation, Mohnton, PA.

Fighting Time!

Do you feel you’re in a constant battle with time? Does time seem to be winning, no matter which technology, process, and system one uses? While the amount of time in a day, week and year remains the same, people are attempting to fit more commitments into the same finite time spans. After many years of observing and working with senior management, I have found a fundamental flaw in how they approach time. This flaw causes significant bottlenecks in their companies. Worse, their poor leadership regarding time strategies causes others to have problems with time.

An example of the above is a company that never has time to create clear business plans. There are no clear specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-based (SMART) goals for the overall organization and for each executive. As a result, the organization spends far more time than necessary reconciling their lack of integration and problems.

Typically this company has positions open for a year or more for lack of time to establish and perfect their hiring process. Consequently, current employees work significant overtime, mistakes in product development occur, sales returns happen, company reputation is damaged, employee productivity decreases, and people burn out. Lacking the training or the experience to hire well, they often take much longer than necessary to get good candidates and attract a smaller pool of good candidates than they should and could. Once it is time to choose a candidate, their process is so broken they fail to select an “A” player for the position. For a year, I suggested a solution to this problem that would involve approximately ½ a day of training for the management team and the head of human resources. The answer, “we do not have time” has come up each time. So goes the vicious circle.

Companies must narrow priorities to get to the root of “what is eating time to begin with.” CEOs have to be the most effective when it comes to setting priorities for themselves and the organization. When they fail, they become a huge bottleneck for the rest of the organization. Lack of prioritization and clarity at the top will kill your organization. This same discipline of prioritization has to be developed and aligned at every level. Without it, effective use of time is destroyed.

Here is a set of questions to ask yourself:

  • What are the 5 most important goals of my company, and which is the top 1 of those 5?
  • What are the 5 most important tasks I can do today to help move those 5 most important goals forward?
  • Am I working on those 5 tasks?
  • What are you doing that does not relate, and how can you stop immediately?
  • What can you do to help accelerate the top 5 goals of the company?
  • If you have more than 5 priorities, who can help you whittle that list down to no more than 5? Or how can you delay some of the other goals so that there are no more than 5 on your plate now.
  • What is your number 1 priority now? How can you accelerate its completion?

Review our website to understand how an executive coach or business coach can help you increase the success of your career and business, or contact Howard Shore at [phone link=”true”] or shoreh@activategroupinc.com.

Goal Epidemic

Are you setting goals for yourself and/or your organization with conviction? Even worse, are you part of the audience at large that does not make a habit of setting goals? If I were to audit all the goals you set for yourself and your organization for the last 5 years, what percentage did you achieve? If you have success rate of less than 90%, you need to read this article.

Goals need to be mandatory targets rather than the desires or dreams they appear to be today. Too often I see leaders and their people establish goals without real commitment to attainment. They put goals in their business plans and don’t give them another thought until next year – when they set their goals again. This creates a culture of “I’ll try.” When you ask someone to do something, and they tell you, “I’ll try,” that usually means “forget about it” in a nice way.

When goals are mandatory you have a different mindset. The response “I’ll try” switches to “I must.” At that point amazing things can happen. We are resourceful creatures when we want to be. We find time that did not exist  (or in other words, we stop wasting time). We reprioritize our tasks to focus on those things we deem more important. We find smarter ways to do things. In the end, we find ways to get things done one thought could not be done.

One of the reasons it is so hard to make the shift toward “failure is not an option” is that there are too many goals. In addition, not enough thought has actually been given as to which goal(s) matter most. For example, it is common for an organization to have a revenue growth goal and to have a lot of little sub-goals to achieve it. A better approach is to ask the question, “What is the one thing, if addressed, will have the biggest impact on accelerating revenue growth?” It is not an easy question, yet once answered it can be the focus of an entire organization. And one must be careful to not lose sight of the goal because it is not uncommon to identify the “one thing” only to have management throw little meaningless pet projects at their people, inadvertently preventing the most important project from getting done.

Once you have clarity around your most important goals you must establish data/metrics and meeting rhythms to drive the results. Data and metrics provide clarity and foresight to know that your goals are on track and that everyone involved is doing their part. Daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly meetings, when well done, help to drive the desired outcomes. Effective team meetings provide communications clarity. They embrace the power of focused collective intelligence and leverage the power of peer pressure. The results are the ability to maximize opportunities and relieve bottlenecks quickly and effectively.

In the end, if you are not achieving over 90% percent of the goals you set, you should invest some time in understanding how you approach goals. The following may help you determine why you are not achieving more of your goals:

  • When you set goals are they mandatory?
  • When you define your goals are they specific enough?
  • Is your goal measurable?
  • When you set a goal do you write it down?
  • Do you communicate goals to everyone who has a role in achieving them?
  • Do you let everyone know how they contribute to the goal?
  • Do you identify and address all obstacles to your goal?
  • Do you have detailed action plans on how you will achieve your goal?
  • Do you review weekly and monthly basis to see that those plans are being followed and hold people accountable for achieving them?
  • Is there any consequence for not achieving the action plans?
  • Are your goals achievable and realistic?
  • Do you have a specific target date for your goal?
  • Are your goals in alignment with each other?

Review our website to understand how an executive coach or business coach can help you increase the success of your career and business, or contact Howard Shore at [phone link=”true”] or shoreh@activategroupinc.com.

Have Your Goals and Achieve Them Too!

You see it every day in your daily lives and particularly at year-end, with all of the New Year resolutions and business plans. Next year you are going to do all of those things you have never done, and more. Or maybe you just want to get back to where you used to be. You set goals for some really important reasons:

  • Keep you on target
  • Make better decisions
  • Keep you focused
  • Increase self-motivation
  • Develop self-confidence
  • How many goals do you have going right now?
  • How have the anticipated rewards influenced your progress (or lack thereof)?
  • Are all of your goals planned out fully? What difference might it make?
  • How do you know if you really are going to achieve those goals?

Here is a quick quiz to see if you are on track:

  • Do I state my goals in a way that tells exactly what will be achieved and by when?
  • Are my goals measurable in a way that I will know whether they are achieved or not?
  • Do I set goals that are attainable and are not designed to stretch to some level below that goal?
  • Are my goals set realistically high so that they require some sort of behavior change?
  • Do all my goals have a definite target date for completion?
  • Do I evaluate my goals to make sure that I do not have too many goals?
  • Have I taken the time to prioritize my goals?
  • Have I written down all of my goals?
  • Do all the people who contribute to my goals know exactly what the goals are and how they contribute to them?
  • Have I thought through in advance and considered all the detailed steps that it will take to complete my goal?

The answer to every question above should always be yes whether it is a personal or professional goal. For every question you answered as “no,” you can probably drop your goal success rate downward by at least 20%. Do not try to put more importance on any one of these items as that would be like building the engine of your car or baking a cake and saying one part or ingredient is more important than the other. The reality is that if one part or ingredient is missing, your car will probably not start or your cake will be inedible.

The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of some of the critical factors that can help you increase your goal success rate to over 90%. There are too many factors to cover in this article so my aim is to clarify some of the top (key) points.

There are a lot of things you do (consciously or subconsciously) to achieve or not to achieve your goals. although I would agree that outside circumstance can play a role in goal achievement. If you are honest with yourself, when you fail to achieve a goal, whether it’s more sales, customer retention, employee retention, or something personal like weight loss, success or failure is more dependent on the goal-setter than on outside influences.

Commitment

I always get a funny look when I discuss this issue with clients and friends. Many people think that because they made a decision, they made a commitment. This could be the farthest from the truth. Actually, the hardest decisions oftentimes have the weakest commitments, particularly the larger the group size.

Does this scenario sound familiar to you? More than a year is spent thinking about something, maybe even a committee is created to evaluate it, consultants are hired, friends and colleagues conferred with, money is spent for market research, and finally an affirmative decision is made. The project, system, process, or other decision is placed into action, and all of a sudden the inevitable happens – problems arise, big problems, little problems, and problems disguised as attitudes.

What happens to most people’s level of commitment when faced with these problems? Rather than solving the problems, they ignore all of the thought that went into making the decision and allow emotion to take over. Their commitment to the decision it took them a year to make crumbles, and with it the chance of following through on the decision.

IF YOU MAKE A DECISION, MAKE A COMMITMENT!

Smarty Goals

The first step in setting goals is to establish a SMART goal that is stated positively. As alluded to in the Quiz, SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistically high, and Time-based. However, one often-overlooked item is the goal must be Yours. While this criterion seems simple, it is actually not easy in execution. If it were, everyone would achieve a lot more goals. Very briefly, let us discuss what each of these criteria really means:

  • Specific – You say exactly what it is you are going to do. Hazy goals are doomed to failure. For example, we are going to establish a new training program for our supervisors by 10/1/XX. You are not defining what you want to train them to do.
  • Measurable – The goal must be stated in a way so that you can definitely know whether it has been achieved. In addition, you should be able to see if the trend is negative in order to modify your detailed action steps accordingly. For example, we are going to increase the frequency of meetings with our hourly staff. How many additional meetings would you consider acceptable? What purpose would these meetings serve?
  • Attainable and Realistically High – Goals should have sufficient rewards and/or consequences to be motivational, and they must be attainable. If it appears that your goal will not require any kind of behavior change, challenge yourself to make sure that it does. Either the goal is too low, or you are not being realistic about what it will take to get there. The reality is you have set it as a goal because you are not already doing it, and the definition of insanity is “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome.”
  • Time Based – When do you want this goal completed by? Be honest, are there goals you have talked about for years that are still on your goal list? It is probably because you have not committed to a deadline.

The following is an example of a SMART goal:

  • Get 10 appointments by the end of this quarter with decision-makers in the hospitality industry within 50 miles of the Miami area whose companies employ more than 250 people

Write your goals down and broadcast them!

It is not unusual to meet people that have goals about which nobody knows. Even worse, they may not be written down anywhere. In personal or organizational circumstances it is always best to write your goals down for the following reasons:

  • It strengthens commitment.
  • Unwritten goals change unconsciously.
  • It rounds out your thought process and gives you an opportunity to think things through.
  • It provides a means to communicate to everyone who is responsible for execution.

If you have goals and they are not communicated succinctly to everyone who is responsible for doing what it takes to get to where you want to go, what is the likelihood they are going to do it? People like to have purpose and know where they are going. We use goals to focus individuals and organizations in the same direction. When we achieve goals, it increases energy, and that has a positive impact on results, thus further increasing energy, increasing focus on goals, increasing results, increasing energy, and so on. It is that simple!

Review our website to understand how an executive coach or business coach can help you increase the success of your career and business, or contact Howard Shore at [phone link=”true”] or shoreh@activategroupinc.com.

How To Improve Your Team

Millions of dollars are misspent every year on team-building exercises and programs that do not get to the core of unlocking the potential of team performance. Teams are sent to exotic places to participate in fancy programs and fun activities that fail to help them achieve peak performance. This article explores why team-building programs fail and recommends ways to improve your team’s performance.

A significant reason that team-building initiatives fail is that too much emphasis is placed on the misconception that team-building should be fun. The purpose of team-building is to improve the performance of a work group, thereby creating better outcomes. This requires change, and for most people change is not fun … it is hard work. To drive change, team members must develop skills and gather information connected to the critical business outcomes they must produce. Team-building can be fun… if the members of the work group enjoy the learning process and relish the opportunities that change will bring. Sometimes the most trying struggles produce the most satisfying lessons.

If you want to improve teamwork and performance in your organization you have to look at the four core elements to driving team performance: relationships, goals, roles, and rules. All four of these elements must be executed well for the organization to flourish.

Relationships

Ironically, improving relationships is probably the last area you should focus on. Yes, the area that most leaders spend most of their time addressing is usually the symptom, not the problem. Almost every organization that has team-building issues will find their root of their problems in goals, roles, and rules. In my experience, when we address goals, roles, and/or rules, many of the relationship problems disappear.

Once you are comfortable with goals, roles, and rules, you are then ready to tackle relationships. Many of these relationship issues usually stem from different behavioral styles and people not appreciating and knowing how to deal with people whose styles differ from their own. I recommend engaging a Certified Behavioral Analyst (such as myself) to help iron out the rest.

Goals

The first step toward achieving success as a team is to state your goals properly. You know your goal is well stated when anyone who reads it knows exactly what you are trying to accomplish and in what time frame. The better a person states the goal, the easier it is to create the action plan. An acronym commonly used for stating a goal properly is SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realisticly High, and Time-based). In my experience, most goals to not properly meet these criteria and thus diminish the success of teams.

The other Issue that dooms many teams is improper alignment of goals. On an individual basis, each goal may be SMART. However, when you add up all the goals, or look at them on a system-wide basis, they may conflict with each other. These conflicts distract the team as they spend more time dealing with the lack of alignment than actually working on achieving the goal. It is for this reason that an ongoing system for goal alignment needs to be established in your organization.

For a comprehensive discussion on goals please see my article “State Your Goals in a SMART WAY” to learn more on the subject of goals.

Roles

In order for a team to function properly it is important that every member of the team understands specifically the actions and/or activities assigned to them. This is not as simple as some make it out to be, which is why this is usually an issue for team. There are two different types of roles: task and maintenance. The “task” roles relate to driving the desired outcome of a team. The “maintenance” roles relate to managing team processes and relationships among people on the team. Many organizations take the latter for granted, as if processes and relationships will automatically fall into place, or underestimate the time required to do it well.

With regard to task roles it is important to break down the tasks required to produce the outcomes you want, and how much time each task will take. Many organizations only think about the big things and take the little tasks for granted. Those many little time-consuming tasks are what throw teams off course. Once all the tasks have been identified, roles can be identified and assigned to the appropriate people.

Rules

Rules are a very important component of teamwork. This is one of those areas many leaders, particularly in entrepreneurial and family-owned businesses have the biggest concern with. Everyone is fine with rules as long as they apply to others.  You cannot have one set of rules for some people and another set for others. Owners are particularly vulnerable to this one. They love to pull out the old trump card, “Well it’s my business, so I can do whatever I want!” While this is true, they also must realize that the “need to be me” costs them a lot of money in worker productivity every year. People do as you do, not as you say.

When you have people playing by different rules, it creates conflict and problems, causing your organization to spend valuable time discussing and dealing with conflict rather than achieving goals. By making uniform rules one can eliminate unnecessary conflict and wasted gossip around the office. Let’s use the stop sign as an example. Imagine an intersection where there is a stop sign for drivers going north and south, but not for drivers going east and west. If you can trust that when you are traveling east or west that people traveling north and south will stop, you can drive full speed through the intersection with nothing to worry about. However, if you can’t be sure that the north-south drivers will follow the rules, then you need to slow down or stop at that intersection to prevent serious consequences.

The same thing is true of your organizations. If people are not all playing by the same rules, it breaks trust. People feel the need to be cautious and slow down.

Conclusion

Next time you think you are not getting maximum productivity out of your team, do not assume it is a relationship issue. Do not assume that one of those fun one-day or half-day team-building exercises will change your results. Instead, hire someone who can help you take a more systemic approach to help drive the results you are looking for.

If you want to achieve more goals, make sure that you state them in a SMART WAY! Review our website to understand how an executive coach or business coach can help you increase the success of your career and business or contact Howard Shore at [phone link=”true”] or shoreh@activategroupinc.com.

Is Training Only For Pets?

Is your company expending money on training without expecting a ROI?  Is the budget expended on training strengthening the employees’ skills allowing them to grow personally and professionally?

There is a difference between training and development. In many circumstances, due to the misinterpretation of these terms, companies expend tons of money providing training to executives and managers who already have the skills and the knowledge, when what they really need is to develop those skills to their maximum potential.

Most organizations, when seeking new employees, invest money in newspaper ads, headhunters, job fairs, and internet postings to attract and hire those candidates who already have the knowledge and the skills to do the job.

However, does that knowledge or those skills make them successful? How many times have you met individuals with degrees from top schools who can not reach professional success?

Training is the acquisition of knowledge, skills, and competencies as a result of the teaching; on the other hand, development teaches you how to become more productive and effective at work and how to maintain focus on what really counts in all aspects of your life. In other words, training provides the skill, development maximizes it.

When you invest money in developing your employees, you are helping them use the resources that they have to do a better job. While you have them together in the team arena, you have the opportunity to get them to discover things that they would have never discovered in their day-to-day work.

As you strengthen the individual members of the team, the team gets strengthened. As the team gets strengthened, you will see that the organization gets strengthened.

When we develop people through coaching, the tools we use are different from those we apply when we provide training. Those tools are centered on:

  • Attitudes and habits
  • Skills, not technical skills, but the soft skills, the personal skills: things like communication, time management, decision-making, problem-solving, etc.
  • Goal-setting and goal achievement
  • Purpose

Once those tools are applied in the proper way, attitudes and habits turn positive, time strategies are put in place, productivity increases, goal-setting turns into goal achievement, and the feeling of success brings the team members a balance in their personal life and professional careers.

Going back to the article’s title: Is training only for pets?  In my opinion no, it is not. Training and education are the main structure of the temple of knowledge, and when we decide to invest in professional and personal development, we are fortifying the temple.

If the most important asset in your organization is your people, and they were hired because of the quality of the skills and knowledge they brought to the company, it is time to think about developing their skills to their maximum potential to propel your organization’s organic growth.

As an Executive and Corporate Team Coach, I provide the tools and methodologies to accelerate team performance. For more information, please review our website, call Pablo J. Perez at [phone link=”true”], or send an e-mail to pjperez@activategroupinc.com.

Some Reference and excerpts were taken from Coaching Corporate Teams by David Herdlinger.