Tuesday, June 29, 2010

An Uninvited Guest

We just returned from a visit to Old Forge, NY where my sister and her husband have a cabin that sits on a small lake.  In the village, you can find plenty of souvenirs to remind you of your adventure into the woods, all of which come with a picture of a moose, or a loon, or a bear, etc.  The symbols of the Adirondack wilderness can found on almost any piece of clothing imaginable.    

Turns out, we would not be the only visitors to the camp this weekend. 

Round about lunchtime, a black bear showed up to check out the good smells from the prior night's cookout on the grill.  Luckily, we were all safely inside and the camera's battery was still fresh.   

Now, there's been evidence of bears at their cabin before.  Sounds in the middle of the night, the lid pulled off the bear box (Adirondack trash bins) the next morning and trash spewed out into the road.  But an extended visit in the middle of the day?  While we're all inside the cabin?  Getting on its hind legs to look inside the windows and doors at us?  This was something new.  

A while after it had sauntered on down the road, my husband and brother-in-law could be heard outside with new motivation to repair the bear box so the garbage could be stored away from the cabin.  And that night, bird food/feeders were brought inside.  Discussion is underway about how to better better secure the deck/grill.

I was struck by how motivated we get to take action once things get up close and personal. 

Want a motivated work force to deliver on their goals?  Need to motivate your manufacturing team to follow the safety procedures in the plant?  Looking to motivate your leadership team to bring your company out of the industrial age and into the information age?

Motivation is and always will be a personal matter.  Find a way to bring the issue to their doorstep, and you'll see action.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Summer's Theme is Not Team

Ah, summer has finally arrived.  And so it begins.

Promises of vacations and long weekends dot our calendars.  Lunches extend as we leave our desks to brown bag it outside on the picnic tables.  Even the music on the commutes in/out of the office gets slower and smoother.  I knew it was officially summer today when I heard Corinne singing "Put Your Records On".

Summer, prime time for productivity in the office.

Say what? 

Really.  Personal productivity, that is. 

Goodness knows you're lucky to have even half the team show up for a call given the overlap of vacation schedules.  Networking meetings that used to take place over the lunch hour turn into full day outings.  Even in Crackberry Nation you have to wait longer for return emails and phone calls once June Solstice rolls around. 

Summer's theme is not "team".  From late June through to Labor Day, it's all about your opportunity for personal productivity.  Checking off items on your own to-do list builds momentum and frees up energy for the bigger stuff that arrives in September when everyone returns to their desks.

Here's a short list of ideas for your consideration.  

  • How 'Bout Those Development Plans?  Your plans, I mean, not those of the people who work for you.  Hire a coach, take a class, read a book, attend a webinar, and expand your world.   
  • Take a Long Lunch - and bring one of your employees with you.  Summer's a great time to hold one-on-one meetings outside the office.   
  • Clear Out the Clutter - Seriously, do you need all that paper?  And how about that email inbox?  Getting rid of the clutter adds time back into your day and gives you space to breath again.
  • Listen to the Stillness - Take advantage of the quieter office season by giving yourself the gift of stillness.  Growth occurs when we're present and still.  Quiet your mind and listen for what rises to the surface.
  • Revisit Long Range Plans - Pull out the strategic vision, the mission statement, the 3 yr, 5 yr, 10 yr plan.  Is it still relevant or does it need an update? 
  • Surf the Net - Research your competition.  Look for what's new in your industry.  Check out what's happening on the global scene.  What are your customers saying about you in their blogs, on Facebook, on your website?  
Put Your Records On, close your door, and embrace your summer of personal productivity.   

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Ready, Aim, Fire

The top two "leadership qualities" for success according to the 2010 IBM Global CEO Study are Creativity and Integrity.  The report further goes on to say that CEOs see the relationship between the two as critical.  

That got me thinking about what this critical relationship might look like. 

Might look like in a PPT deck, of course, because that's how we corporate types communicate.  (hmmm, perhaps fodder for a future blog...)

Corporate Integrity means aligning behaviors and actions to the company's core values.  Here's a fictitious example of a company with four core values and how their integrity might be illustrated. 

Where does Creativity fit into this picture?  I'm going to paint it in as a series arrows.  Curly arrows, because creativity is rarely straight and linear.  

In this example, a creative suggestion to cut costs by moving production offshore would not be put into action because it's not aligned to the value of "Made in the USA".  But, a creative suggestion to partner with another US manufacturer might just be a bulls eye.

Use Integrity as the target, aim the Creative artillery, and fire away.   

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Lowering the Hurdles

My 10 year old daughter just competed in her school district's annual Track & Field Day events.  She ran the hurdles, something she's never even attempted before a few weeks ago.  Low and behold, she's actually pretty good at it and secured a solid 4th place finish.

The hurdles are lower for 10 year olds.  Even the taller students wouldn't stand a chance trying to clear the heights you see at standard track meets.   Does that take away from their accomplishments?  Of course not.  Without lower hurdles, they wouldn't even be in the race.

I'm reminded of something our Learning & Development team did for my Client Services teams.  I told them about some personal development goals we had for our emerging leaders.  We wanted them to have the chance to get in front of their teams and hone their presentation and facilitation skills.  However, they didn't have the time or the skills to develop the materials, so the weren't even getting off the blocks.  Plus, the content had to be truly valuable to the teams or it would backfire on us.  

The solution?  We lowered the hurdles to give our emerging leaders a chance to be in the race.

Our Learning & Development partners wrote the content, agendas, supporting materials, and facilitator guidelines for a series of relevant topics that the emerging leaders could use right out of the box.  It was a great success.

Here's to 4th graders and emerging leaders getting their first taste of success with lower hurdles.