Tag Archives: career development

Understanding Leadership – When to fish or cut bait?

MVC-019S

Fish or cut bait.  As leaders, we have probably used this phrase at some point.  And, we seem to have an inherent understanding about the concept that it is describing, even if we aren’t active in a fishing culture.  The four words succinctly describe a decision point where one has to assess the effectiveness of the current methodology or strategy versus the ultimate goal.  Or simply, put is this strategy or activity the most effective use of time and/or resources.

As leaders, we need to focus on what is the most productive use of our skills, knowledge and resources.  We have to make sure that the timing is appropriate, and that the right priorities are being met.  Unfortunately, the leader may be too close to the situation or may be in a situation where the day-to-day demands are such that they can’t see that they have reached a point where they are ineffective.  So, what is a leader to do when they find themselves in this situation?

Leaders need to PREP:

  • Pause – Stop for a bit to gather and observe.  What is the status quo?
  • Re-asses – After having gathered the information, one needs to look at the resources and priorities.
  • Evaluate – Here you have to look at the fit or “correctness” of the priorities, do the resources and priorities match?  Are the skill sets correct?
  • Prepare – Prepare a path to realign or to gain the appropriate resources that are needed.

As leaders, we forget how important it is to continually go through this cycle.  We tend to get bogged down in the day-to-day activities and firefighting.  We don’t take the time to work on the strategies or “tool sharpening” that we need to focus on, so that we can be more productive and efficient in the long run.  We don’t take the time now; so it will ultimately take less time.  We get stuck in the “have to do it this way now” to make it work mindset to meet the immediate need.

This ultimately puts us further behind and makes us more ineffective. It means that we continually hinder ourselves.  So, for the past three months, I have been practicing what I want to preach – building the skills and the resources, such that the day-to-day tasks require less time.  I have been searching for those new applications, resources, and ideas to make my daily work life more effective and productivity.  I have been PREPping for this new journey.

Now it is time to take the first step, down this new branch of the road.  Hopefully, you are willing to join me on this journey.

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Been thinking about the workplace…..

It is summer, a time when most of us take at least a couple of days to enjoy with family, friends and do something different than the usual day-to-day business of working.  It has gotten me to thinking about why we tend to hate work.  Additionally, there have been a large number of blogs, articles, and other surveys as to why we hate work.

The reasons that you tend to find are not what one might expect.  No we aren’t lazy.  No its not that we don’t care.  No it is not usually about salary or specific benefits.  It is something more basic – it is about respect, recognition, and growth.

All of us need to earn a wage in order to exist in our society, so salary and pay are part of the equation.  But, it isn’t always about the money.  Look at Lebron James – he is moving back to Cleveland at a lower salary and the reason he left in the first place wasn’t about salary – it was about the ring.  Recognition.

We get frustrated at our places of employment, when:

  •  A person is praised for something that they really didn’t do.
  • There are double standards that don’t appear justified – for example Joe comes in late and leaves early everyday, and doesn’t meet goals, while some one else is “punished” for occasionally doing the same thing but exceeds their goals.
  • The wrong types of performance is recognized – some one is praised for bring in one contract at a high dollar value, while the person sitting at the next desk brings in 30 contracts at incrementally small values – (but may actually exceed the big one).
  • Mediocrity is tolerated.
  • Stated goals don’t match what is rewarded – for example: meeting customers expectations is touted but ensuring that client pays is more important.
  • Rewards are the same or based on arbitrary criteria.
  • Not understanding the people nature of work – relationships are important.

I am sure that you can add to the list.  The bottom line is that while there are business drivers for decisions, you have to address the human side of business as well.  Everyone is going to make a mistake or maybe not make the best decision, how the situation is handled will impact your human capital side of the business to a great degree.

Your key players – the stars and the everyday loyal steady players – need care and attention.  These are ones that will shut down on the job and will be shopping their resume’s.  If they are unhappy, your profits, your innovations, and ultimately the overall success of the business goes out the window.

As a leader, you have to think about two things when you are dealing with people:

1) How is my action going to be taken by the person directly involved?

2) How is my action going to be perceived by other individuals in the organization?

Here is an example:  you have an employee that is not performing up to standard and you give them chance after chance after chance, even a raise here and there.  (We all know of situations like this – you may be keeping that person because of a historic relationship or due to a specific skill or because one client likes them.) You have other employees that are meeting expectations, putting in the extra effort, and are contributing on a regular basis.  How does it look to the organization, if you recognize the mediocre employee in front of a group trying to improve their performance, while in the same meeting ask one of your regular contributors why a project is not meeting expectations?

We see leaders do this all the time.  Part of the reason is that your regular contributors may understand what is going on – but junior staff may not.  If this a rare occurrence, there may be no harm done – but if it is frequent – watch out.

The nature of the workplace and the nature of work has changed.  There is no longer a loyalty of the employee to stay with a particular organization.  Think about it – how long have most of the individuals been with your organization?  You may begin to see a trend.  Understanding that trend, and understanding that individuals are the intellectual capital of the organization may be the difference in your next innovation and your ability to compete.

 

Accountability

I just read a short blog about holding yourself accountable.  While it was directed to PR professionals, it is not just PR professionals that face an accountability challenge.  Each and every one of us do – and even if we hold ourselves accountable in one area of our lives – we tend to not do the same in other areas.  Thus, we really need to look at how we got to this point and what can we do to get us out of our current state of lack of accountability.

Blame/Excuses – How many times have you heard this statement “It was not my fault because……”  When we were kids – the imps from Family Circus were to blame for everything “Not me” or “I don’t know.”  We had a set of standard excuses, I couldn’t do this or that because there wasn’t enough time, the teacher did not show me how to do that, they didn’t remind me that the paper was due on Friday, etc.  Today, we can add – the internet was down or there was no reception at this location. 

We have become a society of “it is not my fault.” Or, I am not responsible.  Hooey – someone has to take responsibility.  OK, so the internet was down last night – why did you wait until the last minute to open up the computer to do the assignment or submit the application?  Yes, there are some things beyond our control – the plane was diverted to Helena, Montana when you were going to Denver, Colorado.  But, most of the time the root cause of our problem or failure is because of something we didn’t do or waited to late to do.  We need to think about the “what if’s” and plan ahead better.

We tend to rely on someone else.  It is not your boss’ responsibility to remind you of the deadline for submitting that report to the government is on Tuesday. It is not your boss’ fault that they have told you for two weeks that will be gone on a two week vacation on Monday – and you did not get the signature of approval on the report before they left.  Yes, sometimes it is the boss’ fault when the report sits on their desk for a week, but did you remind them?

Your crisis may not be the most important.  Don’t get angry when the boss or the instructor says too bad when the report is late.  They may have other priorities.  You need to plan ahead.  Recall, your failure does not necessarily create a crisis on my part – I have responsibilities as well.

As individuals – self doubt, worry, and being your own worst critic – become hindrances to productivity.  There is a saying that sometimes we let perfection get in the way of the good or excellent.  Time is an extremely valuable resource.  We don’t have infinite time to get something accomplished.  Yes, we need to turn out good work.  We need to edit, polish, and refine.  But, we shouldn’t hold up others or the project just because you can’t decide whether or not ebony or black is the perfect word for the sentence.

As a society – we have allowed this lack of accountability.  Instructors have accepted late homework.  Clubs and organizations have accepted applications past the deadline.  And, the government continually moves the deadlines to suit their needs.  As individuals, we need to show some leadership and stop sliding down the slippery slope.  Exceptions should be rare and not expected.  Currently, they seem to be the norm.  We need to hold the line on deadlines.  Hold ourselves and our colleagues accountable.  We need to have accountability partners.  We need to maintain the same accountability in all areas of our lives.