Hiding in Plain Sight

Circumstances change. Often we need to reimagine or redirect based on those changes. I’ve experienced this recently through the eyes of several clients who created new positions and hired good people to fill them.

Then change happened. The positions aren’t producing what management originally envisioned, and they’re stuck in indecision about what to do.

This hesitancy will bring them down (and the new people with them). Doing something – especially with the understanding that such a situation is a work in progress – is always better than inertia.


Look for the Unexpected

I attended a conference recently where I went in cold—other than one colleague, I didn’t know anyone. The sessions were good and I gained the new insights that I had hoped for, but much of the value came from informal conversations.

These conversations were diverse and interesting. They ranged from someone who was a successful serial internet startup guy to a harpist who created a digital marketing platform to teach the harp online to someone who recently sold a business and is figuring out his next step.

Of course, I also encountered the occasional person who seemed a little clueless, and that is to be expected. All things said, though, you can learn so much from the experiences of others as long as you’re open to listening and ask some good questions.


Here Comes a Curveball…

Sometimes life throws you a curveball, and you need to react quickly. Of course, these curveballs usually come when you’re not prepared, so having a crisis management guideline will serve you well.

Curveballs can be anything from the loss of a major client to a serious illness or loss of a family member to the news of a downsizing or restructuring. For purposes of this discussion, curveballs are unexpected, overwhelming, and require immediate action.

Stay calm. Although this is easier said than done, your cool head will move you forward more effectively than panicking. Remember, people around you follow your lead. If you freak out, it will probably create anxiety in others.


Onboarding New Hires

Do you have a system in place to onboard your new employees? I’m not talking about the routine tasks of filling out new hire paperwork and learning about your company’s benefits.

I’m referring to a system to create the best first impressions of your company and to quickly make them feel like they’re part of your team.

For example, do they have a (clean) work space that they can call their own, or is it more of a makeshift desk?  (This may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how many new employees are relegated to a temporary location because their manager didn’t consider their arrival until they actually showed up.)


The Accountability Factor

Accountability (actually, the lack thereof) is one of the more challenging issues the workplace. How do you get people to do what they commit to do – especially when often they don’t stand by their commitments?

Creating a culture of accountability takes work and dedication by the leaders of an organization. You can’t just post rules and guidelines and expect people to follow them. They won’t. And you can’t expect behavior to change overnight.

It’s incumbent on leaders to model the behavior that they want and expect from their employees. If you aren’t accountable, why would you expect your people to be?


The Pope as Leader

Pope-mania has hit the US, and his visit has caused nothing short of a media frenzy. By the time he leaves Philadelphia this weekend, we will have heard the good, the bad, and the ugly from the pundits.

I’m intrigued by the pope as a spiritual and global leader. Earlier this week, David Brooks commented in The New York Times that Pope Francis offers a model based on two questions: “How do you deeply listen and learn? How do you uphold certain moral standards, while still being loving and merciful to those you befriend?”

Some of the characteristics highlighted in these questions are leadership attributes that many people emulate. The ability to really listen and stay in the moment is a characteristic shared by many great leaders. And upholding certain moral standards reflects a person of character.


The Power of Consistency

Do you add so many tasks to your to do list that it becomes unruly? Many people have this challenge, especially with so much pressure to do more in less time.

Most people keep up (or try to keep up) with urgent activities, such as client related deadlines, internal deliverables, or follow up from meetings. If you have a hard deadline, you’re more likely to get it done.

Items that are important but not urgent can fall through the cracks, especially when you have a boatload of deadlines. These actions include things such as planning, keeping in touch with key people, or networking.


Back to School

Ah, it’s the time of the year when millions of students in the US return to school. On my morning walk, I’ve seen everything from fresh new uniforms to the latest colorful backpacks. The students express both excitement and trepidation as they enter the unknown of new teachers and experiences.

Teaching has changed dramatically in recent years as technology complements conventional methodology. I was intrigued by a recent article in The New York Times which described yet another new dimension, which is how the sharing economy has been applied to the world of teaching.

The web site TeachersPayTeachers.com is a virtual market place where instructors can buy and sell course materials (most for less than $5) ranging from lesson plans to course-specific activities to quizzes. The materials are created by teachers, for teachers.


The Denouement of Summer

I know that summer is not over officially until the wee hours of September 23, but Labor Day weekend has always been the unofficial end of the season for people in the US. This year we had a full 15 weeks between Memorial Day (which fell on the earliest Monday possible) and Labor Day (which falls on the latest Monday possible).

Did you miss it?


New Mistakes Are Always Welcome

Too many people are afraid of making mistakes. They take the safe road and try to stay under the radar. “Good is good enough,” because if they stretch they may make mistakes.

Simply put, they play it safe.

This is a recipe for failure in any innovative, growth-oriented organization. If your employees are timid about expanding into unknown territory, they may stymie your ability to achieve your goals.

Read More