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Have you noticed that everywhere you go people are either looking down at their cell phones or off in some dream land listening to music.  Don’t you remember the days when people would run outside or do things with just the sounds of the birds outside.  No, I am not some hopeless romantic, I actually am one of the iPoders.  More often than not you see younger people running by themselves with their iPod instead of with other people building relationships. 

Cell phones are beginning to be the same way.  There are some young people around that I wonder if they even have faces because they never look up.  All I ever see is the tops of heads.  They are always texting someone.  The thing is it isn’t only young people.  Adults are more and more becoming “antisocial” with people who are with them and “textsocial” with others. 

I guess I am one of the few around that don’t text often and don’t have internet on my phone.  Why is that?  Not because I think I am better than anyone.  It is because I am already overwhelmed with technology everywhere and can sometimes be antisocial.  These two things would allow me be to really be antisocial and stop living in the present.  Sometimes I would even like to get rid of my cell phone.  Think back to times when things could wait and not everything was urgent.

You wonder why people are lonely and more depressed than ever.  The only relationships that we have are with our technologies.

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“Why can’t someone else think about things in the same ways I do?” 

That is what came out of my mouth the other day as I was thinking about work and what was going on.  My frustration had led me down a path of getting frustrated with different “urgencies” around me.

I started thinking I wished I had more people around me who thought like I did.  This time was different than normal though.  Instead of focusing on what others could change or should change, or what I thought they should be like.  Instead of focusing on what others weren’t doing, I focused on what they were doing and what there gifts were.

I realized it is kind of nice that I can be the dreamer, wear different hats, do different things and have the freedom to do it.  I couldn’t do designing all day for different jobs that would wear me out and I am not gifted there.  I couldn’t do bills and talk on the phone to people throughout the day that would cause me to go batty.  I couldn’t just go out and do the jobs everyday and figure out the technical ways how to finish them.

It really made me sit back and realize I didn’t have frustration but freedom.  Every one in our business has a different job that involves different skill sets.  My job as a leader is to realize what they are and to be THANKFUL that each individual has them.

Instead of getting frustrated in your current situation be thankful:

  • Realize what the positives are about your job.  They almost always outweigh the negatives.  We just tend to focus triple the time on the negative than the positive.
  • Encourage and compliment others.  Step outside yourself and realize what others are doing.  Thank them for being who they are and encourage them by being complimentary of things.
  • Start with Yourself.  Focus on the “true urgent” tasks and the important objectives yourself.  But don’t be so focused on yourself that you forget about others.

What happened to the days when your word meant everything?  Where if you said you agreed to something you held to it and so did the other party.  You didn’t need to get any expensive lawyers to use some fancy, sophisticated vocabulary to spell it out for you.  You did what you said because of your integrity and what it said about you.

Because we started using words so flippantly they became worthless and useless.  Instead of taking people at their words we needed signed contracts and agreements on things.  Even small things now need contracts or something along that line.  The crazy thing now is that it is getting worse.  Someone told me the other night that “contracts don’t mean anything anymore.  People will look to claim bankruptcy just to get out of a contract.” People will take the document to court and just because of one or two misplaced words will get it thrown out. 

What’s next?  Is there anything that will hold people to agreements?

I hope you will start to think carefully about promises and decisions you make.  Start right now and do it old school style.  Start small and make some small promises.  Write them down so you remember.  Then go ahead and follow through on them.  You will be amazed how surprised people around you are when you are a man of your word.

Let your Yes be Yes and your No be No.

Why is it so hard for us to accept that we made a mistake?  Why is it so hard to apologize?  Is it our pride that mainly gets in the way?  Why do we so badly want others to be wrong and us to be write?

The other day at work I was looking for a paper I gave to someone else.  That person had thrown it away and said there reasoning was that I never told them to keep it.  At first I was kind of upset because I thought it was their responsibility and I got a little bucky when they blamed me.  Upon stepping back counting to 10 and walking around I asked myself “Why I wouldn’t take the blame?”  I realized it was kind of a pride issue.  In that situation I realized that I should just say it was my fault.  Who really cares whose fault it is as long as it gets resolved.  The funny thing was a day after this happened there was another instance where the blame game was starting to go around.  Someone was supposed to check with a customer and never did.  One of the people asked if I had relayed the message.  At first I thought I don’t remember this at all.  Then I said it probably was me I must have forgot.  Right there and then the blame game stopped and we all moved on. 

Stop being stubborn and just take a blame for the team.  It will help everyone else get on with their day and out of the vicious cycle of blaming.

 

If the people in your business had top pick someone to follow on a volunteer basis would they follow you?

Kevin Eikenberry had this tidbit of info in a recent blog:

Chuck Noll, coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers for many years and winner of 4 Super Bowls, said,

"The mercenaries will always beat the draftees, but the volunteers will crush them both."

 

Do the people you lead have the attitude of volunteers, draftees, or mercenaries? 

Do they have that attitude as a result of how you treat them? 

How do you create people with “volunteer” attitudes?

  • Listen: Listen to what they say.  Listen to their ideas and listen to what is going on in their life.
  • Care: If you treat them like employees they will be.  If you treat them as valued individuals they will treat you the same.
  • Respect: You are their boss but don’t be their dictator. 
  • Encourage: Offer encouragement when they do things right.
  • Teach: Don’t just tell people what to do all the time.  Teach them and let them fly. 

Why are we surprised when our employees talk about us behind our backs?  Think about how you treat them?  Are the mercenaries, draftees, or volunteers?

 

 

One of the main things you gain to do get more people to come to your business is as easy as Being Remarkable.

Lots of people can talk about being remarkable but it is a lot easier said than done. 

How can your business be remarkable:

  • Hire people for attitude: Don’t hire people based on experience.  Skill can be learned but attitude is engrained in you.
  • Create a healthy work environment: Have a positive work environment where new ideas and excitement are rewarded.
  • Set an Example: It starts with the leader.  If you aren’t willing to be remarkable than is everyone else willing to be?
  • Have Fun: Being remarkable isn’t so much about systems as it is about making it fun.
  • Think Others First: When you start thinking about how to excite people walking in the door you can come up with all kinds of ideas.
  • Go one step further: Just when you think you have done enough go one step further if you want to be remarkable.

This spring our business has worked at being remarkable.  Rainy days have always been kind of a drag for everyone so we wanted to make them fun.  We went out and purchased some umbrellas to keep people dry.  Just having them available for people would have made it a nice gesture.  But we wanted to be memorable and remarkable.  So when people came we ran out to the cars to hold the umbrella for the people as they walked in.  But we didn’t stop there.  We also did it on the way out.  Was this a little out of our comfort zone? Yes.  Was it a lot of fun?  You betcha.  Will people talk?  I am sure they will tell at least ten of their friends.

How are you going to get people to talk today?

We all know how important it is to get along with coworkers.  Here is a top 10 list I came across at Marketing Profs Daily Fix in one of the posts by Ann Handley:

1. Eating food that belongs to someone else. Or, chowing down on food others bring in to share, but never bringing the donuts yourself.

2. Talking too loud on the phone, especially about non-work stuff. Details of a doctor’s appointment, chat with your spouse… Take it outside.

3. Eating smelly food. I have two words for this one: Burnt popcorn. Wait: here’s two more: Fast food.

4. "Borrowing" supplies and never returning them. This leads to controlling behavior, like marking things like tape dispensers and staplers with name-tags, as if they are going to sleep-away camp.

5. Playing a radio loud enough for others to hear. Especially: Playing it *just* loud enough, so it presents as a persistent, tinny sound, like a mosquito loitering near your ear.

6. Not keeping cell phones on vibrate, particularly when it’s "The Mexican Hat Dance" rendered in ring tone.

7. Using the speakerphone gratuitously.

8. Shouting conversation over cubicles.

9. Playing with iPhones or Blackberrys during meetings.

10. Not taking a hint. Yes, my weekend was fine, thanks, and we’ve now covered every inch of yours, too. Now go back to your own desk and get work done, okay?

Adapted from Mental Floss and Forbes.

 

Look how many of these have to do with the phone or food!

If you can take away anything from this post watch your behaviors pertaining to food and the phone and that will go along way towards being a good coworker.

Dan McCarthy at Great Leadership always has great insight on leadership principles and makes them easy to understand.  He did it again with How to Create Motivating Work.

Here is Dan’s Top 10 list on How to Create a Positive Working environment:

1. Create motivating work.
2. Hire A players and get rid of C players.

3. Don’t micromanage – get out of the way.

4. Promote your team’s work.
5. Loosen up the rules and bureaucracy.

6. Don’t be a jerk.

7. Get personal.

8. Set a good example.

9. Encourage camaraderie during work hours.

10. Pay people for what they are worth.

One of the biggest challenges I have at work is how to motivate others without using money as the key driver.

Many businesses will put in bonus systems by doing certain things.  I am not saying you shouldn’t reward people.  I just think you should be a little more creative and spontaneous when rewarding people.

Don’t always just do it with money.  Do it by creating a great work environment with the list Dan gave us above.  If you create an environment like this the money for the employees and the revenue for the business will take care of themselves.   Just make sure when you have success you make sure to reward your employees in one form or another.

All of the list is harder to measure than sales and other numbers goals.  But if you find a way to work on these continually and try to measure them you will find the DNA and personality of your company.  With numbers you are just getting the height and weight of your company.  We all know that height and weight don’t tell the true story.  Find out what your company is really about.

How do you decide when to delegate?  Why is it so hard to delegate?

Delegation is one of the hardest things to start doing.  But once you start it can be so easy and freeing to keep doing. 

My definition of when I need to delegate:

When someone can do a task 80% as effective as you can you need to look at delegating.

Many leaders will want people to do it 100% as effective.  If you wait for that you will never start delegating some of the things that are a time drain for you. 

Why can delegation be so powerful?

  1. It keeps you looking ahead: When you delegate it helps you to focus on the future.
  2. It frees you to do more productive things:  Yes, you probably can type faster than the other person but you also can sell more or look at strategy more effectively.  Which of these is going to give you the most return?
  3. It helps others:  When you let go of things and let others do them they start taking more ownership.
  4. Reduces Stress: With less things to do their is less to do and less to worry about.
  5. You can leave work on time: You don’t have to try to do more of everything in a day.  You can be more productive by doing less and being recharged.

 

Delegation is one of the biggest multipliers you can use to transform and take your business to the next level.  Are you willing to let others help with the journey?

Why don’t more people stop complaining about things?  Why don’t they quit pointing out problems and start coming up with solutions? 

Do you want to know why?

Complaining is way easier than actually coming up with solutions.

Jon Gordon had a great story of people turning a negative into a positive at Boston’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.  Read about it here.

It is a great story of how the leader got everyone together to find a solution to the problem.  Instead of complaining about the problem at hand, which wouldn’t have done any good, they worked on a solution.  Everyone sacrificed a little bit for the good of the team.

How do people come to the solution mindset instead of the problem mindset.  It can be as simple as one person switching the conversation. It is really easy to get on the problem mindset.  But if you get one person who has the solution mindset it can be just as easy to turn it around.

Don’t be content talking about problems and making excuses.  Talk about Solutions and make the problems seem miniscule.