Thursday, February 23, 2017

Tough Advice

I am the one who says comfort zone is the enemy of EQ and the way to greater happiness is by putting yourself through moderate stress. Taking my own advice is miserable. I am currently doing something that is making me feel very uncomfortable. I am selling my house. This is the house I have lived in for twelve years and it's a source of pride and been part of my identity since I moved to NH. It's the house I fought to keep when in 2010 I was 90-days late on my mortgage. It is a big house, much too big for our needs and it requires a lot of maintenance which is a huge hassle, especially because I travel so much. But, it's my known hassle. It's the longest I have lived anywhere since I was 17.

Part of my anxiety is I have no plan yet on where I will go next. So much of moving is timing and much depends on how long it takes to sell and how long I will have until I have to leave the property. Logic says to sell my house because I can spend much less a month by renting an apartment, with little to no upkeep, and have much more flexibility. It is "smart" to move. My heart is aching, saying I can't put a price on what is comfortable and familiar. Honestly, I was getting a little worried that if I waited too much longer I would chicken out and not do it. The time is right and I need to let go of the past and instead look forward to a new future. Upon reflection, I do have a pattern of doing multiple hard things at once. I enrolled in grad school when I had a toddler, was pregnant and supporting my family with a start-up business. Then during the year I wrote my first book I went through a divorce. Now I am about to publish my 2nd book and am relocating my home and office. Why do this to myself? But I have not regretted the last big changes and I know I won't regret this one either. If you are in the middle of a change yourself, hang in there. Life is good on the other side of it; we just have to get there.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

The Development Planning Process

Our topic this week is development plans, which is timely for the start of a new year but also very appropriate when employees are asked to do more with fewer resources.

When times are lean, you need everyone working at peak performance and learning new skills. This is the perfect chance to encourage folks to flex and consider their development opportunities: an opportunity good for them and good for the company.

In the year ahead, I believe we will all be tested and challenged. Providing your employees with an ongoing development plan gives them the tool they need to take responsibility for their own professional growth. 

The development planning process can be just another HR initiative that usurps precious time from your "business" activities. However, when you calculate the impact your employees have on the bottom line - both as an expense and a source of potential revenue - you can see the benefit of more strategically managing your one of your largest investments.

Consider this: A downturn in business presents an opportunity to retool and refocus your talent pool because when the market turns around you will be poised for dominance. Those who squander this chance to look inward risk lost revenue and market share as your competitors with better qualified talent surpass you. Therefore, as a part of your business planning process, you create a road map to refine your strengths, develop new skills or reach new markets, and mitigate your weaknesses.

Since company performance ultimately depends on the performance of each individual employee, you cannot afford for employee performance to remain stagnant year over year either.  This is where your development planning process plays an important role: the development plan is the business road map translated down to the employee level.

So how do you get started?

1) As a starting point, take your company and/or your team goals and have each employee identify 3-5 main objectives that align with those initiatives.
  •          Does the employee need to learn new skills to help them reach their objectives?       Add that to the training plan. 
  •          Does at least one of those objectives stretch and/or challenge the employee? If not, refine the list to include one.
  •          How will you know when the objective has been reached? Be sure to be specific enough that you can follow up on progress.

2) Additionally, choose at least one strength and evaluate how you, as a supervisor, can leverage that strength, while giving the employee more opportunities to stretch, grow, and refine.

3) Also, choose one development area and plan out how can the employee can improve. Think out of the box: shadowing, on the job training, formal training, research, mentoring, special project assignments.

4) Choose a time to discuss the plan with your employees. Remember this is a development discussion (proactive) not a corrective action discussion (reactive).

5) Write everything down. This ensures you have a visible reminder of your conversation.

6) Set a time to follow up. You might need to have formal monthly check-ins with the employee or informal conversations. Either is fine, but just don’t forget to track progress and provide feedback regularly.

Remember, if you don't know where you're going, you'll never get there. Using a development road map helps ensure your employees and your company reach their maximum potential.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Month in a Minute

In the Sandbox with the fabulous HR team at SNHU
Meagan Flint and me at the CASE District1
Conference in Boston
Since this our Month in a Minute for January, I am going to say happy new year! Last year flew by and it seems this year is possibly going even faster, how is it February already?

There has been much talk about leadership these last few weeks, what it looks like, who it should serve, and what is bad. When I was younger in my career I was certified in a number of leadership programs and read all the business book best sellers. I thought I had a good understanding of what a “good leader” was. Then I went to grad school and got a degree in Organizational Leadership, and was sure then that I knew exactly what it took to be a good leader.

Since then, I have done a ton of executive coaching, led my own team of people, and written a book. I am realizing that I don’t really know as much as I thought I did. I have seen some terrible leaders who I thought were guaranteed to fail, who instead build amazing companies. I have seen some great leaders I was certain would succeed, drive their company into bankruptcy. I wish it was a simple correlation, but instead, leadership takes many forms, and different styles of leadership are needed at different times. One client of ours has just completed a huge merger, another has been in a battle to not be acquired. One has been downsized by 70%, and another is planning for 500% growth over the next two years. Each of those companies and each of the employees in those companies have different needs of their senior leaders. It would never work to have the same style person at the helm and make all of those companies successful. While I am sure having EQ is a critical skill for all leaders, I don’t believe that there is one definition of a “good leader." Do you?

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Creating New Habits

We are one month in to those wonderful New Year's Resolutions . . . you know the ones that we are lucky to see, well, March 1st.

The idea of a fresh start is alluring, which is why so many people choose January 1st to make self-promises of improvement. Of course, it doesn't have to be January. One of my colleagues chooses to do a life audit every birthday, reviewing his past year for success and failure, and setting new resolutions then. I, on the other hand, tend to bumble it. My moods of reflection and resolution hit on my  milestone birthday years - an already sensitive time for me - but the results do stick, and resolutions made in those years firmly take root. It is painful, creates bedlam, but effective.     

Should you be contemplating your 2017 resolutions, I hope these tips help you make it to March 2nd.  

As you think about your New Year's Resolutions, consider these five pointers to help with sticking to your plan. 

1. Start Small
Just because a goal is small doesn't mean it isn't powerful. Dr. Steven Covey shared on a blog post, "There are a couple of things I have found that help people develop enough internal stamina and discipline to make great things happen. They start small-make and keep a promise, or set a small goal and accomplish it. They move from small things to slightly larger things-have small "wins" and then bigger and bigger "wins"-until they begin to experience a level of exhilaration and excitement that makes them feel like they can accomplish just about anything." 

2. Write It Down
Darby Checketts said, "Only goal setters who are goal writers are truly goal achievers" in his book, Leverage: How to Create Your Own "Tipping Points" in Business and in Life. Physically writing your goals helps you articulate specifically what you want to accomplish and how you will know if you are successful. Plus, for those of us who forget what we don't write down, you have a physical record of the goals you are trying to achieve.

3. Put a Time-Frame on It
Once you know how to measure your goal (answer the question: what does success look like?), give yourself a deadline. Goals without deadlines are easily set aside to accomplish "later," but as busy as our lives are, later rarely comes. Treat your goal as you do other business deadlines. In fact, aim to complete them early! 

4. Find Accountability
Tell someone else about your goal - your spouse, a friend or co-worker, your boss . . . Find a person who knows you well enough to provide the right balance between challenging you with the tough questions and being a cheerleader who encourages you to follow through. 

5. Celebrate Success 
Don't forget to celebrate your accomplishments! No goal is too small to celebrate. Too often we don't take the time to acknowledge our successes because we're already on to the next task. Pause for a moment to enjoy your achievement.