Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Is It Willingness or Ability?

Do you manage performance problems?

Coaching people to achieve their goals when they are experiencing performance difficulties takes skill, practice, and patience. What do we say? How do we encourage them? How can we be most helpful?

It's important to identify the source of the problem. Find out if they truly lack the skill -- which is an indicator that training could help, or do they lack the willingness -- which is a completely different situation.

Most leaders are happy to provide the training that their team members need in order to be able to perform at their best and achieve their goals. What training is available though to help someone who is unwilling to put the work in that it requires to succeed? My experience has been that there is no magic training for that kind of situation. Willingness is an inside job. Team members must be willing to learn, to grow, and to develop the ability to achieve their goals.

A lack of skill requires patience and teaching. A lack of willingness requires discipline and change.

If the team member is unwilling to make the necessary changes, they may need help in leaving the team.

Harsh? Not really. Willingness is not negotiable, is it?

-- Douglas Brent Smith

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Advance Your Career

Do you want to get ahead? Do you want to advance your career?

Achieve your goals. Make your boss look good. Align your work with the mission of your organization. Build powerful teams that get things done and delight their customers.

In short, develop into a successful leader.

Successful supervisors tend to get promoted.

And by the time that they do, they are ready for it.

What's next for you?

-- Douglas Brent Smith

Do you want to help the supervisors in your organization to advance their careers? Bring our workshop "Supervising for Success" to your organization.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Successful Supervisors Deal with Problems

Have you ever been tempted to ignore a problem?

I have. More than once to be honest. And it never helped the problem to ignore it. That unmotivated team member doesn't magically turn it around. That broken process just stays broken. And that unhappy customer gets noisier.

Sometimes we hesitate about dealing with a problem because we aren't even sure it is a problem. Maybe it's just the way things are and we need to learn to live with it. Maybe it's a fact of life.

If we have no control or influence over the situation, it may be a fact of life.

Calling something a problem doesn't make it a problem, but ignoring it might.

What do successful supervisors do? What do centered, high performance leaders do?

- Determine how much of the situation you control or influence
- Analyze the root causes of your situation (what's really going on?)
- Ask for help from the people involved in the situation. What's their view?
- Deal with situations when they first emerge

How do you handle a situation to determine whether or not it's a problem?

-- Douglas Brent Smith

Friday, October 10, 2014

Productivity Is Focus

Do you constantly work to improve your productivity?

As long as I've been working the search for greater productivity has been part of every job. Make it better, faster, smarter, cheaper. If possible, take yourself right out of the process.

Not the best strategy for a comfortable status quo, but let's face it, there is no status quo.

That's why focus is so important. Not just making things better but working on the right things. Seeing the path to the vision. Minding the mission.

Productivity is focus. 

Without focus, what's the point?

Are you focused on your vision today?

-- Douglas Brent Smith

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Supervise with Strength

Does your team see you as a strong leader?

Think about this for a moment -- would you want to report to a weak leader? How would it feel if your boss did not stand up for you and your team members? How would you like it if you knew your main competitor had no respect or fear (yes, I said fear) for your leader?

No one wants to work for a weak supervisor.

People want to know that you've got their back when they slip into trouble. People want to know that when things get tight you won't grab the fastest, easiest, people-cutting measure to wiggle out of it. People want to know that you have belief behind your strategy.

Being strong does NOT mean yelling, bullying, bossing, or arrogantly ordering people around. Those are all sure signs of character weakness. Showing strength means that even when you feel fear, you face into it with the confidence of practiced skills, learning, and reliable relationships to support you.

It takes time to develop that strength. It takes training, risk-filled experience, confidence, humility, resilience, and persistence. Do you have that strength? What can you do to develop your strength even more? What training will you take? What projects will you launch? What relationships will you strengthen by both challenging and supporting the people within them?

It's a path, not a destination. But without constantly exercising and growing your strength it can slip away when you need it most.

No one wants to work for a weak supervisor. Develop your strength.

-- Douglas Brent Smith

Smile at What People Remember

Don't people remember the craziest things? After you've completed the biggest project you've ever worked on, after you've dramatically improved your team's results, after you've been a poster-model for the best centered leader on the planet what some people will remember is that little mistake you made.

They'll remind you of your mistakes just when those mistakes have almost disappeared from your own memory. Just when your sleep patterns are returning to normal, someone will remind you of why it was disrupted in the first place.

Supervisors don't have to remember all their mistakes -- other people will help you with that.

Our job as leaders is to learn from those mistakes. And next time -- maybe make some new ones.

It's not a bad thing -- it's part of being a high performance leader.

-- Douglas Brent Smith

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Keep Perspective On Your Problems

Do your problems ever seem bigger than they really are?

It could be a wonderful day filled with opportunities and fascinating connections with other people and someone we get fixed on a problem that gives us permission to feel unhappy. That seems like a poor choice to me.

I've done it though. Have you?

One thing I've learned about my problems -- even as I work to solve them -- is to keep them in perspective. Compared to other problems, how do they look? Compared to other people's situations, how dire is this really? Especially knowing that with the right process and resources I'll be no doubt solving my problem, what exactly is troubling me?

I served for a while as a volunteer fire fighter. There's nothing quite like moving into a burning building or carrying a power saw on a roof to cut a hole in the top so the fire can get out to give you a sense of perspective. Suddenly, the little problems of the day fade away.

My oldest son is a paramedic. Every time I hear an ambulance siren it reminds me of his work: facing emergencies, rushing to help people at the worst moment in their lives. Working to save the lives of people with really serious problems.

I also remember, when I hear those sirens, that somewhere somebody has a bigger problem than me.

A sense of positive perspective might not solve your problem -- but it can certainly keep it from ruining your day.

How is your perspective doing today?

-- Douglas Brent Smith