Thursday, April 17, 2014

Remember What's Like to Report to a New Supervisor

Do you remember the last time you got a new boss?

Were there questions in your mind about what to expect? Did you feel any anxiety about your ability to get along? You probably knew that things were about to change, but may not have been sure whether those changes would be for the better or not.

What about when you become the new boss? Do you consider how that effects other people? Do you plan for ways to let people know your expectations?

Taking over as a new boss is tough. But, so is reporting to one. Take charge of your feelings and help other people deal with theirs.

There's too much work to be done to waste time by ignoring what's important. How your people is important.

-- Douglas Brent Smith

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Perk Up and Lean In

Do you ever read a quote that's just grabs you, pulls you in, shakes you up, and says "here, digest this!"?

I don't often use a quote as the basis of this blog, but this one is an attention grabbing winner:

“…feelings like disappointment, embarrassment, irritation, resentment, anger, jealousy, and fear, instead of being bad news, are actually very clear moments that teach us where it is that we’re holding back. They teach us to perk up and lean in when we feel we’d rather collapse and back away. They’re like messengers that show us, with terrifying clarity, exactly where we’re stuck. This very moment is the perfect teacher, and, lucky for us, it’s with us wherever we are.”
 ~ Pema Chodron

That's it. Perk up and lean in. These are all times to be more alive, not less.

When do you most need to perk up and lean in?

-- Douglas Brent Smith

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Sometimes, Reduce the Stress

Is your team under stress?

Yes, it's every leader's task to help the team to produce at its highest level. That will at times put some people under stress. Eustress, or positive stress, can help to energize, motivate and activate people. But too much stress -- distress -- can send people into polarizing tailspins and produce counter-productive effects. That's not what you want.

If you constantly place your people under stress don't be surprised if they are less than their best.

Sometimes, reduce the stress.  Show some patience. Forgive a lost deadline if its not mission-critical. Laugh more, forgive often, empathize constantly.

When leaders balance their strength with their compassion they become even more effective.

What can you do to relieve your team of some piece of stress? Are you willing to do that?

-- Douglas Brent Smith

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Challenge Excuses

How do you feel about other people's excuses? How about your own excuses?

I've been guilty of creating some silly excuses for mistakes that I've made. Maybe you've heard some of them:

- I ran out of time
- I didn't realize how much it meant to you
- Something came up
- Traffic was really bad
- The budget changed
- We miscalculated

We can create an excuse list longer than the Chicago phone directory, and it still won't help much.

Excuses won't change the result.

Most of the time, whatever truth there is in an excuse doesn't even matter. When it comes to improving performance we must get beyond excuses. We must identify reasons, and then develop the strategies it takes to deal with the reasons in order to achieve our goal.

The next time you hear an excuses, remember this: an excuse is a request to make things better. Challenge those excuses. Make things better. Help others to challenge them as well.

Why not get started?

-- Douglas Brent Smith

Would you like to help your team improve its performance? Are you looking for high performance ways to learn how to supervise for success? Why not contact me about bringing a leadership workshop to your location? We train supervisors for success.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Make Your Expectations Clear

Do your team members know what you expect? Have you set your performance expectations at a level that causes them to stretch their skills? Do they know how much they might need to stretch and where to begin?

One of the most important things that a high performance leader can do is to make expectations clear. Here's what I want, when I want it, how it should look and feel, and what it includes. It even helps to make clear what it does NOT include, so that people see and feel the boundaries. As the leader, it is up to you to make those boundaries clear.

Whenever I've had a performance conversation with one of my team members, it includes a statement to this effect:

I'm expecting you do to your best. What are you expecting?

Because if they are not expect to do their best, we need to change that right away.

What are you expecting?

-- Douglas Brent Smith

Would you like to help your team improve its performance? Are you looking for high performance ways to learn how to supervise for success? Why not contact me about bringing a leadership workshop to your location? We train supervisors for success.

 Front Range Leadership

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Learn from Our Mistakes

What's the best thing you've ever learned from one of your mistakes?

You do make mistakes, don't you? I think that we all do. We don't choose to make mistakes, but when they happen they promise to teach us something when we pay attention. That means first acknowledging that we made the mistake, and looking for ways to avoid that mistake in the future and improve on our outcomes.

Here's the silliest mistake I've ever made:

  • Buying carpet for a room and then cutting that carpet without measuring it
I know - what was I thinking? I thought I knew how big the room was because it just seemed natural that it would be 9 x 12. Of course, it wasn't, and I ended up with an interesting strip of carpet that then fit exactly where the bare floor still showed. What did I learn? As my dad once said, "measure twice, cut once." Yep. Oh, and also: don't assume you know the answer just because you think you know the answer.

Sometimes learning from our mistakes takes the courage to admit that we made a mistake.

I've made bigger, more serious mistakes, too. How about you? What was the silliest mistake you've ever made? What did you learn?

-- Douglas Brent Smith

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

How to Deal with Attendance Problems

Do you ever experience attendance problems? Why is it that some people have such a hard time getting to work on time?

It is frustrating to a supervisor or manager to deal with an attendance problem. And, whether or not you realize it, it is one of the most frustrating things ever for your team.

I recall serving on a team where I did not have any influence over the attendance policy. I made it my business to always be at work on time. Through one stretch of my career I went over 10 years without ever calling in once. Yes, I was blessed with good health, and yes I was also disciplined.

The team I most recall with an attendance issue had a person who was a wonderful worker when he was there. He worked fast and his production was great. He was knowledgeable and he was skilled. When he was there. The trouble was, he wasn't there a lot. Maybe he had medical issues. I don't know for sure. The rumor was that his biggest issue was playing video games all night, getting too high to work, and getting too tired to work. Some days when he came to work it was clear that he hadn't slept much the night before.

So what as a supervisor do you do?

I'm a big fan of the force-field analysis method of identifying all of the issues that support a goal, plus all of the issues that stand in the way. Kurt Lewin designed a fabulous problem solving model that works especially well in dealing with attendance.

Get all of the reasons for poor attendance on the table. Keep asking, "what else prevents you from getting to work..." Eventually you ask, "is that everything that stands in the way of achieving your goal of getting to work every scheduled day on time?"

Doing this should identify all of the reasons AND all of the excuses.

Then you ask for that person's plan to overcome these obstacles. Let them develop a robust plan for every single reason and excuse. Then ask them if they are committed to achieving the goal and completing their plan to achieve their goal. If they say yes, ask how you can help. Hold them accountable for achieving their goal.

If they say no, it may well be time to consider helping them find their next opportunity -- outside of your team.

It's deeper than it sounds: attendance problems are often staffing problems. Get the right people on your team. And the wrong people off of your team.

It's what the rest of your team wants. Just ask them.

-- Douglas Brent Smith