Sunday, September 23, 2018

Set Your Team Up For Success

High performance leaders provide the kind of environment where people can prosper.  How do you set up your team for success? By interviewing and recruiting so carefully that you bring in qualified and motivated people. By providing the training that everyone needs. By supporting projects that stretch your team while also delighting your customers. And maybe most importantly, by spending time with your team. Time to talk, time to socialize, time to break bread, time to bond.

Your team's performance depends on how well you've set them up for success.

Set your team up completely.

-- doug smith

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Lessons Learned

John Maxwell has said that the only failure is the failure to miss the lesson. So many times we when it feels like we failed, what we have gained is the opportunity to learn. Go with the learning and the lesson may be well worth the momentary loss.

High performance leaders several low performance into lessons learned. It then leads to better performance. Feedback, plus insights, leads to learning. Learning leads to success.

Find the lesson. Accept the feedback. Grow.

-- doug smith

Friday, September 21, 2018

Feedback Is More Than Criticism

High performance leadership is a hands-on enterprise. Communication is essential. It is always worth remembering that communication is more than words. Communication is conveyed on three essential channels: the words, the tone, and the body language. Providing feedback means more than telling someone how they did. It could also include showing them how to do it better.

When I was a young baseball player, when I struggled at the plate my coach would not just tell me how to do it better, he would show me. "Here's a better place to grip the's a better way to step into the ball...if you stand like this you'll see the pitch more clearly..." feedback and instructions.

When I was taking music lessons on my old Lowry Organ my teacher would not just tell me how I sounded -- when it helped she would also show me better ways to hold my hands. When it was useful she would also move my hands to an inversion that made the chord sound more rich and full. She was a teacher and a coach. As the result, my performance improved.

What about your team?

What if you showed them how to do it right rather than telling them that they're doing it wrong?

-- doug smith

The Work of High Performance

Performance excellence takes effort.

Performance comes from practice, patience, and persistence.

Put in the time. Put in the effort. Enjoy the performance.

-- doug smith

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Listen to the Quiet Ones

If your team has more than four people, you may have noticed that some talk more than others. You may have even noticed that about half your team, no matter how big it is, talks less than the other half. Some of us are talkative and outgoing, and about half of us are quiet and reflective. It has nothing to do with intelligence, problem solving, or leading -- some folks are just more quiet.

A mistake many leaders make is giving up the floor to the talkative ones and once they are done talking (which to the rest of the group can seem like forever) assuming that the floor can now be closed. Decisions can be made. Solutions have all been identified. Strategy is certain. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

Until you as a leader have also considered the thoughts of the quiet ones you have effectively reduced your possibilities in half. The job of a high performance leader is to increase, not decrease, possibilities.

How do you get the quiet ones to talk? Ask! Allow time to reflect. Allow time to write things down. Allow time to breathe, even to move around. Come back later if necessary, just don't close the loop until the quiet ones have spoken.

The quiet ones on your team have much to say -- they just aren't saying it.

Your task is to create the environment where they will say it.

-- doug smith

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Get Your Words In Edgewise

Do you know many people who dominate a conversation? It seems like no matter what the topic is, some people have the most to say. And, they insist on saying it. My grandmother used to describe that kind of situation by saying, "I couldn't get a word in edgewise."

Communication is not a broadcast. For true communication to exist, the people involved need to reach some sense of shared meaning. They do not need to agree for this happen, but they do need to understand each other. Sometimes that takes many words, sometimes it takes just a few. Listen, understand, and then speak up to make your own meaning clear and understood. It could take an extra measure of assertiveness with some people. It is worth it.

Just because someone wants to dominate a conversation does not mean that you must allow it. Share responsibility for success.

-- doug smith

The Fastest Way to Improve Your Conference Calls

The fastest way to improve your conference calls

Do you enjoy conference calls? Despite good intentions, conference calls often end up being train wrecks of epic proportions. People check out. People leave, multitask, or argue. Sometimes one voice will be easy to hear but others are inaudible.

Compounding this is a very common practice. Maybe you fall into this practice. I've seen it over and over and even been a participant myself. The flawed practice is mixing the group, with part of the call all together in one conference room and the rest of the group off site on separate phones. A variation of this, and even tougher to manage, is a chain of conference rooms with groups of people sharing one phone at each location.

What's wrong with this arrangement?

People are then communicating on different levels, in different channels, and on different status plane. In any room you have the issues of status to deal with. When you put some people together in one room, that is one status dynamic to manage. When you mix that with multiple locations, the status range becomes unmanageable. It also tends to favor wherever the "home" location is much to the detriment of anyone else. Frustration and ineffective behaviors results.

How to fix that? It's simple, but it takes some guts. Follow this rule:

"If anyone is calling in alone, everyone is calling in alone."

Rather than have groups in some locations and individuals in others, allow (and require) every participant in the call to call in, using a common conference call number. This puts everyone on the same level of participation, technology, and status. No more rolling of eyes at something someone on the line said so that some people know your reaction and some do not. No more secret coded body language disparaging or supporting someone on the phone. Set up everyone as equal, and your chances of achieving equality increase geometrically.

If anyone is on the phone, everyone is on the phone. And for better quality, make it one person one phone.

Try it. You'll enjoy much, much better conference calls.

-- doug smith