Thursday, October 28, 2010

Bump and Spill

It happens dozens of times each day.  It happens in-person, on the phone and online.  We "bump" into colleagues, employees, patients, clients, board members, volunteers, vendors and others.  Whether we handle ourselves well, or come across as cold and distant, we react in some way every single time during these "bumps." 

That's right.  Every.  Single.  Time.


As a leader in my organization, I sometimes fail to recognize the impact I have on others during these “bumps.”  My failure is an opportunity lost.  Not good. 

Now I am not talking about giving a quick nod of the head as I race off to my next "important" meeting and consider that to be a great touch point with a team member.  That simply does not do the job.  In his new book, Douglas Conant, CEO of Campbell's Soup Company, describes the power of effective touch points with employees:  

The secret, says Conant and his co-author Mette Norgaard (a renowned teacher of leaders), is to use interruptions and other incidental points of contact as a method to promote the company's values, purpose and agenda. The result? Higher employee engagement, improved growth and revenue, and better customer relationships.
Clearly he believes these opportunities offer much more for us.
I think of these moments in the same way I think about bumping into someone and my coffee spills over a bit.  When I "bump" into one of my customers, what spills out of me?


Do my customers know I am truly interested in them?  Do they understand how much I appreciate their hard work and dedication to the organization?  Do I convey to them, as Stephen Covey would suggest, their worth and potential?

Really?  How?

The quantity of time spent during these “bumps” does not necessarily equate with a high quality encounter.  In fact, they are often times just as busy (if not more so) than I am.

So, with perhaps only a few seconds to make an impact, what spills out of me?


Some of the most effective role models in my life have very similar attributes...they "spilled' some of their leadership style:
  • consistency in their approach and demeanor
  • strong listening skills
  • comfortable enough in their leadership to allow me to participate, and fail
  • incredibly positive with everyone

Imagine that tomorrow morning many of the people you “bump” into will be in a leadership development course and the facilitator will ask them to do the following:

Write down the name of the one leader in your life who had the most positive impact on your development.”

Wouldn’t it be terrific if they named you?

If we hold ourselves accountable in our leadership practice, we may “spill” just enough of ourselves out to make an impact on someone’s life.  An impact we may never fully appreciate.


Who are the influential leaders in your life?  Whose name would you write down on that sheet of paper when asked to name the very best?  When you get “bumped,” what spills out of you?

I’d love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Toss That Anchor!

Living on the Gulf Coast of Florida means sun, sand, water, and boats are a part of daily life.  An integral part of every boat is the anchor.  Steady, secure, reliable, never changing.  In the workplace the first three qualities are important...the last one however, not so much.

I Can't Catch My Breath

We've all heard about the incredible pace of change in the workplace, and that the only constant is change.  Since we're all so accustomed to these changes *wink*, it seems we should surround ourselves with people who embrace new ideas, challenge appropriately, and can add value to the culture of our organizations.

Here's the rub - as leaders we sometimes fail to distinguish between an anchor that brings balance during the storm, and one that is holding us back as we strive to race on ahead.

Despite being more than a decade old, Peter Drucker's words seem as if he had penned them this morning:

"Everybody has accepted by now that change is unavoidable.  But that still implies that change is like death and taxes - it should be postponed as long as possible and no change would be vastly preferable.  But in a period of upheaval, such as the one we are living in, change is the norm."
- Management Challenges for the 21st Century (1999)

So if "change is the norm" are we building that mindset in to our leadership style; or, are we simply moving too fast to see the need to hold anyone accountable?

Systems for Action

A variety of accomplished leaders have developed mechanisms to make "anchor removal" more systematic.  Quint Studer's high-middle-low performer philosophy pushes leaders to have the necessary conversations that address performance.  A more rigid system of forced ranking made famous (or infamous) at firms such as General Electric, Yahoo, Ford and Motorola brings this issue into sharper view.  Both approaches attempt to engage leadership in order to improve organizational performance. 

Time to Leave the Anchors Behind

What message are you sending to the overwhelming majority of employees who come to work each day, perform well, and expect their peers to do the same?  They are watching us.  Do they respect us for taking action; or, do they feel we are not holding ourselves accountable?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

Anchor pic courtesy of

Friday, October 22, 2010

Collaborate? Why? I Already Have All The Answers!

A Recruitment Priority

An interesting phenomenon has entered the leadership recruitment discussions I have been involved with lately.  That is, what is the primary skill required of a new leader joining an organization?
  • Extensive experience?
  • Technical competence?
  • Demonstrated financial savvy?
  • Ability to collaborate with others?

Wait.  What was that last one?
  • Ability to collaborate with others?

Hmmm.  Collaboration.  As the number one priority?  That does not sound nearly as sexy as "saved $2 million dollars on the benefit plan" or; "implemented a process that increased net revenue by 18%."  I'm not suggesting these examples are not important; in fact, they are terrific successes.  However, if we are going to push ourselves to identify core competencies for leaders, collaboration must be near the top.

Many Perspectives - Common Theme

This issue comes up in a variety of ways.  Ken Blanchard addresses collaboration  in this brief slideshare presentation. 

Accomplished HR Leader and blogger Trish McFarlane wrote this piece on the benefits of connecting with disengaged employeesBoth of these examples point to the critical importance of collaboration. 

Risks and Rewards

We can all appreciate the fear that creeps in when we give up a measure of control.  Oh sure, we profess to be inclusive, but when push comes to shove, do we really let go?  Are we willing to listen to our teams and let their opinions count?  Do we fully appreciate the reward we will receive when we work together with our talented employees? 


What About You?

Do you collaborate with your team?  Have you taken the steps necessary in your approach to leadership that demonstrates your commitment to collaboration?  If I met with your team would they confirm your commitment?  I know this isn't certainly isn't easy for me.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

*Hands pic courtesy of
*Poster courtesy of

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Employees Have A Voice? Really?

I can not begin to count the number of meetings, webinars, and conferences I attend that discuss employee morale.  The real issue here though is employee voice.  But what in the world is employee voice, and why should I care? 

Be The Best

Our perpetual quest to crown ourselves the best employer in the market, or the coveted yet completely unattainable Employer of Choice is often driven from the concept of employee voice.  But what does that mean?  Haven't we all ready created cultures in our organizations that foster communication, and the sharing of ideas, issues and concerns?

Survey and Learn the Truth

Using employee surveys can be a good start, but the goals of these engagement surveys are often misunderstood.  Sometimes being the best company means you are actually the worst. The outcome should be a renewed commitment to communicate, communicate, communicate.  Does it really make a difference in the life of an employee if your survey score moves from 3.5 to 4.0?  Answer?  No way.  But the announcement to the employees that they all feel great sure is satsifying, right?

Scott Adams

Create the Opportunity for Voice

Creating a positive employee relations environment can take on many forms, from recognition systems and effective leadership training, to grievance processes and establishing an onsite employee ombudsmanTalking about the culture of an organization is one thing, hardwiring employee voice is very different.  The good news?  The results can be terrific for employees. So don't be afraid to lead!  

What About You

Do you believe your own press releases; or, have you challenged other leaders in your organization to make a difference?  How are you ensuring your employees have a voice?  I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

Monday, October 18, 2010


Thanks for checking out the first post on NoExcusesHR. 

We see it in our professional lives all the time.  Excuses for why things can not get accomplished:

“We’ve always done it that way.” 
“That will never work.”
“Our previous leader did not make us change.”

As I get deeper into my second decade of Human Resources work, I realize more and more how tired I am of hearing excuses for why things cannot be done. 

I also appreciate more than ever when a team comes together. 

How has it been for you?  How have you overcome the challenges of leaders that have long ago lost the passion for their work?  How have you created the energy in your teams to push and push until you get the results you need?

I’d love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pic courtesy of