Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Give Me Your Last 10%

Do you ever wonder why issues continue to evolve... why pieces of the story keep coming up...why you never seem to get all of the facts necessary to make a good decision?  You don't have the last 10%, that's why.

The Whole Story
When leaders create the culture for their teams (yes, the leaders are responsible) it is imperative that they hear all of the issues.  Typically employees hold back and are not completely open about their feelings (good or bad) for three basic reasons:

1 - They fear retaliation.
2 - They lack the self-confidence to speak up.
3 - Leadership has not created an environment where it is safe to share all of the details.

What are you going to do about these barriers?  Often times employees will share most of what is on their mind, but not necessarily the whole story.  That's when you ask them the big question:  "What is your last 10%?"

Create the Culture and Get Results
Leaders are the ones that can get that last 10% of the story.  But it can only happen if they've done the work ahead of time to build the necessary relationships with the staff.  Leaders set the tone for how people will work together.  Leaders get things done if they have created an environment where people can feel safe, supported, and encouraged to fully participate.

How About You
Think about the people who work for you.  Do they tell you the whole story?  Have you ever had to revisit issues again and again to finally get everything you needed to make a decision?  If so, it's time to focus on the culture you've created.  Then you'll be ready to ask for their last 10%.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pic courtesy of Duplex Chick

Monday, April 25, 2011

Do You Stop and Think?

I work in an amazing organization.  We treat children as both inpatients and outpatients.  Thousands of them every year.  My particular building has several outpatient therapy programs, so I have the privilege of seeing kids come and go throughout the day.

Recently I was leaving the office a bit later than I normally do and was hustling through the lobby when a young boy noticed me in my suit and smiled.  I stopped, smiled back and he asked,

"Are you the Mayor of the Therapy Center?"

I smiled...his Mom laughed, and he made my whole week much, much brighter.

Sometimes in all the chaos of our own "stuff" we forget that there are so many others less fortunate than we are.  I'm going to try and remember that a little more each day.  

What makes you stop and think?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pic is not a patient, but is courtesy of Bridal

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Which Leader Doesn't Belong and Why?

Visualize Three Leaders 
Which one doesn't belong in your organization anymore?

#1 - New Leader.  This individual is motivated, enthusiastic, and wonderfully naive.  They still believe they can change the world (and they just might).  Their lack of experience creates problems from time-to-time as they move past the mindset of being a "manager" and begin to embrace the complexities of being a "leader."  They have lots of potential, but might require extra effort on your part to "get them where they need to be."

#2 - Experienced Leader.  This person has the powerful combination of years of experience with your organization and a passion for staying current.  They don't live in the world of "we've always done it that way."  In fact, they often are seen as pushing a bit too hard on new ideas, strategies, and technologies in an unending attempt to keep the organization moving forward.  This approach sometimes gets them into trouble with the "status-quo-is-the-way-to-go crowd", but their ability to see the big picture ultimately helps them maintain good relationships even with the nay-sayers.

#3 - Self-Proclaimed Expert Leader.  This person is often in a position of authority, and believes that the constructs of policy and "how things should be" supersede the realities of managing the complex variables organizations face today. This leader is often very bright, loyal, and passionate about their specific role; but too often feel threatened when changes occur.  They simply do not appreciate the fact that embracing change and being a leader organizationally gives them greater influence, not less.

Which One Are You
Did you find yourself on this list?  If so, what are you going to do about it?  Simply because you fall into a particular category (ahem...#3 for example), doesn't mean you're permanently stuck there.  But it is up to you to do something about it.  So what's your plan?      

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pics courtesy of Alex S Brown and First Hagerstown

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Meetings Ruin My Day

I go to a lot of meetings.  Many weeks I attend more than thirty of them.  Thirty meetings in one week.  They're all important; some are even mission critical (remember that term?).  But what actually gets done in those endless hours behind closed doors?  Sometimes I'm not sure.  Yes, face-to-face communication is simply the best way to share information, but is it always necessary?  I don't think so, and I now recognize that I need to take action instead of continuing to talk about it.

Fresh Perspective
I've decided to try something new over the next few weeks.  I'm going to attempt to cut my weekly meeting count in half, on average, going forward.  This may take some doing, some delegating, and some hard decision-making on my part to simply turn down meeting requests.  The difficult part of this plan is that I'm not willing to sacrifice the perception of good service to my customers.  Hmm...I hope they're as open to using technology as I am.

Why Such A Big Deal?
As my organization grows, I seem to find myself connecting with more people, in more locations than ever before.  In order to provide the best service possible, I can't be unavailable.

"Simply because someone doesn't work on the same campus as me, does not mean they don't deserve the same level of attention and support.  I need to be available in person, via phone, and electronically in equal parts."

How About You
How have you balanced the crush of requests for meetings with the need to support your other clients across the entire organization?  What worked?  What didn't?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pic courtesy of The Big Link

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

My Great Idea - Rejected!

Have you ever had a great idea?  One that you just knew would make a difference for your organization, maybe even the entire community?  Did you make sure you researched it, collected the appropriate data, and even addressed the political pitfalls that would need to be avoided in order for your idea to get off the ground?

I worked for a time outside of HR and I had one of those ideas...and it was a big way.

But You Don't Understand
How could this be?  I did the work.  My idea saves money.  Everybody wins.  There must be some mistake.  But there was no mistake.  The CEO of the organization I worked for at that time was not comfortable moving forward.  My idea faded away and the organization moved ahead.  But what was I supposed to do?  I certainly did not understand.  In fact, I still don't.  It was a damn good idea.

Now What?
I found myself in a very awkward position after that experience.  I had worked with my supervisor (the Vice President of Medical Affairs); I had worked closely with the team in Finance to develop the pro forma; I had worked with the lead physician from our major competitor (this was a joint venture project between bitter healthcare system rivals); I clearly demonstrated that patient care would improve for both organization's patients; I took everything into consideration...except one thing.


Somehow I hadn't learned that the CEOs of both systems back then could not appear to be working collaboratively.  They were rivals.  Period.

Time To Choose
I quickly realized I had one of two choices to make:  1 - sulk, complain, and get lost in my own misery; or, 2 - suck it up and move on.  My colleagues would have allowed me some time to feel bad for myself.  They knew how much I had put into that proposal, and that I was on the verge of making a major breakthrough in how healthcare was delivered in that community.  They would have understood.

But I went with #2.  I hate whining.  I hate being miserable.  I hate excuses.

How About You
When have you had a terrific idea and it was rejected?  How did you handle it?  Did you walk around as if you just lost your best friend?  Or, did you step up, learn, and move forward?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pic courtesy of Resume Guides

Monday, April 18, 2011

Power Post - Gasp and Flail

Look around your organization today.  Think about all of those employees and how hard they are working.  Run through a list of everything you expect from them today...this week...this year.  Think about all of the work they are expected to complete.

Now think about one of those employees who is struggling.  

You know who they are.  You're aware of them, not because they are a rising star, but because they need help now, or they'll never make it to next month, let alone next year.  That person you're thinking of needs someone.  They need someone soon, or a chain of events will begin to occur that will cost money and do damage: counseling sessions, hurt feelings, lost productivity, turnover, a search process, on-boarding, and orientation for their replacement.  Maybe you can stop all of this from happening.

Meet with that person this week.  They are gasping and flailing...and you can be the one that changes everything.

Be the difference.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pic courtesy of WPI

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Do You Make A Million Dollar Impact?

Lately on Sunday nights I've tried to watch some of the television show Secret Millionaire.  It's about wealthy folks who pretend to do a documentary on volunteering and surprise the people and organizations they encounter with a nice check at the end of the show.  Great concept.  Great message.  Pretty good show.

But You and I Aren't Millionaires

So how can we make a big impact in someone's life if we don't have a huge pile of cash to tap into? We're juggling so many priorities, projects, deadlines, employee issues, budget pressures, and personal obligations that it just doesn't seem possible to add even one more thing.  But you and I know that so many of us do add one more thing. Sometimes we add lots more.

And I'd like to hear about them.

Go Big or Go Home
So what are you doing to make a difference?  Really, it's time to share.  I'd like to hear from as many of you as possible.  I want to hear what you all are doing above and beyond your job description.  I want to know how you're adding value to the world around you.  Don't be shy.  I want to hear from those leaders that live by the "No Excuses" mantra and make a difference. 

How About You
You don't need to be a millionaire to make a million dollar impact.  Do you mentor a young professional, volunteer with kids, volunteer at church or the local children's hospital, hospice, food bank, homeless shelter, big brothers/big sisters program, coach a youth sports team, or work with a SHRM chapter?  Tell me!

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pic courtesy of The Journal Record

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Congratulations, You Have The Job!

I am honored to have been asked by Laura Schroeder to write a guest post for her terrific Working Girl blog.  The piece is about the excitement, failures, and lessons learned as a young manager...ahem...that would be my experiences as a young manager.  Ouch!

I've eaten a lot of humble pie since I started blogging.

Take a look at the post, and let me know what you think.  Being a young (or new) manager is terrific, but one thing that is typically not handed out at orientation is the map of the leadership land mines.

Laura and I would love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Power Post - Do You Have Any Sense?

"The best leader is one who has sense enough to pick good people to do what must be done, and the self-restraint to keep from meddling with them while they do it." 
—Theodore Roosevelt, American President

How About You
How do you balance the need to ensure the work gets done "the right way" with the reality of knowing that you have to let your team actually do the work?  Do you interfere?  Do you let them get involved, only to jump in at the last minute to put your stamp on the finished product?  Do you have any sense?  

What do you do that works well?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pic courtesy of I Am The Customer

Monday, April 11, 2011

Convince the Clueless About Social Media

Do you know someone who is clueless about the reality of work today?  Someone who just doesn't understand  the world is completely different from just a few short years ago?  Someone who has failed to realize that tens of millions of people are leveraging real time tools and new global networks to connect with other professionals to get their work done faster, better, and more effectively?

I know some too...and I'm embarrassed for them.

Get With The Program
How is this possible?  We all work with bright people who have built amazing organizations, made tough decisions, and have developed a level of expertise at the technical, clinical, or leadership level that is superior.  They've adapted to change over the years so they, and their companies, could remain viable.  So how is it that they "don't do social media?"  

Convince or Let It Go
This issue has bothered me enough that I've been reaching out to those in the social media world to get their take.  Although many folks believe that trying to convince non-users to jump on board could be a waste of time, I'm not so sure that I agree.  

When we are passionate about something in our lives, we work hard to ensure others understand the importance of the matter at hand.  We don't resign ourselves to the fact that simply because the other person doesn't understand the issue that we should just let it go.  Hell no!  Have you ever argued about politics, professional sports, homeowners association by-laws, policies at work, or anything else that happens in life?

Then why is social media off limits?  Well, it's not.

How About You
Call me a newbie, call me naive, or call me fired up.  But whatever you call me, don't accuse me of not appreciating the power of going social.  It's time for all of us to show our passion for social media, in the same way we show it in so many other areas of our lives.  Doesn't something that can be so powerful (Hosni Mubarak who?) deserve to have everyone involved.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pic courtesy of Son Shine Music

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Choices, Part 2 - How 'Bout You Make One

Leaders make choices.  We get paid to, and we must.  There is no wiggle-room.  If you're incapable of making a choice, you're going to be out of a job soon.  If someone makes the big choices for you; you're out of a job soon.  If your boss makes all of the major strategic and disciplinary decisions for you, you'll be out of a job soon.  Get it?

Step up, and make a choice.

Easier Said Than Done
Oh sure, it's easy to sit back and promulgate leadership strategy from behind the safety of the computer screen...unless you're backing it up in real life.  I try desperately not to wait to choose...and you shouldn't either.  How many times have you worked with leaders that simply will not make the choice that is so obvious, even to them? Sadly, I'm guessing you can't count the number on one hand.  Neither can I.  

So Get On With It
Maybe I'm impatient.  Maybe I'm a Gen Xer who wants instant gratification.  Or, maybe I just want to get things done faster than I should reasonably expect.  It doesn't matter.  What does matter is that those around you and me are waiting for us to make a choice...the right choice.  Are you going to let them down?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pic courtesy of Dare

Monday, April 4, 2011

Choices, Part 1 - Ever Make A Bad One?

I've made plenty of choices over the years.  Quite frankly some of them were pretty bad.  Actually, some were downright awful.  Like this one...

I needed to change a holiday pay practice and was attempting to get the buy-in from the rest of the senior leadership team.  We only came to consensus at the very last minute.  Instead of taking into consideration that we were on top of the holiday, I forced the change through anyway.  Yes, the company saved some money, but the negative fallout hurt both the organization and me.  I felt terrible afterward.

Big Picture
I take pride in forcing myself to see the big picture.  I consider myself a strategy-guy.  Making bad choices with respect to these high level problems is unacceptable. But I've made them, and that drives me nuts.  I don't want to let any organization that I work for down.  I certainly don't want to let myself down either. The big picture must rule the day.

Working Through It
I hated my decision.  I hated the phone calls, emails, voice mails, and hallway comments about  the decision.  It was all on me, and I didn't like any of it.  But there was nowhere to hide.  I had to simply endure it.  I had to endure me.  

But I learned.  I learned to be more strategic...I learned to be more thorough...I learned to be...better.

How About You
Have you ever made a choice that you regret?  What did you do about it?  Did you step up, acknowledge the blunder, and fix it?  Or, did you stay quiet...shamefully quiet...and hope the moment slipped away before anyone noticed?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pic courtesy oEJ Lockhart

Friday, April 1, 2011

Death of a Colleague - What is HR's Role?

Unexpectedly losing a family member or close friend is terrible.  We have rituals to help us through the tremendous grief that sets in though:  calling hours, funerals, graveside services, and gatherings of friends and family to share a meal all help keep our minds occupied during those first few days of pain.  But what happens when something unexpected happens to a colleague?  It doesn't feel quite the same, but we are still experiencing a tremendous sense of loss.

Work Feels Like Family
For those of us fortunate enough to work with a terrific group of people, we often feel like we have two families - our family away from work, and our other "work" family.  Sometimes that "work" family extends beyond those that are in our department, team or section of a particular building.  Last year a member of my team passed away very suddenly.  She was only in her 40s which made it so much more difficult.  Her death was felt on many levels ranging from the sadness and sense of how unfair it all was, to our daily operations and the loss of a highly productive employee.

Not Again 
Now another employee in their 40s outside of my department has died suddenly. Her team members are sad, her young patients are devastated and confused, and I'm trying to figure out exactly what Human Resources should do in a situation like this? It's not like this hasn't happened over the years, particularly since I've worked in large organizations most of my career.  Yes, we have a tight process here to ensure flowers are sent on behalf of the organization to the family so they know we are aware, and are truly saddened at the news.  But as I've considered losses both personally and professionally, it seems to me there is no special act that makes anything better.  There is no perfect action to take to support all of the people affected.  It is simply too much to handle.  We must each other...and continue.

Dietrich's Words 
Several months ago I wrote about the impact Dietrich Bonhoeffer has had on my life. In times such as these, I look to Dietrich for solace:

"There is nothing that can replace the absence of someone dear to us, and one should not even attempt to do so. One must simply hold out and endure it. At first that sounds very hard, but at the same time it is also a great comfort. For to the extent the emptiness truly remains unfilled one remains connected to the other person through it. 

It is wrong to say that God fills the emptiness. God in no way fills it but much more leaves it precisely unfilled and thus helps us preserve - even in pain - the authentic relationship. Further more, the more beautiful and full the remembrances, the more difficult the separation. But gratitude transforms the torment of memory into silent joy. One bears what was lovely in the past not as a thorn but as a precious gift deep within, a hidden treasure of which one can always be certain."

How About You
What do you do when faced with the loss of a colleague?  How do you show your leadership?  Have you developed a "work ritual" that helps the team make it through somehow?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pics courtesy of Inspiration and Cross Pointe