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“Say what you mean, and do what you say”

“We are only as strong as the people we surround ourselves with”, “Great minds think alike” and “We are only as good as our weakest link”. All great quotes that can guide everyone who adopts them well, at work and in life. Each of these quotes have this trite in common. “Say what you mean, mean what you say, and do what you say you’ll do”. For more than twenty-five years having the information to make quick decisions has been the key to my success. In motorsports cars travel at 293 feet per second. Quick, good information is crucial. Trust in your people is the difference between winning and losing. More importantly, people that you can rely on to do what they say they will do, so as no one gets hurt.

There is a common belief that we need to know all the answers to have success in life. When asked a question, we don’t know, coming up with any answer, even if it is not correct, to avoid what we believe will leave us looking foolish. The problem with this approach is that many of the world’s most successful people know that they don’t need to have all the answers to gain success, and what’s more, they use it to their advantage. Much like I did in motorsports, we have subject matter experts in their field. For example, Henry Ford proved in his libel trial after the first word war, having a solid team of people who round out your knowledge is far more important than having all the answers.

If you say what you mean, but you don’t mean what you say, what have you gained or what has the person you’re speaking with gained? If you don’t do what you say you’re going to do, your credibility decreases. You have probably been told that lying is wrong, but then telling a white lie seems necessary to avoid hurting someone’s feelings. The truth isn’t always the nicest answer. It might not be what someone wants to hear. But it helps others to make key decisions that impact the whole team. Solid actions and good information makes life easier and much more productive. This especially includes being honest with yourself.

We now live in the greatest time to be alive. We have answers at our finger tips. We can gain any knowledge we please within seconds if we wish. We just need everyone working together, saying what you mean, mean what you say, and doing what you say you’ll do. The only thing that separates us now, is the actions we take. So, I will leave you with this parting thought:

“What action are you taking today to do what you say?”

Yours in charge,

Troy Selberg

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Use your Turn Signal and Communicate

This morning on my way home from the gym, when I was a block away from my house, I pulled up to an intersection to turn left. Oncoming traffic that was turning left across my path never signaled to turn. Not one person turned on their blinker to let me know they would be turning across my path. Truly this a was clear lack of communication!

Laziness, relative lack of enforcement, a little confirmation bias on my part, yes probably.

Naturally this is a large generalization, but it’s one that keeps weighing on my own experiences in business. I believe, like our lack or willingness to communicate in business, our car culture in America makes driving a thing we take very much for granted, and it makes people less than courteous as a result.

I have found that the root cause of most business problems simply comes down to lack of clear communication. Not defining a plan to others is not showing direction. Not following procedure is like not turning on your blinker. Not having standard working procedures is like not have a turn signal at all.  Often business situations involve communication between two or more people from different positions, in different roles and with different goals and objectives just like cars on the road.

I am not perfect, but I use my turn signals all the time. I also work hard to improve my communication in business. Streamlining procedures, teaching others to follow protocols and returning emails.

Effective business communication like good driving etiquette can help me, as well as you. Today and every day, improve the little things like communication with others and like using your turn signals.

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Cross Promotion with Vendors

Cross Promotion with Vendors

Cross-PromotionYou want your vendors to be on your team, so show them that this is not a one-way street. Creating a trusting vendor relationship through a cross-promotion plan. Make sure to get your promotion plans in writing. When negotiating your contract with vendors, add in a small clause about what both parties plan to do. By working together to enhance your mutual exposure, you’ll be showing your commitment to one another, which will establish a trusting working relationship for the future. Creating a successful vendor relationship and promotion plan will take some extra work on your part, but if you are successful it is definitely worth the time.

Clear Communication

road signs to success

If you and your employees were both asked what’s most important for them to achieve this year, would your answers match?  If you don’t communicate clear expectations with visibility to accountability for employees, and ensure everyone shares an understanding of what success looks like in each role, you’re falling down on one of your most important jobs as a leader.

If you’re like most leaders, you think a lot about whether your employees are being as productive as needed.  But have you ever looked at the other side of that equation and wondered if you’re standing in the way of their productivity yourself?

One mistake business leaders make when their employees are not meeting performance, attitude or competency expectations is to shift the work burden from the shoulders of the unsatisfactory employees onto the shoulders of the company’s best workers.  Ultimately, this type of management is nothing short of irresponsible.  With this reasoning, not only do you compromise the strong employees’ ability to meet their own performance objectives, but you also risk burdening them to the point where they leave your employment.  Should that occur, you would be faced with a staff comprised exclusively of incompetent employees.

One of the best ways I have found to keep employees on track and self-motivated is by setting clear goals and expectations. These goals and expectations set with visibility and accountability, when enabled by a platform like an ERP system, will allow employees to take action to resolve issues themselves.  From my experience, this approach has translated to unbelievable loyalty, work ethic and positive growth across many different business disciplines.  When we make it our policy to care about our employees, something really cool happens–they start to truly care about your customers.  That’s when the magic happens, because “caring” is part of an overall successful business culture.  It is contagious and profitable, overall it just feels good!

The importance of a tool that sets expectations and offers visibility, measurements and control cannot be underestimated.  The choice is yours:  empower and enable your organization to become GREAT.

Do You Speak Gen Z?

cracker jacksDo you speak Gen Z? In the multicultural world that we live in today, companies are communicating in more than just their home language to reach customers, clients, and even employees. It is also important to recognize that the newest generations of people speak, read, learn, purchase, and entertain themselves mostly through what they can do on their latest smartphone. Is this creating a “language barrier” in your business?

The Frito-Lay Corporation announced last week that they were no longer going to place toys inside their boxes of Cracker Jack’s. Instead, they will be placing a code for “mobile digital experiences.” Making this radical change, speaks directly to the Gen Z demographic.

In 1974, my dad owned two Shell Gas Stations. At that time, Shell Stations were giving away a free Hot Wheels Car with every fill up. This was the beginning of a very important marketing shift. Companies began to see that marketing directly to children allowed for a significant increase in sales. In the 80’s and 90’s, fast food chains began to give away toys with their kid’s meals. These types of youth-targeted marketing tactics are highly successful. But, times they are a changing! Gen Z kids, see the world through their phone or tablet screens. Companies are starting to notice the value shifting from things like toys and treats to items that add value directly their mobile devices. This plays right into this generation’s need for instant gratification. Very soon, this generation will be entering into the work force in droves. Meaning companies are going to need to shift their ways of thinking and communicating to effectively mentor, manage, and market to these screen loving young people.

To stay successful, you have to stay current. Being current today, means touching people through a screen. This involves your marketing, research and development, human resources and everything in between needing to rapidly become fluent in the digital language.

While I am sure that we will soon be hearing a degree of backlash about Frito Lay’s decision, mostly from toy collectors and parents of kids too small to be independently digital, I am personally excited that a company of their size recognizes that they have to speak the language! Don’t let this language barrier get in the way of your best!

Vision…. Wah Wah Wah Wah

PEANUTSAs a general rule, the first step in solving a problem is recognizing that one exists. Seriously? Who gives a rat’s … tail? But, When you speak, your employees can’t understand what you are saying. You remember Charlie Brown’s teacher, right? The cartoon character would sit at his desk and scrunch up his face as his teacher droned on, “Wah wah WAH wah wah …” Now that’s great for a cartoon, but when you’re among your peers and employees, it can be very frustrating.

Your vision is a roadmap for employees, communicating it is very inportant. While your vision is probably clear to you, how well do you think your employees know it? Try asking them… and don’t be surprised if they’re unclear or confused.

One of the ways I have learned to engage employees is through story telling. We are all hardwired for stories. And if you are going to include a story, make sure it’s a good one – with a beginning, middle and end, some characters, and a challenge to overcome. It could be said that the principles of engagement are based upon truth, positivity, effectiveness, efficiency, and a desire to move forward. Speak in a language that your employees will understand and it will be easier to bring them on board with your initiatives. You’ll be in a much better position to have real and effective conversations.

We all have to go to work each day, but there’s no reason it shouldn’t be enjoyable. When’s the last time you laughed at work, or encouraged your team to enjoy themselves, or did something playful, or any one of a thousand other things that could improve what is usually a pretty drab and colorless environment? C’mon… lighten up, and you’ll be surprised how much more people can do when they’re enjoying themselves . Employees who are informed correctly and enjoying themselves, can and will be motivated to move mountains. Perhaps the most important part of your job is communicating effectively. The best communicators know that business is about human drama: Facing challenges, overcoming threats and making new discoveries that sometimes change the world. If you can share the rich stories behind these, you create memorable and engaging narratives that will bring your business to life.

Communication Methods

Whenever you are training or communicating with others, you have information and ideas that you want them to understand and learn effectively and efficiently. Your audience is likely to demonstrate a wide range of learning preferences, and your challenge is to provide variety that helps them learn quickly and well.

Your preferred teaching and communication methods may in fact be influenced by your own learning preferences. For example, if you prefer visual rather than verbal learning, you may in turn tend to provide a visual learning experience for your audience.

  • Sensory Learners – if you rely too much on sensing, you can tend to prefer what is familiar, and concentrate on facts you know instead of being innovative and adapting to new situations. Seek out opportunities to learn theoretical information and then bring in facts to support or negate these theories.
  • Intuitive Learners – if you rely too much on intuition you risk missing important details, which can lead to poor decision-making and problem solving. Force yourself to learn facts or memorize data that will help you defend or criticize a theory or procedure you are working with. You may need to slow down and look at detail you would otherwise typically skim.
  • Visual Learners – if you concentrate more on pictorial or graphical information than on words, you put yourself at a distinct disadvantage because verbal and written information is still the main preferred choice for delivery of information. Practice your note taking and seek out opportunities to explain information to others using words.
  • Verbal Learners – when information is presented in diagrams, sketches, flow charts, and so on, it is designed to be understood quickly. If you can develop your skills in this area you can significantly reduce time spent learning and absorbing information. Look for opportunities to learn through audio-visual presentations (such as CD-ROM and Webcasts.) When making notes, group information according to concepts and then create visual links with arrows going to and from them. Take every opportunity you can to create charts and tables and diagrams.
  • Active Learners – if you act before you think you are apt to make hasty and potentially ill-informed judgments. You need to concentrate on summarizing situations, and taking time to sit by yourself to digest information you have been given before jumping in and discussing it with others.
  • Reflective Learners – if you think too much you risk doing nothing. There comes a time when a decision has to be made or an action taken. Involve yourself in group decision-making whenever possible and try to apply the information you have in as practical a manner as possible.
  • Sequential Learners – when you break things down into small components you are often able to dive right into problem solving. This seems to be advantageous but can often be unproductive. Force yourself to slow down and understand why you are doing something and how it is connected to the overall purpose or objective. Ask yourself how your actions are going to help you in the long run. If you can’t think of a practical application for what you are doing then stop and do some more “big picture” thinking.
  • Global Learners – if grasping the big picture is easy for you, then you can be at risk of wanting to run before you can walk. You see what is needed but may not take the time to learn how best to accomplish it. Take the time to ask for explanations, and force yourself to complete all problem-solving steps before coming to a conclusion or making a decision. If you can’t explain what you have done and why, then you may have missed critical details.

Set people up to succeed

Everyone has heard me say “set people up to succeed” don’t pick on their down-falls. I have employed thousands of people over the years. And every time one resigned or doesn’t work out, a little part of me died. (OK, I lie. I have actually danced a celebratory jig around my desk on the odd occasion, but that’s another chat!)

Mostly, my natural reaction has always been a human one I suppose. “What possible reason would they have to do that?” or “What’s wrong with them?” or even, “they must be leaving for money. The fool!”

But I grew wiser as the years rolled by.

Mostly, people don’t change jobs solely for money. They don’t get fired because they didn’t have the knowledge to do their job. They almost never resign on a whim, or in a fit of anger. They joined your company because they believed it right for them, and actually they want it to be right. Something, at some point, makes it wrong. And if you really take the time to dig into their real reasons things didn’t work out with them, and you should, you will find that it’s not ‘the company’ to blame. It’s not the location, or the team, or the database or the air-conditioning.

It’s the leadership!

Sure, they may not use that word. Indeed, they may not mention management at all.

But when they talk about ‘morale’, when they say ‘communication is poor’, when they express frustration at the lack of clarity for their career progression, they are telling you that it’s the leaders they are leaving. For it’s obvious, isn’t it? Leaders are responsible for morale, communication and career path.

So, for maybe 20 years I have been irritating the managers who report to me, by stopping them in mid-sentence when they start venting at the stupidity, lack of gratitude and disloyalty of their teams.

Looking into a mirror can be a shocking experience. Especially if you have not done it for a while.

A ‘company’ is just a legal entity. A ‘business’ is a collection of desks and computers. No one gets fired or resigns because of that.

It’s the decisions, the motivation, the atmosphere, the ethos, the support, the training, the vision, and the direction set by the leadership that they will follow.

Or not.

So next time you have to let someone go or you get a resignation, resist the temptation to laugh it off as ‘another dumbo who doesn’t get us’.

Take a moment to reflect on what it actually is that they things didn’t work out.

It’s not the employee who doesn’t ‘get it’. It’s not the company they are leaving. As leaders we ‘Together’ can help each other and set our employees up to succeed.

So the next time we see one of our employees starting to bottom out, lets together work to keep them on track.

DISC: The greatest tool for Success.

DISCI would like to share a highly effective tools for helping you make better, more informed hiring practices, strong management decisions and possible improve your family life. All DISC profiling systems generate written reports with specific tips on the strengths and weaknesses of the person as well as tips to best manage the person. Ideally, you will learn to appreciate your differences and use them to their greatest effect. In one example, my boss was frustrated with the performance of a key employee and did not know what to do. After I reviewing the employee’s profile, it was absolutely clear that they would respond best to specific additional training. With that insight, we provided the training required and the employee’s performance increased immediately. Issue resolved. In another example, the partners of a company were frustrated with each other. “Why can’t he just take more initiative?” my boss asked. Upon reviewing the profiles of each owner, I found that their partners had the profile of someone who followed the lead rather than taking it. They all realized they were barking up the wrong tree and if they wanted their partnership to work, they had to work with each other in specific ways to make things change.

The key here is that personality profiles are invaluable as a hiring and management tool. With each person I work with, a current DISC profile is mandatory because they are so rich in information and insights as to how a person operates. And because our personality stems from who we are, personality profiling has great value in our private life too!

DISC will also help you in your personal life. My example is a testimony to how personalities, communication and values within a family can be helped using DISC. In this example, I had a friend lose focus on his daily duties at work. After I looked into the “Root Cause”, I found it to be a family issue. My friend’s daughter was falling behind in school and not communicating with the family or her therapists. This was affecting his work, our friendship and his mental health. As I heard more about the issues, and how the family was communicating, my training with DISC help me understand their troubles. Both my friend and his daughter took a DISC profile test and when I shared the results with the family, they all have learned how to better communicate with each other, turning the family around 180 degrees.

If you are a part of a group or team who also took a behavioral assessment, it would be advantageous to get together, using each person’s data, and understand each person’s Natural and Adapted style. This allows you to quickly see where conflict can occur. You will also be able to identify where communication, understanding and appreciation can be increased.