Dec 28, 2011

- New Year Resolutions...

This year has been a wild one, filled with changes, sometimes forceful cones, nevertheless every year has its own specifics...

Let us reflect on our past year, individually as well as collectively, and choose wisely what has served our greatness and what hasn't. 
Let us become more conscious about our choices and decisions and let us rejoice in the beauty of a new cycle of 365 days to experience a more essential adventure.

1* Speak less, reflect more

Words, while amazingly necessary, aren't as essential as the power they carry. When we are given a chance to think about our thoughts a little longer, we can truly give them the most appropriate vessels to be traveling from within to outward. Sharing thoughts is a great responsibility as it gives a way to one’s truth. Take a little more time to reflect on your thoughts so that when your voice find the most appropriate way to share them, they come out as healing vessels and building stones.

2* Worry less, love more

This year, give yourself a space to Love more than worrying. 
Worries aren't serving anyone nor anything. 
Worries are expression of the Ego losing control. 
Bring more Faith and more trust in the goodness of Life as its nature is always aligned with excellence. 
The path may not always be clear for the mind (where worries originate). 
However, it always is clear for the heart (where Love exists).

3* Hold less, express more
Any kind of emotional held back is simply Life not given the chance to be expressed. This is a powerful energy that when stayed behind can ultimately turn creative energy into deadly substance consuming the self and lowering the inner-vibration. Self-expression is the core of the Human Being. It is an undeniable right of the Soul and the purpose of this experience.

4* Judge less, forgive more

Remember one thing: 

The Life that you observe is the Life that you are. What you see outside is what you know of yourself inside. 

Judgments and critics are the deep wounds that one must be willing to open so that he can bring healing. 

Forgiveness is the first medication that must be administered after self-awareness has brought clarity to the situation.

5* Do less, be more

While doing is what is being asked from us, we remain Human Being before anything. The doer side of us cannot properly do unless he has “been” before and began to grasp what this Being-ness means. This new year, attempt to give a little more room for the Being side of you so that you truly empower the doer part of you. not only will your experience expand but more so you will feel greatly align with your purpose.

Many of our world's problems and conflicts arise because we have lost sight of the basic humanity that binds us all together as a human family.

From a category point of view, it's also helpful to focus on the different facets any of our resolutions might fit in:

The four facets are:
  1. Material prosperity
  2. Spiritual prosperity
  3. Physical prosperity
  4. Social prosperity
These four facets give us a complete and balanced view of prosperity. By reflecting on them, you will get a complete view of how your life as a whole progressed in the past year.

To help you reflect, I’d share some questions you can ask yourself for each facet. By giving honest answers to them, you will be able to see whether or not you have progressed the way you wanted in each facet. For the questions to which your answer is no, you can also ask why to find out the reason behind it. For example, take this question:
Did you achieve the desired net worth?
If your answer is no, you can then ask:

The answer might be because you didn’t save enough, or there were unexpected expenses you weren’t prepared for. You can use such answers to better prepare yourself for the coming year.
So, here are 20 questions to help you reflect the past year:

1. Material prosperity

  • Did you achieve your desired net worth?
  • Did you achieve your desired income level?
  • Have you built the habit of spending less than you earn?
  • Have you been able to eliminate debt?
  • Have you built the habit of saving?
  • Have your career progressed as you wanted to?
  • Have you reduced your spending on some unnecessary expenses?

2. Spiritual prosperity

  • Have you found your life mission?
  • Did you feel fulfilled?
  • Could you honestly say that you are happy?
  • Have you built the necessary habits for spiritual growth? The habits here depend on your belief. They could be meditating or reading sacred texts, for example.

3. Physical prosperity

  • Have you built the habit of exercising?
  • Have you built the habit of consuming nutritious food?
  • Have you had good rest?
  • Did you feel physically fit in doing your daily work?

4. Social prosperity

  • Has your relationship with your spouse been as good as you wanted to?
  • Has your relationship with your family been as good as you wanted to?
  • Has your relationship with your friends been as good as you wanted to?
  • Did you make a lot of new friends?
  • Did you get to know people from more diverse backgrounds?
While the questions listed here are not comprehensive, at least they can give some ideas about how your progress is. Besides, you will be able to see which facet requires the most attention. Since you should maintain the balance of all facets, the facets you lack most are the ones that you should pay more attention to.
The questions can also help you identify the specific actions you should take for each facet. For example:
  • If your answer to the question Have you built the habit of exercising? is no, then you should focus on building the exercise habit.
  • If your answer to the question Did you get to know people from more diverse backgrounds? is no, then you should focus on knowing people from different worlds.
  • If your answer to the question Have you found your life mission? is no, then you should focus on finding your life mission.
You can then prioritize the actions based on what will make the most impact on your life. All these, I believe, will help you set your goals for the new year. 

Your objective should be to have good and balanced progress in all four facets.


Dec 24, 2011

- Merry Christmas

... So this is Christmas and what have you done, Another year over, a new one just begun.

Nous y sommes. Ce soir, c’est la belle nuit de Noël. Et ce soir, au-delà de tout, au-delà des discordes, des doléances, de l’amertume et de la douleur, ce soir, je/on pardonne. Emballées les rancœurs de l’année écoulée. Emballées dans des paquets cadeaux, sous le papier soyeux, emballées et bien ficelées avec des rubans rouges. Posées sous le sapin les erreurs commises. On oublie et on passe à autre chose. On tourne la page, on termine le chapitre, on ferme le livre et on le range dans la bibliothèque de nos (mauvais) souvenirs. On peut même le jeter au bûcher (des vanités), mais on pardonne.

Ce soir, c’est Noël et ce soir, je pardonne. 

Je pardonne à ceux qui m’ont trahie. ہ ceux à qui j’ai donné ma confiance. Je pardonne à ceux devant qui j’ai baissé mes armes, fissuré mon armure, mis de côté mon bouclier. 

Je pardonne à ceux qui m’ont trompée avec (ou sans) scrupules. ہ ceux qui ont essayé de m’humilier ou qui m’ont jugée. Qui ont pensé que ce que je faisais était infaisable. 

Je pardonne à ceux qui ont dit que je n’étais pas à la hauteur et à ceux qui ont pu imaginer que j’étais quelqu’un d’autre. 

Je pardonne à ceux qui ont voulu me modeler, me changer et me façonner à l’envi. ہ ceux qui m’ont fait croire à l’impossible, à ceux qui m’ont fait rêver et, enfin, à ceux qui m’ont fait cauchemarder. Je pardonne à ceux en qui j’ai cru. ہ ceux en qui j’ai placé mes espoirs, à ceux à qui j’ai raconté mes doutes, confié mes secrets. 

Je pardonne à ceux qui m’ont vendu des mots en s’écoutant parler. ہ ceux qui ont menti. Je pardonne à ceux qui m’ont lâchée en cours de route. Qui m’ont laissé sur le bas côté, suspendue au garde-fou. Je pardonne à ceux qui ont médit et calomnié des choses à mon sujet. ہ ceux qui m’ont traînée dans la boue. 

Je pardonne à ceux qui m’ont descendue de mon piédestal et ont changé d’avis. Je pardonne à ceux qui ont peur de l’obscurité et à ceux qui ont peur de la lumière, ceux qui se plantent, ceux qui pleurent. 

Je pardonne à ceux qui ne sont pas venus et ceux qui sont partis. ہ ceux qui craignent l’amour, à ceux qui fléchissent devant leurs (vieux) démons, à ceux qui sont lâches. 

Je pardonne aux menteurs et aux hypocrites parce qu’ils n’y peuvent 
rien. Je pardonne aux colériques, aux haineux et aux discourtois... 
Je sais pourtant qu’aussi grande puisse être ma compassion, il y a des gens à qui je ne pourrai jamais pardonner. J’essayerai quand même. 

Et je demande d’avance pardon si je n’y arrive pas. Ce soir, je demande pardon à tous ceux que j’ai blessés par inadvertance. Pardon à ceux que je n’ai pas rappelés. ہ ceux que j’ai négligés. ہ ceux que j’ai oubliés. 

Je demande pardon à ceux qui ont cru en moi. ہ ceux que j’ai jugés trop vite. ہ ceux que j’aime et à qui je ne l’ai pas assez dit. 

Je demande pardon pour mes erreurs. Je demande pardon pour mes faiblesses et quelques-uns de mes défauts. Je demande pardon à ceux que j’ai fait pleurer. Pardon pour ces moments qui ne seront plus que des souvenirs. 

Je demande pardon si j’ai causé de la tristesse et je demande pardon pour mes instants de désarrois. Je demande pardon si je n’ai pas assez donné et si je n’ai pas su recevoir. 

Je demande pardon pour les interrogations que j’ai pu provoquées, pour les demandes non exaucées. 

Je demande pardon à ceux que j’ai déçus. 

Je demande pardon à ceux que je n’ai pas aimés, à ceux que je méprise, à ceux à qui j’en ai voulu. 

Je demande pardon pour mes futures maladresses, pour les décisions que je vais prendre, pour les erreurs que je vais commettre. 

Je demande pardon à ceux qui m’aiment et à ceux qui ne me comprennent plus. 

Je demande pardon, parce que j’ai souvent peur. 

Je demande pardon pour tout et pour rien. Parce que je ne sais pas s’il y a eu faute. Mais je sais qu’il y a eu blessure. 

Je demande pardon et je pardonne à Dieu mes offenses. 

A very merry Christmas and a happy New Year, Let’s hope it’s a good one without any fear.
War is over if you want it, war is over now. 


Dec 14, 2011

- 10 Ways to Realize Hidden Opportunities

"Great moments are born from great opportunities," said the late Herb Brooks, one of the world's most famous hockey coaches.  

Brooks certainly seized opportunity during his career.  He agreed to coach the 1980 U.S. Olympic team that beat the "unbeatable" Soviet Union in Lake Placid, New York during the famous "Miracle on Ice" game on the way to winning the gold medal.  It was a modern-day "David vs. Goliath" matchup. Many coaches would refuse such an overwhelmingly difficult job.  In fact, several did.  

But Brooks saw opportunity in the monumental challenge of leading a bunch of young, amateur, college all-stars against the essentially professional players of the Soviet Union and other European hockey powers.  

That opportunity paid off, to say the least.

Whether you're talking about sports, business or any other subject matter, seeking, finding and capitalizing on opportunity are among the most important things a professional must do.     
There's one big problem with opportunity, however.  It is often hard to find and even harder to harness. 

"We are all faced with a series of great opportunities brilliantly disguised as impossible situations," said Charles Swindoll, an American religious author. 

I agree wholeheartedly with Swindoll's characterization.  The best opportunities are often hidden.  They are often located in places we least expect to find them and are presented by people we least expect to provide them.  

That reminds me of the old story that sales managers like to share with their young trainees: "On his way back from a three-day fishing trip, a multi-millionaire visits the showroom of an upscale, luxury car dealer.  The salespersons, seeing an unshaven, disheveled, poorly dressed man, essentially ignore him. Offended, the multi-millionaire buys a top-of-the-line model the next day from a direct competitor." There are a lot of ways to tell that classic missed-sales-opportunity story, but they all sound something like that.   
If opportunity is so important to our success, and so difficult to find and recognize, we need to focus more of our energy on it.  Unless you're naturally good at it, finding and capitalizing on opportunity needs to be a deliberate focus: 

Open your eyes and ears - we can no longer afford to be indifferent, or even worse, oblivious to the world around us.  Be on the lookout for ideas that could lead to new opportunities.  Even more important than eyes and ears, keep your mind open too.  Many of us miss opportunities, because they don't fit into our pre-existing paradigms.

Remember that all people count - sometimes we get so obsessed with the "right" people, we miss out on valuable opportunities from people, who on the surface, can do seemingly nothing for us.

Fight through the fear - one of the biggest reasons we miss out on extraordinary opportunities is because we are too afraid to leap.  Herb Brooks wasn't too afraid to leap; we shouldn't be either.

Let your creative juices flow - the Nobel Prize-winning scientist Albert Szent-Gyorgi once said, "Discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what nobody has thought."  The more creative you are, the more opportunity you will discover.  See the world in a different way, and doing things like nobody else, and just watch the opportunities that manifest. 

Take risks - As the old saying goes, "nothing risked, nothing gained."  Unless you take a chance and do something new, you'll keep running into the same old opportunities.

Work really hard - "Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work," said the great inventor Thomas Edison.  

Set meaningful goals - make those goals specific too.  The more you clarify what you really want, the quicker you will recognize it when it shows up.

Find quiet time - many people have found great opportunities, because they prayed for them or spent time meditating about them.  Such activity creates focus in your mind, and a focused mind is a powerful mind. 

Believe - visualize success and tell yourself that good things will come.  A positive mind is more receptive to hidden opportunity.

Prepare - as the old Boy Scout motto says, "be prepared."  You never know when the perfect opportunity will open up.  If you're not prepared, you might not act on it quickly enough.  In his autobiography, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani said he believes in "relentless preparation."  He constantly prepares for crisis, so he will perform properly.  Same thing applies to opportunity.


Dec 9, 2011

- They Changed My Sales Comp Plan! What Should I Do?

Sales Question:

"I have over 15 years of sales experience, with over 5 years at a Fortune 500 company handling million dollar accounts in a sales/maintenance role with about 20% new business development. After leaving that position due to a family issue I have been struggling in my last couple of jobs as a 'new business development' salesperson. Long story short, three jobs later I realize I am terrible at cold calling and don't like it either.

After 90 days my current employer eliminated my base salary and put me on a commission only plan. I have a pipeline that could potentially allow me to match my salary but I am feeling as if I've been slapped in the face and my motivation to work with my CEO is seriously diminished.

What would you suggest that I do?


Well, for starters, no one "likes" cold calling. What you need to like is cold hard cash. So if you're in sales, and you like cash, there's hope for you because you can learn how to become successful at cold calling. It's teachable. I might even know someone who could help.

But before we dig a little deeper into that, let's discuss what most likely happened with your employer...

Does This Sound Familiar?

Your stellar resume landed on the desk of your current employer who was seeking someone that could help take his or her company to the next level. You interviewed well and were full of confidence. Shortly thereafter, the job and the "higher than they had budgeted" salary plus bonus structure was yours, and the boss couldn't wait to see you make it rain.

Only it didn't rain. In fact, it did the exact opposite of rain. You hit the longest drought of your sales career and your employer can no longer afford to pay you on promises. They need cash to run a company and have decided to put you on straight commission.

What you need to understand is that selling by phone / cold calling / business development etc requires a different skill set than "managing" accounts. Kind of like how it's one thing to be the running back, and it's another to be the field goal kicker. Same game. You can even be on the same team. But it requires a different skill set in order to be successful.

So with the economy the way it is, high paying base salary jobs are hard to come by let alone keep and I get why your current employer realized that your impressive resume was no longer enough to justify what they were paying and you would be wise to see it from their view point as well, otherwise you will never grow as a business professional.

However... What I don't get is how your employer expects you to generate what they need most – revenue – without giving you the tools you need to be successful.

Now don't get me wrong, I wholeheartedly believe salespeople are responsible for their own success and that includes investing in themselves.

But if they believe in you, yet need to take away your base, I would think they would want to at least look into helping you get the skills you need in order for everyone to win.

Unless they think it's a "motivational" issue and that you needed to be motivated to sell... But here's the thing, no one stays motivated when they keep getting rejected on the phone. And the only reason salespeople get rejected a lot is because they haven't learned what to do and what not to do.

If they've offered to provide you with the sales training needed in order to improve your cold call skills, my advice is take it and stick it out. Straight commissioned sales are where all the money is.

But if they've offered no help you have 3 choices:

  1. Get help on your own
  2. Go work for a company that is willing to help their inside sales team succeed
  3. Find a job / position that is in need of the skills you already posses

Here's what I love about all three of these options:

You control all of them. Your success (or failure) is up to you.


Dec 3, 2011

- The Myth of Work-Life Balance

Many companies extol the value of work-life balance for their employees, but the reality for senior executives? There isn't any. Frequently, stressed and harried managers look up the organization hierarchy and assume that they'll have greater control of their time when they advance to the C-suite. What they don't understand is that modern-day telecommunications, the hair-trigger requirements of financial markets, and the pace of global organizations create 24 x 7 work lives for most executives. So, forget work-life balance and think personal organization and finding ways to relax.

I see too many new and aspiring executives who are naïve about what it takes to succeed at the C-suite level and surprised by the withering demands placed upon them. The first step in dealing with the workload is putting in place the support structure that allows you to focus your energies on key priorities and issues where you can add the greatest value to the business.

Think for a minute. If your boss came and asked you to lead a major change initiative, your first questions would be about the budget and staff you would have at your disposal for the effort. The same logic applies to preparing to operate as an executive. At work and at home, who are the people who allow you to leverage your time and energy: your go-to staff members to keep track of major projects at work and those who help with childcare, eldercare, or managing a household?

In their drive to succeed, many new executives get caught up in a merry-go-round of business reviews, executive team meetings, e-mail, and late-night conference calls with colleagues around the world. At one large, global company, the CEO was known to keep his top 100 people on speed dial for impromptu phone calls at any time of the day or night. In many companies it can be difficult if not impossible to break away from this routine even for a long weekend, and the cumulative effects of stress and workload are damaging. We know a great deal about the long-term health dangers of prolonged stress. However, as described by Daniel Goleman, Richard Boyatzis, and Annie McKee in Primal Leadership: Learning to Lead with Emotional Intelligence, the effects on executive effectiveness are just as profound.

Under continued stress an executive loses his or her perspective on issues and the ability to look at problems creatively. Molehills become mountains. Conflict with colleagues becomes personal. The "flat spots" of our personality — for example, arrogance, inflexibility, aversion to risk or a tendency toward negativity — become evident. And most of us revert to tried and true solutions — the enemy of breakthrough strategies and new innovations.

Say goodbye to the two-week vacation with the family. That's history in most organizations. Instead, seek to find those activities that allow you to relax — even if only for 15 minutes a day. One CEO races performance sports cars on weekends. Another works out vigorously early every morning and adds a walk around Central Park on weekends. Yet another would end a grueling day of work listening to jazz on a professional quality sound system installed in the basement. Such executives recognize that these moments of relaxation are critical to maintaining resilience: their ability to rebound from obstacles and setbacks whether it's an unplanned marketplace event, the resignation of a key staff member or a promotion decision that didn't go their way.

Many managers are "sprinters" early in their careers. Recognition, rewards, and promotions come their way quickly. However, to succeed at the C-suite level where the pressures are greater and the consequences of failure more punishing, it's critical to equip yourself for the long haul. And that means making sure you have the necessary support structure around you and those precious few moments of relaxation that help you maintain the bounce in your step and the optimistic tone required of a senior leader.


Dec 1, 2011

- The New Rules on Dressing for Success

... super-successful Silicon Valley clients who dress in ripped denim, Vans shoes and t-shirts. They are worth hundreds of millions, even more, but it's a status symbol to dress like you're homeless to attend board meetings. Conversely, ... trash-hauling company executives who dress in suits and ties every day of the week. And this contrast shows the dramatic shift that has occurred in business attire in recent years, as each industry has developed its own rules. 

So how do you learn the rules? Back in the early 1990s, as a young exec, I read Dress for Success by John T. Molloy. It gave me a clear understanding of how to dress to impress. But the "business casual" dress movement has turned all of that book's ideas into quaint nostalgia. But fair or not, dress still has an impact on how you're seen. For sales people, especially, first impressions matter.

... not a fashion plate, but do have some simple rules for successful dressing if you are in sales.

Know your prospect's uniform.
Before you meet with a prospect, you should know that company's dress code. "Business casual" has a lot of meanings. Call the front desk at the company and ask what the company's dress code is and what the men and women wear. Or ask your contact. The point is, part of your responsibility is to understand that company's culture, including its dress code. Ask for examples, especially of the senior most person who will be in your meeting.

Dress one step up.
If your prospect is in denim, you wear khaki. They wear sport coats without ties; you are in suits without ties. The point is that you always dress one step further up the clothing ladder than your prospect, but not two. One step says that you respect and value them. Two steps can send a loaded message.

It's not just what you wear--but how you wear it.
Polished shoes, pressed shirts and well-fitted pants always.  At this point, some of you are thinking, "Does he really have to say this to people?" while others are saying, "Why do I have to tuck in my shirt?" But when your clothes are pressed, buttoned down and well-fitted, you convey that you are a person who pays attention to the details and are professional 

Grooming trumps style.
Even if you're wearing a great suit, if you've got a terrible haircut, you'll give a bad impression. As crazy as it sounds, everything on the grooming punch lists - fingernails, facial hair, haircuts and oral hygiene--matter. 

Know your company's uniform.
One of my clients makes sure that when his sales reps are making their sales calls, they wear a very specific uniform. (His company's clients accept this because they see it as an extension of the brand; the company sells safety products.) It doesn't matter if the reps are presenting in a board room or on a manufacturing plant floor, they wear the sample simple uniform. Obviously, if you work at this company, you follow this dress code in order to fit in.
Remember, you can dress in a way where your attire is the only message people remember, or you can dress in a way that takes nothing away from the message of value your company brings to them.


Nov 16, 2011

- You Are Not the Best Judge of You

"To create a reliable 360 survey," Marcus Buckingham concludes in his recent blog on this site, "The Fatal Flaws With 360 Surveys," all you need do is...ask the rater to evaluate himself on his own feelings." Since you are an expert on your own feelings, your responses have to be solid.

That seems logical, and yet I could not disagree more with this conclusion. In an effort to give equal time to the other side of the story, and to clarify some misconceptions, let me share with you the reasons why not getting 360-degree feedback may actually be fatal. (But here's hoping that in the course of this debate there are no fatalities.)

Leadership effectiveness is in the eye of those who are led. 
 "Rate me on 'Marcus is a good listener' and we learn whether I am a better listener than you," Buckingham writes. But in my work with Jack Zenger and Joe Folkman analyzing the 360-degree feedback from tens of thousands of leaders, that's not been our experience. What we find is: ask me to rate "Marcus is a good listener," and we discover whether I think Marcus is listening to me. That's certainly not objective data. But it doesn't have to be. If Marcus is my boss and I think he's not listening to me, that certainly plays into how effective he is as a leader, no matter how subjective my judgment is.

Subjective 360 data can correlate to objective business results. 

What I think about my boss wouldn't matter if it had no relation to business success. But our analysis of the data from those thousands of 360s shows that it does, empirically. We have correlated the leadership-effectiveness scores we've collected with a variety of business outcomes — profitability, turnover, employee engagement, customer satisfaction — you name it, we probably studied it. What we've seen is that 360 data are an incredibly reliable measure of business success, frequently showing a lock-step correlation between the effectiveness of a company's leaders, as measured by those subjective 360s, and the company's objective business results.

You don't have to be great at everything. 
"Most 360s are built on a logical non-sequitur," Buckingham suggests, "namely that since a particular group of exemplary leaders possesses all the competencies measured by the 360, therefore the best individual leader is she who possesses all of them." I agree that's a non-sequitur, and that would be a problem if you used the full range of leadership skills on the assessment as a one-size-fits-all definition of the perfect leader. But our research suggests that's not necessary at all, even if it were possible. When we analyze the most effective leaders in the world, we find that the truly extraordinary ones need only excel at a relatively small number of competencies — three to five. For us, the purpose of taking the 360 is not to see which leadership skills you lack so you can complete the set. Rather, it's to find your best self — that is, the particular leadership skills you should focus on to become uniquely extraordinary.

You are not the best judge of you. 
Several years ago, while working on my first project with Joe Folkman, I asked him what was the most interesting finding he'd seen in his years of studying 360s. He responded, with a wry smile, "The average leaders don't think they are." Thus we, too, find leaders subject to "benevolent distortion." But we don't find it that benevolent. Our data show not just a gap — but something closer to a canyon — between people's perceptions of themselves and how other people see them. "How could that be?" you might ask: After all, you are the only one there for everything! No doubt. And yet, our data tell us that you are a notoriously bad predictor of your own leadership abilities because it is so difficult to consistently know what impact you are having on others. In that regard, other people are experts at knowing how they feel about your effect on them. Ironically, we find, the best leaders in our database frequently rate their performance lower than their peers, bosses, and direct reports. From the perspective of inner strength and psychological health, it's terrific to have confidence in your own views and convictions. But when considering your strength as a leader, doing so in isolation is, from where we sit, downright, fatal.

I'll be the first to agree that a 360 assessment is no panacea and that the tool can be over-, miss-, and incorrectly used. But in my experience, there's simply no substitute for getting feedback from the people who are the most influenced and affected by your actions, talents, and skills. Applied creatively, a 360-degree feedback process can be an incredibly powerful tool to help you identify your strengths, grant you insight into how you can make them even more effective, and alert you to any behavior that might be severely detracting from your effectiveness. Are the 360 data objective? No. But even so they can help leaders create an objective, personal plan of development. And they're certainly more effective than just asking yourself.


- Why Doesn't HR Lead Change?

It's hard to find leaders of the human resources (HR) function who are active in helping their organization improve the way it works. I asked dozens of people who are in HR or in process improvement to share examples of HR change leaders, and I only found a few.
Though it's rare, here's an indicator of what is possible. In 2009 Tony Scibelli, Vice President of Human Resources and Operations at Faxton-St. Luke's Healthcare learned that the Chief Operating Officer and Chief Nursing Officer were going to launch "relationship-based care," a comprehensive cultural change program to focus doctors' and nurses' attention on patients and their families. He offered to have HR involved to address the people aspects. He showed them how HR could weave relationship-based care and continuous improvement into the fabric of this community hospital in central New York, for example by hiring and promoting the right people. He was at the table with them as they planned training and communications, and as they decided how to reward people who took on improvement projects.
When I talk with leaders of process improvement activities about the role of HR in change, however, I generally hear that HR is bureaucratic and a brake on innovation. Others say that HR is under-utilized. In most organizations talent management is left to direct supervisors.

Dave Ulrich, a professor at the University of Michigan, and recognized by HR Magazine as the most influential person in Human Resources, and also identified by Thinkers50 as one of the world's top 50 business thinkers for 2011, has identified three human resource processes that are critical for embedding a culture such as continuous improvement: (1) talent flow, (2) rewards, and (3) training and development. Changing any of these to support continuous improvement presents challenges to HR:

  • Talent Flow: Hiring and promoting people who embody an organization's desired mindset and behaviors — and removing those who don't — sends clear messages about what is valued. People see what is happening and adapt their behaviors accordingly. The problem for continuous improvement is that managers tend to hire for expertise, not for behaviors such as improvement. Scott Beaird, Director of Talent Management at Tufts Medical Center, told me, "We hire what the manager wants. We hire a financial analyst, who is great at working with dollars. We don't typically challenge managers to look more broadly. We introduced HR business partners twelve months ago and asked them to advocate HR policies. They struggled. They kept getting mired down in minute details, e.g., writing a requisition for a new job."
  • Rewards: Reward systems can change and reinforce behavior. The aim of a reward system is to turn goals into measures of behavior and outcomes, then allocate rewards based how employees perform against the measures. Continuous improvement demands that people not only carry out their jobs, but improve their work too. HR people typically don't have the operational experience, expectation, or permission to engage line managers in changing rewards to encourage operational improvement. For example, Scott Beaird tells me that his hospital needs to reward process improvement to accommodate healthcare reform, but that HR can't initiate the changes from its position; modifications to rewards have to be made by senior leaders.
  • Training and Development: Training courses and development investments send messages about what matters. At the same time, they offer leaders skills and tools to act on those messages. To support continuous improvement, these investments have to focus on making work better. Few HR organizations will promote improvement training unless it's driven by senior leadership, even though they may recognize it as what the organization needs.
What are the root causes of the difficulty of HR leading change? I see three:
  • Politics: To sustain improvement activities, HR must use its power and influence to help leaders focus on customers, long-term business results, and building capabilities in their people — not a personal or HR agenda. Yet if HR gets out in front of improvement activities, it could be in a precarious position if a new CEO comes in with a focus on shorter-term results. A supporting role may seem safer.
  • A Support Relationship: As described above at Faxton-St. Luke's, HR must be at the table with senior leaders to weave HR into improvement programs. Before HR can offer advice to the organization, it needs to be a partner — not just support. The CEO and executive team often view HR as an expense with a transaction focus, rather than adding value with a strategic focus. HR has to operate as a partner that adds value to make the case for their role as a partner.
  • Being Inbred: HR hires HR experience, and HR has historically been mainly engaged in personnel, compliance, and transactions. HR professionals without operational experience have less credibility and aren't comfortable giving operational advice. As Roger Addison, a performance consultant, told me, "HR doesn't think like the business. HR professionals don't know which knife, fork, or spoon to use when they're at the table."
In future posts, I'll examine how some HR organizations have embedded HR processes into operational change, and what it takes to enable an HR organization to lead organizational change.


Nov 12, 2011

- The Top 5 Motivation Poisons

I hear it all the time from clients and people that I meet: they’re not motivated. They say they’re lazy and wish they could do this or that but…

I’m not big on excuses or labels, especially “lazy”. So, when I hear “I’m just not disciplined,” 

I almost always ask:
   Have you ever been disciplined to do anything?
   What was it that helped you?
   What got in the way?

Identifying obstacles helps you build a sustainable foundation for perseverance in the face of adversity.

Motivation is personal. Discipline is a muscle.
You can learn to be motivated.

You HAVE to want to put time into it, to create a new habit, to make it part of your lifestyle.
Before your rebellious inner child starts an ‘I DON’T WANNA!’ tantrum, keep reading. One of these 5 poisons may be getting in your way of your heart’s desire.

The Top 5 Poisons of Motivation:

1. Perfectionism

Become a recovering perfectionist. Oh, yes, I did say that.
When you get caught up in ideals, you create resistance that gets in the way of your motivation. You’re stuck focusing on the ideal and think “If its not perfect, why bother?” We’re so addicted to this in our society. We feel that getting the best grades, getting the awards, getting all these accolades defines us and holds the basis of our self-worth.
And if we don’t get the gold star, we beat ourselves up and miss the point. If you get caught with in achieving perfect results, you’re never going to start anything. You’re paralyzed.
Thomas Edison invented 3,000 duds before he invented the lightbulb. He himself did not call it failure. Instead, he said: “Any of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”
Taking imperfect action is the best starting point.

2. Comparing yourself to others
This is another potent motivation-zapper. Even worse, it can prevent you from finding your own path. Motivation is truly personal.
Study what motivates others as inspiration, but if it  gets you stuck or moving backwards with doubt, then why bother? It’s easy to get lost in someone else’s life, wishing that it was your own.
Trying to be ‘like’ ANYONE is a total waste of time.
Yes, we’re all guilty of it. Remember: there is only one of YOU.
The universe made you perfect. Ignoring that and trying to emulate someone else is a slap in the face.

3. Thinking that you’re not ‘good enough’
If, like me, you grew up hearing “You have to prove yourself to the world!”, that mantra probably still follows you. It can run you to the ground.
I understand that in your work you have to show your abilities or your skills to prove you can deliver. But you shouldn’t rely on that for self-validation.
If you’ve been told you’re not good enough, I understand the programming. It hurts and digs deep. But make no mistake: it’s a LIE.
You have to be motivated to fulfill your soul’s desire, to create your own happiness, healing and harmony.
If you were born, then you are good enough.
You must change the theme song in your mind from You SUCK to You ROCK.

4. Doing too much at once.
Bitten off more than you can chew? That might be sabotaging your progress. You’ve got to pull back a little bit and really look at what’s going on. Don’t be a slave to your ego.
I get snagged by this one and always have to step back to make sure my choices are in alignment with my soul. If you feel that it’s too overwhelming, take one step at a time.
Baby steps.
The solution here is to hone in on your goal, desire, or dream. Life will happen. It will always take more time, more money or more anything than you anticipated. Don’t let it stop you, and remember to check in with your WHY.
It’s about setting goals that stretch you outside of your comfort zone and you believe, on one level, that you can achieve.  Go for a C+, good enough and I promise you will do better. It’s a great way to trick the ego and make it right. This may keep you motivated to do more.
Being aware and taking passionate action keeps you on the level and open to enjoying the adventure.

5. Excusitis.
There is always an excuse – why you can’t do it, why today it didn’t happen, how you’re going to do it tomorrow. When we find excuses for not doing things, we’re rebelling. We just want to stay in a comfort zone.
See how this comes up again?  A part of it is that your ego feels threatened by moving forward and wants to protect you.
But really, you’re totally safe.

When you do something you haven’t done before, your ego goes into a state of alarm: “Watch out! Danger!” and then fear kicks in.
But my answer to that is “No. FEAR is  f*cking exciting and rewarding.” This reframe changes the game.
We say “I can’t,” but really we’re afraid to try something new. That’s the truth and we’re afraid to admit it, or to even prove ourselves wrong. You are capable of more. You can handle more, even in the midst of a challenge.  Try it, you may be surprised, and bust a limiting belief.

What excuses are you living with?
Ready to release the need to live in your perfectionism, low self esteem and excuses? Then ask yourself this question.
What’s holding you back ?
Take your time, and don’t think about it – feel into it. Be kind with yourself. Your power is in your choices.
Now, go get’em warrior soul!


Nov 11, 2011

- 5 Steps to Developing More Discipline

The key is on focusing on a result you really want. In this sense, the key to discipline is goal-setting.

Over the years, I have found that I can become disciplined in any area of my life by taking five specific steps. Whether it is trying to get in shape, maintain a blog, or develop a great marriage, the psychology is the same.
  1. Determine your goal. Notice in Andy’s definition that the key is in knowing what you really want. If you are going to succeed, you must be specific. You must be able tosee it. Write it down and—while you are at it—add a “by when” date.
    Example: I will lose 20 pounds of body fat by December 31...
  2. List your reasons. This is often the missing piece in both goal-setting and discipline. You have to ask, Why is this goal important? What is at stake in my achieving it? I list both the positive reasons and the negative.
    • I want more energy.
    • I want to lower my cholesterol.
    • I don’t want to put myself at risk for heart disease.
    • I want to look more trim, especially on video.
    • I want to demonstrate that I can lead myself.
    • I want to be a good example to my family.
  3. Identify likely obstacles. As soon as you start swimming against the current, you will start feeling resistance. It’s as if the universe conspires to keep you from succeeding. That’s why you have to anticipate these obstacles and build strategies to overcome them.
    • Obstacle: Mindlessly eating for lunch what I always eat. Strategy: Plan my lunch before I leave the house—where and what I will eat.
    • Obstacle: Inability to work out on the road. Strategy: Make sure the hotel has a workout room before I book it. Also, pack my workout clothes and shoes.
    • Obstacle: Eating more calories than I intend. Strategy: Record everything in LoseIt, thus educating myself about the calorie-count of various foods.
  4. Develop new behaviors. This is where you should focus. What are the positive, new behaviors you want to develop to replace the old, negative behaviors.
    • Drink two-and-a-half liters of water a day to stay hydrated.
    • Eat healthy snacks like raw almonds, celery, carrots, etc.
    • Share entrees with Gail when we eat out, so that I eat half the normal serving.
    • Chose simple grilled fish rather than beef or chicken.
  5. Stay focused. Read your goals daily, review your reasons why, anticipate obstacles, and work on your new behaviors. If you get off-track, don’t beat yourself up. Sometimes it is three steps forward and two steps back. Just shake it off and re-lock on your goal.
Discipline is not really about will-power so much as it is focusing on what you really want. If you get clear on that, it suddenly becomes much easier.

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