Category Archives for "leadership"

The Healthy Stretch of Leadership

THE HEALTHY STRETCH OF LEADERSHIP

I’ve been leading people for over 20 years now and in that time I’ve discovered leadership stretches us in 5 different ways. Being stretched is a good thing, it’s the opposite of letting us retreat into ourselves. When we retreat into ourselves, we find what we think is safety, comfort, rest, protection, but this is just a facade. What really happens is we become unhealthy, self-serving, risk averse, lethargic leaders with poor attitudes and hearts that can grow toxic.

The apostle Paul issued the war cry of the stretched leader when he said ‘For me to live is Christ and to die is gain.’ (Phil 1:21) My life for the cause regardless of the cost, as the ultimate cost will be worth all I have. So how are we stretched as leaders and what happens to us when we aren’t?

I want to share with you what I’ve discovered about being stretched in leadership. Every leader begins the leadership journey with the same five components. The role of the leader is to steward these components toward anonymity, away from ambition, so as their influence is aligned to God’s influence, the cause they lead and the God whom they lead for is glorified. Allow me to elaborate.

Stretch 1 – Passion into Wisdom

Every leader is passionate when they first start. They are fired up, keen and excited, wanting to change the world. Passion however dilutes if it is not stretched. If passion is not pulled toward and informed by wisdom, passion at best fades to disengagement or at worst results in recklessness.

When a passionate leader presents an idea or initiative to their people they should be seeking the wisdom and not approval of those they lead. Approval does not necessarily result in the success of the idea, but wisdom always does. The passionate leader needs to seek out wisdom, for maturity to take place.

Stretch 2 – Trust into Integrity

Integrity is a leader’s greatest asset; it is from integrity that influence flows. Every leader begins leading with an empty integrity account, but they are trusted to have influence, all be it in small amounts. If a leader chooses integrity always, the trust they build increases.

Through every decision a leader either builds or bankrupts trust. Building trust is acting with integrity, so the trust others place in you is rewarded. To not build trust is to play the role of the hypocrite, pretending to be someone your followers will eventually discover you’re not. Leaders who seek integrity always hunger for the truth, whilst using it as a mirror.

Stretch 3 – Invincibility into Humility

When a leader realizes their weaknesses they begin to embrace humility. Every emerging leader is not aware of their weaknesses yet, as they’ve not been leading, but as a result they do not know what will disqualify them from leadership. They feel invincible.

It takes courage to examine yourself and have others do the same, to discover your limitations, blind spots and weaknesses. People frequently think humility is just thinking less of yourself. Humility isn’t thinking of yourself less it’s thinking about yourself less. Leadership is not about you, it’s about the God whom you lead for and the people you lead, period!

Stretch 4 – Confidence into Security

Even the most unconfident leaders begin with confidence. It’s why they decided to step onto the leadership platform. The direction they steward their confidence however determines how long they remain on and how far-reaching their platform becomes. Insecurity is not a lack of confidence; it’s the investment of confidence in the wrong things.

Every leader needs to explore what they have invested their confidence in and potentially reinvest it in something else. Insecurity breeds in us when we trust something that is untrustworthy, constantly changing, and ever unreliable. A leader needs to place their confidence in God and lead out of the security, which accompanies this.

Stretch 5 – Commitment to Resilience

Resilience is the most valuable trait a leader can have. Without it, leading is horrendously difficult. When a leader starts leading they are committed. That is until the first set back, knock down, disruption, heartbreak, frustration. It’s at that point they need to decide if they will grit their teeth and push on.

Resilience is the repeated and constant decision to not give up, to stay committed. A leader needs to constantly make this decision and in so doing, deepens the well from which they lead. Commitments can come and go, or rise and fall on any number of variables, but resilience is a white-knuckle refusal to give up. The greatest leaders are resilient.

Leading people will stretch you, it’s meant to, but you need to ensure you’re stretched in the right way. For more on this and to explore these and other concepts further you can pickup my latest book The Anonymous Leader: An Unambitious Pursuit of Influence.

How are you stretched as a leader and what is the result of that stretching in your influence?

ralphmayhew

It’s an honor today to host Ralph Mayhew.  Ralph and I connected through the blog world several months ago at Joe Lalonde’s site.  Despite living on the other side of the world (Ralph lives in Australia), we share several common bonds: a passion for leadership and a passion for Christ.  I hope Ralph’s post today challenges you to become a better leader.  His new book is fantastic!  And I’d highly recommend you pick up your own copy if you’re serious about becoming a better leader.

 

BIO:

Ralph Mayhew’s brand new Amazon bestseller The Anonymous Leader: An Unambitious Pursuit of Influence, offers a fresh understanding of leadership and influence, and is available at www.theanonymousleader.com. He also blogs at www.ralphmayhew.com.

The Best Way To Keep Your Best Employees

THE BEST WAY TO KEEP YOUR BEST EMPLOYEES

Why do you think employees leave?

More money?  A bigger, better title?  A more flexible schedule?

If you are a leader in your organization, this is a question you need to understand.  Employee turnover leads to additional hiring and training costs for the company and typically leads to a decline in overall team enthusiasm and productivity.

In his 2013 Forbes.com article (Six Reasons Your Best Employees Quit You), Louis Efron gives these six reasons your employees are leaving your company:

  1. No vision
  2. No connection to the big picture
  3. No empathy
  4. No (effective) motivation
  5. No future
  6. No fun

And in his 2005 article for The Center for Association Leadership, Leigh Branham lists seven reasons employees leave.  Two of these reasons include:

  • There is too little coaching and feedback.
  • Workers feel devalued and unrecognized.

As leaders, we have a challenge and responsibility to address these shortcomings.

Today, I will help you identify one of the key action steps you can take to positively change things.  By implementing my suggestion, your team members will get the coaching they desire, they will gain a greater feeling of value, they will feel like they are better understood, and they will experience a higher level of motivation.

Today, I challenge you to implement regular one-on-one meetings with your team members.  A regular one-on-one meeting will make all the difference in giving your team members just what they need to feel valued, appreciated, motivated, and excited for their future in your organization.

Here’s my story:

A few years ago, I started having monthly one-on-one meetings with my team members.

As an operations manager in the construction industry, I’m challenged to balance my time as I’m responsible to make sure my group is operating as planned. I meet with my team members monthly on an individual basis to review their projects from a financial, resource, risk, and customer perspective. These monthly meetings, which typically last about an hour, provide a pretty good snapshot of things from a business perspective, but they don’t provide a lot of time for diving deeper personally.

I’m also responsible for participating in other department and company meetings. Again, these meetings are important for certain aspects of our business success, but they typically don’t provide opportunity for connecting on a more personal level.

I’ve heard it said that “It’s business, it’s NOT personal.”  Well, I disagree.  As a leader in the workforce, I have a responsibility care for my team members.  For me, this means our relationships in the business world are meant to be personal.

How can we take time to connect with our team members with all the different demands on our time?

This is the question that rolled around in my head as first started considering the possibility of implementing regular one-on-one meetings.  I have so many things on my plate already.  One-on-one meetings just didn’t seem to fit into my already busy schedule.

But my friend, Matt McWilliams, challenged me with this question:

How can you NOT take time to connect with your team members?

And so…I took Matt’s challenge and encouragement to heart.  And I started holding monthly one-on-one meetings with my team members.

We talk about business and the challenges that they are facing on a project or assignment.  And we also talk about life outside of work.  I’ve learned about their interests, their passions, and their families.

For the most part, these meetings have been 30-40 minutes each.  I use a one-page outline to guide our discussion and to take notes which helps me capture details of our discussion.  I first ask my team member for an update on how they are doing and what has them busy.  After 15-20 minutes of catching up, I typically have 5-10 minutes of items I want to cover with them.  We finish our meeting with an opportunity for them to ask for help.  With 10 direct reports, these notes have been essential to helping me remember our conversations.  And it helps with my follow through on any action items that I have taken from our meeting.  (NOTE: You can download Matt McWilliam’s one-on-one meeting template here.)

What difference does it make if you know your team members?

It makes all the difference in the world.

The average working person spends 9-10 hours of their days at work – every day. (That’s two-thirds or more of their waking hours).  Most people work over 2100 hours every year.  If my math is correct, most people work about 80,000 hours in their life time.  However you do the math, we spend a lot of time at work.

We are relational beings.  We are made to connect with others and to be in community with others.

We are missing a huge opportunity to connect with others if we go to work, come home, get our paycheck, but fail to connect with our co-workers.

Intentional connections

My one-on-one meetings have helped me be intentional in connecting with my team.  It’s helped my team to feel more connected to me.  And it’s also helped my team succeed from a business perspective.

I’m so thankful I listened to Matt and started having one-on-one meetings with my team.

Regular one-on-one meetings with our team members leads to reduced employee turnover, more satisfied employees, a better culture in your business, and greater business success.  I have also discovered that one-on-one meetings provide an excellent place to discuss employee development.  My team members have pursued advanced educational opportunities as a result of our discussions during our one-on-one meetings.  They’ve also taken steps to advance further on the road to achieving their career goals.

Call to Action:

  • If you are leading a team, it’s time for you to implement regular one-on-one meetings (if you’re not doing this already).
  • If you are not leading a team but you feel disconnected from your boss or your organization, it’s time for you to ask your boss to start having one-on-one meetings with you.

Do you have one-on-one meetings with your team?  If so, how have they made a difference?  If not, what are you waiting for?

Do you have one-on-one meetings with your boss?  How have these meetings helped you?

Looking to STRETCH yourself?  Sign-up today for the 7 Week Stretch Challenge:

Book Review: The 3 Gaps – Are You Making a Difference? by @HyrumWSmith

BOOK REVIEW_THE 3 GAPSARE YOU MAKINGA DIFFERENCE_BY Hyrum W. Smith

Gaps in our lives drain the power needed to make a positive difference in the world.

Hyrum W. Smith

The 3 Gaps: Are You Making a Difference? by Hyrum W. Smith officially releases today (January 11, 2016).  I received a preview copy of this book courtesy of Becky Robinson at Weaving Influence.

I took time to read this book between Christmas and New Years, and it provided a few great insights and ideas for me to pursue as I seek to clarify my beliefs, values, and priorities.

While I’m still wrestling with Smith’s assertion that the pursuit of personal inner peace is the ultimate goal of man.  I deeply agree with the thought that we can make a big difference in our lives and in the lives of those around us by clarifying our beliefs, by confirming our governing values, and by intentionally managing our time.

The 3 Gaps: Are You Making a Difference?is a quick read that will challenge readers to fill the gaps they may have in their beliefs, values, and time.  Personally, I was challenged after reading The 3 Gaps to write my own personal constitution, to define my governing values, and to practice the discipline of daily planning.  If you are looking for a book with practical advice to help you stretch, you should consider picking up a copy of this book.

What are the biggest challenges you are currently facing when it comes to your beliefs, your values, and your time?  Share your thoughts in the comments.

(Please note:  I received a copy of The 3 Gaps: Are You Making a Difference? for free as a gift from Becky Robinson at Weaving Influence.  I was not required to provide a favorable review.  I believe this book can be a helpful tool for being more intentional with your life.

Also to note:  There are affiliate links in this post.  Should you purchase The 3 Gaps: Are You Making a Difference? by clicking one of these links, I receive a small percentage of the purchase.  These funds are used to support The Stretched Blog and to extend ministry and missions to Guatemala.  Thank you!)

13 Things I Learned Through My Shark Tank Experience

13 THINGS I LEARNEDTHROUGH MYSHARK TANKEXPERIENCE

Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.

Steve Jobs

Last week, I traveled to Phoenix for a management conference for my company.  I was asked to present an idea as part of a “Shark Tank” competition.  This meant presenting four times in front of the top line management in my company.  I spent a week before the meeting preparing my ideas and my presentation.  During the presentations, I had the opportunity to ask for an investment to implement my idea.  In each session, I had ten minutes to present my ideas and ten minutes to answer questions from the sharks and the audience.

Competing against three other finalists, I was not certain of the outcome.  I’m happy to report, my project won the competition and the investment to move ahead.

My experience in Phoenix was exciting, uplifting, inspiring, and educational.  Specifically, I learned a lot through my shark tank experience.  Here’s what I learned:

13 Things I Learned Through My Shark Tank Experience

1. Be creative.  When I was asked to come with ideas to submit to the Shark Tank contest, I had to put my thinking cap on.  In order to have opportunities, you have to be creative.

2. Be bold.  Dream big, and don’t be afraid to ask for investments.  When I initially submitted my idea, I wasn’t thinking large enough.  After getting feedback and advice from others, I decided to triple my request for investment.  We limit ourselves and the potential to do great things when we fail to be bold in our dreams.

3. Be prepared.  To be ready to face a panel of sharks and an active audience, you have to be prepared.  You must know your idea.  You must understand the math behind your request.  You must consider all the questions you will get.  In my case, I also had to make sure my technology was working properly before my presentations.

4. Be flexible.  Things don’t always go as planned.  You might forget a key point in your presentation.  The technical side of your presentation make not work correctly.  Your demonstration may not function the way you expected.  You have to adapt.  You have to keep going.

5. Be willing to ask for help.  I have been very busy at work, and I had to ask for help from my peers. I tapped into someone to help me with the technical side of my presentation.  I asked someone to watch me rehearse.  I asked a couple of people to help me with the actual presentation.  It takes a village, and we have to be willing to use the village.

6. Be grateful.  This was an amazing opportunity.  I am so thankful for all the people who made it happen.  Over the next few days, I will be writing many thank you notes to express my appreciation.

7. Be friendly.  In the green room, I had the opportunity to talk with the other finalists.  We shared our ideas.  We encouraged each other.  There is a tendency to be hostile when dealing with our competition – especially in the business world.  In the golden rule of business presentations, we should treat others the way we want to be treated.

8. Be humble.  Deflect praise to others.  I appreciated the exposure to top line management, and I want the notoriety that comes with this opportunity.  But I want to make sure others are recognized for their efforts.  It’s possible to be confident and humble at the same time, and humility is an important virtue worth pursuing and practicing in business and in life.

9. Be confident.  During the practices for my presentation, it became clear I was not being direct in my request for funds.  Thanks to some coaching, I shifted by sales pitch.  I was able to be more confident in my presentation when I realized how much I believed in my idea.

10. Be gracious.  I had an opportunity to get positive feedback from so many top line managers as a result of my presentation.  I also had the opportunity to respond to some tough questions from the sharks and the audience.  In all cases, providing a polite and courteous response was the best way to represent my idea, my office, and myself.

11. Be ready to take the next step.  After I received the news that my project won the contest, I was initially very happy.  Then I realized the work was just beginning.  Getting the funding for my project was only the beginning.  Now, I have to fully develop my implementation plan and execute on this plan.  There is a lot of work ahead.

12. Be inspired.  Towards the end of the day, I sat in on the presentation for one of the other finalists.  It was exciting to hear their idea.  My shark tank experience reminded me that people have great ideas.  We just need to stop long enough to listen.  As a result of my experience, I’m inspired to promote a local innovation day or experience in my own office.

13. Be inspiring.  I cannot tell you how many people came up to me to comment on my idea.  They are excited to try something like this in their location.  When you put yourself out there, you have the opportunity to inspire.  Don’t waste the opportunity.

Now, it’s time to get busy implementing my shark tank idea.  It’s also time to continue dreaming.  We all have the opportunity to be innovative.

How are you being innovative?  How are you promoting innovation?  What stops you from being innovative?  What keeps you going down the path of innovation?  What have you learned as a result of sharing your innovative ideas with others?

How To Connect With Your Team Members

HOW TO CONNECTWITH YOURTEAM MEMBERS

Do you feel connected to your team?

Several months ago, Matt McWilliams encouraged his readers to establish and maintain weekly one-on-one meetings with their direct reports. At the time, I was contemplating what I could do to connect with my team on a deeper level.

As an operations manager in the construction industry, I’m challenged to balance my time as I’m responsible to make sure my group is operating as planned. I meet with my team members monthly on an individual basis to review their projects to review their projects from a financial, resource, risk, and customer perspective. These monthly meetings, which typically last about an hour, provide a pretty good snapshot of things from a business perspective, but they don’t provide a lot of time for diving deeper personally.

I’m also responsible for participating in other department and company meetings. Again, these meetings are important for certain aspects of our business success, but they typically don’t provide opportunity for connecting on a more personal level.

I’ve heard it said that “It’s business, it’s NOT personal.” Well, I disagree. As a Christian leader in the workforce, I have a responsibility (and privilege) to represent Christ well. For me, this means our relationships in the business world are meant to be personal.

How can we take time to connect with our team members with all the different demands on our time?

This is the question that rolled around in my head as I read Matt’s post. I have so many things on my plate already. One-on-one meetings just don’t fit into my already busy schedule.

But Matt challenged me with this question:

How can you NOT take time to connect with your team members?

And so…I took Matt’s challenge and encouragement to heart. I’ll confess, I haven’t followed Matt’s recipe exactly. Instead of weekly one-on-one

We talk about business and the challenges that they are facing on a project or assignment. And we also talk about life outside of work. I’ve learned about their interests, their passions, and their families.meetings, I started with monthly one-on-one meetings. For the most part, these meetings have been 30-40 minutes each. I use a one-page outline to guide our discussion and to take notes which helps me capture details of our discussion. With 12 direct reports, these notes have been essential to helping me remember our conversations.  And it helps with my follow through on any action items that I have taken from our meeting. (NOTE: You can download Matt’s one-on-one meeting template here.)

What difference does it make if you know your team members?

It makes all the difference in the world.

The average working person spends 9-10 hours of their days at work – every day. (That’s two-thirds or more of their waking hours). Most people work over 2100 hours every year. If my math is correct, most people work about 80,000 hours in their life time. However you do the math, we spend a lot of time at work.

We are relational beings. We are made to connect with others and to be in community with others.

We are missing a huge opportunity to connect with others if we go to work, come home, get our paycheck, but fail to connect with our co-workers.

Intentional connections

My one-on-one meetings have helped me be intentional in connecting with my team. It’s helped my team to feel more connected to me. And it’s also helped my team succeed from a business perspective.

I’m so thankful I listened to Matt and started having one-on-one meetings with my team.

Do you have one-on-one meetings with your team?  If so, how have they made a difference?  If not, what are you waiting for? 

(Note:  My article originally appeared at mattmcwilliams.com.)

6 Ways To Reward Your Employees

6 WAYS TO REWARD YOUR EMPLOYEES

Start with good people, lay out the rules, communicate with your employees, motivate them and reward them. If you do all those things effectively, you can’t miss.

Lee Iacocca

Rewarding employees appropriately is a key aspect of improving employee performance.  It’s essential that employees are recognized for a job well done.  Sometimes this recognition is tied to a monetary reward, and sometimes it’s necessary to find non-monetary methods for rewarding your team.

Inappropriate rewards could easily work against the overall performance of the business and it’s employees.  Rewarding employees who don’t deserve could be argued as grace, but this kind of “reward” sends the wrong message to employees, and it sets teams up for mediocrity.

Appropriate rewards push individual performance to new levels, and they raise the bar on overall company performance.  Here are a few reward types for you to consider as you seek to improve your team and company.

6 Ways To Reward Your Employees

  1. Thank You Note.  Matt McWilliams wrote about the Thank You Revolution in his eBook available for free when you sign up at his blog.  And I wrote a guest post for him titled, The Power of Gratitude.  Rewarding employees should start with gratitude.  A simple handwritten thank you note is all it takes many times tell employees that they’ve done well or done something that deserves recognition.  Last week, I wrote to many of my direct reports to thank them for their hard work in bringing our fiscal year to a successful completion.  These notes gave me an opportunity to specifically recall good things that my team members have done this year.  One of my team members took time to write me back this week:  “Thanks for the card.  It means a lot.”  His simple response affirms the power of a simple thank you note.  Don’t underestimate the power of a simple thank you note.
  2. Department Meeting Shoutout.  Let’s face it.  It’s easy to get caught up in the regular business items in agenda of a standard office meeting.  Make it part of your meeting agenda to recognize employees who have gone above and beyond the call of duty since the last meeting.  Maybe an employee did something to wow a customer.  Maybe they were key to a sale or project success.  Honor them in front of their peers.  It shows them their efforts are appreciated.  It demonstrates to others in the office the type of actions and behavior worth following.
  3. Small Financial Reward Program.  Our company set up a reward program which permits managers and fellow employees to recognize employees who have done something special.  The rewards start at $25 and go up from there.  A small reward of this nature is a great way to show family members how their loved one is appreciated.  These rewards are often used by employees to take their spouses out to dinner or to purchase something for the home they wouldn’t have purchased otherwise.  This may not be possible for your company, but it’s something worth considering if your company can swing it.  A small financial reward of this nature rewards employees, and it encourages employees to do things which will benefit the company.
  4. Merit Based Increases.  This is the time of year I decide on pay increases for my team members.  I have a fixed amount to work with as dictated by my company.  In order to reward high performers, it’s crucial I provide the higher merit increases to the employees who have earned it through their performance over the past year.  There is a market fairness factor that plays into this decision.  I am doing a disservice to my team though if I don’t reward team members based on their performance.  If I decided to give everyone the same increase regarding their performance, I would not be sending a positive message that would improve the overall performance of the company.
  5. Incentive.  Finding ways to provide incentives to employees can be a great way to promote desired behaviors and outcome.  At our office our sales members are paid based on commission.  They have a huge incentive to sell profitable projects.  Our project managers receive an incentive bonus at the end of the year.  The incentive is based on individual project slip along with a couple of other key performance indicators.  And our management encouraged to work together towards overall business success as part of the management incentive program.  Managing your payment program to make room for this kind of program can be a great way to enhance the overall performance of your team and your business.
  6. Special Assignment.  When an employee does something good, it is often a sign they are ready for the next challenge.  When a team members does well, give them the opportunity to try something different, something more challenging, and something that will draw attention to them in the future.  When one of my team members does a great job on one of their projects, I like to assign them a high profile project or a special assignment.  While this kind of reward will not immediately impact the paycheck, it will give your team member a chance to stretch, to grow, and to feel special.  Sometimes this is the best reward!

I’m sure there are some other ways to reward employees.  I’d love to hear your thoughts on the above list and your ideas for rewarding employees.  Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments.

How do you reward your team members?  How does your company reward its employees?  Do you think rewards work?  Why or why not?

For more great articles on this topic:

The Discipline of Transitioning Well – 4 Tips for Transitioning from One Event to the Next

discipline transition

Times of transition are strenuous, but I love them. They are an opportunity to purge, rethink priorities, and be intentional about new habits. We can make our new normal any way we want.

Kristin Armstrong

When my son was a toddler, he struggled when it was time to do something else like go to bed, take a bath, or get in the car.  He was busy doing something else, and he didn’t like an abrupt end to what he was doing.  After enduring several tantrums, my wife came up with a plan.  She suggested we give Isaac a ten minute warning before it was time to do the next thing.  This gave him the chance to finish up what he was doing, and it gave him a heads up that something else was coming.  This strategy worked wonders in how Isaac handled transitions.

I was reminded of this the other day when I was talking with fellow youth leaders at our church.  We were talking about being ready to interact with students at least ten minutes before our meeting starts.  This requires me to put aside my thoughts from my previous appointments.

Too often, I abruptly move from one appointment on my schedule to the next without the opportunity to shift my mindset.  If I’m going to practice the discipline of being present, I must learn to first practice the discipline of transitioning well.  A solid plan for transition will help me make the most of my experiences before and after my schedule shifts from one thing to another.

Here are four tips for being intentional about your times of transition from one activity to the next:

4 Tips for Transitioning from One Event to the Next

  1. Give yourself a buffer between appointments.  When I go from one thing directly to another thing, I don’t give myself an opportunity to transition well.  Learn to build ten minute buffers into your schedule so you have time to shift your attention.
  2. Take notes to sum up your ending appointment.  One of the reasons we struggle to transition is that we haven’t left our previous appointment in a place of closure.  Our brains continue to process what we were just doing.  During your time of transition, take a few notes to help you remember where things were left in case you need to return to this activity later.  Use a journal, a note taking application for your phone or tablet, or a voice recorder to document how you are leaving things regarding your earlier appointment.
  3. Take time to consider the objectives for your upcoming engagement.  If you fail to plan, you should plan to fail.  Use the minutes before your next appointment to plan – to process the goals for what is ahead.  For example, I should plan to interact with at least three students as I’m driving from my house to church for youth group.  Considering your objectives gets your brain ready for the next appointment, and it helps you to be more effective when you get there.
  4. Make it a priority to make the most of every opportunity.  When we fail to transition well from one activity to the next, we are missing out on making the most of the present experience.  The discipline of transitioning well will minimize the possibility of wasting our time.

As I head into a busy day at the office, these are tips I need to remember TODAY.

How would your world be different if you made the decision to practice the discipline of transitioning well?  How has intentional transition made a difference in your life?

 

The Number One Way To Do What God Says

What God Says

We must allow the Word of God to confront us, to disturb our security, to undermine our complacency and to overthrow our patterns of thought and behavior.
John R.W. Stott

I want to do the right thing.  Don’t you?

I spend my “free time” in the car or on the treadmill listening to podcasts, so I can learn more.  On my nightstand, I have a few leadership books.  I listen to 150 podcasts every week, and I read through (or skim through) over 330 blogs whenever there is a new post.

I stand by the saying “Leaders are readers.”

But I think I sometimes take it too far.

When I say I want to do the right thing, I mean this:

  • I want to be a great husband.
  • I want to be a great father.
  • I want to be a great employee.
  • I want to be a great boss.
  • I want to be a great leader.
  • I want to be a great friend.
  • I want to be a great teammate.
  • I want to be a great giver.
  • I want to be a great person.

I don’t want to mess up when it comes to these areas of my life (and other areas).  I’m a perfectionist.  Unfortunately, I get it wrong if these are my pursuits.

I want to be a great Christ-follower.  If I can get this right, the other things should take care of themselves.  If I’m serious about this proclamation – if I’m serious about wanting to be a great Christ-follower, I should do what God says.

What is the number one way to do what God says?

If you want to do what God says, you have to know what God says.

Tweet: If you want to do what God says, you have to know what God says. #Stretched via @jonstolpe http://ctt.ec/n8j0B+

“But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it – he will be blessed in what he does.”  James 1:25

“How can a young person stay on the path of purity?  By living according to your word.  I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands.  I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.”  Psalm 119:9-11

If I want to follow Christ, I have to start by digesting God’s Word.  Spending time in God’s Word does not happen with a closed, dust-covered Bible on the coffee table.  It happens when I open it up, when I study it, and when I take time to chew on it.  Only then can I truly do what God says.

If you want to do the right thing, start with God’s Word.

When was the last time you spent time studying God’s Word?  How do you make the most of time reading The Bible?  What has God recently been teaching you through His Word?

 

10 Ways To Get the Most out of the Performance Management Process

perf mgmt proc

Don’t lower your expectations to meet your performance. Raise your level of performance to meet your expectations. Expect the best of yourself, and then do what is necessary to make it a reality.

Ralph Marston

It’s that time of year again!

This week, I’m in the middle of the performance management process for my team members.  This is an annual opportunity to provide feedback to my team members on their performance over the past year.  I could be easy to rush through this process which is required by my company.  I could simply write a couple of sentences about each team member and move on to the next year.

Taking this approach doesn’t do my team members any favors, and it doesn’t help my team or the company get better.  A well thought out and carefully executed performance review can be the bedrock of success for your team and your company.

In today’s post, I offer ten ways to get the most out of the performance management process.  This is written from a managers perspective; however, this is a great reference for those who don’t manage direct reports.  After reading today’s post, you may want to suggest that your supervisor start this type of performance management process for you.  You may simply want to tweak what is already happening at your job.

Whether you are a manager of direct reports or not, I hope you’ll find this list helpful in understanding ways to get better.  Success doesn’t happen by accident.  Success happens by being intentional, and this list offers suggestions – no, essentials – for being intentional with the performance management process.

10 Ways To Get the Most out of the Performance Management Process

  1. Start with regular one-on-one meetings.  It’s important to meet with your employees on a regular basis.  These meetings provide an opportunity to touch base on performance issues and other business and non-business related items.  You can read about the power of one-on-one meetings in a guest post I wrote for Matt McWilliams.  This year I started having monthly one-on-one meetings with my team, and it’s been helpful for my team members and for me.
  2. Set performance targets.  It’s critical that employees have SMART targets.  Targets should be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely.  At the beginning of each year, I sit down with my team members to set targets.  These targets align with our overall business objectives, and they also provide opportunities for individuals to grow personally.  (For more details on why employees should set performance targets, click here.)
  3. Quarterly review progress towards targets.  It shouldn’t be a surprise at the end of the year when doing a performance evaluation.  I sit down with my employees once a quarter to review their progress in achieving their targets.  Doing this once a quarter provides an opportunity for my team members to make performance corrections that will help them meet or exceed their targets.
  4. Get feedback from others.  I encourage my team members to ask for feedback from their peers.  And I get feedback from other managers and supervisors regarding the performance of my team members.  Before completing the annual performance management process, I meet in a roundtable meeting which helps to calibrate my overall assessment.  This meeting also provides extra insight into developmental action items I might want to suggest to my team members.  (To read a different angle on the discipline of getting feedback, click here.)
  5. Take time to write an honest and detailed assessment.  When I write evaluations for my team members, I want them to be fair, well-thought, and encouraging.  Writing this kind of assessment takes time.  I schedule time to carefully review the past year of activity.  I look at notes from my past one-on-one meetings.  I review previous results from the quarterly updates.  And I take into account comments shared by my fellow management team members.  A written record provides employees a tangible document to review as they seek to grow and improve.
  6. Meet with employee to review results.  At the end of the year, it’s important to let your employees know how they have done.  Feedback provides information necessary to help them improve.  Feedback also keeps them doing the right things.
  7. Remember the good things.  Make sure you praise your team members for the good things they have done throughout the year.  A pat on the back goes a long way towards encouraging the right behavior.
  8. Create a development plan correcting issues.  As managers, it is our responsibility to help our team members succeed.  We have to give our team members help in getting better.  The performance review process is the perfect time to help employees get better.
  9. Discuss career progression essentials.  Most employees want to know what it will take for them to get tho the next level in their career path.  It’s important to talk regularly to employees about their plans for the future.  What are their goals for the next 5 years or 10 years?  What do they need to do in order to be ready for the next steps?  These are questions that will help you help them.  Are their expectations realistic?  How can you help them?  The performance review process provides an opportunity to discuss essentials for career advancement.
  10. Do it again.  It may seem repetitive, but you have to do it over and over and over again.  Doing this for only one year does not demonstrate a long-term interest in the performance of an employee.  Repeated year after year is essential to a successful performance management process.

How has the performance management process helped you succeed?  What would you add to the list above?  What do you need to do differently in order to improve your own performance management process?

Here’s an interesting article to go along with this post:

The Discipline Of Getting Expert Advice – 6 Ways Getting Expert Advice Will Stretch You

expert advice

The top experts in the world are ardent students. The day you stop learning, you’re definitely not an expert.

Brendon Burchard

A month ago, my wife and I visited a local nutritionist.  We eat well and exercise, but we were both wondering if we could do a better job.  After a two-hour visit, I realized how little I really knew about nutrition.  I left her office with a new perspective on what I eat and how I exercise.  We will be going back again to keep moving forward.  In the meantime, I have lost several pounds, and I’m feeling a lot better thanks to a few valuable tweaks in my eating and exercising routine.  I just needed a little expert advice.

After seeing our nutritionist, I changed by morning routine.  I used to do cardio and leave a little time for lifting at the end.  Now, I lift first before I do the cardio part of my workout.  Yesterday morning, I was at the gym when one of the trainers started watching me as I spent time on a few of the strength machines.  He interrupted me a few times to give me tips on how to more effectively use the machines.  Then he took me over to a few other pieces of apparatus to show me a few other strengthening exercises.  Again, I just needed a little expert advice to get me heading in the right direction.

Last night, I contacted a garage door expert to help me with a problem with one of my garage doors.  When he came over, he made a few adjustments and recommendations, and my garage door started working properly again.  I just needed a little expert advice.

My natural tendency is to do things on my own.  I don’t like asking for help, but I don’t have time to figure everything out by myself.  Sometimes it pays to call in the experts.  I must learn to practice the discipline of getting expert advice.  This discipline will save me a lot of time and aggravation when I hit a roadblock.

If you are like me, you probably struggle to practice the discipline of getting expert advice.  Here are a few ways expert advice will help you stretch:

6 Ways Getting Expert Advice Will Stretch You

  1. Getting expert advice will humble you.  Most men have trouble asking for help.  Asking for help requires humility, and learning to be humble can be a stretching experience.
  2. Getting expert advice will help you learn.  As the garage door repairman worked on our garage door, I watched and learned.  Next time I have a problem with the door, I will have a few things to try.
  3. Getting expert advice will give others the opportunity to speak into your life and your challenges.  People want to help, and they want to use the knowledge and skill they’ve picked up along the way.  When you ask for expert advice, you provide the chance for others to help you.
  4. Getting expert advice will ultimately save you time and energy.  Most of us don’t like to ask for expert advice, because we don’t want to pay for it.  In reality experts often bring value into our lives that far outweighs the financial impact.
  5. Getting expert advice will help you meet many new people.  I didn’t know the trainer at the gym or the garage door repairman before I asked for their expert advice.  I like meeting new people, and asking for expert advice gives me the opportunity to plug into people I don’t know yet.
  6. Getting expert advice prepares me to help other people.  Ultimately, I want to help other people.  By asking for expert advice, I either gain transferable knowledge or valuable connections that I can pass along to others.

How would your world be different if you made the decision to practice the discipline of getting expert advice?  How has expert advice made a difference in your life?