A few months ago, I wrote a blog about how we should all make 2017 the Year of Going Big. Why not? Sure, the turmoil and uncertainly in the world may be frightening but now is not the time to hunker down and make yourself as small as possible. Big change can (and needs) to happen.
So you’ve made a bold, courageous resolution and you are ready to pursue it with gusto. Now what? As famous French writer Antoine de Saint-Exupery said, “A goal without a plan is just a wish.” If you don’t know how to get to where you going, how do you ever get there?
I’d like to share a take away from the book “The One Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results.” It’s an exercise on how to put together a plan of action to reach a big goal. This exercise is similar to developing a marathon training plan. You know you need to be able to run 26.2 miles at the end of 20 weeks. You also know that you can’t start with 20 mile runs in week 1. Therefore you must develop a plan that works backwards week by week, lining out how you will log your training miles. This is the only way to keep yourself on track to the build motivation, strength and stamina required as you increase your mileage each week. Without this kind of plan, you may run too much too early and hurt yourself or you may not run enough and fail to cross the finish line. The plan is key.
You can use the marathon model to plan any goal you want to achieve. Let’s say that your goal is to get a promotion at the end of the year. You have 10 months to earn it; how do you get there? Start planning backwards. It looks something like this…
This is a simplified example, yes, but you get the idea. I recently did this exercise for a 16 year goal I’ve set for myself and it was incredibly eye-opening and helpful. I feel empowered and excited because I have an outline for success. There is no way I could achieve a goal that's 16 years out without a solid plan now.
You may find that you need to deviate from the plan you’ve created and that’s okay; course correcting along the way is necessary to achieve a goal. This exercise merely helps you think through all the things you need to do to get to where you want to be. Make adjustments as you execute your plan; use this as a tool to ensure you are working on the RIGHT things and taking the RIGHT actions to reach your “big thinking” goal.
Good luck and go for it!
Thank you for reading and as always, please comment, like and share if you are so inclined. I always appreciate the love. To sign up to receive my blogs in your inbox, click here.
One of most important attributes to becoming successful is self-discipline. It’s almost impossible to achieve excellence without it. Self-discipline helps you stay focused; it gives you the gumption to stick with something even when it’s difficult. It helps you choose winning the long game over short term gratification. Self-discipline allows you to overcome obstacles and deal with the discomfort of pushing yourself to new heights. With enough self-discipline, you can form life-long, positive habits; once you form a habit, it no longer requires discipline and you propel yourself towards success because it’s what you do day in and day out.
What is self-discipline? Essentially, it’s the ability to control your impulses, emotions, reactions, and behaviors. It’s the ability to forego short term gratification in favor of long term satisfaction and gain. It’s basically saying no when you really want to say yes.
How does self-discipline lead to forming habits? If you do something over and over again, it eventually becomes a habit and once something a habit, life gets easier; you no longer need willpower to force yourself to do it. For example, last year one of my goals was to do more yoga. I made a commitment to do it 30 minutes every day for 30 days. I felt so much better that I continued for another 30 days which turned in 6 months, etc. Now I get up an hour earlier to start my day off with 60 minutes of yoga. I don’t have to set my alarm anymore and I do it EVERY day. If you would like more insight on how to use discipline to form habits, read the Power of Habit. It’s a fantastic book.
The word self-discipline makes most people shudder just uttering it but being self-disciplined isn’t about leading a restrictive and boring life void of enjoyment, relaxation, and fun. In fact, it’s next to impossible to be self-disciplined in all areas of your life and I don’t recommend it. Instead, you should use self-discipline to focus your energies on what’s most important to you. Let it help you make the tradeoff between the short and long term so that you make better choices. In the long run, you’ll be happier when you have formed habits that make your life better.
So how do you become more self-disciplined? Here are my tricks:
You are the master of your destiny, the creator of your life. If you want your destiny to look, be and feel a certain way, then you have to develop the discipline to form habits. Vigorous habits will help you get to where you want to be. While it seems counter intuitive, I have found that I am happier and healthier the more self-disciplined I become. I think you will find the same thing, too.
Thanks for reading and as always, I welcome and encourage comments, likes and shares. Click here to sign up to receive my blogs in your inbox.
You are a collection of all the stories you’ve told yourself. That’s right, your life is a work of fiction and you are the main character.
We all tell ourselves stories about the things that happen to us, the decisions we make, and why other people do the things they do. You make assumptions and then act upon those assumptions. That’s how you create your life; your stories become your reality. You wear your stories like a warm winter sweater because they give you comfort that you actually understand what’s happening around you. You do this because your brain can’t stand not understanding why something is happening. It is constantly looking for patterns, assigning cause and effect, then creating a narrative that you subsequently believe, even if you have no access to the actual truth. Psychologists and scientists call this the narrative bias. We couldn’t survive without it.
There’s good and bad news to consider when pondering your narrative.
First the bad news. If you create a story that is negative, inaccurate, or based on a lie you’ve been told or that you’ve told yourself, you could send yourself down a path that might lead to poor decisions, low self-esteem and needless suffering.
The good news is that you can create a different story. You can challenge your assumptions. You can think about the way you think. You can break down belief systems that hold you back. You can build upon the positive things that happen in your life. You can choose to let go and move on.
Even though your story might feel real and unchangeable, it isn’t. It doesn’t matter if you’re living a charmed life or one of struggle and despair. Your story isn’t real and it isn’t permanent.
So pick the one thing in your life you want to change or make happen and tell yourself a different story. One where you are progressing, succeeding and winning. Then start taking action to create that story. It doesn’t mean it’s easy; it just means it’s possible. Be willing to do the hard work.
I’ll leave you with this quote from Jordan Belfort, The Wolf of Wall Street. I am not saying you want his story (or maybe you do; he is very wealthy and everyone loves a comeback story) but it’s a statement worth keeping in mind.
“The only thing standing between you and your goal is the bullshit story you keep telling yourself as to why you can’t achieve it.”
Thanks for reading,
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It’s hard to believe that another year is in the books; 2016 flew by and it will go down as one of the most intense years in history. I for one am glad it’s over, as I imagine many of you are, for a plethora of reasons that really need no explanation.
Now, 2017 is here and as with any New Year, we will be filled with the excitement of all the possibilities it brings. Perhaps we mistake this magical feeling for the deep sense of relief of having made it through the year; another trip around the sun and we are still here! Let’s raise our glasses and celebrate! We are sure that when the clock strikes midnight, our lives will change for the better. This year will be different, we just know it. We make resolutions to ensure that we will become the future versions of ourselves we so long to be. And then January passes and we realize that it’s just another day, week, and year. Sigh.
But it doesn’t have to be that way….
I think that in 2017 we all should throw caution to the wind. We should make a bold, courageous resolution and pursue it with gusto: we should commit to becoming really great at something that makes the world a better place or that brings great joy to our lives. Can you imagine how much better we would all feel if we pursued something that brought about real, positive change to our lives?
Sure, it may seem like a chasm to get from here to there, but it’s all in how you look at it. There is almost always a path; you just have to create the steps to get there. And you have to being willing to do the hard work. The first step is overcoming inertia; once you have momentum, it gets easier.
If you need some inspiration (or a good kick in the butt), I suggest these books to help overcome inertia and create a plan of action.
“The Compound Effect,” by Darren Hardy
“The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results” by Gary Keller
"The 10X Rule: The Only Difference Between Success and Failure," by Grant Cardone
Remember, your dreams won’t happen to you unless you make them happen. Go for it.
Happy New Year,
Despite what the media sells us, there are more good things happening on this planet than bad things. There are beautiful people doing beautiful things with the goal of helping human kind advance into the brilliant, beautiful creatures we have the potential to be. Every day, each one of us has the choice to evolve or devolve. I choose evolve; I hope you do, too.
NOW is the time to change the world. So I am taking Gandhi’s words to heart, “be the change you want to see in the world.”
I believe the world needs leaders who can bring people together; thoughtful leaders who truly listen to what people have to say even if it’s not what they want to hear; leaders who are honest and transparent, who take action and ask for feedback; those who explain the why behind decisions and who are willing to change their minds. I am going to be this kind of leader.
I believe the world needs more businesses that give back to their employees; ones that believe in spreading the wealth by paying people decent wages and providing good benefits; businesses that allow employees to partake in the success of the company through employee ownership and profit sharing; ones that treat their employees with respect and dignity and who actively help their employees improve their own lives and those of their families. I am going to create this kind of business.
I believe the world needs managers who know how to hold people accountable while at the same time being compassionate to their employees’ individual emotions, experiences, and situations; managers who care about their people, wanting them to succeed; those who are willing to put the team first and who can admit when they make mistakes. I am going to be this kind of manager.
I believe the world needs smart people who are lifelong learners; those who challenge their belief systems and are dedicated to “never stop growing”; those who are committed to reading more books, becoming better writers, considering opinions that differ from their own, traveling outside their own little worlds, and letting go of fears that hold them back. I am going to be this kind of person.
I believe the world needs good parents; those who teach their children to be resilient, accountable, and kind; those who help their children learn the valuable lessons that failure teaches; those who model the value of hard work, honest communication, and perseverance; those who love unconditionally and discipline effectively. I am going to be this kind of parent.
The world needs more communities that are filled with people who are kind to each other, who give back and get involved, who support strong education, healthcare, and infrastructure systems, and who shop locally. I am going to be this kind of community member.
There are many ways to be the change you want to see in the world. Don’t just sit on the couch and complain about the way things are. Do something about it. I encourage you to take action with kindness, compassion, inclusiveness, and with an open-mind. Choose to evolve, not devolve. Choose to change yourself for the better and in turn you’ll change the world for the better.
As always, thank you for reading. Please feel free to comment, like or share if you are so inclined. Please click here to receive my blogs in your inbox.
I wrote this post almost exactly a year ago today and I believe it's even more prevalent now than it was back then, so I am sharing it again. In a country and world as polarized as ours, and with leaders who seem to think this is a good thing, it would behoove us all to stop and question why we, too, think separation is really the answer. This dramatic change...transformation really...starts by each of us questioning our own thoughts and belief systems with the understanding that there is validity to all view points, even those we may vehemently disagree with. The only thing that is for sure is that there is no such thing as THE right way or THE truth. I hope this piece allows you to pause and see your thoughts from another perspective.
Have you ever stopped to question your thoughts? Where did this thought come from? Why do I think this way? Is this thought even true? It’s a pretty powerful moment when you wake up and realize that the way you think might not be the truth. In fact, it’s probably not THE truth.
Here is a perspective…as you read any one of my posts, you are having thoughts about it. You love it, it resonates with you, and you can grab hold of something from a post and take action right now! Those thoughts are based on your experiences, your preferences, your judgments, your emotions, and most likely your feelings and/or perceptions about me as a person/leader (whether those perceptions are true or not).
Someone else reading my post is having a completely different experience. She hates it, thinks I am writing nonsense, and can’t find anything in any post worth trying to implement. She thinks I'm just a "fill-in-the-blank" insult.
Both experiences feel like the truth to each person, but who's truth is right? The answer is neither and both.
We live in an age where we tell ourselves that being RIGHT is worth fighting, even killing for and where tolerance, acceptance, compromise, and admitting that you are wrong are signs of weakness. But here’s the kicker: WE ARE NEVER RIGHT BECAUSE THERE IS NO RIGHT WAY. There are 7(ish) billion people on this Earth which means there are 7(ish) billion different ways to think about everything there is to be thought about. That’s mind blowing! So if there are 7(ish) billion different ways to think about the thought you just had, how can you be so sure that yours is the truth?
Questioning your thoughts is extremely powerful. Yes, it can create discomfort, especially when you challenge your own belief systems (you can read why I think discomfort is a good thing here) but it is also eye opening and life changing. Not believing that your thoughts are true…that your way is the only way…can lead you to new perspectives, new ways of thinking, to stretch yourself, and most importantly as a leader…to making better decisions. Not believing everything you think allows you to make room for other people’s ideas and solutions. It cultivates tolerance, acceptance, and compromise. It helps you be a better person, parent, and leader.
Here are some questions I ask myself when I am feeling passionate (ok, defensive) about the way I think or feel about something or when I am being judgmental about a person or a situation. Sometimes I can detach from my thoughts and sometimes I can’t, but this process always helps me put things into perspective and helps me be more open and compassionate.
Why do I believe this? Why are my feelings so strong?
What if I believed something different? What would change?
What story am I telling myself about this person or situation? How do I know that story is true? What other stories could also be true?
What assumptions am I making?
What would happen if I just let this thought/feeling go and it never crossed my mind again?
Is this how I really feel or is my ego getting in the way?
Why am I being judgmental?
Most of us can agree that the world would be a better place if we weren’t always arguing, judging, defending, and warring. If we want to change this about our world, we must change it within ourselves first.
Thank you for reading today. Please leave comments or share if you are so inclined. To check out more of my blogs, please go to my home page and scroll down to the bottom.
As I sit here on my 38th birthday reflecting upon the past year, I feel a huge sense of gratitude for all that I have, for who I am, and for all the amazing people in my life, especially those who bring me so much joy. I am so glad to be here.
This past year has been fraught with challenges but the wins are far more overwhelming. There has been laughter, tears, hard work, 100K+ airline miles, grief, and joy. There has been spectacular moments and moments of panic and anxiety. There's been a lot of mountain bike riding. And most importantly, this past year has been filled with precious moments with my family, especially with Jack…my fast growing, highly evolved threenager; these are the memories I am trying to burn into my mind forever; I never want to let them go.
Life is what you make of it; there is no doubt about that. I am eternally grateful for all the amazing things and all the crappy things that flow through my life each day; all of these events, decisions, and feelings add to the rich tapestry of connections, relationships, experiences, and sense of self that are woven together to form the fabric of my life.
So what did I learn this year that's worth passing on to all of you? Perhaps nothing profound but that being said, sometimes it's the little things that mean the most.
First, it’s important to take care of yourself. Burning out does no one any good. Do yoga every day (seriously, it’s life changing). Get regular massages and/or acupuncture treatments. Eat well. Ride a bike. Take a day off to treat yourself. Even better, take a vacation, or my favorite…a staycation. You will be able to do more when you give yourself a break.
Second, spend more time with the most important people in your life; make it a priority. At any moment you could lose someone you love dearly. You don’t want to regret the choices you made on how you spent your time. Call your mom every day. Go visit your grandfather. Put your phone down and play with you kids. Eat dinner as a family every night. Life is too short to not be with the people you love.
Third, the things that seems like a really big deal today will be minor things tomorrow and forgotten about the day after. Do you remember what you were freaking out about last week? Yeah, me either. So don’t let yourself fall apart over the challenges life throws at you. Take a deep breath and let the situation play out. Life ebbs and flows and you’ll move on faster than you think.
Fourth, live outside your comfort zone for an entire year; it’s the fastest way to grow as a person and leader. I don’t think I have had a day this year (besides on the weekends) when I have felt like, “oh yeah, I’ve got this.” And even though I am exhausted at times, I have never felt so engaged and connected in my life. Playing it safe is not actually safe. Challenge yourself constantly…you’ll be amazed at what you can do.
Lastly, it’s a game changer to have high status on airlines, even if they are shitty airlines. Free upgrades to first class really do make traveling better. My goal is United Global Services baby!
Here’s to another amazingly fabulous trip around the sun. I am so glad I get to share the trip with all of you.
We all have high maintenance people in our lives. You know the person...the one who is never satisfied, the one who never stops talking, the one who makes snippy comments, the one who doesn’t follow the process, or the narcissist who is always right. No matter where you work, you’ll have to deal with those who make things harder than they have to be. While it may seem like your life would be better if you didn’t have to deal with people like this, difficult people can actually make things better in an organization.
Humans are designed to solve problems; that’s why we are all so different. We each see the world through our own lens and bring different perspectives to the table. In the workplace, having different and even opposing opinions is critical to good decision making. While it may “feel” better to have peace and harmony, it’s not ideal. Conflict is good if it’s handled appropriately because it forces a team to look at all the possibilities. Conflict should be encouraged and managed.
That’s all fine and dandy, but what about those difficult people who drive you crazy? How can you minimize their impact on you while still gaining the benefits of having different styles on your team? Here are my tips on how to handle yourself when you are ready to pull your hair out.
First Look Within
Always start with yourself. Is the person you find difficult really the problem or are you overreacting? Are you making assumptions or being too sensitive? While it’s easy to blame the other person, you may have a role in the situation. Ask for feedback from a trusted coworker about how you’re perceived when you are dealing with the difficult person. You may be surprised what you learn.
See it From a Different Perspective
Take a walk in the person’s shoes. Try to think like him. What are his motivations and fears? What’s his personality type and how does that show up when he’s stressed? If there is one thing you can do to improve your situation, it’s to try to see it from other people’s perspectives. Doing so will give you insight so you can flex your style to better match his, allowing you to have greater influence over the outcome.
Address it Directly
The best way to resolve issues in the work place is to deal with them directly. First, make sure you are not emotional; you will get the best results when you can be pleasant and agreeable. Ask questions first; always seek to understand before launching into your grievances. You may learn that your perception of the situation is incorrect and you’ll then be able to pivot if necessary. Explain why and how her behavior is negatively impacting you and others. Offer solutions to how she might be able to more effectively work within the team. Yes, it can be intimidating to approach a difficult person to give feedback, but 9 times out of 10, you can make progress by addressing the issue head-on.
Many people lash out and act inappropriately when they feel they aren’t being heard. Sometimes, all it takes to positively affect bad behavior is to listen to them and validate their feelings and concerns.
Pick Your Battles
Some things are not worth being upset about or fighting for. Sometimes the best solution may be to just let go of your annoyance or frustration. How do you do this? Find something positive to appreciate about the person. Remind yourself that he is human and has hopes and fears, just like you. Smile to yourself, and say “how fascinating” when he exhibits poor behavior. Choose to accept the person for who he is and where he is on his journey. Only flight the battles worth fighting.
Don’t Take it Personally
It’s easy to make everything about you. I’m here to tell you that 99% of the time, it’s not, so don't take it personally. People are not purposefully trying to make your life miserable. Letting yourself become offended or defensive will only escalate the situation and prolong conflict. Take a deep breath and remind yourself that this is really about whatever is going on with the other person.
Difficult people are challenging but if you practice the above tips, you will be able to keep your cool, respond appropriately, and handle difficulty with grace and compassion. There is always something to be gained in every experience so ask yourself what you can learn and choose to let the situation make you a better communicator, coworker and person.
As always, thanks for reading! I really appreciate comments, likes and shares so please do so if you feel inclined. Click here to receive my blogs in your inbox.
aA few weekends ago, I was relaxing in a comfortable chair at a friend’s barbecue when my three year old son, Jack, came over to ask for more Doritos. The bowl he had been eating from was empty and he was anxious for it to be refilled. I pointed him in the direction of the kitchen and told him to go ask the host’s husband if he had any more. Looking slightly intimated, Jack momentarily hesitated and then, with a spring in his step, ran over to ask the man for more chips. The women I was speaking with at the time looked over at me and said, “I don’t blame you for not wanting to get up…momma needs a break every now and then!”
I was startled at her statement, even though it made sense…I WAS very relaxed. “Oh, I don’t mind getting up,” I replied. “It’s just that I’m always looking for opportunities to encourage Jack to ask for what he wants rather than doing it for him. How many times in life have we forgone what we really want because we are too afraid to ask? I figure that teaching him to ask for small things (like Doritos) is a safe way for him to gain confidence to go after what he wants.”
She looked at me with surprise in her eyes and then said, “You’re absolutely right. I am guilty of not asking for what I want all the time!”
How many times in life have you forgone what you really wanted because you were too afraid to ask?
I’m here to encourage you to just go for it. Ask for what you want. So what if you get a “no” in response? If you don’t ask, you’ve already told yourself “no” anyway.
Look, I get that there are all kinds of convincing reasons why you shouldn’t ask for what you want. You don’t want to seem pushy, needy, or high maintenance. You don’t want to be rejected; you’ll be embarrassed if you’re told no. You don’t want to make your boss/spouse/coworker uncomfortable or even worse, mad. You feel like what you want is obvious and that you shouldn’t HAVE to ask. Or maybe you don’t think you deserve to get what you really desire. There are a million excuses to not ask for what you want but they are just that: EXCUSES. So stop making them and start asking.
Easier said than done, right? Here’s how to ask for what you want.
1. Get Clear on What You Want
The more clarity you can have about what you want and why you want it, the easier it is to ask. Why? Because if you believe in what you are asking for, you’ll be able to better articulate it and influence the person you are asking. If you aren’t clear, do more research, dig deeper, and understand your motivations. You may get nervous asking so write it down and refer back to it during the conversation.
2. Know Who to Ask
If you ask the wrong person (or people), you’re bound to get a no. Or get a yes that can’t be delivered upon. It’s hard to ask for something over and over (you may lose steam) so know who the decision makers are ahead of time. Also, it’s important to try to anticipate reasons why you might get a no. Think through the motivations, concerns, and roadblocks of the person you are asking and be prepared to speak to them.
3. Think about Your Body Language
Don’t slouch, mumble, cross your arms, or look at the ground. Show confidence by sitting up straight, breathing slowly, and making eye contact. SMILE!!! You are much more likely to get what you want by putting the askee at ease with calm and collected non-verbal cues. I highly recommend doing a Power Pose in private before initiating the conversation. I promise, it will help.
4. Be Direct and Specific about What You Want
Don’t beat around the bush, hem and haw, or expect people to read your mind. Define the problem, specify what you want, and outline what you think the person you are asking will have to do to fulfill your request. Then ask.
5. Always Be Gracious
Acknowledge with gratitude what the other person will have to do in order to give you a yes. Show appreciation. Be polite and cognizant of his or her time. Use positive language and refrain from giving ultimatums. Don’t beg and always say thank you with a smile.
So what do you do if you get a no?
Getting told “no” can be hard to take. You may feel a wide range of emotions and want to lash out, shut down, or give up. Don’t. Everyone gets told no. It may take some time to work through your disappointment and that’s okay. But don’t pout, get angry, or be passive aggressive. Seek to understand why and then regroup. Come up with Plan B or even Plan C. And remember, you get the opportunity to learn more about yourself when you have to overcome challenges. Take receiving a no as a chance to grow smarter, gain experience, and become more resilient. Be grateful for all the nos you get in life.
There is such a thing as asking for too much, too often.
Don’t be that person who is ALWAYS asking for favors or who consistently takes more than his or her fair share. While it’s good to ask for what you want, people will become wary (annoyed) when you do it too often or ask for too much. That’s why it’s important to be really clear on what you want and why. Think about the reasonableness of what you are asking for and don’t just ask for the sake of asking or winning.
Life is too short to not ask for what you want. It may sound macabre to put in a blog like this but the reality is that it all could be over at any minute. So why not put it out there and ask? You might just surprise yourself and get what you ask for!
Thanks for reading and as always, I welcome (and encourage) comments, likes and shares. If you want to receive my blog in your inbox, click here and scroll to the bottom of the page to enter your email address.
We all know that trust is the key to any successful relationship. There are many ways to build trust but I believe one of the most impactful ways is to be transparent. If you aren’t transparent, it will be much more difficult to create the kind of long lasting relationships you desire.
While transparency is important in all relationships, it’s the cornerstone of businesses who want to create a culture of happiness, engagement, high performance, and mutual respect. Employees in any organization have a deep desire to know what’s going on and why. They want to give input and be heard. They don’t want to be scared of the future and scared of change. But the only way to reduce fear and motivate them to be their best is to be transparent.
What is transparency in business? One business dictionary defines it as a “lack of hidden agendas or conditions, accompanied by the availability of full information required for collaboration, cooperation, and collective decision making.”
Simple enough concept to understand but how do you do it? Here are some ways to be more transparent as a leader, manager, and company:
Have a True Open Door Policy
It’s easy to say you have an open door but if you don’t have anyone walking into your office to ask hard questions, give you feedback, discuss strategy, or share concerns, your open door policy isn’t working. It’s difficult for employees to bring up issues so you have to do everything you can to make them feel comfortable doing so. Never get defensive, listen closely, ask questions, take action, follow up, and always say THANK YOU!!!! If your employees aren’t proactively coming to you, invite them in to talk. Ask easy questions at first. Say things like, “I get the feeling that there are a lot of people who aren’t speaking up about some of the issues we have here. I really need some insight so I can make things better. Can you tell me what you see?” You will probably get a softened truth as the person feels you out but this is how you start to build better relationships with your employees. If you handle yourself appropriately, take action, and be consistent, you will start to see people taking advantage of your open door policy and your organization becoming more transparent.
Get Out of Your Office
Don’t expect everyone to come to your office; take your open door policy to them. Walk around the facility and talk to employees…even those who report to other managers. Ask questions about their work, the issues they face, what they need in order to do their jobs better. Give them updates on what’s going on in your department. Share a customer story. Tell them about an issue you are dealing with and ask for their opinions. Even better, ask people to go for a walk. There is something magical about walking meetings and it’s a great way to share and learn information without the pressure of sitting in a cramped office, loud cubicle or cold conference room.
Talk (Truthfully) to Your Employees Often
At StoneAge, I hold regular Town Hall meetings to encourage questions and give my employees deeper organizational insight. A different department is scheduled each month. Every person within that department submits anonymous questions ahead of time and I answer them candidly during the meeting. Nothing is off limits. We also hold monthly company meetings where we share all major issues and wins. If a mistake is made, we publically talk about it. If we aren’t performing, we talk about it. We share financial information, give strategic updates, talk about changes we are going through, and initiatives we are planning. We are clear when something is confidential and must be kept that way; we show our employees that we trust them to use good judgement with the information provided. And we always answer questions from the floor.
Seek Organizational Feedback
There are lots of informal ways to get feedback from across the organization. All managers should be working with their teams to understand what’s going right and what’s going wrong. Whether it be one-on-one or in team meetings, you should always be asking for organizational feedback. I also recommend doing a formal, anonymous survey of employees. We recently did one at StoneAge and it was incredibly helpful. Sure, some of the feedback was painful but we were able to put together an action plan that addressed the issues brought up and our employees we incredibly grateful we asked their opinions.
Be Honest About Why People Leave
There is nothing that clouds transparency faster than misleading your employees about why someone is leaving the company. I have learned this lesson the hard way. There is a fine balance between protecting the privacy of a terminated or quitting employee and telling your employees the truth. Honesty is always the best policy. Assume they will find out the truth anyway. Plus, if you don’t tell the truth, they will make up their own stories about what happened…stories that are most likely far worse than what really went down. It may be hard for some employees to hear the truth but at least they know you are being honest and you reduce the chance that they will live in fear of “I am next.”
The only way to be transparent is to be vulnerable. Humans need to connect on a deeper level to build solid, high functioning relationships. It’s hard to connect with someone who you know very little about. I’m not saying you need to disclose your deepest, darkest fears but be willing to share some of yourself and always admit when you don’t have the answer or when you screw up. The better people know you, the more transparent you will be perceived to be.
To build a high performing organization, transparency is essential. It takes time to build trust so take it slow and be authentic. Be honest about your efforts to be more transparent. Ask your employees for feedback and to make a commitment to be more transparent themselves. Be forthright with information, keep your promises, and always tell the truth. It’s a worthy endeavor as employees who feel like they are in the loop and can voice their opinions are much more likely to be engaged, happy, and productive.
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A Quick Blurb on what this blog is about.
Welcome to my blog! My name is Kerry Siggins and plain speaking, honest leadership is my mantra. My intention is to help those who lead (or want to lead) become better at saying and doing what needs to be said and done in a way that it can be heard and seen, one person at a time.