Doubling the “other 6%” to 12%

Jan 24, 2015 (Munich)

            In my last 3 posts I have written about the distinction of tasks being performed way above goal level performance, at d4 in the Ken Blanchard Companies models. My research has shown that about 15% of tasks are done in this zone: 9% of the tasks by self starters and 6% of the tasks by those who have received some encouragement and support to move beyond average, mediocre, d3.

For the 6% who received encouragement and or support on tasks, that effort at encouragement and or support seems to be happenstance rather than a planned leadership strategy. Yes, some for sure it is a planned leadership intervention, but most? I think not. I base this conclusion on the fact that if it were a sustained purposeful leadership strategy more of the 55% of the tasks being done in an average fashion would have moved into the high performing zone. (Remember, one of my previous observations is that most people can perform their tasks at a high performance level with supportive leadership.)

Why isn’t there a sustained leadership strategy by many managers? Though the answer for each manager is unique and often personal, the broader answer is that top management is not behind the growth and development of staff beyond profession “hard” skills.  They pay lip service to training and development, put money and time into giving training and development, but that is where it ends. Application of learned skills on the job is totally up to the trainee. The pursuit of excellence is totally a self initiative project. The trainees experience from top down that real growth in self driven so they pass that the same effort to their staff. An axiom of behavior in organizations is leaders “you get what you role model.

Managers can break this on/off encouragement and support of staff with some basic planning, personal initiative, and a desire to help others maximize their contribution to the organization and themselves.

  1. A spread sheet of critical tasks and current performance levels: beginners, 3 – average goal level performance, and 4 – exceeds goals.
  2. Use the spread sheet to guide development at least once/ week
  3. Base the use, step 2, on the immediate needs for bench strength improvement
  4. After about 6 months you will have moved development from “immediate” needs to longer term needs out in the 6 month window.

The “other 6%” The will to progress

Jan 18, 2015 (San Diego) –

            A bit late, but “better late than never”:  a happy and prosperous New Year to you.

In my Dec 14th blog I wrote that I would write on the “will to progress”.

My experience as a manager and consultant is that almost anyone can

                                 get to be one of the 6%ers on their critical tasks if they want to. Their

                                 major obstacle is their will to progress and having a coach to help them

                                 move from average to way above average.

                                      In my next blog I will write about the ‘will to progress.’”

              I get to do a lot of training of managers. They gain skills and get the practice those skills while we are together. The amount of application after the session is often very low. They said that the information was good. The presentation was good. The usefulness was good. What then happened to application?

For the 9% who already have the discipline skills to apply a new skill without additional guidance, you can forgo the rest of this blog entry. For the rest of us, read on.

A key tool that I use to systematically begin learning a new skill or to perform a non-routine task that is calendarcumbersome for me like completing my taxes I use my calendar.

  1. I schedule 15 minutes to 30 minutes a couple of times / week to work on the task or the new skill
  2. More time than that will prove overwhelming as our plate is already full
  3. I need to start the task with enough 15 – 30 windows to complete the task before the deadline
  4. I need to know what the deadline is
  5. If I miss a scheduled “window” I need to do two thingsclock
  1. Reschedule as the deadline is coming
  2. Check why I missed the window. I may need to rethink the planuntil the day before you meet with your tax preparer or the 13th of April and go into “crash” mode to either get the taxes done or file for an extension. Either last minute action will require more time and can potentially set you up for error. Not good.
  3.             Take the easier road and systematically schedule things on your calendar. Try it once you will like it.
  4. Of course you can completely forgo all this proper planning and just leave it

Lessons in recovery

Sep 13, 2014 (San Diego)

            I apologize for being absent so long from my blog. Energy and surgery recovery both played a role in my procrastination.

Surgery recovery: August 1st I was hit by a car while bicycling in San Diego. I was fortunate to only need afreezing total left hip replacement. Knees, ankles, shattered femurs, shoulder replacements are all more daunting and potentially more painful. After two weeks of hospitalization and 3 weeks of home therapy I am moving around without a cane and no walker though I am totally aware that the left hip is not the one I was born with.Stronger

Though the recovery did not physically preclude my writing it did overwhelm my desire to write so today I am getting up from my writing-pratfall and moving forward.

I will get going this week.

You are the captain of your life – Invictus

Feb 02, 2014 (Houston)

There are times when I feel that Lilly Tomlin’s homily fits my life:

         Life is a rat race and even if you win you are still a rat”

To be effective with what gifts and talents I have I need to lift my self image above “rat-hood”.   I find the poem “Invictus” helps me see above the mess of life

Invictus

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

William Ernest Henley

I trust as you reflect upon Henley’s ode to life that it will help you take charge of your own being. Blessings.

More Managing my time: self discipline

Jan 26, 2014 (Moscow)

I am conducting a two day time management program. Ostensibly the focus is the business application of managing one’s time. In this tactical customer service team the grid segment in Covey’s view on time: the grid labeled “important and urgent” occupies clock80% of the day. Another 15% of the day goes to Covey’s grid segment labeled: not important but urgent” which includes conference calls and routine business matters. The segment of the day which occupies maybe 15% of the time of life yet only gets 5% of the available time is labeled: important and not urgent.

What are the important but not urgent matters of your life? In this program 90% of the participants noted it was family matters and personal issues like exercise, professional improvement, planning, holidays, and vacation time. Does that seem familiar to you?

The post of Jan 5, 2014 noted that Sue Shellenbarger had found that planning these important but not urgent items on the calendar and then working life to free up that time was very therapeutic. This process made up far more effective during the planning time for two reasons:

  1. People were more effective because they      wanted those important – not urgent things for them selves
  2. Once they had the “off time” they were      more rejuvenated when back in the world of “urgent”.

 

Wouldn’t you like to enjoy more important – not urgent segments in your lifeasking questions and simultaneously be more rejuvenated during the “urgent segments”?

Managing my time is a purposeful self discipline

Jan 5, 2014 (San Diego)

First posted on October 2, 2009

Take a few minutes to read the following article by Sue Shellenbarger of the Wall Street Journal.  Not only is the “tip” powerful but her diagnosis of how the tip really makes the tip work is worth pondering.  A tip where the focus of integrity is for you and your Integritysignificant others: those few who often get the short end of available time.  You will notice that the key is to put the time you want for you on your calendar and fix it like any other client appointment. Do you have time on your calendar for the things you want to do for you and your family? Start now: give yourself 30 minutes / week to start with and expand from there.

It was 4 p.m. on a recent Friday—a time of the week when I usually relax and leave the rest of my to-do list to finish over the weekend. But as this recent weekend approached, I kept pushing myself, heart pumping, to get to the bottom of my list of planned tasks for the week.

After years of working on and off throughout most weekends, I was trying a new approach by taking off at least one entire day every weekend this month, away from reporting, writing and all other work. Early on, I hated pauseit. As simple as it seemed, sticking to a time-off plan stressed me out at first. What I didn’t see right away was that my little test was forcing me to improve the way I work.

Amid layoffs and burgeoning workloads, it seems, working any time, all the time, has become a habit. A survey of 605 U.S. workers last spring by the Society for Human Resource Management found that 70% of employees work beyond scheduled time and on weekends; more than half blame “self-imposed pressure.” Now, new research suggests some have reached the point where a paradoxical truth applies: To get more done, we need to stop working so much.

Sticking to a schedule of predictable time off can lead to improved productivity. Here are some steps to

get started:

  • Agree on future goals with your boss and coworkers.
  • Plan for deadlines far in advance
  • Set, and focus on, top hourly, daily or weekly priorities.
  • Cooperate with coworkers to back each other up.

A groundbreaking four-year study, set for publication in the October issue of Harvard Business Review, seems to confirm that getting away from work can yield unexpected on-the-job benefits. When members of 12 consulting teams at Boston Consulting Group were each required to take a block of “predictable time off” during every work week, “we had to practically force some professionals” to get away, says Leslie Perlow, the Harvard Business School leadership professor who headed the study.

But the results surprised Harvard researchers and Boston Consulting executives alike. Working together to make sure each consultant got some time off forced teams to communicate better, share more personal information and forge closer relationships. They also had to do a better job at planning ahead and streamlining work, which in some cases resulted in improved client service, based on interviews with clients. Boston Consulting is so pleased with the outcome that the firm is rolling out a similar teaming strategy over the coming year on many new U.S. and some overseas projects, says Grant Freeland, senior partner and managing director of the firm’s Boston office. “We have found real value in this,” he says. “It really changes how we do our work.”

Other companies are putting the brakes on work in other ways. At KPMG, a professional-services firm, managers use “wellness scorecards” to track whether employees are working too much overtime or skipping vacation, a spokesman says. At Fenwick & West, a Silicon Valley law firm, “workflow coordinators” review attorneys’ hours to avert overload.

And at Bobrick Washroom Equipment, North Hollywood, Calif., a 500-employee manufacturer, staffers are expected to leave in time for dinner. “If you walk around here at 5:30, there are going to be very few lights on, and that’s what we expect,” says Mark Louchheim, president. He sees family dinners together as important to the well-being of employees and their children, and he also believes setting limits on work motivates people to work smarter.

In the study, most of the four- or five-member teams were asked to guarantee each consultant one uninterrupted evening free each week after 6 p.m., away from Black Berry’s and all contact with work. Each team held weekly meetings to talk about the time-off plans, work processes and what consultants called “tummy rumbles”—gut worries or concerns about their project.

Requiring hard-driving consultants to take time off was “nerve-racking” and awkward at first, says Debbie Lovich, who headed one of the teams. Some fought the idea, claiming they would have to work more on weekends or draw poor performance ratings.

But the point of the experiment wasn’t to eliminate the “good intensity” in work—the “buzz” from constant learning and “being in the thick of things,” Harvard’s Dr. Perlow says. Instead, researchers targeted “bad intensity”—a feeling of having no time truly free from work, no control over work and no opportunity to ask questions to clarify foggy priorities, she says.

Ms. Lovich adds: “We wanted to teach people that you can tune out completely” for a while and still turn out good work. The work itself became the focus, “because if you know a night off is coming up, you’re not going to let things spike out of control,” she says.

After five months of predictable time off, internal surveys showed consultants were more satisfied with their jobs and work-life balance, and more likely to stay with the firm, compared with consultants who weren’t part of the experiment. As word spread, other consultants began asking to join the study, Ms. Lovich says. And some clients told researchers the teams’ work had improved, partly because improved communication among team members kept junior consultants better informed about the big picture.

Bobrick Washroom Equipment’s policy to get workers home for dinner came as a shock to Janice Blakely when she joined the company years ago after working “long, long hours” at an energy concern, she says. Seeing staffers at Bobrick leave by 6 p.m., “I thought, ‘Wow, this is not normal.”‘ But in time, the policy “made me look at my performance and tighten up on what I’m doing,” says Ms. Blakely, a marketing manager.

Mr. Louchheim, the Bobrick president, says that employees who habitually stay late may be revealing poor work habits. “We worry about whether they can delegate properly and prioritize their work,” he says. Adds Chris Von Der Ahe, a Korn/Ferry International recruiter who works with Bobrick: “People who do well there are well organized and able to plan their work well.”

Dr. Perlow says an individual worker can get similar results “by challenging oneself to say, ‘I’m going to cut off’ ” work at a certain time every day or every week. ” ‘Now, how am I going to get work done in the time I have?’ This is meant to open your eyes to the possibility” that the way you work can be changed.

In my own experiment, I have managed to keep at least one weekend day work-free so far this month. This has forced me to put proven time-management principles into practice: Plan blocks of work time and stick to the plan; set short-term deadlines to keep work from spiraling out of control; and keep up with email daily, to avoid backlogs.

The rewards have been surprising. On one recent Monday, after an invigorating weekend of working out, attending church and watching college football and hiking with friends, I quickly solved a work problem that had baffled me the previous week. Asked to assess my work this month, my editor, John Blanton, said my columns have been fine. “I’d say, from our perspective, start enjoying your weekends,” he wrote in an email.

Write to Sue Shellenbarger at sue.shellenbarger@wsj.com

Go for the GoldGo for the gold that builds you the most:  

“Potential Releasing”

Sep 7, 2013 (Dammam

            For the next 3 weeks I get to work with managers who want to be more  effective with their employees. For managers this means among other activities: improving their communications effectiveness. Most of them have the effectiveness out of the boxalready in themselves. My job is to either give them the skills to release the potential or give them the assurance that certain conversations will be effective at certain times while other conversations will be less effective.

Perhaps at some point in their life “the dark side of release (blog Sep1, 2013) “bit” them and they have resolved to be overly cautious. What we do is carefully help the managers examine the caution or lack of skills to consider other behaviors that willOrange Man Detective with Magnifying Glass help them with their employees. Over the years I have seen managers experience the blessing of communications effectiveness with staff development, literal joy has happened (blog Aug 23, 2013) from that connection. Carney and Getz (blog Aug 15, 2013) take the blessing one step further and demonstrate the very positive business impact of positive engagements between co-workers. When I have worked over a prolonged period of time with clients I also have seen the positive impact on organization result of the released and aimed communications potential of a manager.

My blog of 8 August reminds me that communications effectiveness is not about “control” but “influence.” If a manager wants to improve their communications effectiveness in order to have more control over the employees their motive will under mind the otherwise excellent communication possibility. People do not want to be controlled, but they are open to influence.

“You are not in control”

Aug 8, 2013 (San Diego)

A spin off from my Aug 1st blog, below was brought to my attention this morning. I may have a great plan with the leadership forum and I may have done all the correct activities to promote it, but I am not in control of the other 9. That is a good reality for me to keep in the front of my mind. For me it is easy to wonder why people do not respond as any logical person would and then to make them wrong for not responding. After all I am a logical person and the idea is logical to me so those who do not respond must be “illogical”. Of course if they are illogical they are wrong way thinking. They really need more help and pressure to “get it.”

You know how that goes: amp up the pressure and one is most apt to get resistance or low level compliance. That does not move towards the outcome very successfully.

I have two other projects that I am working to move forward. They are inching along at best. I get to work on encouraging and listening rather than pressuring. I need to work on those skills.      Learning

 

Practice

Aug 1, 2013 (San Diego

            When I write on a topic the next thing the Lord often does is to “test” my theory. Last week, 25 July, I wrote on connecting with others. This week was practice.

I get to guide a leadership forum to help members be with integrity. The focus seems important to me, particularly when living in “Enron by the Sea.” Last night only 3 of 10 showed up. A first response by me could be written as “where is this going?” “What is the point of investing time and energy if others do not really want to play?”

I had to go back and remind myself of points 1 and 2 below. My mission is to present topics using my energy and creativity to overpower strongholds of mediocrity. Of course if we are only so, so with regard to integrity then the importance of a meeting on integrity will wax and wane with regard to importance. Secondly I am having the forum as a “gift” of creating strength in integrity. Some days people are just not ready for the gift.

Maybe I need to do some clarity checks on the relevance to the members and then trust the Lord for the outcomes.

For myself and maybe if you have experienced similar desires to stop giving is to stop an activity: reevaluate, talk it over those present, review your purpose, breathe, then make a decision. This helps me finish stronger. F1 checkered flag

Getting Along

July 12, 2013 (Moscow

            This week is my 3rd project in Moscow. Two were in the winter and now this one in the summer. Go to Moscow in the summer. The winters can be brutal. Working with 17 managers become proficient in their presentation skills was great. As I was working with them I reminded myself of how far I have come. When I was in the Navy in the 70’s and 80’s Russia was the scary enemy. Now we are working together in many ways. I wonder what it would take to get the leadership of countries to collaborate the way it is being done at the grassroots? Not all is sugar and spice at the grassroots, but it seems the relationships are much more functional than at the “state” level. I suppose common interest at the frontline level can be easier to come by as there is not a huge need to “jester” and impress people with bravado and hyperbole. Suppose I decided I Diverse Team 2would be influenced more by principles and less by bluster? Then more and more people started making the same decisions. I wonder what trajectory that would global politics on? Well, changing the global arena may not be on my
“to do” list for tomorrow, but making myself a more principled driven person is. Let’s all do it for the good of all.