More problems with Employees?

March 28, 2014 (Washington, D.C.)

            Who is non-performing, the employee or the supervisor?  An employee appears to be sleeping during morning briefing. (Oh how many managers have I seen that will not call that behavior out on the spot!) After the meeting the supervisor calls the person aside for a “few words only to be met with, “I was not sleeping. Here are the main points discussed.” If a regurgitation of the main points was the point then perhaps the employee was not technically sleeping. Of course the supervisor and the company wants more than a conscious employee, everyone wants an engaged employee.

Though the employee has huge responsibilities to be engaged at all aspects of the job irrespective of the quality of the supervisor, maybe the supervisor can help the employee be more engaged.

Look at the “what to do” section of my March 21 post. Expanding a bit: address the core issue: engagement and what it looks like. Maybe the atmosphere of the morning briefs is slightly sleep inducing. Maybe the briefing is OK but this employee needs to be more in the delivery of the brief. Supervisor, you can do something.

Doing nothing is an option for the supervisor, but the other employees are already commenting to you. If you do nothing you appear to be endorsing the behavior. That may lead to discontentment and more disengaged behaviors

My coaching: do not let marginal behavior slide, it tends to hurt everyone.


March 15, 2014 (Washington, D.C.)

            How many of you are frustrated by low or total lack of responsiveness from almost any type of communications: VM, text, email, In Mail, etc? I ask this question because of the needs that a “new employee” has as noted in my March 8th blog.

When I am working with clients one question I ask often, “How many of you regularly experience talking with someone on the phone who you can tell is not really engaged in the conversation?” Wow, nearly everyone’s hand goes up. Getting a response of value must certainly start with being totally engaged the message sent. I am sure there are very “agile listeners” out there that can manage two simultaneous conversations, maybe. To check this reality, I ask another question, “As you observe people walking along talking on their phone, or as you walk along talking on your phone, what happens when you get to a truly serious part of the conversation?” They all say the same thing: they stop walking. Maybe the dual tasking skills have some serious limitations. From the anecdotal response I get, one could surmise that the conversation on the phone is not super important, since they are still walking. For a new employee this might prove to be fatal. They might get a “half baked” response or even a wrong response to the question asked since the other person is not totally there. Not good.

Another angle I take on “responsiveness” is from this question, “Do you experience some people who will not respond to your first email unless you follow up with a phone call or send a second email. For a new person this can also cause serious problems: “did I send the message to the wrong person?” “Should I bother that person or my boss to find out the right action to do?” Time gets wasted, the new person can become frustrated, or errors can happen.

In short, lack of or poor responsiveness can cause a new employee to move “sideways” in their growth and development rather than forward. This is not good for anyone nor for the organization.

Check yourself: am I engaged and responsive when people reach out to me? Am I part of the communications problem or part of the solution?


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


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”?

Proclamation of Thanksgiving by Abraham Lincoln 1863

Washington, D.C.
October 3, 1863        

This is the proclamation which set the precedent for America’s national day of Thanksgiving.      thanksgiving 2

By the President of the United States of America. – A Proclamation.

“The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies.  To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union.  Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defense, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore.  Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.  No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People.  I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth.”

By the President: Abraham Lincoln

“How to connect with others?”

July 25, 2013 (San Diego

            From my vantage point there is no particular formula for connecting with others, other than to connect with self first: Who am I being? What am I up to? When I am obsessed by these two questions or other related questions I am more worried about how I appear when around others. The focal point of my thinking is “me”. As such I am minimizing my ability to connect with others.

How can I become more comfortable with “me”? Be totally OK with “me” so I can aim my mental energy towards engaging with others. I will propose two things that have made a difference for me.

guy one

  1. Have a mission statement. See my April 1, 2010 and November 8, 2009 blogs. A mission statement helps me be clear about who I am and what I am doing. Helps me be a person of integrity by making my “yes” mean “yes”. A “yes” that is not at risk of negation by a subsequent more appealing opportunity. My mission statement also helps me sort out “good”, “better”, and “best” for me. This helps me say “no” with greater clarity and less worry: “will I miss out on something?”
  2. When connecting I am in a gift giving mentality rather than a “what is in it for me” mentality. I become a giver rather than a taker. A guru of time gone by said, “Help enough people get what they want and you will get what you want.”

In summary I am now clearer about who I am. I am giving a lot more than I am taking.  This allows me to get out of my head and my worries so I can connect with other people who are stuck in their head with their worries.

Helping others to maximize

June 21, 2013 (Doha, Qatar)

I am here in the mid-East on a two week work trip in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and UAE.

Through one means or another I get to help people move their personal potential into beneficial action. Last week I was able to do this with a group of 15 men in Saudi Arabia. What a blessing to see all these men make substantial growth in their presentation skills. They moved from just being up front delivering data, to being upfront enrolling their audience in the topic at hand. They came alive and out of their protective shells and into well crafted presenters. Yes, seeing them take on the skills I was presenting was nice, but watching those skills do an even deeper work in their lives was most satisfying.

May I suggest to any who peruse this blog to look at what you do from theStronger vantage point of how it would be helping maximize the recipient. More that data transfer, what you do may be life transforming. Your calling may be higher than you think.

If you take on this opportunity, examine how transformation might start to show up while you are doing what you do. Look for those flashes of wonder to highlight it for those you get to work with and to highlight it for yourself, to encourage you to do what you do with even more vigor.


Being Intentional when making presentation can be scary.

June 6, 2013 (San Jose, Costa Rica)

                As noted in my May 31st entry being intentional in general has risks, but being intentional when you are making a presentation can be more frightening.

  1. You are up front of the audience and everyone heard what you said
  2. People can take your words out of context and say all sorts of things about “what you said” and spread it around the world before you have even completed your presentation.

From my perspective the risks and benefits are the same as I noted below but they can happen very quickly and in real time. The benefits are enormous as you can present clearly and persuasively. You are open and transparent in front of the group. You do not need to hedge your words or way “what to say” since you are not being obscure or devious. As I guide people in how to present this way I find that they are very open and relaxed in front of the audience. They can pay attention to enrolling the audience in the conversation rather than being worried about what they are thinking about the presentation.  There is wonderful peace for the presenter.

Being Intentional has risks

May 31, 2013 (San Diego)

            Being Intentional has risks: see my March 28th entry

Being intention about activities in your life: saying “yes” to some and “no” to most and sticking with your announced decision has risks. You may need to go to a “yes” event when subsequently to saying “yes”, another nice options shows up. There is a risk in taking a risk and saying “yes” and there is a risk in not saying “yes.”

From my viewpoint the risk in saying yes and sticking with the decision is risking being decisive and being with integrity, being a person others can count on. The risk in not saying yes or saying yes with no sense of obligation to keep your word is that you risk being perceived as unreliable with low integrity. You also risk people being hurt knowing they were “bested” by another.

There were many years in my life when I was not good for my word. Maybe I would do something and maybe I would not. As I became more aware of the dark side of such behavior I slowly became willing to keep my word and do what I said I would do, even if that meant missing out on something else that was more appealing to me.

This has done two things in my life:

  1. People know they can count on me
  2. I have been slower to say “yes”

Being Intentional about important but not urgent elements of one’s life

March 28, 2013 (San Diego)From my viewpoint as a time management consultant I have seen a growing trend towards “cloud calendaring.” There is nothing on the calendar except that absolutely fixed “in cement” items like a weekly required business meeting. All the rest of the calendar is wide open so that the person can be responsive the cloud of demands that come their way on a daily basis.

How are decisions made: personal priorities and proximity of the demand to the designated time. A business colleague has a monthly discretionary meeting. As the meeting time draws near the frequency of reminder email increases exponentially. It is very clear that the organizer is not expecting anyone to put the item on their calendar which would preclude the need for constant messaging and the event coordinator believes they are competing with 3 or 4 other viable alternatives.

Suppose though a person was intentional about what he/she was doing with their time and life? In the case of one meeting that puts out incessant reminders all that would be guy oneneeded is to make an entry in “Outlook” and mark it as reoccurring monthly: one email for an entire year.

Being totally flexible and thus not intentional about a single meeting is a miniscule issue. However when I teach time management and I look at people’s “Outlook” the entire month and the ensuing months only have a few entries.

This absence of calendar entries is often accompanied by comments about “no time” to do this or that. Of course what they mean is when they think about one of these “no time to” items there is no white space in their life to do it. Their life is full of the urgent “fire fighting” items.

How does one create time for the important but not urgent elements in one’s life when constantly surrounded 7 X 24 with firefighting? Things like the son’s soccer match or the daughter’s birthday party or time away with the one’s spouse.

  1. Be intentional about getting to these events. I am going to do it.
  2. Put it on the calendar. The time is occupied. It is not available.quill
  3. Be ready to say “no” or “let’s do it at another time” or “I am booked then” but I am open at…
  4. If it is a large time commitment that can be broken down into pieces then attend to it for ½ hour twice a week, or something like that. I do this very practice when I am working on several book research projects. Assign myself 30 minutes of time twice a week or what is necessary to meet my own deadline and away I go.

When I first started doing this for myself I found I was a bit clumsy in the conversation about saying “no.” I was not particularly elegant about saying it and sometimes I just could not get the words out of my mouth. Practice, practice, practice and sure enough I have become better at getting the important but not urgent items moving forward in my life.

An outcome of this process for me is

  1.  the important things in my life are being advanced.
  2. I am a person of integrity: when I say I will do something I am thereStronger
  3. I “forget” very few things because everything that there is to do is reliably on the calendar
  4. I am much more decisive