Thursday, 29 December 2011
Never too late to recognize good performance
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You have all heard the basic rule “praise in public and criticize in private” and that is certainly excellent advice. And the criticism should generally be as close the event as possible – delayed criticism creates serious uncertainly in other people’s confidence in your leadership.

Recognizing good performance is a trait of the most respected leaders.  The process is simple: recognize good performance sincerely and frequently and you will get more of it.  And it is never too late to recognize the winners in your organization.  A week, a month, a year later – it makes no difference.  “Pat people on the back for good work” and you will achieve both good performance from your people and earn respect for yourself.

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Posted on 12/29/2011 12:41 PM by Joe Scarlett
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Tuesday, 27 December 2011
Teams Need Maintenance Too
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We hear a lot about team-building activities and what we need to do to bring teams together so that they are better able to work as a cohesive group.  Sometimes these activities involve getting to know each other on a little deeper level, and understanding what everyone brings to the team, and other times it involves organizing the team to be the most effective it can be.  No matter the goal of team building, there is follow-up work to do as well, and that is team maintenance.  Often teams get off to a great start and then when the excitement of the new project or assignment wears off, the team begins to lose energy.  It is important to continue to encourage teams to do things that keep them engaged.  Jon Katzenbach wrote in The Wisdom of Teams, that high performing teams must, among other things, have a commonly-agreed upon working approach, and mutual accountability.  These are things that must be agreed on before the work begins and that the team leader or someone on the team is watching to make sure they are in place and, in the case of mutual accountability, are being monitored.

Working in teams can be a very satisfying and productive method, but even the best teams need a tune-up from time to time.  Make sure that your team(s) is intentional about being the best it can be.  Great teams are no accident!

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Posted on 12/27/2011 12:38 PM by Mary Fink
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Thursday, 22 December 2011
Do it NOW!!
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When I think about writing these blogs I often procrastinate waiting for a more “opportune time” to get to work.  What does procrastinating accomplish?  Let’s start with the stress of worrying about doing it later.  Then I have that assignment hanging over my head.  Plus I have probably frustrated Susie who wants to get everything in the queue ahead of time.

So my advice to myself is plan, schedule and commit to the job. I do plan by making notes about topics regularly and I have a reminder in my calendar that dings me every day if I am behind. So right now in front of all who read this I am making “blogs on time” a key New Year’s resolution.  Susie – hold me accountable!

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Posted on 12/22/2011 10:56 AM by Joe Scarlett
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Monday, 19 December 2011
Leadership is About Them, Not You
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Sounds like a simple philosophy, doesn’t it?  It is simple, but not easily accomplished.  If you as a leader are spending all your time worrying about your image or your success, a change is needed.  The whole concept of leadership is that you are able to get things done through other people—preferable people who want to do those things and follow you.  If this is to be the case, it is important that you assume an outward-focused leadership style.  If others are the ones who do the work, then your real work is to provide them with what they need, whether it be supplies, skills, people, organization or encouragement, and to remove barriers for them.  The other thing they need from you is your gratitude.  They need to know that you recognize and appreciate what they do, and that you are aware that they are the ones who make it happen every day.

Simple concept—difficult to execute.

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Posted on 12/19/2011 10:47 AM by Mary Fink
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Thursday, 15 December 2011
Discretion is Part of Professional Leadership
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Learning to be discreet in business comes with age, maturity and the basic use of common sense.  It is up to us to be in control of our words and actions. Know when to speak up and when to be silent, and if you are not sure be silent – you can usually speak up later on when you are sure about what you want to communicate.

Be polite in every circumstance and never offer unsolicited criticism.  Be positive in your conversations and don’t be shy about offering sincere praise when it is appropriate.  Offer your thoughts when you are sure about your facts but do not spout off on a topic in which you are only partially informed. 

When in doubt be quiet and let others speak.

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Posted on 12/15/2011 10:50 AM by Joe Scarlett
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Friday, 9 December 2011
Leaders Are Always on Stage
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What does this mean?  It means that every time you as a leader have an interaction with someone, whether an employee, waiter in a restaurant, neighbor at a sporting event, or any other place where you go, people are watching and listening and judging.  It doesn’t matter that you are off duty and on your own time, people are still watching.  Because of your leadership position, everything you do is subject to scrutiny, and any misstep will be noticed.  It’s a huge responsibility and can be overwhelming, but it is something we must accept when we become leaders.  No longer can we do or say anything we want and have it ignored.  For example, comments that you make, possibly in jest or as just a suggestion, will be taken as a request for action.  Casual comments can cause employees to undertake large work projects because they took it to be an assignment.

So be aware—know that everything you do is being watched, and that any behavior you demonstrate is considered to be acceptable for others as well.  It’s a heavy responsibility, but an opportunity as well.  If you’re up to the challenge, you can take every opportunity to be the positive example, to model the behavior, language, and action you wish to see in others.

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Posted on 12/09/2011 11:23 AM by Mary Fink
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Tuesday, 6 December 2011
Support Your Boss
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It is not uncommon to disagree with a decision our boss has made or a strategy that our boss is pursuing.  The dilemma you face is what to do about it.  One option is to simply move on.  Another is to have a discussion with your boss and clearly and calmly explain your point of view. My hope is that you work for someone who is open to listening.  In my corporate leadership days I encouraged open discussion because I am confident that the best decisions are made with complete contribution from all key parties.

Once the decision is made it is up to all of us to do everything in our power to make sure the execution is as close to perfect as we can make it.  You must always support your boss.  There is only disaster waiting if you ever undermine a decision made by your boss.

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Posted on 12/06/2011 4:10 PM by Joe Scarlett
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Friday, 2 December 2011
Don't Confuse Activity with Accomplishment
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This is one of the sayings in our classroom, and is my particular favorite.  Too many times managers and employees keep track of the time they spend in the office as though it were some kind of competition—who works the most hours, who stays the latest, who worked on Christmas Eve, etc.  In an era when burnout and workaholism run rampant, it is important to know what’s important—namely, getting things done.  Results are what matters, not how many hours you put in.  If you can find a way to get the work done in less time, great. 

The X and Y generations have been criticized for having a weak work ethic, partially because at the end of the day they go home.  A commitment outside of work is just as much a priority as a work assignment.  While this mindset leaves the rest of us wondering if they really care enough, we could sometimes take a lesson from the life balance generations.  Are there going to be times when we have to put in outrageous hours to complete a project or take care of a crisis?  Of course!  On the other hand many of us would probably all benefit from a saner schedule on a regular basis.

Come on—let’s go home!

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Posted on 12/02/2011 3:42 PM by Mary Fink
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