Artificial Experience (AE) and Performance Enhancement

William James change your life
Early in my sales career, I came upon a quote attributed to William James, the Father of American Psychology. The message was profound. “The mind cannot tell the difference between something that is real and something that is vividly imagined.” These words were mind blowing and changed my life. They were simple, crystal clear and sensible. I instantly recalled a dream that I had in childhood. I dreamed that I came upon a large mound of coins. I took a handful of coins and clinched them tightly in my hand. I wanted this to be true. I awakened with my fist clenched, my heart pounding and filled with anticipation. However, as I slowly opened my fingers, the disappointment was obvious. It was only a dream. A very vivid dream, but still a dream.

I became so fond of this technique, which was all around me, but I never noticed. It seemed sophisticated and more structured then daydreaming. Additionally, it was consistent with visualization and mental rehearsal. These were techniques used by athletes and performers to prepare themselves for competitions, performances, presentations and other events.

My usage initially was preparing for sales calls. This was very evident in my initial sales training in pharmaceutical sales. The six new sales representatives were preparing for videotaped presentations with our sales trainers. The tension level was very high in the room, as five employees were rushing to make practice presentations before presenting to the trainers. I was in the hallway visualizing my upcoming scenarios and preparing my responses. I realized that I could mentally role play more presentations than I could physically demonstrate, therefore I was structuring my thinking. This would allow me to create artificial experience and have déjà vu moments within each sales presentation. My confidence was elevated, and I performed better than I would have otherwise. I was not as nervous as my peers and felt more comfortable through my means of gathering artificial experience. I explained my method to my peers, and everyone implemented this technique, which I feel was helpful in completing our sales training, especially the videotape portions.

The practice of cultivating artificial experience allows us to simulate many situations and improve our performance in our current reality. We also can accelerate the pace of learning through many scenarios to increase our ability to think on our feet.

Airline pilots go to through many hours of flight simulation training to expose them to a variety of scenarios which may occur in flight. The objective is to create the type of muscle memory or response memory, so that when they are in actual situations, they can draw on this artificial experience to perform effectively.

Many people new to their assignments feel apprehensive because they do not have the same level experience as their peers. New managers may be in situations where they are managing teams where individuals have been with the company longer. Millennials may be managing baby boomers. Managers may be managing a very diverse team. It is a reality that artificial experience, along with coaching, mentoring and researching the past can contribute to elevating competence and confidence.

Artificial experience along with other leadership techniques, such as emotional and cultural intelligence can assist in individual and team performance and personal development.

Copyright © 2019 Orlando Ceaser

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Think About It – Use the Word Drink to Trigger Motivation

Think in moderation (2)
I was driving home from work and drinking commercials began to flood my mind. I did not question their arrival, because that is one-way creativity works for me, through random associations. However, it was rather curious, since I don’t drink alcoholic beverages. The power of their advertising messages interrupted and hijacked my thoughts. Advertisers will go through tremendous lengths to convince consumers to buy their beverage when they are thirsty. They are powerful enough to make you thirsty. Their messages were very pervasive and persuasive.

Advertisers study us to see what makes us tick, our needs and then they portray their product as the solution. Advertising has a powerful influence over our thoughts and actions. This influential medium, through the power of suggestion, sells billions of dollars’ worth of beverages of all kinds. They exploit our need to be sociable, free, important, accepted and included. They even have adorable consequences that we don’t think about. One day while driving with my three-year daughter, I was drinking an orange beverage, when she responded, “Daddy, you don’t suppose to drink and drive.”

I was preparing for a presentation and therefore, doing a lot of thinking about thinking. The notion of thinking about drinking was fascinating. I wondered if I could substitute the words think and thinking in place of drink and drinking in many of the ads. I engaged in a mental exercise to insert the word think or thinking into the language of commercials or sayings about drinking. The results were interesting. One classic tagline in drinking commercials advises people to drink responsibly. I converted that phrase to say we should think responsibly. It worked. The phrase eat, drink and be merry, became eat, think and be merry. This could show the impact that thinking has on happiness.

If we could successfully make the mental conversion from drink to think, every time we heard a commercial, that would be a powerful trigger. We could use it to reinforce thoughts and behaviors, whatever the beverage being emphasized. This could, therefore, be a bonus for many of us.

As I stated earlier, association is an important creativity exercise. In association, you identify, link or relate something to another object. This causes you to not think of one without thinking of the other. We could conduct this practice in many other situations. Additionally, association is an effective memory device.

Here are seven key phrases that we should look for in commercials about drinking and other drink related conversations. The original phrases will serve as a trigger, a subconscious response to the need to reference thoughts and ultimately behaviors to enhance our thinking. We can look forward to the instructive nature of this exercise and its ability to elevate the art of thinking in our everyday lives.

Think About It (3)
It is important to open to the creative process and through association, we may come up innovative ways to address and tackle important issues. But we must be able to consistently, think about it.

Copyright © 2019 Orlando Ceaser

The Black Panther Strikes

BlackPanter

The Black Panther movie strikes a chord with movie goers around the world. It is shattering box office records. It is catalytic in its messaging, story-line and visual excitement. People are using it to express profound pride, as it delivers lessons on universal themes, humanity, equality, diversity and inclusion, as well as the pursuit of excellence.

I have seen the movie 3 times, including 3-D and IMAX. Each time I walked away with greater insight. I read the comic book as a youth, so this is nostalgic and a long time coming.

Poetry and the arts allow us the opportunity to express ideas which are magnified with individual interpretation. When translated, transferred and transformed through the prism of our experiences, the results can be nothing short of amazing. Here is my poetic take on the Black Panther experience.

The Black Panther Strikes

The Black Panther strikes;

The images inspire imagination;

Invite, excite and ignite

The embers of genius

Until we remember with fascination

The universal themes and memes

That elicit dreams of excellence

That stream a new ideology;

That emphasizes and empathizes

To aspire desire,

To fire a higher reach,

Through awe and technology.

 

The Black Panther strikes,

As a cultural phenomenon,

For those among us who’d like an icon;

A super hero with super powers

That look like us with a face like ours;

To build confidence and regal speech,

To show what is possible,

When obstacles are breached;

When an illusion is legal,

But is shifted

And confusion is lifted

And giftedness is the new twist

To enlist us in the new success,

Which is true success.

 

The Black Panther strikes;

To the heart of the marginalized;

The underserved and disenfranchised;

The heirs, apparently in poverty,

Seeking their cultural identity;

Phenomenally packaged in energy.

They speak seeking a symphony,

In harmony and synergy.

 

Empathy and intellect can remove

Barriers, as we get involved

And agree to work to solve

The problems that surround us

And have bound us.

We must lift every man,

Woman and child to a place of forgiveness,

Where we can be reconciled;

To share, prepare and repair;

To lift each other from despair.

 

The Black Panther strikes,

Directly to community;

Inciting citizens in unity;

And stirs the blending of generations

Through tribal traditions

And pageantry.

We show young people

Who they can be

And celebrate their ancestry;

Seeking challenges to prove they’re free.

Science, technology, engineering and math;

Can help us blaze a wider path;

To channel the rage

And engage on a stage

That is larger than we

Intended, but to accept

The mantel and comprehend;

What we should support,

What we should defend.

 

The Black Panther strikes

To protect the family

And project the family,

As the center of cultural identity;

The truth is, we are all related,

Although our lineage is debated.

We have the capacity;

To help others improve their lot.

We can’t afford to hoard

Resources, when we’ve got

The power through distribution,

To offer solutions.

 

The Black Panther strikes

A story to which we can all relate;

To entertain and educate

And inspire action

Through universal mores

Of dignity and deliverance,

Eloquence and excellence;

Leadership and tough decisions;

Technology executed with precision.

Ancestors deserving a connection;

Connective tissue is in each of us

Enabling us to adjust,

So that we love and trust.

 

The Black Panther strikes,

Through imagination and truths,

From elders down through our youth;

For Millennials and women have value,

The men and young boys have talent

And though steeped in the values of tradition,

The motives that drive ambition;

They are inspired through art and technology;

That transcends pathology;

And through mythology

Explore new pathways

Beyond injustice and inequality.

 

The Black Panther strikes,

So close to home.

There are delegations of youth

At the screenings;

Reporters postulating the meaning,

As millions with African descent,

Extoll the messages and what they represent

And seeing it as a rallying cry;

A cry to honor our first investors

To honor our elders and ancestors;

Imploring us not to forget,

Their sacrifices, wisdom and toil,

For roots and foundation

Enrich the soil.

 

Copyright © 2018 Orlando Ceaser

The Core of More™ – Be Awesome from the Inside Out

There are crucial components to your development that must be examined to accelerate your progress. There is a core set of skills, values or principles which can be debated, but factually, these key ingredients build on your present state.

Let’s place four elements in this Core of More™. These elements confirm there is more in your core than you can imagine, yet you periodically ignore one or more components. They are Let it glow, Let it grow, Let it flow and Let it go. These ingredients will enable you to gain rather than regress and achieve surplus, that is not necessarily excess.

the_COM (1)

Let it Glow

Your light, however you define it, must be allowed to shine. Your talent, skills, abilities, capacity and resources must be a beacon of hope, a living positive example. Your light must be an indicator of your presence, purpose and performance. As we sang in Sunday School, “This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine. Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.” When it shines, it has a glow, a luminescence that grabs people attention, pinpoints your location and potentially influences your behavior.

Let it Grow

Skill level and impact will expand and enlarge your contributions. Influence grows as your abilities are refined and increased. You will devote the time, effort, energy and insight received from teachers, mentors and coaches to improve knowledge and the quality of your work.

You will become a continuous learner and communicator, passionate about getting better in the priority areas of your life. Your light will get larger and brighter and more will take notice of you and more will be expected of you, as more are influenced by your presence. Your abundance will become a windfall to others, as you realize you are slated to get better, so others can benefit from your brilliance.

Let it Flow

As it glows and grows, it will flow in the execution of your skill set and in helping other people. Work will become easier and more natural. Executing your tasks will appear effortless, mainly because you are in your sweet spot and you are letting it flow. It is captured in an acronym SMILE (So Make It Look Easy). An athlete will comment that they let the game come to them or the game slows down for them as they improve their craft.

When you let it flow, you remove the barriers to your performance. Your actions are as a well-trained athlete, gliding through the race; a musician who makes playing the instrument look easy; a world class professional speaker in their comfort zone, delivering a powerful message. You are caught up in the flow.

Professor Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi , has a concept of flow which is defined as follows, “In positive psychology, as the zone, is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity”1. It is a state where skills are consistent with the challenges presented to you. In the state of flow, you lose track of time and you are consumed in passion”2. Simon Sinek says, “Working hard for something we don’t care about is called stress; working hard for something we love is called passion.”3 When you Let it flow, your passion shows, as you let it flow.

Let it Go

Along your journey, there are nouns you must displace. There are people, places or things that are excessive weight that must be discarded. As a hot air balloonist will tell you, if they want to increase their altitude, sand bags must be cast over board or they will hamper your ascension.

There are personal situations that try to hold you back and hold you down. In earlier articles I refer to them as the Hindre™ a person or spirit of negativity that attempts to hinder or restrict your progress. They must be released if you are to soar to the rightful heights of your achievement. You may know these impediments, or you must be open to people giving you a second opinion on people who are plotting against you.

You must let go of destructive habits, attitudes, the wrong crowd, the wrong mindset or other roadblocks that are impeding your progress.

Let it glow, Let it grow, Let it flow and Let it go, are part of the Core of More™. Apply these principles to help you achieve success in the professional and personal realms of your life.

Copyright © 2018 Orlando Ceaser

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flow_(psychology)
  2. Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly (1998). Finding Flow: The Psychology of Engagement With Everyday Life
  3. wordpress.com/2014/08/24/working..

 

A Tale of Leadership Perspectives – Lessons from Head Quarters

Head Quarters is an excellent environment to observe leadership in action. Newly promoted individuals should take advantage of opportunities  to develop and add to their personal management system (Strengthen Your Skills To Effectively Manage).

My HQ experience gave me opportunities to learn from different leaders. The tutorial was an amazing experience and exposure to leadership and mentoring. This exposure was instrumental in the formation of my personal leadership philosophy and personality. I would like to highlight a few scenarios featuring various leadership styles and the lessons associated with them.

Scenario Number One

One of my duties was to evaluate sales representative performances in a retail sales contest. The objective was to see who was most effective in acquiring sales orders, as well as the highest dollar sales average. Each of the sales representative totals were divided by the regional and national averages, respectively. I would select the district, regional and national standings of each representative and determine the overall winners.

After the preliminary calculations I realized that two of the calculations were unnecessary. If you divided each person’s number by the national and regional averages, you were dividing by a constant. You may as well be dividing everybody’s number by one. These two calculations did not change anyone’s rankings. Imagine my delight when I realized this discovery could reduce my workload. This was before computer programs, so the calculations were made by hand, my hand, on a calculator.

I told my boss who agreed with me. He asked me to present this information to one of the sales leaders. In my enthusiasm, I presented my discovery to the sales leader, indicating that to the calculations were not necessary. He took one look at my calculations and slid the paper back to me. He looked straight ahead not establishing eye contact and simply said, “The calculations are necessary.” I thought maybe I had done something wrong and he misunderstood my presentation. But I could judge by his demeanor that he did not want to discuss the matter further.

After the meeting I discussed my experience with my boss. He left my office, presumably to talk to his boss. He returned and simply said, “The two calculations are necessary.” Judging from his demeanor, I knew the topic was no longer open for discussion. I went back to my office and wondered what I had done wrong. I doubted myself for a moment and then I realized what happened. The sales contest rules and regulations were written by that very same sales leader. He was not going to admit to me that I discovered a flaw in his program.

I learned several vital lessons.

  1. Be very careful in criticizing the architect of a program, to dial down my enthusiasm and not to expect praise at the expense of someone else.
  2. Do my homework
  3. I did not have enough seniority or credibility to question the program written by someone in senior leadership
  4. Sometimes I should not be the messenger to suggest change
  5. It takes a strong leader to realize that someone has improved upon their performance
  6. Be open to accepting suggestions or changes from someone at a lower level in the organization

Scenario Number Two

I was the ghost writer for five letters sent to the winners of this same sales contest. These letters were sent out under the signature of the National Sales Manager. First, I took the letters into my manager’s office. He took out a red pen in front of me and began striking out words with bold red strokes. I asked what was wrong. He did not look at me as his red pen continued to violently edit the pages. He said, “People will not understand these memos.” I suggested we had hired college graduates and words like kudos and accolades were in the vernacular of sales people. He continued, “The National Sales Manager does not talk like this.” I left his office feeling I had done something wrong, because there was no praise or instruction, just condemnation and emotionless critique.

I learned to behave differently when I became a leader. Additionally, I learned that eye contact and praise should accompany praise and that feedback should be given before it was solicited.

Scenario Number Three

I carried the finished letters into the National Sales Manager’s office. He slowly read through the letters and made one change. He looked up at me and said there was nothing wrong with the letters I presented to him. Actually, they were well written. But what he said next stuck with me. “Because of the nature of my position, when you put something in front of me, I feel obligated to make a change.” I thought of the many times this happened to me over my career. Others may have been motivated to do the same thing, but no one ever told me why. This seminal bit of wisdom encouraged me to perform higher and taught me how to use my leadership and the power of feedback to help others. People need to know why we do the things we do. The more we can tell them the more supportive and understanding they will be. They will feel like a part of the team. This will improve their decision making and demonstrated that we valued their opinions and contributions .

When I look back on these situations I learned;

  1. Do not take things personally
  2. If someone comes up with a good idea tell them, they need to hear it
  3. Explain when something needs to be improved and not in a condescending manner
  4. Look at your people when you give feedback
  5. Encourage, praise and challenge when you give feedback
  6. Insert the why behind your actions

Those who work for us and those in our line of sight will learn how to lead more effectively if we provide interpretation to accompany our actions.

Copyright © 2017 Orlando Ceaser

 

 

Cartoons for the Chaos in Corporate Communities – Cocky and Rhodette

Corporations are communities of citizens who are ideally committed to a common vision. They are able hopefully resilient, with the capacity to withstand change, reinvent themselves and introduce new business paradigms, in order to succeed. These companies are survivors. They truly represent the “survival of the fittest” mentality. Corporations are staffed with individuals who have the survived a myriad of corporate reorganizations, growth spurts and culture adjustments. They have demonstrated the ability to adapt to change by adopting techniques necessary to avoid extinction.

Cockroaches and rodents have existed on this planet for millions of years. Cockroaches have been around an estimated 240 million years and rodents were probably chasing them for a good number of those years. They are truly survivors, exhibiting adaptive behaviors that have enabled them to adjust to changing circumstances.

The personification of these two characters is in the form of a cockroach named Cocky and a rodent known as Rhodette. They represent and will articulate the thoughts and feelings of employees in Corporate America. They will speak through reenacting scenarios that happen every day in some company around the world.

Cocky is a male and Rhodette is female. They are co-workers. Their biographies speak to their diversity. They manifest their diversity in many ways, such as gender, thinking styles, age, genus, species, educational levels and introversion versus extroversion, to name a few distinctions. Cocky learned business from his father Coach (co is from cockroach and ach is from roach), whereas Rhodette received her business acumen from her mother Rhoda. Cocky and Rhodette are close friends who spend many hours talking about business and comparing and despairing over the current environment in their company where the emphasis on production has a few casualties among the rank and file. They have revised their personal strategies for growing their careers. They speak for the masses although they also, have leadership responsibilities.

Cocky does not totally live up to his name. Whereas, he is self confident, he is also quiet and introspective; a true introvert. He knows when to keep his mouth shut. He may appear to be low key, but this is an adaptive quality, survival tactic. He can be commanding, when necessary. He will frequently sit in meetings and speak only when he has something significant to say. He is appalled by the amount of hot air released in meetings, as people speak to hear themselves talk. He is also disappointed when management condones and rewards this type of behavior. He sees his role as a pioneer to help others to adjust to corporate life. He has been promoted numerous times based on his productivity and the support of advocates, coaches and mentors. He says he is a realist, who fears he will go only as far as the company will let him. He is ambitious and has no desire to leave the organization.

Rhodette is flashy, extroverted and her electric personality makes her the major energy source in any gathering of employees. She can seemingly get away with outrageous statements. She is a strategic thinker and her mind and forceful presentation demeanor are threatening to others. She is aware that she has to be careful in how and when she states her views. She has been coached on her need to increase her self- awareness. She is a team player and her actions are usually to benefit the company or her teammates, not to acquire power, stroke her ego or build a fiefdom. She is a great sounding board for Cocky and their interactions are insightful and at times hilarious. They look out for each other and provide constant feedback, which helps them grow personally. Through their networks they are also able to gather information on internal competitors who may try to undermine their performance and career growth.

Cocky and Rhodette are both managers in a large corporation but their escapades and situations are found in smaller organizations. Their poignant comments and witty observations are thought provoking with educational lessons for everyone. They have coaches and mentors to assist them in their development. They are also connected with many employees within the company to help them report accurately on performance and levels of engagement.

Cocky and Rhodette have given birth to a new creation, Cocky, Jr. The perspectives of teenagers are expressed through the eyes of Cocky, Jr. and Rhodesia. They are hilariously representing thought-provoking issues experienced by teenagers and the adults who interact with them.

 

Copyright © 2007 Orlando Ceaser

First Quarter – New Year’s Resolution Reboot

We are approaching the end of the first quarter. How is your New Year’s resolution going for you? Usually, about this time, many resolutions have been abandoned and kicked to the curb. The good intentions have fallen by the wayside and people walk away as defeated as they were this time last year. However, a seemingly failed attempt at a change in behavior for self-improvement can be salvaged with persistence and the right perspective.

For example, health club attendance usually spikes at the beginning of each year.

People are usually well engaged, as measured by attendance in classes or in the workout facility. The first three weeks are filled with enthusiasm. However, this year the enthusiasm waned after the first week. What is going on? Why are people disenchanted and disengaged so quickly? Is this indicative of results in other areas where resolutions are generated? Are they becoming harder and harder to sustain? We need to think of a different way of approaching our resolutions to give them greater sustainability.

We need to look at New Year’s resolutions as is a promise; and we like to keep our word. We need to see our resolutions as a computer program that simply needs to be realigned. What is really required is a resolution reboot.

Additionally, we should not confine our performance into a tight time frame, but to see it as a work in progress. A resolution reboot is necessary and admissible as evidence of our long term commitment. It is permissible as a continuation of the implementation of your growth strategy. We will reboot as many times as necessary until the program is fully functioning and running smoothly.

We must see our resolution as a part of an overall plan. Included in this strategy is our propensity to stop and start until the task is completed. It is our nature to not necessarily get something right the first time.  We have a tendency to collect a series of false starts, a few glitches before we are running like a well oiled machine.

Don’t beat yourself up if the early returns on your performance against your goal are not successful. Humans have a history of persistence until we reach our objectives. From learning how to walk, talk, think and run, the beginning stages did not go as planned.

Many of our goals as defined and described are like New Year’s resolutions. They had a rough beginning, but eventually became a part of our daily routine. We must approach our current resolutions simply as goals with things need to work on.

When a computer is not acting according to plan or specifications, the manufacturer usually asks us to reboot the program to see if it corrects itself. Whenever I have a computer issue, invariably I am asked to turn off the equipment and reboot. The same happens when I have a problem with my cable service. I am asked to please turn off the system for 30 seconds and turn it on to allow it to reboot itself. Many times this corrects the problem, as if the machine knows what is appropriate and aligns itself with the proper behavior. There is something therapeutic about shutting yourself down, rethinking your position, recommitting yourself to the goal and reminding yourself what success looks like.

You may need to try the same procedures to restart your resolutions, while keeping your goal in mind.

The early stages of your New Year’s resolution should not be seen as a performance failure, but as a temporary setback to regroup and rededicate yourself. Even if you are one of those individuals who backed away from your exercise goals after the first week, the game is not over. Tell yourself that your discontinuation was expected. It is a part of your well-planned routine to keep you working on your resolution until you get it right.

With the remaining days in the month and year, stay dedicated to your resolution. You know it is needed and the right thing to do for your development.  View the early returns as data and make the necessary course corrections to get you back on track. What worked for you in the early stages?

I remember training for the marathon and following the Galloway method. He suggested continuing to move forward, even if you had to stop and walk, but eventually you will reach your goal. So get Ready – Recommit – React – Reboot.  Keep moving and each  successful step in the right direction will get you closer to your overall goal.

Copyright © 2017 Orlando Ceaser

 

Personal development – Learning for others

A librarian posed a question to me that I heard many times in my career.” Are leadership or other training programs of any value?” She has seen many managers attend training programs and return completely unchanged. She wondered if the programs were a complete waste of time and money.

The success of training programs is determined by the manager and their supervisor. The manager must attend the training session with an objective in mind. There should be something in the content that they feel will help them become a better manager/leader. Their supervisor should hold them accountable and ensure that they return from the training session with the answers to two questions;

  1. What did you learn?
  2. How will you use this information to be a better performer?

It is optimal for the manager to have these questions in mind before attending the training, to prompt them to search for critical information, techniques and relationships. It is important for them to be open to how they will benefit, how it will change their current behavior and how it will influence their present goals and performance objectives. There may also be aspects of the training they can use to target specific individuals/teams.

If managers return from a training program and nothing has happened in their behavior and vocabulary, we can deduce that the program was not used it to its maximum benefit. Additionally, some managers feel that information is power and are therefore reluctant to share. However, managers should incorporate the techniques and vocabulary from the training into their everyday speech. They should share with their peers and direct reports, subject matter from the training. They should show how their peers, direct reports and supervisors can benefit from the information obtained.

Training should be seen as crucial for the individual and everyone within their sphere of influence. Acquiring knowledge, experiences and resources should be for the benefit and distribution to self and others. The same holds true when acquiring other information, such as reading a book. When you are reading you are not reading for just one. You are reading to develop yourself and learning for others.

A manager relocated seven times during his career in the pharmaceutical industry. There were a number of occasions when he wondered why he had to move so often, when others achieved similar milestones without as many moves. It dawned on him one day that when he moved, it increased his exposure, experience and expertise in many areas. This additional information allowed him to be of greater value to his people. He realized that growth was not just about him and this increased his eagerness to gain information for the benefit of others.

There are several other strategies managers can use to ensure that a transformation occurred when they attend training programs. They are as follows:

  1. Multiple uses of the training programs

Managers can be shown the value of the training beyond their immediate job; it increases the likelihood of them utilizing the training and gaining practice in the principles and techniques. For example, a training program around situational leadership contains principles that can be used at work, home, community meetings, places of worship and associations they belong to. If they use the information in these multiple sessions it increases the value and return on investment, regarding time, energy and money spent.

  1. Share with others

When managers make it a practice to have meetings to discuss the information learned that multiply the value of the training. Many individuals sit down with their teams to review the information learned and to discuss how it will be used to improve individual and team performance. The successful implementation and transfer of this data may actually have the people look forward to them learning new things, because they will benefit from the new knowledge.

  1. Ask about the program

If someone returns from training and do not share information, ask questions. They may be flattered or encouraged that others are interested enough in the training to want to know more. People may inadvertently hold their manager accountable by asking questions about the value of the program, the changes in the organization because of the program and how the information can be used to make them better employees?

  1. Use the information to improve yourself

Recognize that information learned by their manager can make them a better performer. If they have ambition to rise within the organization, what they learn can help them improve as well. Even if they do not have plans for advancement, it is imperative that they learn as much as possible in their current role. The more they know the more valuable they are to self and the organization. Bear in mind that the current appointment environment is fluid. It is impossible to stand still without being passed by or passed over. Expectations are higher everyday and the more skilled they are, the more likely they are to regain employment in the event of a job loss.

discretionary-effort-model

The second question that came out of my discussion with the librarian was, “Why should people change, if there boss is not changing?” There are many individuals feel they will do just enough to keep their job and maintain sufficient raises and increase in performance rankings. People feel better when they are functioning at their best. When they are fulfilled and engaged, they are working on all cylinders and the work can be fun.

There is a factor known as discretionary effort. Aubrey Daniels International says “Discretionary effort is the level of effort people could give if they wanted to, but above and beyond the minimum required.” An increase in discretionary effort could be brought on by positive reinforcement and feeling as if they are a part of the team. However, if the manager is not providing positive reinforcement, it is still imperative for the individual to engage in self defense activities. These actions involve a making themselves more valuable to the organization, which in turns increases their value to potential employers. As they take control of their careers, implementing their strategy for advancement could help them tremendously in the long run.

In summary, when managers realize that there development contributes to the development of others, this multiplying effect gives additional power to their job. Additionally, you should always grow, because it is good for you. You should make yourself better, because being better positively influences everyone around you, regardless of your manager’s perspective on the training they attend.

Copyright © 2017 Orlando Ceaser

I work for a Monster

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I grew up with a different generation of monsters. The monsters in the movies and television of my day had the same objective as the ones today, to shock and terrify. They strive to literally frighten you out of your mind. Please indulge me for a moment as I ask you to play a game. Answer this question “If my worst manager was a monster, who would they be?” To play along with me you must have a picture of your worst manager, a manager from the past or a diabolical manager you heard about from someone else.

I grew up watching a program called Shock Theater. The hosts were zombie musicians who were probably the inspiration for the look of Michael Keaton in the movie Beetlejuice. The program was a prelude to the Creature Features segments on late night television. There were 4 favorite monsters or categories that dominated the movies in my childhood; the Wolfman, Dracula, the Mummy, Frankenstein and various reptiles or mutated animals that were exposed to radiation. For this segment let’s concentrate on the top four; Wolfman, Dracula, Frankenstein and the Mummy.

My favorite character was Lon Chaney, Jr. who played the Wolfman. He was a frustrated man who was bitten by a werewolf and had to spend the rest of his life howling at the full moon. He was always seeking a cure and looking for sympathy from anyone who would listen to his tale of woe and help rescue him from his fate. He was a normal person during good times, which was during daylight hours and things were going well. However, under pressure, he changed into something frightening and unrecognizable.

He wanted to be different, but was overpowered by the curse. Have you seen the Wolfman Manager in your organization? They appear to be nice, but are tormented by change. Therefore, their full moon experience could be pressure of any kind. Their poor sales results could cause pressure, a difficult boss or skill deficiencies due to incompatibility with their job could turn them into terrible creatures. The Wolfman Manager blames something or someone else for their cruel behavior. They were forced to be tough and it was agonizing for them because it was, out of character and against their temperament. In the presence of their boss, they would reluctantly turned into something horrible, due to fear or the need to become something to match leadership expectations.

Then there was Dracula, the vampire. He was charismatic, smooth talking and mesmerizing. He spoke with a distinctive accent and people were drawn to his charm, appearance and professional demeanor. He was royalty; after all he was a Count. But Dracula was still a blood sucker, a manipulator who planned to render his victims hopeless and under his control. His intent was to drain others until they were no longer of use to him, other than to locate another food source. You may have seen a vampire walking around your company with that same arrogant, cold, uncaring look. The look that says they are interested in you for what you can do for them. The Vampire Managers walk around feeling, as if they would be there forever and no one would discover their secret intentions to victimize others. You may wonder if somewhere, there is a coffin containing their native soil, somewhere hidden in the office.

The Mummy was cursed to guard the tomb or temple of his beloved. He was slow of foot, but was loyal, relentless and powerful. I’m speaking of the older version played by Boris Karloff, not the newer versions found in the Brandon Fraser movies, but the plot is the same. There is a creature driven by an overpowering love and allegiance for the object of their affection. This person within your organization has an undying love for power and ambition, status quo and will destroy anyone who tries to harm or change it. They will blindly institute unethical policies and cover them up, especially if an investigation is pending or inevitable. This individual will persistently pursue anyone who has anything negative to say about the company or anyone they personally admire within the organization. They will practice a technique known as delayed retaliation to seek revenge against their enemies. They will also be the micromanaging monster who slowly follows you and hovers over you.

An organization began a process of offering 360° feedback to its managers. The managers enlisted the help of their peers, direct reports and their supervisor. When they received less than flattering commentary, they smiled and thanked everyone for their contributions. Over the next several months, the Mummy Manager did everything within their power to slowly, relentlessly, strike back against those who offered disparaging feedback. The mummy within the organization is wrapped up, as a metaphor for hiding either their identity or their intentions.

Lastly, there was Frankenstein, named after his creator. He was a collection of body parts, that were sewn together to create a living breathing inhuman being. Frankenstein’s monster was depicted as mindless and easily irritated. He was created to be controlled and to demonstrate the power and influence of the scientist. He was the earlier version of the zombie. Frankenstein became identified with his creation. When the Frankenstein Monster saw his reflection and what he had become, he became angry. He realized how different it was from everyone else and that people were afraid of him. He was deliberately created to be controlled as an example of his creator’s intellect and power. He ultimately turned on his master.

The Frankenstein Manager appears in many organizations as the protégé who was shaped, mentored and created in the ruthless image of their sponsor. He is loyal, as long, as it is a benefit to him, but when they received negative feedback, they will revolt. He is a henchman who follows blindly. Eventually, the protégé will turn on its creator, causing much instruction in its wake. After the monster received or learned all they could from their master, it may cast the mad scientist mentor aside.

Each generation, even the Millenials, has its own monsters; whether it is the Wicked Witch of the East, Aliens, the Predator, zombies, Jason of Friday the 13th or Freddy Krueger from Nightmare on Elm Street, they can be compared to the leadership styles of many of the leaders seen in organizations around the world. The traits of these frightful creatures are found in the leadership practices of some managers who believe they must resort to fiendish tactics or insensitive methods in order to get results. Where there is a monster, there is fear. Where there is fear, there needs to be a strategy to relieve people from the threat of the monster and the power it has over the employees in the workplace. To be successful, you must be wise enough to identify the managers with monster tendencies and develop the right skills and resources to stay safe. When you realize that your manager is a monster, you must act appropriately and find the correct strategy to take care of yourself.

Copyright © 2016 Orlando Ceaser

Will there be a Mutiny on your watch? Is there a silent rebellion on your team?

People who have been tolerant of oppressive leadership/management behavior eventually revolt.  Mutiny is on their minds and it describes a revolutionary action. In an organization that has owners, principals and stockholders mutiny does not occur by physically taking over a facility or its leadership. It occurs by people determining that they will not give 100%. They will not be totally engaged at work. They will not give their best. Employees will adopt an “over my dead body” mindset, which means they theoretically would rather die than give their total cooperation to an organization that does not respect them. Workers have decided that the company does not deserve their best, therefore their best ideas, solutions and discretionary effort will be withheld.

A sales representative approached his mentor and told him about the dissent in his district. Apparently, the district was fed up with the leadership inadequacies of their District manager. He listed several failures in emotional intelligence and examples of managerial malpractice. He wanted to know the path they should take to bring their discontent to higher authorities. They were going to stage a mutiny. Their mutiny was not going to be a work stoppage nor were they going to physically remove their manager from his position. In essence, they wanted to schedule a meeting with their regional manager on their grievances. They wanted to know if they were going through the proper channels to get results. The team was to meet with the regional sales manager to complain about the District Manager’s tactics and the impact on morale and performance.

The curious part of the discussion was the performance history of the regional sales manager. In his prior role as a district sales manager, his team complained about his management style. He was notorious for lacking emotional intelligence and created an environment of fear and intimidation. He exhibited the same tendencies present in his current subordinate. How sympathetic would he be to their claims about a hostile work environment?

The representative was advised to go through the proper channels. They felt more comfortable contacting Human Resources to state their case. HR, by remit, would investigate their issues and take the necessary actions. Additionally, he was advised to not be seen as the ring leader in this uprising. The Regional manager in question was also notorious for retaliating against individuals who challenged him or stood in his way.

Managers can evaluate their culture through The Know System™ which could provide a simplified look at their environment. The Know System™ featured in the book The Isle of Knowledge is a decision making model which is also useful for individual and group coaching exercises. It is easy to use and allows the participants to accumulate information to enhance the quality of their decisions and discussions. The system is devised from the word Know. The user should ask a series of questions to gather information. Let’s look at 6 words from the word Know and a few related questions that apply to company culture.

  1. Won – What would a winning culture look like to you? What type of atmosphere, level of engagement and customer satisfaction scores would represent success to you?
  2. Know – What do you know and need to know about your culture and the people in your organization? (This can be enhanced with the words who, what, where, when, how and why, if appropriate)
  3. Now – What are you doing now to ensure a healthy habitat? Are you placing priority on the proper indicators?
  4. No – What are you doing that you need to stop doing? What goes against your culture and stated values that you need to say no to? What do your people want you to eliminate or stop doing?
  5. On – You must be vigilant at all times to monitor culture and maintain a proper cultural air quality. What are you doing to track leading indicators of a great culture? How are you measuring your work environment?
  6. Own – Do you own the culture as evidenced by leadership behavior? How are you holding yourself and others accountable? How are you reporting your performance and interest in a strong culture to your people?

knowsystemchart1

The beauty of our current leadership/managerial landscape is that many organizations have ascribed to the notion of a healthy work environment. There are employee surveys and satisfaction surveys, as well as engagement surveys to take the temperature or climate of the organization. These surveys can uncover problems and managers can be presented with data and held accountable for changing their environment. These surveys are strengthened with direct contact with management and human resources to ensure the environment is conducive for maximum productivity.

Is imperative as a leader to gauge how your people are responding to your direction and the culture in your environment. It is also apparent that many leaders are promoted because they excelled in their previous sales position, but are not cut out for management. You should try to train and develop these individuals, but in some instances it is not a good match and a decision should be made to place the person in the right job.  A worst-case scenario may develop where people mentally abandon the company, but stay on the job, because the company failed to address a main contributor to their toxic culture.

When the organization does not feel like a respectful place, people feel that the company has let them down and cannot be trusted. Mutiny or thoughts of mutiny is an indication that the current culture has failed or is failing many of its workers. They may resort to subversive action and taking matters into their own hands.

Mutiny may show itself as a single silent action called a resignation. Your top performers or the most influential members on your team may leave, causing a chain reaction of departures. Management must be accessible and periodically and personally check the culture pulse of the organization. People must believe that leadership is authentic, transparent and sincere when leaders speak of core values. Trust will be enhanced when people really believe that they are the number one resource in the organization. Otherwise, silent mutinies will going unchecked, unnoticed and leaving people unfulfilled.

Copyright © 2016 Orlando Ceaser