What is your From – To Story (FTS)?

Goals
Constantly, we are exposed to stories that grab our attention. They are tales of unbelievable struggle, growth and accomplishment. People have overcome tremendous odds the and circumstances to arrive at an unforeseen destination. They may be classified as from rags to riches, from poverty to higher education, from homelessness to home ownership or from working as a janitor to becoming the principal of a school. These stories show the power of the human spirit; the magnificence of vision, goal setting, perseverance, generosity, luck and encouragement.

Our hearts were warmed a few years ago by the story of a Ted Williams, a homeless man who was called the Man With The Golden Voice. He was given a job making commercials and later returned to radio. When you think about your life, you can also create your own personal From – To Story. Look at a point in your life, a different job or think of your current position or objective in life. Where were you? Where are you? Where do you want to go? What do you want to become? What is your purpose, your destiny or your goal?

When I was younger, I would read about individuals who stated that they were the son or daughter of a sharecropper. Their bio would state, from a sharecropper’s son they rose to the position of president of their own company; from a single parent to the position of a medical doctor; from the inner city to a position in higher education. I have known individuals who have gone from an administrative assistant position to a position in sales management. These examples are all around us.

You know who you are and where you’re From, now it’s up to you to establish, what is your destination, or more specifically, what is your To? What is the right To for you? Before you arrive at your ultimate destination, there may be a series of stops along the way, therefore, there may be multiple To’s in your forecast, in your future.

What does your dream scenario look like? What is the tagline that you would want attached to the beginning of any description of your life and accomplishments? Fill in the blanks below to give yourself some practice. Thinking about your responses may fill you with a sense of accomplishment, on how well you’ve done and how far you’ve traveled. It may also show you, how far you must go and serve as a reminder of your purpose, destination and destiny.

From ________ To ___________.

From ________ To ___________.

From ________ To ___________.

From ________ To ___________.

From ________ To ___________.

I wish you success on your journey. I look forward to the day when we can discuss where you are From and your arrival to the To that is right for you. Your, From – To Story (FTS) will be a benefit to you and enrich the lives of others.

Copyright © 2019 Orlando Ceaser

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

The 4th Monkey Matters

4th Monkey
Leadership is consistently emphasized as a valuable set of skills for individuals charged with managing a business, performing in athletics and other interactions and endeavors involving people. There are numerous theories, books and training programs about leadership and the necessary characteristics and attributes of a strong leader. Integrity in business is one of the key leadership traits, often cited as critical when dealings and interacting with others.

Leadership is a discipline that is highly regarded in the annals of personal and organizational development. Effective use of this skill contributes to the successful implementation and execution of strategies that enable people to achieve expectations. Studies have indicated that diverse teams with strong leadership perform better. Strong leadership allows individuals to handle the disruption and challenges they may encounter while managing and working in a diverse environment, where differences of opinions, styles and approaches, among team members is prevalent.

The 4th Monkey is known as Shizaru in Japan. He receives very little attention, since most are familiar with his counterparts; see no evil (Mizaru), hear no evil (Kikazura), and speak no evil (Iwazura). His function is to do no evil, which you could argue is the most important monkey. The 4th Monkey’s emphasis is on right practices and behaviors. The proper way to meet people and treat people are just a few of the important actions. Being trustworthy and ethical are also essential elements.

The age-old saga of the monkeys places the emphasis on lack of involvement. If you do not see, hear or speak evil, you will minimize conflict. However, the 4th Monkey matters and transcends complacency and instructs the leader to exert their character and insert their presence into situations, to lead people to a mutually beneficial decisions and destinations.

The 4th Monkey matters. Do no evil is critical in leadership, as we lead in all areas of our lives. The 4th Monkey should be a mascot for a leadership team to validate the importance of ethics and right behavior. Let us focus on the workplace. In the business setting what are some of the wrong (evil) characteristics we can highlight?

Here is a top 10 list of principles that illustrate some examples of do no evil. This is by no means, a comprehensive or exhaustive list. Also, the list may be challenged and amended, for you may have other principles which are equally or more appropriate to your business and experience. Nevertheless we are in agreement that the 4th Monkey matters in the workplace.

Please review this list for it shows the interaction and compatibility between the 4th Monkey and your ability to lead. These principles will illustrate the importance of integrity by internalizing these 10 proposed principles from the 4th Monkey. Implementing these practices can highlight and contribute significantly to your results.

Notice below and, in your discussions, that there are evils / crimes of commission and omission. Failure to do the right thing, in the right situation, can be construed as a malicious act of omission.

1. Do not demonstrate poor character and lack of integrity
2. Do not lie (knowingly give false or misleading information)
3. Do not bully or intimidate others
4. Do not harm people’s dignity and self-respect
5. Do not misrepresent data (to deceive or protect)
6. Do not violate people’s rights or property
7. Do not discriminate (no favoritism and nepotism)
8. Do not steal (ideas or intellectual property)
9. Do not gossip, demean and discredit a reputation
10. Do not fail to give direction and authentic feedback

During my anthropology class in the first year of college, I was introduced to two attributes particular to certain monkeys. The first concept was brachiating, which meant the hand over hand movement of monkeys, as they travel from branch to branch (children perform this activity on the monkey bar). This reminds me of a leader who not only takes the high road, but is performing at a high level, to very high standards. This visible performance is noticed by others, especially those who are on the ground, and those traveling with them.

The second attribute was that many monkeys had a prehensile tail. This tail enabled the monkey to achieve additional agility and movement because of its ability to grab on to objects, which gave them greater flexibility and agility. Effective leaders must grab onto knowledge, information and concepts better than their peers. I propose that the 4th Monkey provides a metaphor of leadership dexterity to those individuals who are truly practitioners of effective leadership.

The 4th Monkey matters and enables us to lead and form natural alliances with our constituents, followers and others as we demonstrate and develop leaders, in order to transform their operations into successful, individual honoring enterprises.

Copyright © 2019 Orlando Ceaser
Web-sites: orlandoceaser.com
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The All – American You

All-American status is conferred upon athletes who have distinguished themselves among their peers. They are the top performers in the minds of designated observers, i.e. coaches and sports writers. Most athletes covet this recognition, but most do not receive the award. There is All-American potential in each of us, as we pursue our potential and the greatness in the workplace.

The All-American You would be your best self. Analyze your skills honestly and acknowledge, there is a discrepancy between your output and your opportunity; your strengths have not reached their full capacity.

The All-American You is the persona that qualifies you for the highest level of distinction. It is a personal reflection of exemplary performance, for sacrifice above and beyond the call of duty or expectations. How should you set up a program of ignition and recognition to achieve All-American status?

You may begin with the following:

1. Determine and examine what is important to your organization.
2. Compete with other employees against criteria you establish and the what
is important to the organization. (Our similarities bring us together,
but our differences and distinctions set us apart and magnify our
competitiveness.)
3. Personalize the program – sit down and write what you want to
accomplish.
4. You must ask; What level do I aspire to achieve?
5. What are my goals, aspirations, dreams and objectives?
6. What recognition have I achieved that could elevate me to a higher
level?
7. What do I have do to be the best in my chosen profession?

Brian was an All-American defensive end at Western Illinois University. Recently he received a letter requesting him to visit Western to see his name on the All-American wall. He took advantage of invitation from his alma mater. The wall is visible to everyone who visits that wall, which further endeared him to institution. You may wish to create a wall for personal encouragement. A vision board shows what he would like to achieve, while an All-American board this your achievements.
BCFootballWestern


All American status is personal recognition and acknowledgment for expressing the greatness within you. It doesn’t matter if you consider yourself All-Company, All-Region, All-Nation, All-Region or All-Department, but you must humbly confess the value of your contributions. Since we are in a global society you may want to visualize yourself as All-Global or All-International.

An All-American designation could place an athletic flare to your self-talk and competition in the workplace and market place. This could breathe excitement into how you approach work and increase your level of engagement.

The All-American You is ready to be exposed to the world. Your peak level of performance should be released, must be released for you to achieve your best result. This will garner you the recognition, reputation and credentials you deserve.

Here are a few additional questions you may consider on your quest to finding and releasing the All-American You.

1. What statistics will you track? You need a means of gauging and
measuring your performance against a goal.
2. What press / notification will you receive? Recognition will be given to
you or should be discussed with your boss when you surpass certain
milestones
3. Who is cheering for you during the competition? You need individuals who
will be your advocates and cheerleaders to encourage, motivate and
propel you along your journey.
4. Are you aware of the competition developing strategies to nullify your
effectiveness? People will develop strategies to curtail your success,
what will you do to combat their actions? What are the counter
strategies and tactics you will execute?

My book Unlock Your Leadership Greatness, explores 10 principles to help you become an impact player, which could qualify you to be an All-American in your field.

All-Americans must commit to continuous growth through better conditioning, refining skills to achieve superstar status. You will consistently bring the All-American You to work. Eventually, your name will be posted on the wall, for excellence in your field. You can achieve the greatness in you by becoming the All American You.

Copyright © 2019 Orlando Ceaser

4 Ways to Avoid Comfort in the Danger Zone

Dangerous_Plateau_C
We often speak of the need for someone to get out of their comfort zone. We want them to try something different and more challenging in order to build their skills. Judith Bardwick wrote a book Danger in the Comfort Zone which expands upon this concept. One day, my wife trying to recall the title of the book, referred to it as Comfort in the Danger Zone, which may be the way we need to think of it to guard against complacency.

The Danger Zone is not an area with signs that say; Keep Out, No Trespassing, Caution, Warning or Danger Zone Ahead. On the contrary, there may not be any indicators that the area in which you reside has any potential hazards labeled. There may be an assumption that you are self-aware and old enough to know better. The Danger Zone could be situations or relationships at work or in your personal time. It is a place where your behavior could compromise your life and your livelihood in a negative manner. The Danger Zone can be a moving target, or it may involve shifting circumstances.

In a Danger Zone, you may not recognize the hidden pitfalls that may exist. However, here are at least 4 behaviors that put us at risk.

Lack of continuous improvement

If we are negligent and refuse to continuously improve our skills, we may wake up one day to discover that we are not compatible with our customers. We lagged behind the times and the mandatory evolution in skills that keep us competitive and relevant. We discover the bar is raised and others, around us have emerged with greater skills and more up-to-date knowledge and technology. They are formidable competitors, who have forged ahead of us on the career ladder for promotions and job retention.

Inappropriate conversations in the workplace

There are certain conversations, language and behavior that is not acceptable at work. We have become relaxed and too casual in our conversations in the workplace. With the emphasis on diversity and inclusion, organizations are hiring people with a variety of differences, similarities and sensitivities. In the era of a more respectful workplace, we must be respectful of everyone. We must adjust conversations and interactions which are out of line with current morays and expectations. It is now apparent through high profile lawsuits, that inappropriate conduct will not be tolerated, and the consequences will be severe.

Let down your guard

There is a lot written about self-awareness in the workplace and in our relationships. One day I was joking with an employee and I watched, as he became very comfortable and casual in his speech toward. At one point he offered a swearword, as he would with his friends at the bar. I watched him as he left the room, happy about his conversation with the boss, not realizing what he done.

Later, he walked by my office and I called him in for a brief discussion. I began by apologizing to him for my role in setting up an environment where he felt too comfortable. “You said something,” and I looked him in the eyes, “that could get you destroyed.” You don’t ever tell me what I am full of in the course of a conversation. However, I’m sorry, I apologize for my role. But the lesson for you is to never put yourself in a position where you become so comfortable that you are not aware of words that are coming from you. I said no harm no foul. It was my fault.” There was no harm, but there was a foul, but I promised him that I would not use that against him, and I did not. Subsequently he was promoted to a District Sales Manager position and is still with the organization performing at a high level. You must always increase your awareness and be on guard.

Lose sight of the value of people at every level

When we are in the Danger Zone, we may tend to devalue some of the people around us. If we decide that some individuals or some group does not have an impact on our career, we may shun them and not go deeper in building a connection or relationship. We may develop a reputation of only socializing with certain people, who we think can help us. This shortsightedness can work against us, especially, if those individuals get promoted ahead of us and they remember how we treated them.

I recall a situation where one of my peers made disparaging comments about me behind my back. Ultimately, I returned as his manager and I received a curious phone call from him. He apologized for comments he had made, 10 years earlier. Whereas his confession was noble, I asked him a question that he tried awkwardly to answer. My question was,” If I was not coming back as your manager, would we be having this conversation?” Spare yourself these uncomfortable moments and negative career impact by treating everyone with value at every level.

We must not get too comfortable in the Danger Zone. Our continuous focus on improving our skills, shying away from inappropriate conversations, not letting down our guard and losing sight of the value of people at every level will be richly rewarded. These four points will assist us in growing our careers and strengthening our relationships.

Copyright © 2019 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

The 4th Monkey – “Do No Evil”

We grew up with the story of the three monkeys. I imagine that many of us have the same interpretation of what they represent. We were exposed to pictures or statues. One monkey had his hands over his eyes, the second monkey with hands over his ears and the third monkey’s hands were over his mouth. They were see no evil (Mizaru), hear no evil (Kikazura) and speak no evil (Iwazura). There were actions and behaviors demanded of us based on the three monkeys, but nothing was said about the fourth monkey. The fourth monkey was do no evil (Shizaru).

four-wise-monkeys

The stories of the four monkeys were popular in Japan in the 17th century. Their origin is between 2 and 4 BC in China. The Storyologer web-site (www.storyologer.com) has this account of Mahatma Gandhi who carried around a small statue of the three monkeys.  “Gandhi had a statue of three monkeys in three different postures. One was shutting his mouth with his hands, the other was shutting his ears similarly and the third one had put hands on his eyes. A visitor to his house became curious and questioned Gandhi about the various postures of the monkeys. Gandhi politely replied, ‘The one shutting his mouth tells us that we should not speak ill of any body. The one shutting his ears tells us that we should not hear the ill of any body. And the one shutting his eyes tells us that we should not see the ills of any body. If we do so, we will have all goodness and nothing but goodness.’

Travelers will often find local markets with carved depictions or artwork featuring the three monkeys. My wife was able to purchase an angelic model of the same concept. There are three angels; one was covering her eyes, one was covering her ears and the other was covering her mouth. However, the fourth monkey was not shown. The 4th monkey, when pictured, is usually shown folding his arms (the body language of being closed) or covering his crotch to signify inactivity.

It is fascinating the different interpretations of the four monkeys. In Buddhist tradition it meant don’t spend your time preoccupied with evil thoughts. In the West it relates to not facing up to our moral responsibility, for example turning a blind eye. But in my household, the monkeys were presented to us as a model of proper behavior. Our parents wanted us to identify with the images, to supplement our moral code.

See no evil (Mizaru)

We were told to pay attention to people and location(s). The idea was that if we were in the right location, we would minimize seeing trouble develop before our eyes. This was applicable in school and at work. We were instructed against being at the wrong place at the wrong time. We were also told not to look for bad things in people or in certain situations. There are people who see bad things when they don’t exist, which could explain the manifestations of bias, stereotypes and profiling. We were not taught to be naïve, but to be careful and respectful.

Hear no evil (Kikazaru)

We were told to shield ourselves from bad language and bad intentions. We should stay away from people who spoke ill of others and gossiped. If we were not in the wrong place we could minimize hearing things that we should not hear. There was an exception: if we could acquire evil information and use it to do good or to help others, that would be permissible.

Speak no evil (Iwazura)

Speak no evil was used to discourage gossiping or speaking ill will about someone. We were told to watch our language and to speak kind words. “If you can’t say anything good about someone, don’t say anything” was a part of this same philosophy. Adults told us that spreading bad news or malicious information could come back to haunt us. We should also, apply this same advice to the workplace.

Some of us have adopted a code of silence in the workplace and would not tell when someone was not pulling their own weight. We would rather silently complain or resign, before talking about a employee who was not working. It is our responsibility to find a way to report injustice, illegal behavior and practices that undermine people and the organization.

One way to break the code of silence is by offering incentives to whistleblowers. These individuals are people who step forward and report unlawful activities in an organization. They are generally paid a 10% bounty if the measure goes to court and fines are levied against the lawbreakers. In neighborhoods where people know the perpetrators of violence, but fail to come forward, there are no such incentives. Residents may be afraid of retribution, as the rationale for their silence.

Do no evil (Shizaru)

The fourth monkey’s actions are truly related to the others. The workplace is a common place for the four monkeys to be used as an operating system. Employee bullying and intimidation, sexual-harassment claims, the presence of racial discrimination and sexually charged language and actions exists in some organizations. Where improprieties and liberties are taken with people’s rights in the form of disrespectful words and actions, there are laws in place to prevent and punish these actions. Employees, who adopt a see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil mindset are not helping to develop a positive company culture or a respectful workplace

Do no evil is a perfect monkey to enforce the values of character and integrity. He reminds us of proper behavior and etiquette. Our choices have consequences and the more we can emphasize a positive corporate culture and a respectful workplace the more effective our organizations will be become. There is conduct and behavior norms which must be identified, emphasized and enforced vigorously. Character will minimize stress in the workplace and reduce the number of lawsuits and discipline related to improper behavior.

How can we create an environment in our workplaces, families and communities, where people are held accountable for their own unlawful actions and the private citizens who come forward can feel safe and protected. If the fourth monkey was modeled, we would have less of a cause to talk about the other three monkeys.

Do no evil should be magnified and connected to many of our guiding principles of behavior.  The Golden Rule and its equivalent in many cultures advise us to treat people the way we want to be treated. The Platinum Rule which asks us to treat people the way they want to be treated. The 10 Commandments implores us not to do a series of acts which could be seen as evil, such as murder, stealing, etc.

We must clearly outline expectations of behavior and the judgment related to them to improve the climate in our organizations, homes and places where people meet. Correct action is essential to achieving healthy results in our relationships.

The imagery and practices espoused by the 4th monkey holds the key to making this possible. I am hopeful that by emphasizing the fourth monkey, we can improve our behaviors, connections, interactions and relationships of all kinds.

Copyright © 2016 Orlando Ceaser

Itemize Individual Contributions to Team Results

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An interview is an excellent opportunity to blow your own horn, trumpet individual performance and brag about your accomplishments in a politically correct environment. However, in our team oriented culture, we sometimes forget that individual accomplishment is important. Frequently in an interview, candidates answer questions highlighting team accomplishments. They falsely believe the interview is a place only to celebrate team achievement. After all, we are constantly immersed in the value of effectively utilizing teams to reach corporate objectives. It seems only logical to use team vernacular in the interview to respond to the behaviorally based interview questions.

Candidates may fail to realize, that it is difficult for the interviewer, especially one who lacks a lot of interview experience, to extract an individual’s role in team centered answers. Therefore it is incumbent upon you as a candidate to isolate and itemize your contributions to the overall success of the team. The interview therefore, becomes a safe place for you to clarify and celebrate your individual accomplishments.

As a member of the team, you are expected to use team specific language while working on the job. We know it is important for you to coordinate your activities and collaborate with others to achieve a synergistic effect. But in the midst of daily activities, it is important for you to keep a record of your unique input to the overall project. This may involve questions asked, suggestions made and challenges delivered to accepted practices or ideas. In a team oriented department / organization, it is sometimes difficult to separate individual results from team performance. However, a strategic approach is necessary to isolate and itemize your contributions, as you climb the corporate ladder or interview for a job in another organization.

You must develop a “We / I” mentality. State that “We achieved a certain result and I was able to contribute in this achievement;” Then specifically itemize your contributions. The “We / I” based orientation is hard to do at first, but with practice and training, it will become a natural part of your conversation. The conversation that helps you develop an up-to-date resume, examples to be used in an interview and information necessary to grow your skills and abilities. It is critical to have an accurate perception of your strengths and weaknesses, so that you will know where they need to be enhanced. If you know your strengths, competencies, abilities, skills and talents, you can utilize them to effectively and accurately assess results and explain your actions.

The objective of “We / I” is not to put yourself in competition with your team members. It is not an opportunity to tell how you are more important to the team than your teammates. Part of the success of the team is the collective contributions of each member and the synergy created to get results. The idea of working in order to get credit for your actions can be counterproductive to the smooth working of the group. I believe the old adage that states,” consider the amount of work that can be done if we didn’t worry about who got credit for the results.” It is important in a team setting for everyone to work for the betterment and efficiency of the team to succeed as a unit.

Many organizations will tout the value of their teams. Some of these organizations will design their incentive programs to reward team performance. However, they will also assess individual performance. They will breakout or itemize individual performance through concentrating on particular behaviors. Recognizing these individual behaviors and distinctions are important when deciding career growth, promotions and succession planning.

Interviewers ask follow-up questions to determine the candidate’s role in their department’s success. When the candidates language and examples are structured in the context of what “we accomplished” the interviewer has to work too hard to obtain information. Many may not be patient enough and place the candidate in the” Not Interested” pile.  not interested”

Do not want the interview to incur the extra effort required to probe for individual contributions. You should provide concrete examples of your ideas; strategies and challenges that helped the team become better. You do not want to make it difficult for them to determine if you were an active member of the team or a member hiding behind the team’s reputation with very few ideas of your own. Interviewers look for the leadership role played in achieving results, rather than someone who just served as a follower or implementer of the ideas of others.

Candidates are frustrated by a perceived inconsistency between a team oriented culture and individualistic specific questions in an interview. When they receive the feedback that they did not specifically itemize their contributions to the team, they are confused. They feel as if the organization is sending mixed messages. Therefore, organizations need to clarify and ask people working in a team environment to track their individual contributions to the team and the reasons behind the request. We can compare this to team performances in other areas of our lives, whether in the field of athletics, academia, music or community activities. Success may be measured by the overall group achieving a goal, but there may be individual statistics, ideas, questions or actions that help the group reach its objectives.

If you’re working in a group where team performance is paramount, undoubtedly you are constantly thinking about achieving team objectives. These thoughts about achieving objectives will lead to actions that will inspire, challenge or push the team toward success, however it is measured. There will come a time when this project, job or assignment is over and you decide to move on to a different role. When you arrive at the different role, at some point in the interview, they will want to know the success of your team and your role in helping that team excel. The more clarity they can gain around your contributions, the better they will be able to determine if you are a person they need to fill the vacant position. Protect your career, assess your contributions and establish a system to itemize your contributions to the overall success of your group, team, Department or organization.  This will lead to better interviews and pave the way for a successful career through clearly stating the scope of your performance.

 

Copyright © 2016 Orlando Ceaser

Performance fixing in the workplace – Lost productivity and restricted growth

C&R 9-3 0007

Athletes and their sports periodically are plagued by scandal. Athletes may be asked to lose a match, fight, or game by delivering less than their best effort. The tennis world was recently rocked by allegations of match fixing where players allegedly accepted payment for losing or throwing a match. Novak Djokovic, the reigning number one men’s player in the world, said he was offered $200,000 through his previous handlers in 2007 to lose a match.

Boxing has had its share of scandals. Unscrupulous fighters have been known to take a dive, throw a fight or lose a fight on purpose. Controversies have surfaced with football, basketball and baseball.

This tactic of solicitation; altering the outcome of a performance is also prevalent in other aspects of our lives. Performance fixing is not customarily a term used to describe substandard performance at work. We do not accuse employees of collusion, throwing a project or taking a dive regarding their objectives. However, there may be similarities with sports.

Friends or coworkers may ask you to deliberately act in ways that could negatively affect results. They may expect you to limit your participation or productivity, hold back by not delivering your best effort and engage in activities with consequences that will affect your grade, goal achievement, contributions or career.

It is an integrity issues when someone delivers an unearned and unsanctioned discount or illegally influences the score. But failing to bring your best effort is also unfairly influencing results by delivering below expectations.

People may have a variety of reasons for convincing others to take a dive. They may want you to make a supervisor look bad, fail or simply to compromise results for a number of reasons.

As a sales representative my competitors tried to discourage me from working hard and going beyond the call of duty. Ultimately, when I was promoted to management, they told me they thought I was smarter than to take a role in leadership. Their code of ethics was to do just enough to get by, not rock the boat or bring too much attention to the status quo of their comfortable world. They had tried for several years to get me to perform at a level that did not upset their established level of mediocrity. They were in effect asking me to fix the outcome of my selling activities by reducing my effectiveness.

Take a moment to reflect on your life and your performance in school, relationships or in your career. Have there been instances where people have discouraged you from taking a course of action; pursuing an MBA, volunteering for a project, advancing your education or participating in a manner that would improve the outlook for your career? They may not have offered money, but there was an expectation that you would conform to their request and maintain a friendship or relationship. Did they influence you to withhold your best performance or restrict your participation? How did you respond to their subtle influences to maintain the status quo? You probably did not see it as performance fixing.

Can you think of instances where you were reluctant to excel and talked yourself out of delivering your best performance? You may have convinced yourself that inertia, standing still, the status quo was more desirable than going after a promotion or shaming your peers. You may have told yourself the aggravation of more responsibility would be too much work and not worth the small financial payout and alienation from your peers. You may have held back, telling yourself that management would not be receptive to your efforts to improve your opportunities. The result was stabilization and stagnation.  Therefore, you took an internal dive and restricted the release of your talent and failed to maximize on the opportunities available.

Companies have lost productivity and revenue due to people shaving productivity across the organization. Individuals intentionally or unconsciously participated in a conspiracy to hold back on excellence. The payout was not also in money. They may have received resources or items of nominal value. It was for either pleasure or pain.

Pleasure could involve the camaraderie and benefits of connection in a powerful networking relationship. Being affiliated with people who are well known or who praise them makes them feel special. They may want the pleasure of associating with someone they wish to emulate, who makes them feel special.

The compensation could be the avoidance of pain. People are deprived of the discomfort of being shunned by their friends and the humiliation of failing to land a job because they took a risk. If they don’t pursue the job then they don’t have to make mistakes or suffer the failure not reaching it.

Withholding effort and talent is not considered a criminal event. People don’t think of themselves as being complicit in an illegal activity. But, they are assisting other people in activities that hurt themselves, other people or the company. Under the cover of darkness they are essentially breaking into a residence of excellence and stealing from the organization. They are taking a payoff to engage in activities that restrict growth and development.

Professional tennis was struck hard by the accusations of impropriety. The governing bodies of tennis are investigating their handling of this potential blemish on their profession and the parties involved. Other athletic associations, through the years have investigated and disciplined all parties found to be guilty of affecting the integrity of their sport. What must we do to ensure that performance fixing is minimized or eliminated from within our areas of responsibility?

You may consider it unfair to view lack of excellence and substandard engagement, as an integrity issue. But people are hired and expected to bring their best effort to the workplace every day. I had a manager who always asked me,” is this your best thinking?”  We must ensure that we bring our best thinking and best action to the workplace in our interactions with others. The dollar value on waste and on the opportunity costs of lost or poorly implemented ideas.

Copyright © 2016 Orlando Ceaser