Managing your personal power supply

The Spin class was about to begin. Gayle, the instructor, stated, “I lost power yesterday.” She said she was in her home when suddenly, a loud noise was heard and her electricity went off. We stretched, continued a light conversation and launched into a rigorous routine. I wondered during the class, “How many times, as individuals, have we lost power in our lives? Did we give it away or was it taken from us? Are there certain situations or individuals who cause us to lose power? Who are they and why does this happen? What are the early warning signs before there is a loss of power?

The loss of power is readily detectable. You have that feeling of loss of confidence, which is demonstrated by your body language, vocabulary and actions. Many times the loss of power at home or at work may come as a surprise. However, just as in nature there is a flash of lightning or thunderclaps before a storm, you can rely on certain indicators as precursors to a storm. You can anticipate someone’s presence, behaviors, as a good sign that a storm and potential power loss is on the way.

We should be aware of the signs of losing power and fortify your defenses. This will require us to increase our competence, confidence and network of individuals who will cooperate with us in our efforts to enhance our power position. There are times when we lose power and look around us and everyone seems to have theirs. What can we do to maintain or regain our power during a power outage? Power outages may be due to:

  1. Burnout
  2. Lack of confidence
  3. Power drainers
  4. Power mongers

Burnout

We can lose power by expending too much energy. We may fail to prioritize and try to do too many things at once. Processing too many projects at one time will lead to an increase in stress. Lack of sleep and irritability may negatively affect your disposition. You may become moody and easy to anger. Our lives are running at many revolutions per minute (rpm’s). We create to do lists (TDL’s) to keep track of our obligations. To do lists are getting longer and serve as a repository of unlimited tasks of varying priorities. We may fail to rank the items or every item seems to be important, which will lead to none of them being important. If we don’t put a filter on the funnel, we will be overwhelmed. This state of overload will lead to burnout, a breakdown and a loss of power. You must realize that some items on your list may not be covered or should be delegated or deleted.

Lack of confidence

Sometimes lack of confidence can lead to a loss of power. You may be faced with the possibility that you are not as good as you think you are and are afraid that others will discover your shortcomings. A way to address this fear is to conduct a self assessment of your skills and abilities. Be honest with yourself. You should relentlessly study your craft until we are an expert in your field. This may require study and validation which will give you the necessary credentials to ward off any challenges. If you lack confidence or courage you may doubt your abilities and lose the power of conviction needed to be successful.

Power drainers

Some people exist as leaches in the workplace, at home and wherever you engage in relationships. They will drain your power through constant complaining. Negative thoughts and the complaints will drain your energy supply. Their negative disposition and complaint oriented disposition puts everyone in a bad mood. They are not satisfied with anything and they never bring a solution to the myriad of problems they detect. When they enter the room, you can feel the life being sucked out of the place. Engagement levels seem to go down and the level of interaction and cooperation is reduced. The focus is on the speed of ending the meeting and getting back to work away from this malcontent.

The power drainers are time wasters. They do not respect time. They will barge into your office or workspace and tell you the latest gossip and shortcomings of the organization. Many power drainers have a running conflict with their peers and want you to come in as a peacemaker, which is time consuming and emotionally exhausting.

Power mongers

Power mongers are perpetrators who like to hoard power and use it over people based on their level of influence or authority. They will take the power away from you in a meeting. If you have the floor in a meeting they will ask the questions to shift the emphasis to them. I attended a meeting where one participant had more handouts on my subject than I did and spent the meeting time explaining their handouts which took away my power and control of the meeting. The better preparation and communication skills may address some of the issues of the power mongers.

The manager who asks you to do something because they said it does everything to shut down questions from the meeting attendees. Power mongers also work by using intimidation to get results. They will level threats at people who do not complete assignment correctly. A power monger will embarrass people in front of their peers. They may do this deliberately to show who’s the boss? A new manager at a paper recycling plant announced to his employees that he wanted them to fear him. He went on to exercise this management style as an egocentric power monger.

A power monger believes that information is power and takes this concept to the extreme. They delegate information sparingly. A manager had access to updates from the home office that would have been useful to one of his subordinates making a presentation. Rather than call him off to the side before the meeting and provide the updates, he strategically interrupted during the meeting with the latest news from headquarters. You may need help in dealing with a power monger, who negatively uses power. This can be done by working with mentors, advocates and power brokers. These individuals have the wisdom, insight and influence to assist you in relating to the power mongers.

Power brokers

Powerbrokers are individuals who use power effectively to get results. These individuals should be utilized and studied in order to gain their assistance. You want to use their techniques to minimize personal power outages. These individuals can be identified and cultivated at work, networking groups, referrals from their contacts and through personal introductions.

Work with powerbrokers to increase your confidence; improve your influence skills and knowledge of your area of interest and expertise. Conduct a personal assessment; improve your communication skills and your knowledge of your subject. Your objective is to isolate the individuals and circumstances that drain your power and counteract their affect on you. This will enable you to be stronger and effective in harnessing your power supply and minimizing instances where you lose power.

Copyright © 2016 Orlando Ceaser

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5 Self Restraining Tendencies (SRT’s) That Can Hurt You

We are human and therefore, have idiosyncrasies, nuances and eccentricities that come with our personalities. Many of these unique characteristics position us for survival and success. But some of these peculiarities are counterproductive and are detrimental to our growth. I will call them self restraining tendencies or SRT’s. They are not necessarily life-threatening, but they may serve as impediments to development.

SRT’s are indigenous to human beings. They may be formed by life experiences and thoughts and subsequently create insecurities. They may be pseudo-defense mechanisms to allegedly protect us. SRT’s may be categorized as bad habits that may hold us back, restrict growth or work against us. How do we know we have them? Self assessments and times of reflection can increase self awareness and reveal SRT’s, as we examine our lives and impact on others. Additionally, we may receive the gift of honesty from a friend through candid comments. Constant feedback from co-workers, parents and peers can also be useful by adding to our enlightenment. But, we must be objective, receptive and appreciative of their candor.

5 Self Restraining Tendencies (SRT’s)

  1. Procrastination
  2. Poor communication skills
  3. Negativity mindset
  4. Toxic people skills
  5. Lack of Integrity

1. Procrastination

It is interesting to learn that many people are struggling with procrastination. The act of postponing things until later is not intellectually difficult for people to understand. They know that something should be done immediately and to postpone will have consequences. But, nevertheless, they still will delay until later, that which should be done today.

We recognize that we may not feel like doing something right now or we have awarded a greater priority to something else. If we continue to kick the can down the road or delay the inevitable, we will continue to waste time and effort and increase the amount of stress in our lives.

Lisa was interviewing for a job as a pharmaceutical sales representative. She felt very comfortable with the interview. The interviewer asked her about her number one shortcoming. She responded, “I am a procrastinator. I get things done, but sometimes it takes me a while to get started.” Procrastination was her Self Restraining Tendency, but the interview may not be the right place to disclose this particular self restraining tendency.

2.  Poor communication skills

Communicating is something we do every day. It is the currency by which we interact with people in order to state our ideas, convey instructions and build relationships. Those among us, who communicate effectively, actually have an advantage at school, in our careers and in relationships. If we are hampered by poor communication skills, our effectiveness is restricted. This self restraining tendency, like the others featured in this article, must be identified and corrected.

Poor communication skills could be non verbal or verbal to include written, body language and group presentations. Ask yourself, “Am I plagued by poor communication skills? Are there aspects of my communication ability that are hindering my progress?” Conduct a self-assessment. Diagnose your communication ability to see if there is a deficiency. You may seek to solicit feedback from respected sources and trusted friends and colleagues to see if they can identify areas that require improvement. When the SRT is disclosed, a change management process should be initiated. However, rather than go through multiple steps to change we should go directly from denial to acceptance and put a plan in place to correct the SRT.

3. Negativity Mindset

People who have a negativity mindset are not necessarily the individuals who look at the pros and cons of every situation. I am speaking of the people who like to rain on the parade. When the entire group has decided to move in a positive direction, they are the naysayers who constantly focus on what is or could go wrong. They provide excuses rather than explanations. They seldom do anything but complain without the slightest contribution to positive constructive participation to change anything. 

4. Toxic people skills

The toxic people SRT is different from the poor communication skills mentioned earlier. Individuals prone to this tendency will use power to humiliate and intimidate in order to gain the upper hand or to create an environment of fear.

My son worked for an organization where the new boss actually said, “When I walk into a room I want people to fear me.” He wanted people to be intimidated by his presence. This attitude is supported by language and interactions that cause stress, a lack of trust, poor engagement and ultimately subpar performance. Individuals with toxic people skills may speak about people behind their backs, pit coworkers against each other and generate an atmosphere of tension.

People with toxic people skills may be cursed with the propensity to enter every interaction with a transaction mindset. They are constantly thinking what is in it for them, how can they beat the other person by any means necessary and how it can only help them succeed. This is prevalent in relationships where they only socialize or interact with people who can help them advance their position, today. 

5. Lack of Integrity

People with a lack of integrity are flawed in their relational and work performance. They utilize a winning at all cost or any cost approach to work and relationships. People with this tendency view the rules as an inconvenience, something for weak minded people, to be broken and circumvented whenever possible. Breaking rules is seen as a badge of honor, a necessary evil to give themselves the ultimate advantage toward victory.

Invariably, this SRT will cause the downfall of their career and reputation. Oftentimes, the integrity flaw does not manifest itself until well into a person’s career. Please find below a chart illustrating a natural career growth curve and the various points of indiscretion where a lack of integrity can doom a person’s career.

careergrowth

If a lack of integrity shows itself at the end of someone’s career, a lot of their positive contributions can be discounted and shrouded in suspicion, nullifying their reputation. If a lack of integrity revealed itself early in someone’s career, they may never have the opportunity to make significant positive contributions or to realize the potential present in their talents and abilities.

Ideally, we should establish self restraining orders or SROs for those character traits which are limiting our joy and effectiveness. The five self restraining tendencies listed or others should be addressed if they are a problem for you. They have the capacity to limit your effectiveness and keep you away from realizing your full potential in every segment of your life.

Copyright © 2016 Orlando Ceaser

Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer – Lessons in Handling Differences

Reindeer

We are often started with the commercialization of Christmas. We are reminded to not lose sight of the reason for the season. This is valuable advice for Christians and others during this reverent time of year.

We grew up with Gene Autry Christmas classic of Rudolph the red nosed reindeer. It is a delightful song, but also delivers a powerful message about encountering and handling differences. This song could start meaningful conversations about accepting others.

The song begins with a reference to the reindeer popularized in Clement Clarke Moore’s, “The night before Christmas”, also known as “A visit from St. Nicholas.” It begins with a roll call of Santa Claus’ reindeer that of course omits the name of Rudolph. As you recall, Rudolph was different from the other reindeer because of the luminescent quality of his nose. His nose was so shiny that it had either reflective qualities or it glowed like a light. This was enough to make him the object of ridicule and ultimately ostracism by the other reindeer.

This lack of acceptance is seen when children and adults are confronted with someone who is different from them. Our initial response is to make fun of the person and then to isolate them because of their characteristics, traits, heredity or idiosyncrasies. Many of us recall when we were young and begged for approval. Even to this day, there is something about us that makes us stand out from the crowd and the crowd lets us know it.

At work or is school, simply being the new person, the new kid on the block, the person who is an unknown, becomes a source for teasing or isolation. We often wondered,” if they would only get to know me, they would see that I’m just like them. “Rudolph was a reindeer, so he surely had a similar appearance, except for his nasal peculiarity. But suppose he was of a different color, from a different region of the country or had a different ability.  He would have manifested a difference that would have caused him difficulty until he was accepted. We usually ask the different party to fit in, when the real focus should be on them being accepted by the group.

Bullying is also a response shown toward those who are different. The song the does not indicate that Rudolph was bullied, but we can only assume that preventing him from “playing in any reindeer games” was not always accomplished in the most delicate manner.

The song does not tell us what Santa Claus was doing during the hazing or if he even knew about it. But, as a good leader, he engineered a very strategic response. He knew the talent and value of all of his reindeer. He evaluated the weather system for his next journey and realized he was going to encounter numerous blizzards. He knew that the solution to his problem existed among the ranks of his reindeer. He knew he had one reindeer that could help navigate the wintry delivery of toys to boys and girls around the world. This opportunity would be well received it if every reindeer benefited from his gift.

We can give Santa credit for waiting for the appropriate time to unveil strategy. He could have given the reindeer the opportunity to work it out amongst themselves, as so many people do in similar situations. They say such things as,” kids are just being kids, learning to navigate difficult situations will only make the recipient stronger and teach them valuable life skills and that which does not kill them will make them stronger, to paraphrase Friedrich Nietzsche the philosopher. Maybe the reindeer performed similar initiation rites to others in the group that had other distinctions from their peers. Maybe they solve their treatment of Rudolph as being harmless and natural.

The defining moment came,” one foggy Christmas Eve, Santa came to say: Rudolph with your nose so bright, won’t you guide my sleigh tonight?” Many managers, leaders and parents look for the opportune moment to use the skills of their people. The right moment to show the world and the individual, that they recognize their true value and wish to share this value with every member on the team. We can only assume that in the fictitious conversation, Santa’s encouraged Rudolph and told him about the value of his difference. He made him feel that he was something special and should never feel that he was not important and did not have a place. I’m sure he made him feel like an important member of the team. He validated his value by asking him to lead the team by moving up to the front of the line.

You remember the happy ending to the song. “Then all the reindeer loved him, as they shouted out with glee, Rudolph the red nosed reindeer, you’ll go down in history! We know that in real life, responses to differences may not always lead to a happy ending. Sometimes the individuals have lingering insecurity, damage to their self-esteem and underlying resentment from the initial exclusion. But, so often when the difference that is ridiculed or denied is used for the benefit of the group, the organization, institution, group or community becomes stronger. The people learn a valuable lesson about inclusion. We are hopeful that when the person is accepted they don’t become complicit and act in the same manner when they encounter other people who are different.

If we remember the Rudolph days of our lives and commit ourselves to prevent them from happening to others, we will maximize their future contributions to our teams, families, organizations and communities. We will perform a noble act when leading by example with the lessons learned from Rudolph the red-nose reindeer.

Please look forward to reading more about differences in my new book due by June 2016, Unlock Your Diversity Greatness. It is based on the premise that your uniqueness is not a weakness and contains strategies to utilize your talents, skills and abilities. More books in the Unlock Your Leadership Greatness series can be found at www.OrlandoCeaser.com or www.amazon.com.

Copyright © 2013 Orlando Ceaser

The Anatomy of Acronyms to Positively Impact Performance

 

MSU_CAcronyms are used extensively by writers, speakers, students and anyone who likes to communicate. Businesses, organizations and institutions use them to assist in the retention of a message, concept or name. They are used along with association, rhyming, and alliteration to help people remember things.

Acronyms have been proven as a simple way to help people recall information by breaking it down into manageable bits of data. An acronym, is defined by Merriam-Webster’s collegiate dictionary as, “a word (such as NATO, radar, or snafu) formed from the initial letter or letters of each of the successive parts or major parts of a compound term.” Some of my favorite acronyms are; Fear is False Evidence Appearing Real, EGO is Edging God Out and when learning musical scales E, G, B, D, and F (Every Good Boy Does Fine).

Acronyms can work to inspire, motivate and improve performance. For example, years ago our sales region wanted to emphasize the value of asking questions. I came up with the acronym ASK, which stood for Acquiring Selling Knowledge. If our reps wanted to be effective they had to gather information by asking probing questions. When you establish the framework you can apply it to various concepts by substituting other words, such as spiritual, significant, etc.

The need and applications for acronyms are all around us. We had a feedback group known as VOICE to give us information on company policies, programs, products and procedures. One day the director of the program was asked if VOICE stood for anything. He replied that it was not an acronym. I walked up to the booth and suggested, Very Often I Change Everything. The director stood there in amazement. He looked back at the word and saw that it worked, for all of the words were there. It captured the purpose of the company changing some of our initiatives based on hearing the voices of our people.

There are organizations that can create acronyms for your organizations. You can search for acronyms at http://www.acronymsearch.com where over 50,000 acronyms are listed and you can even post your company’s acronyms to their database.

Acronyms vary across companies as each organization has their own vocabulary. Therefore, it is important to explain them to ensure you are communicating effectively. I was a part of the pharmaceutical sales organization and STD’s were sexually transmitted diseases. When I spent time in our human resources department, they openly discussed the rise in the number of STD’s which was disconcerting until I realized they were speaking of (short term disabilities).

The secret of a good acronym is to be simple, clear and catchy. In the 1980’s I was training sales reps and noted that several of them were trying to make up information during a sales simulation. I reminded them that their doctors had forgotten more about medicine then they would ever know. I suggested that they could not Make Stuff Up or words to that effect. Years later I found out this concept was the subject of a book of a similar concept.

If the acronym has too many words it may maintain its effectiveness by association rather than attaching each letter with a particular word. For example, the Jupiter trial for a popular cholesterol lowering medicine: Justification for the Use of Statins in Primary Prevention: An Intervention Trial Evaluating Rosuvastin.

When you hear the word you want someone to make a quick association. I speak to organizations about creating a climate where people can safely state what is on their mind. In my book Unlock Your Leadership Greatness; (available at www.OrlandoCeaser.com and http://www.amazon.com) an OASIS is described as, a place where people can be Open And Share Information Safely.

Acronyms are an art. Since I have a knack for acronym development I have been asked on several occasions to help groups in their efforts to create one. I would speak with them and solicit their intent, the word they are trying to develop (if they have one) and the placement of the word in their overall strategy. This information allows me to know what they are trying to achieve and gives me the insight to meet their expectations.

Has Anyone Been Inspired Today is a mantra  for HABIT to remind me to help people through positive and encouraging actions. When an expert in a given area or topic is performing their duties it looks effortless. Aga Karve, my spin instructor is such a person. When she is working on the bike she is smiling while class members are groaning under her strenuous workout. One day it struck me that She Makes it Look Easy, SMILE. So we can say Someone Makes It Look Easy as they are smiling and effortlessly performing their work.

Acronyms can be fun. They can build your vocabulary and creativity. When creating acronyms, please remember the following:

    • Acronyms can be designed as a memory device
    • They are more effective when they are simple, succinct, catchy and linked to the topic in a powerful way

 

  • Be observant and on the lookout for acronyms and do not be surprised when they appear
  • Keep track of acronyms in notebooks and computers

When you allow acronyms to incubate in your mind you can develop fascinating associations between the words and concepts you want to remember creatively and assist you in memorization and performance.

Copyright © 2015 Orlando Ceaser

HR is the new ER

DodgedaBullet

The Human Resources Department in this one organization was reminiscent of a trauma center. Its personnel were extremely busy handling emergencies. People were not necessarily in the facility, but they were backed up on the phone lines and in the e-mail system. HR technicians were anxiously utilizing their expertise to treat each employee for their affliction. When the scene was extremely hurried, calls were routed to the answering service and placed in a queue until the messages could be returned. They often stated that they will get back to you at the earliest convenience. When contact is made, there is the nebulous comfort of knowing that your call is being monitored for quality purposes.

At times the department could have been labeled ER instead of HR. With the ER standing for employee retention, employee recovery, employee replacement or employee rescue. The counselors were there to listen to the grievances, perform attitude adjustments, and recommend strategies that would benefit the patient as well as the organization. Sometimes they had to perform surgery to extract misunderstandings and misinformation and settle claims that could resort from managerial malpractice.

One employee at an insurance company described a situation that reminded me of a trauma center. It was as if she was in a combat zone with warring factions all around her. Some people kept their heads down and continued to fight through the workload. Others went AWOL and left the organization. The climate was similar to a MASH unit. This terminology is familiar to those in the military who fought in combat situations. MASH was also the name of situation comedy which was very popular years ago. MASH in our HR situation stands for Managers Are Stifling Hope or Managers Are Spreading Hostility, as their employees are demoralized and afraid to resign. The tragedy is that these Managers Are Sacrificing Heroes, when they really need their people to deliver heroic efforts beyond expectations in a competitive marketplace.

The ER department’s data bank reveals that many employees have problems with their manager. Their managers are unable to function in a stressful environment without taking it out on their people. They were not given stress management courses in leadership school. Employees are complaining about the way their managers treat them and speak to them. Employees cite circumstances where they feel threatened and intimidated. They describe wounds to their egos and blows to their self-esteem. There are complaints of verbal bashing, name-calling, being betrayed and stabbed in the back by lies and innuendos. The manager’s actions created a hostile work environment that borders on harassment at least in the minds of these individual.

One individual from an insurance company described a toxic climate where the following statements were said to her.

  • “Someone is going to lose their job and it won’t be me.”
  • “If you don’t like it you can leave. There are plenty of people ready to take your place.”
  • “I know I shouldn’t be saying this. And this could get me fired, but……..” (She continued with her inflammatory remarks against her employees)

Veterans of the workforce have commented that they don’t recall seeing things this bad. They are astonished by the lack of trust that exists between employees and management. Some are pessimistic about change in the immediate future. However, some are optimistic and say this is part of a cycle and improvement will occur when business performs better. As sales go up, people perform better at every level and much of the tension is removed from daily interactions between employees and supervisors.

I look forward to the world pictured by the optimist. It will be comforting when people are more engaged and the culture improves at work and at home. I will probably receive fewer telephone calls from people who feel threatened on their jobs and are very nervous because they fear being unemployed. There is hope now that the job market is getting better, but jumping ship is always a nervous thing to do. To the workers who are losing sleep, unable to eat or eat too much and drink to calm their nerves, they want relief. They want the resilience of those who are exercising more to increase the ability to handle the stress until the world improves.

Managers have different ways to handle pressure and stress associated with it. Those who are very skillful and competent, recognize that intimidation is a short term means of getting results. At some point this approach will become counterproductive when the manager really needs his people to deliver their maximum levels of engagement and results. It is easy to say that an employee should control what they can and work to become an indispensable member of the organization. Individuals with superior skills can generally land a job in any economic environment. But employees still need the ER to help them through the tough times.

Periodically, it is important to assess the injuries that are being treated in the Human Resources Department. Responsible leadership should evaluate these cases and the use these data points, along with employee surveys and focus groups to determine the health of the organization.

The question is what can be done to prevent the assault on HR from wounded employees who view it as their Emergency Room where Employee Restoration is practiced before returning them back to work? What can be done for the manager to remove the incentive to intimidate others? How can we turn HR into the ER which is the engagement room, or the empowerment room, where people are revitalized, and energized and anxious to go to work?

The Human Resources Department performs a vital role in the health and well-being of any organization. Its ability to ensure that the company’s greatest asset, its people, are hired, trained, developed, and placed in situations that are best for the individual and the organization, will have a profound business impact.

Organizations must work to ensure that if HR becomes the ER, it is a positive place where people receive the treatment they deserve. If HR becomes a MASH unit may it be because Managers Are Sanctioning Hope. Where the treatment they deserve empowers them to be more engaged, more productive and committed to exceeding the objectives that will make the organization and its members successful.

Copyright © 2015 Orlando Ceaser

Leadership and the Ozone Layer – Channeling the heat

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Managers often talk about the heat generated in many organizations by their superiors. A solar fire storm comes down from on high, whenever Senior Leaders are dissatisfied with results. These measures vary within companies, but usually relate to financial outcomes.  When pressured, these leaders want immediate improvement. Their words may be indelicate with crude language and their words and demeanor may be threatening.  This intimidating method of getting higher performance has been successful in the past and is a knee jerk reaction to falling profits.

Employees of these fire wielding executives need an ozone layer, like the one that circles the Earth. Science classes from the past and the current discussions on climate change make us aware of the ozone layer. The American Heritage Science dictionary defines it as “A region of the upper atmosphere containing relatively high levels of ozone, located mostly within the stratosphere. It absorbs large amounts of solar ultraviolet radiation, preventing it from reaching the Earth’s surface.” It is essentially a protective layer that prevents the full burst of the sun’s rays from striking the Earth. The earth’s ozone layer does not filter out all of the heat, just the harmful ultra violet rays.

The ozone layer in our context can also be described as a supportive culture that protects employees from intimidation and excessive pressure from people in authority.  In my book, Unlock the Secrets of Ozone Leadership I assigned five attributes to Ozone Leadership. They are;

  • Protective
  • Selective
  • Corrective
  • Effective
  • Directive

These attributes lay the premise and the foundation for the philosophical rationale behind Ozone Leadership. Like the Earth’s ozone layer, a business ozone layer administered by an Ozone Leader working effectively, can protect the organizational culture. The results are greater productivity, higher morale, which holds everyone, including, leadership accountable.

Middle managers jobs are based on their ability to implement strategy and tactics to achieve share holder and stake holder value. In organization where senior leaders employ an intimidating management style, their managers may be required to serve as the ozone layer for their people.

Managers as effective leaders must regulate the heat to see that if falls appropriately. They know their personnel and realize that some individuals in the organization may need a hole in this ozone layer to feel the additional heat. If they are not performing properly they cannot be pampered and allowed to give less than their best. Some people may need to be shocked into working at expected levels. This must be done in the context of a respectful workplace and honoring them without bullying, intimidation or harassment. There may be a window in the ozone layer to allow them to be excised from the organization, as skillfully as a surgical strike with a laser beam.

When the solar winds cascade down the leadership chain the Middle managers feel the full brunt of the energy surge. One manager recalls being told, “If you are not tough enough to get the job done, we will replace you with someone who will.” Threats are generally a part of the vocabulary of solar expectations. Fear is believed to be a potent motivator. For years we have learned that the KITA (Kick in the Ass) approach only works temporarily and the stick part of the “carrot and stick” approach also has limited sustainability. When people can leave an organization, they will leave if their current organization abuses these methods.

The middle managers know their people are hard working and that some of the shortfall in performance is a shared responsibility. Leaders and the rank and file may have under estimated the size of the challenge. It is therefore, a shared responsibility to fix the problem. Local leaders modify the threats in the message for they realize the negative effect it has on morale and productivity. They know from recent literature that positive expectations and clear focus will allow people to think better. What are needed are calm minds to solve the problems. These leaders therefore, form a force field around their people to shield and buffer them from a direct hit. They usually channel the heat. They;

  • Gather their teams together and explain the dire situation around performance
  • Evaluate the current state to determine how they got there
  • Brain storm ideas and establish a list of things they should stop or start doing
  • Work to develop strategies and tactics to improve sales and financial performance
  • Adjust the tone of the demands from Senior leadership, while developing solutions to address the concerns of upper management

The company achieves its objectives due to the passionate, insightful work of the managers and their teams. People recognize that they dodged a solar bullet and everything is fine until the next crisis. When Senior Leadership sees the positive results; the reversal of negative trends, increased market share, they are pleased and complimentary. However, they are convinced that their firebombing directives caused the change. Senior leadership are prepared to reach for the flame thrower and use whatever draconian methods necessary to keep their organizations focused on reaching the results required to keep share holders happy. Therefore, with the next crisis they can be predicted to respond the same way, but with greater intensity. To minimize potential over reactions, it is incumbent upon the Ozone Leader to equip the team to minimize deviations from the corporate goals and objectives.

Solutions

If the practice of leaders in your organization is to respond the same way to every crisis, the objective should be to eliminate or minimize the number of crises. It is incumbent upon leaders to keep their teams always anticipating competitive and market pressures to prevent the initial crisis. Otherwise the fire drill will repeat itself and they may not be able to blunt the impact and consequences. This will require a change in mindset at all levels of the organization. All leaders, including middle managers should control the area within their jurisdiction. They should;

  • Ensure that their people exceed their stretch goals (effective)
  • Conduct simulations and “What if” drills to anticipate competitive responses
  • Ensure that employees are clear on the leader’s expectations (directive)
  • Eliminate competing priorities, being selective in what affects their time (selective)
  • Be willing to change course and admit when the leader makes a mistake (corrective)

All followers should:

  • Develop a “What else” mindset directed toward other things they should do to tackle or prevent a problem. This mindset will also help generate and evaluate alternative solutions
  • Monitor competitive activities
  • Ensure that customers are steadily assessed and surveyed to determine their level of satisfaction
  • Highly value customer service and customer surveillance as a high priority to provide the kind of market intelligence needed to make better decisions

The ozone layer mentality should be a part of the corporate culture. This will prevent the untoward effects of leadership striking the panic button and forgetting everything they learned about motivating people and driving behavior. Or it will ensure that local measures are put in place to achieve the objectives of senior leaders without torching and scorching the very people responsible for correcting the problems and creating the solutions.

Leadership needs to construct an environment of innovation and a culture that inspires people to give their best and offer solutions with fear of reprisal and ridicule. Trust and respect will go a long way toward eliminating a culture of fear and intimidation and ultimately produce the ideas and innovations needed to exceed objections.

Copyright © 2013 Orlando Ceaser

Learn more about Ozone Leadership by ordering my book The Secrets of Ozone Leadership which is available at www.orlandoceaser.com and www.amazon.com. The information is available in a hard cover, e-book and as an audio book, which is also available on iTunes.

The Impact of Personnel Decisions on Employee Morale and Team Performance

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People are fired every day. The remaining employees were witnesses to the personnel decision and the aftermath. Coworkers may not be familiar with the whole story. They may suspect a person had performance issues, but were not aware of all of the particulars. However, they will form an opinion. Their opinion can affect their morale and the overall performance of the team.

The grape-vine and the rumor mill are the primary sources of information. It may present a jaded, slanted, one-sided day and misguided view of what happened. If they only hear the side of the affected person, the company may not get a proper hearing. Employees may see their peer escorted from the building or received a phone call about an employee’s departure from the organization. Their interpretation of the event will send a buzz of communication throughout the company.  How management responds to these events will keep people focused and committed to the company and its goals and customers.

There are a series of personnel issues that management has to address. There are situations when a person violated company policies in an egregious manner. They may have a person in a job well over their heads. The situation is complicated when the person is personable with a long career with the organization. If they were no longer able to keep up with the workload, the job separation may have been a humane decision.  Termination was an act of mercy, putting them out of their misery, whether they saw it that way or not.

Some people will not discuss their status change with their peers or drag the company name in the mud. However, in an effort to look like a victim, some will blame the company for unfairness and cite a history of false claims which have nothing to do with their situation. They portray themselves in a positive light.

A sales representative was fired from her company for just cause. In order to save agents and preserve their ego she spreads lies to her peers. Additionally, she contacted the customers in her territory and made unfair, untrue accusations against her management and the organization. This caused a reduction in sales, as she was truly liked by her clients.

Human Nature

Human nature causes many of us to preserve our ego when we leave an organization on bad terms. People will rarely acknowledge their role in a termination. It is unusual to hear people say;

  • I was in over my head
  • I no longer had the necessary skills to perform the job
  • I lost my passion
  • The job had passed me by
  • I’ve violated company policy and was caught

It is more convenient to paint themselves as a victim and the company as the villain. Sometimes, people are fired for cheating or violating some of the companies’ rules and regulations. Invariably, Management will hear stories about the manager being a jerk, unfair and untrustworthy. If the person was highly regarded by their peers, there is a drop in trust and morale. Some people feel that if the affected person could be terminated, their own position may be very shaky or tenuous at best. “If they could let her go, I better watch my back.”

When people do not trust the company to do the right thing and feel decisions are made in a vindictive manner, employees will work out of fear. This fear increases anxiety and does not necessarily give the best performance and may show up or breakdown in other ways.

Professional Etiquette

Employees do not have access to the whole story, for it is not their business. However, if someone was struggling on the job, as a peer, they may have wondered, why the person was hired or why it took management so long to get them. If the person was not pulling their weight or were violating policies, their peers are usually the first to know. Many times after a person is terminated, the co-workers would ask, “What took you so long?” To which I would respond, “If you knew the person was a problem, why didn’t you come to us?” They would usually answer that it was not their job and they did not want to be responsible for someone losing their job.

Respect for employees and potential legal issues for the company, are good reasons to not discuss everyone’s performance issues. The best thing an organization can do is to discuss their overall personnel philosophy. If people trust the company and believe the company has their best interest at heart and act in a fair and impartial manner, they will assume the personnel decision was made for the right reasons. Companies candidly state they do not discuss individual performance levels of employees with their peers. However, they want everyone to know that personnel decisions are not made in a haphazard manner. They have a respectful workplace with an open door policy to allow all employees to discuss their performance with their manager and the Human Resources Department, when necessary. Some companies will allow employees to go over their supervisor to discuss performance with higher levels within the organization. This is a cultural matter which varies within companies and departments.

A Trusting Culture is the Key

I believe that prevention is the best intervention. This also applies to morale issues regarding terminations. The best response actually occurs on the front end. Within a high-performance culture where leadership is transparent and respectful, people are less likely to panic when someone is terminated. When a company has firmly established core values, people know what is expected of them. When these values are communicated, a culture develops that creates an environment of trust. David Horsager, in his book, The Trust Edge, says,” Everything of value is built on trust, from financial systems to relationships. He states eight components of The Pillars of Trust. They are clarity, compassion, character, competency, commitment, connection, contribution and consistency. When these eight pillars are strongly present, employees have to trust in their organizations.

The more employees know about the values behind decisions, the more trust and relaxation are present in the face of job actions. They realize that a termination or resignation is the result of an exhaustive, extensive series of events and soul-searching that may lead to the end of employment. Employees also realize that if they perform their jobs to the best of their ability, they will be treated fairly. They also, know that when people leave the organization, it is probably for a good reason.

Copyright © 2014 Orlando Ceaser

Free e-book, Leadership Greatness through High Performance Poetry, http://www.OrlandoCeaser.com

20% savings on all items on the site through December 31, 2014

 

Embarrassed in your career or Routed in pursuit of your dreams

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How many times have you suffered an embarrassing defeat in your career or on the journey to achieve your dreams? Imagine your career or dreams as a sporting event. There are many similarities you can make to use this metaphor to examine your performance. Reflect objectively on a time when you did not deliver your best performance. You can then use the sporting analogy to analyze your performance and subsequent actions to get back on the right track, to outstanding results.

I was watching one of my professional sporting teams experience a severe defeat. They lost 55 to 14 to a division rival. It could be classified as a beat down, embarrassment, retiring on the job or surrendering on national television. Whatever the classification, it was hard to watch. The coach looked confused. The quarterback was stunned. Offense and defense collectively were disappointed and the fans were upset. I wanted to gain something positive from this experience, since I invested time watching the game. I searched for a correlation in the world of business and personal achievement.

I knew there would be many commentators, patrons, fans and armchair quarterbacks who would list a number of reasons for the debacle. They would want the coaches and general managers fired. They would want someone to pay for the spectacle that humiliated the city and its inhabitants. Someone had to lose their job because of this performance or the lack of performing. Have you ever been routed by the competition? Are you secretly being annihilated at this moment? Have you ever wanted to fire yourself or put someone else in your position? Are you, in some area of your life, losing out to someone more strategic, better prepared with equivalent talent? Is their game plan a superior document? Are they marching to victory with superior execution, preparation and passion? Think about this honestly.

Imagine your career and dreams as a sporting event. Wouldn’t it be wise to make first round draft choices to benefit the team? If some failed to pull their weight, you could counsel and replace them if necessary. They should be making actions to benefit the team, not focused on individual achievement and unnecessary celebrations to the detriment of the group.

There was a time when you failed to execute your strategy. You knew what to do, but failed to rely on your fundamentals and your abilities to work together as a team. You assembled a team of advisers, coaches and friends who were not skilled at their positions. They were nice enough. They did not give you candid advice when you needed to receive it. They were more concerned with staying in your good graces and benefiting from associating with you.

In the face of watching my favorite team gets spanked. I was forced to look inwardly and ask myself, where have I played a game that was not competitive and was not representative of my career goals, dreams or expectations? When did I disappoint my fans and let myself down? Where was I routed by an embarrassing act of incompetence, lack of passion and poor execution? Where did I collapse in the face of a stronger rival, due to intimidation or lack of preparation? After I face the reality that I have personally been routed by the competition, I can examine my response.

I was able to turn my season around. What did I do to make that happen? My responses to set backs are swift, instinctive and decisive. I don’t often think about them, but there is value in exposing the techniques I use. I can use this analogy and blueprint to help others. What tough choices did I make to get back on the winning track on the road to respectability? What tough decisions did I have to make pertaining to my personal habits and the individuals who influenced my behavior? Something happened. New habits were formed. Execution of the fundamentals was mandatory. I proved to myself that things could be and would be different going forward. I committed myself to excellence in preparation and execution. My past taught me to be patient with others, and I guide them recover from their own personal debacles and defeats. The objective is to instill the skills and strengthen the will and discipline to prevent it from happening again.

I go through life viewing the world from three perspectives. I want to entertain or be entertained, educate or be educated and inspire and be inspired to achieve dreams and career fulfillment. I can use setbacks such as a demoralizing performance of an athletic team to educate and inspire, even though it lacked the necessary entertainment value.

We are going through life continuing to hone our skills as a student of the game. This principle is at the center of the core messages delivered in my book Unlock Your Leadership Greatness. There are 10 principles to keep you from being embarrassed in your career or routed in your dreams. They are:

  1. Be fit for the role
  2. Be powered by a dream
  3. Be a student of the game
  4. Master the fundamentals
  5. Set high standards
  6. Always be creative
  7. Execute with passion
  8. Lead by example
  9. Make others better
  10. Serve others

 

Copyright © 2014 Orlando Ceaser

Protectionism in a competitive marketplace

Protectionism is designed to discourage others from competing for your talent or resources. Barriers are put in place to keep markets, company, or department restricted from outside forces. People try to artificially maintain or mandate the status quo, because it is a beneficial, but questionable policy.

Insecure organizations who are afraid to lose top talent will institute external mean to keep their people, which may deny their people freedom, benefits and promotional opportunities.

Protectionism is a preemptive strike aimed at discouraging others from hiring or tampering with your personnel. Countries try to control their markets by setting up impediments to prevent others from fairly competing with their industries and companies.

Protectionism is at work inside organizations. A regional manager was constantly near the top of the organization in sales. He experienced very little turnover in his sales organization, through promotions or resignations. Many in the organization were puzzled to learn that stellar results were not accompanied by promotions. Conversations with the regional manager revealed that the top performers, in his estimation, were somehow flawed and not ready to receive more responsibility. This manager’s protectionism policies were personally beneficial, yet detrimental to the career growth of many hard-working employees. He did not want to go through interviewing to replace them and training a new crew. Careers were inhibited because he had labeled them as insufficient to assume greater responsibility.

A successful sales representative accepted a promotion to the human resources department. She wanted to return to the field as a manager. After several years, she had lunch with a sales manager. He lamented the fact that she wanted to stay in HR. She was shocked at his opinion and asked why he felt she did not want to return to the sales force. He said he had been told by an HR director that she was happy with her new career path and it did not want to leave. Needless to say, she was stunned by the misinformation and the inaccurate portrayal of her career objectives. The protectionist policies of her department backfired and she subsequently resumed her sales career.

Protectionism leads to the creation of policies to restrict the penetration of their borders by competing companies. One company raided another company and hired some of their best sales people, when they started a new division. The losing CEO was angry by their practice. He instructed his lawyers to write a letter to the company stating his displeasure and threatened legal action. The response he received was carefully worded. The acquiring CEO defended his hiring practices. He asked the other CEO to see his actions as the risk of doing business. He suggested the people were leaving on their own volition. If the people were happy they would not have been so anxious to leave. Needless to say, the other company continued to hire his representatives, but at a slower pace.

People will gravitate to top talent. In the era of social media, networking events, savvy recruiters and employee referral fees, the best performers will be identified. There is an incentive to keep people happy and there is an incentive to recruit them to other organizations.

The hiring CEO delivered a very powerful message. What can be done to minimize employee’s propensity to jump ship? What can be done to the culture to make them want to stay with your organization longer term?

Organizations can change managerial mindsets to mandate mutual benefits for all parties involved. This philosophical shift is initiated and enforced by senior leadership. Intuitively, it is difficult to pour a lot of effort and time into someone, only to see them walk away to a perceived better opportunity. As stated earlier, there are risks involved in developing people. At some point, you will have more people than you have promotable positions. This may cause some people to be patient and wait for better jobs internally; however others may be impatient and look for greener pastures outside of the organization. You have to chalk this up to the price of doing business and wish them well.

There are tremendous advantages short and long term for a full scale long term development program. This may ultimately lead to future business alliances and collaborations with companies who have hired your people. It may also be a recruiting tool for prospective employees. A reputation for hiring and developing talent can lead to an influx of extraordinarily qualified candidates. Higher employee engagement levels and productivity is currently seen as a positive benefit of a stronger culture.

If you constantly assess and provide opportunities for personal and career growth, you minimize employee flight. Today, Millennials are subject to career impatience, if you do not sufficiently reward and challenge them, your organization will constantly be under pressure due to rapid turnover.

Sensors can be put in place in the form of stronger leaders and mentors to assess and regulate career development. Employees will gain an up-to-date, real world view of their skills and abilities and prospects for career development. Organizations have established career academies, equipped with resources, such as class room work and online training programs to help employees can grow their technical and life skills.

Protectionism in theory is about holding on to your talent against unfair pilferage, but it will work against you in the long run. You must update your training and development practices to create stronger leaders. Additionally, you must:

  • Pay attention to the company culture to treat people with respect and harness their skills and abilities.
  • Provide an honest assessment of performance through clear cut performance objectives and regular evaluations
  • Career discussions should be held to understand and to share employer and employee expectations
  • Develop confidence in your training and development program to rapidly replace people who leave the organization or leave the team
  • Strong managers and leaders are necessary to ward off protectionist tendencies, as they strive to develop the best teams imaginable

Organizations have been known to offer retention bonuses during a time of uncertainty, such as during mergers and acquisition, to keep their top talent. A variation of this practice is to ensure that the best performers receive the best rewards, whether financial, special projects or greater career opportunities.

Protectionism is usually a policy instituted when an organization fails to put a coherent people strategy in place. In their haste to prevent people from leaving, they  blame outside forces for problems in their culture. Protectionism practices that strikeout at the employee or toward outside forces are rarely successful. Organizations should look internally at their leadership practices and career development strategies, to see if they can be more conducive to creating a culture where leaving the organization is to difficult for an employee to imagine or implement.

Copyright © 2014 Orlando Ceaser 

Free e-book, Leadership Greatness through High Performance Poetry at http://www.orlandoceaser.com

The “A” Game Chronicles – Discover and deliver it

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How often have you heard someone say or someone is told to bring their “A” Game to the competition? They don’t say bring a game, but the capitalized “A” game. I wonder if people know what their “A” Game looks like. How often have they seen it? Would they recognize it when they saw it? I wonder if they have ever challenged themselves at such a high level that it brought out their “A” game. Then they would know what it looked like and could therefore, duplicate it upon demand. They are told to get an “A” for effort, but you need the results to back it up

Their “A” game is heavily in demand. “A” is for action or “A” is for achievement. “A” is for the highest performance. I knew managers who were never rated at the top performance tier within their organization. Yet many of these managers would distribute these ratings without hesitation. My questions were always two fold. First, “How could you?” and secondly, “Do you know what awesome looks like, since you never received the rating? The same applies to someone’s “A” Game. Do you know what it looks like and does a manager know when it has arrived and how to bring it out in the open? An accumulation of “A” games should lead to the highest performance ranking and rating within the group.

There are apparently different standards for an “A” game. I suppose it is in the eye of the beholder. What measuring device are you using for an “A” game? Your “A” Game could be a function of the following:

• Attitude – your disposition spells confidence and could cause your best performance to explode out of your potential.
• Awareness refers to self – awareness, for you are in touch with your physical and mental capabilities. Your emotional intelligence (EQ) involves knowledge of people and relationships. When combined with competitive knowledge and personal or self knowledge you create a climate for your “A” game to develop.
• Aptitude – (IQ) – intelligence referring to mental skill and thinking enhances by hours of hard work, reading and analyzing your performance and expectations.
• Alignment – consistent with goals
• Achievement focused
• Action oriented – execution, passion and initiative

What the “A” Game is not – pseudo “A” Game or false positive

• Avoidance – hiding from your best performance and abdicating to other work you should perform yourself
• Absent – missing and engaged in inaction when you are expected on the job. When people are depending on you.
• Awkward – uncoordinated, undisciplined due to a lack of practice and poor technique.
• Average – In the same level as others. Your “A” game should be a moving target. The best you have today should be better than yesterday and below the high bar, you have established for tomorrow. This gives you something to aspire to within the range of your potential.

In delivering your “A” Game on a bad day you may be slightly short and deliver an “A-“Game, which is an A minus Game. But this is a whole lot better than a negative “A” Game. For this is the polar opposite to your best performance. This is essentially an “F” Game which is not acceptable.

Everyone brings a game to the arena, but you should make sure that it is your “A” game; an awesome effort that leads to an astonishing performance.

Copyright © 2011 Orlando Ceaser