Confessions of a Perfectionist

I haven’t written a blog post in over two months. I want to write something from my heart - something that will grab your attention and lead you to share this blog with all of your friends. If I’m honest, I want more than that. I want you and your friends to hire my team and I.

So it feels like I have to be authentic, relevant, and insightful. I’ve filled myself with a perfectionistic pressure, creating a level of expectation that I cannot meet. So, yes. It’s been two months. I hid behind busyness when I needed to just be vulnerable, real, and let you in.

What is perfectionism?

Perfectionism is an attempt to control or manage ourselves, others, and others' perceptions of us - and it often thrives on intangible goals. In the workplace, perfectionism can be a chronic source of stress that actually leads to procrastination and a lack of productivity. When we are worried about accomplishing intangible goals, we tend to bypass or dismiss the attainable ones that lead to progress. In an attempt to be perceived as productive and successful, we then mask our procrastination with busyness. The hardest part of perfectionism is the drive to stay hidden instead of risk being vulnerable and seen.

The first goal, then, is to recognize the presence of perfectionism in our lives and become aware of its' impact on ourselves, our work, and our relationships.

  • As a leader, how often have you hid behind busyness instead of letting your team or others in?
  • How much have you let perfectionism get in the way of connection?

Next, we can choose to be vulnerable, let our flaws be seen, and let trusted people into our perfectionism and the fear that drives it.

  • What would happen if you let your team into the insecure places of your heart?
  • What if they joined you and felt a freedom to be real with you as well?

Finally, we can choose to see it as an opportunity for growth, shared human experience, and connection with our team.

  • What would it be like to see your team come alive, engage, and accept you right where you are?
  • What would it be like to become an agent for real change where your team knows they can be human at work?

No need for them to hide, manipulate or front that they have it together. No need to live in fear of being exposed. Every team member will know that they can be who they are and be accepted, wanted and pushed to be their best self.

Ultimately, cultivating authentic relationships is the key to building healthy teams and organizational cultures.

In authentic relationships, trust soars and people can easily see your strengths and know how to leverage them for the good of all. In teams that value authenticity, politics are at a minimum, engagement is high, turnover is low, people produce more and go about their work with far less confusion.

It feels risky to be real. Yet when someone in the room risks being real, the rest of us admire them and feel a pull to be real as well.

Someone has to start that. You as the leader are the best one to start.

Chew On This:

  • What step will you take to be real today?

 

Ryan C. Bailey is President and CEO of an organizational effectiveness company that supports leaders in developing in-demand high performing teams

 

*This blog is an amalgamation of a few different clients.  No one single client is being singled out.

 

Lessons I Learned in 2017

It’s the last blog of 2017 for me.  It was a fantastic year, filled with many huge changes (to be discussed in a future blog post), and some valuable lessons for my team and me. At the end of a year, we take time to reflect on what has worked well, where there is room to grow, and what lessons we hope to carry over into the new year. Here are four valuable lessons from 2017: 1. Ask what your team expects of you regularly.

This year we’ve grown to a team of six (part-time and full-time) and are probably going to add a seventh in the next couple of months.  The growth has felt organic, more focused on the relationship than revenue.  We genuinely like being around each other and working together.

Recently, we outlined ways in which our work relationship would go.  We defined in a general way what the expectation for each member’s role is.  However, I wished I had asked each of them what they expected of me.

The team has shown great appreciation for what I have given, but I also learned that some of how I was trying to help were not as useful.  It was incredibly freeing to hear that I did not have to do as much.

I also saw that as time went on and we engaged different projects, I needed consistently to ask, “What do you expect from me as you engage this project?” I had tended to assume (and you know what happens when you ass-u-me), and I needed a clear understanding of expectations.

2. Sharpen the interpersonal dynamics as you go.

Another lesson learned is to actively clear any issues in interpersonal team dynamics as you go.  Since our team gets along so well with each other, what we needed to clear were tweaks, not major issues.  But even these tweaks were valuable.

Talking about how we experience one another has helped us to make personal shifts.  Capturing things in the moment helped us to notice that the dynamic of what was happening in ourselves was at play.  That awareness created great personal growth for us.

Also, it has been helpful to share what things, when we do them, really foster better relational dynamics.  So saying “When you did X, I felt engaged and alive” is the kind of statement that helped us understand what to do more for each other.

3. Diversify client base sooner.

Our largest client had crept up to 35% of revenue.  While we love working with them, 35% felt uncomfortable.  This year we took more active strides to diversify the client base than we ever had.  Carving out time to get out there and network has helped us to grow and to learn things from companies that have benefited all our clients.  I wish I had not sacrificed business development as much as I have for the immediate work that was presented.  Moreover, I wish I had hired faster so that I could spend more time developing the business.

4. Allow myself to be me, sooner, and not try to do it like everyone else.

Typically, coaching meetings are 1 hour long.  Early in 2017, a client had only 30 minutes, but we found that we did as much work in that 30min meeting as we had done in 60mins.  So I started experimenting with other clients and found the same thing.  Consistently they told me that they loved the “laser coaching” better than the 60min meetings.

There are plenty of coaches who use the laser coaching style.  I am built for it. I am more focused, think faster, ask better questions, and am not afraid to say hard things.  My clients are also more focused, come in prepared, can process what’s going on, and are much quicker to develop great plans for the issues they came to the meeting to resolve. They leave empowered, engaged, and eager to implement.  Moreover, the cost of laser sessions is less to them.  Win-Win all the way around.

As more and more clients chose the laser style of coaching, I wondered what had stopped me from doing this sooner?  Then it hit me: without realizing it, I had been following the example of some coaches whom I greatly admired.  They would never even consider having 30min meetings rather than 60min meetings.

They are great at what they do, but I needed to set myself up to do my best work, even if it is not in their style.

How about you?  What were the lessons you learned in 2017? I encourage you to sit with your team and explore these questions:

  • What has worked in 2017?
  • What are growth areas for 2018?
  • How will you measure this growth?
  • What are specific goals for each member within your team?
  • How can you help each other in reaching those goals?

I would love to hear from you and compare.

Have a fantastic holiday season! Looking forward to connecting in the new year.

Chew On This:

  • How can you perform your role in a way that is most you?
  • How can your team learn from this year and encourage each other in the new year?

Ryan C. Bailey is President and CEO of an organizational effectiveness company that supports leaders in developing in-demand high performing teams.

How Can You Hold Effective One-On-One Meetings with Direct Reports?

As a leader, your time is tight. If you have more than 4 or 5 direct reports, then time is even more crunched. One-on-one meetings may feel counter-productive when you have limited time and the option to meet virtually. However, these meetings are a key opportunity you have to develop each of those direct reports.

Elizabeth Grace Saunders, the author of How to Invest Your Time Like Money, says "One-on-ones are one of the most important productivity tools you have as a manager."

These are times when they can learn from you what it takes to get to the next level, and you can learn from them what is happening closer to the front-line and gain more practice developing a flexible management style.

Do your directs look forward to their one-on-one times with you?  Do you look forward to them?

The higher up you are, the more structure you will need to have since you will have fewer one-on-one times per month.

Here are a few tips that should help in establishing effective one-on-ones:

1. Come prepared.

One of the first one-on-one conversations you should have with your directs is how to have a one-on-one.

Is there a structure that you want to follow?  How about them?  What would make that time most valuable to them?

There is probably going to be a lot of overlap between the two of you but for clarity’s sake, encourage them to share their expectations, and you share yours.

After you’ve established what one-on-one’s are going to look like, you will know how to prepare for those meetings (see below).

Send an agenda for the one-on-one a couple of days in advance.  Be sure you have learned what it is they most want to talk about during their one-on-one.  Ideally, agenda items should be phrased as questions since questions get people thinking about answers.

This will help you both to prepare or at least start thinking about the topics.

2. Determine how often you will have one-on-ones and where.

Some direct reports may need more time than others, especially those who are newer to their role.  It is important to determine the pace of the meetings and stick to it.

3. Create an environment of focus.

One of the keys to effective one-on-one's is to create an environment where both of you can be fully present and focused.

Silencing or turning off phones completely helps.  But so does making sure there are no interruptions.

Another way to create a high level of focus is to shorten the meetings.  This forces both of you to be sharp.

4. Create a dialogue.

One-on-one meetings should feel more like a dialogue and less like a monologue.  One way to accomplish this is to start personally (see below).  Another is by starting with what the direct wants to talk about.  A third is by asking open-ended questions.  This limits the amount you speak and encourages your directs to say a lot more.

5. Start personally.

What is meaningful to them in life in general?  For many, it is going to be their families or another significant relationship.  For some, it is going to be favorite hobbies, restaurants, or adventures.  Show them that you care by remembering what matters to them.

Moving this way helps both you and your direct to be positive, open and vulnerable, ready to engage the meeting in a spirit of trust and collaboration.

Use your humor.  Laughing bonds people together.  Having a team that is tight with one another and with you will go far in developing the high performing team you’ve always wanted.

6. Start with a Win.

If each of you can share a win that you’ve had since the last time you met, that will go a long way in making the conversation positive.

7. Move to the core - discover what your report is doing in the most important area of their role.

Since time is usually tight, many clients have found it helpful to start with the most important area of their direct report’s role.  This is the point where you especially want to have influence.  It can help set them up for success.  Moreover, their best results will come by focusing on what is essential (cue Greg McKeown, author of Essentialism).

As part of your preparation, know what you want to know about the core.  Brainstorm here so that they can see how you process.  Also, they can sense how much you believe in them through this collaboration.

8. Update on project.

There is probably a project that you especially want to keep an eye on.  Typically, you do that by receiving email updates ahead of the meeting, then the update during your one-on-one is more about moving the project further.

This could also be a brainstorming time.  It could be an opportunity to discover the obstacles that your direct is facing, which you could help them remove.

Here is where you want to know how you could be of most value to them as they work on this key project.

9. Find ways to increase engagement.

You want to get a feel for what their overall engagement is like.  Do they love their role? Company? Their team? You?  What would help increase their engagement?

Getting a pulse on engagement is really important with your higher-performing directs.  Throughout the meeting find ways to increase their engagement by giving them opportunities to do the things that generate engagement for that specific direct report.

10. Feedback.

Feedback doesn’t need to be limited to formal reviews.  Start by sharing something you are grateful for concerning their performance since the last meeting.  Then give them some positive affirmations about their work, and one thing to focus on improving.  This kind of interaction can go a long way.

Hopefully, the more this becomes part of the dynamic between you and them, the more you will see how to help them grow and build upon their strengths.

11. Ask, “What can I do better?”

Asking for feedback is your chance to grow further.  You might not be able to accomplish everything all your directs want, but it is likely that gaining their feedback and modeling change and growth will go far for everyone on the team.

12. Both sides should send an email to one another with next steps

At the end of the meeting, it would be helpful to talk through next steps for each of you.  Get buy-in, and then each of you should send an email with those next steps to each other to make sure that you both are on the same page and know what each of you is empowered to do.

Chew On This:

  • What has been your experience with effective one-on-one meetings?

 

Ryan C. Bailey is President and CEO of an organizational effectiveness company.

 

*This blog is an amalgamation of a few different clients.  No one single client is being singled out.

What I Learned About Being A Great Direct Report From An 18-Year-Old Intern

On Thursday of last week, I said goodbye to the youngest intern RCBA has ever had. She only worked with us for about six weeks, but she made such an impact that it was really hard to see her leave.

Megan is sharp, mega-talented, and has a keen strategic mind, but beyond all of that competence, she knows how to connect to people’s hearts, really commit, and fight hard to do what she does with excellence and love.

Let me give you an example. As my team is growing, I wanted to learn more about how I can lead them better. (Yes, I see the irony of the leadership coach wanting more insight on how to lead his own team.)

So I asked Megan to do some research on best practices, hoping to learn new ways to improve my leadership, which I could then pass on to clients.  Not only did she do precisely what I asked her to do, but without my asking her, she tailored her research to my personality type (ENFJ) and, more specifically, to what she had already learned about me.

When I read what she wrote, I was speechless.

I then gave her more responsibilities, which she mastered just as deftly. Then, with clients’ permission, she listened in on meetings and helped improve our trainings.

She has all the marks of someone who will go far in anything she decides to do.

If I take what I learned from her and add what I've learned from the other super talented team members we have at RCBA, I can see there are traits or practices that could lead to excelling in any role in virtually any company.

7 Traits of an Excellent Direct Report

1. Give your heart to what you do.

Are you just existing? Do you come alive when you are working? Is work just a paycheck? What if it were possible for you to come alive at work if you gave yourself to it?

I don't mean you should make work the number one priority in your life. That's not it. I mean fully commit to doing whatever is necessary to produce excellence during the hours that you are there. Invest, make sacrifices, find ways to make it fun, get to know those you work with, leverage their strengths, etc.

If you are in a toxic environment or doing something that really isn't you, then consider making a change. We spend so much time at work we might as well be fully engaged while we’re there. You have the power to increase your own engagement: just commit, invest, and sacrifice for it.

2. Set boundaries.

Megan and I could really enable each other to reach workaholic levels, but one thing Michael and Haley taught me was to set limits according to priorities.

For example, my wife and kids are a higher priority than work.  Intentionally blocking off time during the week, rarely working on Saturday and not working at all on Sundays has helped to cherish and grow my relationships with them. Having non-negotiable blocks for my wife and kids has helped me to make the most of my time at work and has helped me to enjoy work more.

3. Improve core competencies.

If you want to have a high impact at work, look for the most important thing which your role, your boss’ role and/or your team’s role requires, and start there. You will feel a ton of gratitude come your way.

4. Know yourself and your team well.

Megan is a self-professed Myers-Briggs geek. She leverages her ENTJ strengths and adapts to other personality types to foster greater communication and reduce the chance of conflict.

Ask each team member:

  • How to work successfully with them
  • How to energize them
  • What frustrates them
  • What stresses them out
  • What they are looking to improve about themselves
  • What they look like when they are chronically stressed, and how to best help them if they are there. (Often it is providing them with something that energizes them.)

Be sure to give them your answers to the bullet points above. We created templates for each personality type that you can use. You can find them here.

5. Manage up well.

Your boss does some things really well.  Other things could use improvement.

Megan was great at being able to see what I needed help with, and to fill in that gap.  She also gave some tips in passing that were very helpful.

If your boss wants to grow, that would be helpful.

6. Go beyond what you were asked to do.

If you always look for a way you can go beyond what you were asked to do, this will show your boss that you want to exceed expectations.  Don’t be surprised if your reviews and bonuses reflect that.

Make sure you complete what you were asked to do and then, in a separate part, show how you went beyond.

7. Risk sharing how things can be improved.

Ask how and when you can share some things that you believe could be improved.  Make sure that you are asking from a place of humility, not know-it-all arrogance.

Once you are given permission, say I’ve noticed X.  I wonder if Y could be a way to improve X.

Then let the brainstorming begin.

Becoming a valued resource for your boss, team, or company starts by committing not just your head but your heart to the role.  Looking for ways to go beyond sets you up for promotion and for leaving a lasting legacy in your role.

Chew On This:

  • What would help you to commit both your head and your heart to what you do?

Ryan C. Bailey is President and CEO of an organizational effectiveness company.

 

How To Make The Most Of The Workshop You Attend

I'm on a flight to Los Angeles to deliver a workshop on Myers-Briggs and Emotional Intelligence. I'm thinking back to the training I did to become certified in the EQi-2.0 and how I wish I had taken more notes and spent more time reviewing.

Even though I love EQ work and use it extensively with clients, there are nuances of the EQi-2.0 assessment that I don't remember (already put a coaching meeting with an EQ trainer on my calendar).  This has got me thinking about how many of us attend workshops throughout the year, but don’t retain as much from them as we wish we could. According to Forbes, attendants of a lecture retain only about 50% of what they learn after two weeks.

So many helpful nuggets are given in a workshop that I wish I had a system to retain them all and then implement them well.  If you are still reading this blog, you probably can relate.  Here are some things I have found helpful throughout my years of attending and giving workshops:

1) Before you go into the workshop, perform brain dump.

Brain dumping is a way to get clear and be fully present. I wrote out 7 tips on how to be fully present when you have a lot on your mind in a previous blog. One exercise is called the “Brain Dump.”

This exercise involves listing on a piece of paper all of the things that are on your mind at the present moment. Think not just about work, but also about home, family, hobbies, entertainment, etc. Take 10 minutes to write them out.

Next to each item, quickly jot down the ideal outcome you want for that item. Then write down the next action step that needs to be taken to achieve that outcome.

This exercise clears your mind and creates space for more information.

2) Take really really clear notes.

I like taking electronic notes during workshops I attend. However, if I'm not careful, as the days, weeks and months go by, I may not fully understand what I wrote down when the time comes to review them.  Make sure you set aside some time to review your notes right away, as close to the end of the workshop as you can. The breaks during a workshop are even more ideal.

3) If the facilitator says anything that is unclear, ask them to clarify.

Don't be afraid to ask the facilitator to clear up a point they made. You will be doing yourself, your fellow participants, and the facilitator a favor. This is often how I get the best refinements to the workshops I conduct.

4) If the facilitator has not done so, see if you can whittle down the workshop to three main points. 

A client, after previewing slides, asked me to come up with five "pithy" phrases that the participants could use as a review slide. That advice alone moved my workshops to the next level. It turned out that senior leaders especially valued that slide.

5) See how you can immediately implement at least three core parts of the workshop - personalize it.

To make the most of the time you invested in participating in a workshop, look for ways you can immediately use what you've learned.

The idea is to start using what you've learned before you forget it.

See number 7 for one of my favorite ways.

6) Set up a few review times.

Typically, when I deliver a workshop, I like to have a group coaching call a month after the workshop, and another one three months after the workshop. This gives participants a chance to implement and develop questions to better utilize what they've learned.

If that feature is not offered to you and your team, request it, because it will dramatically increase retention and use.

If you're met with resistance, do it on your own. Don't feel shy about emailing the workshop facilitator with your brief questions. We'd love to be at further service.

7) Teach others what you've learned.

Before the beginning of the workshop, have in mind that you are going to teach others what you've learned.

This will help you be present, make sure that your notes are clear, and that you yourself understand everything.

Generously share with others what you've learned.  In the process, you will learn and implement much more than you would have otherwise.

Imagine the impact on your team if they got the nuggets that have helped you.

There is a reason you are participating in the workshops you're attending. You’ve invested time and money and energy into this opportunity. Make the most of it for yourself and for your team as you move your team towards higher performance.

Chew On This:

  • What difference would it have made to you if you had been able to remember more of the workshops you attended?
  • What steps can you take to make the most out of future workshops?

Ryan C. Bailey is President and CEO of an organizational effectiveness company.

What the Fitbit Workweek Hustles Taught Me About Pacing

 

It might be hard to make out from the photo, but this is a picture of my swollen foot and the red rash that covered my lower legs not too long ago.

In a previous blog, I related what I had learned about healthy competition through participating in Fitbit Workweek Hustles.

I shared how I had rediscovered what a competitor I am.  Given my schedule, I thought at first that it would be super hard to get to 10k steps per day. Then, thanks to the encouragement and example of my just-as-busy-friends, I started averaging 18k-21k steps per day.

I realized that when I did phone meetings, walking actually helped me focus more on my clients, and get to the heart of their concerns.  That was a side benefit, but during the first couple of weeks, I did not win a Workweek Hustle.  I marveled at how the winners could get over 100k steps in a five day span.  I wanted to reach that mark, but doubted if I could.

Then it happened.  I got into a deep competition with a friend in NY.  We pushed each other hard throughout the week.  Late at night on the last day of competition, we were both walking--she in NY, me in Atlanta.  We reached 100k at about the same time.

Though I was tired, I kept moving.  My socks were itchy, but never in a million years did I think I was doing to my foot what you see in the picture.

We both continued to walk until midnight, and I actually won.  It was close, but I was thrilled to finally have won my first workweek hustle.

As I approached the front door of our house and slowed my pace, I could tell I was somewhat sore. But when I started going upstairs to our bedroom, the soreness really hit.  My legs continued to itch, and when I took off my shoes and socks so I could shower, I could see that my feet were swollen, even though the light was dim.  “Oh well,” I thought, “I’ll elevate them with pillows and sleep that way.  I’ll be ok.”

But when I turned on the lights, I could see all the red splotches on my leg.  I had no idea what they were, and I feared what it might mean.

After showering, I felt even more sore, so I got into bed.  When my wife came upstairs, I asked her to check my legs.  She gasped when she saw them, and it was one of those gasps of real concern.  “I’ve pushed it too far,” I thought.  “I’m really going to pay for it.”  She looked at me as if I should have known better.  And she was right.

I am an overweight 47-year-old man who had just resumed working out a couple of weeks earlier, and I had overdone it.

The next day, I had a doctor look at my legs and feet.  The doctor said to keep them propped up, do light walking on the weekend, and then encouraged me to get back into the competitions.  She assured me that I had not done any serious harm, and that I would be fine by Monday.

That weekend I took it easy--maybe did 7k steps the entire weekend.

When I got to the office on Monday, I showed my assistant the pictures of my leg and foot and she said, “I know a blog is coming about this one.”

That got me thinking.

I did not want to write a blog about a setback since I recently wrote a two-parter on it (1, 2). I wanted to write something that showed the lesson learned.

So, taking my cue from business, where there is a need to pace yourself and your team and go for the most critical wins, I worked on pacing myself and building up stamina.

Over the next two weeks, I stayed between 15k-18k steps.  Then I built up to 25k steps and stayed there for a couple of weeks.  Finally, I did 56k steps in a day.

Here is the kicker.  I felt great after the 56k.  Yes, tired.  Yes, sore, but not that sore.  I felt really great.

So what does all of this have to do with business?

Often in business, we can let our impulsiveness and desire to win do tremendous damage to ourselves, our team, and those we care about.  We push ourselves hard to get results.  But we don’t stop to ask ourselves: can our team and even ourselves handle the pace?

I started thinking about some of the more successful people I’ve worked with and the price they paid to achieve their success.  Many of their key team members quit because, at the heart of it, they felt like they were being used.  The leader cared more about the glory of the leader than about those who were working really hard to get them their glory.

As a leader, how are you handling the pace you are setting?  How is your team handling the pace?

Sometimes we have to push ourselves to the limit to get a crucial win, but at quieter times, is there a way to change the scope of what you are trying to accomplish so that your team builds more and more stamina in their reach for the top?

How can you show your team that you love them enough to help them reach their potential at a pace that doesn’t break them?

Ultimately, pacing allows for a sustainable, steady high-performing team.

Chew On This:

  • What is the right pace for you and your team right now?

Ryan C. Bailey is President and CEO of a company that equips business leaders to develop the teams that everyone wants to work with.

Combining a Strategic Mindset With Your Tactical Base

A few weeks ago, we discussed the marks of a master tactician. A tactician is project-oriented, fast-moving and responsible for the implementation of day-to-day tasks. We then dove into the marks of a master strategist.  A master strategist values taking time to think, processing through the long-term impact of decisions while considering the views of others. But any leader needs to be able to combine a strategic mindset with a tactical base.  This is a necessary skill if one wants to ascend to the Vice President role and above in a large company. If you are running a smaller business, you already know that you need both strategy and good tactical skills in order to succeed.

Here are ways to merge a strategic mindset with your tactical base:

1. Must develop a keen sense and drive for strategy and execution.

To advance, you must develop a keen sense and drive for both strategy and execution. It is not enough to merely see a need; you must have the skills and capability to carry that need out. One cannot exist without the other. Both must be nurtured, grown, and improved upon.

2. Know how to develop a strategic plan that encompasses your keen sense and drive for execution.

A strategic plan that doesn’t keep in mind how it will be executed is just a dream (See Marks of a Master Tactician for more details on the elements you will need to remember). While thinking long-term is crucial, it is important to be able to craft tangible, short-term objectives to move towards the overarching goal. A goal becomes muddied without specific steps to get there. Moreover, craft the plan to the strengths of the individuals who will be executing.  This will increase the likelihood of success.

3. Understand what competitors are up to and relay important competitor info up the chain as quickly as possible.

Part of the above plan will include understanding your competitors' strengths and weaknesses and how to position your company best in light of that knowledge.

4. Get buy-in from so many different parties.

Before executing a strategic plan, it is important to gain buy-in from other departments and teams. This buy-in could prove invaluable as you will probably need their help from time to time and they could also notice any blind spots in the plan that will help you to refine it.  As an aside, getting buy-in from different parties also helps to diffuse accountability.

5. Making sure that each person executing is clear on their role, the decisions they can make and what they are responsible for.

Sometimes you can come up with a brilliant strategic plan but if your team is not clear on their roles, what decisions they can make and what they will be accountable for that can lead to things being dropped and poor execution. This must be clear before the project starts.

6. Don’t second-guess plan once you start to execute.

Once all of the above is accomplished and you start to execute it, it is important that you don’t second-guess the plan.  This doesn’t mean that you won’t make some course-corrections as you receive feedback (see below) but it does mean that the overall direction won’t drastically change.  The larger your company is, the harder it will be to make a dramatic change.

7. Must assess the initial feedback after executing the strategy and make course-corrections on the fly.

As feedback comes in, you will start to spot trends, make subtle changes, and improve the tactics. However, the overall strategy should not change that much.  The course-corrections typically are about the tactics not the strategy.

8. Review, Refine, Review, Refine.

Continually review the strategic plan and refine it as you go.  It will help to sharpen the next strategic plan that you develop.

Chew On This:

  • How can you integrate both strategy and tactics to optimize your effectiveness in your role?

 

Ryan C. Bailey is President and CEO of a company that equips business leaders to develop the teams that everyone wants to work for.

*This blog is an amalgamation of a few different clients.  No one single client is being singled out.

What the FitBit Taught Me about Healthy Competition

When I was younger, I trained to be a professional tennis player.  I had a competitive drive back then, and it served me well.  But as I became established in a helping profession, and being an ENFJ, I found myself working more towards harmony than competition.  I allowed myself to get out of balance and worked an insane number of hours.  I stopped tennis and most other forms of exercise, and gained a lot of weight.

Now I’m committed to getting back in shape.  I joined WeightWatchers, got a weight-loss coach, and got a Fitbit.  I posted on FaceBook that I wanted accountability and competition, and I asked FaceBook friends to connect to me on Fitbit.

I’d barely gotten the post out when a friend invited me to compete on his WorkWeek Hustle Challenge.

I know I must be behind the times a bit, but I had no idea what that was.

So then I read that it was a competition to see who takes the most steps between Monday at 12:00am and Friday at 11:59pm. The winner is the one with the most steps.

Until I was invited to join the WorkWeek Challenge, I had no idea how much of a competitive spirit was still in me.

When the WorkWeek Hustle started, I pushed myself hard and spent the first two weeks physically sore.  Like, so sore that my wife laughed when she heard how slowly I was walking down the stairs.

However, by the end of the second week, I could see that the number of steps I took had increased by a huge percentage over the first week.  My friends encouraged me and even gave me some tips as to how to improve.

At the end of each week, we “Cheered” the winner of that WorkWeek Hustle.

That got me thinking....  Is there a way to create a similar type of healthy peer-to-peer competition in the business world?  I believe that there is.

Here is what I learned from Fitbit WorkWeek Challenges and how it can apply to competition among peers who want the best for each other:

1. Healthy competition ends excuse making.

As implied above, when I was invited to compete, I felt an incredible drive to start.  No hesitation, no resistance. I did not care about having to wake up a little earlier, and I found I could workout when I would otherwise be somewhat brain dead. Even going to the gym after a long day was suddenly doable.  In other words, excuses went away.

How many times have we let excuses get in the way of what we know we need to accomplish?

What do you need to improve?

What if you got a small group of peers who were willing to compete with you in that area?  Make sure it is an area that is tangible. For example, a tangible area could be a specific sales number or percentage, the number of calls made, number of minutes spent thinking and brainstorming, number of ways you can encourage team members to excel, etc. Also, make sure it is something that can be done in a short amount of time (a week or so).  The idea is to push yourself, and one another, to really grow.

2. You can play to win even when you really like your competitors and want their good.

When I trained to be a professional tennis player, unless I was playing my tennis partner or someone from my team, I viewed my competitors as neutral “other” figures.  I did not hate them, but neither did I really want their good.  I just wanted to win.

When my doubles partner and I played matches against each other, it was different. Even during the match we would share how each other could improve.  The result was that it would make the matches even better.  We loved the challenge of beating each other at our best.  It was exhilarating.

During the Fitbit challenges, some of my friends have given me tips on how to take more steps.  It has been so encouraging and helpful.

Could you imagine what it would be like if your small competitive group wanted to make the improvements so badly that they pushed each other to improve and grow, even risking losing just to gain mastery in an area?

3. Increased fun.

It has been so much fun busting out a bunch of steps--only to see one of my Fitbit friends blow me out of the water. I can’t help but laugh and realize how much further I have to grow.  What is even more fun is when I outdo them the next time :-)

The same could be true for you and your small group.  Think of how much fun you will have as you each outdo each other.

4. Increased creativity.

When I first started these challenges, I was using strictly the elliptical.  I love the elliptical, but then I discovered I can take more steps per minute on the treadmill, and now the elliptical is a weekend thing, or a short alternative when my left shin feels like it is going to explode.

Being a creature of habit, I never would have come to enjoy the treadmill the way I do, had it not been for the Fitbit WorkWeek Hustle Challenge.

Anticipate that you will get creative in order to beat your peers.  Think of how much productivity that will bring to you.

5. Push myself above what I perceived was a limit.

I work long hours, having back-to-back sessions (face-to-face, Skype, FaceTime, or phone), so the thought of getting to 10k steps per day seemed like a fantasy.

Then I saw that most of my Fitbit friends were nailing their 10k steps, and I knew some of them worked long hours in back-to-back meetings as well.  In fact, some of them were consistently over 15k steps per day.

So I looked for ways to increase it.  Every little bit counted.

Then it happened.  I passed 10k.

So I went for 15k steps per day.  Nailed it the next day when I realized that if I pace during phone calls, it actually helps me to focus and coach better.

Then I wanted to see how far I can go.... I figured I could reach 18k if I went to the gym twice per day and went for a walk with my wife when I got home from work.  I was completely wrong.  I hit 21k steps in a day.

This would not have happened had I not seen Fitbit friends hit 18k-20k steps in a day.

So just think of how you will reach new limits through competing with your peers.  It is incredibly encouraging when you see your peers reach limits that you did not think you would reach.  And it is exhilarating when you blaze the trail by hitting the new limit first.

6. Chance to compete again next time.

With the WorkWeek Hustle lasting only 5 days, you have the chance to compete again next week.  This is a great opportunity to see how you can refine and improve your strategy.

If you are competing against your peers, make sure that the time of each competition is short, to give you plenty of opportunities to refine and implement a new strategy for the next time.

7. Competitors can celebrate together.

What has also been encouraging is to have fellow competitors “Cheer” each other on.  The winner of the week often gets showered with “Cheers.”  Yet, as much as we can be happy for one another, there is naturally a deep desire to beat them next week.

How often do peers cheer you on when you accomplish something?  How often do you cheer peers on?  I am not talking the short bravos that may take place on a team call.  I mean a heartfelt cheer.

Your small group of peers can do that for one another.

Developing a peer group to compete with will create a team of people who want one another’s best, who give each other tips to improve, who cheer one another on, and want to maximize their own abilities.

Chew On This:

  • Who are the peers that you will ask to join your company WorkWeek challenge?
  • What are the options for tangible areas in which you can compete?

Ryan C. Bailey is an Executive Coach who helps business leaders develop in-demand high performing teams.

How to Lead Your Team Through Personal Change

A client, let’s call her Liz, made a huge transformation.  Putting it mildly, she used to have an anger management issue.  She was the executive that you never wanted as a boss.  At times, she would be super nice and seem like she was your best friend, but if you crossed her or screwed something up that embarrassed her, she could be brutal. After we worked together for about a year, everyone began noticing a remarkable change.  Frankly, it was a change that happened faster than most.  To be clear, she made the change. She took the change process very seriously. She had great desire and she really embraced the coaching process.

After the year was up, she noticed that some people with whom she had not had much contact were still walking on eggshells around her.  They were unaware of her change.

Here is what I saw her do that helped others to trust the change:

1. Explain the change.

When she saw people were walking on eggshells with her, she would explain that she had gone through a change because she had worked on the anger issue.  She would not go into a lot of details, but a simple acknowledgement went far.

2. Apologize for the previous behaviors.

She then apologized for the role she had played in leading the person to walk on eggshells.  She said things like, “At times I was out of control, overly brutal, and completely unempathetic.  I was like a bull seeing red.  I am sorry for the impact I had on you.”

3. Be patient as they speak while they are still on guard.

As she noticed that people were still on edge, even after her explanation and apology, she showed a great deal of patience.  She shared with me, “Eventually they will know that the change is real.  In the meantime, I just need to stay the course.”

4. Slightly soften tone to convey that you are going to be calm.

When she noticed that they were getting on edge, especially if they made a mistake, she softened up more by adjusting her tone and body language.

When you soften your tone and relax, people start to reflect that posture. That helps them to lose the edge.  She also did a great job assuring them that she would remain calm and that they were going to fix the problem together.

5. Take them out to lunch or coffee so they can experience the new you.

She took a few key people out to lunch or coffee outside of the office.  This helped them to experience her in a different setting.  It was really important for them to see that she was authentic.  If something happened that she felt angry about, she expressed it; but she also shared what she does with the anger to bring it down.

What is hard to remember when you make a real transformation is that other people have to adjust to your change.

Unfortunately, when you make a real change, others can become uncomfortable around you, especially when the change is a positive one.

Positive change can bring about a level of conviction in others, if they are not growing.  It can also bring doubt that the change is real which impacts the level of trust.

It is important to stay the course. It's also important to have people around you who will encourage you to stay the course, and even grow more.

Eventually people will adjust and, hopefully, enjoy the new you.

Chew On This:

  • If you are working towards transforming yourself, how can you prepare your team for the change?

Ryan C. Bailey is an Executive Coach who helps business leaders develop in-demand high performing teams. *This blog is an amalgamation of a few different clients.  No one single client is being singled out.

Establishing An Ownership Culture Within Your Team

I was in a meeting with my client (let’s call her Jane), one of her direct reports (let’s call her Martha), Martha’s coach, and someone from HR. As you have probably already guessed, it was one of those meetings. Weeks earlier, Jane had learned that Martha was gossiping about her to other people on the team.  How did she learn about it?  Not one, not two, but three people on Martha’s team had gone to Jane and shared how uncomfortable they felt around Martha.  All three shared how raw and wounded Martha seemed to them.  Two out of the three stated that the ongoing gossip was having a negative effect on the team.

Jane had tried to talk to Martha one-on-one.  She listened carefully, paraphrased what she heard, owned what she could own, but held firm on areas that were Martha’s responsibility. However, Martha refused to accept responsibility. Later, Jane shared with me that all she had gotten during that one-on-one was “defensiveness and political posturing.”  When the gossiping continued, Jane tried a couple of different ways to help mend the relationship between herself and Martha, but nothing worked.

Martha’s coach reached out to me and we, with permission from our respective clients, had an open dialogue as to how we could help them reconcile. Although our conversation was enlightening and productive, we closed the conversation realizing that Martha’s lack of desire to own responsibility and work for change would be an ongoing source of trouble.

The team Jane leads is a shining star in her company.  It wasn’t always that way.  When Jane started with the team she earned a 33% engagement score. (For those of you who don’t know, that is a terrible score. It shows how little the team felt motivated and empowered, or how little they enjoyed the work they were doing.)  Within two years that engagement score went up to 88% and in the third year it went up to 97%--a feat no other team in their company had ever accomplished in such a short time span.

Jane was feeling a lot of pressure to maintain the engagement score, and she feared that because of Martha’s clout with the team, the turnaround story of her team was being threatened.

So now we are all together in a room and HR is involved.

What happened?

Martha chose to sit at the head of the table.  Jane was to her left.  Martha’s coach was to her right.  HR was behind Jane.  I was behind Martha’s coach, but because of the angle of the table and the fact that I was sitting a little farther back than the man from HR, I could see everyone’s reactions as the conversation progressed.

Jane opened and tried to set the stage for a constructive conversation. She expressed gratitude to Martha, was humble, real, authentic, vulnerable, and owned the parts that she felt were off.  She also shared the steps she was taking and would be taking to correct those parts.

Martha kept interrupting.  Her voice was raised almost to the point of yelling. I am pretty sure if someone walked by the office, they could have heard, even though the door was closed.

The reactions from the observers in the room were really different.  At times, HR was shocked.  Martha’s coach was noticeably nervous, and at times she tried to interject to help Martha gain some emotional self-control.

I was really surprised that Martha was as brutal and brazen as she was in front of HR.

Despite everyone’s attempts, Martha refused to own any part of what she had done.  She blame shifted, minimized, rationalized and made excuses.

When it finally hit Martha that she may lose the leadership of her team, she offered to stop talking about Jane to her team and to work to mend the relationship.

However, although there were some superficial changes, the relationship between Martha and Jane never improved, and team members noticed that Martha’s decision-making, leadership, and engagement went into the tank.

Jane escalated steps to resolve the tension, but to no avail.  Martha saw the writing on the wall.  Three months later she took a different role in the company, which had nothing to do with Jane’s team.  A year later Martha’s role was eliminated and she started her own company.

The Role of Ownership

In short, Martha formed some destructive beliefs about Jane.  Despite solid evidence to the contrary, Martha became entrenched in those beliefs.

The more entrenched she became, the less she was able to hear Jane or anyone else on her team.

Having witnessed a few other situations like this, I can see one clear difference between those that were successfully reconciled and this one.  In the ones that were reconciled,  there was ownership.

Ownership takes place when you accept responsibility for your role in a problem and express it to those involved without trying to “market” yourself.  That is, there is no blame shifting, excuse making, minimizing, etc.  It can be as uncomplicated as saying, “I did X.”  Simple short sentences are often key.

The first step on the way to change is real ownership.  Ownership leads to humility.  Humility is key to being teachable.  When we are teachable, we can learn how to make the changes we need to make.

When someone owns what they did, they lower their guard and become vulnerable.  This can make ownership feel too risky.

However, when most people hear clear, authentic ownership, they feel hope.  That hope leads to a desire to protect and help the one who owned make the necessary changes.  Moreover, we want to forgive them.

I have seen some people not own and make changes, but I often wonder how deep those changes go. Sometimes the change seems superficial, made only because of the threat of loss.  It is more like a dam that is holding back water.  Once the threat is removed, the dam breaks and all the stored-up wrath floods not only the one who offended them, but their entire team as well.

This level of toxicity kills engagement and productivity, and impacts results.

Chew On This:

 

  • What do you need to own?  What short phrase captures what you need to own?

 

Ryan C. Bailey is an Executive Coach who helps business leaders develop in-demand high performing teams.

*This blog is an amalgamation of a few different clients.  No one single client is being singled out.