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Tuesday, December 22, 2015

10 Surefire Ways for Leaders to Engage their Team Members

Want to be an excellent leader? A truly inspirational, effective agent of your team’s success? There is literally nothing harder – or more important – in the world of work. That’s why effective leaders are so rare in real life.

If that discourages you, them maybe you don’t have what it takes to lead after all. If it motivates you instead? Well, then, here are a few tips to take it from “in charge guy/gal” to “excellent leader !” who gets the very best from their people.

1. Repeat after me (to your team): “My job is to help you be successful by making your job easier.”
No, your job is not to give them the day off to shop while you finish up their work for them. But your job as leader – your only job, as leader – is to remove impediments and provide the tools for your people’s success. Take the obstacles out of their way and give them the resources so they can do the important work of your company: serving your customers!

2. Foster friendships among your staff.
After work socialization is important – it is! But nothing builds camaraderie and team spirit like shared success as the result of shared struggle. What’s your team’s greater goal? What significant challenges are you confronting that all of you can be proud of overcoming together?

3. Reward for the big things. And the medium things. And even the itty-bitty little things.
We like praise. We want recognition. One winner-takes-all vacation or mega-bonus for the year’s top performer is great and all, but how about a $5 Starbucks, or even a made-up certificate from your printer, because someone filed her report on time? 

4. Push them.
People of quality want to be good at their jobs. Kindly help them to improve. …Kindly, but maybe not gently.

5. Release the “Just Enoughers” to other “opportunities.”
We all know the “Just Enoughers.” Employees that do just enough to avoid getting fired. No one likes to work with slackers – except other slackers. Redeploy them sooner than later. As the old saying goes, “If it’s inevitable, make it immediate.”
6. Hire slowly and caaaaarefully!
Show your current team members and your new recruits that not just anybody belongs on your team. If you want to build an elite group, hire top performers. You’ll have to kiss a lot of frogs as you vet the talent pond.

7. Give them something important to get up for in the morning.
Remember number 2, with the part about shared challenges? Pick a lofty goal. Then make pursuit of that the rallying cry of your team. Change lives, change how business is done; don’t just settle to change who wins this year’s sales contest. 

8. Talk up your people to others.
Talk your team up to your peers, to their peers, to your boss and her boss and heck, to the security guard, too. Be proud of each of them, and share that pride with anyone who’ll listen. Word will filter back to them, and as it does, it will have have a major impact. 

9. Expect the world of them.
Establish with your team how highly you respect and admire them. Expect big things from them. They will live up to your image of them, no matter what it takes.

10. Be worthy of their effort.
Want to really be the best, most effective leader ever? Work to improve yourself every day, in every way that is important to your team’s success. In order to lead a group of champions to new heights, you as leader must be worthy of the team’s time and energy. And that’s a lot more than we have room for in one blog post.

You will never be as good as you can be as a leader. But every hour of every day, if you’re sufficiently devoted to the success of your team, you can improve. Keep at it, and your people will start bragging about you – to their peers, your peers, your boss and her boss. And yes, even to the security guards.

When it percolates back to you how admired you are by those you serve as leader… you’ll be infinitely prouder than if they told you themselves! 

All the success!

Peter McLees

P. S. Smart Development inc. has a proven track record equipping leaders and companies  to elevate employee and customer engagement. We have helped restaurants, stores, branches, distribution centers, food production facilities, and other businesses create a strong culture, leadership bench strength and the teamwork necessary for growth. Having worked with several companies throughout their growth cycle, we have valuable insights and strategies that would help any late stage startup, small or medium sized company achieve sustained growth and prosperity.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

My Top 40 Random Thoughts for Elevating the Holiday Spirits

Yuletide Greetings ~

It was the week before Christmas last year when I was sitting in the my World Headquarters (My favorite chair) listening to that song “We Need A Little Christmas”. I was not in the Ho! Ho! Ho! holly jolly holiday mood. My outlook was more like Bah! Bah! Bah!...Humbug! "This too shall pass" (meaning the holidays). I didn't like my state of mind so I set out to change the way I was feeling. I made a list of things I've done in the past, could do again, as well as some new things and random thoughts to create laughter, perspective and a sense of well being for myself and those around me.  It's funny how just writing things down boosted my spirits. And when I actually did some of  them---Wowzy Zowzy!

[I apologize for the for the long list but I was on a roll ]

1. Find a way to make a friend, a family member, a co worker or a stranger feel like a million bucks today. It is the best way to get rich quick because you instantly feel like a million bucks yourself when you do.
2. Why not listen to some commercial free (almost) Christmas music here
3. Commit to hearty laughter at least once a day. Once you do that, make sure you help others do the same! Methinks we are taking ourselves way too seriously! I know I do at times.
4. Forgive someone.
5. Be a kid again. We won’t tell anyone!

6. Understand that other than the “5 Golden Rings” in The 12 Days of Christmas, someone basically cleaned out their attic and was trying to unload junk. I mean what am I supposed to do with a bunch of Lords a leaping? Just put them over there next to the swans a swimming, Cabin boy!
7. Sing along to a holiday song. Rinse and repeat!
8. Volunteer at the local shelter or senior home.

9. Take a coworker out to lunch or coffee . . . just because.
10. Between now and the end of the year include messages of hope and inspiration in your status updates.
11. Grab a hot chocolate or some spiked egg nog and look at some Christmas lights.
12. Give someone a few extra minutes of your time.
13. Take at least one opportunity to bite your tongue. (This one's tough for me)
14. Over tip someone who deserves it. (This one's easy)

15. Understand that laughing at the song “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer” is sick. Would you really laugh if your Grandmother got run over by a reindeer? What’s next? Grandpa got burned to death roasting chestnuts over a raging fire.
16. Forgive your parents already. Like they didn’t forgive us for the stuff we pulled?
17. Evict negativity from your life. Seek out good. Its there! In the words of Dwitt Jones, "Celebrate What's Right with the World."

18. Give someone the gift of your undivided attention.
19. Tell a loved one how much they mean to you. Unfortunately, there’s an expiration date on this crazy thing we call life! And if by chance you lost that person . . . find a way to honor them!
20. Plan a family night.
21. Find something inspirational and then pass it to your network because quite frankly, we all need a shot in the arm from time to time.
22. Encourage someone. Its free.
23. Answer this question: What am I most grateful for? Take inventory and count the upside.

24. Stop striving for Norman Rockwell Christmas moments. Understand that the beauty of his art was in capturing the chaos and even celebrating it. Might be a lesson in that crazy thought.
25. Donate some food to the local food pantry. They get hit hard this time of year.

26. Change the words to one of your favorite holiday songs. Personally, I like singing “Walking in my winter wacky wear" (Like those embarrassing red sweat pants that only my dogs accept me in) to the tune of “Walking in a winter wonderland”.

27. Commit to wearing your spirit on your sleeve! As William James remarked, "Act as if your cheerful and you'll eventually feel cheerful."
28. Listen to the lyrics of “We wish you a Merry Christmas” and then ask yourself, What’s the deal with that Figgy Pudding and who the heck do they think they are threatening us that “We won’t go until we get some” I wish the person who wrote that song would have stepped back to realize that people are willing to get indignant over a Baileys or a bowl of Hagen Daz Macadamia Nut crunch ice cream, but a figgy pudding? Don’t have any, but help yourself to those Lords a leapin over there instead skipper!

29. Sing a duet of “Baby its cold outside” and then realize that the cacophony that just occurred with your singing is precisely why you both need to keep working your day jobs.
30. Don't OD on the news. Take it in bite sized pieces. They make mega bucks with negativity . . . we don’t!
31. Find a way to create a memory and then visit that memory often! Someday we will refer to today as “The good old days” Make 'em count!
32. 101 Christmas Videos can be viewed online by clicking here
33. Go to a tree lighting, a children’s Christmas concert to get that hometown vibe going!
34. When you find yourself in an exceptionally good mood, don’t ever let anyone take your joy away from you.

35. Mend a fence. Lose the ego and repeat after me “I'm sorry” ( I know that phrase can stick in my craw sometimes). Try it and it will lighten your load.
36. Catch up with someone you lost touch with.
37. Let someone know they inspired you!
38. Let your spouse have the remote control for the entire night...or week. Yikes! I'm already getting the shakes just at the thought of it.
39. Go Elf yourself, your pet or a public figure.
40. Watch It’s A Wonderful Life (again). Current events notwithstanding, we have have a pretty wonderful life!   This season reminds us what is really important -- the relationships we share.  It is those relationships that really make it a wonderful life.

I hope in some small way this list has brought a smile and kicked up the holiday vibe a notch.

Peter Mclees

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Make 2015 the Best Year with Ben Franklin's System for Success

On the 1st of January every year people all over the world set resolutions. It seems to be a common trait among people that compels them to start a new year with a list of things they want to achieve.
Whether you want to achieve a work-related goal, learn a new skill, get heathier or just be more efficient in what you do, this newsletter which focuses on achieving New Year's Resolutions can help.

At first glance it would appear that resolutions are not really goals, but loosely defined objectives or plans, e.g. to get a promotion, achieve a sales goal or to be a better spouse or parent.
In 1726, at the age of 20, Benjamin Franklin created a system to develop his character. It was a list of 13 virtues that he wanted to live by. In his autobiography he said this system was responsible for the incredible success he had in life.

On the surface each one of Franklin’s virtues looked like a simple and very vague resolution, but if you carefully read the words in his autobiography it quickly becomes apparent that without knowing it he was following the SMART formula described below.

Here are two of his virtues.

Silence—Speak not but what might benefit others or yourself. Avoid trifling conversation.
Specific (to be more silent or listen more), Measureable (Only speak if it is going to benefit you or others and don’t get involved in trifling conversation), Actionable (he felt so), Realistic (No reason why not) and we’ll come onto time in a moment.

Order –Let all your things have their places. Let each part of your business have its time.
Specific (Order), Measurable (Everything has a place or time), Actionable (no reason why not), Realistic (yes) and we’ll look at time below.
By carefully defining each virtue Franklin made it specific and measureable. It can be difficult to measure something such as order by saying “Let all things have their place,” he set an upper limit that could be measured. If his place of business was unorganized he had not met his goal—plain and simple.

Franklin believed that his list of virtues should be constantly at the forefront of his thinking and so every one of his virtues was a daily goal. So far example, his silence virtue could be reworded as:
For the next 24 hours I will not speak unless it benefits others or myself and I will not spend time in trifling conversation. Each of his goals was logged on a simple chart in a small book he carried with him. If he managed to get through the day without breaking a goal (or virtue) he congratulated himself and if he failed he made a mark next to that particular goal so that he would know to double his efforts on it over the coming days.

Golden Rules of Goal Setting

Five Rules to Set Yourself and Others Up for Success

Have you thought about what you want to be doing in five years' time? Are you clear about what your main objective at work is at the moment? Do you know what you want to have achieved by the end of today?

If you want to succeed, you need to set goals. Without goals you lack focus and direction. Goal setting not only allows you to take control of your life's direction; it also provides you a benchmark for determining whether you are actually succeeding. Think about it: Having a million dollars in the bank is only proof of success if one of your goals is to amass riches. If your goal is to practice acts of charity, then keeping the money for yourself is suddenly contrary to how you would define success.

To accomplish your goals, however, you need to know how to set them. You can't simply say, "I want" and expect it to happen. Goal setting is a process that starts with careful consideration of what you want to achieve, and ends with a lot of hard work to actually do it. In between there are some very well defined steps that transcend the specifics of each goal. Knowing these steps will allow you to formulate goals that you can accomplish.

Here are our five golden rules of goal setting:

The Five Golden Rules

1. Set Goals that Motivate You

When you set goals for yourself, it is important that they motivate you: this means making sure that they are important to you, and that there is value in achieving them. If you have little interest in the outcome, or they are irrelevant given the larger picture, then the chances of you putting in the work to make them happen are slim. Motivation is key to achieving goals.

Set goals that relate to the high priorities in your life. Without this type of focus, you can end up with far too many goals, leaving you too little time to devote to each one. Goal achievement requires commitment, so to maximize the likelihood of success, you need to feel a sense of urgency and have an "I must do this" attitude. When you don't have this, you risk putting off what you need to do to make the goal a reality. This in turn leaves you feeling disappointed and frustrated with yourself, both of which are de-motivating. And you can end up in a very destructive "I can't do anything or be successful at anything" frame of mind.


To make sure your goal is motivating, write down why it's valuable and important to you. Ask yourself, "If I were to share my goal with others, what would I tell them to convince them it was a worthwhile goal?" You can use this motivating value statement to help you if you start to doubt yourself or lose confidence in your ability to actually make the goal happen.

2. Set SMART Goals

You have probably heard of "SMART goals" already. But do you always apply the rule? The simple fact is that for goals to be powerful, they should be designed to be SMART. There are many variations of what SMART stands for, but the essence is this – goals should be:

•Time Bound.

Set Specific Goals

Your goal must be clear and well defined. Vague or generalized goals are unhelpful because they don't provide sufficient direction. Remember, you need goals to show you the way. Make it as easy as you can to get where you want to go by defining precisely where you want to end up.

Set Measurable Goals

Include precise amounts, dates, and so on in your goals so you can measure your degree of success. If your goal is simply defined as "To reduce expenses" how will you know when you have been successful? In one month's time if you have a 1 percent reduction or in two years' time when you have a 10 percent reduction? Without a way to measure your success you miss out on the celebration that comes with knowing you have actually achieved something.

Set Attainable Goals

Make sure that it's possible to achieve the goals you set. If you set a goal that you have no hope of achieving, you will only demoralize yourself and erode your confidence.

However, resist the urge to set goals that are too easy. Accomplishing a goal that you didn't have to work hard for can be anticlimactic at best, and can also make you fear setting future goals that carry a risk of non-achievement. By setting realistic yet challenging goals, you hit the balance you need. These are the types of goals that require you to "raise the bar" and they bring the greatest personal satisfaction.

Set Realistic Goals

Goals should be a stretch but realistic to what the resources and time you have to accomplish them.

Set Time-Bound Goals

You goals must have a deadline. Again, this means that you know when you can celebrate success. When you are working on a deadline, your sense of urgency increases and achievement will come that much quicker.

3. Set Goals in Writing

The physical act of writing down a goal makes it real and tangible. You have no excuse for forgetting about it. As you write, use the word "will" instead of "would like to" or "might." For example, "I will reduce my operating expenses by 10 percent this year," not "I would like to reduce my operating expenses by 10 percent this year." The first goal statement has power and you can "see" yourself reducing expenses, the second lacks passion and gives you an excuse if you get sidetracked.

Tip 1:

Frame your goal statement positively. If you want to improve your retention rates say, "I will hold on to all existing employees for the next quarter" rather than "I will reduce employee turnover." The first one is motivating; the second one still has a get-out clause "allowing" you to succeed even if some employees leave.

Tip 2:

If you use a To-Do List , make yourself a To-Do List template that has your goals at the top of it. If you use an Action Program , then your goals should be at the top of your Project Catalog.

Post your goals in visible places to remind yourself every day of what it is you intend to do. Put them on your walls, desk, computer monitor, bathroom mirror or refrigerator as a constant reminder.

4. Make an Action Plan

This step is often missed in the process of goal setting. You get so focused on the outcome that you forget to plan all of the steps that are needed along the way. By writing out the individual steps, and then crossing each one off as you complete it, you'll realize that you are making progress towards your ultimate goal. This is especially important if your goal is big and demanding, or long-term. Read our article on Action Plans   for more on how to do this.

5. Stick With It!

Remember, goal setting is an ongoing activity not just a means to an end. Build in reminders to keep yourself on track, and make regular time-slots available to review your goals. Your end destination may remain quite similar over the long term, but the action plan you set for yourself along the way can change significantly. Make sure the relevance, value, and necessity remain high.

Peter Mclees, LMFT

P. S. Smart Development Inc.has an exceptional track record helping restaurants, stores, branches, distribution centers, production facilities, clinics and other businesses create a strong culture, leadership bench strength and the teamwork necessary for growth. Having worked with several companies throughout their growth cycle, we have valuable insights and strategies that would help any late stage startup, small or medium sized company achieve sustained growth and prosperity.