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Tuesday, July 26, 2016

7 leadership lessons from the golf course

It might seem counter-intuitive that a personal endeavor like golf can provide lessons for leaders, but it can.
Golf requires passion, and many develop a life-long obsession with improvement, despite the frustration that inevitably comes along.
“Leadership can be the same way,” argues Daniel Newman, CEO at United Visual.  “Those who are most active at it are often doing it out of passion and a desire to improve (self or others). This desire to change, inspire, and impassion can deliver amazing results one day only to bring dismal results the next. Nevertheless, when leadership and passion are a part of your DNA, quitting is never an option. So the choice becomes to persevere and to be a life-long learner.”
Newman offers seven leadership lessons that he calls “critical,” all of which come from the golf course.
For example, sometimes you have to “grip and rip”— take that big risk — while other times you should “lay up” and play it safe. He adds that you should always expect the ups and downs.
 “Failure is a part of any strong leader’s CV,” he reminds us.  “When you hit a bad shot, don’t mess up the next three while dwelling on it because ups and downs are part of leadership.”
Newman’s seven tips are sure to keep us on course.
All the success!
Peter Mclees, Principal
P. S. Smart Development Inc. has an exceptional track record helping restaurants, stores, plants, distribution centers, Ports 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.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Everyone Wins When You Help Employees Provide Value

One of the things I love about being in leadership development is that everyone always bring you these rich stories that sometimes causes you to have an “a-ha”moment.

A major retail chain recently did something that, for a retail company, needs to be lauded. In retail, you have a workforce that is largely made up of hourly employees. They are the people that face the customers each and every day. Good mood or bad mood, they must keep the stiff upper lip and remember that the “customer is always right.”

One of the challenges all retail companies face is the weekly schedule. Trying to place people in slots, or work around challenges in their lives, is an enormous uphill battle both for the manager as well as the employee.
Facing a challenge and everyone wins
This company addressed that challenge head on and empowered their hourly workers to take charge of their schedule. In a nutshell, the employee makes their own schedule. They now have ownership and flexibility, and the theme of this program is that it allows associates to accommodate events that come into their life.

Imagine for moment that you are one of those workers, whether you are a single parent, college student, taking care of an elderly parent, or whatever. You are now empowered to set your own schedule. Outside of the weekend and certain key days, you are in charge. If you need to swap a day with someone, you are empowered to just do it as opposed to bowing to some manager and waiting for their verdict.

The response from their workforce, as it was told to me, was huge win. The workers thought they would never live to see the day that this would happen.
I am always encouraged when I see companies step up to the plate and look at situations and decide that yes, we can do this.
Empowerment going forward is the key
I was traveling a few weeks back, and when I came back to my hotel room, for some reason the key would not work. I tried reinserting it numerous times but I kept getting a flashing light. A member of the housekeeping staff saw my problem and came over and tried her key. She apologized and called the front desk, and they in-turn called the maintenance supervisor, who came up to my room with a crew of people.

Being a leadership development person, I watched the workplace dynamics of this play out — four people standing around my room trying to get me in. When I was finally let in, the supervisor came over and apologized profusely.

“Mr. Mclees, why not have dinner on us tonight?” he said. Knowing that I had dinner plans, I thanked him and politely declined. But he did not give up. “Why not have dessert on us then?” That suggestion I agreed to.
The residual impact of empowerment
My question to him was how, and why, did you do that? He said that each employee is empowered to grant these types of offerings when a customer is inconvenienced.
I thought of that story as I flew home. As I prepared for my next business trip, I noticed that my work location was centered around a few hotels. When I saw that the hotel that I had recently stayed was among them, my choice was easy. From this point on I will try and give them as much of my travel business as possible for the way they treated me as a customer — and all because of one interaction.

One of most interesting books that I have read over the past few years is Employee First, Customer Second by Vineet Nayer, CEO of HCL Technologies. HCL is a leading global IT services company. This is the firsthand account from a CEO about how he transformed his organization, taking it from decline into an engine of vitality and growth.

This book gives you a ringside seat to his transformational journey in turning conventional management of people upside down.

In a nutshell, he empowered his employees and they engaged his customers and turned around a company that was in a downward spiral.
Where is the value zone?
Vineet Nayer coined the phrase “value zone. This zone is the interface between employees and customers. Every employee that works within this zone is capable of creating more, or less, value. The mission was to do everything to enable those employees to create the most value possible.
Nayer wanted management to be as accountable to the people in the value zone as the people in the value zone are to management.

What they found was that this approach produced far more passion, because it proved that management understood the importance of employees in this “value zone.” They trusted them to do what was needed to be done in a way that they believed it should be done.
The small things win
Sometimes we look for the big initiatives to get back on track, but more often than not, it’s a small amount of respect and trust that causes the groundswell.

Empower employees, and both the employee and the organization wins. Treat them with mistrust and a lack of respect, and no one wins. It is as simple as that.

Oh, and by the way, when I returned from dinner back at the hotel, that slice of pound cake with raspberry topping capped off a powerful day for the “value zone.”

Peter Mclees, Principal

P. S. Smart Development Inc. has an exceptional track record helping restaurants, stores, plants, distribution centers, Ports 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, July 20, 2016

1 Surprising Reason Your Communication Fails

Pay attention to what people need, not what you need to say.

There are so many reasons why communication fails, but here's one you might have overlooked: When you aren't considerate of the recipient's needs, your message is likely to be missed.
I was reminded of this as I read Alexander McCall Smith's novel, The Sunday Philosophy Club. The novel is set in Edinburgh, Scotland, and features as its main character a woman named Isabel Dalhousie, who edits a philosophy journal.
Isabel, a philosopher, thinks deeply about many issues. Here are her musings about manners inspired by the actions of a character named Toby.
 Toby "had bad manners; not on the surface, where he thought, quite wrongly, that it counted, but underneath, in this attitude to others. Good manners depended on paying moral attention to others; it required one to treat them with complete moral seriousness, to understand their feelings and their needs. Some people, the selfish, had no inclination to do this, and it always showed. They were impatient with those whom they thought did not count: the old, the inarticulate, the disadvantaged. The person with good manners, however, would always listen to such people and treat them with respect."
In short, manners matter, especially when it comes to communication. This lack of respect (or dearth of matters) can take many forms, including:
  • Not getting to the point. You're tempted to share the whole history of your project, but most people want you to cut to the chase (of how your topic affects them).
  • Using terms and words that are difficult to understand.
  • Assuming people have been paying close attention all along; not providing context.
  • Choosing a communication channel because it's convenient for you (email, I'm looking at you), even if it doesn't work for the audience.
  • Responding to questions as if the questions are "dumb" or annoying.
I could go on, but you get the idea: If we don't respect the people we're communicating with, why should they bother to pay attention?
All the success,
Peter Mclees, Principal
Mobile: 323-854-1713

Thursday, July 14, 2016

8 Ways to Elevate Morale and Ultimately, Profits

About Morale 

According to sociologist Alexander Leighton, "morale is the capacity of a group of people to pull together persistently and consistently in pursuit of a common purpose."
For your organization or team to thrive, it's essential to take the time to develop good morale and engagement. 
Almost by definition, organizations or teams with high morale experience higher productivity and staff engagement, they show lower employee turnover and absenteeism, and they have a happier workforce. What's more, they find it easier to attract and retain the best talent. 

While "raising morale" can seem to be a nebulous goal, many of these other effects are measurable, and directly affect the bottom line.

Last but not least, it feels great to work in an organization where morale is high!

Why Morale and Happiness Suffers

There are many things that can cause team morale to dip. For example:

·        Poor leadership.
·        Poor communication.
·        Lack of empowerment or autonomy.
·        Inflexible working conditions.
·        Damage to the organization's reputation or public image.
·        Losing a big contract or client.
·        Difficult co-workers.
·        Heavy workloads or stress, with no reward or gratitude.
·        No sense of social value to the work being done, or a negative impact on the wider   society.
·        Layoffs and restructuring.
·        Cancellation of team benefits.

Signs  of  Low  Morale
Too often, managers don't realize that morale is poor. Whether or not your team or organization is facing any of the scenarios above, watch out for the following clues that morale may be slipping:

·        Obvious unhappiness.
·        Indifference towards customers.
·        Increased complaints about work, or other team members.
·        Increased absenteeism.
·        An increase in conflict between team members.
·        Insubordination or unruliness.
·        Disorganized work environments.
·        Increased employee turnover.
·        Decreased productivity.
·        Lack of enthusiasm.

Leader  Engagement

Keep in mind that, if you're a leader or manager, your team's morale starts with you. It's up to you to be a good role model for your team. If your own morale is suffering, then it's vital that you work on rebuilding your own outlook and attitude first.

Start by identifying why your own morale is low, and then come up with ways to adjust your mental attitude.

Often, this starts with action. For instance, perhaps your morale is down because your boss is pressuring you to do a good job, and is threatening to fire you if you don't perform. You can make yourself feel more positive and in control of the situation by getting organized, and by achieving measurable goals that will put your boss at ease.

Work on rebuilding your self-confidence. Remember, your team is always watching you: if you're feeling positive and confident, they will too. Quick wins will also help build confidence - for you, and your team.


Team Morale and Engagement

If your team's morale needs rebuilding, there are several strategies that you can use. However, just as you did with your own morale, you need to start by understanding the problem. This helps you choose strategies that best fit your situation, which may include:

1. Reconnecting With Your Team
Morale is higher in situations where team members feel close to their managers. You can create this type of environment by developing good relationships with your team, and by reconnecting whenever possible.

Practice Management by Walking Around so you can "touch base" with team members often. With regular contact and communication, you can reestablish trust and rapport with your team.

It also helps to develop your emotional intelligence: the better you can sense the emotions and needs of those around you, the better you will be as a leader.

Keep in mind that lack of appreciation is often cited as one of the root causes of low morale. So, do whatever you can to show your people that you appreciate them. Reward your team by saying "thank you" for a job well done, or by offering benefits such as extra days off, or flexible scheduling when key goals are met.

You'll also want to give everyone regular feedback on their work. (See our blog on feedback - once a year just isn't enough!)

2. Developing Your Team
Another way of improving morale, especially after a round of layoffs, is by helping people develop their skills.

So make sure that you're offering your people opportunities for learning and development, as a way of helping them feel more secure and committed to the organization.

You can do this by understanding their developmental needs, and by usingTraining Needs Assessments to make sure that everyone is properly trained.

Cross-Training is another great way of building morale, and improving productivity, just as long as you explain why you're doing it. (Some may see it as a sign that layoffs are on the way!)

3. Improving the Workplace

Sometimes, morale can suffer because of the physical environment that your team has to work in.

Take a look at the offices, conference rooms, and break rooms that your team uses. Are these rooms safe and clean? Is the air quality good? Are the rooms bright and energizing? Do team members have the tools and resources they need to work effectively? Do what you can to improve the offices and other rooms your team uses every day.

You can also use Herzberg’s Motivational and Hygiene Factors to address the factors that cause dissatisfaction in your team.

4. Improving Communication

Poor communication can be another common root cause of low morale.
Rumors can spread quickly in the workplace, and these can destroy morale. This is why it's important to give people accurate, timely information, especially if sales are down, or if the company is restructuring or downsizing. (Just make sure that your communications are coordinated with those of other managers.)

Identify ways that you can keep your team in the loop. Perhaps you could send a weekly email with important updates, or devote a few minutes in your regular meetings to keeping people up to speed with what's going on. Communicate fully with your team, and explain how any changes or decisions will affect them.

Remember, the flow of information should go both ways. Encourage your team to come to you any time they have questions or concerns. Listenactively to what they have to say, and respond in a timely manner to problems or suggestions. If rumors do begin to fly around the office, address them immediately.

5. Setting Measurable Goals

Morale can fall when your people are unclear about what they should be doing, or what your expectations are. This lack of direction is disheartening, and disorienting.
Make sure that your people are aware of your organization's mission and vision, and of how their work contributes towards these. Understanding these gives members of your team a clear and (hopefully) inspiring view of what the organization expects, and helps them think about how they can use their own talents and skills to fulfill the organization's mission.

Next, look at the tasks and responsibilities of each team member. Set SMART goals for everyone on your team using Management By Objectives - having clear, achievable goals will help to motivate people, and will help them know what they should be doing.

6. Rebuilding Confidence

Perhaps your team just lost an important contract or project. If this is the case, people's confidence may be shaken.

Learn how to build confidence in other people. One great way to do this is to give them more autonomy to make decisions. Delegate tasks and responsibilities, and push them to work towards challenging but achievable goals. And when someone on your team has a success, celebrate it!

7. Focusing on Talent Management

If times are tough for your organization, you might have a problem keeping your best people, or enticing good new people to join your team. This is another reason why rebuilding morale is so important: if morale is reduced, your most talented team members are likely to be the first to walk. (After all, they'll find it easiest to get new jobs.)

Use talent management strategies to ensure that your people stay interested in your organization. For instance, use job crafting to make sure that their roles use their talents and skills fully.

8. Keeping People Motivated

Once you've rebuilt morale and engagement, it's important to keep people motivated so that your team can reach its objectives. Also remember that morale can be affected even when times are good. Regularly look for signs of low-morale, and revisit the strategies above when necessary.

Key Points

Team morale and engagement can suffer for many reasons, including downsizing, poor leadership, poor communication, or difficulty with co-workers. If you suspect that your team's morale is not what it should be, there are several strategies that you can use to rebuild it.
First, focus on your own morale and engagement. Then identify why team morale is low, and choose appropriate strategies for rebuilding it.

These can include:
1. Reconnecting with your team.
2. Developing your team.
3. Improving the workplace.
4. Improving communication.
5. Setting measurable goals.
6. Rebuilding confidence.
7. Focusing on talent management.
8. Motivating your people effectively.

Check out the post, "Making More Money By Making Your Employees Happy."

Click here:

All the success!

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Focus on communication fuels Southwest Airlines

Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly describes how his company’s communication strategy keeps employees smiling.
When Gary Kelly took over as CEO of Southwest Airlines in 2004, he had a very clear vision of what he wanted his senior leadership to do: communicate more effectively and work better as a team. To do this, the company had to create an overarching program that would inform all of its communication efforts.
It took more than 30 years for Southwest Airlines to articulate its values to employees, but the company’s mission statement and objectives are now firmly in place. Employees have a good idea of where the company is headed, and how they fit into those goals as individuals.
But how does a Fortune 500 company ensure that every employee—from the corner office to the runway—is living the “Southwest Way” as they call it? At recent a leadership summit, Kelly told a room of more than 300 corporate communicators that it starts with caring.
Southwest’s mission starts with customer service, and its approach is simple: They genuinely care about their employees, who, in turn, will hopefully be inspired to treat customers accordingly. “And what is it that makes for a strong relationship with people?” says Kelly. “It’s communication.” Of course, “communication” is just a word—the content of the message must be compelling, and it must come from the right source.
“I think (communication) is most effective if it includes top management,” he says. “If you have middle management that’s trying to carry a message, it’s going to be inconsistent from one group to the next.” Kelly says Southwest’s top-down communication is carried out through a collaborative effort between him and the company’s communications team.
During the past decade the entire airline industry has been faced with unprecedented challenges that stem mainly from 9/11 and rising oil prices. Therefore, says Kelly, “The challenges today, from a communications perspective, are as dramatic as they have ever been.”

Listening to the ideas and concerns of employees becomes paramount to effective communication. But listening is only half of the equation. Following the lead of the emerging forms of social media, communication is a participatory game. “It’s a constant conversation,” says Kelly, “and hopefully a very intimate relationship. That’s where our employees get engaged. If they know what’s going on, and they know why we’re doing things, typically they’ll get on board.”
And as long as Kelly can point to corporate mission statement and objectives as the reason why they take on certain initiatives, it’s easy to see why so many Southwest employees are on board.

Gary Kelly explains the Southwest Airlines’ mission:
The mission of Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of customer service.
“That is the highest aspiration that we have. First and foremost, we want to be a great customer service company.”
Delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, personal pride and company spirit.
“A lot of customers don’t need the personal interaction, and that’s why is one of the most popular travel sites in the world. But we have to be there for our customers in person when they need us there in person. This is a very straightforward, long-lasting set of words in our mission statement.”
To provide our employees with a stable work environment with an equal opportunity for learning and personal growth, encouraging creativity and innovation, and providing them the same concern, respect and caring attitude that they’re expected to share externally with every customer.
“It’s very clear: We put customers first, but then we really talk about our employees. There’s some tangible evidence as to how we’ve treated our employees over the years. We’ve never had a furlough at Southwest Airlines. We’ve never had a layoff. We’ve never had a pay cut—even after 9/11. We are highly regarded as a company in many different ways: great service, strong financials and 34 years of   profitability. But the thing we’re most proud of is that we’ve been able to take care of each other. Those are things I hope will be everlasting at this company because they go hand in hand.”

 To your greater success,

Peter Mclees, Principal
P. S. Smart Development Inc. has an exceptional track record helping 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.