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Saturday, December 2, 2017

The "5 Whys"-- Getting to the Root of a Problem Quickly

Getting to the Root of a Problem Quickly

Learn how to drill down into a problem, to get to its root and solve it quickly and effectively.

Have you ever had a problem that refused to go away? No matter what you did, sooner or later it would return, perhaps in another form.

Stubborn and recurrent problems are often symptoms of deeper issues. A "quick fix" may seem convenient, but it's really just a temporary solution and it may solve only part of the problem.

To solve it properly, you need to drill down through the symptoms to the underlying cause. This article looks at Sakichi Toyoda's 5 Whys technique – a simple but powerful tool for quickly uncovering the root of a problem, so that you can deal with it once and for all.

About the Tool

Sakichi Toyoda, one of the fathers of the Japanese industrial revolution, developed the technique in the 1930s. He was an industrialist, inventor and founder of Toyota Industries. His technique became popular in the 1970s and Toyota still uses it to solve problems today.

Toyota has a "go and see" philosophy. This means that its decision making is based upon an in-depth understanding of the processes and conditions on the shop floor, rather than reflecting what someone in a boardroom thinks might be happening.

The 5 Whys technique is true to this tradition, and it is most effective when the answers come from people who have hands-on experience of the process being examined. It is remarkably simple: when a problem occurs, you uncover its nature and source by asking "why" no fewer than five times. Here it is in action:

Problem: Your client is refusing to pay for the leaflets you printed for them.
1.Why? The delivery was late, so the leaflets couldn't be used.
2.Why? The job took longer than we anticipated.
3.Why? We ran out of printer ink.
4.Why? The ink was all used up on a big, last-minute order.
5.Why? We didn't have enough in stock, and we couldn't order it in quickly enough.

Counter-measure: We need to find a supplier who can deliver ink at very short notice so that we can continue to minimize inventory, reduce waste, and respond to customer demand, in line with our Just in Time  approach.

When to Use the Tool

You can use the 5 Whys in troubleshooting, quality improvement and problem solving, but it is best for simple or moderately difficult problems.

For more complex or critical problems, it can lead you to pursue a single track of inquiry when there could be multiple causes. Here, a wider-ranging method such as Cause and Effect Analysis  may be more effective.

This simple technique, however, can often quickly direct you to the root of the problem. So, whenever a system or process isn't working properly, give it a try before you embark on a more in-depth approach.

The simplicity of this tool gives it great flexibility, too, and it combines well with other methods and techniques. It is often associated with lean manufacturing  (also part of the Toyota Production System), where it is used to identify and eliminate wasteful practices. It is also used in the analysis phase of the Six Sigma  quality improvement methodology.

How to Use the Tool

The 5 Whys is a simple, practical tool that is very easy to use. When a problem arises, simply keep asking the question "why" until you reach the underlying source of the problem, and until a robust counter-measure becomes apparent.


The 5 Whys uses "counter-measures," rather than solutions. A counter-measure is an action or set of actions that seeks to prevent the problem arising again, while a solution just seeks to deal with the situation. As such, counter-measures are more robust, and are more likely to prevent the problem from recurring.

Each time you ask "why," look for an answer that is grounded in fact: it must be an account of things that have actually happened – not events that might have happened. This prevents the 5 Whys becoming just a process of deductive reasoning, which can generate a number of possible causes and, sometimes, create more confusion.

Keep asking "why" until you feel confident that you have identified the root cause and can go no further. At this point, an appropriate counter-measure should become evident. If you're not sure whether you have uncovered the real root cause, consider using a more in-depth problem-solving technique like Root Cause Analysis .

Key Points

The 5 Whys strategy is an easy to use, effective tool for uncovering the root of a problem. You can use it in troubleshooting, problem solving and quality improvement initiatives.

Start with a problem and ask "why" it is occurring. Make sure that your answer is grounded in fact, then ask "why" again. Continue the process until you reach the root cause of the problem, and you can identify a counter-measure that prevents it recurring.

Bear in mind that this questioning process is best suited to simple to moderately-difficult problems. Complex problems may benefit from a more detailed approach (although using 5 Whys will still give you useful insights.)

To your greater success,

Peter Mclees, Leadership Coach, Trainer and Performance Consultant
Mobile: 323-854-1713

Smart Development has an exceptional track record helping service providers, ports, sales teams, restaurants, stores, distribution centers, food production facilities, nonprofits, government agencies and other businesses create a strong culture, leadership bench strength, coaching skills 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.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

How to Be Emotionally Agile during Difficult Conversations

Negotiating a tough contract. Dealing with an irate customer. Confronting Uncle Joe at the holiday gathering for saying something disrespectful. Asking for a raise. Ending a relationship. Giving critical feedback. Saying no to someone in need. Disagreeing with the majority in a group. Terminating an employee. Apologizing.

At work, at home, and across the backyard fence, difficult conversations are attempted or avoided every day.

A difficult conversation is anything you find it hard to talk about.

Feelings Matter: They Are Often at the Heart of Difficult Conversations

Feelings, of course, are part of what makes good relationships so rich and satisfying. Feelings like passion and pride, silliness and warmth, and even jealousy, disappointment, and anger let us know that we are fully alive.

At the same time, managing feelings can be enormously challenging. Our failure to acknowledge and discuss feelings derails a startling number of difficult conversations. And the inability to deal openly and well with feelings can undermine the quality and health of our relationships.

Working to get feelings into the conversation is almost always helpful as long as you can do it in a productive way. If you are able to share feeling with skill (A skill anyone can improve with practice), you can avoid many of the potential costs associated with expressing feelings and even reap some unexpected benefits.

There are many methods you can use to include emotions in a way that is healthy, meaningful, and satisfying. One of the most powerful is learning how to "negotiate with your feelings."

Don’t Treat Feelings as Gospel: Negotiate with Them

Most of us assume that our feelings are static and nonnegotiable, and that if they are to be shared authentically, they must be shared “as is.” In fact our feelings are based on our perceptions and our perceptions are negotiable. As we see the world in new ways, our feelings shift accordingly. Before sharing feelings in a difficult conversation, then it is crucial to negotiate—with ourselves.

What does it mean to negotiate with our emotions? Fundamentally, it involves the recognition that our feelings are formed in response to our thoughts. Imagine that while scuba diving, you suddenly see a shark glide into view. Your heart starts to pound and your anxiety skyrockets. You’re terrified, which is a perfectly rational and understandable feeling.

Now imagine that your knowledge of sharks enables you to identify it as a Reef Shark, which you know doesn’t prey on anything as large as you. Your anxiety disappears. Instead you feel excited and curious to observe the shark’s behavior. It isn’t the shark that’s changed; it’s the story we tell ourselves about what’s happening. In any given situation our feeling follow our thoughts.

This means the route to changing your feelings is through altering your thinking. Our thinking is often distorted in predictable ways, providing rich ground for negotiating our emotions. First, we need to examine our own story. What is the story we are telling ourselves that is giving rise to how we feel” What is our story missing? What might the other person’s story be? Almost always, an increased awareness of the other person’s story changes how we feel.

Stephen Covey shares a personal story in his classic book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, that illustrates this point.

“I remember a profound shift in thinking I experienced one Sunday morning on a subway in New York. People were sitting quietly – some reading newspapers, some lost in thought, some resting with their eyes closed. It was a calm, peaceful scene.

Then suddenly, a man and his children entered the subway car. The children were so loud and rambunctious that instantly the whole climate changed.

The man sat down next to me and closed his eyes, apparently oblivious to the situation. The children were yelling back and forth, throwing things, even grabbing people’s papers. It was very disturbing. And yet, the man sitting next to me did nothing.

It was difficult not to feel irritated. I could not believe that he could be so insensitive as to let his children run wild like that and do nothing about it, taking no responsibility at all. 

It was easy to see that everyone else on the subway felt irritated, too. So finally, with what I felt like was unusual patience and restraint, I turned to him and said, “Sir, your children are really disturbing a lot of people. I wonder if you couldn’t control them a little more?”

The man lifted his gaze as if to come to a consciousness of the situation for the first time and said softly, “Oh, you’re right. I guess I should do something about it. We just came from the hospital where their mother died about an hour ago. I don’t know what do think, and I guess they don’t know how to handle it either.”

Can you imagine what I felt at that moment? My story about the man changed. Suddenly I saw things differently, and because I saw differently, I thought differently, I felt differently, I behaved differently. My irritation vanished. I didn’t have to worry about controlling my attitude or my behavior; my heart was filled with the man’s pain. 

Feelings of sympathy and compassion flowed freely. “Your wife just died? Oh I’m so sorry! Can you tell me about it? What can I do to help?” Everything changed in an instant because my story about the man changed.”

Many of us when we approach a difficult conversation want to push our negative emotions aside. While that emotion is an authentic experience, we have to be careful that we don't get hooked by these negative experience. Negotiating with your feelings means there is a balance between acknowledging how you’re feeling or some negativity and yet not getting hooked by it.

Viktor Frankl, who survived the Nazi death camps, speaks to this very compelling idea that between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose, and it's in that choice that comes our growth and freedom.

When there's no space between stimulus and response, we are hooked. What that might look like is being undermined in this meeting, so I'm going to shut down. I feel really angry, so I'm going to give the person a piece of my mind. What we do is we start attaching our emotions to an action, almost treating those emotions as fact.

When we're doing that, when our thoughts, our emotions, and stories are driving us, that's not effective. Our emotions are data, not directions. We can tap into them, we can notice them with curiosity, we can notice them with compassion, we can say, “What is this thing that I'm feeling strongly about, and what does it tell me about what's important to me, my values? What is critical in my workplace,” and so on. We can tap into these, but without treating them as directives to action. Ultimately, who's in charge here, the thinker or the thought?

Too often we confuse being emotional with expressing emotions clearly. They are different. You can express emotion well without being emotional, and you can be extremely emotional without expressing much of anything at all. Sharing feelings well in a difficult conversation requires thoughtfulness. 

Negotiating with your feelings is a skill that can be developed.

Here are two simple things you can do to become more emotionally agile.

The first is, often when we experience emotions, we'll say things like, “I am stressed. I am anxious. I am sad. I am pissed off” What you're doing when you're saying that is you are basically identifying you, all of you, 100% of you, the “I am,” as being sad or stressed, angry or whatever it is.

There's incredible power in noticing that emotion, but creating some distance. I'm noticing that I'm feeling stressed, I'm noticing that I'm feeling sad, I'm noticing the urge to leave the room, I'm noticing the urge to shut down, I'm noticing the urge to blame." When you prefix the emotional story with simply, “I am noticing,” and calling it for what it is, a thought, emotion, a story, not a direction, you create incredibly important space that allows you to then decide who do you want to be in the situation.

Second, is that often people get very hooked on the idea of being right. “What if I'm right?” “What if my colleague is an idiot?” “What if I'm right?” “What if my team member really is a slacker?” Sometimes we get so focused on being right, that we forget that what we're doing might not be serving us. Think about an area of your life, it might be at home, it might be to do with a specific project or product, or even with an individual, where you’ve become so focused on being right that it's actually stopping you from being effective.

Now, if the gods of right came down and said to you, “You are right. You are right. You are right. You are right. Your colleague is an idiot. The team member is a slacker. You are right,” you still get to choose who you want to be. What is an action that can take you closer to being the person, the leader, the parent that you most want to be?

In the words of George Eliot, "it's never too late to be who you were meant to be."

To your greater happiness and effectiveness,
Peter Mclees, Leadership Coach, Facilitator and Performance Consultant
Mobile: 323-855-1713
P.S. Check out a great Harvard Business Review article entitled 7 Tricky Work Situations and How to Respond to Them. The author outlines verbal strategies that along with the agility tips presented in this post will help you send messages in a clear and emotionally impactful way during difficult conversations.

Smart Development has an exceptional track record helping service providers, ports, sales teams, restaurants, stores, branches, distribution centers, food production facilities, nonprofits, government agencies and other businesses create a strong culture, leadership bench strength, coaching skills 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.

The Psychology & Physics of Closing A Sale

It’s not the prospect’s job to ask us to sell them our stuff.  Instead, it’s our job to help them to buy it. 

Every sales manager I’ve ever talked with has agreed on one thing: The single biggest challenge salespeople have is completing (AKA closing) the deal. There are two reasons closing is such a big problem. One is psychology. The other is physics.


Yes, physics. Let me explain.

First, the psychology part.

When we’re selling (and especially when we’re closing), we have to deal with two big fears. The first is the fear of rejection, a natural fear for most of us. The key to subduing this fear is to remember:

1) The prospect wants and/or needs what we’re selling.
2) A sales rejection is not a personal rejection.
3) If the prospect says no, we’re no worse off than before.

The second fear is more pernicious. We’re afraid of being perceived as the stereotypical “salesperson” so commonly portrayed in popular culture: pushy, rude, slimy, obnoxious as in the classic movie, Glengary Glen Ross.

Because we (subconsciously) fear being perceived as this stereotype, all too often we don’t really try to complete the sale. But completing the sale is a critical part of the process, arguably the most critical part. You can do everything else right—prospecting, needs analysis, presentation, answering objections—but if you don’t close, there’s no sale.

Here’s the secret to overcoming this fear: 

Understand that customers need you to help them complete the sale. Why? Physics!

The prospect is sitting there (or possibly standing there) in a state of inertia. Remember the Law of Inertia? “A body at rest tends to stay at rest.” Which means the prospect’s natural inclination is to do nothing, even though they need and/or want whatever it is you’re selling.

However, the Law of Inertia continues: “unless acted upon by an outside force.” That’s us! We need to be the outside force that acts upon our prospects to change their state. It doesn’t need to be a BIG force, however. It can be the gentlest of nudges.

So don’t think of closing as pushing the prospect into doing something they don’t want to do. Instead, think of it as nudging the prospect just enough to move them out of their inertia and into action.

When you think of it in these terms, completing the sale is not at all pushy, rude, slimy or obnoxious. In fact, assuming this purchase really is in the best interest of the prospect, then not completing the sale is a disservice to them, because it’s preventing them from enjoying the benefits of your product or service.

Remember, it’s not the prospect’s job to ask us to sell them our stuff. (Left to their own devices, they rarely will, due to that pesky inertia.) Instead, it’s our job help them to buy it. And they need us to do it. After all, we’re only battling fear. They’re battling physics.

Good selling,

Peter C. Mclees, Sales Coach and Trainer
Smart Development
Mobile: 323-854-1713

We help sales reps and sales organizations accelerate their sales. 

Friday, November 24, 2017

10 Ways to Make A Bad Sales Day Better

We all have bad days as sales people. Perhaps you got stuck in a traffic jam on your way to work (That never happens in "Big D"...riiiight😉), argue "energetically" with a co-worker who "took" your prospect, or you spent 5 hours on a deal only to have the customer bail at the last minute and buy from another seller because its his brother-in-law. OUCH!

Whatever the reason, bad days are part of life in general and sales in particular. However, we can choose how we react to them.

One option is to dwell on the situation, and let our negative emotions persist throughout the day. But this is unpleasant, and there's a good chance that our mood will spread to others. Instead, we can take the initiative and find ways to make a bad day better. This choice is empowering and positive, and it puts us in control of our actions and emotions.

1. Give The Matter The Attention It Deserves. Whenever nonsense shows its face in my life I try not to spend too much time thinking about it or dwelling on it . . . when I'm able, I simply let it go and move on. Granted there are some things that you can’t dismiss and that’s where items 2-10 will come in handy!

2. Try To Find Humor . . . in either the event or just think about something funny to get you laughing. Can’t think of something? Why not listen to some comedy and while you’re at it, have a comedy playlist on your phone for those “Sales sucks" moments!

3. Try Doing an Activity That Requires A High Level Of Focus: My Grandfather did silver engraving. The work took the focus off the bad day. There a many mindfulness practices that you can incorporate to shift your focus. Mine is to observe animals.

4. Move! Motion creates emotion because certain types of movement release endorphins which create that “runners high”. You can walk, exercise, pace or do the Hokey Pokey as I often do in the offices of Smart Development. (What if the Hokey Pokey is really what it's all about?)

5. Engage Your Spiritual GPS! Certain things are simply beyond us and we need all the help we can get.

6. Say “Thank You.” I’ll preface this one with a firm “I know how difficult it can be to do this” We’re saying thank you because we are about to receive a lesson in something. Whether it be in dealing with a Grade A Jerk or a lesson in keeping ourselves calm, cool and collated as our printers at Office Max like to say!

7. Go through a “Gratitude Inventory.” Many of us have the bad habit of taking a “Screw You” inventory of everything that stinks in our life. A gratitude inventory gets you in into a frenzy of positivity!

8. Talk With Someone! Vent and then shift the conversation to what your learned from the situation and what can you do better next time.

9. Ask Yourself Problem Solving Questions Such As. “In what ways can I _______________?” “How can I turn this around?” “Who do I know that could help or offer advice?” 

10. Think And Use The Old “Start, Stop, Continue” Framework! Ask yourself “What do I need to start doing or do differently to improve this?” “What do I need to stop doing to improve this?” “What should I continue doing to improve this?”

Bonus tip. Make Robert Kiosayski's famous quote, 
"You either win or you learn" a mantra for your life.

To your greater happiness and success!

Peter Mclees, Sales Coach, Trainer and Performance Consultant
Mobile: 323-854-1713
Smart Development

Smart Development  has an exceptional track record helping sales teams, ports, restaurants, stores, branches, distribution centers, food production facilities, nonprofits, government agencies, 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.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Does Your Mind Wander When Customers Are Talking?

After you ask open-ended questions to encourage buyers to begin talking, it's important to engage effective listening skills. Otherwise, why bother asking questions, right?

Have you ever spoken with people who are not paying attention to your conversation? Through their nonverbal behavior, you sense that their thoughts are elsewhere. Buyers will have a similar experience if they sense you are not listening attentively. You ask a question…and halfway through the buyer’s answer, you start thinking about how to respond. The nonverbal transformation from listening to waiting occurs in an instant. Like a cat waiting to pounce upon its prey, you anticipate the moment when the buyer will stop talking--instead of continuing to listen to them.

Do you think your buyers can sense when you have stopped listening? (That was a closed-ended, rhetorical question.) Buyers may not be able to identify the specific nonverbal behaviors that indicate you have stopped listening, but they will know. When buyers know you are not listening to them, they may decide that answering your questions is a waste of time.

How can you show buyers you are actively listening? You can employ listening skills…just like you employed your questioning skills to get them talking.

When your buyer answers your questions, how do you non-verbally show her that you are listening? Possibilities include:

    + maintaining eye contact
    + nodding your head in agreement
    + smiling or laughing at the buyer’s humor
    + facial expressions
    + leaning forward slightly
    + conveying curiosity and interest through your voice tone

Reflective listening is a natural activity when speaking with friends and family. It involves the nonverbal listening skills mentioned above as well as verbal encouragements such as:


“Tell me more.”


“Then what happened?”

As the buyer answers your questions and provides valuable information to help you move the sale forward, give her your feedback about what she is saying. That demonstrates you are actively listening, and it encourages her to continue talking.

For example, listen to how a television or radio talk show host encourages his guests to talk. He does not interview his guests like a news reporter, drilling them with one sharp or curt informational question after another. Rather, the talk show host encourages relaxed yet lively conversations fueled by open-ended questions and reflective listening. 

Good selling,

Peter C. Mclees, Sales Coach and Trainer
Smart Development
Mobile: 323-854-1713

We help sales reps and sales organizations accelerate their sales. 

Saturday, November 18, 2017

The Insanity of Sales Managers

There are a variety of ways to describe “insanity.” Picking the Cleveland Browns to win is right up there at the top. (Sorry Bruce 😊)

However, the most common expression of insanity, of course, is “doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results.” Consultants and keynote speakers have been riding that train for a long time.

Unfortunately, the whole concept of insanity seems to be lost on many sales managers. Salespeople will produce the same mediocre results over and over, but never change a single thing they are doing. In many cases, they resist any kind of change, insisting that what they do actually works! The problem, they say, is a sluggish economy, or a product that lacks key features, or a marketing initiative that falls short, or a set of circumstances that is working against them.

Anything, of course, except what they are doing. Over and over and over...

As a sales leader, you simply cannot afford to allow those bad habits and poor decisions to continue. A common trap for sales leaders is to accept the idea that salespeople can simply work harder and their results will change. Or that they can somehow do what they are doing now, only better.

This is a disaster waiting to happen (or currently happening). Only a change in habits will produce different results; however – preferring to avoid the inevitable conflict – sales leaders are temporarily blinded by someone’s good intentions. They accept at face value that salespeople intend to – and actually can - create better performance by trying harder. The reality is, the majority of the time you are simply delaying the inevitable and ensuring more time-robbing challenges down the road.

Yes, I know. Every now and then, you win the lottery. A salesperson mired in mediocre performance works their way out of a long-term slump. When was that...2008? The question is this: Do you really want to manage your entire team based on an exception to the rule? Do you want to wait on the 1-in-100 (or worse) chance that a mediocre salesperson will suddenly hit the jackpot?

The Wrong Problem

This, of course, is the reason why consistently effective sales managers requires salespeople to, a) follow a defined sales process and, b) create a detailed sales plan, to reach revenue objectives. The sales process and sales plan – done correctly – ensure that salespeople pursue high-value, high probability opportunities, engage in adequate discovery, meet the prospect’s expectations, and eventually creating a solution (and presentation) that is customized to the individual client.

So, when results aren’t as expected, the sales leader immediately reviews the process and the plan to see where the breakdown is occurring. Yes, work ethic is occasionally the problem. The salesperson simply isn’t putting in the time or effort to create the intended result. Most of the time, however, the performance problem is one of bad habits, which result from poor or nonexistent training.

Changing that bad habit requires the sales manager to identify the specific part of the process that is producing the wrong result, and then provide the necessary coaching to change it. “Working harder” at the wrong habit will never produce the intended result, and non-specific change will do little, if anything, to change the current results.

Root cause analysis (RCA) is a valuable tool in analyzing performance and identifying the real issues. (Click on the link to read about "The '5 Whys'--Getting to the Root of A Problem Quickly.") What you never want to be guilty of is solving the wrong problem! That’s exactly what often happens – a manager takes a quick peek at a symptom and identifies it as the problem, and the resulting “fix” never changes the results. Zig Ziglar’s famous observation works here: “Prescription before diagnosis is malpractice.”

Truer words were never spoken.

It’s not hard to find the real problem. It’s generally a matter of asking the question “Why?” about the symptom until you get to the source of the problem. If, for example, a salesperson is struggling with declining margins, what is the real problem? Has the product become obsolete or commoditized? Is the salesperson weak at communicating the product’s value? Does the salesperson lack courage in the face of strong objections? Is the salesperson giving away margin simply to drive more sales?

You really don’t know, and you really can’t determine the proper coaching necessary to fix the coaching, until you start asking “Why?”

Sales Manager:     
“Your gross margin is only 28 percent this year, but the rest of the
sales team is between thirty and thirty-four percent. What do you
think is the problem?” (Why?)

“I think customers are just pushing harder for discounts.”

Sales Manager:       
“Why do you think that’s the case?” (Why?)

“Well, our biggest competitor sells essentially the same product,
 and they are consistently offering lower prices.”

Sales Manager:     
“Certainly the product lines are similar, no doubt about that.
 However, there are significant differences as well. Why do you
 think customers see our product as being ‘essentially the same?’” 

“The truth is, I don’t usually get a chance to detail the differences. 
Customers always want to jump directly to pricing.”

Sales Manager:     
“That’s very interesting. If you had to guess, why do you think
customers jump directly to price?” (Why?)

You can see where this conversation is headed. However, the next salesperson might wind up with a completely different root cause. Which means that sales managers simply cannot afford to offer up generic, non-specific coaching and hope to see improvements in performance.

Two Problems

Just about every sales manager has salespeople who are not meeting expectations.

Don’t you?

Of course, you do. The question is, are you addressing the issue? Because most sales managers aren’t. So, there are really two issues here: 1) identifying the real problem and coaching improvement, and 2) having the courage to address the performance issue rather than ignoring it and hoping it will go away.

To be perfectly blunt, underperforming salespeople are not the problem. Never have been. The problem is sales managers who cannot or will not confront performance issues and/or do not have the skills to provide habit-changing coaching.

And that is absolutely the definition of insanity.

Good selling,

Peter Mclees, Sales Coach, Trainer and Performance Consultant
Mobile: 323-854-1713
Smart Development

Smart Development  has an exceptional track record helping sales teams, branches, ports, restaurants, stores, distribution centers, food production facilities, nonprofits, government agencies, 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.

Winning by Giving

Succeeding Through Kindness

"When I chased after money, I never had enough. When I got my life on purpose and focused on giving of myself and everything that arrived into my life, then I was prosperous."

                                           – Wayne Dyer, author and speaker

When we're at work, we can spend a lot of energy trying to get help from those around us. However, how much time do we spend helping others in return?

Having a strong social support network at work raises engagement, productivity, and overall success. If we truly want to succeed, however, each of us can spend time "giving ourselves" to those in our network. Only then will we experience the true benefits that giving brings, and start to see the success we've dreamed of.

Benefits of Giving
Giving makes us happy. The happier we are, the more energy we have, the better we think, and the more friendships we develop. Giving not only feels good, but research shows that it lowers your chance of depression, strengthens your heart, lowers stress, and can literally add years to your life.

Professionally, giving also offers several benefits. One study found that fostering positive social support at work raises productivity. Another study found that those who give at work ("work altruists"), are far more engaged with what they do and are more often promoted, compared with colleagues who stay isolated while doing their job.

However, you probably don't need research to tell you that giving makes you feel good! Just think back to the last time you helped a colleague who was stuck with a problem, or took your assistant out to lunch. Giving boosts our energy in a way that nothing else can. We feel connected and engaged when we help others, because it reminds us of what it means to be human, at its best.

All this, in turn, comes back to us in ways we could never expect or predict. Giving creates a network of trust, goodwill, and good energy at work that can pay off many times over in the future.

Giving and kindness also have an important ripple effect, which is why one generous person can transform a team or an organization. The person you give to feels great about the help they received. This can create a desire in them to "pay back" that kindness to someone else. Much like ripples in a pond, one act of kindness can impact dozens, or even hundreds, of lives.

How to Give More
The good news about giving is that you don't need to invest huge chunks of your time to do it. Often, the smallest acts of kindness and consideration can have a big impact on those around us.

So, how can we give at work?

1. Just Listen
A great way of giving is simply to listen to others.
When you do this, listen without contributing your opinion, and without trying to "top their story." Use active listening skills, so that you can fully grasp what they're telling you, and respond with empathy and understanding.

2. Offer Specific Help
How many times have you heard a colleague say, "Let me know if you need any help!" but had the distinct feeling they didn't really mean it? Vague offers of help can come across as half-hearted or insincere. Offering help in a specific way shows that you mean it.

For instance, your colleagues may be complaining about their workload. So, offer specific help: volunteer to collect their lunch for them, so that they can continue working, or give them a hand with a task if your own workload allows. When you offer specific assistance, you let others know that you're truly willing to help.

3. Show Gratitude
If you're in a leadership position, how often do you give praise to your team? How often do you say "thank you" to your assistant for the good work he or she does every day?

Showing gratitude to those around us, whether above or below us in the hierarchy, is a simple but powerful way to give. So, find ways to say "thank you" to your team and colleagues. You might be surprised at the difference that this makes to your relationships!

4. Become a True Mentor
When you mentor others, you can share a lifetime's worth of knowledge and skill in order to help them succeed. This unselfish act not only benefits the professionals you work with; it can change your own life in many ways.

It probably goes without saying that your organization will benefit when strong mentoring relationships are formed within it. Start mentoring in the workplace now, and experience the satisfaction that comes with helping others to succeed.

5. Share Resources
If your team or department has ample resources or supplies, why not offer to share them with another team or department, particularly if it is not as well funded as yours?
This could include sharing resources such as physical supplies, but also knowledge, technology, and team member expertise as well. (This won't be viable in some situations. Use your own best judgment here, and make sure that you're doing your own job properly as well!)

6. Offer a Hand to New Employees
Can you remember what it was like on your very first day at the organization? You didn't know anyone, and you probably felt overwhelmed by all of your tasks and responsibilities.

When a new employee joins your organization or team, spend time with her during her first few weeks and help her have a successful induction. Offer to help her get used to her new role, and take her around to meet everyone that she'll be working with. Share your knowledge about the organization's culture and values.

This can make a challenging transition smoother and less stressful.

7. Practice "Random Acts of Kindness"
Random acts of kindness can transform both you and the person you help. When you are kind to someone anonymously, you give for the simple, ego-less pleasure of giving, and that's it. So, practice random acts of kindness when you're at work.

What can you do? Leave a cup of gourmet coffee on your colleague's desk when he or she is having a bad day. Send an anonymous "thank you" letter to your organization's cleaning staff. Bring some healthy snacks or homemade cookies to work, and leave them anonymously in the break room, with a note letting others know that they're for everyone.

There are endless ways that you can make a positive impact on someone else's day. Just use your imagination!

8. Find Your Purpose
Every job has a purpose. It's easy, especially when we're busy and stressed, to forget how our role helps others. But, no matter what we do or where we do it, ultimately our work should benefit someone else.

Take time to find your purpose at work. Once you dig down to find the ultimate meaning of what you do, you may be surprised by how much your work helps others.


Although it's important to give your time and energy to others, it's equally important not to go too far! If you spend too much time helping your coworkers, you may find that you don't have time to accomplish your own objectives. It's important to find the right balance between helping others, and focusing on your own goals and tasks.

Key Points
Giving our time and energy to others not only feels good, but it's been proven to make us happier, more productive, and more engaged with our team and organization.

Giving also offers positive physical benefits as well: it helps alleviate stress, helps lower our risk of illnesses like depression, and even helps us live longer!

You can give back to others by doing any or all of the following:

1.Just listen to others.
2.Offer specific help.
3.Show gratitude.
4.Become a mentor.
5.Share resources.
6.Offer a hand to new employees.
7.Practice random acts of kindness.
8.Find your purpose.

Make an effort to give regularly – you'll love the results.

To your greater happiness and effectiveness,
Peter Mclees, Leadership Coach, Facilitator and Performance Consultant
Mobile: 323-855-1713

Smart Development has an exceptional track record helping service providers, ports, sales teams, restaurants, stores, branches, distribution centers, food production facilities, nonprofits, government agencies and other businesses create a strong culture, leadership bench strength, coaching skills 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.