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Listen First

How quickly do you make up your mind about whether someone is right or wrong? Is it possible that you sometimes make up your mind too quickly? It happens frequently. That proposes an additional challenge of forcing someone to defend a position before they know for sure that it's THEIR best option. I've done it. You've probably done it, too. I've decided to turn away a sales offer that clearly could have been a benefit to me. Why? I'd made up my mind not to buy. I've also turned away great invitations just because I'd already decided to keep a time free, instead of staying open to new opportunities. The new opportunities MIGHT have been fantastic, but once I stopped listening it became impossible to tell. How about you? The fix to this problem is simple and easy: listen. Before you make up your mind, listen with genuine, sincere curiosity. Maybe you know, and maybe you don't -- listen. It becomes harder to listen when we become convinced that s

Improving Performance Starts with Feedback

Sometimes people get better on their own, and sometimes they do not. High performance leaders don't take the chance that people will get better on their own. The key starts with feedback. When people know exactly what they did, it's possible to do it better the next time. Are your people meeting their metrics? Are they delighting customers? Are they inspiring you? Share your observations. What did you see, hear, smell, feel? What was useful about what happened? How could it be even better. We all benefit from feedback. Successful supervisors make sure it happens. -- doug smith

Supervising For Success

What do your team members think about your supervisors? How are things on the leadership front? So often highly effective technical workers are promoted to supervisor and then struggle. They don't know what to do. Why aren't their team members doing their jobs? Where's the motivation? If any of these issues occur where you work, you might want to consider our two day workshop, "Supervising for Success." There's no shame in struggling as a supervisor, but there's no need for it, either. Take advantage of our forty plus years of leadership experience to develop supervisory skills in these key areas: Leading challenging conversations - discover how to talk about what you need to talk about Setting goals quickly and developing a robust plan to achieve them Coaching and developing your team members How to solve performance problems and turn that poor performer into a motivated star How to set priorities when everything feels like a top priority

The Best Goals...

The best goals spark inspiration, dedication, and perspiration. Anything less is not for you. -- doug smith

Sometimes, It IS The Relationship

Do relationships impact your problems? Maybe not always, but sometimes. Relationships can both help and complicate problem situations. How we attend to the relationship impacts the problem. Whether or not we attend to the problem affects the relationship. Not every problem can be solved by helping a relationship, but those than CAN be, must be or they remain problems. -- doug smith

Building Your Team: Happy and Productive

Which comes first, happy or productive? Many people will say that happy comes first, and that happy team members are more productive. I don't dispute that because I've seen it happen. Some of the best team members I've ever worked with brought an inner joy to their work that became contagious. They were more productive, and soon other team members around them were also more productive. I think that it is also true that productive team members are happier. It's possible to create more joy in the team when the people involved are highly trained, skillful, attentive, and focused on making customers delighted. The wonderful side effect to this great work is great joy. High performance leaders do what they need to do to create this great joy. It comes from knowing your team members, from helping them when they need it, from making sure that they have the help and resources that they need, and most of all, from appreciating their results AND their efforts. The bes

Your Team Is Changing

When was the last time your team changed? If you answered "today" or "about a minute ago" you are thinking the way that I'm thinking: your team is constantly changing. Every time you add someone to your team, it changes. Every time you say goodbye to someone from your team, it changes. Your team changes when you change a process, when you change a procedure, when you change a rule, when you change the schedule...on and on your team is a relentless mixture of change. The good news is that team leaders can influence that change. You have the opportunity to change in ways that makes your team better, faster, smarter. Your change is open to better change. Changing one person on a team could change the whole team. High performance leaders build constantly, change intentionally, grow patiently. They change on purpose, and so does their team. -- doug smith

High Performance Leaders Grow

High performance leaders grow. They grow their teams. They grow their organizations. They grow themselves. Growth produces strength, resilience, and opportunity. How are you growing today? -- doug smith

Not Quite Perfect, But...

There are no perfect people and there are no perfect processes. Still, we must improve. Performance matters and we can "perfect" that performance even though we will not achieve perfection. Perfection is somewhere in the practice. Practice. -- doug smith

Keep Working On Those Drafts

Have you ever thought that you've got this leadership thing all worked out? I've never reached a point where I thought "that does it, it's all easy from now on..." It gets better, but not necessarily easier. As the goals get bigger, the plans take longer. As the tasks pile up, the discipline must grow or it all stumbles to a stop. Just when you think you've got your team where you want them, a star performer leaves, or a struggling performer slips even further. The work never stops. Some of it is the science of leadership (mind your metrics, facilitate your meetings, improve your processes) and some of it is art (develop your people, conduct those on-the-spot tough conversations.) The art of leadership seldom stops after one draft. Don't stop. Keep moving. Keep learning. Keep growing. -- doug smith

Clarify Your Shared Values

Companies sometimes post their espoused values. Do they really live by them? It depends on the company. It's worth asking questions, with curiosity, to see if they really do live by those values. Questions like: what does integrity mean to you? how do you create an environment of development and support? how do you make sure that equal opportunity is an active part of your culture? how do you balance competition and cooperation in your company? can you give me an example of a time when your organization was tempted to do something that would have been good for profit but bad for people? what did you do? Values sound great. Values sound uplifting and noble. It is important to make sure that they are real. The problem with shared values is that they are so rarely shared. Check to be sure. -- doug smith

Clarify What You Think You Heard

When was the last time that you misunderstood someone? It might have been more recent than you think. We are all misunderstood sometimes. Without clarifying and confirming, we are misunderstood far too many times. Remember, most of the time we misunderstand something we are not aware of our misunderstanding. Clarify constantly. -- doug smith