How Conversations Will Help Your Business

According to research conducted by Gallop, trusting conversations between a manager and their employees is the best way to engage employees.  Engaged employees are happier, more productive (c) alexwhite www.fotosearch.com Stock Photographyand innovated.  These factors boost the success a business can achieve.

So, my question for you, how do you, as a manager, leader or entrepreneur (particularly if you are at the top) stay motivated and engaged?

A New Approach

I am thrilled to be introducing a new program designed to stimulate great conversation between participants, help you learn more about key business successes, and motivate you personally and professionally to take action and lead change.

Leading business books like Good to Great, the Purple Cow, Pivot, Developing the Leader within You and many more offer readers great success insights that can help each of us be better at what we do.

How many of these insights do you implement after reading a book?

If you’re saying to yourself, not too many, you are not alone.  We are all busy and implementing new habits into our busy lives is difficult without daily commitments to yourself and your goals. Consistency = change success.

Amplify Learning

Coffee and Conversations offers a unique approach to network with other motivated, like-minded business leaders, help identify and extract key learnings from leading business books, dissect and share insights with the group, and create an action item you can commit to for 30 days.  Our daily on-line check-ins take less than 2 minutes a day for 30 days but, most importantly, they keep your action item top of mind.conversations-iphone

Unlike book clubs where you must commit to reading a different book each month, Coffee and Conversations provides you with a short synopsis of the book which take about 10 minutes to read prior to the meeting.  During the meeting, your Leader will facilitate discussion by asking probing or thought-provoking questions. This approach not only amplifies your learning, it also saves you time and improves your own engagement in your job.

Will You Join Me?

Join me in late March 2017 for our first 4-month Coffee & Conversation series.  I will be hosting a group in the Metro Vancouver area, and an on-line group via video-conference.  Space is limited for each group to ensure each participant has an opportunity to share.

 

Eventbrite - Coffee & Conversations Business Group (4 part series) - Vancouver BC

 

PS — If you aren’t in Vancouver BC, or you would prefer a Virtual Group format, please add your name to our notification list.  We will launch a Virtual Coffee & Conversations Business Group in April 2017.

Add me to your notification list

The Challenge of Delegating

In the book, The Winning Way, co-authored with Brian Tracy, I described three key attributes for good leaders — Communicate, Calculate and Delegate.  It is interesting that this week I was faced with situations where clients were experiencing challenges all related delegation-400x275to letting go and allowing their team take on the responsibility and ability to get the job done.

Delegation — the act of passing a task or responsibility along to others, most commonly to people who are below you on the totem pole.

Delegation isn’t just a top down action.  In fact, delegation happens in all directions.  for example, my clients delegate projects and responsibility to me as their consultant (external delegation), a committee may delegate action items to specific departments or positions within an organization. Delegation happens between colleagues and collaborating departments too. When teams, from the leader on down, are engaged and share in the goals and vision of an organization, delegation is a fundamental component and can be a “make-it or break-it” facet of the results achieved.

I recently hired a new virtual assistant and I have been in the process of letting go of tasks I’ve been doing over the past few months.  This involves a change of thinking and planning.  My VA is eager to take on whatever I’ll send her way.  She’s also eager to assume role that offers me more value, and saves me time and effort.  What’s stopping me … bad habits!  Yes, its true.  I’m so used to just doing it all that I forget to delegate.

This week was a pivot point for us. My failure to effectively delegate was stopping both of us from being successful!  A great conversation where we shared, clarified and planned our next steps opened new doors.  My “aha” including the realization that I wasn’t  afraid my V.A. couldn’t do the job correctly.  Instead,  it was a failure to communicate what was in my head when I realized something needed to be done.

Do you delegate what and when you should, or do you fall prey to the common trap of “if I do it myself it will be done right”  or only delegate tasks you don’t like doing?

Delegation, when done right will enhance morale, build trust and facilitate success for yourself, your team and your organization.

 

Ignite Leadership has many solutions to develop stronger leadership and better teams.  Contact us to explore how our solutions may help you improve delegation, communication, leadership and team dynamics.

 

 

Trust is the Bottomline for a Great Organization

As a Delegate member of the International Women’s Leadership Association, I was thrilled this summer when I was asked to write an article for the Fall 2016 issue of their Inspirational iwla-logoWomen’s Trust Quote MarathonMagazine.  I was equally excited about the magazine’s theme for this issue, Trust“.

When I was asked, my mind began to explode with all of the things I could share about trust.  It is such an integral component to our individual and business success and too often it is not given enough credit or consideration.  When trust is lost, the cost is enormous and often not reversible.

The September 2016 issue of the Inspirational Women’s Magazine was just released and I loved the articles, insights and nuggets shared in the magazine.  Its amazing to read the differing ways each author, and every quote or story reflect on this topic.

I am sharing the issue with you.  I hope you will find it inspiring and insightful.

Click Here to Read This Issue   My article is on Page 24.

 

Going Rogue – Time to Rebuild or Breakup

I am sure many of you remember when the newswire was buzzing with the lone-wolf behaviour of one of the (Canadian) Tenors during the signing of Canada’s national anthem at a All-Star baseball game in San Diego in July.  During the anthem, Tenor Remigio Pereira substituted words to make a political statement.  This change was made without prior knowledge of his fellow quartet members.  The backlash has been huge and now the future of the Tenors is in question.

In this instance, one member of the group took it upon himself to act on his own, whttp://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-image-solution-vs-problem-solving-business-consulting-compass-arrow-pointing-to-word-problems-d-render-image-suitable-image32482606ithout permission or the support of his fellow teammates, to express his own political belief.  Not only
were his actions self-motivated, but the timing of his message was poor and the desired result not what he intended.

This is a very public example of how one member of a team can have a significant impact on the team.  In the case of the Tenors, trust was broken, member of the group no longer want to perform with Mr. Pereira, and their future must now be re-created.

Within most businesses, there are teams which are key to creating  and sustaining the business, its reputation with customers and its internal culture, to name only a few factors.  When someone on a team does something rogue these three steps can help salvage the situation.

  1.  Act swiftly   —  If the rogue behaviour has the ability to cause damage, your swift and decisive action is vital to making a wrong a right.  A rogue act requires you to step in, initiate an impartial investigation to determine the facts and to hear all perspectives.  Sometimes a 3rd Party is needed to conduct this investigation.  The investigation should be quick and to the point so next steps can be taken quickly.
  2. Be transparent —  In all actions and communication associated with the incident, it is important to communicate clearly and often so everyone within your team, your business, and key stakeholders understand what is happening.  You don’t want to breech confidentiality or individual rights, but you also don’t want people second-guessing you.    When you are transparent with the rogue team member, they also know where they stand and what actions will be taken and what to expect.  Transparency and frequent communication goes a long way to build trust, repair your reputation and minimize the negative impact the rogue actions could cause.
  3. Follow Through — Once you have dealt with the situation, its important to follow-through.  This means confirming the conclusion of the incident, ensuring all actions plans identified to prevent a repeat are in place and to check in with each member of the team or key stakeholders to get their perspectives, feedback and comments.  This debrief process is often over-looked, yet I have found it to be the most important.

Sometimes you can’t repair the damage done and a break-up is the right thing to do.  When this happens, the swift action, transparency and follow-through will help you re-focus on the future and take the right steps forward.

 

We have lots of experience assisting organizations during and after a critical incident.  Contact us to learn how we many assist you.

Is your Team Losing its Way?

With the 2016 Olympics now on our door step and I’m very excited.  I’m an avid Olympics fan.  I love watching everything.  Celebrating the wins and recognizing the efforts of every athlete regardless of the medal count.   Each country creates a team of athletes who have a common purpose – to represent their country and deliver their best effort in their sport at each and every event.

The motivation and focus of these athletes to the team vision is amazing.  We see other teams like those of the CFL, NHL or NFL or NBA more regularly.  Due to the longer-term focus needed, these teams can demonstrate ups and downs similar to those of us in the workplace.  Team dynamics reflect the mindset, effort and productivity of each and every member of the team.

 

Team dynamics are defined as the unconscious factors that influence how teams interact, communicate and work together to a common goal.

 

Lack of Cohesion

Team dynamics are impacted by the different personalities in the team and the behaviours each team member brings to the job.  Athletes are highly motivated talented individuals who are competitive and want to win.  Losing is not ok.  Working and travelling in a close environment, circles-freealong with pressures from owners, coaches, team mates, the media and fans , as well as families, all come into play in how well a team can create and maintain positive dynamics that allow them to reach their goal.

In the business world, not every employee on a team may have the same inner motivation found on a professional hockey team.  Your team may consist of more leaders than followers, particularly at an executive level, or people who are not completely aligned with the team’s (committee’s) focus and purpose.

When this happens how can you, as the manager or team leader better understand their lack of “buy-in” and help them become engaged and a valuable asset to the team?

Have a Vision and Purpose

Every team is brought together to accomplish a goal.  Does every member of the team know and understand the vision and purpose of the team, and how their actions will make a difference?

Just think of a committee in your workplace.  How many people sit on that committee because “they have to”.  It’s just part of the job description but they’d rather not be there.  Do they complain that its a waste of time? Are they commenting on how their suggestions are ignored?  Are team members engaged and kept accountable to participate and take action?  When these situation exist, a lack of vision and purpose probably exist.

As the team leader, its important for you to understand what each person on your team is thinking and if they are on-board with the vision and purpose.  People always want to know where they are going and why its important. Recognize their efforts and dissenting comments and take the necessary steps to get them back on board.

Communicate Clearly & Often

This may seem like the obvious but all to often the team leader fails to keep communication open.Communication bubble ID-10060415  Communication is more than telling people what to do and when.  Instead it includes conversations with the team collectively, as well as with each individual team member.

A leaders role is to inspire others to think strategically within the terms of reference of the team/committee.  When you help them see the big picture, they are better able to understand how their role fits in and can make a difference.

Listening to the different perspectives and suggestions is critical.  It’s not your role to be right. It’s your role to lead the team to the right outcome.  Sometimes your original plan needs to be reassessed along the way when new information comes to light.

“Deep and sustainable change…requires changes in behavior among those who do not welcome the change.” ? Douglas B. Reeves

 

Is your team lacking focus?  Do you want to identify ways to better lead your team to be more productive and engaged?   Contact us to see how our solutions may assist you.

Start a Conversation – Gain More than You Expect

When was the last time you had a good conversation with a colleague or a team member?  Did this conversation result in new insights?  Did you learn something new?  Did it up-lift you or provide valuable information?

Fancy action plans don’t create engagement; ongoing two-way dialogue creates engagement.


A conversation is described as an informal exchange of information between two or more talk bubblespeople.  A conversation involves two aspects — sharing information and listening.  Too often listening, I mean really listening so you hear what is actually being said to you, is lost.  Communicating by email, text or notices shares information but lacks the engagement and “hearing” components of a conversation.

 

Nothing managers talk about will affect engagement if they don’t listen to what associates tell them.


According to Gallop, “Great managers who have meaningful ongoing discussions with their employees also take ongoing action based on what they hear in those everyday conversations. They ask good questions, including disarmingly simple ones, and they pay close attention to the responses. They keep the wheels of engagement turning all the time, just by talking.”

In my role as a Consultant I have the opportunity of observing the interactions of many different people in the workplace.  I also see and work with the impact of poor communication and the lack of meaningful conversations.

 

When you make eye contact you acknowledge the other person’s existence


Make Eye Contact

What does eye contact have to do with conversations?  You can’t connect and initiate a conversation if you don’t see and acknowledge a person.  How many times have you walked down a hallway at work and not made eye contact, smiled at or acknowledged the other person?

eye_blue-eye-pic54When I am working with clients who are disillusioned with their job or their workplace, they frequently say they don’t feel valued.  Many also tell me “the boss just ignores me unless I’ve done something wrong.”  Others report they don’t feel heard because their boss doesn’t make eye contact, but looks at paper on their desk or their computer screen.

Eye contact during a conversation can be difficult for some people but it is vital for effective communication.  People are more willing to talk to you when you make eye contact and you are more likely to hear them too.

Your challenge… When you get to work make a point of making eye contact and saying good morning to every member of your team.  Make a point to acknowledge each person you pass in the hallway or who gets on the elevator… see what happens.

 

“Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.” –Helen Keller

Huddle Up


One way to build engagement with employees and to connect with what is happening around you is to have daily huddles.  A huddle is an opportunity for you to connect with your team and to plan your day or gain insights. Huddles are short (less than 15 minutes) and to the point.  They are not for problem solving or lon

www.freedigitalimages.net

www.freedigitalimages.net

g-term planning. Huddles are probably one of the most effective interactions you can have with your team.

A huddle isn’t just a “report out”.  Instead, its an opportunity for every member of the team to share information, insights and to ask questions to help them move forward.  You’ll build connections, improve organizational productivity, enhance the culture and keep your finger on the pulse.

I also have used huddles to connect individually with team members during the day.  I’ve used these exchanges to touch base, learn more about employees and share.  These meetings don’t have an agenda other than to connect but I’ve shared positive feedback, asked questions about a challenge I’m aware of or to check on progress and to offer my assistance.

Your Challenge — Connect with every team member in your team and have a conversation.

 

Learning without thought is labor lost. ~Confucius

Boost Learning


learn-key
One of the best opportunities a manager has to positively impact their organization’s learning and to lead change is to teach.  I don’t mean in a classroom style, but through a conversation.  Traditionally, when people attend a workshop or conference they become excited about new information or insights they have learned but this goes by the wayside when they return to their desk.  Why?  There is no mandate to integrate it into their job.

After an employee attends a conference, have a conversation to identify what their key insights were and if there is something they would like to integrate into their work?  Can you help them set up a personal challenge to instill an action plan into their work?  Book follow-up conversations to monitor progress.

Do you provide in-house training sessions?  Coaching has helped organizations to support employees to actually implement skills they have learned into their daily work habits.  Daily conversations can also help improve employee engagement on skill integration as well.

Your challenge —  Establish regular conversations with each member of your team as a way to integrate learning into their daily work habits.

 

You don’t understand anything until you learn it more than one way. ~Marvin Minsky

 

If you are interested in how to integrate daily conversations into your workplace to improve employee engagement, learning or productivity, contact us for more information on the options we have available to assist you.

End the Roller Coaster of Business

One thing I have learned over the years in business is there will always be some ups and downs.  Some are small, others more of a roller coaster ride!  When ups and downs happen, as the leader, you know how important it is to stay the course rather than make major changes.

Now, staying the course does not equal no change.  Instead, it involves connecting with your vision, understanding the market place and evaluating your systems.  Are they in alignment?  For example, as we enter summer, business may slow down as more of your customers take holidays and are away from work.  If your customer base is primarily business, the rotating holiday schedule may delay the decision making process, even when a sale appeared imminent just prior.  In this situation, you won’t make drastic changes, but may have to adjust your business operations or attract new clients who are open for business.

Regardless of which approach you choose, it is important to have a clear vision and strong systems in place so you can make subtle shifts effectively.  Recently I have experienced a series of ups and downs in my business.

The Spark in all of this was a major setback when a client backed out at the last minute.  Do you Is your biz on a roller coaster-Is it (2)believe in coincidences?  As I write this post, I have a smile on my face… realizing that coincidences do happen!  When one door shuts another opens.  You just have to be looking!

As I mentioned, I was speaking with a potential client who was indecisive on taking next steps. Long story short, we’d been doing the “sell-dance” and ended when they decided not to move forward on their project.  They loved what I could bring to the table and wanted to work with me because they could clearly see where I could lead the transitions they want to make … yet they decided to put everything on hold.

Ok, I must admit that this is not the first time I’ve experienced this same scenario, but it’s still frustrating!  I’m sure you can relate.

When facing this situation, I have found two key questions can help potential clients to make a decision.  “What specifically will motivate you to make a decision?” and “Is money the major obstacle?”

This gentle roller coaster ride resulted in some amazing business opportunities to appear because I was prepared and open for business.  After receiving the news that I wouldn’t be starting this major project, I had to redirect my focus.  Fortunately I had not put all my eggs in one basket and had kept looking, talking and making business proposals.  I also found the process I underwent with that client forced me to really shift my mindset and let go of the result and just go with the flow.

I don’t know which of these items were the positive influence, but I do know that one or all of them worked!   I was offered a new project by a former client which starts shortly, received several referrals, identified two new potential clients and projects where I could really help add value, and I create a new way to grow my business.

Your take away….

1.  Think Big — opportunities abound when you keep your eyes open to possibilities

2.  Stay Positive — one set back or two isn’t enough when you have a strong will to succeed

3.  Be willing to Exert some Effort in the process — we all want instant results but a little elbow grease always helps

4.  Focus on the Future —  Just because one potential client keeps telling you positive responses, until they put money in your hands, they are only a prospect.  Don’t let any other prospects or leads pass you by!

5.  Don’t Give Up! — Persistence, consistency and communicating your value in your prospect/customer’s language is key!

 

We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think.

When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.

Buddha

 

You have to work with a Coach… What Now?

Harvard Business Review posted an article called “If your Boss tells you to Get a Coach, Don’t Panic“.  Author, Ron Ashkenas shares some great points for you to consider if you ever face a similar situation.

1.  Take time to process the recommendation before you start working with a Coach.

Many times I am asked by bosses to work with members of their team. Yes, in some situation, the employee’s performance is less than stellar and I am the last hope.  Having said that, more often than not I am asked to work with employees because their boss recognizes the asset they have and don’t want to lose this employee to a competitor, or they want to help prepare them for advancement or  help them improve their skills.

Before working with a Coach, its important to understand what’s expected and how you can benefit from the coaching engagement.  A Coach can be your greatest supporter and confident during change or challenging times and they can be your greatest cheerleader as you advance.

2.  Recognize how Coaching can help you and your business or career.

As stated by Ashkenas, coaching is “a fantastic opportunity for growth, development, self-insight, and careerMentor Leadership Coaching, Training, Motivation, Siuccess progression – and an endorsement that the company is willing to invest in you.”   Let me use a sports analogy.  A top notch athlete consistently works with a coach – not because they aren’t great at what they do, instead they rely on their coach to provide some insight, a different perspective and help keep them focused on their goal.  The Coach helps with mindset, strategies and tactics.  Together they are stronger and more effective than separately.

The same is true in business.  One of my clients offers a contracted service to another organization.  They have had that contract for a long time and little has changed.  When I was asked to work with the principle, it was to help shift the focus of their service spectrum and integrate new strategies, not to fix a wrong.  We worked together for several months and created an amazing new approach that their client really appreciated.  They were commended for taking the initiative to make improvements that added value and offered a better fit with other services within that organization.

3.  Step Up and Reap the Benefits

No matter why you are about to work with a Coach, you will definitely get the most of your coaching sessions when you set specific goals that you can measure, do the activities or “homework” and be prepared for every session.

Here’s our SPARK approach to get more out of your coaching experiences.

Set Your IntentionsWhen you set goals you gain clarity on where you want to go, what you want to achieve, and why!  You can also measure your progress along the way.
Prepare and PlanCome to each session prepared.  This way you and your coach will know what needs to be discussed or tackled during the session.  A focused session is a productive session. You will want to be clear on what you want to achieve, what help or feedback you need and what is needed to take the next step.
Accountability As you implement your action plans, you will need to be accountable to yourself and the goals you set. Your Coach is there to help you stay on track and offer insights, brainstorming, support, encouragement and more.  Change happens when you “step up”. Bring your questions, concerns, challenges to each session so you can achieve a breakthrough and activate the next steps.
Review & RejigAs you work with your Coach, change happens.  Our on-going sessions offer support as you make any necessary adjustments in your action plans. Our collaborative review process will offer insights and feedback, to keep you moving forward.
Keep Focused & On TrackDay to day operations can challenge the best of us and lead us astray. Most coaching sessions result in “homework”.  This is your responsibility to get completed before the next session.  We offer a framework to maintain a strategic focus on deliverables and outcomes. I recommend you participate fully in all tools and resources to really reap the value and benefit of this coaching process.

If you have an employee who could benefit from coaching, or if you yourself want to be a stronger leader, better boss or have a more successful business, an Ignite Business Assessment session is a complimentary call.  Each 30 minute call can identify your top priority and actions that are right for you.  Book your’s now!

Does leadership impact results?

One of the best ways to learn about leadership and the impact it can have is to watch others in action.  A great opportunity to see the impact of leadership occurred in during a recent curling brier (Canadian curling championship) in Calgary.

I digress a bit…

If you are not a curling fan, curling is a game of strategy and skill. Very simply, a curling team consists of 5 members – 4 who play plus a spare.  Each team is led by a skip, followed by the 3rd, 2nd and lead.  The coach is not allowed to consult with the team during play unless a timeout is called.  Curling rocks (44 lbs of granite) are pushed along a pebbled sheet of ice into rings at the opposite end (known as the house).  Games consist of either 8 or 10 ends.  Each team tries to get as many rocks in the house closer to the centre (the button) than the other team.   Learn more in this fun 2 minute video from Curling Canada.

Now… back to our discussion on leadership.

During the off season, Team Canada underwent a change at the skip position.  They had added a guy who is best known for playing the 3rd position.  The team had enjoyed some success prior to this Brier, and five games in they had won 2 lost 3.  This was not going to be good enough to win.  After a team meeting, they made the decision to switch the roles of the skip and 3rd.  This change turned the tide, and they went on to win 8 of the next 9 games and retained their reign as Team Canada.  The same 4 men – a completely different trajectory.

So how does this relate to your business?

I do believe leadership has a major impact on the results a business and a team can achieve.  If you are not getting the results you know you should and can be achieving, leadership may be one of the causes.  If you are the leader, sometimes you have face the mirror and what its telling you.

  • Are you motivating and engaging your team?
  • Are you asking for and/or listening to them and considering their insights and feedback?
  • Are you the best person to be the leader?  Is there someone else who could do that job better than you?

It’s a tough situation to face but it can be critical to your success and you may have to put your ego in your back pocket for awhile.  If stepping aside is the right decision, it’s not because you can’t lead.  You may not be the best person in that role at this point in time.  Acknowledging this demonstrates you are a leader – one who is  focused on getting the right people into the right roles for the right job.  Looking at Team Canada, the same four men, in slightly different roles were like night and day.  They stayed focused on the goal (to win the Brier) and the process needed to get there.

 How can you know what is the right decision?

There is no one right answer.  Instead, leadership requires you to gather information and make a decision.  In the case of Team Canada, they worked with their Coach and masterminded together to find the right solution.

You too have those options.  

1)  Working with an Executive Coach can help you identify challenges and then establish alternative to implement to reverse downward trends.  Your Coach can offer support, another perspective, and can help drive the process as you take action and transition yourself and your team.

2) A mastermind group consists of other people like you who are committed to being the best they can be.  During meetings (and between) you are able to ask questions, receive feedback, different perspectives and support.  A good mastermind group is like a board of advisers for you and your business.   (Personal note:  I have belonged to mastermind groups for over 20 years – long before I began leading them – and my masterminds have helped me advance and transition my business in so many wonderful ways).

If you think Executive Coaching or a mastermind group could help you, please book a complimentary Ignite Business Assessment call so we can determine what you need and what next steps are right for you.

I think this quote says it all very well

Leadership is not about a title or a designation. It’s about impact, influence and inspiration. Impact involves getting results, influence is about spreading the passion you have for your work, and you have to inspire team-mates and customers.       Robin S. Sharma

 

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