Leadership


Productivity by Enneagram Type (Part 2)

29/10/2019 09:06 | Share

Productivity by Enneagram Type (Part 2)

Leaders all want to achieve. But sometimes we can be our own worst enemy. Either we’re too perfectionistic, or too much of a people pleaser, or so much of a conflict avoider that we have trouble getting things done. It’s frustrating and discouraging to fall into the same old traps over and over. 

Seven Rules for More Effective Meetings

28/10/2019 09:00 | Share

Seven Rules for More Effective Meetings

Recently I attended a very productive meeting. It was long, but we accomplished what we set out to do. We made significant decisions, established accountabilities, and left the meeting knowing exactly what was expected of us. I think everyone left feeling that it was a good use of time.

Unfortunately, too many corporate meetings don’t go this well. Often, they are a complete waste of time. But the good news is that they can be substantially improved. As I wrote in my book  No-Fail Meetings, meetings can actually multiply the effectiveness of your team.

Toward that end, here are seven rules for more effective meetings.

1. Establish hard edges. Good meetings start and end on time. When you start late, you inadvertently penalize the punctual and reward the tardy. This makes the problem worse rather than better. People get “trained” to come late because they know nothing significant will happen until well after the announced start time.

When you finish late, you also frustrate participants. People are busy. Meetings that finish late cascade into other meetings, which must then also start late. Instead, be as disciplined about ending times as about starting times. It’s amazing how much you can get done if you know you absolutely must finish on time.

2. Create an agenda. I don’t think any meeting should proceed without an agenda. If the meeting is not important enough to create a written agenda, then it’s not important enough to attend. Leaders must set the example here. They need to think about the topics to be covered and how the meeting should flow.

I always like to start the meeting with a review of the minutes from the previous meeting (more about this in a minute). I like to end every meeting with two items: a review of the agreed-upon action items and setting—or confirming—the date for the next meeting. Agendas should always be circulated in advance of the meeting, so that people know what to expect and how to prepare.

3. State the desired outcome. If you are the leader, it is important to know exactly what outcome you want from the meeting. If you don’t know where you are going, how will you know when you have arrived? I suggest you state the desired outcome in the meeting invitation and then restate it as you begin the meeting.

For example, “The purpose of our meeting is to evaluate prospective new products and decide which ones to develop.” Or, “The purpose of our meeting is to review the company’s Q3 operating results and determine next steps on our five strategic initiatives.”

When the intended outcome is clear, participants can work together to achieve it and keep the meeting from wandering off track.

4. Review the minutes and action items. The first thing I do in any meeting is to review the minutes and action items from the previous meeting. This gives the participants context and gives those that were absent an opportunity to get up-to-speed.

You also want to get a progress report on each action item from the person responsible for it. If you make a habit of doing this, people will soon learn that you expect them to complete their assignments. If they have to give an account in front of their peers, so much the better. This may give them the added incentive to get the work done.

5. Take written minutes. Someone should take minutes, even if the meeting only has two participants. However, detailed notes that chronicle the discussion as it unfolds are almost always unnecessary. In most meetings, recording the key decisions and action items are sufficient.

You want to document decisions so there is no misunderstanding later. You want to document action items so you can hold people accountable and track progress. Recording more detail than that is probably just busy work. You should distribute minutes as soon after the meeting as possible. That way, participants can review the key items while they are fresh in their memory and review what is expected of them.

6. Clarify action items. At the end of the meeting, the person recording the minutes should read off the action items. It is particularly important that these be stated in a specific format.

  • Start each action item with a verb. For example, “Review catering contract with the vendor” or “Call Jim and get latest turnover figures.”
  • Specify the deliverable. What exactly do you expect the person completing the action to do. It must be an observable behavior with a specific end-point. It may be a phone call, a written report, or a presentation. It should not be a process.
  • Assign a single owner to each action. No action should have more than one owner. You want one person responsible for seeing that the action is completed.
  • Agree on a due date. Get a commitment from the person responsible. Be realistic, but put it in writing. This is a commitment and should be treated as such.

7. Determine the next meeting date. This is much easier to do when everyone is together and has their calendar in front of them. If the meeting disperses without setting the next date, it makes it that much harder to schedule the next one. Take advantage of the opportunity to get this settled. It’s one less thing you have to do later.

Improving the quality of meetings takes work. Every once in a while we need to step back from the meeting itself and ask, “How can we make our time together more productive?” Be honest. Meetings consume a lot of resources. The more efficient they are, the better the return on our investment.

Productivity by Enneagram Type (Part 1)

22/10/2019 09:06 | Share

Productivity by Enneagram Type (Part 1)

Leaders all want to achieve. But sometimes we can be our own worst enemy. Either we’re too perfectionistic, or too much of a people pleaser, or so much of a conflict avoider that we have trouble getting things done. It’s frustrating and discouraging to fall into the same old traps over and over. 

How to Stop Wasting Time and Maximize Peak Performance

21/10/2019 11:00 | Share

You wouldn’t intentionally choose a stupid way to work. Everyone has a time of day when they are most efficient and effective – a peak performance time. If you expect the best from… Continue reading

7 Steps to Take Before You Quit Your Job

21/10/2019 09:45 | Share

How to Pivot with Dignity and Respect

7 Steps to Take Before You Quit Your Job

Face it. You will eventually quit your job. It may be this year. It may be next. It may be ten years from now. But it’s inevitable. It’s only a matter of time. The only real question is: How do you pivot (professionally) without burning your bridges?

After all, you may want to come back. I left one company, Thomas Nelson, and eventually returned and became the CEO. You never know. At the very least, you may need a reference.

Unfortunately, many people don’t always end their tenure at a company as well as they began. The key is to begin with the end in mind. As leaders, we should be intentional about everything we do—even quitting.

Let’s start with the outcome we want. You want your employer and fellow employees to celebrate your contributions, grieve your departure, and eagerly welcome you back if ever given the chance.

It’s possible, but only if you handle your departure well.

Before you turn in your resignation—or even begin looking for another job—let me suggest that you consider the following seven actions.

1. Determine to Exit with Dignity and Honor

This is where it starts. How you leave a job says way more about our character than how we start. It’s all about a decision. You really can leave on a good note.

Take the moral high ground. Don’t speak ill of your supervisor, your coworkers, or the company. It will only make you look small and petty.

It’s amazing how negative comments have a way of spreading—and moving up the org chart. It’s a small world. And the industry you are working in is smaller still.

You never know when you may be working for someone you’re working with now. You never know when you may want to come back. Leave the door open. As a CEO, I’ve always paid attention to how people leave. It influences whether I’m willing to write a letter of recommendation or serve as a reference. It makes a difference.

2. Count the Cost of Leaving Your Present Job

Someone once said, “The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. But sometimes we forget: it still has to be mowed!” How true.

I was talking with a young pastor who was irate with his board. “They just don’t get it,” he said. He was already working on securing a new post.

“Look,” I said after about twenty minutes, “I’m not saying you shouldn’t go. But don’t kid yourself. The same knuckleheaded elders are at that church too. In fact, they’re at every church. Could this be an opportunity for you to grow in your leadership by staying? What would become possible for you in the future if you learn to lead these very kind of people?”

Every job has its pluses and minuses. I’m happier in my work today than I’ve ever been. But I have bad days too.

The key is to be realistic. To me, it’s more important to be going toward something, rather than moving away from something.

3. Give Your Employer a Chance to Address Your Issues

You need to carefully identify what the real issues are. Is the problem your current job, your boss, a coworker, the system, the whole company, what?

If you don’t tell your supervisor, he or she can’t fix it. Who knows what’s possible—a different job description, department, schedule? You might just be surprised at how different your experience can be once your key issues are addressed.

Of course, they might not be able to fix it even if they know what it is. But unless you give them a chance, you’ll never know. If you can’t work it out, then make sure you give your employer ample time to find a replacement and plan for a smooth transition.

4. Honor Your Commitments to Your Current Employer

Whether you have an employment contract or not, you have a “duty of loyalty.” This means that you are expected to provide an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay.

Don’t grow slack in your work or let things fall through the cracks. You want to turn your position over to your successor in tip-top shape. You don’t want your successor saying, “No wonder she left. It’s a miracle she wasn’t fired. She left us with a mess.”

Like it or not, your successor will be the primary steward of your reputation at the company. You want her to say, “Wow! She left some big shoes to fill. If I can do the job half as well as she did, I will be a success!” Or, “She left everything in great shape. The files were well-organized and I knew the status of every project. The transition was seamless.”

5. Don’t Look for Another Job on Company Time or with Company Email

In essence, this is stealing. Your employer is paying you to work for her. Your time—at least during work hours—belongs to her. She provides you with an email account to use for company business. It doesn’t belong to you.

Worse, everything you ever send or receive via company email is retained for years—even if you delete it locally. This includes complaints about your boss or coworkers, discussions with prospective employers (or competitors), fights with your spouse. Everything.

It can come back to bite you. Believe me.

In my previous leadership position, we had an executive who left badly. Someone suggested he had conspired with a competitor prior to leaving. So I had our HR department check the email servers. Sure enough, they found a mountain of evidence, and the discovery had negative consequences for him and, unfortunately, his family.

6. Don’t Share Proprietary Information with Prospective Employers

This should be obvious. It’s a simple matter of honesty. Company data, reports, contacts, and so on are assets of the company.

Using them for your own benefit is no different than stealing physical property. And providing them to a prospective employer is theft.

As an employer myself, I would instantly break off discussions with any prospective employee if they volunteered to give me information from their present employer. They may think they’re enticing me to hire them. What they are really doing is revealing that they have no moral compass whatsoever. These are not the kind of people I want infecting my corporate culture.

Even if you don’t have an employment agreement with the confidentiality provision in it, act as though you do. No one wants a cheat, a tell-all, or a gossip.

7. Don’t Conspire with Others to Leave the Company

In 1986, Robert Wolgemuth and I left the company we both worked for. We ended up starting a new publishing company called Wolgemuth & Hyatt Publishers. We left within weeks of one another, but we did not discuss going into business prior to our departure.

We wanted to be able to say with integrity that we had not left with plans to start something else together. But I have seen others take a different path and usually with disastrous consequences.

You want your current employer rooting for you. You want to be able to use him or her as a reference. If you are any good at your job, your employer will hate losing you. If you attempt to take other employees with you—especially good employees—it will only add insult to injury. More than likely, it will burn a bridge that you may well need later.

Finally, if you are determined to quit, then don’t discuss your decision with other employees until you have discussed it with your supervisor. This is a simple matter of respect. The last thing you want is for him or her to “hear it through the grapevine.”

With a little planning, anyone can make a graceful exit. Life is short. The world is small—and cold. You don’t need to create any unnecessary enemies. You’ve already made an investment in your job. Now make one in your career. Think of the future and keep the end in mind.

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