Saturday, August 18, 2007

Pros & Cons / Right & Wrong

Throughout my career I have seen my fair share of situations that turned from solving a problem into finding who's to blame for the problem. Somewhat related to this is the paralysis through analysis syndrome - spending too much time determining every conceivable pro & con before taking action. Conducting a post mortem is a valuable process in business - especially if you have not identified the root of a reoccurring problem. However, in business you need to continue moving forward. Solve the problem and move on. Each distraction that prevents you from taking the next step toward your business goals is ultimately wasted effort. In essence, you are allowing your competition to advance while you remain stagnant and if this is habitual for your company it becomes a demotivator for your team.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Leadership Part 3: Developing Problem Solvers

A great habit to cultivate among your employees is to think like a problem solver. The ability to solve problems or a disposition toward working toward solutions versus giving up is one of the best characteristics someone can have in business and life. To inspire this mind set among your team, simply require your employees to present two solutions to every problem or concern they bring to you. Over time you will see fewer and fewer problems being brought to your attention because they will be solved without your direct involvement. This skill is portable into other areas of business that will benefit both the employee and your company. When faced with difficult business challenges your employees will have the confidence to meet them head on. Last, you may not always be available and having fostered an environment that empowers employees to problem solve takes the pressure off of you.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Leadership Part 2: The Outside Expert

I remember learning early in my management career that familiarity diminishes credibility. What this means is the longer you lead a group of people the more they get used to hearing your vision and begin to take it for granted or even disassociate with it. How do you ignite the spark in your team when you encounter this? There are two simple answers. One, send your team to a conference in which the theme echos your vision. Two, bring someone in from outside your organization to present to your team.

Option One
Anytime someone attends a conference they are bound to hear a message or concept being delivered by a speaker they have not listened to before. Although the message or concept is likely not a new one (compliments your company's vision or core values), this will typically motivate them and provide that surge of excitement that was seemingly missing.

Option Two

Evaluate your network of contacts and focus on people who share a similar business outlook or that are in the same industry as you are. You can also find someone in a completely different industry that has a similar philosophy on customer service, account management, etc... If you don't have anyone in your network its time to start making new contacts. For example, if your company and team place a high value on customer service then make a list of the 10 best places you have received customer service. Include retail, restaurants, salons, personal trainers - anywhere you feel the service is excellent. Next, call and request a manager or senior staff member from one of these organizations visit your next team meeting and talk about their business and their perspective on customer care. If there is a specific area that you want highlighted, or draw a parallel to, let the presenter know ahead of time so they can incorporate it into their message. I have successfully done this when I brought in authors, insurance representatives, personal shoppers and restaurant managers to name a few.

It may not hit your team right away that the message they just heard from an "Outside Expert" is the same thing you have been telling them all along - but does that really matter? The goal is to get everyone motivated and excited again.