Managers Number One Mistake

From Jim:manager

We enter this world as children and to stay alive and thriving we ingest, more like absorb the environment of our birth. Whatever we experience is all there is and we take it in without conditions. And that’s our first experience of authority, an authority that knows how to keep us alive because we cannot do that for ourselves.

Another aspect of those early years is that we spend a great deal of time looking up at those who are taller than we are. And we learn to follow; not necessarily by choice but by default. We unconsciously accept them as guides and leaders and we give our allegiance to them: again not by choice but by default. That’s a condition of being alive on this earth. We are new. We need to learn. If we don’t we likely don’t do well or may even die.

Our task is to conform, albeit with occasional resistance and perhaps rebellion. We comply and act in accordance with what is deemed appropriate. We do as we are told. We take the lessons we are given even to the point of imitation. Continue reading

Is Hillary REALLY Too Old To Be President?

hillaryFrom Judith:

As the United States approaches the 2016 presidential elections, adversaries of Hillary Clinton are already starting to throw out ageist propaganda. Citing the fact that if elected Hillary, who was born October 26, 1947, will turn 70 while in office. Curious that they seem to forget that Ronald Reagan was elected in 1980 at the age of 69.

But here’s the central question: Is 70 really old? Or another way to put it: Is the way Hillary approaches her life going to make her “old” at 70?

The fact is that Hillary is far from old and 70 is going to be very attractive the way she will wear it. After all, she’s been the “first woman” to do all manner of important things—from being the first student commencement speaker at Wellesley College in 1969 to, in 1978 becoming the first female chair of the Legal Services Corporation, and in 1979 the first female partner at Rose Law Firm. Clinton was also the first female Senator from New York state. Continue reading

Can Winning Make You More Than Just Number One?

Businessman Crossing the Finish LineWinning is incredibly important. When you win you’re supposed to gain recognition, status, material goods, perhaps even wealth. Winning is supposed to supply pride and self-esteem so that when you look into a mirror the person staring back at you is someone you can be proud of, someone you recognize as a winner.

Presumably your sense of self-esteem as a winner would arise from and be consistent with the values that make up who you know yourself to be: even more so, the person you want to be in your own mind as well as among those you know and who mean something to you.

But What Does “Win” Mean? Continue reading

Hanging On To Workplace Misfits – What’s the problem?

misfitIt would be ideal if recruiting worked perfectly and all new hires were perfect assets to your specific workplace culture. But that’s not ever going to be the case. We humans are a widely varied bunch and every process — recruiting, onboarding, and management — is dictated by the uniqueness of the people involved.

So there are always going to be some new hires that in due time reveal themselves as inappropriate to the requirements and spirit of your workplace culture. And typically, all too often, these people are kept on and on and on until the inevitable has to happen. They must be let go. But usually this follows months and even years of team upheaval, manager distress and disappointment, and of course inadequate work ethic and output.

What’s the problem? Why is it so hard to pull the plug on these folks early on? Continue reading

Expectations Create Reality – Manage Them – Yours and Others

expectationsFrom Jim:

Expectations are central to an individual’s well-organized, functional, and fulfilling life. They are even more critical to an organization of multiple individuals because expectations vary among the members of a team or department. Why? Because expectations that are strong and animated form distinct and striking mental images projected into the present as a guide to behavior, and most intensely into the future as an end result. Each individual has his or her own take or angle on how, consciously or unconsciously, they form their personal and private mental images. Those “takes” are the source of their behaviors. When all of their takes are aligned most everything operates smoothly and all participants are pleased and feel productive. When a gap is present there is really no telling what might occur because people are not only not on the same page but on different perhaps radically different pages. Imagine what the latter would look like—a burst of energy and effort shooting off in different directions creating chaos to say nothing of the irritations and conflicts that ensue. Whether aligned or misaligned, expectations create reality.

So just what is an expectation? What are the elements of an expectation?

An expectation is composed of:

● an imagined mental structure that renders an image or picture of a future outcome;

● an identification with that picture/outcome so that an emotional investment is made;

● an emotional investment that produces a commitment to behave in such a way as to manifest

that outcome;

● an application of energy and effort toward realizing that outcome;

● achieving that end goal as the principal measure of success and satisfaction.

It’s your own, your colleague’s or your client’s vision of a future state of action or accomplishment. It’s that which you look forward to or regard as likely to happen. The attainment of the expected outcome produces a sense of fulfillment and gratification that serves as both a measure and a proof of your ability to accurately assess the future and your capability of attaining it. You have produced both internal and external worth which is a measure of your value.

When expectations fail to be realized the emotional and intellectual distress can be excruciating.

Now About Managing Expectations

Unless you are certain you cannot accomplish the result expected do not back away from the challenge. Why? Think of the opposite: what if people expected nothing from you? What if you expected nothing of yourself? What would that say about you? Nothing good, certainly. Long before you accomplish the goal of an expectation you are thought of and think of yourself as able. An expectation placed upon you or that you place upon yourself is in itself a sign or respect and confidence. You can do it.

We humans consciously and mostly unconsciously create patterns that we use to orient and guide us. So be judicious and vigilant in setting up expectations. We give over our intelligence and emotions into what we imagine and bestow power and authority on what we see. We give consent and approval and comply with and support our mental images. They become emotionally charged and therefore real. When this “living entity” is upset, that creates a painful instability. Examples of that instability are: self-condemnation; depression; withdrawal; being indecisive, unfocused, fearful; and all too often overwhelmed by options. This list is certainly not exhaustive but it is very real.

Clarify expectations. Sort out what’s needed, what is feasible, and how to proceed. Confused or poorly articulated expectations send people on wild goose chases: I say “chases” plural because people will go off on different tangents if the expectations are not clarified. So create a unified, coherent picture and work to articulate it plainly, as simply as you can. Specify. Simplify. Stipulate.

Don’t burden expectations with perfection. Perfection is impossible. Yes I know the old shibboleth—“You can never reach perfection but it’s worthwhile to reach for it.” This has never made sense to me. Why set up something that cannot happen, in fact and in principle? You might say that in reaching for perfection we will reach new heights. But perfection leaves a wake of frustration and exhaustion in its path. Be real. Set up a stretch goal. Imagine a BHAG. But keep your feet on the ground. You will do yourself and those you manage a great favor. Then when you exceed your expectations they will be truly fulfilling. You will have reached both what you are capable of and surpassed yourself into new awareness, vision, and command.

Assess the value of the desired outcome. Distinguish between expected value—personal, professional, and corporate; perceived value—calculated, imagined, and dreamed of; and delivered value—measured by external standards.

Expectations are deeper and broader than requirements. A requirement is necessary. You are obligated to produce it. That is certainly part of an expectation. But requirements are focused and by default narrower than what might be explored. Open yourself and those you manage to consider possibilities beyond what you/they are accustomed to. The slogan is, “Think outside the box.” True. And since we can see only what we can see it’s important to brainstorm with others and challenge the boundaries of what has been already established. Why? Because you will get the chance to express yourself beyond what you already know and discover what more you are and can be.

Expectations create reality, your reality and those with whom you work. Treat them with care. They can provide dividends beyond what you can now imagine.

Disruptive Change – How You Can Use It to Your advantage!

changeFrom Judith:

You’re moving along in your current position and succeeding quite well. Then, all of a sudden, with no input from you, no warning from above, you are informed that your position has been discontinued, or your team has been reassigned, or you’ve been moved to a different department in a different building (perhaps even in a different city).

Whatever it is, disruptive change has control of your career, your professional identity, and your future. And at first, you feel totally out of control. You are in shock.

But, as soon as possible, the task is to figure out how to turn this seemingly volcanic upheaval into something that will work to your advantage, rather than leaving you permanently destabilized.

How do you do this (and/or help your team/friend/colleague do it)? Continue reading

Clinging to Innocence Is a Deadly Trap

From Jim:spider web

Most people avoid conflict situations because conflicts hurt and very few people know what to do when a conflict erupts. I am not talking about a major conflict, a war or a terrorist attack, but the conflicts that happen every day: a surprising argument with your friend; a fight with your spouse; tension between you and a coworker or between you and your boss. The first response most people have is to defend themselves protecting their innocence.

What about you? How comfortable are you with conflict? That’s right I said, “comfortable.” Do the two words “conflict” and “comfortable” belong in the same sentence? They do. I assure you that a conflict well-handled is, or at least can be, a spur to emotional, intellectual, and even spiritual growth.

The first step to resolving a conflict is to ask the question, “What happened?” This does not mean you want to know what the other person did to create the problem. That would be about blame and a variation on the theme of maintaining your innocence. You want to know what you both did that led to the trouble, because no conflict is entirely one-sided—except if someone leaps out of the bushes and hits you, in which case it wouldn’t be a conflict but an attack. Continue reading