Management Success Tip #87: Want 21st Century Success? Jettison Your 20th Century Ways!

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Everything not only moves faster (well, except for traffic), it happens in shorter, more condensed bursts. Video and computer games, including those on the omnipresent mini-computer, your mobile, are fast, intense, and over quickly. Texts and tweets have replaced many phone conversations as well as lengthy emails, and emails long ago replaced most lengthy (and slow) postal mail.

Yet the pace at work is generally slow, takes place over long periods of time (8 hours at a work station!), and is mired in convention and paperwork.

No wonder our younger generation of workers are bored! It’s not that they’re spoiled (although we Boomers love to claim that’s the problem), so much as the way their work is structured is the opposite of how the rest of their life goes.

What to do?

Take a page from companies who’ve learned how to make work more interesting with some simple, easy to implement, changes.

Trader Joe’s, for example, a privately held chain of specialty grocery stores, rotates their workers, such that each worker staffs a position for only one hour at a time. So, for example, any given worker will man a cashier stand, stock shelves, and return shopping carts in the course of an ordinary morning.

Not only does this alleviate the tedium standing behind a check stand for eight hours would engender, it means that every worker knows every aspect of the store. Every worker is able to help out with whatever department is most in need at a moment’s notice. And every worker knows every product throughout the store.

Other easy-to-implement ideas: break goals down into smaller, sub goals. Celebrate the accomplishment of small goals loudly and joyously. Actively solicit and put into effect employee ideas for improvement.

Jettison your  20th century operating procedures and adopt 21st century ways of doing things: your business will thank you!


Management Success Tip #86: Put Failure Behind You: Harness the Power of “I Will”!

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Failures dog us. Mistakes are hard to put out of our minds. Things we forgot to do, should have done, would have done if only . . . eat at us.

All of which yield short term gain, long term pain.

In the short term, of course it’s important to recognize where we messed up, otherwise there’s no accountability, and certainly no learning. That’s why failures of all shapes and sizes are beneficial in the short term. The very short term.

But too often we don’t learn-and-move-on. We bemoan-and-stay-stuck.

Thinking about what you coulda, woulda, shoulda steals energy away from where your focus needs to be if you are to be successful: here, now! Once you’ve digested the lesson you needed to learn from whatever your goof was, it’s time to switch your focus to the present, and the future.

Not only that, but it’s critical that you switch your focus from what you won’t do to what you will do.

Just as staying stuck on rehashing your failure keeps you in failure mode, paying attention to what you won’t do in the future (“I will not be late” “I will not speak up in a meeting unless I’m 100% sure of my facts”) virtually guarantees that you will repeat the same mistakes.

Instead, reframe your thinking. Tell yourself what you will do: “I will make the extra effort it takes to be on time.” “I will gather my facts before speaking up.”

Try it. When you find yourself saying “I won’t” to something, figure out what the “I will” behavior would be, focus on that, and notice how much more success you reap.

Management Success Tip #85: Success Favors The Optimist: Be One!

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Pessimists are often portrayed as realists, but here’s the skinny: research consistently shows that optimists live longer, happier, healthier lives, and – more to the point of your business – outperform their own talents.

I love that one! Think of it, just by being optimistic you can do better at work, and encourage others to do better at work, than your talents would warrant. It’s like donning a Superman cape without the discomfort of the phone booth.

How do you know if you’re being pessimistic? According to “Learned Optimism” author Marty Seligman, when you’re being pessimistic, you’re operating according to the three “P’s” – you see situations as Personal (“It’s worse for me”), Pervasive (“Everything is now worse”) and Permanent (“It will always be this way”).

So when you fail to meet your departmental quota, you think it’s Personal (worse for you than for your co-worker who also failed to meet the quota), Pervasive (my whole job is now in jeopardy, nothing I do is right) and Permanent (I’m a failure, I’ll never reach my goals).

The good news is (really? There’s good news here?): once you know what the 3 “P’s” are, you can interrupt the cascade of pessimistic thoughts at any “P.” For example, Personal: “John weathered his low quota month, he and I aren’t really much different.” Pervasive: “I’m still contributing during team meetings, just the other day, one of my ideas was incorporated into the team strategy.” Permanent: “I don’t like falling behind, but I can improve. I can figure out what I need to learn or do differently to get back on track.”

Pessimism is a success-killer. Mega-successes like Donald Trump may sound over-the-top in their zealous descriptions of their accomplishments, but really, all they are doing, is using the immense force of optimism to power their achievements.

So can you!

Management Success Tip #84: Motivate Your Employees Into Taking Responsibility: Be The Example!

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One of the most important ways in which you exemplify the excellence you expect from others, is by taking responsibility.

You are human. Yup, you are. Neither more nor less than, which means that, like all humans, you make mistakes. Sometimes little ones, sometimes big ones, but being human guarantees that you will make mistakes.

The smartest, best thing you can do for your business is to let your employees know that you are taking responsibility for your errors in judgment, your faulty communications, your slip-ups, whatever they may be.

Think of the very public messes highly placed individuals have created for themselves and their companies over the past few years by refusing to take responsibility. By looking to blame someone else, something else, anything but stand up and say “I was responsible for that.”

Taking responsibility doesn’t mean wearing a hair shirt and flailing yourself.  It means being accountable. It’s having enough self-confidence to say “Yes, I made a mistake and here’s how I intend to rectify the situation.”

People respect that! People will not forgive a cover-up, people resent those who finger-point and attach blame to others. But people will forgive and do their best to move forward with those who show themselves to be accountable and do their best to make the situation better.

You want your employees to take responsibility? Great. Show them how it’s done by your example, and they will follow your lead.