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Monday Morning Leadership

This book was written by David Cottrell. I just finished it and I LOVED it.

Here is a brief look at the lessons in the book.

Drivers & Passengers

-Placing blame focuses on the past; Accepting responsibility focuses on the future

– When you write things down  you commit to them

-Until you accept total responsibility you will not be able to achieve your goals

– Moving from manager to leader requires making different decisions

 

Keep the Main Thing the Main Thing

“Your job is not crisis management and your people are not firefighters”

-People have different perceptions to what the main thing is

-People quit people before they quit companies

Escape from Management Land

-Get in touch with your people

-Don’t lower the bottom by accommodating the falling stars; raise the top by praising the super stars

-In management land nothing is as it seems. It is frustrating and simple things become complex

The Do Right Rule

-Develop your action plan for crises before they happen

-Guard your integrity like it is your most precious possession

Hire Tough

-Fired staff fire themselves, you are just enforcing their decisions

-Your most important asset is having the RIGHT people

-Don’t lower your standards to fill a position

Do Less or Work Faster

-Prioritizing/Organizing  ->   *Touch each paper only once  *Set aside time to plan each day   * Audit each report you get  * Clean your desk  *Control your email deliveries  * Group similar activities together  *Eat when no one else eats

-Interruptions  ->  *Keep track of who is interrupting and why   *Keep the interruption short   *Face your desk away from the flow of traffic  *Schedule one-on-one meetings with your team

-Meetings  ->  *Productive but short meetings   *Don’t have routine meetings  *Start with important topics  *Start and end on time   *Don’t recap if someone is late

-Take responsibility for your time and decide how you will spend it

Buckets and Dippers

-Full buckets require knowing the main things important to doing a good job

-Provide bucket holders with sincere, specific, and timely feedback. Align with the receiver’s values

-Let them know that you care

-Team must know that they are doing well as a team

Enter the Learning Zone

Room 1: Reading Room                                   Room 2: Listening Room                           Room 3: Giving Room

-Live in the learning zone. Set goals and write them down

-Get out of your comfort zone

-Listen to the people around you

-Read for 10 minutes a day

-Give back, set goals, stay positive

Resources to check out: http://www.davidcottrell.com;    http://www.cornerstoneleadership.com

Time! by David Cottrell

175 Ways to Get More Done in Less Time

Engagement at Work

Today, I had a meeting with one of my coaches. We had a lengthy discussion regarding engagement of employees and how to build it, how it is informed, and some of its intricacies. I will highlight some of the important details here for you, my dear readers.

One of the concepts we discussed was how much engagement is a result of certain treatment by management of an hourly or non-management employee. A study showed employees as being approximately 2% engaged in their work when they received no feedback at all. Those who received feedback about their weaknesses and areas to improve on had an engagement level of about 20%; while those who received feedback about their strengths and positive qualities had a level of engagement nearing 40%!

What does this mean for you and your organization? It means that you should focus on your employees’ strengths AND weaknesses to maintain balance while still keeping your valuable help engaged, developing, and improving. Highlighting both and bringing them to your employees’ attention means they know you are paying attention to them and you see all of their positive qualities, but you are still willing to help them improve. It also helps them understand that you want to be consistent in the way you approach performance at work.

If you want to learn more about strengths and engagement, check out Tom Rath’s book:  Strengthsfinder 2.0!

Tom Rath has some GREAT books!

What are your thoughts on engagement and managing your team’s strengths and/or weaknesses?

“Manage Teams; Not People. Treat everyone Fair; NOT Equal.”

Challenges at Work

Last time, we talked about concepts at work. This time, I wanted to talk more about personal challenges at work. These include People Vs. Policy, Priorities, and Management Style (again, yes).

All of my topics today actually are interconnected and interdependent. Each relies on the other, and all are affected by the rest.

People Vs. Policy includes the constant struggle within management styles of managing the people who work for you versus managing with policies and procedures. If you lean too much towards one or the other, you become a manager who does not see the whole picture. If you are part of a well-put-together team of managers, this may not be a problem. If you are a manager on your own, this can create perception issues between the employees, management, and the clientele. Finding the appropriate balance between people and policy as a manager is a major challenge for new management. You need to prioritize both in the best ways so that those who work with you understand that they are important to you, but the policies and procedures must still be followed.

Priorities are difficult to untangle no matter what the topic; more so in management. There are so many important things a manager must handle, sometimes it may become difficult for an individual to process the importance of each appropriately and take action. Other times, it is no challenge at all to decide which circumstance takes precedence. Again, there are positives and negatives to each side of the situation. Sometimes, personal feelings can cloud important issues where policy should take a higher stand. In other situations, policies may prevent an individual from doing something they feel is right; or conversely, causing them to do something they feel is wrong.

Management styles are part of this whole conundrum because how you manage yourself and others is a major part of how you make decisions about priorities and your management style is usually driven by people- or policy-mentality. All of these are important aspects of effective and globally beneficial management. Our challenge, as managers of ourselves and our teams, is to make those decisions and stand fast for the results.

I say results instead of consequences because “consequences” implies negative results. Results can be positive or negative and both are important lessons to learn for future use. We must keep in mind that everything we do influences everything around us. If we put out positive energies and thoughts, our surrounding will be a majority of positive things and vice versa with negativity.

As always, feel free to ask for clarification or a specific post devoted to a topic of interest or discussion.

“If you realized how powerful your thoughts were, you would never think another negative thing.” ~Peace Pilgrim

Concepts at Work

There are a few concepts I would like to reflect upon, which are either prominent or obviously lacking at my place of employment. They include: Attitude, teamwork, and management styles.

Teamwork. When an item has multiple parts which help it operate, all of them must work as they were designed for the item to perform as it was intended. When one or more of those parts does not work properly, neither does the item they are involved in work.

Attitudes.  Any case in which people are involved includes all of their attitudes. Whether it is attitude towards others, themselves, life in general, work, or any combination thereof or lacking things I did not list, ALL attitudes are included when people interact.

Management styles. Everyone is a manager. People must manage themselves, their lives, their work, and sometimes others. Nothing is written that says they are proficient at it, but each of us is, in fact, a manager. Wise people have said: “Manage people, but lead teams”. I strive for this in my role. Regardless, each of us has a different style of management and the best teams are built when one or more of these styles are synergetic together.

Due to my position with my company, I will not discuss particular individuals or situations by details which may produce recognition. This is simply for self-reflection and sharing of knowledge gained in my employment regarding these concepts.

Teamwork is a very important aspect of many jobs, including mine. The downfall is that if even ONE part is not working at its best, the entire system has potential to collapse. When Teamwork and  Attitudes collide, and one or more of those is negative in nature, chaos ensues. Negative aspects of teamwork and attitudes can create a hostile work place or a toxic environment. Hostile environments are dangerous because they are volatile, unpredictable, and oftentimes result in verbal violence or negativity. Toxic environments are merely negative feelings or actions that are “contagious” and picked up easily by coworkers to spread within the work place.

Management styles should bring these two aspects to bear, regardless if they are negative or positive. The best teams can be achieved when the management team have styles that coexist well. When the management team has synergy, they can have positive attitudes and teamwork which will become contagious to the other employees. Each manager must have valuable traits to the situation at hand. All traits and styles have value, it is simply a matter of perceiving that value. If the values involved do not synergize, then there may be holes in the team.

In summary, positive things are contagious, as well as negative ones. We must be conscious of what we are putting out into our environment because even if we do not feel like we are acting out of turn, others are perceiving negativity where we do not intend it. Our attitudes effect everything, our personal management styles effect everything, and teamwork is the remedy to all our problems. I could ramble, but I’d rather not. If you have any questions on one of these topics specifically, I would be more than happy to address questions in another post! I love writing for reflection and sharing purposes!

See you all soon!

“Be the person you want others to perceive you as”

New Start: Broke? Check. No social life? Check. Life totally upside down? Check.

Alright readers, first I want to apologize for my extended absence. We are all familiar with how life gets in the way, well mine came crashing down head-first into a pit of tar that I needed to climb out of before I could devote time, energy, and patience to my favorite place to be: HERE!

Nothing serious happened, don’t worry! I moved a distance from home to start a new job and poured every cent my parents, grandparents, and myself had at our disposal, and still managed to extend all of my credit lines to their limits in this process. Then, I learned that I had misunderstood the pay scale at my new job and I would not receive my first check in time to make my first rent payment.

Minor freak-out.

We got it figured out and now, over a month from the move, I am back on my feet. I am not comfortable, but I am stable and satisfied. Some things will be difficult to work out, but other things have fallen right into place. As long as I continue to remain positive and head for the goals, the details on the way will fall by the wayside of my attention and become unimportant.

We must all face major changes at times in our lives and as long as we remember that we are not alone and we are not the only ones going through hard times, we can stay strong and continue on until we get to a better place. Remember: when you hit rock bottom, the only place left to go is up!

In my consequent posts, I will tell you all a little about the place I am employed and the challenges I see, as well as some concepts I have learned about and how I have applied my college learnings to my employment atmosphere.

Stay tuned and please feel free to ask questions or request certain topics of interest to you all! I would be happy to oblige an open communication and dialogue between us all!

Shout-out: To a few people who have kept me going through social media! Knowledge Bishop, Leadership Freak, Cali Ressler, Jody Thompson, Daniel Pink, and many other noteworthy authors, influences, and thought-leaders, as well as my family; and as always, my reflection. She is my strength. Thank you all for sharing your thoughts and wisdom with the world. It is an inspiration.

My First Job…

So, Summer began as any other, with work at the barbecue pit near my house. I’ve been there eight years, this was my ninth and I LOVED it. I just graduated in May and came home figuring, ‘okay, I have income at least, so I can work on finding a job at my own pace.’

Well, let me tell you something.

I came home to my familiar job with my familiar coworkers and my familiar daily tasks, except one thing… I received a promotion. GREAT except… now I am above all of my peers and I have no idea how to do that. So, summer actually began with a substantial pay raise, complete alienation from my friends, and utter cluelessness of how to perform my job, PLUS the lack of my manager’s presence (hence the promotion) to mentor me in the position. AND, let’s not forget the fact that my new job also contains new hours (a grand total of 50-60 hours per week). There goes all my free time to job hunt.

What do I do now?

The Job Hunt Begins…

I used resume websites, where you post your resume and people blow up your phone trying to get hold of you, only to tell you that they have found other “more qualified” candidates. Let’s not forget the ones who never call, either. There are a lot of those around. I also checked the newspaper about once a week. The most valuable resource I was told I had in college, though, was my NETWORK. That is a magical word; if the circumstances are appropriate. Mine weren’t.

The problem with having a useful network (for me) is that the network is NOT located anywhere even remotely close to my residence. This poses a problem. I will not bore you with details, so let’s move on.

First Apartment?

There is a lot of home related stress in my life right now. So, I figured the best way to combat that stress was to remove myself from the situation. Great idea, right? Sure it is; if you have the money to do so, which I don’t. I asked around and found a real gem. My boss owns several properties and one of them is currently empty. He offered that house to me at a steal for rent. The deal is unbelievable, if I can come up with the rent payment. I am so psyched about this house, I cannot wait to move in! But, here we are back to the ‘need a job’ part of life.

Back to Job-Hunting

I made a list of companies I would absolutely LOVE to work for and started with them for employment. After approximately 4 weeks, one of them called me for an interview! I got to the second round interview and was told afterwards that the company had selected a better qualified candidate. No big deal. I interviewed for another position with the same company and got to the second round with them, as well. Again, the better qualified candidate out swung me. I began to feel depressed and like I wasn’t good enough; like no one wanted me.

Then, another company called. They had found my resume online and had a job fair coming up. They asked if I would attend to speak with their hiring staff. I did and they pursued me through employment. I was so happy, I had finally found a job and a company that wanted my talents on their workforce. The pay was great, the company was fantastic…the drive was almost an hour. And, gas was going up.

I will be brief. My employment was desirable, but I refused to discontinue my employment at the barbecue pit. So, here I am putting in 40 hours for the new company and nearly 30 every Saturday and Sunday for the barbecue. I began to get sick. On the second day of employment, I called in sick because the migraine I had was so unbearable I could not even dial the phone because the light and sound hurt so much. I thought I would stick it out, and then when I realized that I would make two paychecks per month and one of them would go to my gas tank; I decided I was done.

DEPRESSION. I had a job and couldn’t even stay there. I kept asking myself, “Who did I let down? Was it them, or was it me?”

REFLECTION

Maybe it was a mistake to jump on the first job that wanted me. Maybe I didn’t think it all the way through. I had to have known about the drive, I had made the trip at least 4 times throughout the interview process and told them I had no problem with the conditions of employment.

Maybe I was so worried that no one wanted me due to the repeated rejection that I wasn’t thinking clearly when something finally came up.

Maybe a lot of things; BUT, my health comes first and when my body starts to tell me something is wrong, usually it means that my mind is already far past normally stressed.

GOALS

My goals are to stay focused and to find a job. I cannot be particularly picky at this point in my career, but there are certain things I must be aware of constantly. My body and mind will tell me if something is wrong and I need to trust myself to see those signs before something bad happens as a result.

LESSONS

Stay focused on the end point

Be cognizant of all factors, not just the paycheck or the opportunity

Trust yourself; something will come up that is right for you; be patient

Thanks so much for reading. I continue my job search and have another interview coming up. I also have scheduled myself for a few open houses and job fairs in the coming month. As long as you remain positive, anything is possible.

Learning Experience

I wanted to share a story with all of you. One of my professors in college gave me some great advice before I graduated. “Arrogance is when you NEED other people to tell you how amazing you are. Confidence is when you know how amazing you are BECAUSE the people around you tell you so.” ~Gary Kaskowitz. That is the condensed version of our hour-long conversation regarding the difference between arrogance and confidence. His point is that one is self-justifying and one is self-accepting. One is a requirement and one is a reward.

Image

I work there!

I work at a barbecue pit that I have worked at for the past eight years. I have had steady promotions and pay raises and it is clear at work that my coworkers respect me (most of them anyways). One girl, new this summer, apparently has not had the chance to grow up like I have at this point in my life and in my career. When I asked her if she was feeling alright because her face was flushed, she commented:  “Yea, I’m doing REAL work; not something you would know anything about.” I was stunned.

……… -_-…………..

So, after stewing on how I felt for approximately an hour and a half I remembered Dr. Kaskowitz’s conversation. I realized that the part inside me that was railing against the suggestion that I didn’t do real work was the arrogant part of me demanding retribution for such an unjustified comment. The part of me that was fighting to keep quiet and let it go is the confident part. Realizing that my managers and most of my other coworkers realize how much I have put into that job, and how must respect I have from them, I didn’t actually have anything to prove. Because I already knew she was wrong. The part of me that wanted to resort to immature name-calling and insult-flinging was the arrogant part; flailing to prove that I am twice the worker that she is.

I was comforted that I had an explanation to myself for what I was feeling. And, when I had calmed down a bit, I went inside to an individual who was not involved in the situation. I vented to them and that was all I needed to de-stress. Later in the evening, I confronted the offender with civil and blunt conversation. Since that day, we have been relatively friendly to each other. She even acts like she likes me.

So, my friends, that is my five cents for the day. Hopefully, I will return to share more experiences with you soon!

 

Perspective of “Young Talent”; Couldn’t Have Said It Better!

Invest In Young Talent, It’s Worth It.

This girl is on FIRE! Can I be the first to say that I hope I work for this girl one day, or that we can be close colleagues?

I could never say the things she has said in such a succinct and diplomatic manner. She is brutally honest, but she is honest and her points are valid. You will not likely catch me arguing against anything this young leader says.

Such an inspiring post and individual; I only hope she can reach many people with her words.

Can You Pay My Bills?

Can You Pay My Bills?.

Oh YEA. She went there. And, God am I GLAD she did. We need to get this message across the entire world!

Students are being taken advantage of; and for those lucky suckers whose parents pay for everything, their parents are being taken advantage of, too. We should all be outraged and throwing the biggest hissy fit in the world over this garbage.

Stand up against capitalism. Tell the government we’ve had enough!

 

Perspective on Grading: Interview With Dr. Gary Kaskowitz

A short time ago, I wrote a blog post reviewing John Bader’s book called “Dean’s List” and I mentioned that I would interview one of my professors about one of the concepts contained therein. So, for a brief introduction, I interviewed my marketing professor, Dr. Gary Kaskowitz. He has authored one of my textbooks for this year called “Brand It Like Barack” and he has four degrees in various areas of study.

John Bader explains in “Dean’s List” that grades are mainly superficial; shallow; nearly meaningless in many cases. His justification is that numerical grades are mostly a particular teacher’s indication and personal bias of what they believe you have learned; not what you actually learned or can apply to your life. So, in that sense, as soon as one graduates or leaves an institution, the grades you received near meaninglessness because the teacher’s opinions of you do not matter to your job. Bader cites certain circumstances that make his presumption untrue, such as moving on to graduate school. For the most part, he feels that grades are a shallow construct and measurement of what students are learning and should not be taken too seriously.

This presumption upset me a little bit because my mind immediately jumped to professors who teach in anything BUT traditional lecture style settings. Actually, my first thought was Dr. Kaskowitz. I have had him for two classes in my college career and have thoroughly enjoyed both classes. I think this is because it isn’t traditional lecture classes. He is interactive, asks challenging questions, and plays games in class (inserting the occasional joke that flies right over most  of our oblivious heads) to help uslearn the concepts of marketing, consumer behavior, and branding. The part that aggravated me was that I felt like John Bader’s statement was intended not as a generalization, but an accepted fact:  grades don’t measure learning.

MBA, PhD, Moravian College, ProfessorSo, I interviewed Dr. Kaskowitz and shared my perspective about his class and how his grading system works. I asked about his perspectives on his own system and his class structure. His thoughts are included here.

There are levels of learning and two of the most basic levels are factual learning and conceptual learning. Factual learning is when you memorize and accept information as factual and true and you are capable of explaining things based on this factual information. Conceptual learning is based on using the facts to reach applications and from applications to more in-depth applications or alternative applications in varying situations. The two can be viewed as a “forest versus tree” perspective. Are you looking at the details and facts (trees) or are you looking at the concepts and applications (whole forest)? Dr. Kaskowitz explained the importance of being capable of doing both and having the ability to apply both in different ways to optimize your thinking and learning from each class, including his own.

An application for how to use the forest/tree analogy is inductive and deductive reasoning. By the process of Inductive Reasoning, one can view the tree and assume that it is possible there may be a forest surrounding them which includes the tree (hence the realm of possibilities or opportunities). By the process of Deductive Reasoning, one can view the forest and deduce that there must be trees (facts) in the forest to make it up.

Regardless of the reasoning approach we use, Dr. Kaskowitz encourages utilization of both and honing of the weaker one so we can develop the ability to use both skills effectively and appropriately. He said that we should make an effort to optimize our learning and challenge our traditional beliefs of learning by using methodologies we are not accustomed to using and always try to look at it from a perspective not your own. He believes, as I do, that his classes teach that to some extent; that he challenges us to think outside our own box and in multiple ways at once, which creates a directionality that is multi-focal.