Foundation a la Brucie

The foundation is elegantly simple. When constructing a building, what is needed to construct upon to have a strong building? The answer is obvious, you need a strong foundation. What do all religions have? Foundation documents: the Torah, the Bible, the Koran and the like are examples. What do we call these documents? The foundation of the faith. What do the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights do for the good old US of A? Why it forms our foundation. Are you getting this? There is a theme here. Organizations also need a foundation that outlines its goals and purpose. As an organization grows and develops, having mission and vision (or in my words, “Reason for Being”), BHAG’s (Big Hairy Audacious Goals) and Values can create a “True North” for the organization. (“True North” is a Steven Covey term that relates to the true direction of an organization. It is based on the analogy of a compass.)  The Reason for Being, BHAG’s, and Values of a company can be critical to the overall success of the organization but they’re often forgotten. The corporate Reason for Being is typically created by the Senior Leadership team, captured on posters, and strategically tacked up around the building. Meanwhile, the Reason for Being, BHAG’s, and Values are seen as irrelevant to the organization’s day-to-day operations. In other words, the organization’s behavior is not congruent with its declaration of ideals. However at their best, the Reason for Being, BHAG’s, and Values, give an organization a future to live into. This potential future galvanizes and focuses the organization. Whether or not goals are met entirely, movement toward them...

Satisfying the Customer

Another valuable lesson of Stupid Games is they can teach groups about great customer service. I worked with a client that was focused on improving its customer service. This company hired a firm to survey its customers. The survey results indicated that the company’s customer service was below average. The company decided to focus on improving its service and its relationships with customers. I was brought in to help the company leadership group develop action plans for improving customer service and customer relationships. To start the session, the group played one of CMI’s classic games: lower-the-tent-pole-to-the-ground.  The participants had played this Stupid Game in the past and were confident they would be successful. As a precursor to the exercise, I said, “The marketplace has changed, so don’t be fooled by these tent poles. They’re super-duper and way different than before.” After pausing for effect, I added the instructions: “I’m the customer. I want you to lower this tent pole to the ground while balancing it on your index fingers. None of your fingers can ever lose contact with it. All fingers must be under and perpendicular to pole. No other body parts can touch the pole. You have three minutes to do this. The faster you can get the tent pole to the floor the better.” The activity started. The pole went up instead of down. Fingers lost contact with the pole. People yelled, and blamed each other. (That is how this activity typically goes.) Then the groups calmed down. Everyone focused on completing the task. The participants started listening to each other and eventually lowered that darn pole...

“Stoopid” Games Explained

Why “Stoopid” Games? First of all, I do not want to admit that I am not good at the games nor do I particularly like them. I do feel they are invaluable in teaching business groups who are truly interested in improving their performance and how to tangibly do that. For the past twenty years, we have used experiential learning as a modality for teaching and developing our clients – at least that is how an academic would name it. For us, they are “stoopid” games and they are useful because they give groups a practice field for their performance and development. First, to establish, they really are “stoopid” or as it is usually spelled, stupid. One can argue and I do, after a few drinks, that all games are stupid. I mean, give me a break about football, catch a ball and then everyone over 200 pounds leaps and pounces on you? I don’t think so. Also, in baseball, have a small ball thrown at you at over 90 MPH and then try to hit it with a stick – and that is fun. You are kidding right? However, in the world, these two mentioned games among many, many others are called fun and sanctified. So, then having a marble roll down a PVC pipe into a cup and then celebrate victory you’ve got be on drugs. Or, get a group of people over a fake supposed river in less than ten minutes by walking on blue squishy things that really belong in a health club and celebrate that as a wildly successful phenomenon is insane. That is...

It’s All About the Duck

This article opens with Ernie’s song from Sesame Street. It goes like this:     “Rubber Ducky, you’re the one,   You make bath time lots of fun,   Rubber Ducky, I’m awfully fond of you   (Woh woh, bee do!)…”   I love them. So small and cute…… Let’s see there is the blue one with the green hair – I think that is a punk duck. There is the one dressed like a cardinal – that is certainly pope duck. There is just one that looks like a yellow duck – that is a regular duck. Then there is the one that looks like a penguin with the red hat and green scarf – black duck. Then the newest one is coming out of a cupcake – could that be happy duck?????? Must be. So you see these ducks run the gambit of representing the world as we know it.     These are my travel companions – my little duckies. They live in my shaving kit. Whenever I see them my heart sings and I am happy.     Where did these rubber duckies come from? No, I did not steal them from my granddaughter Sienna. Their origin – hospitality gifts from the Hampton Inn in Eau Claire Wisconsin.     I look forward to staying at this Hampton Inn in Eau Claire Wisconsin because I get a new duck every time I visit…..it is a special something that costs nothing and really delights me. Who knew that a bald 65 year old man could be brought to his knees by a duck?   During one visit, I asked...

Benefits

Progress Meetings have endless benefits. First, managers get to acknowledge what is working and what is not working given the employees Performance Agreement. The truth will set you free; it may cause upset but dealing with the situation whatever it is usually is the most powerful outcome.   Secondly if there are updates and changes that need to be made to the employees goals and accountabilities, it is easy to do right in the meeting especially utilizing the KeyneLink software. Business conditions are always changing; KeyneLink makes it easy to make changes in real time.   Finally, the meeting allows participants to understand each other’s perspectives. If the manager and employee have differing views, the Performance Meeting allows them to communicate and hopefully align. If not, then the manager and employee at least understand each other and are in communication.    For a great Progress Meeting, one does need to be a bit proactive. The following are some tips to ensure a quality outcome:   Treat the Progress Meeting seriously and believe it will make a difference. Remember that the meeting is about coaching and development and it is not an appraisal meeting. Treat the Progress Meeting as if you are an athlete meeting with their coach: the game is active and the outcome is uncertain. The conversation that you are having matters. To ensure that everyone hates the Progress meetings do the following: Believe that the meeting is not going to make a difference and that you have better things to do with your time. Treat the Progress meeting like an appraisal meeting with the employee sitting there...

Clarification

If you are still confused, the following is an analogy for a Progress Meeting. Progress Meetings are similar to a coach’s meeting with his/her athlete during practice. In my younger years, I competed in riding competitions. These events are timed and each round gets more difficult so getting through the course quickly and with the fewest mistakes is critical. This was serious business… my coach and I would meet prior to the event to create a plan based on the type of obstacles and the horse I was riding. After each round we would meet again to assess my status, the horse’s status and the course. We would revise our plan based on the current situation to improve our time and win the event. I was committed to winning by executing the plan that the coach and I had designed. The coach was committed to winning despite not riding the horse. He was watching and had a different perspective. He also had a lot of knowledge and experience. I never did figure out what the horse was up to. In this sense, these meetings were like a Progress Meeting; the employee is committed to making progress and executing on their goals. The manager has aligned with the goals and accountabilities of the employee and certainly has a perspective of what is getting accomplished. The meetings with my coach, which the horse attended sometimes, were an opportunity to share perspectives and assess with real data where we were given our goal of winning. This is just like the conversation that takes place between managers and employees during Progress Meetings using...

Progress Meetings Defined

The Progress Meeting is not an-after-the-fact appraisal meeting. No one is being judged or appraised. It is a proactive coaching meeting designed to produce feedback, conversation, next steps, and alignment. It is designed to give power and support, not to give judgment and assessment. As a precursor to Progress Meetings, employees and managers work together to build a Performance Agreement based on the employees accountabilities and goals of the employee. Progress Meetings are 30 minute meetings every month to discuss the progress being made towards demonstrating the company values, fulfilling job accountabilities, and achievement of goals. For Progress Meetings, typically I wear my Sundays finest – kidding – usually I am in just shorts and sandals – kidding again. Dress how you typically dress. Certainly face-to-face meetings are the best. I like meeting at a coffee shop or restaurant; however, the phone and screen sharing/web conferencing work. The rest of the Progress Meeting is a gap analysis between the manager’s and employee’s perceptions of the employee’s job accountabilities, demonstration of the corporate values, and the status of his/her goals. During the meeting, the employee and manager trade views. The meeting is about listening and reflecting. I have participated in this process as both employee and manager and, in my opinion, listening to the view and scores of the other is the best part. The meeting also lays out a great process from which to hold conversations about performance. Learn more about progress meetings...

Types of Meetings

Many different meetings occur in business between managers and employees. The most typical meetings can be categorized as firefighting meetings. Firefighting meetings occur on an ad hoc basis to solve specific problems such as: 1. Customer X did not get the right product 2. Machine number 6 is not functioning properly; etc. The purpose of these meetings is simply to resolve issues. Issues discussed are hot topics that need to be resolved immediately. A Progress Meeting is not this kind of firefighting meeting. Another type of meeting is a departmental meeting. In this type of meeting, participants shuffle into a conference room and sit around. Someone speaks and updates on various issues. Frequently, people’s attention wanders off and they do not pay attention. They might look like they do but they actually are not and may well be texting and the like. At the end of the meeting, everyone shuffles out of the conference room and scurries off to their next meeting. This process repeats. A Progress Meeting is not that kind of meeting. Then there is the yearly appraisal process with associated meetings. This is least celebrated and underappreciated type of meeting that goes on in organizations. In fact, in most organizations it is downright hated. Typically this meeting occurs at the end of the year. It entails the Manager evaluating the employee’s accomplishments and skill development. This process turns into a bureaucratic chore pushed by HR so that they can update their records. Most of the time the employees’ goals were not tracked or discussed during the year; thus the appraisal is often incomplete and inaccurate. The...

A Keyne Way to Coach Employees and Improve Performance

I have run my own business and coached employees for years but the whole notion of calling meetings between Employee and Manager “Progress Meetings” is something I learned from Wayne. Most of this material comes out of my collaboration and association with Wayne Nelsen and the Keyne Method. Wayne is the president of Keyne Insight, a firm dedicated to identifying and proving the concepts of execution management. He is also the creator of KeyneLink; a cutting edge execution management system that is used by many companies globally. The distinction between progress meetings and all other meetings is simple and elegant and makes all the difference in changing the context of the meeting. The meeting is not an appraisal meeting where the manager is judging the accomplishments or lack thereof. A progress meeting is a formal opportunity to review, reflect, and give feedback on the progress that the employee is making on their goals. More on this in the next couple of blog posts. Learn more about KeyneLink and Progress Meetings...

A Very Keyne Way to Set Goals Continued

Last week we defined goals according to the Keyne Method.  This week we continue to outline the process. Tension often exists between setting realistic goals and stretch goals. The Keyne Method creates a breakthrough solution for this issue; when outlining goals, define the criteria for meeting the goal, exceeding the goal, and missing the goal. The exceeded criterion allows you to create a realistic stretch goal. Almost everyone likes to produce results beyond their set goals. I noticed that my clients who follow this process focus on exceeding the goals. This method also forces you to really think about your goal. It is such a simple concept. It works quite elegantly. Of course, each target of meeting, exceeding, and missing needs to be quantifiable. Here is an example: Goal: Attain $10 million in new sales revenue for 2019 Score   Definition   Missed   Attain $9 million or less in new sales revenue for 2019   Met   Attain $9-11 million in new sales revenue for 2019   Exceeded   Attain $11 million or more in new sales revenue for 2019 We encourage our clients to set goals in partnership with their manager. Employees that set goals with their managers really create alignment. It allows employees to define what they are actually committing to and allows managers to understand and agree to those commitments. I love this aspect; it is very powerful and positive.  As I said previously, all goals have clear measurable results with a target date. Target dates ensure achievement of goals. Can you imagine a goal that said Company X will attain $250 Million Net Profit...