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BEFORE YOU WORK HARDER
In an imperfect world with stifling budget and ever-expanding mandate, you might be tempted to roll your sleeve more and work harder. Before you do that, check all the value and motivation-destroying activities you engage, see instituted, or passed off as necessary.
1. Bureaucracy. Too much paper-shifting, oversight, approvals. I saw this in my former life as a municipal staff and very draining.
2. Failure work. Countless rewriting and re-editing, and asking for countless validation. Let's define what's needed and stop repeating the process.
3. Overreach. It's good to say you're inclusive and highly participatory, but overdoing it, doesn't add to another inch of impact.
4. Not communicating well. Setting clear expectations and being mindful of interpretations from different stakeholders matter. It's a preventative measure you can start with.
Ask these questions now in your organization. Reframe the assumptions and received thinking around them. Provoke new ways of doing things. It's your work, it's your life.
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HAVING TOO MUCH FUN?
I heard this comment a few years ago, from a supervisor commenting on an employee having "too much fun" outside work, vacations in Mexico and booking up more in the next few months. The supervisor saw a rejuvenated, well-tanned staff beaming with optimism and joie de vivre. What's wrong with that picture?
What this means I conjure is that too much fun outside work means there is misery in the workplace for the supervisor, the staff, and probably within the department. God knows who else is not having fun there.
On the other hand, this statement should be read backwards. Nobody now wants drudgery in work. If you are miserable in your job and continue to stay on for the paycheck, your wasting your life, which has a limit. Statistically speaking, Canadians live up to only a certain age and then life goes downhill. And if you're a slaving as a supervisor, that's not supervision and not management, either.
For those who are refugees from working in organizations like me, I do not miss this arrangement. I'd rather be doing something that feeds my soul, puts money in my wallet, and lets me sleep good at night.
The future of work is all about fun, flexibility, and autonomy in the workplace. There is a high degree of challenge and complexity but also independence and the ability to use one's judgement in the interests of the organization. The reason people quit their job is because of their boss not because of the job itself.
The staff resigned after a few months. No surprise there.
If you're having too much fun at work, that is a good sign. How much is too much is up to you!
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REFRAME AS YOU TALK
I was in a conversation a few weeks ago for about 15 minutes, the quickest business call I had on Zoom.
When the conversation started to veer away from the unstated and unspoken main agenda, I tried to put it back to where the 'meat' is so both our needs are met by reframing and reorganizing the discussion.
After 15 minutes, with bluntness allowed, we got through a common understanding and with some laughter. We didn't get to determining a follow-up, but a positive rapport created a desire to talk again. A stranger became a friendly acquaintance.
The biggest lesson is to reframe a scenario right where you are, when you know it can quickly deteriorate and leave you thinking what just happened.
Do you know that we can frame everything based on our perception of value? We talked differently with bosses, our peers, our stakeholders, our partners, and investors. The frame becomes the shape that controls the kind of relationship and transaction that comes after, as in building a house or a ship.
Re-framing is essential for busy executives with enough work but limited time for the mundane. Seize the moment, identify your musts, and never feel that you need to subordinate your need. That way, you don't have to repeat the scene in your mind post-mortem.
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AM I IN THE WRONG MEETING?
A few years ago, when I was jumpstarting my practice again, I attended a local community organization's meeting made up of different providers for networking and to get to know the burning issues of the day. One lady questioned my presence and intimated that I might be in a 'wrong meeting' because am in the consulting business. Presumably, she thought that their group should not be a 'target' of my marketing.
Like in many of professions, as a professional and a person, we come with many hats. Because I was seen as the 'consultant' ready to take their monies and hard-earned budget, I got an inquisition. But if you come with an open mind, a consultant can be a guide, an expert, another connector, and could be an ardent supporter just like any other individual. I can also write a cheque if I want to!
How come organizations suffer from myopic perspectives and ill-thought actions? Because they insulate themselves from outside voices and perspectives that can actually enrich their work and challenge their assumptions. Within the confines of the comfortable existence, a few of them dare to venture to reach out or be accessed by people marginal to their operational logics. Innovation is relaxing controls and embracing the creative diversities from resources and talent around you.
Don't be too quick to say no to people from unlikely origins, with backgrounds different from yours just because of the prejudices and biases against/for these people. There is always a treasure hidden behind a job title or a strange name or a weird hairdo. If you dismiss these people arbitrarily, you're literally leaving money on the table. For a non-profit, this attitude is suicidal.
Be open to possibilities and be surprised with your findings.
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How many organizations in the on-purpose sector are scrambling to get the best member?
You want the world to know your impact.
You want the world to see you've made these dents and about to accomplish more.
You are innovative and leading the way for others.
You need great members.
A newly minted organization is asking itself what is the best positioning in a world where competition for belonging, attention, and value is high and unyielding. When talented people are redesigning their lives versus to fit and to belong to just anything. When time outside work and family is precariously limited.
To get the best you need to be the most differentiated or at least try to be.
Ask yourself, what's the driving force behind your differentiation?
Don't just be different from the mold, create a new paradigm.
Ask them, what affiliation would best meet their needs?
Don't just provide the obvious and standard. Raise the bar.
Educate the public. Educate your network. Educate your team.
If what you want to be doesn't excite or scare you. Rinse and repeat.
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3 WAYS YOU CAN HELP THE CUSTOMER NOT TO BUY
We are all buyers, clients, customers for various goods and services. Recently, I encountered three vendors for the service I would like to get. The three vendors operated in various ways to get the sale.
The first one was the patient type and to a certain extent, the friend of the customer. He was understanding, knew his products very well, and listened intently. He was there at every stage of the process. During the final negotiation, he presented a impossible barrier for the customer to decide to buy from him. He wanted an upfront payment for the preliminary assessment so that he would know what solutions he can offer!
The second one was also helpful in the beginning. When it was time to get serious, he pedaled back, wanting to build a more trusting relationship with the customer. He wanted to prolong this 'trust stage' so he would know that the customer will surely buy from him. Instead of presenting the most credible solution and addressing the need of the buyer, he wanted to 'test' the buyer first!
The third one was a non-nonsense vendor. He stated his methods, prices, and his approach to the solutions. But at the earliest stage, he started criticizing the customer for the state of his affairs. He was also saying that after he was done with him, expect that there will be more work (costs) to be done. His contract was one-sided, all provisions pointed to his risk mitigation.
All these three vendors were successful in helping the buyer not to buy from them. Their perspectives were self-centered- to protect themselves at all costs. Instead of helping solve a need upfront, they relied on their tactics and methods that backfired.
Contrast to this one vendor. He didn't care about the trusting process, the 'fit' between customer and vendor, stated his methods and explained his fees. He was consistent, on-the-ball, and no drama. When the customer talked to him, he was assured, well-versed, and credible. He didn't promise the moon but the way he would approach the project was reassuring. The rest of the process was smooth and unencumbered.
A trusting relationship is critical to any sale. But forcing the trusting relationship by rigging it do not serve the transaction. Building trust is about serving the needs of the client now (when he/she is talking to yo) and being consistent throughout all the stages of the sale.
Is your process, communication, and projection pro-customer or pro-self-preservation?
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THE DARK SIDE OF ENGAGEMENT
Employee engagement as based on research is defined as "asking for the employee to go the extra mile. " This is different from all the motivation, commitment, loyalty, and other positive feelings associated with the organizational affiliation of employees.
When it's about asking employees to go the extra mile, what does it really mean?
The ugly side of this 'engagement' as some critics say could be just a fad again, is the fact that how much more can we ask employees to go beyond and above their current performance.
Is this something that can only lead to more burnout, frustration, anxiety, and general negative disposition in the workplace?
Engagement linked to clear strategic objectives for the organization is a sound approach. However, going the extra mile when not ill-defined, ill-conceived, and not consistently measured can lead down a path of irreversible damage for the organization.
Don't let your HR tell you what employee engagement is. Everyone in the organization should decide what's its all about and whether there are clear metrics attached to organizational success objectives that you can leverage to make it purposeful in your organization.
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SHOWING UP AND OWNING THE OUTCOMES
Half of the battle is won by just showing up.
Showing up for your employees and staff when they need an ally and a champion for workplace effectiveness.
Showing up for community causes that are no longer optional or good-to-have but are essential for collective rejuvenation.
Showing up for suppliers who are hurting in this pandemic and needed measures to ease their financial and logistical difficulties.
Showing up for your customers to say that you care and offer help when it's not being expected.
Showing up for your stakeholders and generate collective voices so that those that are not on the table can be represented.
Showing up despite the fear and uncertainty of the new environment where we live in.
Showing up and owning the co-responsibility of charting the new future in your sector.
When you show up, the world opens up for you.
Own the space and hold the space for others too!
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THE ART OF DISENGAGEMENT
Disengagement is the best strategy to quell the temptation for overreach and overdoing.
Founders, especially have the tendencies to unconsciously usurp more control and power beyond their capabilities and their mandates within their organizations.
The best thing to do with disengagement is to completely pull away, when new leadership is established and a new mandate for them had been set up. The old guards must vacate not just physically but emotionally and ceremoniously so that their influence and their previous ideas of "how things should be done" no longer can sway the organization.
Believing that the organization will exist, will prosper, will evolve in new and exciting ways is something that should be in the mindset of outgoing leaders.
This is tough for those that have cared for the organization for a number of years, invested all their lives nurturing its development, and letting-go seemed to be a case of 'midlife crisis.'
The question for leaders hanging-on is that: would the organization best served if you continue in your role or when you go? If the answer is, "I don't know."
They haven't been doing their homework thinking about accelerating goals.
Before you can reach the next mountain, you have to abandon the pretty hills on the way.
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CONFIDENCE BUILDS CONFIDENCE
We were out and about yesterday doing our weekly errands, we thought it would be different to start eating out to help local businesses and save myself from cooking.
The local restaurant is a franchise of a large chain and owned by a young entrepreneur couple who moved to Canada 11 years ago. This couple is commendable in their attitude towards the reopen and how much of their effort is building confidence with their customers by showing how they approach the preventive measures.
Confidence-building is essential in every customer interaction especially in this time. It shows that you are on the ball and are committed to ensuring that they can count on you for safety as part of their experience with your products, services, and programs.
Exuding confidence is like a balm on a very itchy skin. It assuages and builds further confidence that is required if you want to keep more business coming. The right mindset is always an optimistic one-one that is pragmatically positive.
Who can tell you need confidence? We all need confidence. We all need to be boosted up one way or another. We all need a word of comfort and acts of solidarity. We all need to know that others care for us and we care for our community.
Small business owners are particularly hit hard with today's recession. They are the unsung heroes of our community. Every lay-off is a difficult decision especially when a staff has no other options on the horizon. A lot of workers do not have the cushion of savings to rely on during temporary setbacks. Last March, 2M people lost their jobs.
Despite these, they are open and they are serving us with a smile and a confident demeanor that they are ready for better times ahead.
What are you doing to exude confidence and build trust with your customers and stakeholders now?