First responsibility of an effective Leader!

First responsibility of an effective Leader!

As a leader, it’s is your basic responsibility to love and care for those you lead. This is especially true when there’s distress in the system albeit it financially or emotionally.

Keeping a finger on the pulse and be mindful of your surroundings will provide you the insight you need to ascertain the emotional status of your team at large.

Small things can have a major impact on business continuity. Identifying and mitigating likely scenarios should have been done yesterday, not wait till the emergency happens because it will.

We often talk about safety in the work place which is assumed to be physical in nature. This assumption is narrow minded and should include the psychological well-being of your staff at large.

An untimely death of an employee is such a scenario that can have devastating impact on operations and have lingering effects if not mitigated appropriately.

Assembling a crisis intervention team and execute your crisis communication plan is one way of showing true empathy for your staff and extended family. After all, we spend more time with each other than we often do with our own families.

Bring a small team of folks together to develop a crisis intervention plan and consider it part of your business continuity plan which should be exercised regularly.

As a Positude Leaders, you will be prepared to respond, support and care for your staff. It’s a primary duty of an effective leader.

It’s never too late, start today!

-W

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Business Intelligence!

Business Intelligence!

I’m drinking from a fire hydrant! Sounds familiar to those who work in industries heavily reliant on data analytics. We are slowly growing accustomed to the fact that everything we do is measured by someone. Question remains, what are we doing with all this data?

The answer is business analytics. Frequently overlooked or under appreciated entity within a business practice and likely the first on the cutting block when margins shrink.

It’s being penny wise but dollar foolish. Although seen as a pure cost center, a well set up business intelligence unit is a key contributor to avoiding unnecessary cost to any business and likely to contribute in focusing business opportunities that will drive growth strategies.

As a leader, it is your responsibility to organize data in such a way that is can become actionable by your managers. Developing a strong bond and selecting the right people into these roles can be the differential at years end budget review.

We tend to be reactionary by nature responding to physical manifestations of negative trends. We need to commit ourselves to resisting the temptation to be reactive and rather focus on identifying issues before they become actual problems that can negatively affect your bottom line.

The mission of your business intelligence unit is to develop proactive reporting system with tight parameters that will function as early indicators. There’s plenty of technology available to assist you BI staff and we should not shy away from making some timely investments in this area of operations as well.

Most importantly, your business intelligence unit is charged with developing reports that can be understood by those charges with implementing countermeasures. A picture speaks a thousand words. Make sure it tells a story and is labeled correctly. You BI unit should be seen as the single source of truth in respect to data.

Make the right investments in people and process! It will pay for itself many times over!

-W

Listen to Learn!

Listen to Learn!

A powerful few days of intense listening and learning. It truly is amazing what you can learn in a short period of time if ones brain is set up to receive and process information.

Your mind is a powerful machine capable of much more than you can ever imagine however it is just as easily distracted by external noice.

To gain control over your thought process thereby creating bandwidth to truly listen and learn is an acquired skill. It really is no different than building a muscle, it requires repetitive activity to gain strength and regular tune-ups to maintain this newly gained skill.

A great place to start is with simple meditation techniques. Try is right now a see how well you do….

Close your eyes, tune-out all external noise to the best of your ability. Now just listen to every breath in and out. Not just the breath but every single molecule of oxygen entering your body from your lips till it reaches it’s finally destination. Try this for several minutes and each time your brain wonders of to the unknown, bring it back to the breath you are taking at that moment in time.

It will take concentration and practice over time to get proficient at this exercise.

Now, imagine you are sitting in an important meeting and you need to listen intently with no distraction to ensure you can process the information and formulate a response as necessary.

“Listening to Learn” is a powerful tool in your repertoire. If you don’t have it today, start by exercising your brain.

Be mindful of your mindfulness. Live in the NOW!

-W

Lead through Context NOT Control!

Lead through Context NOT Control!

I’m back in my chair early on a Saturday morning, watching our Roomba zigzag through our living room like it is on a mission determined to get every single last dog hair or spec of dirt. Our Roomba is led through control, we program it to go only as often and as long as we want it to clean not a minute longer. However trying this same approach with our team members often results in disengagement or worse separation. Humans should be led through context, not control.

As positude¬†leaders, we need to transform our ways of managing and leading by connecting to the emotional side of our team members. Each wants to be valued albeit a bit different from each other, at the end of the day, if one knows and understands the reason he/she is doing a task, it will be completed more thoroughly and on-time. It doesn’t matter if its an employee engagement survey, a specific task or your annual corporate compliance attestation, “Leading through Context” matters and it is evident in the final results.

By nature, humans are curious creatures whom are programmed to be inquisitive, creative and challenge traditional thinking however much of that is suppressed if you lead through control versus leading through context.

We need to take our time and communicate clearly our expectation by explaining the “WHY”. This is often accomplished through story telling or relating it back to something meaningful. For example, if your company’s value statement includes the word “Integrity”, it means that you will do the right things even when someone is not looking. An annual compliance attestation is not just another thing to do, it is actually a personal commitment to live up to the high standard of integrity providing confidence to your customers that quality, safety and doing the right things right are at the core of what you do each day.

Understanding the “WHY” engages your team members to whole another level of cooperation. If done right, it gives a sense of pride especially if your department as a whole out performs all others. You will ” kill two birds with one stone” by making a commitment to integrity and creating a “WIN”.

As a team, you will be more successful if you are unified in vision, action and deliverable. It’s about “Context” not “Control”!

Trust but Verify!

Trust but Verify!

Empowerment is something I truly believe in however it should not be based on blind trust without verification including your own work. Empowerment is also not a substitute for dumping your responsibilities into someone else’s lap. Delegation without support equals a dump and most likely will end up biting you in the butt at some point in time. Empowerment through delegation with coaching for success is a great start to developing your staff members. Add a verification process and you should be golden.

One of the most important decision point in a continuous improvement cycle starts once your staff has been in serviced on the new process. It’s a critical point where you shift your work to the front-line staff with the hope that they will execute only to find out that it rarely happens as you envisioned. Don’t blame your staff, be reflective and point some fingers at yourself and the system before pointing any finger at the executioners of the process.

Implementing a new process is not a singular step of educating your staff, it is about continuous coaching for success and validating that the new process steps remain in place until a new norm has been established. This can take as many as 3 months to accomplish. Once in the grove, one must put into place periodic check in’s by using a “Trust but Verify” approach. Don’t take anything for granted and trust me when I say, staff will find a better way (or shorter way) of doing it once left on their own.

By nature, I’m a trusting person and want to believe that people will do the right thing more often than not. However, using a “Trust but Verify” approach to managing a process is the responsible approach especially if you use these moments for teach back to your staff versus a punitive approach when process steps a negated or short cuts are discovered. Remain teachable at all times, maybe your staff members have found an even better way of doing the job.

I will use this same approach when working on a major project by inviting outsiders or trusted insiders to verify my work. As long as you remain open to critical feedback, it will benefit your performance.

“Trust but Verify” is a Positude way to go!

-W

The Spirit of the Xmas!

The Spirit of the Xmas!

I just heard on the radio that approximately 26 Million people will be shopping for Christmas today! Each chasing that elusive present at a great discount. Often buying something that the receiver really doesn’t need or want.¬† I think we lost the spirit of Xmas some time ago.

I have only one wish each year, to spend an evening with all five of my kids and quietly observe them for the individuals they have become. I’m so incredible proud of them. Each brings something unique to the conversation and I love seeing that sparkly in their eyes when they speak about their current or future goals in life.

kids 2017 (2)

The spirit of Xmas is about family for me, I get the greatest joy not from tearing apart wrapping paper but watching and observing my own flesh and blood.

I’m a lucky guy, I truly am fortunate to have all of this in my life. It is my purpose and greatest accomplishments although I readily admit I could have done better but then again I’m not perfect, I’m just grateful for the opportunity to be a DAD.

Embrace those you love, reach out to those who need some loving and keep in mind those who have sacrificed all for us to live in this beautiful country free to believe what you want, love who you want and be who you are!

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and Happy Kwanzaa.

-W

Problem Solving by Front Line Staff!

Problem Solving by Front Line Staff!

How many times have you heard an employee say; “All I do is fire-fight all day”! It’s a common phenomenon to jump from one problem to the next and all too frequently have to re-fight the same battle more than once. It leads to great inefficiency, loss of productive time, and frustration for the client and staff member alike. Something has got to change.

Just like alcoholics, we need to admit we have a problem before proceeding to get treatment. If you don’t see the problem or at least feel the confusion, frustration and repetitive behaviors that are leading to low-performance or even loss of revenue, you can’t and will not commit to finding a remedy that leads to greener pastures.

Only fools will continue to the same things over and over expecting a different outcome. (Albert Einstein definition of “Insanity”) To change your behavior, you are required to gain new experiences that can lead to sustainable actions in a proactive manner or at least solving at the root cause rather than at the surface.

There’s no easy way out, its been tried and proven too many times that cutting corners or doing it only some of the time just doesn’t work.

Customer Service facing industries like healthcare are a difficult beast to tame and what worked for Toyota Productions in their factories might not work in our hospitals, clinics or patient service centers. However, we can make a commitment to a “Zero Defect” culture whereby we complete a root cause analysis for every error we commit. We might not be able to stop the assemble line by pulling the “Andon String”, but we should not allow the same errors to recur over and over without deeply understanding “WHY” and problem solve around the root cause.

Our front-line team members are often in the most difficult positions completing multiple task at any given time. They often have to work at an expected pace to ensure on-time delivery of a particular service to meet customer expectations and company standards. We rarely give them enough time to problem solve in real-time due to the fact there’s no slack in the system. Are we doing right by our most valuable assets? Most likely not, we are asking too much without providing the right amount of education, training and support to prevent errors from taking place or to solve problems at the root cause in near real time.

As positude leaders, we need to recognize our current shortcomings and develop a countermeasure to fit the need to solve problems on the front-line. I’m in favor of using A3 Thinking as my preferred tool of choice. (PDCA), it’s a standardized approach to solving at the root cause by following some very basic steps for each error that occurs.

Let’s review the basic steps in chronological order and if I get enough feedback from my readers, I will write a few more blogs on this topic and dive a bit deeper into each step.

Here we go….

  1. Identify your focus area also known as scoping your problem statement
  2. Establish your current process that lead to the error
  3. Identify the key metrics associated with this problem and establish future state metric
  4. Solve at root cause by using the “5 WHY” strategy and complete a GAP-analysis
  5. Develop your hypothesis statement “If we, Then we”
  6. Pilot your new process and validate it works
  7. Timeline of accountability who, when, how
  8. Measure the NEW process outcome over a period of time to get to the new NORM
  9. What did we learn and how can we apply this new learning to other processes

It’s just a teaser however simple enough for you to identify a single problem in your areas of operations to give it a try. Trust me, solving at the root cause will be your gateway to future success, efficiency, profitability,¬† and foremost happy clients and team members.

Let me know how it works for you!

-W