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Human Resources Today

CEO Silence

Vijay Eswaran (pronounced Veejay Eeshwuhrn) wrote a book titled In the Sphere of Silence.  USA Today caught up with him for a November 19th article titled, CEO succeeds through silence - 1 hour of daily reflection gives you time to set goals, get focused.

Mr. Eswaran reinforces my suggestions for Sanctuary and Success Plans.  At first you think he is referring to an hour of prayer or meditation, but actually he recommends the time to be filled with active thought.  If you believe in a higher power then use the time to review your plans, ask for advice and plan your next bold moves.

What would happen to your investment of life’s most valuable asset that is in your control - your time - if you started each day with one hour of:

  1. Bible study or meditation
  2. Prayer, possibly in the ACTS method:  Adoration of God, Confession of sins/mistakes, Thankfulness and Supplication - asking for assistance.
  3. Review what you accomplished the day before, week-month-or year before.
    • What went right?  You want to do more of this.
    • What went wrong?  You must learn from this.
    • What needs to change for you to achieve your dreams?
    • Define your goals / plans for today and the future. Be specific, clear and measurable.  Be realistic, yet stretch yourself.  How can you delegate tasks and manage them through others?  Are you providing the support your people need to achieve the tasks you have set with them (not for them).
  4. Read a book to gain new insight for 15-30 minutes.  Seek knowledge early in the day before time has lapsed and you cannot develop your mind.
  5. During this time all forms of communication are turned off and your staff understands they are not to interrupt you.

Why not try this for 1 week?  I’ll try it this week and let you know how it goes for me.  Leadership requires alone time to gain perspective.  This may be an effective habit to develop.  I admit an hour sounds challenging, yet my understanding is Martin Luther prayed for 2 hours each day until he became a well-known leader.  Then he prayed for 4 hours a day.


Viewed By All

HCL Technologies of India has one-upped us all (or most of us at least).  They publish the performance reviews of their top 20 managers on the company’s intranet site for any employee to view them.  And employees also have the capability to see their own supervisor’s scores.

I like this idea.  It builds accountability.  It demonstrates servant leadership.

For the complete article in BusinessWeek’s November 19th issue, click here.


A Step in the Right Direction

Shareholders to vote on top Aflac execs’ pay is the title of an article in the Money section of USA Today yesterday.  It explains how Aflac will become the first public corporation in America to allow shareholders to approve or disapprove their company’s executive pay.

This is a step in the right direction, although it falls far short of my recommended simple solution for executive pay on October 15th of this year.

The problem is the Aflac vote is non-binding.  If the shareholders vote says the company is paying too much there is only a commitment to sit down with major shareholders and see what changes they would like to recommend.

Change is coming in America involving executive pay.  It going to take years, but let’s keep the heat on.


IBM Learning

There was recently an article in HR Magazine (November 2007, page 55, by Nancy M. Davis) titled, One-on-One Training Crosses continents - IBM created a program to offer experiential learning opportunities to thousands of employees.

Apparently 3 years ago IBM held a 72-hour dialog with 355,766 employees worldwide. What they learned is employees want access to more and varied experiential learning. As a result the IBM Learning and Career Development Department created Blue Opportunities. The program offers about 1,400 different training opportunities and they are not just online courses. That’s the key.

These opportunities include stretch assignments, cross-unit projects, short and long-term job rotation, and on-site job shadowing via an employee-only Internet site that erases country borders. Our Clients are not the size of IBM, but you can take the concepts here and apply them to your business. Some of our Clients already do. Consider these benefits:

  1. Senior people have the ability to share expertise across your company.
  2. Employees are motivated by varied learning opportunities to develop their competencies and careers.
  3. Employees can learn from people in other departments to broaden their experience and better understand how each other’s work affects the entire organization.
  4. Collectively you develop talent rather than just in a silo.
  5. You retain employees longer because this type of learning gives them a more exciting future filled with personal and/or professional development.

Tendencies Rather Than Skills

One of the reasons I wrote the book, Success With People, is because of the realization that I had leadership tendencies rather than true leadership skills.  I place tendencies even lower than abilities.

Recently as I was discussing a manager with someone, the comment was made the manager really feels he is a leader.  Yet it became clear the manager is a competitor rather than a leader.  Just because you like to compete and have things your way does not mean you are an effective leader.  As a matter of fact you can be quite a poor leader.  I know this both from my own experience and from working with hundreds of leaders/managers.

So how do you move from being a person who is competitive with leadership tendencies to one of skill and top performance?

  1. You do it by understanding your strengths and weaknesses through our Talent Assessments, and then applying Systematic Power (the 1st Desired Result of the Success With People system) to how you work wtih others.  Without the system providing structure you are inconsistent as a leader.  This holds you back, plus your company and the individuals who have been put in your charge.
  2. Another way to learn effective, proven ways to be a great leader is to attend our Maui Deep Dive conference next April.  You will leave this conference with specific processes you can apply to your employee relationships to achieve your dreams.  Get away from it all for a few days to relax and fully absorb new information on becoming the leader you want to be.

Tendencies or skills… which do you want?  The transition to skills is a choice you have to make and then follow through on.


Use wish lists to recognize employees

I was speaking at an EO group meeting in San Antonio, Texas last Tuesday night.  One question came up about employee recognition.  How effective is cash?

I responded cash works with some people, but at least 75% of employees do not prefer cash.  Briefly I reviewed how there are other ways to motivate and recognize people.

One EO Member shared his solution, which is super:  Every 6 months they send out an email to every employee asking for their wish list - how they want to be recognized.  Then when they want to recognize the person, they give them what they want instead of what the boss thinks they want.  This is the Platinum Rule - Give unto others as they would give to themselves.

He said the responses are surprising.  Virtually everyone wants something that costs less than they would have expected.  For instance, a Starbucks card, 2-hour lunch one-on-one with the boss, and other low-cost or no-cost items.  He validated what I had said and the idea of the wish list was great.

This “wish list” process can only encourage your people, so you can only win.  To be an effective leader you need to engage people based on their desires, which are often quite different than yours.  Try it out!


9th Place and Fading

According to The Economist magazine, America has dropped to 9th place in its Business Environment rankings.  Denmark, Finland, Singapore and Canada are 1-4 respectively. Where has America gone wrong?

From the article:  America’s business environment is expected to decline over the next five years due to mounting financial and macroeconomic risks, increased protectionism, security concerns and strained international relations.  The Economist Intelligence Unit’s business environment rankings for 2008-12 show America falling to ninth position, the lowest the country has placed since the launch of the business environment rankings in 1997.

America’s business environment remains attractive (deregulated labor markets, the high quality of infrastructure, leadership in technology) and the differences between countries at the top of the business environments league are fairly small.  Yet there are also signs of deterioration in key areas.  America is stagnating as others improve.

Unfortunately no presidential candidate will make a significant difference.  Only politicians are running.
The global business environment is expected to improve over the next 5 years despite the disappointing outlook for America.

The good news there will still be plenty of opportunities for leaders who understand employee performance management and a system for full employee engagement.



Inc. Magazine has an article in their November issue titled, The Art of the Huddle - How to Run a Prompt, Productive, and Painless Morning Meeting.

The reason I like this article is it gives you 5 brief examples of how to hold a quick morning meeting.  It’s great to learn how some other companies are doing this so you can create your own format that best serves your company culture.  In brief, the 5 are:

  1. The team builder - The objective is to improve communication.  They review their day’s to-do lists together.  The meetings also help identify non-communicators to weed them out.
  2. The coordinator - The objective is to establish priorities and coordinate efforts.  They meet at 11:45 a.m. for 15 minutes.  It’s easy to limit the time because everyone is hungry.
  3. The efficiency expert - Everyone in the office (20-40 people) share they top priority for the day in 8-15 seconds.  They start at 8:43 a.m. to reinforce the importance of each minute.
  4. The motivator - Starts with good news about the company or an individual, and ends with a cheer for the contributions of one employee.  Also announces 3 critical numbers and a dept. head headlines their group activities.
  5. The strategic planner - In 30-60 seconds each manager explains what they are doing that day to advance the quarterly and yearly company goals, what progress they made the previous day and what roadblocks they are encountering.

One important aspect of effective leadership is to make certain you and your people are focusing on key priorities each day.  Part of that is how you communicate with your team and hear from them regularly.  Lose the “long leash.” Stay close to your direct reports and have them do the same with their people.  Create a system for regular communication (Systematic Power - the 1st Desired Result of the Success With People system).


Don’t Worry

Do we worry too much at work?

We are having a great year and we have a number of large projects pending that can positively change the lives of thousands of people.  I think about these opportunities a lot.  You might call it worry.

I am involved with a small group of men in a spiritual transformation group, led by Father Thomas of the St. Columba Church and Retreat House in Inverness, California.  Last week when we met Father Thomas encouraged us to occasionally open our Bible randomly to read a passage of Scripture that comes to us first.  It is typically only a few verses.  His premise is this gives the Lord an opportunity to speak to us through that passage.  It’s an interesting exercise and not as random as fortune telling.  One reason is the Bible does speak to our lives, whether as a person of faith or a casual reader.  It is a book of historical stories that provide a perspective on how to live life.

I have three places where I have inserted notes or prayer lists in my Bible.  Yesterday morning I opened my Bible intending to open it to one of the places with notes.  Usually I do this with no problem, however, yesterday I was surprised to open my Bible to a passage on worry (Matthew 6:25-34).  Being reminded of Father Thomas’ encouragement rather than turn the pages to where I had originally intended to go, I read and Reflected on that passage.  I have been worrying a bit because I am so passionate about the projects we have pending.  And of course, as a parent, I can feel a burden for my kids and other family members who are facing some of life’s challenges.

It was a good time of study and Reflection.  Then I went on in my day.

At 9:52 a.m. I received an email from a good friend of mine, Carl Lundgren (sent from HomeWord).  I’ve heard this message before from a secular study.  See most of Carl’s email below.

Lessons from Brother Jeremiah

Author: Jim Burns, Ph.D.

Parents, one of the greatest legacies you can leave your children is the gift of knowing how to keep life in perspective - become time goes by so fast!  Brother Jeremiah provides us with some thoughts that can help us maintain the life perspective we all need!

As a family read the short story below and then discuss your feelings about what author learned from his experience

Brother Jeremiah was at the end of his life when he reflected on his many years of Christian service and wrote:

If I had my life to live over again, I’d try to make more mistakes next time. I would relax. I would limber up. I would be sillier than I have been this trip. I know of very few things I would take seriously. I would take more trips. I would climb more mountains, swim more rivers, and watch more sunsets. I would do more walking and looking. I would eat more ice cream and less beans. I would have more actual troubles and fewer imaginary ones. 

You see, I am one of those people who live prophylactically and sensibly and sanely, hour after hour, day after day. Oh, I’ve had my moments and if I had it to do over again, I’d have more of them. In fact, I’d try to have nothing else. Just moments, one after another, instead of living so many years ahead each day. I have been one of those people who never go anywhere without a thermometer, aspirin, and a parachute. If I had it to do over again, I would go places, do things, and travel lighter than I have. 

If I had my life to live over, I would start barefooted earlier in the spring and stay that way later in the fall. I would play more. I would ride on more merry-go-rounds. I’d pick more daises. 

How does your family rate? (Have each family member answer these questions and then discuss the answers.)

  1. Does our family have enough play time?
  2. If I were to die today I would look back and say “I wish our family would have ________________ more.”
  3. What regrets might you have years from now about how your family spends its time? As a family make a plan so that there are no regrets in the years to come.

Is this a coincidence?  I doubt it, but you are welcome to have your own opinion.  I encourage you to Reflect on whether you are worrying too much in your life.  To demonstrate true leadership, maybe there are some adjustments to make.  Maybe we can help you leverage the Success With People system to manage your time better.

Don’t worry… be happy (as the old song goes).  Have a GREAT day!

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