Workplace Astigmatism

For the last 10 years, I’ve boasted that my vision has not changed. I laugh at optometrists when I walk into their examination rooms because I know that the result is going to be the same…”Well Mr. Harris, everything is fine…no difference…here’s your prescription.” to which I say buttholishly, “I know! Told ya things are the same.”

eye-exam-checkupBecause of this status quo, I take eye exams for granted; only going when I actually need new glasses due to wear and tear…which is like every 5 years. I actually get tired of putting myself (and my money) out there to have my time wasted…until my visit a week ago.

This trip I entered confidently as I usually do, preparing my normal giggle and forming my mouth to say my usual know-it-all words, until Dr. Eyedude says, “Your right eye has changed. We’re going to switch your prescription and it may be a little drastic.”

When you think that nothing has changed, everything has

Not having had to look through “different” lenses for so long, I found myself being uncomfortable on my way home. The change was making my head hurt. Things were blurry. I didn’t like it. Was it because it was unexpected? Was it because something was different? Was it because it was unwelcomed? Maybe it was because I had gotten too comfortable. Too used to knowing what everything looked like and how everything was supposed to feel. The moment a new process was introduced, a new person was brought aboard, a new policy took effect…wait, am I describing your office or my eyes? Hmm? Maybe both.

As we get older, more experienced, more tenured, we must face the inevitable fact that things must and will change. Our vision, our surroundings, and the ways our businesses must operate all change. We can either roll with it, adjust or we can resist and remain in denial. That denial stems from the fact that we think things are fine just the way they are and we think that if we don’t acknowledge it, it’ll just go away.

Resistance to change can be costly

If I had paid regular attention, not been so arrogant and stubborn, maybe a drastic change could have been avoided or eased into. The gradual change would’ve helped me to make better adjustments. Being open to changes in the way our companies must do business will help our employees make better decisions as it relates to the new normals. Maybe they need regular examinations and consultation…I mean evaluations and one-on-ones…so that any issues can be identified early before they become problematic and cost us in the end.

What’s better? One or two? Two or three?

The next day, I could see things better. The headache had gone away. Those moments of temporary discomfort turned into my new, clearer reality. It took me getting broken down and taken out of my cocky comfort zone to realize that acceptance, flexibility and acknowledgement helped the headaches to go away and for things to seem clear again. I had to be humbled by the fact that I don’t know how bad things are until someone shows me something better, different, clearer.

Does your job give you “headaches”? Is it them or is it you refusing to adapt? 

Let’s not wait until it’s too late to let someone check us out. Let’s take some feedback and let it make us better. Let’s understand that us becoming more seasoned is when more changes need to occur…as opposed to things always having to change to our liking. Yielding to necessary adjustments may be blurry at first, but it can ultimately help you to see your vision more clearly in the end.

A P.I.P. Shouldn’t Be An R.I.P.

It’s so easy to say that employees should just go away when they’re not performing the way we want them to or responding to our management. The hard part is not actually getting them to change behavior, it’s actually admitting that we can do more to get them to where they should be.

image1PIPs or Performance Improvement Plans are often used by companies as the last ditched effort to shape up those “troubled” employees before we ship them out. Others use them as merely a coaching tool to get the attention of their people so that other forms of disciplinary action doesn’t have to be taken. I’ve seen PIPs in memo form, worksheets and templates, and I’ve even seen them delivered in emails. But regardless of how we format them, they should all have the same elements to be effective:

  • Clear areas that our employees need improve upon to remain a part of our teams
  • Challenging, yet achievable goals and deadlines for expected improvement
  • A plan of action for achievable said goals
  • Steps in which the manager can contribute and help the employee reach optimal performance
  • Fair and consistently applied actions that will occur if the desired performance isn’t met

We cannot use the word “Improvement” in the plan if we are not truly trying to achieve it. How we communicate during the delivery, and the words and tone used during the meeting should not feel like a death sentence or as if we are setting the employee up to fail.

There is no need to rehash the issues that we’ve had with the employee, but should focus on the behaviors that cause those issues that need to be altered or adjusted. Bringing up old stuff, especially if those incidents have caused negative conflict before, will surely turn your performance improvement meeting into a counter-productive blame session where no one is listening.

If we want our employees to listen, they must feel as if they are believed in, like they can make it and that they are being supported by members of management. Not only is this communicated in the document and meetings themselves, but by actually following up frequently to ensure that the necessary steps in the plan are being acted on.

So ultimately, a lot of the responsibility comes back to the manager. Not just delivering a document so that we can check a box, but managing our employees to yield the results that we need.

And isn’t that what management is all about? Not just supervising processes and expecting everyone to fall in line, but by providing resources and teaching people how to be successful in our systems.

Joe ClarkIf we want to get rid of someone, let’s just do it and move on to the next. Like Joe Clark said in the movie Lean On Me, “Don’t f#&% around with it…do it expeditiously!” But if we actually want them to get better, we must communicate it, make them believe it and show them how serious we are about them making it through the process.

Does Your Performance Eval Stack Up?

Check out my latest post over at Performance I Create, where we are discussing everyone’s favorite time of the year, Performance Evaluation time! Here is a sample:

performance-evaluationIf you’ve ever dreaded delivering a Performance Evaluation or if employees would rather get a root canal than sit through their review, your evaluation may need to be updated. The only reason for a manager to dread the process is if they know the feedback will lead to push-back and conflict. Employees hate them because they are tired of hearing opinionated fluff.

Please click HERE to view the remainder of the article and please share!

Check out my post and those of my fellow contributors for relevant, in-your-face, performance altering insight at Performance I Create!

Now What?

I am fresh back from a wonderful conference in Baton Rouge, Louisiana (LASHRM) and I am still pumped up and excited about my profession.

As I emptied my conference bag and began sorting through all of the pamphlets, pens and notes, I reflected and thought to myself, “Now what?”

We go to all of these conferences for development , fellowship, and to meet our Social Media peers and friends in person, but what good is all of that development and fellowship if the organizations that we return to don’t see and reap any benefit?

What are we going to do? What are we going to change? How are we better and will the colleagues we work with daily see it? Or are we just going to hoard all of the cool stuff we learned and keep all of the free pens and water bottles to ourselves.

I saw something special in that convention center, and because of that I’m motivated to share until my colleagues get tired of me.

I had the pleasure of working with my Performance I Create colleagues as the Social Media team for the event. We had a ball, sharing session content, promoting social media, blogging, etc. As the River Center staff began breaking down the exhibit tables and attendees were clearing out, we thought that our work was done. Just then a volunteer approached us and said that there were a couple of attendees that really needed to talk to us. Agreeing, a couple of us walked out to where our Social Engagement Portal was (that staff broke those tables down fast!) and we were immediately hit with a series of questions about how “Social” could help them in their workplace. They wanted to know how to move their thoughts from ideas to execution…and which tools and mediums would be best for what they were trying to accomplish.

connectAs we engaged them (my colleague did most of the talking, ahem), you could see light bulbs not only coming on but exploding. The concepts we spoke of were not complicated. They just needed some of that stuff that we teach and talk about to come off of the screen, out of the blogs and made plain to them in person…right there in their hands so that they could grab it and implement. What they needed was the knowledge that we had gained from doing…ideas that we got from conferences….strategies that we picked up from our peers. They needed it to make sense and tie in to what they were dealing with every day in their organization…and that if they had questions afterwards that they could reach out and get support.

“Don’t just help light bulbs come on, help them explode!” – Justin Harris, 2014

That’s what stuck with me. That’s what made me realize that it’s not that the people upstairs from me don’t care to do things differently, it’s that they don’t know exactly where to start. They have ideas, but they need help planning. Those of us that say we’re experts are needed to reach out occasionally and break it down for them. Because sometimes our messages are too big and they can’t run with that load. If we break the messages into manageable chunks, focus on process instead of the presentation, we’ll see more people grab hold and put the stuff in action.

So it starts in my shop. Being the change that I talk about and helping others to implement. Helping others to get involved and learn more about the tools of our trade. Because the Resources that we have are no good if we are not sharing them with other Humans.

Rules of Engagement: Nine Minutes On Monday

Since ruHRelevant? was started in July 2012, we have stressed how critical relationships are when it comes to employee performance. I’m not a proponent of managers trying to be buddies with employees, but a certain level of trust and rapport must be established to have a truly productive and engaged workforce.

Leaders cannot manage unless they know what makes their people tick, what motivates them in that specific environment, and what their career goals are. But one step further, they must know how those goals tie into the mission of the organization.

20140124-204413.jpgIn Nine Minutes On Monday, James Robbins draws the perfect road map on how to build these relationships by taking 9 minutes a week for planning and execution to help foster this very trust.

The charge from Robbins is to take a few moments on Mondays to plan out the development of your employees. Not just a blanket “I’m gonna develop folks this week!” but pinpointing who and what kind of attention each individual needs to be successful.

On Monday, most managers (smart managers) are planning out their week;

  • what goals need to be met
  • which deadlines are most critical
  • which review they must deliver

But equally as important is taking time to map out which employees need your attention that week not just based on production or an issue, but determined by

  • Who haven’t I had a chance to speak to?
  • Who do I need to know a little better?
  • Have I asked that employee what they might need specifically from me to make their job easier or more meaningful?
  • Have I uncovered this employee’s workplace or developmental needs based on conversations that we’ve had?

The book begins by helping leaders to understand their role; whether they are meant for management or are they merely someone that was good at doing the job. Once it’s established that you’re meant to lead, the book, that has nine chapters representing the nine drivers of employment engagement, helps you create small actionable goals that will help you to inspire and motivate your staff.

My favorite excerpt of the book sums in up wonderfully…

“While sending your employees off to seminars and and courses will be an integral part of their development, nothing beats the day-in and day-out coaching and mentoring by you, the boss. Most employees do not enjoy the experience of ongoing development because their manager is not sure how to do it or because the manager is just too busy and has not established it as a part of a routine.

Coaching your employees does not have to be complicated as some would have you to believe, nor does it take hours of your time in face-to-face sessions. Great coaching is quick, on the fly and practical.”

It Has To Become A Part Of Who You Are
Aristotle once told me that “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.” Managers want excellence and they want it consistently. But managers must come to grips with the fact that just expecting great performance is not enough. It must be shown, taught and then shown some more. And in order to achieve the desired results, managers must carve out the time to individually and collectively show their employees what this looks like, repeatedly!

Because I want you to purchase copies of the book, I won’t share all of the techniques but I’ll give a sample of some of the questions to ask during your weekly planning for engaging your employees without sacrificing all of your time:

Question #4 – Whom will I give a 2nd paycheck to this week? (Connecting purpose to pay)
Question #6 – How can I help someone grow this week?
Question #9 – What model do my people need from me this week?

20140124-204619.jpgTaking these Nine Minutes requires true self-reflection from a management standpoint before going in to engage employees. They cause one to ask, “What can I do to positively impact and affect my people?” Well thought-out action, without committing too much time…resulting in true engagement. Not engagement that tries to trick employees to climb, but engagement that helps them find the motivation within themselves to keep climbing and to stay the course! And helping them to find this motivation is going to take a consistent investment into each individual.

It only takes Nine Minutes On Monday to invest in your people. Make all Nine of them count!

Special thanks to James Robbins and his team for reaching out to me and providing me with this opportunity!

You’re A Leader. Quitting Is Not An Option

Happy New Year!!!

I couldn’t think of a better way to begin the New Year than posting over at Performance I Create!

Over the holiday break, I became overwhelmed by all of the things I had coming up in the 2014 and contemplated quitting a few things. Here is a glimpse into the thought process I used in working my way out of the that stressful state.

Quit“Between juggling all of your tasks, everyone else’s responsibilities and then the occasional bout with self-doubt, leadership is tough! I wish I could tell you how to make it easy, but I can’t. You DO have to deal with all of those things and it IS tough. So how do you keep from running away?”

Please click HERE to view the remainder of the article and please share!

Check out my post and those of my fellow contributors for relevant, in-your-face, performance altering insight at Performance I Create!

Professional Irrigation

According to Justin’s Labor Statistics, a lot of people get unhappy with their jobs during this time of year.  Holiday sadness and stress can make people feel as if they need a change and the cold and blahness outside affects everyone’s moods.

The-Grass-is-Greener-on-the-Other-SideBut the worst thing to do when feeling blah is to make dramatic, life-altering decisions, like leaving a job just because something looks a little greener across the street.

I liken it to the grass in my yard. I know that during this time of year my yard looks like crap. Everything is brown and dead. But as I drive through my neighborhood, there’s this one house where the landscaping is still immaculate, despite the climate. The yard is full of color and all kinds of pretty crap (I’m a yard hater). While I never see the residents actually in the yard, it’s evident that they are doing something that I’m not. But yet I use their end result as a barometer to measure my success, not fully considering their effort and struggle to achieve the results.

If I want my grass to be green like theirs, I have two choices…take over their house or figure out what it takes to improve MY yard. Notice I didn’t say “figure out what they’re doing and replicate it at my place” because my grass might need different care than theirs.

Even if I were to kick them out and move in, I’d soon learn that if my habits and actions do not change, that once green and supple yard will begin to look just as dry and brown as the one I so eagerly ran from. Just wanting it to be a certain way isn’t enough.  It’s about the work we’re willing to put in to something that yields the results we seek.

Hate your job? Are you watering YOUR grass!?!? Are you tilling the soil, researching what it needs and caring for it properly? Are you investing enough time to make it work or are you just doing the bare minimum that just keeps it presentable? Are you spending the time to get to know it, what it reacts to, much like the relationships with co-workers and clients? Are you tackling your issues with a one-size-fits-all solution (like a mower) or are you using a variety of tools and focusing on details.

Man-watering-grass-in-desert-550x550Picking up and moving without a plan doesn’t fix the issue, you fix the issue. And if it’s deemed unmanageable after you’ve tried everything, by all means, call in the experts or relocate.

By watering your own lawn (current situation), it can be just as green and productive as the next person’s. We can’t prosper always worrying about what someone else has and always thinking that you have to find something else to be happy. The reality is that if you do something different or creative where you are, you’ll create something that others will want to emulate…and there will be no reason or time to hate on the plush greenness in someone else’s yard.