Setbacks. Why you need them.

During the last two weeks, a sports team I am working with experienced what would be classified as several textbook definition setbacks. When they occurred, they were in the process of learning about how to capitalize on their teams’ outcomes. As they were going through this experience, it wasn’t a comfortable situation for any of them. However, it was exactly what they needed to go through at that time.

Fast forward to this week, and the team decided it needed to do something differently. Not only because the way they were operating wasn’t working, but because the team dysfunction level was unbearable. You could feel it, and see it in their performance. Yet, until they encountered their second dramatic performance setback, they were not ready to do something different.

When this team reached what would be classified as “rock bottom”, was when they decided it was time to try what they were potentially resisting, or not fully feeling like they could embrace. At this point, they had nothing to lose, and potentially everything to gain from facing their setbacks head on. This included openly talking about them, learning from them, and deciding to collectively try a different approach to how they were functioning as a team. In other words, to begin acting like one.

Yes, it sounds obvious that a team should act like a team and be supportive of one another, but there are numerous factors which can contribute to this not happening. For instance, when a team’s communication breaks down, or when they don’t treat each other well, or act respectful of one another as both people and teammates.

The first sign of this or any team breaking down and heading towards a place they don’t want to end up, is when they begin playing as individuals. This happens in the workforce too. You can literally watch a team and see they are not functioning and supporting one another to be successful. You will also see individuals trying to stand out, or do what they think they need to independently do to support their team. This never works, as we all know that a team is at their best when they are deliberately working together, and trust that each member is ideally doing their part. It’s critical to note and be reminded that no single person on the team is responsible for the outcome of the team’s performance.

When communication and trust are both lacking, it’s nearly impossible for a team’s dynamics to be strong. However, each of these elements can be addressed, and when they are, the team can begin to heal, and repair and restore the camaraderie levels they are ideally seeking to reach.

Facing adversity and not working together to do so is one of the basic elements which contributes to a team’s setback. I give the team I am working with a great deal of credit for understanding and admitting they were collectively not doing their part to be a team. So, when they decided this week to do something about addressing this, is when I literally saw a different team on the field. As a matter of fact, I told them they looked and acted like a completely new team, and one that was committed to turning their setbacks around. They did exactly that, and logged their first home win that day.

Now, the real work of helping this team to maintain its focus on leveraging what they learned from their setbacks is going to be what makes the difference in the rest of their seasons performance results. They will be applying what they have been working on this past week to improve their team dynamics, and this will transfer into their actions on and off the field. Ultimately, they will be putting into practice and testing this afternoon what they have learned, and I strongly believe their setbacks will provide them with the inspiration to attain the results they are collaboratively working towards.

If you are an individual or on a team who has experienced setbacks, and who hasn’t, below are some suggestions you can apply to course correct on the outcome you would prefer to experience.

  • Consider what contributed to your setback. What role did you, or each team member play in having it occur? This should be discussed as a group, and lead by the Coach or Manager.
  • Discuss what you learned from your setback(s). Focus on being constructive with what is being communicated, and set ground rules that do not allow people to single out and publicly attack or embarrass someone.
  • Make sure that everyone has a voice. Some people on the team might feel more comfortable with writing down and then having someone else read what they want to express.
  • When trust breaks down, you need a delicate method and time to be in your favor to restore it. One of the things I recommend that team’s do, is to each write down what they like about every person they work with. It could be unrelated to their actual team contribution (e.g., they make me laugh), and then the next step is to then gather together and have each person read out loud what they wrote. This information can also be shared in writing too, so that it has a longer lasting impact.
  • Factor in doing something together that is independent of what your team normally does together, and which could allow them to have some fun. There a plenty of low-cost options and ideas to apply, so be creative. Having some fun together instead of dreading being with one another can be a catalyst to reset your team dynamic setbacks.

The bottom line about setbacks is that they can’t always be avoided, and when they do occur, they can actually work in our favor. That is, if you have the right mindset to capitalize on turning them into both learning, growth and opportunities to improve and recalibrate your teams’ dynamics.

TAGS: #Teams #Teamdynamics #Leadership #Teamsetbacks #Success #Motivation #Teamwork #Workforce #Business #Sports #Sportsteam #Sportsteams #Sportscoach #Coach #Manager #Leader

Making your company “sticky” – Employee retention redefined.

Most people are not entrepreneurs. However, we are presently living in a period where many employees appear to be both dreaming about, and taking action towards either self-employment, or searching for a “unicorn” company. In other words, the type of company that ticks off all of the aspects of what an ideal company would be like to be employed by. Does this company exist?

Perhaps because the definition of what an ideal company to work for is harder to define, or even harder to find if you do come up with a definition, is there a happy medium that employees would be content with? This puts both the employee and the employer in a difficult stand-off, but not an impossible one.

One of the challenges companies face with retaining employees is the employee’s dissatisfaction with feeling like they are truly serving a purpose by working there. Let’s face it, in reality it will be a stretch for many companies to be able to define and align their company with offering all of their employees a heartfelt purpose for working there. Or is it?

Sure, some companies will have obvious reasons you will want to work there, and it could be based on the mission or the product or services they are offering others, but what if your company doesn’t fall into these categories? The good news is that despite the fact a company many not have an intriguing reason for attracting and retaining employees to be there, there is something else they should be considering. A consideration that a number of sports teams and their coaches have cracked the code on.

When you think about a sports team, you might first consider who the team is lead and coached by. You might then consider the type of sport they play, and where their team is located. All things not being equal, I’ll keep this analogy simple, as I see and want to share some dramatic parallels to sports teams being compared to companies.

The first parallel is that both sports teams and companies all have a defined leader. The second comparison is that in both scenarios, the people all need to work together. They also need to do their best work to have a quality outcome. So, how is it that some teams and companies are able to consistently outperform others? Are they stronger, smarter, more talented, being paid more, or are they more motivated or in better health? Perhaps, but none of these are the reasons some teams and companies will have better retention than others.

One of the reasons that sports teams and some companies have figured out and cracked the code on being successful with employee retention has nothing to do with a tangible aspect. It has to do with how the athletes and employees feel about how much they are appreciated by their coach or leader. Is it really that simple? Actually, it is, but the hard part is figuring out how to make athletes and employees feel appreciated.

Let’s dial-up the “way back” machine and take all of us back to when we were first entering school. One of the things most of us were taught, or witnessed, was that it was important to be nice to others. To apply simple manners and to be respectful of one another. Do any of these things cost any money? No, but they are some of the foundational aspects of what contributes to why athletes and employees remain at their company. Even thrive.

When a person feels they are treated well, are respected by their surrounding team members, are being invested in by their coach or leader (e.g., via attention, challenging them, communicating and listening to them, teaching and mentoring them) this matters. Or, if a person feels that they are contributing in their own way to a collective goal or mission, this will make all of the difference in a teams or a company’s retention levels. So, what’s the problem? The problem is that this formula isn’t either understood, or appears to be a mystery or magic trick for sports teams and companies who are having retention challenges. Is this your team or company?

You don’t have to pay attention to the news to know about the Great Resignation, you simply can talk to anyone in your personal or professional circle and you will learn about someone who is part of this scenario. Perhaps you are even someone contributing to it? If you are contributing to this scenario, or if you are a sports team or employer trying to figure out how to retain your greatest asset (e.g., team members, employees), I have some suggestions for you.

For sports team members/employees:

  • Other than making a living, what research did you do to determine your team or employer was the right fit for you? Have you defined what the “right fit” is for you?
  • If you haven’t defined what your values are, it would be a great time to do this too, as you can then have a higher percentage of them aligning with the team you will be joining.
  • Can you play a role in being a mentor or finding a mentor on your team or at your company?
  • If having a flexible schedule is important to you, but not for your company, could you reach a compromise?
  • Are there projects or opportunities within your company that would be an incentive for you to be engaged with? Sometimes doing activities/projects outside of what we are professionally focused on, can help to inspire you to want to continue working there.
  • When was the last time you had a meaningful conversation with your coach or boss? If your answer was never, can you imagine attempting to have this type of conversation?
  • Is personal balance in your life compromised because you either feel compelled, or have to work constantly? Or, you feel this way because your mind is occupied by work or your team 24/7? Is this your challenge to contend with, or is the team or company culture contributing to this? Maybe both? Only you can control your balance.
  • Do you know how to strike a balance between your personal and team/work scenario? Sometimes it’s easier to apply the blame on external factors, when it’s you that are the actual culprit for not investing in learning how to find balance in your life.

Employers/Sports Teams:

  • What investments have you made, or programs have you recently offered that would make your company or team more attractive to be a part of?
  • What are you doing to make your employees feel valued and appreciated?
  • Have you asked your team or employees what matters to them, and what beyond a paycheck and benefits are reasons they are associated with your team or company?
  • How would you rate your ability to inspire and motivate your team or employees on a regular basis?
  • How comfortable are you with having vulnerable and meaningful conversations with your team or employees? If your comfort level is low, have you considered what you can do to increase your level?
  • What do you really know about your team or employees beyond what their resume or they have told you? Chances are good that this is an area you could significantly improve upon, and with many options which could be considered to do so.
  • If you were to design a blueprint for the ideal company to work at, can you honestly say that you know what the ideal company blueprint would include? Start by coming up with 5-10 ideas that you can brainstorm on with others.

We all can agree that making your team or company a “sticky” or ideal place to work won’t happen overnight. However, making the investment in figuring out the equation to do so will be beyond worth it, as it will provide you and those impacted with the satisfaction of being on a team or at a company that isn’t just a placeholder on their team or work resume. Imagine being on this team or working at that type of company. It does exist, and I hope you find it, or create it.

TAGS: #Employeeretention #Teams #Leadership #Leader #Sportscoach #Coach #Management #Employeeretentiontips #Teamretentiontips #Motivation #Worklifebalance #Balance #Vulernable #Vulnerability #Communication #Thegreatresignation #Employeerention #Howtoretainemployees #Howtoretainemployeesduringthegreatresignation #HR #CEO #President #Humanresources #Peopledevelopment #Business

The power of a handwritten note.

I had the good fortune of learning a long time ago about the influence a handwritten note can have, and I can credit my Mom for teaching me this. She wasn’t a business person, she was a nurse, so she clearly had an appreciation of the impact words can have on others.

Initially when it wasn’t my choice to be writing handwritten thank you cards to people who had done something nice for me, or given me a gift, it seemed like and arduous task. One I actually tried to avoid doing. Mainly because I am dyslexic, and when I was younger, writing was not a talent I had developed. However, my notes were all sincere, and it established a wonderful and lifelong habit of sending handwritten notes.

Recently I was going through some boxes in my attic, and I came across a box which was filled with letters that I had saved. All of them were written before the internet came about. The amazing thing about these letters, was that they captured a time in my life I had not thought much about. Most of the letters were from my friends from high school and college, and they were mainly letters reminiscing about experiences we had together, updated me on what they were currently doing, or telling me they missed me, and were looking forward to seeing me again.

When I received those letters, they appeared to have arrived at the perfect time, as I was either home sick, or missing the person that sent them. Hearing from them cheered me up.

Some people might think of writing a letter or a card, especially in the professional world as being old fashioned. Perhaps it is, but since fewer people are writing them, they have a greater impact when they are received. In fact, I have saved the handful of cards I have received over the past few decades from other professionals.

One of the cards I saved was from a CEO I was working for. I was in fact shocked to have received a handwritten note from him, but it was probably one of the most impactful ones I had ever received. Why? Because I was incredibly disappointed by the way he handled a project. He knew this, and he knew he had made a mistake with the approach he initially took.

The CEO’s letter to me was an apology and thank you letter. In the letter, he told me that he should not have pulled rank on me, or have overridden one of my decisions, and he regretted that he did that. He expressed both his regret, and sincere appreciation for how I handled myself professionally, and for how exceptionally well the project I was leading turned out. Receiving this letter was actually shocking, but it provided me with an entirely new lens on this leader. A much more positive one, as I could see that he had taken the time to be reflective, had learned from the mistake he had made, and was willing to own up and take responsibility for owning his decision and actions. When I think about this situation, I don’t think verbally hearing what he had written would have had the same positive impact.  In fact, I know it would not have.

I can understand that some people might not feel confident about being able to craft a handwritten note, but let me assure you, you can write one with greater ease than you imagine. It just takes some practice, and the good news for you, is that it doesn’t have to be a long note. Consider the size of most traditional thank you cards. They are literally about four inches wide, and three inches long. That’s not a lot of writing real estate, so this can work in your favor. Even better? If you buy a traditional “thank you” greeting card, they often have something written inside, so you only have to add a sentence or two to personalize your note.

If you still are not convinced that you should be writing more handwritten notes to people, here are some other reasons to consider why you should be doing this.

  • Writing a handwritten note doesn’t take much effort, but the person receiving it will consider that you put genuine effort into doing this.
  • There isn’t any downside to saying thank you to someone, especially via a handwritten note.
  • If you are a leader, you should absolutely be regularly crafting handwritten notes. No exceptions or excuses for why you are not. As they saying goes, “lead by example.”
  • Yes, manners are still noticed. Especially when good ones are exhibited, and crafting a handwritten note ticks off the box of having good manners.
  • Being thoughtful isn’t overrated, and sending someone a handwritten note can speak volumes in your favor when you do this.
  • Sure, you can stand out on social media, but consider this. When do you think the person you are trying to influence the most received a handwritten note? Consider standing out from the crowd by finding your pen and a card to send to them.
  • Handwritten notes can cover a wide variety of topics. Consider all of the people you could write a card to, and what you could express to them from a positive perspective.
  • Keep the negative notes to yourself, as they tend to do more harm than good. However, writing them can be cathartic, but I don’t recommend sending them.
  • Consider the last time you received a handwritten note from someone. Perhaps you can return the favor and send one back to them?

So, having expressed my views about the power of handwritten notes, don’t be surprised if you get one from me one day. I’ll also be waiting to see who will take me up on my concept of leveraging the power of a handwritten note. Maybe I’ll receive one from you?

TAGS: #Leadership #Business #Success #Rolemodel #Leadbyexample #Impressions #Firstimpressions #Leader #Leaders #Positiveinfluence #CEO #Communication #Management #Marketing

A bridge to confidence.

Overview: Imagine if confidence was sustainable. Or, if confidence could be used only in support of making good things happen. What would your life, profession and our world look like via this type of lens?

There are few things in life that we don’t have to work to maintain in some way, yet there are many other aspects of our life we need to continuously work on. Perhaps improve, but ultimately accept and come to terms with. One of these areas is confidence.

When I was researching this topic, I was interested in finding out at what age do we become aware of being confident? As I was reviewing information, I came across a wonderful sentence in the opening of the article I was reading. It referred to the link between a person’s early self-esteem and confidence. The sentence which stood out expressed that “Self-esteem is your child’s passport to a lifetime of mental health and social happiness.”. It went on to also say that self-esteem “is the foundation of a child’s well-being and the key to success as an adult.” Wow! That’s a powerful statement.

Now imagine if everyone had an idyllic childhood which laid out the perfect foundation for us to have our self-esteem and confidence built on? Some of us do, but many of us don’t. Even if our foundation started out strong, it doesn’t mean that it can’t be weakened by events which happen in our lives. The type of events that chip away at our foundation, and without addressing these chips or cracks, add up and end up eroding our confidence foundation.

For me personally, I recall a distinct moment in time that I understood what it meant to have my confidence take a hit. It happened in a second-grade math class when I was called up in front of the class to visually show how to get to the answer of a math problem. I was randomly asked by the teacher to do this. As I stood in front of the class unaware of how to accomplish what I was asked to do, or how to articulate this, I was overwhelmed by emotions. The first one was fear, followed by embarrassment and then ultimately an enormous crack in my confidence foundation.

Ultimately, I ended up in tears in front of the class. What was worse than this, was that I did not have any experience to draw from with how to contend with the way I was feeling. However, this experience stands out in my mind as the first time my emotions were tied to my confidence.

As I think back to that day many decades ago, I believe I realized I needed to find a way to build up confidence. To come up with a solution from having to experience those type of negative emotions again. Or, at least not frequently.

Although I realized early on I was never going to be a math genius, I was OK with that. However, finding out what I was good at became something I put myself on an early journey to figure out. Of course, being so young, I didn’t realize that I was intentionally trying to solve my own challenge to having experienced what it is like to have your confidence rocked. However, as I think back, this was essentially what I was doing, and have continued to do my entire life.

You could say my first experience with having my confidence being challenged turned out well. Perhaps you also might be under the impression that I had an easy road to working on building up my confidence? This couldn’t be further from the truth, as I continued to struggle in school. Why? Because no one realized I was dyslexic. In fact, I did not officially find out I was until I was tested in college at the age of 21. Yes, finding this out made many experiences in my life come into focus in terms of having a reason why I struggled academically, yet I still persevered to obtain strong grades sheerly based on tenaciously doing do.

So, do I think there is a bridge or a way for people to increase their confidence? At any point in their lives? Yes, I do, and it is something I have like most people who have figured out the confidence equation, work on all the time. I do this, because as I mentioned earlier, confidence can be fleeting, and it needs to be nurtured to maintain it.

To describe to others how to develop or increase their confidence, I can offer the following suggestions:

  • Find one thing you are good at. It doesn’t matter what it is. Focus on becoming exceptional at it, and draw from this like it is your confidence battery.
  • I’m certain you are good at more than one thing. However, do you know what your top talents are? When I found out what mine were, it was a liberating day, and allowed me to finally be able to focus on what I was good at, versus focusing on trying to fix or become better at things I did not have a talent for.
  • Visualize yourself in a really happy place or time in your life. Consider the factors which contributed to this experience. Can you repeat aspects of this?
  • Do you surround yourself with people who build you up, or tear you down? Or, perhaps it’s a mix. What if you could edit out some of the people who chip away at your confidence? I don’t subscribe to someone saying this is impossible. It might be harder to accomplish, but it will be worth achieving.
  • Seek out one person who can be your “confidence champion”. This person is someone who never lets you down, and always helps to build back up your confidence during those times you might be struggling on your own to do so.
  • Commit to embracing that you will need to continuously work on your confidence, as like a vine, it can wither without care.

Building your confidence bridge can actually be fun, although it will take hard work to accomplish. However, when we have confidence, it can positively impact our lives in numerous ways that will be worth putting in the effort to do so. One of them is being happier and healthier. Now go out and start building that bridge, and be proud of showing the world what it looks like.

TAGS: #Confidence #Personaldevelopment #Mentalhealth #Positivity #Benefitstobeingconfident #Howtobemoreconfident #Business #Motivation #Life #Profession #Success #Fear #Dyslexic #Dyslexia #Business #Leadership #Communication #Management #Strategy #Success #Teams #Motivation

Authentic teams. Is yours?

Whether you are currently leading or on a team now, many of you will have a strong opinion about how you would classify your team with a one-word adjective. If authentic isn’t the first one that comes to mind, don’t worry. You are not alone. However, being on an authentic team can be one of the best experiences you can have. Whether it is a sports or workplace team.

I’m currently working on a research project which involves speaking to leaders of teams. What they have in common is that they are all leaders of sports teams. Different types of sports teams, led by women and men, and from all over the United States. The experience of these coaches ranges from a few years to multiple decades, and from the professional sports level to the high school level.

My research project is in the process of wrapping up, and I have not officially begun to analyze the data, but one thing about all of these teams is certain. The leaders are all authentic leaders, and those being led by them are exceptionally fortunate.

Having worked in the corporate world for decades, I am fascinated by the parallel comparisons of the elements included in what consists of winning sports teams, and high-performance corporate teams. From personal observational experience, two of the factors in common these different types of teams have is how the leader thinks about and manages their team.

When I think back to the business leaders I worked for, admired or interacted with, the word authentic person would be the adjective I would use to describe them. Nothing about them was fake. They were also all extremely humble, many of them were self-deprecating, and all of them viewed every member on their team as being incredibly valuable. You also felt this in their presence, and in how they demonstrated their leadership traits.

More importantly, the leaders of both sports and business teams always put the needs of their team first. What else separates these authentic leaders from everyone else? Plenty. Here are some examples to be on the lookout for to help you identify whether you, or the person who leads you falls into this category.

  • They continually invest in their management and leadership knowledge.
  • They are not concerned about admitting they may be wrong about a decision.
  • They are the ones to accept the blame and not cast it on others when something goes wrong.
  • Investing their knowledge in others is paramount to why they lead others, with the intent of helping them to get to whatever the next level of achievement or performance is.
  • Sharing their knowledge with other leaders or coaches is something they regularly do. They are not fearful of imparting their knowledge on others who would perceivably be their competition, because they are confident in their own abilities, as well as the teams they lead.
  • These leaders literally glow when they talk about the teams they lead. Their pride in the people they are responsible for is contagious, and makes you want to be on any team they lead.
  • Another attribute all of these authentic leaders have in common, is their true passion for the work they are doing. Almost to the point of it being what some would refer to as a “calling”.
  • If you were to ask these leaders would they consider doing something else professionally, the majority of them will tell you they have not considered doing anything else. This is also quite evident based on the lengthy tenure of some of the sports coaches interviewed in the research project I am leading.
  • The majority of the leaders will also tell you they were heavily influenced by one or two people to become a leader themselves.
  • All of the leaders I have ever spoken to, including the ones in the sports coach research project noted that they pursued their path because it provided them with a way of giving back to others what they had experienced under the leader who influenced them.

Although the sports coach research project is still underway, it will be wrapping up soon. At least the first phase of it. I can’t wait to dive in and begin analyzing the results of the findings from the interviews that were conducted. One thing I can assure you about what I will find is that both sports coaches and leaders in business will be able to benefit from the research findings. More importantly, so will the tens of thousands of people who are led by these leaders once the research data becomes available.

TAGS: #Business #Leadership #Authenticity #Beingauthentic #Characteristicsofauthenticleaders #Authenticteams #Authenticleader #SportsTeams #SportsCoaches #Coaches #BusinessLeaders #WhatGreatLeadersHaveInCommon #Management B252