Tips To Get Out From Tough Times

There is an old fable from the mid-1800’s some of us learned as children-it always intrigued me. The fable is called The Emperor’s New Clothes and the moral of the story is centered around the acceptance of harsh honesty.

The story is about an emperor who loved nothing more than fine clothes. Knowing this, a couple of swindlers come to town and offered to make him the finest suit of all time, free of charge, but then only those who are worthy of their posts in his court – and those who are intelligent enough – will be able to see them.

As the clothes are being made, the emperor sends in several trustworthy and highly intelligent people to examine them. Though none of them could see any fabric or patterns, because there was nothing to see, none of them would admit they had seen nothing – none of them wanted to be deemed unworthy or unintelligent.

When the clothing is finished, the emperor’s trustworthy and highly intelligent people pretend to dress him in his fine new suit for his processional throughout the town. Also, knowing the precedence that had been set regarding those who are able to see the clothes, everyone in town commented on how beautiful the emperor’s new clothes were. It wasn’t until a child in the crowd shouted out that the emperor was naked that others joined in his obvious observance. The emperor, knowing that the crowd was right in their chants, continued with the processional and pretended to be wearing fine clothes.

For the most part – as I have grown to take on various leadership roles throughout my career – I’ve been surrounded by genuine, forthcoming people who felt comfortable enough to tell me when I wasn’t actually wearing the “suit.” It may not have always been what I wanted to hear, but it was what I needed to hear. That acceptance of harsh honesty has saved me from dozens of scenarios where I may have been at risk of falling victim to my own disbelief.

When we consent to the positions of leadership that are bestowed upon us, it is often a struggle within ourselves – and with others – to know that we do not have all of the answers. After all, we have been put in these positions due to our intellect and trustworthiness – the same reasons the emperor had appointed people to his court.

Our internal struggle is mostly with that of our ego, because as leaders, everyone expects us to lead – whether verbally or by example – motivate our teammates, command their attention, and control their focus. We, as leaders, must dig deep and challenge our teammates to think differently, act differently and above all else, perform differently.

In the moments when we’re acknowledged for our accomplishments, we are praised for those acts of leadership. So as we shoulder these responsibilities and expectations as leaders, we must also shoulder and control the burden of our inflated ego.

Thinking back to the story of the emperor, had the people surrounding him not been afraid of the results of their honesty, he may have avoided such public embarrassment. Those surrounding him would have faired better had they given him the harsh honesty up front. Regardless of setting – whether a boardroom or a town processional – we all must be open to the truth, open to the reality of being told we’re “naked.”

Sometimes, that harsh honesty will come at the expense of sensitivity, political correctness, relationships, or the egos of our leaders, but are those expenses more costly than other tradeoffs like progress and high performance? I think you’ll find the answer to be, in fact, no.

Take Action: Don’t be that Emperor… be open to honesty today by creating an atmosphere of truth telling.

A Good Leadership

Companies spend a lot of time and money trying to identify “good fit” during their hiring process. Candidate selection is driven by the magical, mystical notion of making a good fit decision.

Clearly, the first step usually involves matching job description requirements with the candidate’s stated background experience. Right away, the matching process starts to break down because so much screening is now contingent on keyword matching, and not much else.

Even if resume screening works well, the next step takes the candidate through an interview process. Here’s where it really gets fun.

First, well-coached candidates can ace interviews while really not bringing much value to the company. Poorly trained hiring managers, who only occasionally may conduct interviews, (i.e. it’s not their full-time job) do not possess the right skills for getting maximum value from the interview process. So the “good fit” effort takes yet another hit.

With these two key areas suffering, the station of last resort is the look and feel test. Does the candidate look and feel like the right person for the job? Sadly, this often takes us back to the untrained interviewer who merely decides to hire someone who looks like or thinks like they do, assuming that alignment of core values and ideals will work.

Struck any nerves yet?
Have I touched any nerves yet? How’s your good fit guy doing so far?

Yes, good fit selection is a far more complex challenge for companies and their job seeker candidates. Even more important is the unit manager who gets involved in the selection process.

Finding true good fit requires the ability to properly identify what that means to the company and the team. Jim Collins in his “Good to Great” talks about this challenge as ‘getting the right people on the bus’. Once your company defines its core value and vision, there will be key individuals with unique talent who can make things happen. Hiring anyone short of that impacts the final outcome, not to mention the headache and liability of releasing a “bad fit” employee.

The popular Entrepreneurs Operating System or “EOS” describes doing a kind of per seat analysis throughout the organization. First, you tie the roles and responsibilities off each workstation to the overall company mission/vision. You set a value for each position; value contributed to the company or worth of each slot. Then and only then, do you take a look at the person filling that seat or being recruited for the seat. Does the person have the skills and abilities to deliver on the expectations you previously defined for that position? Now that is fit.

Solutions
There are several emerging ways companies are trying to do more for good fit hiring. Here are a few of the main ideas.

Basic Skills Testing
Many of my client companies have developed basic skills testing to determine a candidates ability to meet baseline requirements. Sadly, there are companies that need good solid workers with basic skills, but too few job seekers can demonstrate core skills like reading, math, and simple logic.

One president of a local manufacturer told me he’s adopted both a skills test and one VERY basic math question for every interview. He takes a piece of paper and writes a five digit number like 52,698. He hands that to the candidate and asks “what is 10% of that number?” This executive swears that after conducting maybe 800 interviews in his career, less than 100 candidates could answer that question. [The answer is 5,269.8]

At one of the companies I owned, we developed a test for job seekers. We had a sample file folder that had numerous documents pertaining to the work we did. The seeker was given a checklist and told to find the applicable document from the folder, stack the file according to the checklist, and tell us if something was missing. A person with reasonable skills could finish the file in 20 minutes. Anyone who didn’t really know the work had no way to fake it.

Personality Traits
Ever since Karl Jung first developed his 4 part personality classification system, there have been spin-off theories that are widely adopted by major corporations. These include DISC, Myers Briggs MBTI (R), and Birkman testing. While the Jung-based psychology gives interesting personality indicators, the complexities of human thinking and its far-reaching impact in the workplace can only be counted as a starting point. Whether someone scores an INTJ or ENFT will only go so far in helping a manager make a good fit decision.

The whole notion of personality assessment having a scale for introvert versus extrovert is under heavy scrutiny now. There is a body of work being studied that suggests “ambiverts” (people who demonstrate either both tendency depending on the situation) represent a bigger segment of the workforce, plus they have been proven to be better performers.

Emotional Intelligence
Emotional intelligence testing or “EI” has become a popular topic for defining and exploring better fit conditions. We probably know people who are masters at managing their emotions. They don’t get angry in stressful situations. Instead, they have the ability to look at a problem and calmly find a solution. They’re excellent decision makers, and they know when to trust their intuition. Regardless of their strengths, however, they’re usually willing to look at themselves honestly. They take criticism well, and they know when to use it to improve their performance.

People like this have a high degree of emotional intelligence or EI. They know themselves very well, and they’re also able to sense the emotional needs of others.

For example, one large cosmetics company recently revised their hiring process for salespeople to choose candidates based on their EI. The result? People hired with the new system have sold, on average, $91,000 more than salespeople selected under the old system. There has also been significantly lower staff turnover among the group chosen for their EI.

Cultural Fit
Companies seeking to define their own culture must identify candidates who fit that culture. Whether the elements are work ethic, training, expertise, or attitude, the company’s culture helps define fit.

From Entrepreneur Magazine :

There’s no denying that cultural fit is important but make sure you actually know what it is before judging candidates. It’s easy to mistake cultural fit for personal biases – just because you wouldn’t mind being stuck in an airport with a candidate doesn’t necessarily mean he’s a great fit for your company.A candidate’s approach shouldn’t be so divisive that it creates rifts among employees, but you shouldn’t be afraid to hire somebody whose personality clashes with your own. If you perceive that a candidate would make a meaningful contribution to your company while maintaining decorum, that candidate might be a cultural match.

The Bigger Question
Good fit ultimately comes down to being able to harness the power of your mind’s attention and your heart’s affection. Managers tapping into the hearts and minds of their team will yield the greatest results. Having employees who are not open to contributing at that level will never be a good fit.

Using the tools mentioned above can give insight into ways people might fit well with your team. However, your own ability as the leader to direct, inspire and instill fit within your team is your biggest task.

How To Keep Your Employee Motivated

Employees are considered as the backbone of an organization and hence it becomes really important to keep them motivated towards their job. Different organizations play different cards to keep their employees motivated and engaged so that they can get those happy and positive faces around. If you are lacking somewhere and wondering that why your employees are not motivated enough then this article may assist you with the proper information. There are some ways with the help of which you too can keep your employees motivated and get that fully charged work environment in your office.

1. Provide supportive leadership:
Leadership is the main ingredient of the employee motivation. To keep your employees/staff motivated and fully charged you need to provide them total support and strength from your end. You first need to understand that there is a huge difference between leadership and ruling; if you are the leader of any group then first you have to understand the calibre and skills of your team, then you have to think and act according to what they are trying to put in front of you. A good leader always assists his/her team first and about anything else.

2. Empower the individual:
Team appreciation is good because the team is power, but that doesn’t mean that there is no need for individual appreciation. Empowering an individual is as important as providing them salaries for their work. It is very necessary to tell and show every employee that they are valued and have done really good. No one wants to a faceless personality wearing the mask of a team, every individual has its own personality and hence deserve appreciation for work as well as right to be valued by the company, manager etc.

3. Create a positive environment:
To keep your house clean you sweep out all the impurities and dirt out of your house, the same method goes for the company and its employees to keep your office environment happy and positive you first need to create a positive environment for your employees. Creating a positive environment can directly lead to fully charged motivated employees and can increase productivity, revenue, and quality of work.

4. Encourage teamwork:
It is very important to acknowledge the employees about their performance and motivate them but another equally important thing is to encourage them towards the teamwork and benefits linked to it. Teamwork is always result oriented and provides a quick solution with a variety of ideas and solutions. Teamwork can save a lot of time and can also provide the company with the type of output it is looking for.

5. Recognize & reward:
It is very important for any boss, leader, manager, or organization to understand the need of recognizing the candidate for his or her good work and rewarding them for the same. Every employee loves to get praised for their work and want some kind of appreciation, rewards, bonus or incentives in return of his or her outstanding work. In this scenario, if he or she gets the same of what they wish for then it will motivate them and will let them work with more enthusiasm and passion.

6. Knock out boredom:
It is very important to keep the employee engaged in various activities in the organization other than the normal work. Employees get bored and tired of doing the same work daily and hence they need some kind of engagement activities with the help of which they too can get enough dose of entertainment and fun. If you want some really motivated and happy employees you definitely need to provide them with some activities which can kick their boredom out.

7. Eliminate dissatisfaction:
Dissatisfaction may arise due to many reasons be it any. Satisfied employees can provide more productivity and ideas in comparison to the dissatisfied ones. So to get fully motivated employees you need to hear them, their queries and should provide measures to solve their issues.

Keep Your Business Grow in Tight Budget

Lately I’ve had the opportunity to connect with some amazing individuals that are on the cusp of something great. The challenge is how to build you business while on a budget. It’s funny what a taboo word that is, in fact many times our new clients don’t even want to bring it up. Money is an awkward conversation, and I get that.

But what’s more awkward is having the feeling that you’re not meeting the client’s needs or causing them stress, because the conversation around budget hasn’t been honestly had. You’d be surprised, in our conversations, the brainstorming sessions that occur, all around concepts the client can do themselves, with little or no expense. Right off the top, there are numerous community organizations that are looking for guest speakers to offer workshops, they manage all of the promotion, can fill seats, and while it may not be a big revenue stream, it can be a source for testimonials and referrals. Sometimes you don’t know until you ask!

So how do you grow your business, on a budget. Here are our top 5 tips:

  1. Understand what your time is worth – and use it wisely. If you know an hour of your time can be billed for $100 and hour, and you just spent an hour on Facebook checking out what your friends have been up to – then that hour on Facebook just cost you $100. Was it worth it?
  2. Have disciplined office hours – set an alarm, get up, get dressed and get to work. Have a start time and an end time, and do not do laundry, get groceries, vacuum etc. during work hours. If you wouldn’t do it at the office, don’t do it from your home office. Don’t multi-task – FOCUS!
  3. Take an inventory of what you do really well and love to do, and what takes you too long and is outside of your skillset. If you spend too much time trying to figure it out, how much is it costing you versus the investment of having someone else do it for you. Virtual Assistants are great for that, have flexible hours, and because they don’t work just for you, they can work as much or as little as you need. In your first discussion with a VA, get the budget discussion out of the way, you may be surprised the suggestions and resources they can pull in to keep you on track.
  4. It takes a team! Now, I don’t mean a team of support staff (although you’ll get to that point), but align yourself with individuals that compliment your business, that you can refer people to and they can return the favor!
  5. Balance – succeeding doesn’t mean working 24/7, even if sometimes it feels that way! Balance work time with family time, office time with networking time. Let that balance change as your business does, and accept that it can change. What does balance have to do with budget? Absolutely nothing. But it is one of the most important skills a business owner needs to have, without balance you have burnout, burnout causes distraction, and lack of focus costs you.

And a bonus tip – if you know you’re going to have downtime, between appointments out of the office, reach out to a colleague and reconnect over coffee. Use that downtime to keep your network warm, your name out there, and your pipeline building. Having a cup of coffee with a colleague, may cost you an extra coffee, but having coffee alone, could cost you an opportunity.