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    Entries in Teamwork (6)


    Hunny, You're Risk Mitigating Again...

    Not a phrase I've ever heard from my wife...not likely that I have will.  The concept however, I hear all the time.

    In my professional life, it's what I do.  Internally with our team, externally with clients as they grow their business, asking the question: If you do this, what's the worst thing that could happen? Or better yet: If you do NOTHING, what's the worst thing that could happen?  At the core of Risk Mitigation is the promotion of strong decision-making.

    Risk Mitigation is boring.  Most people never think about it, because it's much more glamorous to run hard and chase dreams than lean on the emergency brake.

    Sometimes it's the language that you use that is important; "We're doomed if we do this!" Are you doomed...or are you just afraid?  Other times it's just the demographic you are in.  Entrepreneurs are known for being profoundly unbalanced in their both high-tolerance for risk, and intolerant for those that refuse to risk anything.

    There is however a healthy balance in the world of risk mitigation that can be summed up in a simple statement: Know the risks.

    The risk adverse person hates risky situations and/or environments that they steer clear of them altogether...often then by default steering clear of opportunity.

    The overtly risky person runs to risk...because where there is risk, there is opportunity!

    The balance is in the middle.  Define the risk, make a judgement call on the risk vs reward and move ahead.

    Sounds simple doesn't it!

    Unfortunately, when you're "gut" says jump, but all logic and those on your team say "don't"...what then?

    There are many stories of individuals that beat the odds, and jumped when everyone was staying put...and became a huge success.  Unfortunately, for every 1 of those stories, there are hundreds (if not thousands) of stories where the individual or company "jumped" and landed in bankruptcy or financial hardship.

    Making good decisions starts with surrounding yourself with great people, but the battle is often won or lost on the scale of knowing the risks!

    Happy Jumping!



    How to Lead: Influence By Relationships

    Leadership is influencing and motivating others to work towards an established goal that furthers their organization and/or movement. Where there is any strong leader, there is a group of followers willing to be led. As such, it is the leader ‘s responsibility to establish goals to measure the progress of their leadership, in turn allowing those being led to evaluate themselves within the context of the group.

    The use of autonomy and ownership harness group enthusiasm and allows group members to work towards a mutually established goal rather than the goal or solution assigned by the leader. Motivation allows leaders to use the skills within the group, freeing them up to oversee the group and cast a continuous vision as progress is made. A leader is ultimately measured by is effectiveness, and because of that, the team surrounding them must be equipped and managed to support the goals of that leader.

    The act of managing fulfills many principles of leadership. Motivating and mobilizing workers, bringing out team strengths and working through team weakness ‘ are just two small aspects to the role management undertakes. The role of the manager can often be overlooked in the name of team leadership, as teams breakdown barriers and help to balance the disbursement of duties. Although effective, teams without a central vision and visionary behind it risk losing focus and developing large inefficiencies.

    One of the key oversights that leaders fail to release is their responsibility to cast vision and set organizational goals. Although managers require leadership skills to motivate subordinates to complete the task at hand, leading as a concept maintains a much more macro view of any given situation of conflict.

    The responsibility of a leader is to maintain a ‘trailblazing ‘ attitude, paving the way for others to follow, casting vision that sets the direction for organizations ranging from 10 to 10 million people. Leaders must have a diverse skill set and have the ability to prioritize and conceptualize solutions in order to maximize and define their role as a leader, differentiating themselves from managers who focus more on keeping teams on track and motivating employees. Servant leadership essentially elevates others to greater levels and motivates the team as a whole, increasing employee moral and developing inter company relationships.


    Own it & Fix it!

    It's an all to common scenario.  We meet in our respective teams, and discuss how we can improve.  A healthy exercise for sure, but unfortunately, the outcome often does not align with the initial goals defined at the outset.  Despite a commitment to "where did WE win and lose" it moves to "were did YOU win and lose."

    If we took a break from the madness of blame-game and all took ownership of every issue under personal control...wouldn't everything be on the table and ready for correction.  Rather than pointing at where members of the team went wrong, and volunteering how you could've fixed or helped...the ship would with no doubt right-size and the team could move on.  Instead, we try to solve issues by picking of micro-concerns 1-by-1 and shooting team members like they were playing Duck Hunt.

    When meeting with your team, prepare with a list of the areas that you let others and the team down, with a plan on how you can improve.  Most will follow, and the team will benefit.

    Own it...Fix it!



    Employees: Owning the Business without Owning it

    It's an age old discussion.  You can't just grant/sell shares to anyone that asks, but yet...there is an attitude and altitude (of service & commitment) that comes with ownership.

    Some brands have been able to do it, some try and fail, and others just don't try at all...believing that they (the owner) is 100% committed and they will get somewhere between 25% and 75% from their staff at any given time.

    A pessimistic outlook...of course...but what else would you expect?  I believe that there are 3 keys to helping your employees "own" without owning.

    1) Treat them fairly and with respect at all times - Pay them well, treat them like adults, give them the benefit of the doubt...all of these things are basic management 101...but many business owners lose control of their staff simply because they either stop caring or start focusing on the wrong things.  A happy & healthy staff is a productive & loyal one.

    2) Leverage their knowledge & understanding of the business - One of the best resources you will ever find is not in a consulting report, but in the minds of your staff.  They know things about your business and customers that you have no clue ask!  How can we improve? What are the 3 most common problems you hear from customers? These questions enable the conversation to move from the present to the future.  Good staff want to stay with ask them what they want the company to look like in 10 years...because keeping them around that long is great for both of you!

    3) Use words like "our" instead of "my" and "we" instead of "I" - This is the real way to ensure you get the most from employees on an active and continual basis.  By involving them and giving them ownership through verbal cues, you are in essence tasking them (as a part of their job) to own the portion of the business that they are responsible for.  For example, "Our clients need to be served in the most efficient way can we ensure that happens?"  By involving them in the process of development (internal & external) you provide them with a sense of belonging and the ability to look beyond the 9-5 job and see the bigger picture.


    Management By Walking Around (MBWA)

    There are many different "styles" to management.  Some good, some bad, and others just pointless.  One of the styles (or better: strategies) that I employ is MBWA: Management By Walking Around.

    There's are many ideas about what this form of management entails (like HERE, HERE, & HERE), but one of the things that I these examples lack is the the discussion surrounding the intentionality and depth of relationship that can come about through MBWA.

    One article discusses the risks of employees feelings "spied on" while the other two place the focus largely on "chit-chat."  I believe if done correctly and with a goal in mind, MBWA can be one of the most effective forms of management around.  Here's why:

    - Focus on people AND product
    - Measurable & promotes accountability
    - Keeps dialogue open and constant, without clogging communication lines
    - Allows management to maintain a pulse on the front lines of their department

    I have developed 3 specific connections that I look for out of any MBWA conversations I have.  They are:

    1. Be Personal.  Relationships are not built on professional connections alone, but rather through connecting on issues or discussions of common ground.  From sports, to family to <gasp> politics...these help to create a basis for the other 2 connections to have legitimate depth and substance.  How can I ask for transparency through accountability with no trust or goodwill.

    2. Be Productive. Monitoring staff productivity is just a part of management.  Not babysitting, but true managing.  Based on the foundations of the personal connection, it is actually easy to simply be updated on what is going on at that snapshot in time.

    3. Be Proactive. Most people want to manage a team that is full of passionate and hungry employees.  Staff that are eager to learn, work hard and enjoy (most of the time) their job.  I believe it is a managers job to push their staff to think proactively and always be looking to pick up the next; file, client account, idea, opportunity, etc.  Without being distracted from the task at hand, having a team that does not sit idle does not just encourage growth in the bottom-line, but helps promote value on the balance sheet, creating teamwork and a climate of innovative discipline.

    When it all gets boiled down to the basic, MBWA is effective because it uses the benefits of spontaneity (if a meeting is planned, people have time to come up with their B.S story of why the work isn't done) why channeling the personal touch of being in relationship (to varying degrees) with each person you manage.

    The big DISCLAIMER on this whole post however is that obviously, each situation requires a "made to fit" approach.  MBWA works with an informal, yet structured work environments with teams more than 3 but less than 15.  If a manager of 100 people tried MBWA, it wouldn't be would be exercise!