The Sleep Habits of the Successful

Sleep

 

 

The benefits of a good-night’s sleep are well-understood at this point, yet more than half of Americans don’t get the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep per night.

Which begs the question, what are the highly successful doing for sleep? Are they in the half that are sleeping well, or are they in the half that don’t get enough sleep.

As you’d expect, it’s a bit of a mixed bag, with Nikola Tesla only having slept two hours at a time, Marissa Meyer of Yahoo! frequently clocking 130 working hours per week (with a weeklong vacation every few months to catch up), and President Obama averaging 6 hours per night.

But, it seems that the smart money is still on getting a good night’s sleep. Highly successful people who value sleep include Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, former Microsoft CEO and Gates Foundation co-founder Bill Gates, investor Warren Buffet, Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington, the Dalai Lama, and entertainers Jessica Alba, Cameron Diaz, Ellen Degeneres, Halle Berry, and Matthew McConaughey. I don’t know about you, but I’d be OK being on that list!

5 Smart Sleep Habits to Start Tonight

  1. Sleep in a dark, cool room. A dark room helps the body produce the sleep hormone, melatonin, so you’ll fall asleep more quickly and stay asleep longer. And set your programmable thermostat to take your room down to 60-67 degrees for ideal sleeping.
  2. Avoid electronics before bed. The blue light from our backlit electronics suppresses the melatonin that helps us sleep. If the idea of getting offline 30-60 minutes before bed makes you twitchy, then install a blue-blocker like f.lux to help mitigate the light’s effect.
  3. Keep a consistent schedule. While Marissa Meyers’ plan of catching up every few months may seem like a good idea, it actually wreaks havoc on the body. The body and brain like to predict, and a consistent schedule will help you sleep longer and better.
  4. Take a hot bath or shower before bed. Body temps fall near bedtime, and when you get out of the bath or shower your body temp will automatically fall, helping signal to the brain that it’s time to sleep.
  5. Engage in bedtime meditation. Your mind is spinning and your body is tense. By meditating, counting sheep, or focusing on your breathing, your brain won’t be able to focus on this activity AND the events from the day.

By engaging in these smart sleep habits you’ll start falling asleep faster and experiencing higher quality sleep. From there, higher levels of success are just around the corner as yourlearning and memory improves, your physical health improvesmood improves, decision making improves, and stress levels go down. –  Jen Waak

 

There Are Only Four Types of People — Are You Hiring The Right Ones?

four types

 

I’ve been interviewing candidates for years. Some were great people who underperformed when taking jobs ill-suited for them. Others became stars by finding situations that allowed them to excel. When it comes to hiring there are four types of people ranging from people you should hire to those you shouldn’t. However, the types described are not fixed!

As Phillip E indicates in his comments, “Obviously, the types refer to hiring outcomes and not to personalities.”

The outcomes are situational, depending on the job itself, the hiring manager, the company culture and if the right person was chosen for the right job. Most often this is not the case. This type classification provides advice for hiring managers on what it takes to hire more great people that fit the actual job needs. On the flip side, job-seekers can reverse engineer the advice and use it to seek out opportunities that allow them to become Type 4 hires.

The Four Types of Hiring Possibilities

  • Type 1: those you should never hire. If you’ve ever hired someone who is a true under-performer it’s apparent to everyone else you did something fundamentally wrong. The likely causes: you didn’t look at the resume, you trusted your gut, you didn’t know the job, you hired largely on presentation and personality, you were desperate, or you didn’t conduct a background check.
  • Type 2: the bottom-third of those who are hired. Typically these people have the basic experiences, technical skills and academic background, but they’re assessed primarily on their personality, first impression, affability and presentation skills. One big problem with these hires is they need more coaching and supervision to do average work. Worse, some demotivate everyone else on the team. These people can all become Types 3 and 4 giving the right situation.
  • Type 3: the middle-third of those who are hired. These people also have the basic skills and experiences, but in this case the assessment is more thorough. Generally this involves more behavioral-like interviews with more people, a more in-depth technical assessment, a battery of questionnaires, and a thorough background check. This is the interview process most companies use and it’s one designed largely to prevent mistakes. The unintended consequence is hiring people just like those who have always been hired since it’s the safer decision. The reasons these people aren’t in the top-third typically involve lack of motivation to do the actual work, some cultural fit problem, a style-clash with the hiring manager, or lack of necessary drive, leadership or team skills. Under the right circumstances everyone in this group can be a Type 4.
  • Type 4: those you hire who wind up being in the top-third of those hired. These are your star performers – the strong leaders who get results regardless of the challenges. They’re highly motivated to do the actual work required, they take on projects no one else wants, and they fit seamlessly with the people, culture and manager.

Here are some commonsense things you can do to hire more Type 4s and what job-seekers can do to find Type 4 situations:

Four Big Ideas for Hiring More Type 4 People

  1. Define Type 4 performance. Take every “must-have” factor and generic responsibility on the job description and have the hiring manager define how the person uses the skill on the job. This should be in the form of a task or an activity. Then ask what the top-third people do differently doing the same work. Put the top 6-8 of these performance objectives into priority order. These are the same things you tell the new person what needs to be accomplished on the first day on the job. Here’s a complete handbook for preparing these types of performance-based job descriptions for any job. Here’s the one-minute management version.
  2. Attract more Type 4 people. Since everyone wants to hire these Type 4 people, you’ll need to use compelling recruiting advertising that emphasizes what they’ll be learning, doing and becoming. Whether this is a job posting, email or voice mail, you’ll need to attract the person’s attention and enter into a series of exploratory conversations to keep them engaged.
  3. Assess and screen for Type 4 performance. Since they’re handling bigger projects sooner than their peers and getting promoted faster, Type 4 people typically have less experience and depth of skills than Type 3 people. This is offset by the intensity of their experiences, their ability to rapidly learn and apply new skills, and having the opportunity to develop their team and leadership skills early in their career. Dig deep into their major accomplishments, seeking out these Type 4 level indicators. The Most Important Interview Question of All Time can guide you through this process.
  4. Stop using processes designed to attract and hire Type 3 people. If the bulk of the people you’re seeing are Type 1, Type 2 and Type 3, you won’t hire many Type 4s. Weeding out the weak in the hope that a few strong survive is an exercise in futility. Since Type 4 people, whether they’re active or passive job-seekers, are always more discriminating, you need to design your hiring processes around how these people look for work and how they expect to be interviewed and hired. Here’s how to get out of thisCatch-22 Staffing Spiral of Doom.

If there is no difference between the top-third of the people you hire and the bottom-third, you can safely ignore this article. However, if you want to see and hire more Type 4s and raise the talent bar, you have to design your hiring processes around how these people look for new career opportunities and how they expect to be professionally recruited and interviewed. It starts by doing the right stuff while stopping doing the wrong stuff. Unfortunately, the stopping is far more difficult than the starting. – Lou Adler

Limiting Telecommuting Is Smarter Than It Sounds

Telecomuting

 

The number of Americans who telecommute jumped nearly 80 percent from 2005 to 2012, according to a study based on U.S. Census Bureau data. That’s 3.2 million full-time employees of companies who work out of their homes, making up 2.6 percent of the U.S. workforce. If you count the self-employed and anyone who works outside a regular office, then nearly a third of American workers could be considered telecommuters.

It’s not hard to see why the ranks of telecommuters have expanded so quickly. Telecommuting can free employees from the time-wasting drudgery of long commutes, and from the many office distractions that can impede productivity. And it allows some employees to flexibly blend work with the comforts and responsibilities of home life—be it relaxing in the den while reading reports, or being present to greet children returning from school. Meanwhile, technology is providing more and better options for staying in close touch with managers, colleagues, partners and customers.

Yet some major employers, including Yahoo, Best Buy and Hewlett-Packard, have in the last few years reversed liberal telecommuting policies and pressured employees to return to the office. In an age when commerce, entertainment, social interactions and an enormous portion of our work have migrated online, isn’t forcing people to rub shoulders in an office building a needless and even counter-productive anachronism?

I don’t think so. Frequent physical presence can be a crucial element of organizational success. It’s not that telecommuters don’t work at least as hard as employees in the office. Rather, the issue revolves around a more nuanced view of productivity, and what it is that enables employees to fully contribute to a team.

“Team” is the operative word here. For more and more organizations, the value of employees’ individual contributions have come to pale beside the impact that team performance has on organizational goals. Companies win not by getting employees to put in more hours grinding out more widgets or crunching through more reports, but by establishing rich, stimulating cultures that nurture innovation and engagement. Developing and sustaining that sort of culture is all about collaboration and teamwork, and not so much about the sort of quiet concentration one can achieve working alone at home.

There’s no one right way to build a culture of collaboration, but most paths have certain elements in common: frequent useful feedback, mechanisms for making employees feel listened to and valued, reinforcement of team spirit, and multiple sources of inspiration, encouragement and guidance. Yes, of course, all of this can happen via electronic communications. But I think most of us recognize that these types of complex, often subtle, emotionally rich interactions are more likely to happen face-to-face than through a screen.

Collaborative excitement doesn’t happen automatically when you invite people into a building together. It requires leadership capable of fostering the right sort of culture. But it’s more likely to happen when people are chatting by the coffee machine, making eye contact across cubicles, observing body language during meetings, eating lunch together, and the many other ways we communicate with our colleagues. Part of the reason we like the electronic world is that we can better control our availability—but sometimes it’s the less-controllable availability of physical presence that invites the spontaneous discussion or observation that can lead to a breakthrough.

Sure, in the next few years, the ever-advancing world of electronic communications may find ways to surpass the advantages of physical presence in spurring cultures of collaboration and teamwork. And needless to say, organizations can find appropriate middle grounds between telecommuting-friendly and fully office-based environments—it’s not a clear-cut issue. (Yahoo, Best Buy and HP seemed to take their anti-telecommuting positions to sharply correct environments that had drifted too far in the other direction, among other problems.)

But in a world where the trend has been to increase reliance on electronic communications, it’s critical that leaders make a point of thinking through the costs and benefits of allowing physical presence to become a depreciating asset.

-Steven J. Thompson, CEO at Johns Hopkins Medicine International, Senior Vice President Johns Hopkins Medicine

The Three-Word Problem that Can Destroy Your Life

Busy

 

We have a problem—and the odd thing is we not only know about it, we’re celebrating it. Just today, someone boasted to me that she was so busy she’s averaged four hours of sleep a night for the last two weeks. She wasn’t complaining; she was proud of the fact. She is not alone.

Why are typically rational people so irrational in their behavior? The answer, I believe, is that we’re in the midst of a bubble; one so vast that to be alive today in the developed world is to be affected, or infected, by it. It’s the bubble of bubbles: it not only mirrors the previous bubbles (whether of the Tulip, Silicon Valley or Real Estate variety), it undergirds them all.

Here are the three words: “The Busyness Bubble.”

The nature of bubbles is that some asset is absurdly overvalued until — eventually — the bubble bursts, and we’re left scratching our heads wondering why we were so irrationally exuberant in the first place. The asset we’re overvaluing now is the notion of doing it all, having it all, achieving it all; what Jim Collins calls “the undisciplined pursuit of more.”

This bubble is being enabled by an unholy alliance between three powerful trends: smart phones, social media, and extreme consumerism. The result is not just information overload, but opinion overload. We are more aware than at any time in history of what everyone else is doing and, therefore, what we “should” be doing. In the process, we have been sold a bill of goods: that success means being supermen and superwomen who can get it all done. Of course, we back-door-brag about being busy: it’s code for being successful and important.

Not only are we addicted to the drug of busyness, we are pushers too. In the race to get our children into “a good college” we have added absurd amounts of homework, sports, clubs, dance performances and ad infinitum extracurricular activities. And with them, busyness, sleep deprivation and stress.

Across the board, our answer to the problem of more is always more. We need more technology to help us create more technologies. We need to outsource more things to more people to free up own our time to do yet even more.

Luckily, there is an antidote to the undisciplined pursuit of more: the disciplined pursuit of less, but better. A growing number of people are making this shift. I call these people Essentialists.

These people are designing their lives around what is essential and eliminating everything else. These people take walks in the morning to think and ponder, they negotiate to have actual weekends (i.e. during which they are not working), they turn technology off for set periods every night and create technology-free zones in their homes. They trade off time on Facebook and call those few friends who really matter to them. Instead of running to back-to-back in meetings, they put space on their calendars to get important work done.

The groundswell of an Essentialist movement is upon us. Even our companies are competing with one another to get better at this: from sleep pods at Google to meditation rooms at Twitter. At the Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos this year, there were — for the first time — dozens of sessions on mindfulness. TIME magazine goes beyond calling this a movement, instead choosing the word “Revolution.”

One reason is because it feels so much better than being a Nonessentialist. You know the feeling you get when you box up the old clothes you don’t wear anymore and give them away? The closet clutter is gone. We feel freer. Wouldn’t it be great to have that sensation writ large in our lives? Wouldn’t it feel liberating and energizing to clean out the closets of our overstuffed lives and give away the nonessential items, so we can focus our attention on the few things that truly matter?

People are beginning to realize that when the “busyness bubble” bursts — and it will — we will be left feeling that our precious time on earth has been wasted doing things that had no value at all. We will wake up to having given up those few things that really matter for the sake of the many trivial things that don’t. We will wake up to the fact that that overstuffed life was as empty as the real estate bubble’s detritus of foreclosed homes.

Here are a few simple steps for becoming more of an Essentialist:

1. Schedule a personal quarterly offsite. Companies invest in quarterly offsite meetings because there is value in rising above day-to-day operations to ask more strategic questions. Similarly, if we want to avoid being tripped up by the trivial, we need to take time once a quarter to think about what is essential and what is nonessential. I have found it helpful to apply the “rule of three”: every three months you take three hours to identify the three things you want to accomplish over the next three months.

2. Rest well to excel. K. Anders Ericsson found in “The Role of Deliberate Practice in the Acquisition of Expert Performance” that a significant difference between good performers and excellent performers was the number of hours they spent practicing. The finding was popularized by Malcolm Gladwell as the “10,000 hour rule.” What few people realize is that the second most highly correlated factor distinguishing the good from the great is how much they sleep. As Ericsson pointed out, top performing violinists slept more than less accomplished violinists: averaging 8.6 hours of sleep every 24 hours.

3. Add expiration dates on new activities. Traditions have an important role in building relationships and memories. However, not every new activity has to become a tradition. The next time you have a successful event, enjoy it, make the memory, and move on.

4. Say no to a good opportunity every week. Just because we are invited to do something isn’t a good enough reason to do it. Feeling empowered by essentialism, one executive turned down the opportunity to serve on a board where she would have been expected to spend 10 hours a week for the next 2-3 years. She said she felt totally liberated when she turned it down. It’s counterintuitive to say no to good opportunities, but if we don’t do it then we won’t have the space to figure out what wereally want to invest our time in.

A hundred years from now, when people look back at this period, they will marvel at the stupidity of it all: the stress, the motion sickness, and the self-neglect we put ourselves through.

So we have two choices. We can be among the last people caught up in the “more bubble” when it bursts, or we can see the madness for what it is and join the growing community of Essentialists and get more of what matters in our one precious life. -Greg McKeown is the author of the New York Timesbestseller, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less.

These 6 Things Will Make You Happier At Work

happy at work

Given how much time most of us spend at work, it’s worth doing whatever you can to make sure you’re as happy as possible there. The basics are probably obvious – find work you like, with co-workers you enjoy and a manager who does her job. But here are six less-obvious ways that you might not have thought of to increase your happiness at work.

1. Don’t let resentments simmer. Often people become resentful of expectations that they assume their colleagues or managers have of them, when in fact those expectations are all internal. For instance, you might be frustrated that your boss regularly emails you late in the evening, making you feel like you have to respond to work emails from home. But if you talked to her, you might learn that she doesn’t expect an immediate response at all – she just prefers to work when the office is quiet and empty.

If something is bothering you, don’t stew in silence – ask about it. Whatever the issue, it’s worth communicating and making sure that your assumptions are correct before letting yourself get bothered.

2. Don’t attribute to malice what might be a mistake. For instance, if your co-worker routinely ignores your emails, you might get angry at what seems like disregard or disrespect. But if you approach him from that stance, the conversation is likely to be adversarial. You’ll generally get better results if you approach him with the assumption that there’s been a mistake instead – maybe your emails are getting caught in his spam filter or there’s some other technological glitch. Even when people really are at fault, starting with the assumption that they’re not to blame will make most conversations go better.

3. Don’t fight other people’s battles. It can be tempting to get involved in other people’s grievances at work, but you can end up taking on the emotional burden of battles that aren’t yours. For instance, if Joe hates your manager and complains about her all the time, you might find over time that you’ve come to dislike her too – even though you got along with her perfectly well before. This can lead you to make bad decisions for yourself, like becoming unhappy with a job or manager you otherwise liked, or even leaving your job over it. This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t be sympathetic to co-workers’ troubles or that you shouldn’t speak up about serious workplace problems, but for routine complaints, keep in mind that you don’t know the full story and try to stay out of it.

4. Use your benefits. When you think about your benefits package, you probably think about health insurance and vacation time. However, many employers offer tons of other benefits as well – fitness memberships, employee assistance programs, credit unions and more. Lots of employees don’t even realize they have these benefits, let alone use them. But these are part of your compensation, and you should take advantage of them if they might make your life better.

5. Thank people. If someone made your life at work easier, connected you with a helpful contact, or simply has been a pleasant person to interact with, tell them! Openly appreciating your colleagues can strengthen your workplace relationships, improve the way people see you and make you genuinely more appreciative of where you work and the people you work with.

6. Know your bottom line. Yes, your job has frustrations. But before you get too focused on them, it’s helpful to get really clear in your own mind on what your bottom line is: what things matter most to you and what trade-offs you are and aren’t willing to make. For instance, maybe you hate your manager but love having a short commute. You’d rather keep that commute, even if it means your manager is part of the deal. Or maybe you’re willing to put up with a lower salary because you get to do work that fascinates you – or will tolerate less interesting work because you get paid generously. Getting really clear about what matters most to you will help keep you focused on what you care most about, and prevent you from getting sidetracked on things that don’t ultimately matter as much to you. – Alison Green

Pulling Success Out of Setbacks

Setbacks

 

 

 

To say we’ve had setbacks is an understatement. On just about every one of our major projects, there have been setbacks from the start, continuing on through every phase, including finding the right partner, negotiating the deal, staffing up, delivering, assessing and even winding down. I wouldn’t know what smooth sailing feels like.

Setbacks aren’t the same as failures. Failure is when you reach the point where you can’t continue on toward your goal; you’ve ended up on a dead-end track, and there’s no way to get from here to there. Setbacks, in contrast, can be part of your path to success—they may be detours from a straight-line route, but they might lie along a potentially viable route, leaving you with a way forward.

In fact, you could define success as the positive culmination of a series of setbacks. If you’re not encountering any hitches, either you’ve failed to lead your organization toward its most promising and therefore challenging opportunities, or you’re simply missing all the clues that setbacks are brewing.

Even though setbacks are part and parcel of success, they can still sink you if you don’t deal with them effectively. Here are my strategies for pushing past setbacks:

Establish an early warning system. It was when we failed to see trouble on the horizon that we were most badly bitten by a setback. In general, the sooner you start in on a fix, the more options you’ll have to avoid real damage. Everyone in the organization from the front lines to leadership should feel encouraged to report bad news immediately. We also solicit frank client feedback on an ongoing basis.

Measure. Sometimes you won’t be able to notice that things are slipping unless you’ve got good data at your fingertips. Setting up a solid measurement and analysis system can take real effort, but it will pay for itself many times over.

Don’t overreact. You want to move swiftly to assess your options and begin repairs, but often our first instinct when confronted with trouble is to do what turns out to be exactly the wrong thing. If you take drastic action before you understand what’s happening, you can make things worse.

Trust your team. It’s tempting for a leader to jump in and try to solve serious problems when they arise. But if you’ve done your job as a leader, you’ve put a team in place that deserves a shot at fixing things. Certainly you’ll want to provide guidance, support and resources, but that should be all you need to contribute, unless things continue to go downhill.

Don’t bail out prematurely. It’s hard to tell a setback from failure until you’re looking back on it. Better to assume it’s just a setback and pound away at the problem as long as you see options. One of our biggest challenges, for example, is a sudden shortage of talented, experienced people to staff a large, new collaboration. We don’t solve that problem as much as wear it down through recruiting, training, mentoring, shuffling positions, and much more.

Don’t make failure worse. All organizations encounter failure. Don’t flail and throw good money after bad, or place further demands on partners and clients who have clearly had enough. Back away as gracefully as possible, leaving as few bad feelings and wasted resources in your wake as possible.

Build an institutional memory. Every setback and failure comes with a build-up, warning signs, recognition of a problem, repair efforts, assessments, and good or poor results. Record these in a lessons-learned database that all managers can use, so that when history repeats itself, it’s to good end. -Steven J. Thompson, CEO at Johns Hopkins Medicine International, Senior Vice President Johns Hopkins Medicine

10 Things Dogs Teach Us About What Matters Most

Dogs live in the moment

 

I’ve been around dogs since my childhood and have always loved being in the company of our four-legged friends. When I told my husband I wanted a dog, he wasn’t too thrilled with the idea at first. I was traveling a lot for work at the time, and he knew he’d have most of the responsibility. The compromise we made was to let him choose the breed. I wanted a small, non-shedding, off-leash dog. What we adopted, however, were three husky puppies. A large breed known for shedding and wandering. And despite the years of constant vacuuming up dog hair, we loved the breed so much that when our original three passed away, we adopted two more huskies! Our dogs have been a constant source of love and amusement, but even more so, they’ve taught us some of the greatest life lessons.

Here are 10 things dogs can teach us about what matters most in life:

1. Live in the moment.
Although dogs remember things like where the treats are kept, what street takes them home and who they’ve met before, they only access that information when they need it — in the moment. Whether they’re eating a bowl of kibble or chasing a ball, dogs live for the present moment. The past is gone; you can’t do anything about it. The future is unknown. The only thing you can really enjoy and affect is the present moment.

2. Overcome fear with love.
There are plenty of stories about frightful, aggressive dogs who transformed into kind, gentle dogs after they were placed in a loving environment. Dogs can overcome their fear and insecurities through love, and so can humans. Love truly does conquer all, and the first step for us is to love ourselves. If you can replace fear and self-criticism with self-love, no matter what situation you’re in, life gets easier.

3. Don’t hold grudges
A grudge is a feeling of resentment toward someone. It originates in our mind. Humans are probably the only species that holds a grudge. A dog will never be angry with you because you didn’t give him a treat after dinner last night. Holding a grudge weighs you down emotionally and keeps you from moving forward in life. Let grudges go and you will create your own personal freedom.

4. Play every day.
Dogs love to play, which usually involves lots of movement, whether it’s running, chasing or jumping. This is a good reminder for us to play and move our bodies every day as well. Playing opens up your mind and spirit to all kinds of new ideas and creativity. It’s a needed break from the constant 24/7 work environment. And if you can exercise while you play, even better. Dogs actually give you a reason to get out and go walking, hiking, running, biking or even Rollerblading. (Although, I wouldn’t recommend Rollerblading if you have dogs that pull like I do. Very fun for them. Very scary for you!)

5. Jump for joy when you’re happy.
Have you ever seen a dog circling around or jumping up and down at the thought of getting a treat or chasing a ball? Wouldn’t it be fun if we could all jump around when we’re excited about something? We live life so fast that we often forget to get excited and celebrate the good times because we’re already on to the next thing. We live in a miraculous world where the sun comes up every day, flowers bloom and seasons change. There is much to jump for joy about.

6. Accept yourself.
Can you imagine a terrier wishing she were a boxer or a poodle envious of a collie’s mane or a pug wanting the nose of a greyhound? We humans spend a lot of time trying to make ourselves look like someone else’s version of perfection instead of loving our unique features, our unique life, and yes, our unique problems. How boring it would be if all dogs (or all humans) looked and behaved alike! Love everything about yourself — the good, the bad and the ugly!

7. Enjoy the journey.
When dogs go for a car ride, they stick their head out the window, smell the air and feel the wind against their fur. They don’t care where they’re going. They’re just enjoying the journey. Although goals are great to set, we often forget that it’s the journey that matters most. When we get too attached to the outcome, we set ourselves up for frustration, depression or even anger if our exact expectations are not met. Next time you set a goal, be open to other possibilities and enjoy every moment of excitement, creativity, fun and lessons in the journey.

8. Drink lots of water.
Dogs instinctively know when their bodies need water. They usually stop eating when they’re full, and won’t eat anything that seems poisonous to them, except of course, for one of my huskies who once ate an entire platter of chocolate rum balls. Anyway… back to water. It’s a good reminder for us to stay hydrated and drink when we’re thirsty. In fact, drinking water when you feel hungry is good for weight management because often you just need some water. Another good practice is to drink a glass of water as soon as you wake up in the morning.

9. Be loyal and dependable.
Dogs are pack animals. They stick with their pack. They play with their pack. They defend their pack. This is a great reminder for all of us to be conscientious members of our human pack. The Golden Rule of treating others how you would like to be treated applies here. Being a loyal and dependable friend, lover, sibling, partner or parent will enrich your life in many ways.

10. Love unconditionally.
No matter what, dogs love you unconditionally. They wag their tails when they see you, no matter what mood you’re in. They still want to give you big wet kisses, even if you’ve just yelled at them. And they instantly forgive you no matter how you behave. Loving others unconditionally is a difficult task, but it’s the one that would surely make the world a better place if we all just tried.

So, we can learn a lot from our dogs. Their companionship, loyalty and unconditional love is unmatched by any human standards. And if you have huskies like I do, their singing will always brighten your day. – 

The Changing Face of Strategy

Blue-Ocean-Strategy

 

I think it is a safe assumption to say that business has never been tougher, more difficult to plan, and less predictable than ever before in our Baby Boom, business lives.  Many Chief Executives have done away with long term planning and instead have created the rolling eighteen month plan that they feel allows them to make faster adjustments on the fly.  While this might seem reasonable on the surface, it may carry some unexpected performance challenges over the course of time.

I was in a meeting with a very solid team of Senior Executives a few weeks ago discussing some traction issues they were challenged with as business was flat-lined and The Board had started to dig into operations a bit more than before.  The Team, normally aggressive and engaged, were frustrated and even a bit noticeably depressed.  We stopped the normal business process and just talked for a while about things in general when the VP of Operations blurted out that he had no idea where the company was going anymore and had no idea how to contribute.  They no longer had team goals and the company had done away with any formal planning process in favor of the fast-on-your-feet, plan in the moment management style.  Even the CEO was fidgeting in his seat as it had been his idea to try something new to deal with the uncertainty of the business climate.

Good CEO’s know that planning is important for a host of reasons; Great CEO’s know that over the course of time, planning and strategy will win the day more often than not.  There is however, a way to have your cake and eat it to and even eat it on the run if you have to!

If we are to get the gears turning again and play out some of the uncertainty we all deal with on a daily basis, there is nothing better than a solid dose of planning and strategic thinking.  The difference is in the way we plan and the way we execute; that’s where we have a lot of room to grow.  If you hired the very best people you could, and have surrounded yourself with “game changers”, there is one thing you need to understand.  Strength needs purpose. Having a strong team is wonderful; having a strong team with a goal makes you unstoppable.

There are three basic concepts that can help you take some of the uncertainty out of the future and get your team going in the right direction with purpose.

First, bring economics into your culture; Board Meetings, Executive Staff meetings, general staff meetings, lead the discussion.  If you do not know a lot about economics, see your Chair and ask for help because it’s not about your financial statements.  I follow three Economists on a regular basis and I have to tell you, they bring hope, clarity and continuity to your world.  Pick someone you like, someone you can understand, and someone who has a strong track record over a long period of time of solid predictability.   Working with your key executives, develop an economic outlook that allows your team to develop their respective budgets to a tolerance of three percent +/-.  That’s a six point split and should be able to cover most anomalies you could run into.

Second, get the team back in the saddle and give them meaningful time to think strategically about the economy, their business, and their industry.  The day-to-day grind is hard on people and in the kind of weird space we are in right now, they need to break away from the constant barrage of texts, emails, and people challenges and get up on top of it again.  As a CEO, set the direction of the organization, and also those timeless goals that create endearing culture and allow a team to focus their strength.  Set the stage with your goals, and have the team develop multiple strategic initiatives by which to achieve them.  This allows the team to select those initiatives that have the highest probability of being successful and leave the others in the war chest so that if things change they already know what to do.

Third, be relevant, always be relevant.  As a CEO, you need to be sure that you are relevant.  Are you deepening your relationships and are you out there finding out what’s going on?  Is your Board relevant?  Do they understand your business and are they bringing relevant value? Are they helping you develop yourself as a “game changer”?  Is your team relevant?  Are you helping them develop “game changing” skills?

If we are to get things back on track, we must not be afraid to step on a moving machine, and do so with flawless grace.

Ed Jenks is a 25 year veteran of the C-Suite having served as CEO in multiple turn-around management positions as well as a Master Strategist facilitating organizational planning for mid-tier companies.  Jenks is the author of CEO: Point Blank, and a Principle and Senior Strategist at Solana Beach based TJGI Consulting. 

 

 

How to Handle Difficult People in Your Workplace

Don't care

 

 

 

 

 

It took years to develop, but I was finally able to figure out how to handle difficult situations and how to work with difficult people.

I’ve worked with:

  • The decisive, smart and friendly executive type
  • The 9-to-5 do everything I’m asked with a smile and actually enjoy my work type
  • The let me know if I can help you with anything type
  • The we all know I’m the smartest one in the room type
  • The you cross me, and I promise you it will be the worst mistake of your entire career type
  • The please give me another day to make this decision type
  • The let’s be real, I don’t really give a damn, just tell me what you need me to do and I’ll do it type
  • The please don’t ask me to do anything for you because it’s not in my job description type
  • The OMG she’s walking near my cube, I better act like I’m doing something before I get fired type
  • The you used this word incorrectly in a PowerPoint, therefore I will call an all hands meeting to get this settled type
  • The I trust you Robbie to make any decision you see fit type
  • The if I don’t get a summary email at 8 p.m. every day I’m going to assume you didn’t do anything all day type
  • The I’m going to cry instead of making an important decision so please back off type
  • The I don’t really care what you think about me or my decisions, just do what I tell you type
  • The who the hell left an unclean spoon in the sink, your mother isn’t here to look after you so I’m going to leave a passive aggressive sign above the sink and another on the refrigerator in addition to an email blast to the entire office type
  • The give me your date of birth so we can celebrate your half birthday type
  • The I’m going to pretend like I didn’t hear you the first time so I can make this conversation as awkward as possible type
  • The I’m going to agree to everything said in the meeting then complain privately once the meeting is over type
  • The I literally, figuratively and hypothetically do not care what anybody thinks about me, so just keep paying me every 2 weeks and we’ll all be happy type
  • The if I hear one single piece of constructive criticism about my work I’m never going to open up my mouth again type
  • And finally my favorite: The holy crap lady I can hear your nails click clacking on your keyboard from across the office type

For the person who creates those passive aggressive, “If you’re leaning, you’re cleaning” signs above the sink, I purposely don’t clean dirty spoons and put them in the sink so they can be even more upset. I’m evil like that.

The uncomfortable truth is that not all of these types are easy to deal with. In fact, many of these types make it much harder to get anything accomplished.

Deal with difficult people before they deal with you

Difficult people are an interesting breed. They tend to be the last person in a workflow who has the authority to approve a particular process, purchase order or contract, so they’re the final decision maker. They are nitpicky, irrational, insanely busy people who don’t understand how many hours the team has put into completing an activity.

They ask questions at the last minute about verbiage in a contract when they could have asked the question when you first started on the project. They make you start all the way from the beginning negating all that time you and your team spent on it.

And yet instead of engaging this person right away, most people wait all the way until the end to get their approval, then are in complete shock when this person demands that additional edits be made.

Why?

Easy. People hate working with difficult people unless they absolutely have to. Instead of getting answers to their questions right away, they take the easy route and make assumptions hoping the difficult person won’t ask questions once they review it. Nobody likes awkward conversations and would rather show the decision maker a “finished product” so they don’t get negative feedback on something that isn’t finished.

Then when it comes time to review the finished product, the difficult person becomes well, difficult. Of course, this story isn’t complete without the standard everyone blaming each other for a missed deadline when the executive asks why that task was delayed.

Step up and deal with the decision makers even if they make you uncomfortable. Don’t do it to impress your boss or your teammates. Do it because you want to make the final approval process easier, and do it to learn how this decision maker operates.

Do it because no one else will.

Difficult people are often misunderstood. They’re difficult because their job requires them to be detail oriented and they have stake in the outcome of certain activities or projects. They don’t care how much time you spent on an activity. They care about the outcome.

If you can figure out what makes them tick through early difficult conversations, you’ll not only have better answers early on, but also a relationship with someone who others refuse to connect with — or can’t. – Robbie Abed author of “Fire Me I Beg You”

How Does Your Boss Measure Up?

Exceptional Boss

10 Things Only Exceptional Bosses Give Employees

Good bosses have strong organizational skills. Good bosses have solid decision-making skills. Good bosses get important things done.

Exceptional bosses do all of the above — and more. (And we remember them forever.) Sure, they care about their company and customers, their vendors and suppliers. But most importantly, they care to an exceptional degree about the people who work for them.

And that’s why they’re so rare.

Extraordinary bosses give every employee:

1. Autonomy and independence.

Great organizations are built on optimizing processes and procedures. Still, every task doesn’t deserve a best practice or a micro-managed approach. (Here’s looking at you, manufacturing industry.)

Engagement and satisfaction are largely based on autonomy and independence. I care when it’s “mine.” I care when I’m in charge and feel empowered to do what’s right.

Plus, freedom breeds innovation: Even heavily process-oriented positions have room for different approaches. (Still looking at you, manufacturing.)

Whenever possible, give your employees the autonomy and independence to work the way they work best. When you do, they almost always find ways to do their jobs better than you imagined possible.

2. Clear expectations.

While every job should include some degree of independence, every job does also need basic expectations for how specific situations should be handled.

Criticize an employee for offering a discount to an irate customer today even though yesterday that was standard practice and you make that employee’s job impossible. Few things are more stressful than not knowing what is expected from one day to the next.

When an exceptional boss changes a standard or guideline, she communicates those changes first — and when that is not possible, she takes the time to explain why she made the decision she made, and what she expects in the future.

3. Meaningful objectives.

Almost everyone is competitive; often the best employees are extremely competitive–especially with themselves. Meaningful targets can create a sense of purpose and add a little meaning to even the most repetitive tasks.

Plus, goals are fun. Without a meaningful goal to shoot for, work is just work.

No one likes work.

4. A true sense of purpose.

Everyone likes to feel a part of something bigger. Everyone loves to feel that sense of teamwork and esprit de corps that turns a group of individuals into a real team.

The best missions involve making a real impact on the lives of the customers you serve. Let employees know what you want to achieve for your business, for your customers, and even your community. And if you can, let them create a few missions of their own.

Feeling a true purpose starts with knowing what to care about and, more importantly, why to care.

5. Opportunities to provide significant input.

Engaged employees have ideas; take away opportunities for them to make suggestions, or instantly disregard their ideas without consideration, and they immediately disengage.

That’s why exceptional bosses make it incredibly easy for employees to offer suggestions. They ask leading questions. They probe gently. They help employees feel comfortable proposing new ways to get things done. When an idea isn’t feasible, they always take the time to explain why.

Great bosses know that employees who make suggestions care about the company, so they ensure those employees know their input is valued — and appreciated.

6. A real sense of connection.

Every employee works for a paycheck (otherwise they would do volunteer work), but every employee wants to work for more than a paycheck: They want to work with and for people they respect and admire–and with and for people who respect and admire them.

That’s why a kind word, a quick discussion about family, an informal conversation to ask if an employee needs any help — those moments are much more important than group meetings or formal evaluations.

A true sense of connection is personal. That’s why exceptional bosses show they see and appreciate the person, not just the worker.

7. Reliable consistency.

Most people don’t mind a boss who is strict, demanding, and quick to offer (not always positive) feedback, as long as he or she treats every employee fairly.

(Great bosses treat each employee differently but they also treat every employee fairly. There’s a big difference.)

Exceptional bosses know the key to showing employees they are consistent and fair is communication: The more employees understand why a decision was made, the less likely they are to assume unfair treatment or favoritism.

8. Private criticism.

No employee is perfect. Every employee needs constructive feedback. Every employee deserves constructive feedback. Good bosses give that feedback.

Great bosses always do it in private.

9. Public praise.

Every employee — even a relatively poor performer — does something well. Every employeedeserves praise and appreciation. It’s easy to recognize some of your best employees because they’re consistently doing awesome things. (Maybe consistent recognition is a reason they’re your best employees? Something to think about.)

You might have to work hard to find reasons to recognize an employee who simply meets standards, but that’s okay: A few words of recognition–especially public recognition–may be the nudge an average performer needs to start becoming a great performer.

10. A chance for a meaningful future.

Every job should have the potential to lead to greater things. Exceptional bosses take the time to develop employees for the job they someday hope to land, even if that job is with another company.

How can you know what an employee hopes to do someday? Ask.

Employees will only care about your business after you first show you care about them. One of the best ways is to show that while you certainly have hopes for your company’s future, you also have hopes for your employees’ futures. – Jeff Haden