Monday, January 21, 2013

MEETINGS: How to Conduct A Very Effective Meeting

Guaranteed tips to conduct much more effective meetings. Since everyone seems to attend either long, boring, or seemingly unnecessary meetings, here are a few tips to ensure they go significantly better.  As a presenter or participant you have a role to play.

The purpose of the meeting should decide the method, such as it being in person, teleconference, video conference, etc. Each method has it's pros and cons.

1. Arrive on time to ensure starting and ending on time;
2. Have agenda and come prepared;
3. Be concise, stay on topic (use "parking lot" items);
4. No disruptions: phone, email, text, side conversations;
5. Ask clarifying questions if you don't understand;
6. Value the strength of diverse input;
7. Demonstrate mutual respect, no negative criticism;
8. If you disagree, propose a solution;
9. Respect confidentiality;
10. Have fun / use humor.

Assign someone the task of time keeper and the "Parking lot" to ensure the meeting stays on track. The "Parking lot" is a note sheet to write down items for addressing later, either during the meeting or afterwards.  The "Parking lot" sheet can either be an easel page on the wall, or someone assigned to keep charge of parking lot items. Everyone including the presenter should respect the interruptions of the time keeper to stay on task. 
1. Recognize that you own personal (personality) style impacts what gets your focus of attention when speaking and listening.  Pay attention to "Mind the Gap" to notice your diverse audience.  Your audience is thinking 7x faster than you are speaking.  Since it might not be possible to know how each person is hearing what you expect, ask clarifying questions  or turn statements into questions.  It will keep your audience engaged and help you to ensure that everyone is hearing what you expect.  These tips are separate from developing your own presentation and communication skills.

1. Pay attention to "Mind the Gap."  Since we think 7x faster than we speak, everyone is listening and hearing through their own filters. Before you speak ask yourself if the comment is relevant to the outcome (reference "Ground Rules").  Every comment becomes a stopping point.  It will create a reaction.  If you're having an ah-ha moment, it might not be necessary to share it with everyone during the meeting. 

Click here for a print version of the "Ground Rules"

- Ken Sergi

(c) 2013 Ken Sergi

Monday, January 14, 2013

MEETINGS: Ground Rules

Use these "Ground Rules" when conducting meetings.  The image to the right is a jpg. Click it to view the larger version and download it.  

Click here for a PDF version.

Or copy the text below to insert into your own document:
1. Arrive on time to ensure starting and ending on time;
2. Have agenda and come prepared;
3. Be concise, stay on topic (use "parking lot" items);
4. No disruptions: phone, email, text, side conversations;
5. Ask clarifying questions if you don't understand;
6. Value the strength of diverse input;
7. Demonstrate mutual respect, no negative criticism;
8. If you disagree, propose a solution;
9. Respect confidentiality;
10. Have fun / use humor.

Click here for additional tips on how to conduct an effective meeting.

- Ken Sergi

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Management versus Leadership

They are not the same thing, but they are linked and complement each other.  

"Management" is the everyday essential skills to steering business success, such as planning, budgeting, staffing, and performance management (goals and evaluations) and coaching employees to success.

"Leadership" is having vision, finding opportunity, taking risk, creating empowerment and producing change.  Leadership is reflective of character. Leadership can be a choice.

Managers can execute vision and enable processes that produce results.  But without good leadership skills, it would be difficult to get people performing at their best.  Leaders have to manage in a way that is different than line managers, but still requires management skills.  Thus, the skills and competencies are linked and complement each other.  Individuals can be good at both self-management and leadership that demonstrates their ability to be successful AND influential.

management vs leadership
The response given in all leadership classes by participants that I teach, regardless if it's private, public, or military for what is most admired and expected of leadership is consistently the same:  integrity, vision, respect, trust, and empowerment.  The top four characteristics most admired in a leader based on research published in the latest book "The Leadership Challenge" are: honesty, forward looking, competence and inspiration.  

Developing leadership character can be more of a challenge than performing the functional skills of management. That character can be measured by having a higher degree of emotional intelligence ("EI" or "EQ") as a core leadership competency, which is quoted by many public, private and military leaders.  Leadership qualities can be developed by any individual.  Although organizational leaders must demonstrate it on a daily basis.

"No doubt emotional intelligence is more rare than book smarts. But my experience says it is actually more important in the making of a leader." - Jack Welch (GE Chairman)

"EQ is more important than IQ in almost every role and many times more important in leadership roles."  - Dr. Stephen Covery, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

"Leadership is a potent combination of strategy and character. But, if you must be without one, be without the strategy."  -General Norman Schwarzkopf

Articles written on either this web site or the blog combine the titles, since most people use the terms or define the skills interchangeably.  But they are different job functions and require different competencies.

- Ken Sergi

Click here for a PDF version of this article.

Note that images and graphics used in this blog are copyrighted and licensed for use to Ken Sergi.  

How to Get the Job You Want in 30 Seconds

This is written by the Organization Development expert who designs the hiring processes that employers use to screen applicants.  He has also personally screened and hired thousands of people for his own companies and other employers, and teaches managers how to interview and manage employee performance.

Most hiring decisions are made within the first 15 to 30 seconds. That's right. Regardless if you're applying for an hourly or salary job inside a company, or walking in the door at the local retailer, or submitting a resume for a higher level professional position.  You never get a second chance to make a first impression.

Since so many people are applying for jobs, imagine the hiring manager or Human Resources (HR) person who has to do the screening.  In one four-week period last summer I screened 500 applicants to hire three 3 people at one company.  Only five people made it into the door for the interview and three were offered jobs. By the time they made it in the door they were already in the home stretch to be hired, except they didn't know it. Unless there was something unexpected, they already had the job because they had been through an extensive screening process, which also saved the company a lot of time.  At that point we were looking to confirm it and see any final warning flags to NOT hire you. And these particular people had demonstrated themselves to be so superior as high-performers to make it to face-to-face interviews, that the company would have likely hired more than originally planned. 

Employers are always looking for effective methods to find the best person for the job AND the company.  What I described above saved the company tremendous amounts of time and got the absolute top best people for the job.  Separate from the internal hiring processes or hiring styles of the employers, there are multiple triggers that automatically eliminate you from making it to the manager’s desk for hiring consideration.  Each step or trigger is intentionally designed for an incredibly simple purpose, which a shocking number of people fail, yet a majority should easily pass.  Technology today makes it easier for the applicant to apply, yet also makes it easier for the applicant to fall into the technology hole, never to demonstrate that you’re better than the other applicants.

So here are some tips: 


#1) DON'T BE LAZY: Many applicants don't follow the submission instructions.  Sometimes the requirement to have you put the job code in the SUBJECT line is only a test to see if you follow instructions, not because the receiving computer or email is going to route the submission, although many times it’s also for that purpose. If it was for that second purpose, then your application went into the unmonitored mailbox just as fast as you hit the SEND button;

#2) RESEARCH: Most applicants don't indicate that they know anything specific about the company or the job. They hit the SUBMIT button and hope for things to happen. Take a moment to look at the company’s web site;
#3) CUSTOMIZE: Ensure that your resume AND cover memo is tailored to the job you want. Most applicants don’t include a customized introduction email or memo that indicates you want THIS job and know something about this company.  Otherwise, it says you don’t care, or that you’re taking the shotgun approach hoping that something will hit. The 1st sentence of your email AND your resume MUST get their attention and show that it’s customized and related to the purpose;

#4) PUBLIC INFO: Clean up your public profile. Dump or hide the awkward Facebook photos. Google yourself to see what shows up that needs to be cleaned up. Social media is still evolving.  Laws are different from state to state.  Even though hiring should be focused on skills, competencies and ability to fit into the company, don’t risk it;

#5) OUTCOME STATEMENTS: Write statements on your resume, and answer interview questions from the perspective of results you've achievednot beliefs that you have. What accomplishments did you achieve at your last job, not just what your responsibilities included. Also, it doesn't ultimately matter what you BELIEVE, or theories you have, such as believing in team work and good communication. What have you done or actively do to DEMONSTRATE that you are a team player and communicate effectively? "My last performance review said...." "Customer feedback indicated...." "I received an award for...." “My leadership style is…. and I do that by..."

#6) OWNERSHIP/INITIATIVE: Attach something more to your submission than just the resume, such as a letter of recommendation or a testimonial. The additional page can make you stand out for the recipient to remember you;

#7) FOLLOW-THROUGH: Send a follow-up note to acknowledge the submission. Send a follow-up note to say 'thank you.' Don't nag, just simply say that you're following up to ensure they got your message, or "I just wanted to let you know that I'm still interested in the job."

In the application & hiring process most skilled hiring professionals are doing BEI (Behavioral Event Interviewing) and listening for behaviors that tell them what they need to know (reference #5 above OUTCOMES). #5, 6, and 7 above will be your best asset in the interview process AND ongoing such as when doing performance reviews. When you do the interview in person, bring your resume and additional paperwork that can be left with the company, such as copies of certificates, awards, or letters of recognition.  If your first interview is via phone, then ask to send the additional information, or include it as an attachment when you send the follow-up "Thank You" note (see #7 above).

ALWAYS save positive emails, accolades, testimonials, awards, certificates, performance reviews, and letters of recognition throughout your career. If someone tells you that you did a good job, then ask them to please send an email to tell your boss or write a testimonial. Sound egotistic? Excessive? Ok, then ignore this suggestion. The person who follows this suggestion is the one who will show an edge over you both in being hired and promoted.

If you think any of the above suggestions are excessive or too much work, then you’ll reinforce why others will get the job instead of you, and you’ll make it easier for people like me.  If you're too quick to hit the SEND button for submission, then it’s likely the recipient is just as fast to hit DELETE.  If you got this far in reading, then you are likely already following the above suggestions and picked up one or two reminders, or you are someone committed to ongoing future success and this will help you accelerate the growth you deserve.

- KenSergi

(c) 2013 Ken Sergi

Note that images and graphics used in this blog are copyrighted and licensed for use to Ken Sergi. 

How To Be Influential In One Minute

Here's a way to be more influential in less than one minute.  Did you know that a simple comment like having a problem with parking or being late to a meeting can effect your physiology?  Negative thoughts, attitudes and conversation obviously have an impact on others around you and your ability to be influential.  But, it can also be physically measured in less than one (1) minute and accumulate in your body, which effects your physiology, just like bad eating can build fat.  The long-term impact on your own body’s physiology is incredibly damaging, but fortunately can be changed. 

Put on a blood pressure and heart monitor and talk about a "passionate" subject like politics, or complain about something simple or frustrating like traffic and watch how the monitors respond. Even if you feel that you're being calm when making the negative comment, you'll be amazed at how the simplest comment will cause your body to increase your blood pressure or adrenalin.  This physiological response continuously builds, similar to going to the gym and regularly lifting weights, or going to class and practicing a new technique.  It's accumulative, just like a bad diet can build fat.

Want to change your health AND your ability to be influential in less than one minute?  Then change your perspective starting with your thoughts and language. 

-Ken Sergi

(c) 2013 Ken Sergi

Note that images and graphics used in this blog are copyrighted and licensed for use to Ken Sergi. 

Your Negativity Bias Is Natural, But Good Is Expected

All of us have a natural negativity bias.  It's a primal instinct.  We internalize a bad experience for future reference to avoid it.  It's why the news is so successful in reporting all the bad events of the day, and why negative politics activate us and keep up engaged.  They're giving us what we want.  It's also why statistically you will tell a minimum of 7 people (some research says up to 20) about your bad restaurant experience, but only tell 3 people if it was good.  Bad emotions, bad parents and bad feedback have more impact than good. We're more motivated to avoid bad self-definitions than to pursue good ones.  It's also why it takes five positive messages to overcome one negative.

Good is expected. 

Practice Positive Pump
Athletes are great examples of "positive pump."  They have consistent "can-do" messages and goals. They're forward-focused on where they're going and what they're going to achieve. What outcomes do you want for yourself? What impact do you want to have on others?

To move forward it's important to focus on where you're going and how you want it to be, versus looking to the past for references of where you have been.
A) Practice your "positive pump" consistently every day.  Give yourself at least five positive messages and, when you have a problem or conflict, ask yourself "What if the opposite were true?"  
B) Describe the positive behaviors you want from employees, peers, or friends before using the bad ones as examples to avoid. Don't use bad examples of the past to define good experiences you want to have in the future.

C) End each day with gratitude.  As some point sit for one minute and reflect, or write down at least 1 to 5 great things that happened today.  Writing is more effective.  You could put it into a journal for easy reference, get a large glass jar so you have a visual reminder.  Then, pick a day, maybe around the holidays, or when you're feeling down, to open the jar and remind yourself of all the things for which you're grateful.

Our environment, language, friends and decisions will reinforce our messages and beliefs. Our body reflects the contents of our mind.  If our mind is peaceful, so is our body.  Peace is the gift we pass along to others.  When we are activated, negative, judgmental or cluttered it is not helpful to us or others.  It will continue the cycle of negativity bias.

-Ken Sergi

(c) 2013 Ken Sergi

Mind the Gap: We Think 7x Faster Than We Speak

We speak at approximately 115 words-per-minute, but think at a approximately 825 words-per-minute.  Where are you in that 710 gap between thoughts and actions when communicating?

That gap impacts your ability to be present; influential; and effective.  If you're not mentally present, then you're not paying attention to either your style and the impact that you're having, or noticing the style of your listener/receive and if you're effectively communicating in a manner that gets them to hear you. You can notice when someone isn't paying attention to you, regardless if you're on the phone, in a meeting, conducting a presentation, or talking one-on-one.

In Washington, D.C. one of the world's most famous musicians, Joshua Bell who had sold out performances at $100 per ticket just three days prior, was playing a $3.5 million violin in the subway for 45 minutes.  1,100 people passed and never stopped or noticed.  Read more here.  How much do you notice what's happening around you, or question perceptions?  

The next time you're talking, try this experiment to observe yourself and how much you are being present.  When you're listening where does your mind go?  Challenge yourself to be present before your mind wanders.  When you're speaking, how much can your listener actually hear or remember?  They may be drifting just like you.  

To be more engaging and influential; be present.  Mind-The-Gap by clearing your head; practice active listening; and try turning your statements into questions.  Being present will significantly impact your ability to listen, lead, function, perform and influence.

Your personality style impacts your communication and leadership.  You can be more targeted and influential when you recognize your own style and the styles of others. There are several classes and tools available to understand your personality type or communication style such as MBTI, DISC and the Enneagram for achieving it.

-Ken Sergi

Click here for a PDF version of this article.

(c) 2013 Ken Sergi.

Goals: How to Reverse Engineer to Ensure Success

Reverse Engineering to Achieve Goals
To improve or change almost anything, start by describing the OUTCOMES you want to achieve, then reverse engineer the actions to get there.  From changing an attitude to physical improvements, this is also the same process used in companies to achieve performance outcomes, such as with the SMART model.

1) Decide the outcome you want using positive terms with future orientation. Ex "More calm" versus "Less angry."
2) Describe success in detail.  How would it look and feel?
3) Why is it important?
4) What would others notice or see when you are being ___?
5) When do you want to achieve it? 
6) What practices/actions are necessary to get there?
7) What are potential obstacles or blind spots?
8) Have you seen anyone else be successful with it?
9) Is there someone who can support you?
10) What can you do to remind yourself every morning of your intention?

When describing success use detailed descriptions that manifest how it will be, look, and feel to you without any references to how it has been.  "Less angry" means that you are using past references for future success.  Let that go.  Simply describe the success you will have.  This would also mean NOT using the term "more calm" but to be "calm."

Athletes use a similar reverse engineering to achieve a goal, such as preparing for an "Iron Man" competition.  The outcome to achieve is a combination of swimming 2.4 miles, biking 112 miles and running a marathon for 26.2 miles without a break.  Then, they reverse engineer what measurements and milestones must be achieved each week prior to the competition in order to be prepared.  The subsequent steps shown above are applied to ensure success.
Also recognize that you have a personality style that can impact your potential.  Our style determines what gets our focus of attention as we navigate through each day.  It can create the blind spots that derail our success.

Also see the article "How to Achieve Your Goals in One Step" on this blog.

-Ken Sergi

(c) 2013 Ken Sergi

Communication: Yellow Text on Blue Background Increases Retention

Yellow letters on a blue background have a higher impact and increased retention than black letters on a white background when doing a presentation.

Business 101: A Business Plan versus Operational Plan

Operational planning is a higher predictor of long-term sustainable success over a business plan.  The business plan is an essential road map to start the journey.  Most business leaders create a business plan, then set it aside and get to work.  Most organizations will focus on activities that provide 80% assurance of long-term failure within five years.  

How do leading companies succeed?  By creating integrated (systemic) systems and processes that will operationalize the business plan and reinforce the organization's strategy. This is also called "Organization Development." Going beyond the business plan, you can systemically operationalize your plan to ensure that everyone is going in the same direction with replicable processes that will absolutely exceed your expectations.  Then you don't have to micro-manage performance, you get to lead and empower growth.

Organization Development ("OD") deals with deliberately improving an organization's performance, effectiveness, health and viability through systemic (integrated) parts.  These parts utilize methodologies and employee development to target where you want to go (strategy) and cohesively getting everyone going in the same direction.  It addresses strategic planning, organizational design, core competencies, hiring, leadership development, performance management and employee development.

Thus, when a company says that "customer service is important" they create performance expectations, hire, train, measure and reward consistently on it.  It doesn't show up as a contradiction where service is important, but the employees are measured on how many calls are processed. 

Communication: How to Ask Open-Ended or Clarifying Questions

Don't work so hard on your next conversation, presentation, or meeting to ensure that you're heard.  Certainly come prepared, but start by asking open-ended questions to target the needs of your listener or audience.  It allows for multiple responses in the listeners owns language. 
1st - Repeat back what you heard using similar words from what was expressed.  Then ask "Is what I said what you meant?" 
2nd - Adapt your style and response to meet their expectations.  It will encourage a meaningful response that targets results without judgment, instead of driving, strong-arming, or pushing your own agenda.  It will also demonstrate active listening skills while avoiding projecting, fixing, or telling.

Examples of open-ended or clarifying questions:
"What's the most important thing you'd like to get from me, or this meeting?"
"How would you like me to provide you with feedback or information?"
"Describe for me how you did...."
"Tell me a time when you demonstrated...."
"What would it look like if... (you tried the opposite)?"
"What if the opposite were true?"
"How can I support you?"
"What would success look like?"  
"What did you intend as the outcome?"
"Are you angry?" or "My impression is that you are angry, is that accurate?"
"Are you frustrated?" or "My impression is that you are frustrated, is that accurate?"
Try to avoid using assumptions or projections, such as "You seem to be..."

-Ken Sergi

Note that images and graphics used in this blog are copyrighted and licensed for use to Ken Sergi. 

8 Signs of an Extraordinary Boss

1) Business is an ecosystem, not a battlefield.
2) A company is a community, not a machine.
3) Management is a service, not control.
4) My employees are my peers, not my children.
5) Motivation comes from vision, not fear.
6) Change equals growth, not pain.
7) Technology offers empowerment, not automation.
8) Work should be fun, not mere toil.