Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Fishing Is Good for the Soul

In 1970, Alvin Toffler wrote a book called, Future Shock. He wrote of how things were changing so fast that people were becoming overwhelmed. Well here we are pretty close to 40 years later and the rate of change as increased exponentially. If people were in shock in 1970, the poor souls must be comatose today.

That’s where fishing comes in. Fishing allows you time to think. It’s my perception that people who don’t fish, think that fishing is about catching. I can understand this. After all pretty much everything we do in life is about the results. Now, don’t let me fool ya. I enjoy catching fish, as much as the next person. But the secret to fishing is engaging in the process. Being in the moment, focusing on the doing, allowing yourself to relax and be present to what’s happening here and now.

Running a business is a lot like fishing...I volunteer to send proposals out all the time or provide my solution to a problem. That’s like casting my lure. I don’t always get the business right away but I do hear from a lot of clients 6 or 12 months down the road on the same or a similar project. I sometimes have to cast that fly numerous times before a fish bites. Sometimes I have to change flies. But sooner or later my efforts draw the attention of the fish. Now, I’m not calling my clients and prospects fish, but all living creatures respond to incentives. (The science of economics is founded on the principal that people respond to incentives.) People remember when you do a little extra or provide a solution and they often call you back even if it is for another project.

One of my clients credits a fishing trip as the pivotal time in his business. It gave him time to think and determine the course of action for his business. He is incredibly successful. I will be working with him next week. I might be able to get a quote or the story from him as a follow up for a later blog.

I’m going to be headed back to Florida soon. I know I’m going to reap the benefits of my time fishing here in Montana. It’s given me time to reflect on my team, my customers and how our business brings value to everyone we encounter.

Let me encourage you to go fishing. Take a break and use the time to reflect. Aristotle said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” My experience has been that when I take the time to step back and reflect, I tend to be more productive moving forward.

How about you? Have you been fishing lately?

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Being the Boss

How do leaders assure their teams deliver as promised?

In a previous blog, I wrote of how the people who work with me understand what's to be done, what success looks like and how I'm going to evaluate the work. I also wrote that I trust my judgement as to their ability to do the work I assign and their commitment to fulfill the assignments they accept.

Every now and then things don't always work out the way envisioned and it's necessary to correct course. Sometimes the situation has changed. At these times, it's purely a matter of communicating the changes as quickly as possible amongst ourselves, so we can get back on course.

When a change in circumstances is not the resaon for an individual's performance not living up to my expectation the cause always falls into one or both of two areas: attitude or ability.

Let's start with ability; if I and/or the person to whom I've assigned a task have misjudged that person's ability to do the work in the time allotted within the resources provided then my job as the leader aka the boss is to uncover and correct the diconnect. This can be a very awkward situation. Because both the person who's falling short thought they could do the job and so did I; both of our judgements have been proven wrong. Depending on how you handle the situation, fellings can be hurt and then the folks involved are not thinking about how to fix the situation, but how to avoid blame.

So, creating an environment where the person reporting to me feels respected is crucial. The moment the person I'm "correcting" feels disrespected, the relationship and the trust that holds it together begins to erode. Relationships, particularly between people who are charged with thinking for a living, are held together by trust.

Hence, when I identify the issue as one where the person was not capable of doing the work; we both have to accept responsibility and do our best to either provide the person with the knowledge they need or reaasign the work. No harm, no foul; we thought we could, we made a mistake; let's fix the situation and move on.

That's enough for today.

I'll write about handling the situation when it's one of attitude at another time.

How do you handle situations like this?

Please, write me, I'm always open to hearing how other leaders help their people succeed.