Why You Need to Be BORED

When was the last time you were bored? I’d be willing to bet that you can’t remember. If I’m right, it’s because, in 2018, no one ever has to be bored. That smartphone super computer you carry around in your pocket or purse guarantees it.

Don’t know what to do next? There’s always an Instagram feed to look at, a text to answer, an email to delete, a cat video to watch, a news headline to click on or a Fortnite game to beat. Thanks to technology, none of us ever have to be bored.

How great is that, right? Actually, it’s not so great. We – you, me, all of us – need to be bored once in a while.  That space between active thoughts is where we get our best ideas. Want to prove that to yourself? Answer this question. Where or when do you get you best ideas? (I’ll wait for you to consider your answer).  Got it? Here we go…

I’ve posed that question to thousands of leaders over the past several years. The number one answer is, “In the shower,” followed by “When I’m working out,” and “Commuting.” No one has ever answered, “At my desk in front of my computer,” or “Thumbing through my smartphone looking at Facebook.” You get your best ideas when you’re not actively engaging your brain with something else to pay attention to or think about.

This topic is on my mind because of a conference call I just had  with a group of executives.  We were having a random discussion while one of their co-workers was compiling some data. One of the women on the call mentioned that on the previous Saturday she noticed that she was actually bored. It was the rare day when she didn’t have a ton of family commitments to attend to or a presentation or some other project that she had to fine tune for Monday morning back at the office. She told us, “I actually didn’t know how to handle it when I had nothing to do.”

That’s because she’s been so used to having her foot on the gas that she’s become physiologically attuned to the feeling of always being busy or mentally occupied. That’s great for dealing with all of the stuff on your daily plate. It’s not so great when you need to get up on the balcony to process the patterns or look around the corner to consider what’s next. When you don’t leave any space or opportunity to be bored, you’re a lot less likely to make visits to the balcony where you can see the bigger picture or possibly come up with the next game changing idea.

So, how do you create the space to be bored? It’s simple really. Quit filling up your interstitial (Yes it’s a word, look it up if you like) moments with more input. Going for a run or cleaning out the garage? Take out the ear buds. Standing in line at Starbucks or Coffee Bean? Leave your phone in your pocket or purse. Driving home from work? Turn off the radio, let it be quiet.

Give your brain a break and allow yourself to be bored. You might be pleasantly surprised by what you come up with.

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Don’t take the easy way out. Here is a lesson from history!

This is a very hard lesson for people to learn.  Society has made it so easy for people to take the easy road these days.  Parents, do yourselves a favor and do not give your kids the easy way out, teach them that hard work does pay off.  The world is a tough place, accept it and work to reach goals!  A lot of you out there know that I was a history major so I like to use it as a tool for coaching.

I believe history can teach us a lot. Throughout history, there are those who made good decisions and those who made bad ones. The former reaped the rewards and the latter suffered the consequences. In any case, there are useful lessons that we can learn from their experiences.

titleI will share with you a lesson I learned from the story of Alexander Severus, a Roman emperor from 222 to 235.  I became interested in this particular emperor because his assassination started the Crisis of the Third Century.

As it turned out, he was assassinated by his own troops. But how could that happen? Why did the troops kill their own emperor? Well, the short answer is that the emperor chose the easy way and his troops didn’t like it.

Germanic tribes invaded the Roman Empire during the time Severus was emperor. The emperor marched out his troops to meet the invaders. The troops were ready to fight and defend their land. But what happened? When they were near the enemy, the emperor chose to bribe the enemy instead. He tried to buy them off using the empire’s wealth. Instead of facing the challenge, the emperor chose the easy way.

The troops didn’t like it. In fact, they were angered by it. They looked down on him and eventually decided to kill him.

It’s tragic, but it also contains a profound lesson: don’t take the easy way. Don’t take shortcuts when you face a problem. It may look easy and attractive, but it’s not without its danger. What you should do instead is face the challenge and do the right thing. It might be painful and take a long time, but the reward makes it worth it. Here are two kinds of reward that you will get if you do the right thing:

1. Lasting success

By taking the easy way, you might seem to achieve your goal (peace, in the case of the emperor), but it won’t last for long. Since taking the easy way means you never solve the root of the problem, the problem could resurface at any time. On the other hand, if you take the more difficult route and solve the root of the problem, you will get success that lasts.

2. The respect of others

When those around you see the way you handle your situation, they will respect you. They will look at you as someone to learn from. You might even become an inspiration to them.

Doing the right thing is easier said than done, but it’s something we can all learn to do. Remember the story of the emperor: don’t take the easy way. March into your battles courageously and solve the root of each problem.

Workforce Planning…..Create the plan now

Workforce Planning

Workforce Planning is a core function of human resource management and it is related to the systematic identification and analysis of what an organization is going to need in terms of the size, type, experience, knowledge, skills and quality of workforce to achieve its objectives. It is a process used to generate business intelligence to inform the organization of the current, transition and future impact of the external and internal environment on the organization enabling it to be resilient to current structural and cultural changes to better position itself for the future.

A strategic workforce plan usually covers a three to five year period, aligned to the business needs and outcomes.  Before you can successfully create the plan you need to fully understand the goals and forecast of the business.  It focuses on identifying the workforce implications, current, transition and future business strategic objects and includes scenario planning.

Operational workforce planning usually covers the next 12-18 months and needs to align with the timeframe of the business planning cycle.  it is the process and systems applied to gathering, analyzing and reporting on workforce planning strategy.

Workforce Analytics Approach

An analytical approach is important as it provides a fact based method of understanding workforce behaviors. This analysis typically includes reviewing employee recruitment, promotion and turnover patterns. The analysis also uncovers the hidden causes of overtime, absenteeism, and low productivity.

Steps in Workforce Planning

There are fundamental activities that make up a Workforce Plan:

Getting Started
Establishing the team, building the business case; linking corporate, business, finance and workforce strategy; establishing communication plan to engage stakeholders; segmenting the workforce against strategic priorities; reviewing existing data; identifying information gaps; identifying future focused business scenarios.
Environment Scan
Environment scanning is a form of business intelligence. In the context of Workforce Planning it is used to identify the set of facts or circumstances that surround a workforce situation or event.
Current Workforce Profile
Current State is a profile of the demand and supply factors both internally and externally of the workforce the organization has today.
Transition Workforce Profile
demand and supply factors for the transition from current to future workforce.
Future Workforce View
Future View is determining the organization’s needs considering the emerging trends and issues identified during the Environment Scanning.
Analysis and Targeted Future
Once critical elements are identified through quantitative and qualitative analysis, the future targets that are the best fit in terms of business strategy and is achievable given the surrounding factors (internal/external, supply/demand) are determined.
Risk Assessment and Risk Mitigation
The process is about determining appropriate actions to manage risk assessment and identify risk mitigation strategies to deliver the targeted future.
Action plan to embed strategic workforce planning into business planning process.
Monitor and measure impact of strategic workforce planning on business outcomes.

OFFICE PERKS ARE STUPID! Yes, I said STUPID!

Ok CEO’s, enough is enough.  You are not the next Google, you are not “cool” and “trendy” you are just being stupid.

The Ping-Pong and Pool Tables are insulting to the intelligence of employees.  We all want to be happy at work, us Americans spend a huge portion of our lives there, but employees aren’t dumb.  We know that the Ping-Pong and Pool tables don’t make work fun or fulfilling.  It is certainly not a replacement for a decent paycheck.

These perks are signifiers, a way for organizations to express their commitment to a laid-back corporate culture and, at some companies, a consolation price for a lower salary and boring work assignments. The trend can be traced back to Google and Zappos.  They are both huge successes and they defined their workplace cultures with beanbag chairs.  Perks have since proliferated at startups, media organizations, and tech companies hoping a more comfortable environment will motivate employees and lead to Google sized profits.  Come on people, pull your heads out of your butt.

Having a barista or beer, and my personal favorite the Ping-Pong table will not help you retain young talent, if it does, it is only temporary.  Having an engaging management team, room for growth within the organization are the two best tools to hang on to young talent.  The perks are all surface level, remember that.

The benefits that matter most aren’t foosball tables. People want health insurance, paid vacation, and sick days, the potential for performance bonuses, and a company-matched 401(k) plan.

 

Why taking risks comes with huge rewards!

I had a great 1.2.1. meeting this morning with a young member of our staff and the topic or risk came up….and no not the board game.

If you ever want to achieve the life you’ve always dreamed of, you will have to start taking positive, calculated risks.  It is a must to take chances to achieve anything great in life, however many are scared to take the initial leap.

As with any risk, there is always something at stake.  In most cases, when it comes to your business, you stand to lose money, time, and your reputation.  On the flip side those are the very same things that you stand to gain, right!??  The benefits of taking risks will enrich your life and your business or career much more rewarding.

One of my very good friends and clients worked for the county for almost 10 years before deciding to start his own business.  I helped him pinpoint his true passions and create a plan to profit from them.  After moving to a new state, instead of searching for another civil servant position, he took his skills and experience of being an urban planner and translated them into a viable business for himself. Nervous about launching out on his own, he expressed this was the biggest risk he had ever taken and worried about where the income and clients would come from. However, after being in business for one year, he has already landed multiple contracts and generated a six-figure income. After taking the risk of quitting his job and launching his own firm, he’s much happier and experiencing life on a new level.

 

THE BENEFITS OF TAKING RISKS.

    1. Taking risks opens you up to new challenges and opportunities. Push yourself to learn a new skill, such as public speaking, which comes in handy as a business owner.
  • Taking risks empowers you to establish new limits in your mind. We all have boundaries or a comfort zone where we’d like to stay and many have misconstrued visions of what we think we deserve or are capable of accomplishing. When you take risks, you can eradicate that thinking, establish new boundaries, improve your outlook on life and your ability to achieve on high levels.
  • Taking risks can cause you to become more creative. When you put yourself out on a limb, with a no-excuse approach, your natural problem-solving skills kick in and you’re open to new ideas and are willing to try something new.
  • Taking risks can result in a positive outcome. Not every life step can be carefully planned out. You’ll never know if you can succeed unless you venture out into new territory. Is there a risk involved to do something totally new? Sure. But the reward is there too. When you give it your best shot and put all that you can into achieving the goal, you are more likely to make it happen.
  • Taking risks help you to clearly define what you really want. Calculated risks are taken with careful thought. Yet the fact that you are taking a risk pushes you to make things work. Surely you will first have to determine if the reward is something you really want enough to take the chance. If it is, then move ahead and don’t look back.

 

  • Once you have become accustomed to taking risks, you break free from the average way of living and thinking. Instead of fighting to stay safe you gain the momentum and confidence needed to welcome new opportunities in your career or business. Risks build your self-confidence and self-respect, empowering you to feel stronger and more confident in taking on new endeavors. When you are open to new challenges you position yourself to profit a whole lot more than you would just staying the same.

Taking chances requires some blind trust in most cases. Nothing is really guaranteed. However, you have to trust your instincts. Sometimes your gut is leading you down an unknown path but inside you know that something big is on the other side. Go for it, you’ll never know what all you can accomplish until you do something you’ve never done. Take the risk you’ll step into some of your biggest rewards.

Crap, I hired the wrong person!

I woke up this morning to a 6AM voicemail from a great client of mine with the following message, “FUCK MIKE!  I hired the wrong person, call me to discuss, I need help fixing this!”

This is a painful situation for a CEO. You’ve had a gigantic gap in your executive team, and you find someone you think is the answer to all of your problems – and then it hits you: You realize the person you’ve hired isn’t who you thought he was.  Now what the hell do you do?

Your new-hire does not posses the skills you thought. Perhaps he came from a larger company, and you thought he was capable of adjusting to your small business. Sometimes you may find the person isn’t a good culture fit, while other times they are just downright toxic to your company.

So, what happened? How did you miss the red flags during the interviews and ‘dating stage’?  Did you fail or did you choose to ignore certain things?

How do you find the right fit?

In order to avoid getting stuck with the wrong employee, you must interview the right way. I’ve seen executives (Yes I am talking about you)  glance over a resume five minutes beforehand, and ask questions solely based on the job description. You just set yourself up for disaster.

Instead, you need to put time and effort into devising questions that will help your company in finding the right personnel fit.  Take the focus away from work and education history.  Resumes list the previous jobs and education, and are usually written to show the best of each area.  Spend little time on the resume, that was the ticket into the door, now find answers to the following questions:

  • Does this candidate fit in with your company culture? – Write down or give the candidate your company’s core values. Ask the prospect how he exhibited one of your core values at a previous job.
  • What exactly does your company need the candidate to do? –Tell them to increase throughput by 10%, Improve OTD from 95% to 98%. Get specific, and make your goals measurable.
  • What has the candidate done in the past that can apply to the job today? – Get specific, and go deep! Ask the candidate what has she done that’s comparable to the work expected of her. Then, find out what her role was within the project: Did she come up with the idea? Was she the team lead? Did she perform the work? Don’t stop digging until you have specific answers.  The resume will state. “Increased throughput by 40% by implementing this that or the other.”  By digging deep you will find that they don’t know what the throughput calculation was before and that the 40% was a made up number.  That they weren’t really involved in the process, maybe they just oversaw that person.  Digging deep, gets you the information that you need.

You can listen to his thought processes during the interview and determine if the candidate would be a right fit for your team. If you don’t consider how he plays a role in the bigger picture and how he will interact with your current team, then you could end up with an employee who feels like a stranger.

The interview is just the beginning. You should also have an efficient onboarding process. Keep your eyes and ears open to see how the new-hire interacts with you and other colleagues. If you discover he’s not the right fit, at least you know immediately, and not months or years down the road.

The old adage for small businesses holds true: Hire slowly, and fire quickly. Small business CEOs/ owners can’t afford the luxury of carrying dead weight.

Give toxic employees the boot, quickly!

I’ve worked with a few CEOs who have fired people a few days into the job. One CEO shared a story on how a new-hire lied about meeting with a prospect the first week on the job. The new-hire was unaware the prospect was a good friend of the CEO, who informed the CEO the meeting never happened. A little white lie during the first week of employment violated the company’s core value of trust. Needless to say, the new-hire was terminated immediately.

Hiring mistakes do happen, even when you follow a good interview process. You can minimize a bad hire by asking questions related to your core values, and making sure the candidate understands performance expectations.

Dig deep in your questions to ensure your candidate has performed expected tasks in the past – or at the very least is able to articulate how she would handle similar situations she will encounter at your company. Hopefully, this will mitigate the chances of you asking her later on, “Who Are You?”

Develop those leaders that you have been overlooking

When you hear, “Leader” do you immediately think of the people in your office that have business cards that say “Manager,” Director,” “Vice President'” or other lofty titles?  The employees that hold positions of stature within a company’s hierarchy, to whom several people report, and whose influence comes in great measure from the positions they hold?

For all of you who have worked in these large organizations know that there are also people without managerial titles, who have no direct reports, who can still wield great influence and make critical contributions to the organization.  These are the highly professional individual contributors.  They many be mechanical engineers in an aerospace company, software engineers in a technology organization, designers in a landscape company.  In many cases they have deliberately  chosen not to pursue a managerial career. Perhaps they prefer the technical work. Or perhaps they want to avoid the budgeting, reporting, and steady round of meetings that management jobs entail.

In some organizations (like, say, the NFL), their importance is obvious, and rewarded. In the early 1980s, Jack Zenger heard Michael Eisner acknowledge another such group when Eisner was president of Disney. He talked of the importance of taking care of the people in any organization who made unique, pivotal contributions, and who were easy to overlook.  “In Disney,” he said, “these people are our animators.”  They conceived the cartoon characters and brought them to life through their craft. Even today, when this work is done with computer-generated graphics rather than laborious drawings, that function remains vital to the organization.

I say that every organization has such people.  It may be someone in product development who without any direct reports, plays an essential role in the selection and development of new products.  It may be a young key salesperson, who because of some unique connection with customers exerts a powerful influence on the organization’s go to market strategy.

In my opinion, these individuals meet the criteria of true leaders, but they often get overlooked for any kind of leadership development because they don’t manage or supervise anyone.  Yes, they are probably included in the mandatory training programs such as safety or sexual harassment, but those programs don’t do much to advance their leadership acumen or behavior.

We think there’s a huge opportunity to provide this group with much of the same development experiences their managerial colleagues receive. For the past couple of years, we have conducted development sessions for more than 100 such professional, individual contributors. Their response to, and the outcomes from, these development sessions have been very similar to comparable sessions we’ve conducted with managers and directors. In particular, we’ve found that they greatly appreciate receiving the same kind of feedback and training.

While they’re not rated by a group called “direct reports” (since they don’t have any), they can receive, and benefit from, feedback from peers, from their boss, and from colleagues in different parts of the organization.  If you want to expand it, they can ask for feedback from customers, suppliers, etc.

We can see a rash of reasons for investing in this group.

First, investing in their leadership development will make these valuable people feel highly valued, signaling that the organization respects their contribution enough to provide for their continuing development.

Second, talented individuals are more inclined to stay with organizations when they feel they are progressing. In most large organizations, a similar percentage of this group is eligible for retirement in the next five years as their management colleagues (that is, more than a half), and their departure would be a huge loss for the organization.  Think about yourself for a second, how close are you to retirement?  Do you have a succession plan in place?

Third, they will enjoy increased success. These professional individual contributors succeed in part because of their professional expertise, but just as much because of their ability to work well with others, and communicate effectively with other departments and levels of the organizations.  Leadership development efforts can make them better team players, improve their communication skills, and teach them to be better coaches, skills that are particularly important for people who, given their lack of formal organizational power, must accomplish nearly everything they do through informal influence.

Fourth, some of them could well develop into excellent managers, and they could begin such a transition with­out a shift in their formal position. There are obvious advantages to identifying management potential before promoting some other valuable contributor who will turn out to be unsuited or unhappy in that role. What’s more, as they learn to be more effective interpersonally and become more attuned to the people issues, many with management potential may become increasingly open to managerial roles. Even those who don’t will be more apt to adopt some of the perspectives and behaviors of managers—such as being concerned about developing others and not always taking the short-term,  path of “Oh, here, let me do that.”

Individual contributors are huge assets for every organization. Yet they typically fail to show up on anyone’s radar screen for development. We believe organizations are missing a great opportunity to retain these key people, to help them be even more influential, and to prepare a portion of them for key managerial positions in the firm. How could these forgotten resources be benefiting your own organization within the seasons to come?

At MCDA we can help you target these key members of your organization ,set a training and development plan to make them the next leader within your company.  Call us today to set up a meeting with one of our talented consultants!  This topic is near and dear to my heart as I was developed into a leader by my business mentor, Mr. Suheimat from the same type of path.