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NUTS ‘N BOLTS LEADERSHIP

November 12, 2012 Leave a comment

I came across this book called “How To” Strategies and Practical Tips For Leaders at ALL Levels” by Eric Harvey and Paul Sims. It appealed to me as a refresher to those of us who have been in management for a long time as well as a training tool for people just beginning in that arena.

I’ve copied some pieces of their message below:

“If you’ve been in management for any length of time, you’ve undoubtedly come   to realize that it’s a multi-faceted profession – a somewhat complex calling that includes the classic and academically described duties of “planning, directing, controlling, etc.” … and much more. 

Like a coin, leadership has two sides. There’s the proactive side – the actions you initiate to positively affect people and their performance. And there’s the reactive side – the actions you take in response to unanticipated issues and situations. The key to these equally important sides is ACTION. And the way we see it, in order to act properly and effectively in these fast-paced times, your management “toolbox” needs to be filled with solid nuts and bolts techniques.

Here are some “How To” tips that should help:

  • Address Performance Problems Early. One of the surest ways to demotivate employees is allowing people to do sub-par work. When that happens, others have to pick up the slack. You owe it to the rest of the team to address an employee’s deficiencies as soon as you become aware of them. Waiting only increases the intensity of everyone else’s bad feelings.
  • Think “Development.” Make developing the members of your team (and yourself) one of your top priorities. Besides providing formal training, pursue opportunities for building skills, awareness, and confidence that require minimal time and resources (e.g., watching videos, distributing industry publications, mentoring).
  • Always Give the “Why.” A combined lesson from Human Nature 101 and Common Sense 101: There’s a much better chance that people will be motivated and give their enthusiastic support if they understand the reason behind a goal, assignment, or decision. So, always follow the what with the why
  • Teach Business Literacy. One powerful way to get people motivated is to teach them the business of the business. The more people understand how a successful organization is run, the better they’ll be able to contribute to your overall mission and the bottom line … and feel like they truly are a part of your success.
  • Let your employees lead. Help others on your team develop by letting them take the lead on certain activities and projects. Most of us like “being in charge” – at least some of the time. It’s a great way to build skills, commitment, and responsibility.
  • Involve them in Decision Making. Have an important decision to make? Let employees decide! Or at least ask for their ideas and suggestions. They are, after all, the ones who will feel the impact the most. Besides, you’ll probably end up with a better decision – one that your people will be inclined to support because they helped make it.
  • Keep them informed.Hold regular “state of the business” meetings to keep everyone informed on what’s happening within the organization (future plans, new products or services, planned purchases, etc.). Make sure people do NOT feel “kept in the dark.
  • Spread the wealth.Rotate the drudgework so that everyone shares part of the load. Likewise, spread around the high-profile assignments so that every person has an occasional opportunity to strut his or her stuff.
  • Respect their time. If you expect employees to believe that their work is important, you have to believe it, too. More importantly, you have to behave like you believe it! Don’t expect people to drop whatever they’re doing every time you need something. Instead, ask if they have a few minutes to chat. Better yet, ask for a time when they’ll be available to meet with you.”

All of these are very solid tips that can help all of us become and/or remain better leaders for our businesses.

Andrea McAfee

Bayless Engineering

www.baylessengineering.com

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Get Your “Generations Working Together”

July 30, 2012 2 comments

This topic is something many of us employers don’t think about until we find dissention within our workforce.

If you’re looking to narrow the gaps that inherently exist between different workplace generations the above titled book by Laura E. Bernstein offers the following tips each manager needs to do!

  • Acknowledge that everyone wants to be treated with dignity and respect. And, remember that those expectations will likely be defined differently by different people.
  • Give coworkers, customers, and suppliers the same benefit of the doubt that you wish from them.
  • Presume that everyone you interact with is motivated by good intentions – unless they prove otherwise.
  • Accept that you can learn from others’ different life experiences, perspectives, and approaches – just as others can learn from yours.
  • Make an effort to focus on your similarities with others rather than your differences. Find, appreciate, and celebrate the common ground you share with those you work with … and work for.
  • Be willing to flex your natural style and preferences in order to work more effectively with all of your colleagues. Increased cooperation and collaboration results in greater success … for EVERYONE!
  • Be open and tactfully honest about your personal “hot buttons” (i.e., recurring sources of tension or conflict) and mindful of the things that bother others.
  • Remember that each individual brings something special (and needed) to the table … each person represents a piece that must be present in order for your organizational puzzle to be complete.
  • Focus on what really matters: productivity, teamwork, customer service, and mutual success.
  • Accept the fact that how you treat, deal with, and respond to others is purely and simply a matter of your own choosing.

I believe that many of these practices should be followed not only in business but are equally important to observe in our daily lives.

Andrea McAfee

Bayless Engineering & Manufacturing

www.baylessengineering.com

The Manager’s Communication Handbook

In trying to find ways to improve our company’s working environment I continually search for resources to help guide me in my efforts. Since most organizations often find communication problematic, “The Manager’s Communication Handbook” by David Cottrell and Eric Harvey addresses the issue. Here is an excerpt from the book’s introduction you may find interesting.

“What is the greatest frustration for most employees? Could it be they think they’re not getting paid enough? Or that the workplace is cramped or noisy? Maybe they think management expects too much from them? Could organizational bureaucracy or politics be number one on the frustration list? All of these possibilities are easy to imagine … and justify. However, in survey after survey, employees place communication problems at the top of their frustration list.

Communication?

Yes, communication. Most managers spend so much time and effort communicating it’s hard for them to believe it could be a major problem. The paradox is that while employees are frustrated by a perceived lack of communication with their managers, most managers feel they are outstanding communicators. In a recent study, researchers asked a group of managers to evaluate their personal communication skills. The study discovered that 90% of the managers rated their communication skills in the top 10% of all managers. Obviously, 80% of the managers think they are better communicators than they actually are. Do you think their perceptions are a little off from reality?

We often hear that “communication is the key” or “leadership is communication” or any number of slogans about the importance of communication. These slogans are common because they’re true – communication is critical. It’s one of the most powerful tools managers have in their “toolbox.” Communication can be as tactical as posting the daily numbers or as strategic and profound as sharing the purpose and vision of the organization.

With so much emphasis on communication, how could it be such a big problem?

Actually, communication may not be the problem, and communicating more may not be the solution. In most cases, employees don’t need more information. Most of the information they receive doesn’t get read; that which gets read is frequently not understood; and that which is understood is usually not remembered.

The real problem is that the communication being delivered is not the same as, or connected with, the message being received. In other words, managers’ communication is often filled with so much “static” that the message is not understood, supported, or accepted by employees. The static preventing connected communication could be many things including ambiguity, confusion, inconsistency, conflict, or distrust.

What causes this communication static?

One factor is the proliferation of communication methods in recent years – e-mail, voice mail, meetings, conference calls, cell phones, pagers, memos, video, intranets, newsletters, etc. With so many options, we tend to pay more attention to how we’re going to communicate than what we’re going to communicate. In other words, it’s more about the method than the message.

As a result, most managers think of communication as an activity as opposed to an outcome. The focus is on producing slick graphics, writing a clever memo, or delivering a great presentation, instead of creating commitment, passion, and enthusiasm among employees.

Another reason for the communication static is we’ve forgotten that true communication is a two-way process. Some of the technological advances that have made communication easier have also de-personalized it. It’s not enough to just put out a message and hope employees “get it.” We have to follow up to be certain we connected – to make sure the message received was the same one we intended to give.

To effectively eliminate communication static and build understanding, support, and acceptance, we need to make a shift and think of communication as an outcome. To do that, we want to look at communication from the receiver’s perspective. We should ask the question, “What is my desired outcome with this communication? What do I want employees to think, feel, and do after receiving my message?”

At a minimum, our objective should be for others to understand our communication. But employees can clearly understand the message and still not agree with it or be willing to follow our direction. The ultimate goal is to build support and acceptance – to have receivers internalize your message, to move them to action. Understanding is intellectual; support and acceptance are emotional. It’s like the difference between compliance and commitmentwhich one would you rather have from your coworkers?”

Andrea McAfee

www.baylessengineering.com

“HEY LEADER, WAKE UP AND HEAR THE FEEDBACK!”

March 11, 2012 18 comments

This quote, written by Eric Harvey reminds us of important leadership objectives that many business leaders often neglect or forget in the heat of everyday “doing business”.

His team turned to those who truly know and understand what effective leadership feels and looks like. They surveyed thousands of working individuals from a full range of professions, experiences, and geographic locations – asking them one simple question:

“Based on your experience, what is it that truly effective and highly respected leaders DO?”

Over 500 responses were received from employees, team members, and leaders from all levels around the world – of which 145 were selected and assembled within the 10 topic chapters that comprise this work.

Following are some quotes from the first chapter focusing on learning and development that resonated with me.

The growth and development of people is the highest calling of leadership.
Harvey S. Firestone

An effective leader should always prepare the next person to take on a leadership role. A good way to do this is to identify a potential leader on your team. When the leader has been identified, talk with the person to ensure they have the same goals that you have for them. If both of you agree, start working with that person by setting expectations, encouraging leadership courses, attending meetings with you – or in your place, assigning high-level duties, and be open if he or she has a different way of approaching situations than you.
Kathy Ibrahim, Burlington, North Carolina

Many leaders are so busy leading that they neglect to take time to think, vision, plan, and develop themselves as people.
Tommy Echols, Cicero, New York

Remember that knowledge and experience are not for your secret memory file. When you have the benefit of knowledge and experience, don’t brag about them or use them as weapons for chastising your team. Instead, use them as tools for development. Share your knowledge and
experience so that others may learn. It does not take anything away from you, and can come back to you in multiple ways through the success of your team.
Nancy Springler, New Orleans, Louisiana

As an author, speaker, and writers’ group leader, I’ve learned that while it’s great to be organized, goal oriented, and enthusiastic, be wary of enjoying the sound of your own voice. A violin solo may be beautiful but lacks the strength of many instruments blended into a mighty orchestra. Become a group maestro by making eye contact and being aware of body language and the emotion behind the words. An active listener absorbs and repeats or rephrases the speaker’s words and seeks clarification: “So what I’m hearing you say is … Is that right?” Remember: Effective Leaders Listen!
Virginia Nygard, Port St. Lucie, Florida

My goal is to make my team members more effective – and prepare them to become my bosses through the use of the 5 “E”s. Empathize, Encourage, Educate, Empower, and Expect.
Freddie Cogburn, Maryville, Tennessee

Support others in reaching their own goals by asking them on a regular basis how they are getting on with the task at hand and offer them your help or experience if they need it. You could perhaps give them an example of a project you were working on and how someone else helped you meet your goal.
Julia Reedshaw, Leeds, West Yorkshire, UK

AND THIS IS MY FAVORITE QUOTE:
Truly effective leaders must be PRESENT! With the pace of change, globalization, technology advancements, and doing more with less, whatever happened to management by walking around? Too often in today’s environment, leaders are so distracted that they are disconnected as to what is happening with their people. One-on-ones are put off for other “strategic priorities” and performance feedback is infrequent – missing opportunities for meaningful, timely, and productive personal development discussions. All of this can lead to a distrusting, disjointed, and disenchanted environment.

Effective leaders are accessible and present; they consistently engage with their people, give their people their full attention, view their people as a priority, and develop them accordingly. They align their actions with their words, do what they say they are going to do, and equally reward good performance, as well as
uphold the consequences for poor performance.

Effective communication – an essential attribute of leadership – can often be lost in today’s fast-paced world of technology! Don’t miss the opportunities that managing by walking around can reveal! When was the last time you stopped by the desk of a direct report and asked, “How are things going? … What can I do
to help?” Your PRESENCE matters!
Tasha Delaney, East Fallowfield, Pennsylvania

Harvey’s closing comment adds a perspective we all should remember:
As a manager, act with the understanding that your management role has an objective of developing and encouraging others to succeed by doing the right task at the right time … every day … every week … every month … to become the best they can possibly be.

Andrea McAfee

Bayless Engineering & Manufacturing

www.baylessengineering.com

 

Eat that Frog!

October 25, 2011 4 comments

With more on our plates every day and time seeming to slip by at an increasingly rapid pace, this unique approach to time management from a book by Brian Tracy called “Eat That Frog! 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time” resonated strongly with me.

Get More Done In Less Time = Eat That Frog.

If you are like me, you are overwhelmed with too much to do and too little time. As you struggle to get caught up, new tasks and responsibilities keep rolling in, like the waves of the ocean. Because of this, you will never be able to do everything you have to do.

For this reason, and perhaps more than ever before, your ability as a leader is to select your most important task at each moment, and then to get started on that task, get it done both quickly and effectively. To help you and others be more effective and efficient, we must remember the story about frogs!

Mark Twain once said that if the first thing you do each morning is to eat a live frog, you can go through the day with the satisfaction of knowing that that is probably the worst thing that is going to happen to you all day long. Your “frog” is your biggest, most important task, the one you are mostly likely to procrastinate on if you don’t do something about it. It is also the one task that can have the greatest positive impact on your life and resultsfor you and your organization.

The first rule of frog eating is this:
If you have to eat two frogs, eat the ugliest one first.

 This is another way of saying that if you and those you lead have two important tasks before you, start with the biggest, hardest, and most important task first. Discipline yourself to begin immediately and then to persist until the task is complete before you go on to something else.

Although it’s so much easier to push off the “ugliest frog” in favor of fighting fires and cleaning up all the odds & ends and easy fixes, I think that frog eating should be my goal!

Andrea McAfee

Controller

Bayless Engineering & Manufacturing

Don’t miss the boat on customer service

March 6, 2011 2 comments

Much too often we miss the boat on the customer service/relations side of business.

I recently received a letter from a supplier sharing a particularly inspiring list of “ten important business words” to say to your customers originating in a book by Mac Anderson called “Customer Love”. I have followed each of the ten with my related thoughts.

  1. “I apologize for our mistake. We will make it right.”
    • We all miss the boat sometimes. Acknowledging the problem and promising to correct it will most likely keep your relationship from failing.
  2. “Thank you for your business. Please come back again.”
    • So many times these words are not spoken and always should be.
  3. “I am not sure but I will find out.”
    • It may be difficult to admit one’s lack of knowledge, and though humbling, honesty is always appreciated.
  4. “What else can I do for you?”
    • Never forget to ask for another opportunity to be of service.
  5. “What is most convenient for you?”
    • Keep in mind that your customer is the boss.
  6. “How may I serve you?”
    • Show your customer that his/her needs are your highest priority.
  7. “How did we do?”
    • Ask for a ”report card” so that you can learn where and how to improve.
  8. “Glad you’re here.”
    • Another way of making certain your customer feels welcome.
  9. “Thank you.”
    • Frequently remind the customer that they are appreciated.
  10. “Yes.”
    • Always your best response to any customer’s request.

I strongly feel that none of these listed phrases can be over-used in today’s highly competitive business environment. Whether you are a service or product driven organization, always remembering that the client/customer has a choice lends you the greatest advantage.

Andrea McAfee

Controller

Bayless Engineering & Manufacturing

www.baylessengineering.com

Supporting VIA

June 24, 2010 1 comment

Some of you might not expect a manufacturer to be one of the Valley Industry Association’s biggest supporters. However, during the many years of involvement in VIA, Bayless Engineering & Manufacturing and its related companies have continued to benefit in numerous ways through their VIA memberships.

VIA offers its members an excellent means to connect with the best of our local service organizations such as; advertising agencies, banks, environmental, insurance, staffing, technology, and various consulting firms. Looking at VIA’s member directory you can see a wealth of other industries showing how diversified the membership is.

Another impressive value to members is access to our colleges, the City, their services, and to the many Government Officials who continue to support the VIA membership.

The Valley Industry Association, almost 30 years in existence, is experiencing current and continued growth with newly added objectives for value to members. Bayless and group look forward to many more years of association with VIA.

Andrea McAfee

Controller

Bayless Engineering & Manufacturing

http://www.baylessengineering.com/