In a few days, SteveBellNow will have completed its fourth year of being out there. The site has come a long ways from the initial thoughts. I wanted to take my writing of an internal blog, externally. Sharing my experiences! I wanted to share my passions for leading organizations, coaching sports and just my travels to different places. Things change… I don’t coach ice hockey anymore, but I did get an opportunity to coach my grand daughter and he 3/4 year old soccer team! I don’t have my internal company blog anymore, as I have retired. Some things remain the same… I still have a passion for sharing my experiences with leading organizations. I still write about my overall observations, but they sometimes take on a political stand (which I really don’t want to write about). Politics gives me plenty of opportunity to apply my passion for leading organizations. Unfortunately, most of the examples I get to share are more on the what not to do variety.
Some things are new…
- Sharing my new experiences as I now work for myself. I am now using my experiences to help consult with organizations to help them. Starting up a business is definitely new…
- I am doing plenty of volunteer work. I hope to take my experiences with being a volunteer to bigger and better highs, by helping to process engineering the volunteer life cycle and help make the overall experience better for all involved. I bet we can all share some good, bad and ugly stories around the volunteer life cycle.
I want to thank those that regularly stop by SteveBellNow! I am going to keep on writing… In advance, I hope that you will enjoy some of the new items that I will be putting up on my volunteer reprocessing thoughts and my continued efforts of sharing my experiences on leading individuals/organizations.
Thanks again! Steve
I have been going to the gym close to my house for about 3 years, only taking a break or two for hip replacement and knee surgery. I really enjoy going and getting the muscles fired up. It really gives me some pep for the rest of the day. This past week, I doing my workouts, I have been listening to the personal trainers and their clients interactions. Back when I first started at the gym, I decided to use a personal trainer to help me navigate what exercises I should do due to the injuries I have encountered over the years. I did not want to undo any of the work that the doctors have done! It was a great time. Since we are in less than two months of the new year, I thought why not send this week listening to what excuses clients told their trainers…
Here are a few of the excuses as told by the client to their personal trainer.
- I wish I could find a time that is more convenient for me. Everyone is busy. If you are going to the gym to get in shape, lose weight or just keep fit – you have a reason and it should be priorities in with the list of all of those other time-consuming items. For me, it was getting up early and forcing myself to go in before work. My trainer was open to being an early riser as well. Time is what you make of it!
- It has been a two weeks. Why only 8 pounds? 8 pounds seems pretty good to me. I guess watching the folks on the Biggest Loser has folks setting some lofty expectations. The trainer was 8 lbs is better by 2 lbs than what we discussed at the beginning. Set realistic expectations!
- I don’t know what happened. I can’t image why I gained weight. Not sure why? The log that you were supposed to fill out was empty. Maybe if you did the work that was required of you, you probably would understand why. Do the work!
- I only cheated a little bit. You said to celebrate my milestone. This one was pretty good. I overheard the celebration and believe me, I don’t think the trainer said for an evening of pizza, beer and ice cream was the ticket. Celebrate success, but do it within reason.
- You just don’t understand me. I am fat and I can not do this stuff. Getting frustrated and providing excuses is a why of life. If you want to turn your situation around, then you have to be the one to do that. A personal trainer is there to help facilitate that change within the gym and eating habits. Helping to motivate you to get to “your” goals. Take the necessary steps, yourself. Use the help that is being provided.
- I can’t do it! Can’t means you don’t want to try. Give it a go, you may not be great at first, but you wanted be great without trying.
When I look at this list, I see the same things that when I was managing people, I used to get from time to time. The same advice I applied to those situations can easily be applied to just about everything in life. Set realistic expectations, make time, do the work, celebrate wins within reason, “you” control the effort and never say “can’t”.
Category: New To Management
One important item that a US Army Colonel told me when I was just a newbie second lieutenant, “you are only as good as your people.” My first assignment was a platoon leader in an engineering company. He made it very clear that my success would be directly tied to the overall success of my platoon. I can think back over my career and remember managers that frankly never understood that principle. Their success was probably at the expense of their team. I can safely say that that the Colonel’s one piece of advice I have carried with me for many years.
The Colonel went on deeper to give me a basic understanding of what that meant. He shared that my platoon has experiences that I don’t have. I need to learn to listen before acting. Lastly, never forget that you are here for them. Over my years of experience, I have learned to hone in on what I believe should go into that one principle.
- Train Them Well: Provide every one of your people with the necessary training to be able to do their job in an outstanding manner. Average is not good enough. Many times we see situations or outcomes that look like they just go by. That is because we are okay with accepting just getting by or average work. I am competitive and average is not good enough. The military taught me that average could get someone killed. Be outstanding and your mission will be successful (and everyone will come home!).
- Coach Them Up: Ensuring that they are prepared 100%. Giving them your expectations, the schedule and following up along the way. Recently I posted about coaching 3 and 4 year olds in soccer. Those players wanted to be win (even though we did not keep score) and they wanted their parents (and my) approval. Giving them the expectations and helping coach them before, during and after the game helped them to improve and do some pretty amazing things. This by no means is an easy task, but one that you need to really develop.
- Listen To Them: It is so easy for managers and leaders to do all the talking. I think it is expected. A great leader listens more than they speak. As a newbie second lieutenant or a newbie manager, you don’t know everything. In fact, you probably don’t know much. Those eyes that are looking at you, do. Ask questions and make sure that you truly listen. The information you get could insure that you get it right.
- Have Fun: Some of you are thinking, why is having fun in with you are only as good as your people? Well, that is simple. Think about how much time you spend at work. Quite a bit right? Think about your best job or activity that quickly comes to your mind. What is some thing that made that stand out in your head? For me, it is we worked hard and played hard together and accomplished some pretty incredible things. We had fun doing it!
If you are in a leadership position and don’t think your success is dependent upon your team’s success – you are going to fail.
I know what people are probably thinking. How can you get leadership lessons from coaching 3/4 year olds? I believe you can learn from every situation that you are in. You just have to be willing to look at the complete experience. Or maybe you are thinking, are you going to compare adults to 3/4 years olds? Not really. There are some basics that do apply in every situation. First let me set the stage… I have been coaching youth sports most of my adult life. I love coaching! I have not done any coaching for a few years (hip replacement surgeries). Most of my coaching career has followed the ages of my children. Those children are now adults over 25. Most of the coaching that I had done for the past 10 years has been with high school age hockey players. My daughter sends me a text that she has signed up my grand daughter for soccer and the league is short coaches (she volunteered me if they don’t get another parent volunteer). I was excited to coach my grand daughter’s team. Six full of energy three and four year olds that have never played soccer before. Of course, if you have seen 3/4 year old soccer – you would call it bee hive soccer (everyone going after the ball (honey) together). With mixed emotions, our season is coming to a close. We have two games left…
What are the leadership lessons?
- Plan with flexibility: Since I had not coached that age group in a very long time, I had to spend sometime learning what I should do. With all of my other coaching gigs, I had practice plans that were designed to help teach players how to become better at their craft. Since the players were older, some of the basics were already there. With this age group, you have to definitely have patience and keep a positive outlook when things don’t go well. Planning with flexibility means keep some extra stuff in your pocket for when the item you wanted to work on, is not working. You have to react quickly and in a positive manner.
- Teach, demonstrate, watch and follow-up: When coaching a drill, you have to not only descript what you want them to do, you show them as well. Let them try it… Make the slight modifications to get them close to what you wanted. Praise them! I know that maybe you don’t have to spend much time in the teach and demonstrate side when you are dealing with adults. You do have to monitor and follow-up!
- Patience: Remember why you are there. You are there to have fun and teach them some of the skills to help them with soccer in the future. Mistakes are going to happen, probably more than you think. You just have to be patient and keep encouraging them to success. With my team’s players – they want to please me and their parents. They look for the smiles, thumbs up and high fives – to them that is great stuff. I had to learn that the first practice. Soccer is a game of not using your hands. We talked about it! We corrected the situation when it happened. After the 20th time, I was losing my patience. Next practice, we put something in their hands to keep away from using their hands with the soccer ball.
- Have fun: For me, having fun is in everything that I do. With the 3/4 year olds – they only know to have fun. Being competitive is just starting to happen with some of them. So, you have to watch out for how they react to success and disappointment. Keeping them focused on the fun aspect! The one thing I can count on, is after the game – they move onto the next part – getting their snacks and coming home. No one player is sad. They are all happy! To me, that is some good stuff.
As you can see many of the lessons learned can be applied to every coaching/leadership situation. I have to say it was fun coaching those kids. They are a handful, but it is a fun handful.
I happened to run into a person that I never met or communicated with the other night at Ignite Phoenix. I was volunteering to help out the Ignite Phoenix team put on another outstanding event. It was their 13th one… I must get back to the subject of my post. This person came up to me, introduced themselves and then talked about how he has read my blogs and had a management question for me. He asked, “when do you know it is time to get rid of an employee?” He pointed out that I had never added a post to my blog about that very subject. Definitely was a good topic to add. So here it goes…
When I think back to my experiences, dismissing an employee is one of a managers most difficult tasks (or it should be). You go through the interviewing, hiring, training and working with an employee with the hopes that everything will work out well. Well, that is the way we would all like to see it. The last thing on your mind, is dismissing someone that you have invested time and money in. So, what are those signs that you need to say “it is time?”
- Work not getting done: Let’s face it, this is a no brainer. If a person is not getting their work completed on-time or within acceptable standards – much further discussion must happen quickly. Figuring out the what, why and how things will improve are critical for getting back on track. Setting up recovery plans or corrective action plans (just depends on your particular companies actions) need to happen. Always document discussions, plans and progress to plans – it is in both parties best interest.
- Lack of enthusiasm: As a manager, you can see when a persons level of interest or passion starts to vary from their past. When you start to witness this, you now have yet another red flag. Let’s face it, from time to time there are much more going on then just work. Getting distracted or missing that usual spark happens to everyone from time to time. A simple, “I’ve noticed that you are not your usual self. What is up?” works for the moment. When you start to see that enthusiasm continue to be lacking then it maybe time.
- Being late or calling in absent: When you have already pointed out that work is not getting done. When you have asked the questions about “what’s up?” If you haven’t already noticed, you will soon. The commitment level of getting to work will start to diminish.
- Complaining becomes the only communication: From time to time, people will complain about something. We all have stuff that we would like to see better. What I am talking about is almost every communication that comes from an employee that is in trouble – they will start to complain about every little item. Especially, everything that they can focus on that could potentially point to a reason why they are not working well. I like to call it the coming up with excuses (or maybe rationalizing their upcoming dismissal).
- Team’s morale is hit: Everything that I have written about in my blog points to the groups that I have led as a team. We are that! When my team is effected by a person’s performance and behavior it definitely points to a sign that it is about time to dismiss the problem. A well working team can not overcome a person that is dragging them down. Try as they might, it just does not happen.
There is other, more immediate reasons like safety, not calling into work when being absent, failing background checks or failing a drug test.
My focus has been on the performance management and those signs that when you all have tried but can’t move forward. Waiting too long is not good… The team will see that you, as the leader, are weak. Now that you know it is time, you have to pull the trigger. Of course, you have to make sure that you have done everything that you can. Most companies have a process for following through to insure you have legally done everything. Make sure that early on, you are following those steps. My only word of caution is – document everything along the way…
, New To Management
, Leading Teams
, performance management