Posts in Behavior

There May Never be a Perfect Time to Take Time Off – So Just Do It

August 15th, 2018 Posted by Behavior, Blog Post 0 thoughts on “There May Never be a Perfect Time to Take Time Off – So Just Do It”

Even though we were in the heat of redesigning the Plan Canvas software, as well as working on our go-to-market strategy, every member of the small-but-mighty Plan Canvas team took time off over the last 4 weeks. Why would we do such a crazy thing just when things were so hectic?

Because things have been so hectic

The human body and brain are not infallible, perfect machines. They wear down and break down. They need to be refueled. From time-to-time, they need to be shut down for maintenance.

Even if what you do is something you just can’t wait to get up and do all over again tomorrow, you still need to take a break from time-to-time. Imagine you are at an amusement park with one particular roller coaster you simply love. As soon as one ride is over, you race right back into line to do it again.

How many times will you do that before you say, “That’s enough… for now.”

We need variety and we need a break

Every day you should seek a “time out” – to have a chance for your brain to shut down a little. Exercise. Take a nap. Read a book. Play with the dog. Sit on the back porch with your beverage of choice. Something, anything, that is not work. The work isn’t going anywhere. It will be there when you get back.

The same is true of vacation, whether it’s stay-at-home or you actually go somewhere – make it a vacation. Turn off the computer. Put the phone on silent, put it down, or put it away. Eat something you’ve never eaten before. Walk somewhere you’ve never walked before.

Shutting down is valuable

If it’s been awhile since you’ve done that, you have a perfect excuse coming up. Labor Day is just around the corner. Monday, September 3. Most of you will have that day off. If so, do something valuable with the long weekend.

Like shut down and relax a little.

Doing Nothing is a Choice

May 15th, 2018 Posted by Behavior, Blog Post 0 thoughts on “Doing Nothing is a Choice”

In Business is ART, author and Plan Canvas founder, Jon Umstead tells the story of Larry, a former co-worker who used to say, “If at first you don’t succeed, keep on sucking ‘til you do succeed.”

It was Larry’s way of saying that you shouldn’t be afraid to try again. Take the leap of faith that you have learned from past experience, applied that knowledge, and are now better prepared to go after it, whatever “it” is.

Sometimes, we latch on to an idea and, no matter what, we vow to overcome any obstacle to turn that idea into a reality But often, that idea is just a fleeting moment.

Why is that?

Sometimes it just isn’t all that great an idea

The human brain is a marvel. It’s always functioning at levels we cannot understand until it ceases to function altogether. Ideas, imaginings, and creations are invented inside our heads all the time.

How many times do we hear the story of someone who got rich on one simple idea and say, “Why didn’t I think of that?”

Or worse, “I thought of that 10 years ago. That was my idea!”

A lot of the time, the idea is just not that good to begin with. So, we let it go. Other times, it is a good idea but we still let it go.

How come?

Sometimes there is no legitimate path forward

Plans are developed not only to see the path forward, but also to identify the hurdles and road blocks along the way. You then have to make determinations like how to get over or around them and if it is possible to do so.

The trick is in making logical decisions based on reality, versus emotional decisions based on fear.

I can do this – but should I?

It is perfectly normal and even good to have fear, especially when taking leaps of faith. It is not OK to let that fear paralyze you into inaction.

Have you ever been faced with a decision that felt like a speeding truck was headed directly for you? You have no idea what lies on the left or the right side of the road. Jumping to either means jumping into the unknown. But if you continue to stand there, the truck will probably hit you. Unless it swerves. What if you jump left and the truck swerves in the same direction? What if it brakes and stops just short of hitting you?

What do you do? Maybe the jump will leave you in no better condition than had the truck hit you. Maybe you end up in the same condition you were in before you even noticed the truck barreling at you. Maybe you end up in a condition that is far better than the one you just left.

Rarely is there one right answer for any situation. There are simply choices to be made. Doing nothing is one of them.

One of These Attitudes Will Get You Far

April 17th, 2018 Posted by Behavior, Blog Post, Strategy Execution 0 thoughts on “One of These Attitudes Will Get You Far”

The majority of this post is an excerpt from our soon-to-be released white paper entitled “Strategy Execution Improvement Requires Institutional Change.”

Before getting to it, we would like to add an editorial note to say the title perhaps should be expanded to include, “And it requires individual change as well.”

During a recent demonstration of Plan Canvas, an entrepreneur commented that seeing a list of past due items in a dashboard and receiving an email indicating the item is coming due or is past due would “discourage the user” to the point of inactivity.

If that is really true, perhaps it is no wonder so many businesses and strategies fail.

The ironic thing about it is that the software isn’t telling you what to do…it’s reminding you of what you, yourself, said you’d do, or that you assigned someone else to do it. If you don’t need subtle reminders, you probably don’t need Plan Canvas (or any other tool).

But if you can’t keep it all straight in your head, or through round table discussions over coffee and diet soda, you just might benefit from Plan Canvas.

White paper excerpt

A vast majority of strategic initiatives fail. The obvious reason to be concerned with this is the resulting, tremendous, amount of waste – wasted time, money, effort, energy, and emotion.

The less obvious reason is the immeasurable lost opportunity, taking the form of missed potential to gain momentum, survive and thrive, versus the real potential for loss of market share and extinction of the business.

Saying that we need to do a better job of implementing successful strategies is comparable to saying we need to do a better job at diet and exercise. We know it is good for us, but find doing it difficult and unappealing.

For many of us, it is only after years of unhealthy eating and lack of exercise have negatively impacted our lives that we decide to make a change. At that point, “why” becomes, literally, painfully obvious. Unfortunately, it is often too late to reverse the impacts that could have been avoided in the first place.

The same is true of business and enterprise strategy. An institutional change is in order. Key to that is understanding and acknowledging why it is important, then acting on it before the negative impacts occur.

There are numerous reasons to focus on improving strategic outcomes, but all are a matter of momentum, surviving, and thriving.

Included herein are three critical business success factors, each representing an example of why improved strategy execution is essential:

  1. Cost Optimization
  2. Digitization, Digitalization and Digital Business Transformation
  3. Employee and Customer Engagement

Check your attitudes

The white paper goes on to explain these 3 examples in more detail, why they are each important, and how building them in to your culture or strategy is vital, before further discussing how to improve strategy outcomes.

For an advance copy of the white paper in its entirety, please contact us.

But whatever you do, consider this – there are 2 ways to look at it when viewing a list of things you have yet to accomplish:

  1. Be proud of what you’ve done so far and use that pride as motivation to keep tackling the list.
  2. Be discouraged by the list itself, fold tent and retreat.

One of these two attitudes will get you far. The other, not so much.

10 Ways to Create Disengaged Employees

March 14th, 2018 Posted by Behavior, Blog Post, Engagement, Leadership 0 thoughts on “10 Ways to Create Disengaged Employees”

It’s easy to find advice on how to improve employee engagement, some good, some useless. Here are some ways to create DISENGAGED employees. Our advice? Don’t do the things listed here.

Employee Engagement Begins With You

March 7th, 2018 Posted by Behavior, Blog Post, Engagement 0 thoughts on “Employee Engagement Begins With You”

There is a lot of advice available to us on ways to improve employee engagement, but, the truth is, it begins with you. We often overlook that simple reality.

No matter where you are in your career, role, or position, while on the job, you are constantly on display. Your body language, facial expressions, tone of voice, and the words you choose matter – and they impact others around you.

To better make the point, the following is an excerpt from the book Business is ART.

An Excerpt from Business is ART, Chapter Five

One day, I came into the office after having a significant disagreement with a family member. I reacted poorly to the emotion of hurt and anger that I was feeling and let the disagreement influence my workplace behavior.

When I got into the office, instead of greeting people in my usual friendly way, I entered the break room with a scowl on my face, not looking at or engaging with anyone. I simply poured a cup of coffee and hurried back to my desk.

Later, one of the most trusted members of my leadership team knocked on my door and suggested that we needed to talk in private.

He closed the door and asked in a very concerned tone, “Are we going to announce layoffs?”

The question stunned me. We were growing. We were profitable. We had a couple of small layoffs early on in our path to $50 million, but that was part of the plan. I didn’t know where the concern was coming from.

“No. Why?”

“There’s a rumor going around.”

“How did that get started?”

“Some employees were in the break room this morning and said you wouldn’t even look them in the eye, so they started speculating about what was wrong. Then they concluded you couldn’t look them in the eye because you are going to lay some of them off.”

I started the rumor. Not knowingly or intentionally, but because I was not paying attention to my own behavior.

You are constantly on display

Employee engagement begins with you. At work, you are constantly on display.

Before taking on any new initiatives to boost employee engagement, take a good, hard look in the mirror and ask, “How can modifying my own behavior make a change for the better?”

Quit Calling Objectives “Goals” – Just Quit It

January 22nd, 2018 Posted by Behavior, Blog Post, Business is ART, Goal, Objective 0 thoughts on “Quit Calling Objectives “Goals” – Just Quit It”

This might be a little nit-picky, but, there is a difference between goals and objectives. Goals, by nature, are not particularly SMART…you know:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Realistic
  • Time-bound

These are actually the characteristics of well-defined objectives. You measure your progress toward achievement of goals through objectives. Objectives support goals.

We said that goals are not particularly SMART. That is more than just a cute play on words and acronyms. Goals are more of a destination – more like an “Are we there yet?”

SMART objectives invite you to be realistic and in a hurry. Goals invite you to dream big and be more concerned with the getting there than the speed with which you do.

That’s why we take a little bit of umbrage with this article at Entrepreneur entitled Set Goals for Your Employees. Don’t get us wrong, we completely agree with setting goals for employees.

And at the risk of sounding a little Sheldon Cooper-ish, we actually do agree with the content of the article – as long as you substitute the word “objective” in 95% of the instances the article actually uses the word “goal.”

With that in mind, here are a few comments on the main points/recommendations of the article:

  1. “Set goals with employees” – Yes! We love it. This is part of including your employees in developing the strategy. It adds buy-in and promotes an environment in which employees are engaged.
  2. “Reevaluate goals frequently” – No! Not unless you frequently change your mind about where you want to go (a goal is a destination). But do frequently evaluate objectives.
  3. “Make goals specific and measurable” – No! Goals are decidedly grandiose and not measurable in themselves. Make supporting objectives SMART which includes their being specific and measurable.
  4. “Goals don’t have to be tied to sales” – Correct! Nor profits. We like value-based goals as opposed to profit and sales driven goals. Focus on the types of goals that will really get employees engaged in the business on an emotional level.
  5. “Make sure employees goals are attainable” – No! Goals are big and lofty. Never measure an employee’s performance based on big, lofty goals. Rather, do it on objectives, which, yes, should be attainable.
  6. “Be consistent” – Absolutely. And you can start by consistently not misusing the word “goal” in place of the word “objective.”
  7. “Watch your timing” – Wrong! Not for goals. They are long term. Objectives are time-bound.
  8. “Avoid rivalry” – Ehhhh….this one feels a little like “everyone gets a participation trophy.” A little FRIENDLY rivalry in-house can be healthy. Just don’t allow it to create clicks and jerks.
  9. “Set goals that tie employees into the success of your company” – Correct! Set objectives that tie employees into the success of your company.

This might all sound a little nit-picky, but it is important to remember the distinction between goals and objectives. Know the difference and plan accordingly.

PUT IT TO USE!

Reach Your Goals with Measurable Objectives

Now that you know the difference between “Goals” and “Objectives”, let’s put that knowledge to use! Plan Canvas helps you identify, communicate and track goals, objectives, initiatives, action items and more in one convenient, easy to access, easy to use tool.

If You Know Better Do Better

January 10th, 2018 Posted by Behavior, Blog Post, Goal, Objective 0 thoughts on “If You Know Better Do Better”

We recently heard the story of a hard-working retail cashier, stressed from the holidays, managing to keep her cool in the face of rude customers.

One particularly disrespectful customer reflected on his actions, returned to the store, and fell just short of an apology by saying, “That wasn’t your fault. I know better.”

A genuine apology for his behavior would have been better, and perhaps would not have resulted in this response from the cashier, “If you know better, do better.”

That’s really some great advice for all of us. If we know better, lets do better.

Not another list!

We don’t need to give you yet another list of the things you can be doing better on, be they professional, personal or societal things. There’s no shortage, so pick a few that are most important to you and run with them.

An article at the New York Times entitled How to Do Things Better in 2018 lists and describes 10 things you can focus on (and why), but then goes on to provide links to unique pieces that actually get in to HOW to do better on that particular item.

The article focuses mostly on personal, but also on a few professional areas, such as “How to Build a Successful team.”

Guess what the first step is?

If you guessed, “Make a Plan,” you guessed correctly.

More to the point, the article says, “You need a clear and measurable goal for what you want to accomplish.”

We agree with the intent of that statement, but we are also a little nerdy when it comes to using terminology. You really need clear and measurable OBJECTIVES that support your loftier GOALS. Goals in and of themselves are more of a destination, otherwise, not really measurable beyond “Are we there yet?’

But all nerdiness aside, make a plan and make things measurable. But to that point, make it actionable.

Keep it Simple…Seriously (we object to calling anyone “stupid” so “seriously” is a good substitute)

Meanwhile, Inc. has posted an article entitled 3 Simple Habits I’m Making in 2018 to Drive Better Results. In it, the author’s 3rd simple habit is “Discipline through simplicity,” and, again, we couldn’t agree more.

Plan Canvas is built on the “KISS” model – Keep it Simple, Seriously. So often we just make things too complicated. Take a look at the things you do and ask yourself how you can simplify. Challenge yourself and your team. Make a game of it. There is always a way.

As the new year gets going….

We all know we CAN do better. And as the cashier said, “If you know better, do better.”

That’s the kind of simplicity we can live with.

How Do I Stick to New Year’s Resolutions – We Object to The Question

January 2nd, 2018 Posted by Behavior, Blog Post 0 thoughts on “How Do I Stick to New Year’s Resolutions – We Object to The Question”

How do you stick to New Year’s Resolutions?

If you just heard a collective “Ugh” from the Plan Canvas team, it’s because that is an old, tired question that begins with an assumption that, every year, we have to make new resolutions because we just couldn’t stick to them the year before.

But, hey, all the cool kids are doing it, so let’s jump on the how-to-stick-to-new-years-resolutions bandwagon and offer up a few thoughts.

The feel-good stuff is important, but not everything

To be clear, we believe strongly in the feel-good, softer-side of things, like maintaining a positive attitude, doing for others, and pursuing value-based versus profit-driven goals. We believe in pursuing a purpose that is greater than ourselves.

There is a lot to be said for and a lot that can be accomplished through a focus on these things, but, we have to be a little more pragmatic than just thinking about feel-good, softer-sided stuff.

For example, an article at Inc. entitled Three Tips to Help You Follow Through On Your New Year’s Resolutions recommends the following:

  • Don’t be a harsh critic
  • Be a better motivator
  • Develop self-compassion

These are all excellent character points that make a lot of sense. But in summary, what the article is saying is, “be a better person and you’re more likely to follow through with resolutions.”

There is even some lab work to support this position, but, call us cautiously skeptical. Some of the most hateful people in history were also the most resolved. And how many really nice people do you know that never seem to be able to stick to resolutions?

Which leads us to say…

Check out Plan Canvas

Click here for a list of features, functions and a demo

We are sorry to say, it takes discipline

You can’t just snap your fingers and say, “I am now a better person. I am now more resolved to stick to resolutions than I was prior to the snapping of the fingers!”

Hey, we’d rather have lean muscle mass and a healthy heart without having to worry about nutrition and exercise, but, it doesn’t work that way. Unfortunately, like anything else worth having, resolve takes discipline.

Are there any magic steps?

Not really. But here are a few steps to follow:

Step One. Define what you want to accomplish. Just say it out loud. Then write it down.

Step Two. Make a proclamation – a mental snapping of the fingers as in to say, “I am going to do this.”

Step Three. This is followed closely by a proclamation that not only are you going to do this, but you’ve GOT this! A positive attitude will dramatically improve the likelihood of a successful outcome, so, you have to genuinely believe you can do it.

Step Four. Track and record your progress. If there is a magic step at all, it’s this one. As you record progress, you begin seeing advances – even if tiny advances. Your mind starts to truly believe, “Hey, I REALLY CAN do this.” You begin to protect that forward progress because you worked hard to achieve it. No one, not even you yourself, is going to steal it away from you.

Step Five. Keep doing Steps 1 thru 4. Make them a habit.

A great place to start

Plan Canvas includes a Personal Plan designed for any individual to use. It focuses on 4 major categories including:

  • Career
  • Current Job
  • Personal/Family
  • Spirituality

It asks you to document what you want to include in each of those categories – over the short term, mid-term, and long term. You can think of these as your resolutions (and you don’t need a new year to make them).

Most importantly, it then asks you to specify the actions you will take to accomplish those resolutions. Feel-good stuff is necessary but feeling good doesn’t get it done. You have to take action.

Get a coach!

Whatever tools you use, even if it’s just writing your resolutions on a napkin, ask someone to be your coach. It’s the best way to help you hold yourself accountable. The coach can help you keep track of progress, remind you that you are making progress, help you maintain a positive attitude, and be a sounding board for your ideas, no matter how “crazy” they are.

Click here to see our consultant/coach services. Whether it’s ours, someone else’s, paid, or unpaid – GET A COACH!

Here is to the year 2018. May it be a good one.

Great Ideas for 2018 – A Resolution Revolution

December 19th, 2017 Posted by Behavior, Blog Post, Business Plan, Entrepreneur, Goal, Inspiration, Strategic Planning 0 thoughts on “Great Ideas for 2018 – A Resolution Revolution”

Let’s make 2018 the year of the resolution revolution. No more empty promises that fizzle out within the first 2 to 6 weeks. Let’s get serious this time.

An article at The Balance entitled Top New Year’s Resolutions for Business Success has some easy, actionable ideas that we really like a lot, particularly:

  • Make business planning a weekly event
  • Set realistic goals
  • Join a new business organization or networking group
  • Give something back to your community

Of course we like them because they are essentially some of the basic premises on which Plan Canvas is built. Let’s take a look at them a little more closely.

Resolution 1 – Business planning as a weekly event

Honestly, as much as we love business planning, doing it weekly may be a bit of an over-reach. But there are some things relative to the business plan that really should be done weekly. Namely:

  • Review progress against both the strategic and the business plan on a weekly basis. Note, some objectives may only require monthly or quarterly progress checks.
  • Review progress against assigned action items, internal initiatives, and client projects.

Whatever you do, do not write a business plan that is never referred to, tracked against, or updated. Otherwise, you are missing out on the primary benefits of strategically managing a plan – greater results.

Resolution 2 – Set realistic goals

Again, if we are being completely honest, we are OK with setting goals that might seem a little “out there.” Goals should be big, lofty things. Add a dose of reality but think and dream big when setting goals.

Now objectives are another story. Objectives let you know how you are progressing toward goals. One objective may support many goals and one goal is likely to be supported by many objectives. By nature, objectives should be realistic.

In fact that is one of 5 characteristics of a well defined SMART objective:

  • S – Specific
  • M – Measurable
  • A – Achievable
  • R – Realistic
  • T – Time-bound

Join Our Online Mastermind Group!

It's lonely at the top - join your peers for support and to support them

Resolution 3 – Join a new business organization or networking group

There are two primary types of groups we highly encourage you to join. One is a business networking group. The other is a peer mastermind group.

Networking groups are focused on growing your business through referrals. In these types of groups you get to know others on a more personal level, building relationships to the point that you mutually, genuinely refer each others’ business, products or services to others – key because it is also your reputation on the line when you refer others to people in your own network.

Peer mastermind groups, are not networking groups at all. They are work groups designed to help members resolve business and personal issues that affect the business. A well run mastermind group “rolls up the sleeves and gets to work.” It is not about socializing over cocktails and business referrals.

Resolution 4 – Give something back to your community

We saved the best for last. Giving back through your business is called “Corporate Social Responsibility” or CSR. Formally defining a CSR program for your business, no matter what size, actually increases your odds of success.

We call it setting value-based goals as opposed to profit-driven goals. When you focus CSR goals, then employee goals, then customer goals, your profit goals will naturally follow and you will feel much more fulfilled.

Resolution 5 – Be intentional in 2018

The year 2018. Here it comes. What will you do? Will you wait and see what happens, or will you intentionally lay out a plan and go after it?

When Your Boss has the Attention Span of a Gnat

October 25th, 2017 Posted by Behavior, Blog Post 0 thoughts on “When Your Boss has the Attention Span of a Gnat”

Have you ever heard someone say, “My boss has the attention span of a gnat?” Have you ever said it about someone else?

Perhaps you should think twice before ever saying it again. Not only is it demeaning, the very characteristic you are complaining about can actually be a good thing. In fact, it is a very common characteristic in successful leaders.

A post at The Balance entitled The Common Traits of Successful Senior Executives says that one of them, number 13, is as follows:

“They multitask and tend to exhibit short attention spans. Unfortunately, this behavior is often perceived by others as not paying attention or caring. They often have to learn the behaviors of how to listen and show people that they are listening.”

But what if it goes beyond exhibited or perceived behavior, someone you work with or for actually has ADHD, and hasn’t learned to listen or show people she or he is listening?

For a methodical/analytical person, this can be very frustrating. Likewise, it can be a very frustrating proposition for the person with ADHD to work with the very methodical person.

The good news is that both can be very successful and happy in a working relationship by following just a few simple tips.

Start by accentuating the positive

It helps to first understand each other, then accentuate the positives.

For example, someone with ADHD may have many characteristics and behaviors that can be of benefit to the team. An article at Inc. entitled How People With ADHD Can Be Hugely Successful lists 8 “superpowers” of individuals with ADHD as follows:

  1. Unlimited energy
  2. Hyperfocus
  3. Abundant creativity
  4. Simple solutions
  5. Risk without thinking
  6. Multitasking
  7. Stubbornness
  8. Sensitivity

Now that you see the positive aspects in the other person, start thinking about how everyone can use them to the team’s advantage (mutual benefit).

Learn how to work with others who are different from you

You may have to learn how to work with one another. Do a little research. Take a class or attend a seminar. There is a lot of good information available to you if you just take a little time to find and study it.

For example, a blog post at PsychCentral entitled 5 Tips for Working with Someone with ADHD lists these five suggestions for working effectively together:

  • Keep explanations concise, to-the-point and high-level
  • If you’re feeling ignored, speak up
  • If something is time-sensitive, give a deadline
  • Don’t micromanage
  • Don’t make ADHD symptoms about character

Now think of the make-up of the team

Sometimes opposites attract. Sometimes, partnering up a methodical individual and an individual with ADHD can bring about tremendous results. Sometimes it can be a colossal failure. It may very well depend on how extreme the individuals are from one another. If either or both have the ability to be flexible and work outside of their comfort zones, even a little, things can work out. But if neither can, a third party mediator or coach may be required.

The third party would have to be able to easily maneuver from one extreme to the other without frustration or judgment in order to serve as a calming force between the two vessels. But without that balance, one may lead the team to chaotic explosion while the other may lead the team to paralyzing implosion. So give that some thought before building the team and be flexible to change once the team is built.

Set a few soft boundaries

If you work with or for someone whose characteristics and behaviors are different from your own, you have to be very flexible while simultaneously setting some soft boundaries. Here are a few suggestions for doing so:

  • Begin your day early and in isolation in order to get certain things accomplished or to allow someone else to have this same “quiet time” – make these things a priority during this time (don’t get distracted yourself)
  • If you can’t start early, set aside time each day during normal hours for the same purpose
  • Accept that the rest of your day may feel like organized chaos – be prepared for multiple impromptu meetings, calls, emails and requests if someone you work with has ADHD and be prepared for long periods of not hearing from someone if they are a very methodical/analytical thinker
  • In addition to the scheduled quiet time, and frequent impromptu meetings, schedule time together for a specific purpose and stay focused on that purpose when you are together
  • Keep track of things by writing them down or recording them in tools like Plan Canvas – then consistently ask each other which of these items have the highest priority
  • Practice listening – often the other individual just needs to “think out loud” and isn’t really looking for your feedback as they do – don’t underestimate the value of being a sounding board in this way

Finally, when you feel frustrated, take a deep breath and remember that while you are thinking the other person has the attention span of a gnat, that other person is probably thinking that if you were any more anally retentive you couldn’t sit down for fear of sucking up the furniture.

And most importantly, in neither case, is it about character. It is about learning to effectively work together and utilizing each others’ strengths in ways that are most positively impactful for all concerned.

Plan Canvas is a community and a powerful software for improving your odds of business success and personal fulfillment.

© SeaSeven LLC 2017.
Developed with FRW Studios.