Opening Day

A friend of mine raised up this clip this morning.  Thought it was appropriate to share today — Opening Day 2014.

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Stop Making Simple Things Hard

This is the first post for me in a long time.  I have been going through a lot at work, and happy to say they are all good problems.

I have been doing some reflection lately, and I have come up with a series of posts that I will be rolling out.  They are a more generalized version of what I plan to share with my team next week as we are beginning a new year.  Here we go!

How many times have we all just blindly done things the same way just because it’s “how we always have done it?”  I am guilty of it far too often.  This past year, I experienced a situation where I was asked by my boss to do an important report for an executive.  Reading the request, I couldn’t help thinking how easy this should have been, but it wasn’t.  It was difficult only because the information was scattered across a number of people, network and cloud drives.  Meanwhile, I had to take a business trip to meet with an internal customer.  I was forced to make a choice about whether or not I should follow through a make the trip, as the deadline was not negotiable.  I ended up cancelling out of the trip, which really bothered me (fortunately I had one of my leaders that could take control).  I ended up taking advantage of the open time now on my schedule to design a solution to handle these types of requests more efficiently.  The value of solving the bigger problem is a great example of making a simple thing simple.  The effort usually will have high payback in the long run.  Imagine if you found several items in your day to day work that could be simplified with a little extra effort.  You would have more time to spend dealing with the more difficult and impactful things.

Don’t Create a Crisis

This past Father’s Day, I was enjoying a breakfast out with my family. Our server that day had just delivered our warm meals, and inevitably with a group of six people there were one or two things that still needed to be brought to the table. Maybe it was an order of toast, or something like that. No big deal.

The server quickly moves toward the kitchen to grab the missing items, and not more than ten seconds passes and we have a manager who descends upon us and immediately jumps to the conclusion that there is a problem. We had to convince him that his employee had everything well in hand, and that there was no issue he needed to address.

As I reflected on that situation, it occurred to me that there’s a lesson here. As managers and leaders, we hire people to take care of our customers, solve problems and so on. Each time we intervene, we are sending a message to our employee that we think they are incapable of handling it her/himself. In my example, I wondered how the server felt with her boss intervening on her behalf when there was no reason. Bottom line, it destroys trust. Better to give your people every chance in the world to solve their challenges and be there in the background to offer coaching and encouragement. Even if there is a tough situation, leaders can use these opportunities to build trust.

Know Your Numbers

CaptureThe other day I had an opportunity to address my team, almost half of the audience were new to my organization, including our summer interns.  I saw it as a chance to capture the imagination of these new members, and I thought it went well.  As I did some self-reflection on the event, a little nugget emerged as a general lesson in leadership:  Know Your Numbers.

Know Your Numbers means that leaders ought to have an inventory of key statistics in their back pocket, along with an understanding of how to use these numbers appropriately to make the desired point.  In my case, I lead a growing laboratory so I used the relevant leading indicator to make that point.  Upon doing that, I did notice multiple and very clear  non-verbal cues from the audience that the message was received.

So, leaders, what are your numbers?  Can you pull them out on the fly and use them to support points during crucial conversations?  As I found out, it can really help shape other’s perception of your leadership.