Posts Tagged ‘employees’

The Soul of a Project #18: Beware The Full Moon!

by Gary Monti on June 6, 2012

A strange beast shows up when the full moon rises on a project. It’s the full moon that appears when fundamental changes brought about by the project are free to take shape. The beast seems vaguely familiar while frightening and surprising at the same time. Actually, more than one appears. They are very common. I am talking about the organizational werewolves.

The full moon rises when the impediment to success or progress is removed. It’s right when the project is ready to go into full stride and grow. One of the most common impediments is the Manager From Hell (MFH). The team and supportive stakeholders grumble about the MFH, wondering how (s)he got power since they only seem to hurt situations. While moaning and groaning about the MFH the gossip mill generates enough power to light a small city. Productivity drops. Everyone dreams of a day when this person is GONE!

When that day finally arrives there is a collective sigh of relief. But something odd happens that night. The next day strange creatures show up aggressive behavior, both passive and active, arising at the tactical level.

Where did these creatures come from? Simple…THE TEAM…and stakeholder population!

So what is this all about? Let me explain. When working on projects that bring about substantial change a warning is given at the kick-off meeting and goes something like this:

As we progress impediments to progress will be found. Some will be technical and some may be individuals. A word of caution, “Avoid demonizing the person!” To the extent you’ve been working with and adapting to their behavior you have enmeshed and have issues of your own to address. When impediments are removed do not relax. That is the starting point NOT the finish line! Everyone will be challenged to take responsibility for themselves and see what behaviors of their own need to be changed.

Trust me, no one remembers this. Such a focus is placed on the MFHs people lose sight of their own shortcomings. When this occurs with senior managers the project is in danger. The infrastructure issues that need repaired or built for the first time, in order for the project to succeed, are considered superfluous. It is assumed everyone will do just fine with the project automatically proceeding towards success. It is a simplistic, dangerous view. Think of Yugoslavia after Tito’s death. Freedom! Or at least that is what everyone thought. A new age dawned but it definitely wasn’t what everyone expected. Instead, the slow descent into hell that made international news occurred.

What this all boils down to is taking leadership of one’s own responsibilities and examine where your own performance has slacked off because of the MFH. Where have you given yourself a get-out-of-jail-free card because the environment is harsh? It is time to turn those cards back in, return to the principles that matter, and work in a disciplined way. Build. Get the job done!

I met with a team of engineers yesterday. Up until now I’ve been meeting with them individually as each was facing dilemma’s that affected their personal and professional life. Over the past couple of months all of them have gained greater degrees of emotional intelligence and greater degrees of clarity of intention and accountability for what’s showing up in their work lives. They all realize that how they are being impacts on them personally and professionally – they can no longer assume they can act on behalf of their own personal desires without negatively influencing the team, the organization as a whole and on their professional aspirations.

An exercise I do with teams is a context exercise, where we explore a specific context, such as team, to reveal  beliefs, assumptions, expectations and judgments – essential what is true – in this case about teams, which has members act the way they do in relation to each other, to the team and a whole and to the organization. In this particular group, we included sport teams and teams in business, seeing the parallels and differences, and then we put together a list of what’s impossible given what’s true about teams. The process unfolded a couple more levels by exploring what needed to shift in order for the impossible to become possible and what needed to be practiced to consistently bring that into the workplace on a day to day basis.

We had consensus regarding trust, collaboration and effectiveness, being three aspects of team work that needs developing. This was all very positive. There was a high degree of exposure as each one spoke, as I hoped would happen. No one deferred, held back or was withdrawn from the conversation. This tells me that there was a degree of trust in the room that brought us to this level of disclosure and sharing.

Pride go-ith before the fall.

Their desire to elevate their own personal standing within the company is still a primary intention. Though, we talked about healthy teamwork they haven’t yet truly bought into the actualization of committing to being a good team player. Most wait until the other proves themselves trustworthy.

Meeting together as a team, with me as their coach meant they stepped into a greater degree of visibility, accountability and hopefully credibility; saying what they mean and meaning what they say. It all sounded good and I was heartened by what I heard from them, as they described the values and practices essential to being the team they see themselves being. It was a good start!

My last comment to the group before ending the session was that they will each witness the others not walking their talk. “You can get mad, disappointed; you can yell at them and blame and shame them for not showing up as they said they would; however, the practice is not how to get the other guy to do what he said he’d do; It’s focusing on you being accountable for walking your talk; looking at your response or reaction to the other’s behavior and communication in the highest good of everyone. That’s the only practice that matters – live into your own highest truth in service to your own highest good and the good of the team.”

I met with each member separately after the team meeting. It was interesting to hear feedback from each member reflecting how so-and-so said this, but doesn’t walk his or her talk – they don’t act in alignment with what they are saying. I had no doubt this was going to be part of the process. Though trust was at the top of the list of priorities for this team to be most effective, little trust has truly been earned by any one member.

Communicating from an objective point of view

Each of us face the dilemma of wanting to look good and say the right thing, yet, at the same time we are invested in having things go the way we want them to. We hope to look like we are in integrity but the fact is, people who know us and know when we are not walking our talk have no business trusting us. They are fools to believe us when they’ve most likely experienced degrees of inconsistencies consistently. How do we break the stalemate for ourselves, and how do we do that for others too.

We can’t change what we can’t acknowledge. Having a thinking partner or coach to empower you to cultivate awareness is almost essential to seeing how you operate and getting clear that the way you operate is either working in your favor to advance your career or it’s not. Pretending to be who you say you are never worked and will never work, so you might has well give it up as a way of growing yourself or your business. You’ve got to be that person you want to work with. It’s no longer possible to hope people will trust you with greater degrees of responsibility and power if you aren’t reliable with the power you have. You will inevitably find that saying yes when you mean no is a pretty unsatisfying way of doing business. You don’t like it in others – why keep believing that they don’t mind it in you?

Being in business, regardless of the position or title, brings us face to face with choice points. It’s nonstop! Exploring what it is that has us choose what we choose gets us closer to what it is that motivates us to be who we be and do what we do. It clarifies why our professional and personal life is what it is and not something different. It explains why, regardless of our ambition, education and experience, we just aren’t getting ahead.

If there was only one thing I’d like to get across to all of my corporate clients it’s that the personal is the professional and the professional is the personal. How we be in our personhood, our humanity and life in general is how we be in our professional world as well – always and everywhere.

Within any organization’s walls, how one chooses what they choose to choose is most likely how they choose to choose in every other context of their lives. Though the content may be different the process by which they choose is consistent across the board.

We choose based on some fundamental principles, though these principles will differ from person to person. We choose based on:

  • “This is how it’s always been done so that’s what I’m choosing to choose now.” Limiting parameters limit our ability to choose to think outside the box. We can’t choose differently because we don’t know that there is something else to choose; that there is a box to think ourselves out of.
  • What we are afraid others may find out or decide about us. More people than you can imagine operate from this principle. We source our identity from a decision we made a long time ago – perhaps when we were only four years old, when we found ourselves inadequate to bring about conditions we saw necessary, given the context of our little lives. With this assessment of our limitations comes the fear that we will be found unworthy and unlovable, humiliated and rejected. At this point, we begin cultivating survival strategies that have us avoid being humiliated or rejected by listening for what other people want and need. Based on our own interpretations (as a four year old) we go about fulfilling those needs and wants. Again, more people than you can imagine limit their professional development because they are operating from an immature emotional guidance system, which keeps them choosing based on fear. People with greater degrees of emotional intelligence choose based on the needs of the organizations, not based on fear.

If I continue to choose from a fear-based model, which I developed when I was four years old, I know I’ll remain safe and invulnerable to attack. The consequence of this choice is that I also can’t have what I want, because I’m limiting how I will choose to choose what I choose. If I choose differently I open myself up to vulnerability; however, I’m more likely to cultivate the capacity to be with attacks – not being devastated by them, as I always imagined it to be. I can’t grow myself professionally and I can’t grow the company if I continue to operate from a belief that I made up as a child.

 

  • It’s all about me! It’s not uncommon to hear clients say: “Though I said I was a team player and joined this company to further its growth, I’m really only in it for my own personal gain. I choose to choose based on what will bring about the highest visibility of my efforts and will get me the promotions I’m seeking.”
  • I choose to be a team player, listening for what others want. I don’t contribute any new ideas for fear of being found out that I’m inadequate. I hate to be ridiculed, so I avoid any possibility for that happening, even if it means not getting promoted.

Frankly, we are all in it for personal gain; however, this can mean different things to different people. Personal gain can be related to security, stability and safety, to gaining recognition and rewards, to gaining freedom, fun and flexibility. We never know until we begin to distinguish what it is we are wanting from our life in general and our professional life, specifically.

  • What’s in the best interest of the organization?  A client may say: “I can see my own limitations and inadequacies, and based on the fear of being found out I can hide out in other peoples vision, and limit the fulfillment of my personal and professional vision. Inevitably, I limit the fulfillment of the organization’s vision. At the same time I know that there are ways of being that will advance the initiatives I believe in. In alignment with those initiatives I ‘m willing to be open to possibility, though this may mean being open to ridicule; I will be assertive with my opinions and ideas, though this may mean someone asserting that I’m inadequate; I’m willing to be expansive in cultivating my repertoire of possibility, though this may lead to being found out as silly, ungrounded and unstable.

What needs to be in place in order to support a breakthrough of this dilemma? Trust!

Trust is foundational to any change process. If you don’t trust the organization, your execs and managers, even those who are your peers, you won’t choose to choose differently – it’s too risky! If you don’t trust yourself to have what it takes – an adequate amount of skills, experience, knowledge, and most importantly, self-trust, you won’t take even baby steps toward your desired goal.

Just as an experiment, notice where there is a similar choice making process occurring in your personal life and professional life. Perhaps, for example, you’ll notice that how you speak to your direct reports is the same way you speak to your children or your partner. This can be a fascinating exploration; one that will contribute to your capacity to choose differently and more in alignment with what you really want.

A Good Business A Great Life #7: Hiring is like Crack!

by Jack Hayhow on August 22, 2011

Yesterday I heard that my friend Stan (not his real name) had just hired two new employees.  With those two hires, the head count in Stan’s company has doubled in just a few months.  The business press is writing about Stan’s growth and everywhere I go I hear, “How about Stan?  He’s really rocking.”

And yet I am deeply concerned about the very survival of Stan’s business.

You see, there’s a culture in the business community that equates success with a large number of employees.  That culture often leads small business owners down the primrose path of profligate hiring because as employment surges, recognition abounds.  If you own a small business, that recognition, often after years of anonymity and sacrifice, can be intoxicating.  In fact, hiring can be much like crack cocaine – an intense high followed by devastating consequences.

Well-meaning civic organizations often encourage this addictive hiring behavior.  In my hometown, the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce sponsors a wonderful small business celebration each year.  As a part of that celebration, the Top Ten Small Businesses of Kansas City are recognized.  The top business receives the Mr. K Award, named after the legendary Kansas City entrepreneur, Ewing Kauffman.  One of the key qualifiers for this recognition is an increase in head count.  In fact, it’s more or less impossible to receive Top Ten recognition without dramatic increases in the number of people the company employs.  But as I look back on the list of recognized companies, I’m shocked by how many of those companies have failed or been reduced to a fraction of their previous glory.

For many businesses (and for virtually all service businesses) payroll is the company’s single biggest expense.  And while hiring is easy (requiring only optimism or delusion) firing is brutally difficult.  We like the people who work for us.  We worry about what will happen to them if we let them go.  We think we can fix the people – we tell ourselves they’ll get up to speed if we just give them a little more time.  We have a million reasons not to get rid of people who really need to go.  We hang on to people who are incompetent or who we don’t really need to operate the business.  And every day we do, we take a step closer to catastrophic business failure.

All because the culture and our egos tell us that success is having a lot of employees.

But that is complete and utter nonsense.  Success is about a business lean enough to survive the inevitable tough times.  Success is a business with sustainable operating cash flow.  Success is a business where the employees are fully engaged and secure in their positions as long as they continue to produce and to grow.  Success is a business that customers can’t imagine living without.  Success is a business that gives back to the community in a significant way.  Success is a business that provides the owner with the time and money to do what he or she wants to do.  That’s success!

As the Paradigm Shifts #P: Power

by Rosie Kuhn on August 3, 2011

In my first book, Self-Empowerment 101, I devote the first chapter solely to the subject of power. The reason is that through power and the energy that generates power, every event since the Big Bang is a result of that power. Regardless of how power is used – whether in alignment with evil or good intentions, to look small and helpless or to be a superpower, all is generated from the same source.

Power is often synonymous with force; taking against the will of the other, be it from sentient or non-sentient beings, for the sole purpose of gain. Gaining is a reward that spurs us to generate unreasonably creative uses of power. Some of it seems absolutely ridiculous, like the guy in Norway who used his power to devastate the morale of a whole country, in order to gain recognition for his disdain for the rights of the people he hated. Other people use their power to stay under the radar, thinking this gains them freedom to ignore certain responsibilities taken on by those above the radar. Using power to stay small also gains invisibility from potential harm. Too many of us use our power to gain immunity from rejection, abandonment or betrayal, gaining invulnerability for the sake of avoiding the experience of losing control over the situation, other people and themselves.

At the same time that we may be using our power to gain what we interpret as control, safety and invulnerability, we are also using it in the service of good and truth. Extraordinary creations are making their way into our reality every day that makes this world a better place to live. More and more people are utilizing their personal power to empower others. It’s a beautiful thing to witness.

All of us want a sense of control in our lives and we engage our personal power to do whatever it takes to make that happen. We use power to appear and feel disempowered, allowing ourselves to be victimized in ways that seem to be out of our own control, but really isn’t. Yes, the individuals killed in Norway by this crazed individual were victims and they were totally vulnerable to the circumstance they found themselves in. It important to distinguish when we use our power to create self-victimizing circumstances and when we are just plain out of control and all we are left with is a Big-Fat-Be-With. Even in such circumstances we can still use our personal power to be-with what is in the best possible way. It may not save our own life or the lives of others, but we can at least step into a more empowering interpretation.

Power and Empowerment

For some reason I find the notion of empowerment far more helpful and available than talking about changing your use of power. It’s essentially the same thing, but for me something changes with that one little em. Embodying, owning, self-governing, self-referencing, choosing to infuse oneself with the ability to self-regulate based on the outcome you are wanting – that’s empowering.

I’m working with a client in Israel. He is the owner of his own successful business. He rules based on control and domination. He uses his power to disempower others so he feels more in control. He is always looking for reasons to make others wrong so he can feel righteous. By feeling righteous he feels in control and powerful. At the same time, his use of power doesn’t allow him to have a sense of connection with his employees, and its contributing to a sense of dissatisfaction in all parts of his life. He sees that his GM has a great relationship with the employees because he leads differently, and he’s happier. What my client is wanting to gain from our coaching relationship is more fulfillment in his personal and professional life. He is beginning to understand that he experiences a greater sense of fulfillment when he allows himself to dismantle his current use of power. To empower himself to have more fulfillment more consistently has him willing to practice how he uses power in his business, and, he’s finding that it means shifting how he uses power in his personal relationships as well.

What brought my client into coaching was, though he had power and success he didn’t have a sense of fulfillment. He realizes that this is far more important than power and control. The invulnerability that he gets from the way he’s been using his power up until now isn’t satisfying. He’s considering the alternatives and is cultivating awareness by noticing what’s going on around him, how he impacts his environment and the consequence of that both professionally and personally. He’s becoming fascinated with the mechanisms that are influencing the results showing up in his life and in his business.

He gets now that he doesn’t have to give up one iota of power to have fulfillment. He gets that he can use his power to make different choices maintaining the sense of personal power he had when he yelled at everyone. Nothing is taken away. The belief that people won’t respect him if he doesn’t yell will be tested. He is willing to experiment – because he has something at stake that is greater than his fear of being vulnerable and out of control. Fulfillment has become a big enough goal that he’s willing to risk some pride – all be it, false-pride.

As the paradigm shifts, it becomes obvious that our business-as-usual mentality is causing incredible dis-ease in our work environments. Using power to maintain control in an environment where control itself is disempowering to the organization and its employees begins to be crazy-making. As a culture we are beginning to experience the requirement for less use of power as a manipulative force and more use of power to empower others to empower themselves and others. Enjoy the exploration!

Have you noticed that the actions of some people often cause you stress and frustration? Does interacting with certain colleagues, bosses and/or direct-reports in the workplace cause your blood pressure to sky rocket?  Have you ever wished you could do something about it?  Well, you can!  You can get those behaviors changed.

(Note that in this series we’ll be talking about changing a behavior, not a person. Understanding that a person’s behavior is separate from the person himself [or herself, we use the masculine form to represent both or either] is fundamental to changing our or anyone else’s behavior.  Later posts will explain this in more detail.)

We have identified at least five distinct types of stress-producing behavior:  Day Dreaming, Comparing, Time Traveling, Gut Reacting and Grade Schooling.  Let’s look at examples of each.  (Warning: you will think of people you know when you read these descriptions and you may see yourself here!)

  1. Day Dreaming:  We sometimes say a person must be day dreaming when they seem unaware of their surroundings.  Such people can cause serious stress in others without realizing it.  If confronted they may be genuinely surprised. One glaring example is the order-taker at the restaurant drive-through speaker who mumbles or stringsallthewordstogether.  He causes stress for customers who must repeatedly ask “what?”, for the kitchen staff who keeps getting incorrect orders returned and for the manager who must apologize to frustrated customers. Another common example is the person talking very loudly into a cell phone, disrupting the peace and quiet for everyone within hearing distance – – –  usually the person is completely unaware that there ARE people around, not to mention the effect his loud voice is having on them.  At work, this can be the boss who provides poor direction and blames others for the resulting confusion (expects employees to read her mind) or routinely and cavalierly says hurtful things about others in public. It can also be the colleague who embarrasses himself and others with inappropriate jokes or sexual innuendos, totally unaware of the pained looks on the faces of onlookers. People who are Day Dreaming are often oblivious to the stress they cause in the lives of others.
  2. Comparing:  This is the often-subconscious act of looking at the happiness of another person and comparing it to your own mental state.  Some people are only happy when they come out on top in such a comparison.  They are happiest when others are miserable.  When they act on these comparisons they can cause lots of stress in others.  People who think this way will disrupt a pleasant conversation by interjecting a piece of bad news that instantly changes the feel of the gathering from happy to sad.  Or they will use a “yes, but” maneuver:  “Yes, winning the office’s sales contest would be great for our team but we are short two people and we have never been able to do it before.”
  3. Time Traveling:  This behavior is generation-driven; the Baby Boomer who cannot stop herself from asking everyone who gets to a meeting even a minute late “What time does the 9:30 meeting start?”; or the Gen Yer who cannot resist asking the Baby Boomer having cell phone problems “That advanced technology giving you problems there, Grandpa?”  The result is always more stress.
  4. Gut Reacting: People who routinely use this behavior are seen as the quick-draws at work, the people who always have a fast come-back to any comment.  But they also often omit the think step that should always occur before the speak step.  Their fast, knee-jerk response leaves no time for thoughts of “should I say this?” OR “will it hurt someone’s feelings?” OR “how could this comment be taken?” The result is often wounded pride and stress in others.
  5. Grade Schooling: This behavior is usually motivated by revenge, jealousy, power-trips or other markers of immaturity.  Examples include sabotaging an initiative at work so the originator fails; calling attention to yourself (even negatively) because you need the constant reinforcement of being noticed (poor self- image); or doing something just because you can even if it causes stress in others, for example driving continuously in the left lane of a superhighway so you can keep other people from driving 56 mph in a 55 mph zone.  People who do these things seem to be stuck with only the emotional maturity they had in grade school – – – they just never grew up.

In upcoming posts we’ll show you how to deal with each of these behaviors.  You’ll see how to first decide whether to intervene, then how to get the person’s attention, and establish some rapport (if possible), and lastly how to request a change in the person’s stress-inducing behavior.  We’ll show you how to do these things in the workplace but the techniques will also work well when shopping, in restaurants, with the family at home and in lots of other situations.

And if you think there are other categories of stress-inducing behavior, beyond the five we mentioned above, we’d like to hear from you.  Email me at Mack@SolidThinking.org

Copyright: Solid Thinking Corporation

In most businesses, while high level goals may be set for the organization, employees rarely embrace these or feel any connection to them. Yet this is exactly what your organization needs to be able to execute on its strategy and achieve its goals – an engaged and committed workforce, all pulling in the same direction. So how do you harness the power of your workforce and get everyone contributing to the organization’s success?

Goal alignment.

Now I’m not talking about your traditional model of goal alignment, where goals are cascaded from the top level of the organization down to each successive level of management and finally “dumped” on employees at the bottom of the hierarchy. This is sometimes called the “people-centric” model of goal alignment. This model tends to result in employees who are disengaged, because they are typically not involved in their goal setting process.

Cascading goals takes a long time to setup. Every successive level of management must wait for the previous level to have their goals set, before they receive their own. That can often result in large groups of employees working for weeks or months without clear objectives. And if a manager changes roles in the organization or leaves it altogether, the chain of cascaded goals is broken and must be reestablished.

Another challenge with cascaded goals is they can set up divided loyalties or even apathy. Employees are invested in making their managers successful, rather than the larger organization. This can result in them taking actions or making decisions that help their direct manager, but hurt other parts of the organization. Plus, since there’s no direct link between an employee’s goals and the organization’s high level goals, employees lack a context for their work. This can result in employees who are less accountable and have less ownership for their goals.

What I’m talking about is a model where every employee sets their individual goals in collaboration with their manager, and directly links each of their goals to one of the organization’s high-level goals. This model is called “organizational goal alignment”. This talent management best practice ensures every employee is contributing to the achievement of organizational goals, and feels ownership and accountability for both their goals and the organization’s.

With organizational goal alignment, goal setting can be completed much more quickly, since it is done at the same time, across the organization, as soon as the high level organizational goals are established and communicated. Because high level organizational goals aren’t affected by changes in staffing or organizational structure, the goals links are more stable and enduring.

Organizational goal alignment results in goals that are linked across the organization. This allows for broader, cross-functional contribution and a more detailed understanding of everything involved in achieving the goal. So for example, an organizational goal to improve customer satisfaction can be embraced as the responsibility of everyone in the organization, not just the managers and employees in the customer service department.

This model also gives employees at all levels of the organization clear visibility into how their work impacts organizational success. This typically enhances both their accountability and engagement by giving them an important larger context for their work.

And perhaps most importantly, organizational goal alignment shifts everyone’s focus to organizational success rather than simply individual success – a key ingredient in the recipe of  harnessing the power of your workforce!

The most recent post discussed the structure of a Stock Appreciation Rights Program as part of your ongoing effort to retain and motivate key employees, and as alternative to issuing equity.  The principal advantages of the SAR program are:

  1. It provides a clear connection between financial reward and the success of the company.
  2. It encourages cooperation among individuals and groups, because everyone will benefit financially if the company prospers.
  3. The vesting schedule encourages and directly rewards longevity.
  4. The company repurchases non-vested shares for zero dollars.
  5. When the company repurchases vested shares, 100% of the repurchase price is tax deductible.

As we indicated in the last post, an SAR program provides little in the way of immediate reward.  For some individuals, such as “hunter” salespeople, the lack of short-term feedback can be a demotivator.  This shortcoming can be remedied by an effective cash bonus program.

There is one cardinal rule for designing any cash compensation program; namely, reward the employee for success in areas in which s/he has a significant amount of control or, at least, considerable influence.  Financial accountability is critical, and that means the capacity to carve out in numbers the results of your employee’s efforts.

Let’s say, for example, that your company manufactures a number of products which carry a wide range of Gross Margin as a percent of sales.  Among those product lines that generate comparable unit volume, your sales force should emphasize sales of the high Gross Margin products, and you should reward those who are successful in this effort.  Specifically, the bonus plan must reward both Gross Margin dollars and Gross Margin percentages.

We have designed a number of sales compensation programs over the past 40 years, with particular emphasis on this very principle.  The beauty of this idea is that, if the salesperson increases the proportion of high Gross Margin business, while maintaining constant sales volume, s/he will benefit twice. First, Gross Margin dollars will increase because the Gross Margin percentage is higher on constant sales.  Second, s/he will get a bigger slice of those Gross Margin dollars.   So, the salesperson will get a bigger slice of a bigger pie.  Now, that’s motivation!

Stock Appreciation Rights programs and cash bonus programs are not mutually exclusive.  Quite the contrary, they can be companions that address the need to motivate the employee in the short run and encourage both strategic thinking and longevity.

Good luck!


PhotoPopell This article has been contributed by Steven D. Popell. Steve has been a general management consultant since 1970. Steve is a Certified Management Consultant, business valuation expert, and inventor of ExiTrak®– a process designed to assist the privately-held company owner/manager to build an attractive strategic acquisition candidate

How does it feel when you take the plunge and go out on your own? Is there a mix? One day it’s, “Thank God! I am on my own!” The next it is, “Oh God, no! I am on my own!” It can feel you’ve been set adrift having cut the mooring line to the familiar. Learning how to simultaneously capitalize on opportunities and deal with the existential angst in this entrepreneurial state is the fourth purpose of mythology, i.e., dealing with the psyche or one’s personal psychology. How the psyche develops is critical for making it through threshold experiences.

The psyche forms the foundation for building/discovering needed leadership tools mentioned previously in the first leadership blog, Navigating with an Executive Map and Compass. The path associated with this process is very much a quest. Friedrich Nietzsche expresses it well in Thus Spoke Zarathustra. Let’s see how it works in business.

The Camel, The Lion, and The Baby

When entering the business world one works like a camel dutifully and unquestioningly carrying a workload that gets bigger and bigger. It can lead to promotions. It gets puzzling though, since a limit will eventually be reached beyond which the camel will collapse. The first threshold is met. In order to progress change is required.

What was once exciting, providing a reason to get up in the morning, steadily becomes oppressive and the urge to cry “Enough!” starts forming. Crossing the threshold The Camel surprises others by transforming into The Lion. It attacks the giant beast “Thou Shalt,” which is covered in shiny scales each of which has a rule that must be followed if one is to stay in the current situation. The beast fights furiously since, after all, its rules have brought about the success experienced.

Once the beast is devoured another threshold is reached. The Lion is free, completely free. There is nothing left to fight, to stand against. The Lion stands alone. Movement forward means The Lion must change.

Another extraordinary and extremely demanding transformation must now take place in order to thrive and grow. The Lion transforms into The Baby. In mythology a baby signifies spontaneity, movement from within free of concern for consequence, free of rebelliousness. It is aware, bringing forward all experiences from the past. (See Buddhism or 2001: a Space Odyssey for more.)

Similar to The Baby Nietzsche writes about The Wheel. The Wheel is unique. It moves from within. It is neither pushed nor pulled. It seeks its own path without knowing where it will go. We know it in business as The Entrepreneur.

You’re So Lucky

How challenging and threatening can this be? This story may sound familiar. On one assignment there was a client employee who constantly complained about how lucky I was because of hourly rate, freedom to move from client to client, etc. This grew tiresome. When it started to interfere with my position on the project I said, “You are right. I’ll sit here while you tell your boss you quit. We can go have coffee and talk about how you can be completely on your own.” After that, he stayed with just doing his part of the project.

If you have indigestion from eating beasts or your wheel is beginning to wobble send me an e-mail at gwmonti@mac.com or visit www.ctrchg.com.

Is using Social Media an impediment to your Organization?

by Himanshu Jhamb on February 8, 2010

Au Contraire, it can lead to improved productivity and branding.

First and foremost, let’s get one thing clear about Social Media. It is not just a tool, or a tactic or even a strategy. It is simply a channel for having online conversations. Depending on if you know and intend to use it purposefully or not, it can increase productivity… or not. There are two kinds of stances organizations that do not believe in the power of Social Media take when it comes to using Facebook or Twitter, at work.

  1. Employees will be distracted. They’ll spend too much time on these sites and it will be an impediment to the actual work. So, they should not have access to these at work.
  2. Social Media is not useful at all. I don’t want to know when someone is going grocery shopping or cleaning his car.

The issue with the first stance is simply not about social media. It is about ethics. Just like you shouldn’t be browsing the internet for 7 hours a day in your 8 hour workday and you shouldn’t be chatting on the phone about your favorite football team with your buddy for the better part of your workday, you shouldn’t be using the different social media channels for extended periods of time. Blocking the websites wouldn’t do a lot of good if the people in your organization are looking to spend the majority of their working hours elsewhere. You might want to look at “Why are they distracted”? more than “What distracts them”?

The issue with the second stance is simply ignorance and a fixed way of thinking about social media. There are some Social Media Rockstars who have branded themselves impeccably using the various social media channels. It does not mean they have never got subjected to online conversations about grocery shopping from other folks. It simply means they have been participating and contributing to the social media space purposefully and with an open mind. They do not allow themselves to be led by popular opinion. They are in the department of changing the popular opinion… or even being a source of a new one! There is a reason why companies like CNN, BestBuy, Dell and JetBlue continue using Twitter and the reason is simply that were ready to experiment and they’ve found a way to make it work for whatever it is that they are after. Contrary to popular belief, these companies not only use Twitter as a channel to market their offers but also to have online conversations with their customers which, mind you, involves listening to the customer’s concerns and then engaging with them by taking action to best take care of them.

Regardless of your organization’s stance on Social Media, Social Media is here to stay. It’s not any different from any new practice or technology that is invented. About 30 years ago or so, with the advent of computers, we got a real taste of what machines can do from a small microchip. About 20 years ago or so, we got a taste of what connectivity means with the advent of the internet. Perhaps it’s time for organizations to give up their rigidity on Social Media and leap into this new decade with a sense of exploration and genuine intrigue to see what conversing online means with the advent of this dangerous opportunity (Social Media).