Author Archives: Dennis Gilbert

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Training cost

Training Cost And Other Expenses

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Have you evaluated the training cost? Have you evaluated the cost of not training? What about the time commitment, is that stopping you?

There are plenty of excuses why organizations shy away from training. Some popular excuses relate to budget, time commitments, and occasionally someone will mention a lack of need.

Measure Costs

What are the true costs associated with a lost customer? What are the costs of poor decisions made by supervisors, managers, and other workplace leaders? Employee turnover, what does that cost?

I’ve been told, “When we have a choice to ship the product or sit in training. We’re always going to ship the product.”

It is a statement that is hard to work with, yet it is a mindset that is associated with higher costs of doing business.

Shipping the product today matters. Conceptually it matters more than training. I should say, “More than training today.” Shipping the product without training is a short run game. It works while it works, until it doesn’t.

Training Cost

Most organizations deepest interest is to grow. Increase revenue, share the mission objective, touch more people, change lives, impress investors, and build, grow, build, grow.

In most businesses or even the non-profit, the long game matters more. A three-person company can ship the product efficiently, a three-hundred-person company may be different.

The infrastructure costs could be a few million, or rent or lease, is multiple tens of thousands per month. Salary and benefits, they are likely the largest item on the income statement.

Marketing and advertising, they are often paid months in advance of the collection of the accounts receivable from a possible sale.

Will you do all of that without training? That is just on the surface, dig deeper and you’ll discover more. What will shape your culture?

Every dollar invested in training accounts for many more dollars you’ll save somewhere else.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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wide focus

Are You Using a Wide Focus or Narrow?

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There is a mindset today, more is better. Certainly, more can make a difference but it may not always be the path to greatness. Is your focus wide, big, or for everyone? What is better a wide focus or narrow and targeted?

Wide Focus

Bernie Sanders wrote a book and sold a lot of copies. Part of his recently self-proclaimed millionaire status seemingly developed from book sales.

Someone creates a YouTube video and they hope that it goes viral bringing fast notoriety and perhaps some wealth thereafter.

It is also true for many social media posts, the podcast, and the daily blog. More hits, a bigger audience, and therefore, success.

In some of these cases, the popular approach or thought is, “Go as big and wide as possible, attract everyone!”

It seems to make sense. Create a sensation, a wave, and an overnight success.

Is Narrow Better?

If mom and pops dinner, with seating to accommodate 75, suddenly had 250 people show up for breakfast, it would be a problem.

When the small bar in Nashville reaches capacity, those who can’t enter have a different experience.

When the Boeing 737-800 reaches 162 passengers, no more will fit. The flight may be oversold. Anxious and angry passengers are the result.

Imagine the disappointment for all the kids who didn’t get a Cabbage Patch Kid, a Teddy Ruxpin, or a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle because the stores sold out during the holiday season.

Wide or Narrow?

The work that you are doing right now may feel like it needs a wide focus. Yet there will still be many people and businesses who focus narrower.

The commitment is different, they scale differently, the goals and objectives hint more about quality than about quantity.

The mom and pop restaurant may win big by always being near capacity but not over. The flying experience for passengers is probably better when the flight is slightly less than sold out.

Sometimes being just right is better than being too much.

Just right will probably win the long game.

What is your plan?

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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needs improvement

When “Needs Improvement” Is All You See

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The best question to ask may be, “What are your expectations?” The answer can often be confusing. If you, your department, or the entire organization needs improvement what should you do?

We find out in the meeting. “This is a good start, but needs improvement.”

On the performance evaluation, “Work is satisfactory, but there are some areas that need improvement.”

“Next year your goals are higher.”

Needs Improvement

The role of many workplace professionals is to make improvements. That is what we’re always striving for, improve the process, become more efficient, and delight the customer. It is a constant effort to improve.

Yet we often face barriers and roadblocks, obstacles and hurdles, the so-called challenges of change. Most of the things in our pathway to improve are a residue of the organizational culture. The way the organization gets things done.

The management team is supposed to push, encourage, and perhaps passively shout to get the work done. Change is proposed, an action plan put in place, and people are watching and waiting.

You are only on the team because you fit, yet the design calls for change. Things are supposed to improve, yet we only do it our way, the way it has been successful in the past.

The organization seeks outside resources, advertises for new hires, yet whoever signs up doesn’t fit, so they are disregarded.

Clever words are selected, the mission is published and public. The branding video was expensive and demonstrates what it should. Everything is set.

Yet, on the inside, things haven’t changed. Cultural change is supposed to happen fast, but feels impossibly slow.

Things Have Changed

Since the industrial revolution, there has been a lot of change. Largely, we’ve addressed many of the “needs improvement” areas. If the Earth is 4.5 billion years old, the last 200 years have been phenomenal.

Don’t lose sight of the changes you’re making. Work hard and lead through the challenges. “Exceeds expectations,” is happening. It’s happening right before your eyes.

Seeing is believing.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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language matters

Language Matters Because It Builds Culture

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What is the language of your workplace? Is there optimism, excitement, and energy? Language matters because it sets the tone and shapes the environment for everything that happens next.

“Good Morning,” is different from, “Ugh, here we go again.”

“I’m ready, let’s go,” is different from, “I’m not awake yet.”

We never know exactly what each day will bring. Yet we have a choice to decide what we will bring to each day.

What are your contributions to culture?

Building Culture

Every workplace has a culture. Every organization, business, and group effort have language behind their energy.

What is the language of your workplace? It is energizing or creating fear? Does it inspire confidence or get hung up on doom and gloom?

We are people, people with personalities, emotions, and feelings. We leap forward with inspiration or make a choice about fighting or retreating during fear.

Today you will make a choice about what you see. You’ll look for the opportunity, or describe a problem that cannot be solved.

You will believe that what is unfolding is happening for you, or to you.

Most of that belief will develop from your language. Tell yourself either you can, or you can’t. You will be correct.

Language Matters

Belief is powerful. Our belief systems are often created from the language that surrounds us.

Your team and your organizational culture are built by this belief.

Suggest that there is nothing good about this day. Chances are you’ll have a hard time finding something. It is a self-fulfilled prophecy.

Think carefully about what you’ll say today. It will guide what happens next.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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hiring practice

Hiring Practice Is Shaped By Culture

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“We can’t find people.” It is a statement I often hear. Closely followed by, “Nobody wants to work today.” Is this about your hiring practice, culture, or the workforce generations?

Likely the truth is, it is pieces of all three. Working on one of these, will make a difference for the other two. Culture.

By now you’ve probably thought about pay. Not so fast, we’ll get there.

Uplifted Veil

Culture is about mindset. A corporate set of values and beliefs that resonates throughout the organization.

Culture isn’t entirely about what is published. It isn’t entirely about the values statements, the mission statement, or the slogan that appears on a plastic disposable pen at the job fair.

Certainly, all those things have relevance and in-part create the experience for onlookers, but you won’t hide the truth for long.

The winner of the Boston Marathon didn’t just lose thirteen pounds on the latest diet shake or meal plan. They haven’t made statements that they are training yet meanwhile they are secretively are doing something different.

The organization may have the best branding video on the planet. When you lift the veil, what do you see?

Clever marketing creates attraction. As some would suggest, it works. Yet what is inside the box or under the cover will ultimately make the difference.

Hiring Practice

It is one of the hardest things to learn about organizational culture. Culture is not just about what you say or the powerful showcase. It is also about what you do and the associated outputs and results.

Human resources and talent management professionals can help a lot, and they often do. However, if the departmental supervisor believes that leading is about how you demonstrate authority, the uplifted veil is something different.

Yes, there are dirty jobs, mindless jobs, and jobs that are dead ends. Yes, there are perfect fits, and mismatches.

Everyone wants to know what is really under the veil.

When what is underneath is unattractive, only pay will make a difference.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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Changing Habits

Changing Habits By Making Room

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We are all creatures of habit. Our daily routine, the work week, the weekend, what we do is based on habits. Changing habits is likely important for success but what will you give up?

Habits Produce Results

What we do this week won’t completely shape what we achieve across the next six months.

One small landscaping project tackled at our home on the weekend may improve things, but there will still be maintenance across time to keep it up.

Our daily work habits across the next twenty-six weeks will shape half of the year. What happens across the next three years will be based on the habits of each week of those years.

We do something every day. In fact, we may do many things each day. We occupy twenty-four hours. Eating, sleeping, working, and living life.

When it is time for a change, we must make room. Something goes and something takes its place. We may sacrifice some free time, some TV time, or some phone surfing time. Room must be made.

Ultimately, the question becomes, “What will you give up?”

Changing Habits

Changing habits means you’re going to have to make room. The choice is more important than you may think.

If you give up sleeping, eventually you’ll burn out. Eating or skipping meals, same thing. You recognize that somethings you can’t give up because that supplies the opportunity to achieve other goals.

Everything is a tradeoff.

Setting up your garage with home fitness equipment sometimes seems like a reasonable approach. Only, now you don’t have a place for your car. Worse, if you give up your workout routine the space is completely wasted. You gave up both, everything for nothing.

Making room for new habits is important. Something must change. Give up something.

Just be sure the something doesn’t cost you everything.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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Intentional listening

Why Intentional Listening is Different

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Listening is not instinctive. Hearing on the other hand happens without effort. We hear sounds, voices, and music. Intentional listening is probably not as easy as you think. It requires something more than just showing up.

Things People Do

Many workplace professionals feel stressed. They grow weary and tired of the everyday grind. Work isn’t always easy, but when we understand more about how to help ourselves things can (and do) get better.

Communication is a funny thing. People and teams often believe that when miscommunication occurs it means that it is time for more communication.

What do people do?

Often, they start with providing more communication. More meetings, more phone calls, and more email. Unfortunately, this often doesn’t improve the problem, it adds to it. Effective communication makes more sense.

Intentional listening is effective. What are your listening habits?

Intentional Listening

Why is listening such a valued part of communication? We can start with the idea that it is the other side of speaking. Consider that theoretically, there is only one speaker at a time, while the number of people listening can be quite expansive. A positive ratio.

At least two important barriers exist for listening. One is, do we have the proper skill? The other is, are we willing to put in the effort?

Skill is important. Carefully decoding and interpreting messages faces numerous challenges. As people, we struggle with bias, stereotypes, filters, and so much more. The more we understand barriers the better we can become.

Effort is often where the magic happens. Although there isn’t really anything magical about it, raw effort and intention may be the key. It requires energy. The question is are you willing to put in the effort?

Hanging out at the meeting may feel like you are doing your part. Listening and contributing must be intentional.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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organizational success

Organizational Success, Roof Repair, and the Mechanic

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What is the connection to creating organizational success, making a roof repair, and a fixing a car? Likely not much, and there probably shouldn’t be since each require different types of expertise.

One of the biggest mistakes I often observe with small businesses (less than $35.5 million in annual revenue and 1,500 employees) is that they can’t get out of their own way.

Field of Experts

Theoretically, small businesses are led by experts in their field. Engineers lead engineering firms, attorneys lead law firms, and the landscaping business is owned and operated by those who are experts in landscaping.

This seems to make sense, it is practical, and likely an appropriate pathway for success.

What happens when the landscaper needs legal representation, or the widget manufacturer needs an advertising campaign? What if the convenience store needs a new roof or the local insurance agency needs car repair?

If you are the executive leader of an advertising agency, city mayor, or the director of a thriving non-profit humanitarian organization you are likely not also a computer engineer, tree trimmer, or carpenter.

Are you going to fix the bug in the software? Cut down the 85-year-old maple tree that is threatening the office, or build an additional room for your expansion?

Organizational Success

Creating organizational success comes from your expertise.

Just because you had a college class in psychology or business law, does not make you an expert.

Because you once participated in a strategic planning session you are not an expert at facilitating strategy.

Reading a book, watching a video, or attending a seminar to expand your knowledge on any topic is valuable. Becoming an expert requires hours and hours of pounding on your craft.

Organizational success develops from focus. Know your lane, leverage and outsource everything else.

As an organizational leader your job is not to do everything. It is to create the best of everything.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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workplace leaders risk

Workplace Leaders Risk More By Being First

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Many people believe that they are paving the way, instead they may be following. Workplace leaders risk more by being first and creating the future. Are you following or are you leading?

It is simple. Being the front runner requires risk that the others don’t have to endure.

Leading or Following?

I can tell you about yesterday’s weather. It is easy to get it correct. Predicting tomorrow’s weather is a little bit trickier.

You can observe a brand’s social media exposure, like, and follow. If they appear to be gaining momentum you can launch a similar campaign. If not, you can observe another. Only opportunity cost from inaction is really at risk. You’re not leading, but following.

The idea to put a camera in a phone, a credit card reader at the parking meter, or create a single cup coffee maker may have been created by people who were leading. The cost to follow after observing the success is much less expensive.

Very few businesses are truly front runners. Very few artists, authors, or architects are launching ideas that are truly original. In many regards, they are following or perhaps expanding upon ideas that they have learned.

Workplace Leaders Risk

Knowing yesterday’s weather report may be a reliable source of information. Describing the exact weather for a May wedding, several months in advance seems foolish, or at least extremely risky.

In the workplace, employees can report on all the historical data. They can produce charts, graphs, and apply a clever marketing spin for a compelling message. A competitive analysis of results may be helpful, but it doesn’t really make them a leader.

Workplace leaders take a risk of knowing when to follow, or when to expand on past ideas or results. They’ll take the most risk when they choose to do it first.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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shocking change

Shocking Change Includes Disbelief

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By now we all know that change is a part of life. Many people will quickly agree that everything around us is changing. How are you navigating shocking change?

Shocking Change

Change often does come as a shock and is followed with disbelief. Someone wins an election. Someone gets promoted, or the one-hundred-year-old business closes its doors forever.

Some will claim that they saw it coming and it wasn’t really a surprise.

In other cases, change happens so slow people barely notice. People age, trees grow, and a new house is built in a tiny corner of the two-hundred-acre field.

In our home or at our workplace, a room gets painted, a picture hung, and a new chair gets placed in the corner. Perhaps noticed and strange for a moment, but then life goes on. In a few days, we forget that something changed.

Surprised About Change?

Big change or small change, we tend to process it the same. At first there is some surprise, maybe a shock and maybe some disbelief. Shortly thereafter, the shock wears off, the disbelief switches to reality, and now it becomes the norm.

Change doesn’t always happen the way we wanted or when we wanted, but it surely happens.

Some will call it progress others will see it as the beginning of the end. Some changes will stick and some have a strange way of circling back around.

Change doesn’t always stick, it doesn’t always stay, and it sometimes feels unfair.

People were once shocked (no pun) by the light bulb, the airplane, and the breakup of Sonny and Cher.

Don’t be surprised with the disbelief that comes with change. Be surprised how long some things stay the same.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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