Tag Archives: growth

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being average

The Frustration of Being Average

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Are you planning to excel in your career? Is being average the norm? By definition most people would fall into the average bracket.

It seems funny to me how controversial the subject of being average can be. I’ve had people unsubscribe and delete me from social media because they didn’t like a discussion about being average. It’s true.

Is it okay to be average? Certainly, but if my work was geared to just becoming average there wouldn’t really be much work to be done. My business depends on people who are working for something more.

Being Average?

When you consider the definition of average, you have to think about the middle. In manufacturing, if you build to spec, you are really building to the middle. In any service sector, most of your transactions are probably average.

This is a simple concept, because what falls below spec or is less than spec is poor quality, and once in a while if we stretch, we can go beyond average.

Most organizations are actually trying to hire for average. They look for what they define as “best fit.” Best fit is really about being average. Lousy work and you fall below, exceptional work and there isn’t enough room for you. At least, that is how things seem to shake out.

Frustration of Average

The argument for average is that we need certain levels achievement, but not so much achievement that you blow away the spec.

For most careers then, the goal of excelling in your work is counter intuitive. That is, unless there is room for advancement.

This is one of the cultural frustrations for the organization. It is what causes work in motion to slow down. It causes quality to be only about good enough, not about as good as it could be.

Sometimes we have to look beyond best fit. Yet, that is a risk that many choose not to take.

-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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something new

Try Something New, That’s Learning!

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Are you interested to try something new? Are you the first one to taste the unknown dish at the picnic or try the unknown from the menu?

At the dinner event hors d’oeuvres are often served. The well-trained staff will likely explain the dish, the teenage volunteer will just hold it out in your space to see if you’ll take the plunge.

Fresh seafood in North Dakota may be risky, but the beef is probably a safe bet.

Exploration helps us learn. It may also be known as research.

Learning Moments

Many people will learn from mistakes. Yet sometimes they keep doing the same thing over and over. The fear of the unknown seems greater than the risk of the consequences of bad moves.

It may feel like there is safety in the known. Other times, the last thing we want is the known.

Hiring managers often have a choice between internal candidates and external candidates. It is common that they know the knowledge, skills, and abilities of the internal possibilities. Yet they are more interested to risk an outsider who they’ve spent an hour or two with during an interview.

When it comes to change, we often want safety.

Very few people are convinced that when they jump, the net will appear.

Something New

It is risk that we may evaluate incorrectly.

At the meeting, the risk of speaking up seems more threatening than the risk of watching the team make another wrong turn. You can help, or offer alternatives, but you may retreat to a place of safety.

Fear of separation may be a root cause, which then leads to action anxiety and ultimately negative fantasies. You assess the situation and become convinced that the worst outcome will result. It’s too risky.

Trying something new may be the exact thing that is holding you back.

Don’t make the same mistakes over and over. Give up some safety for calculated risk.

That’s how we learn.

-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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workforce learning

Workforce Learning, it Sticks and Grows

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It is all about culture. At least that is what most experts will say. Does building your organization have anything to do with workforce learning?

A couple of entrepreneurs get together and start a company. A few years later and they have a company of fifty or one hundred. And so the organization is growing, or so it appears.

What is creating the culture?

Culture and Change

Growth means change and change means learning. “Go get buy-in. Get everyone bought-in.” the CEO requests.

Yet many people struggle to understand how buy-in is achieved. Shouting about buy-in may disrupt the flow, yet getting traction often requires something different.

Marketing, advertising, and selling matter, they help spread the idea. Yet adoption of the idea may still require a different approach.

Difference Makers

Every day there is a person who sings in the shower. A person who paints a picture, and a person who demonstrates great leadership around the workplace.

Yet, the shower singer may not become an Elvis Presley, Whitney Houston, or Mariah Carey. The picture painter may not become as well known as Michelangelo, Rembrandt, or Picasso. And the workplace leader may never make it to the C-Suite.

However, each one of these people bring something forward. The extent of their interactions may make a difference for someone’s day or even positively change a life, or two, or three. They help others learn, grow, and perhaps identify with a culture.

Workforce Learning

Organizational culture is made up of many things. Mostly, things that are driven by people. People who share with other people.

Buy-in is created by shared experiences. People who participate together build it together. It catches on, and it sticks. It has value and no one wants wasted effort.

Workforce learning helps people decide how they’ll shape the culture. When they discover value, they share it and then suggest that their friends try it too.

They’re bought-in, it sticks, and it grows.

-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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professional seminars

Professional Seminars, Sit Through It or Grow?

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Continuous learning, lifelong learning, what is your approach to professional seminars? Some of the approaches I hear are comical.

If I have to sit through it, you’re going to sit through it too.

I’ll sit through it, but I probably have more important things to do.

I don’t think I need this but I’ll sit through if it makes everyone happy.

Sit through it?

I’ve heard these and dozens more as training is being organized or as people assemble for the event. In the back of my mind I’m thinking, “What kind of attitude is that?”

Fear of History Repeating

Then I remember. I remember sitting through slide after slide of someone reciting the work of someone else. I remember the endless barrage of slide decks with words, paragraphs, and executive summaries you are expected to read. In another unfortunate twist the presenter will read it for you.

It doesn’t stop there; we also have charts. Not a simple pie chart or bar graph but five years of key indicators data that is in font size 8 or 10. Huh?

Participants have a choice. A choice about sitting through that or doing something better. The presenters have a choice also. Their choice is about what and how they’ll present.

Professional Seminars

Just this week I presented three different seminars in three different towns. I heard and felt some of the grumbles and groans before the start.

When finished, I welcomed and appreciated the handshakes and kind comments. I am always grateful and sometimes humbled by the generosity of eager and inspired participants. It is my biggest reward.

My suggestion is not new, but still relevant. Don’t judge a book by its cover. Or in this case don’t judge a seminar before it starts.

Most people don’t care for just sitting around. Professional seminars will inspire you to grow.

As a participant you have a choice. You can come prepared to just sit through it, or you can come prepared to grow through it.

There is a saying which I don’t know who to give credit. It goes something like this, “If you think it is expensive to hire a professional, wait until you hire an amateur.”

-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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workforce relevance

Workforce Relevance or Self-Deception

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Once upon a time it mattered to ensure you stocked enough green bar paper. You were state-of-the-art. This may also be true for the number two pencil, the Rolodex, and the pink “While you were out” memo pads. Workforce relevance changes too. Skills, approaches, and service themes.

The sales funnel is important. Keep a good supply of potential leads, work them down into the yes and no pile. Keep going, keep moving, the sales funnel means life. Build operational support to keep the funnel flowing and you’re set.

Stay Relevant

Organizations often face irrelevance because the theme of keeping the flow moving becomes a standard. The idea is, when we do just this, and just that, and get everything just right, the flow will continue. Then it slows, or stops.

What built the organization and the teams that keep it moving, aren’t necessarily the same aspects or indicators of what will keep it alive.

Likely every organization that has worked to standardize and then lock it in, eventually stop, things slow and then end.

For the small business it is often the hard work of the owners, the second or third generation of family, or the subconscious vision of, “We finally have it all figured out.”

Workforce Relevance

It is safe to say that all organizations are driven by people. People are not tools; they are an investment. Manage them as a cost of doing business instead of the reason you have the business and you will have a short run game.

The relevance of your workforce will condition everything in the long game. The knowledge, skills, and abilities you will need to continue to grow, change, and adapt.

If you get stuck in the world of green bar paper, number two pencils, and your Rolodex, everything will pass you by. In a world of constant change being convinced your formula will stay the same is self-deception.

-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 purpose

Does Your Team Understand Workplace Purpose?

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One of the most basic elements of building a successful organization is the ability to rally the people around a workplace purpose. Have you considered lately how that is working in your team or department?

Setting the Stage

The development stages of the organization are simpler. There are fewer people, less moving parts, it is easier to watch over the entire operation.

Across the months, years, or decades things start to shift a little. More people join, more problems have become apparent and more rules and policies are put in place. Without careful and purposeful intention, things often start to get lost in the shuffle.

Often larger work groups and teams are doing tasks or following guidelines that they either don’t understand, or worse, they misunderstand.

The big picture with strategy is out there. It may be in the publicized mission statement, unfortunately from the strategy room to the front-line things get lost in the translation.

Department managers sometimes become confused about the true strategy, the why of the business. They respond to measurement, metrics, and performance criteria, but their response lacks the understanding of purpose.

As time moves forward some disorganization may occur. The purpose is confusing, the front-line works towards metrics, but they often do not understand why. Managers insist somewhat blindly that this work, their work, is part of the strategy, however, they too suffer from understanding why.

Workplace Purpose

When groups of people and teams are employed to create work, provide a service, and do great things it is very important that they understand the purpose.

Understanding workplace purpose is everyone’s responsibility, yet it often doesn’t exist.

In the best organizations everyone leads at some level. Otherwise, you have a bureaucratic conundrum.

-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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keeping brand promises

Are You Keeping Brand Promises?

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What is the promise of the hotel, the airline, or the convenience store? What have you come to expect from brands you trust? Is your business, department, and team keeping brand promises?

It is what business is all about. The idea of the product and services that you would expect. Do you expect filet mignon at McDonalds? Will you find business suits for sale at a quick stop convenience store?

The answer to either may be, “Not yet!”

Setting the concept of changing marketplaces aside, what is your brand promise and is it being kept?

Features of the Promise

It is easy to take for granted and often misunderstood. How your customer base interprets your brand promise may be exactly why you’re growing or slowing.

While it may vary from sector to sector, here are a few important promises to consider:

  • Timely. Is what you offer timely? Is it cutting edge? Fresh fruit may be similar to fresh styles, new features, or updated offerings. Keep things fresh and always be on time.
  • Personal. Many buying choices come down to an emotional decision. This is too often overlooked in B-to-B transactions. In a connection economy think about how you are keeping it personal.
  • Generous. Much of American culture thrives on generosity. Generous portions of food, large drinks, and bottomless pots of coffee. What are you throwing into the deal? What are the special discounts that give more?

These apply to nearly every business or organization. Do they apply to you? Likely, yes!

Keeping Brand Promises

Product offerings or service providers, your brand is a promise. Ask your team, “What is our brand promise?” You may be surprised with the answers.

Your brand may be exactly why you are still in business. Of course, it may also be exactly why the business is growing exponentially or falling behind.

The team cannot deliver on promises that they don’t understand or are unable to keep.

Are you delivering? Keeping promises?

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer. 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.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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self-reflection

Self-Reflection May Be Your Stumbling Block

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Assessment is one of the most fundamental ways we seek to understand gaps. It is important for the speaker at the conference, the trainer helping to develop the team, and the coach who helps you change. Self-reflection, a form of assessment, may also be your biggest stumbling block.

Social Anxieties

Do you enjoy browsing on social networks? Why does it interest you? Do you engage, or quietly observe? Do you stalk, secretly looking to see what others are doing?

What do you find attractive about shopping? Whether it is online or in a brick and mortar store?

What are some of your favorite movies? What television series attracts your attention?

Why does the song or music resonate with you? What makes you feel it, helps you escape, or excites your emotions?

The answer to nearly all these questions has something to do with you. Individuals are striving to understand, feel, or compare. Their vision, thoughts, and feelings are a vicarious trip to the future, or an opportunity to relive the past.

When we look at the old yearbook photo, we seek first to find our own reflection. What were we wearing, how did we look? Too skinny, too fat, or why did we choose those clothes?

Why do so many selfies get adjusted? Add some dog ears, and a cute little nose.

All of this is not about everyone. It is however about someone. It is about you.

Self-Reflection

Self-reflection will always condition what happens next. It will condition your choice to spring into action or to fall back, hide, or regroup.

People are attracted to social networks because they are finding themselves. They may seek to find sympathy, regret, or someone to share in their sorrow. Maybe things aren’t that bad, or maybe they want appreciation for being the victim.

Other times they seek the energy, the excitement, the happiness, and the possibilities. They relive the best and think fondly of the past.

One truth about self-reflection, it is the thought we have right before what we become next.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer. 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.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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training priorities

Move Up, Move Down, Training Priorities

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A fundamental goal of nearly every business is to make money. Even non-profit organizations need revenue streams and outcomes associated with delivery. Do you have time for training? What are your training priorities?

The excuse that is hard to argue is the one that positions against the fundamental goal. Yet, there is a difference between never, and when the time is right.

Starbucks closed its doors yesterday (May 29, 2018) for employee training. In a move that many may criticize as having the wrong priorities, Starbucks appears insistent on change.

Move Up or Down

We filter our to-do lists every day. Some items move up, some move down, and some never seem to get any action. Is this the training plan for your business? Are the best businesses always shipping product or fulfilling services with no time for training?

It may be very tempting to believe that everyone just shows up, rolls up their sleeves, and starts shipping. After all, the business model is well known and the Company doesn’t survive without revenue. Certainly, revenue and fulfillment for today is important.

I would also venture a guess that growth is on the CEO’s mind. Scaling up, more people, more technology, and more costs, which means more revenue is required.

Most organizations don’t get better when they only believe in shipping. Their scale becomes balancing the status quo. Great people don’t join, good people don’t stay, and those who are left without options just continue to ship.

Training Priorities

It seems logical that not shipping wastes time and money. What is the cost of not training? What are your training priorities?

Is training worth closing the doors for a few hours, is it worth rotating some work or training in shifts? What will the outcome be?

Employees typically rise to the competence of the most skilled in their environment. They communicate, get along, and engage at the level of group acceptance.

Quality, service, and caring about the outcomes improves with training. Reducing harmful conflict, having a customer centric focus, and leading the way to future growth happens with advancement, not the status quo.

Most people have a fundamental goal connected with work too, they want to make money.

It seems ironic when the intrinsic goals are similar, that planning to improve employee performance slides so far down the list.

-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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born or made

Born or Made, Is This What Defines Your Career?

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It has been a debate for a long time. Are people born with talent, skills, and abilities, or do they work differently, harder, and with enough persistence to attain a higher level. What about your career, is it born or made?

When we see a really old tree, we wonder how it weathered all of those years. The cycle of the seasons, unexpected weather conditions, predators, insects, and even a human with an axe. There is almost a level of respect for its survival. It wasn’t born this way, it was made across time.

It is similar for the athlete. A fit, slender, or muscular shape, a stride or walk that displays confidence, they weren’t born this way. Most people give respect, because they know that it took hours of hard work, a good diet, and the discipline to stick with it.

About Your Career

Some people wonder, is a skill, talent, or simple good fortune born to you, or is it made? Certainly, some families have achieved levels of financial wealth, political positioning, or Hollywood status that jumps starts the career of their offspring. This is true for very few.

For everyone else, the extra effort is required. Everyone has a story of shortcomings, being overlooked, passed over, and unrecognized for what they offer. Additionally, many of the most successful have a story of countless hours and gigantic sacrifices they made along the way.

Of course, we can’t forget the envious, those with the misfortune, diversions, or a lack of money to really make it big. Certainly, these may be real factors that affect the speed, timing, and the ability to sustain. They often become an excuse, valid or not, about why some cannot achieve.

Does this answer the born or made question?

Born or Made

We see both ends of the continuum, but what is the third element? Either side has reasons for their position. Everything else is just in the middle, the mean, an average.

Some will talk about excuses. Others will express a lack of interest, a lack of desire, or unlucky breaks. Still others will proclaim that they weren’t born with it.

If you aren’t making your story better, maybe it is time to turn over a new leaf.

A tree may be born from a seed, how it grows is a different story.

– DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is a five-time author and some of his work includes, #CustServ The Customer Service Culture, and Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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