2016 – Give the Gift of Feedback

Throughout the workplace, people are emerging back from vacations, turning their calendars and perhaps wishing they could push the snooze button for one more day…. Just perhaps

The dawn of 2016 also opens the season of annual performance reviews.  This tends to make people want to crawl back under the covers as managers deliver 10-20 of these reports.

Can I challenge you to embrace this season and encourage you to see feedback as a gift that is worth giving; not just once or twice a year?  Let’s make 2016 the year you give people continual and concrete feedback.  Creating a feedback rich environment will cement your culture as a place where “everyone gets better everyday.”

As a leader, it is one of the most significant changes you can make to increase the level of performance, alignment and satisfaction of your employees and co-workers.

Why is this:

  1. Most people are never told, specifically, that they are doing well and where they can improve. You might be the first person to give them effective feedback.
  2. Most people are never shown the outcome of their behavior.
  3. Most people never get supportive feedback that is specific and applicable.
  4. Most people are never told of their blind-spots, until it is too late.
  5. Most people crave it… Certainly the kids of people you want on your team do.

If any of the above is true, why don’t we do it more.

Carole Rubin states it this way..  “But providing feedback to a colleague or a friend can be difficult and scary, especially when it concerns something that is hurting your company or your relationship with that person. That fear, Robin says, is based on a belief that many hold that constructive criticism will harm the relationship…. The reality is that feedback can actually strengthen a relationship, because knowing that another person is going to tell it to you straight creates and builds trust….Taking the risk of providing feedback shows the other person that you are invested in the relationship and willing to take the time to help fix the issue.”

No matter where you have been…Here are some places to start….

  1. Feedback Needs to be Constructive:

Feedback is applying how actions contributed or detracted from the team and its overall performance. Random criticism and nit-picking is not the feedback that will get you anywhere.  Might make you feel better but it not worth the cost.

There is an urban legend of IBM founder Thomas Watson….  The legend goes that a top salesman lost $5 million on a project he’d been working on.

Called to see the boss, the salesman prepared to be fired. However, once he was ushered into Watson’s office, he was surprised to find that Watson cheerfully started discussing the next big project they were planning.

Dazed and confused the salesman asked Watson if he was going to fire him for the loss.  “Fire you?” responded Watson. “Why would we want to fire you when we’ve just spent $5 million training you up?”

The Point:  There are times, you will have to fire someone but if you want an open environment where people get better, you have to do it together, and you have to lead this from the top.  Feedback is not shaming, it is an opportunity to get better.

2.  Feedback Needs to be Consistent

If Feedback is saved for a couple times and year and worse yet, tied to the same time of pay increases, people are so geared up for it that they can not really take it in.  There is just too much emotion.  People also need feedback more quickly on behavior so that these changes can be applied and recognized.

People can only absorb 1-2 things at at time.  If changing behavior was easy…  well, then it would be easy.  It is just not.  Until the robots are ready…  Anyway, think about how you like to get feedback and start there.

Too often we put off giving feedback when someone does something that bugs us. We say, “it’s not a big deal.”  Over time, the person does the same thing again, and again. Now we are hacked off at the person.  This is a leadership issue, not a behavioral one.

The Point.  What gets measured, gets done.  When we focus on constant, consistent feedback, we take the emotion out of it and put the focus on constant and consistent improvement.

3.  Feedback Needs to Focused on Person and Progress

In order for someone to receive and apply feedback, there are a couple of vitals.

They Trust You

OK, there is really ONE vital element for feedback to be effective.

How do you build this trust?

  • Tie Feedback to Their Goals.  Example.”  I know you want to lead this team one day….
  • Make the Feedback Behavior Specific.  This behavior caused this reaction. Specific feedback influences specific behavior.  General feedback changes general behavior.
  • Balance Positive and Negative Feedback
  • Be Transparent – Be open to talking about your journey
  • Be Open and Seek Out Feedback about yourself.

Giving effective come more naturally for some then others but there is no excuse. you may have to practice.  So get out there and practice.  Ask for forgiveness if you come on too strong or unintentionally offend someone.  Let’s get better… Everyday.

Gloriously Inconvenient Christmas

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.

God is in the Miracle Business. He creates worlds, creates stars, and created us.

God also is Truth. He doesn’t speak truth, He is truth. It is impossible for God to lie. Everything He says, happens.

So when He says that He has good plans for us, we can believe this and even more. We can believe that He has a plan that is better than we can ask or imagine.

This week, we will celebrate the Miracle of Christmas, the birth of our Savior, Jesus. We will celebrate that through God’s love and perfect plan he created a way for us to know him and have eternal life.

He has a good plan, but let’s look at the other word of God’s promise in Jeremiah.… He says His plan will not lead to Disaster.   He did not promise he would not not inconvenience us, He promised, He wouldn’t ruin us.

So, let’s look closer at the Christmas story.

  • Angel comes to a young Girl…. Bam!!! You’re Pregnant.
  • Hey Fiancée, “I ‘m Pregnant.” It’s God’s…you know… The Messiah.
  • Hey Family… Guess What
  • Oh Babe, You’re 8 Months pregnant. Get ready for a mule ride to Bethlehem
  • We’re here… There are no rooms.
  • It’s OK babe, I found a barn for us to have the baby.
  • Yeah, I ‘m sorry no family is here, but we have some shepherds.

The Christmas story is full of inconveniences, some HUGE, some small. Each time the person chose to believe that God’s plan would not lead to disaster but to a fulfillment of His promise. He promise, made 700 years before in the Book of Micah is that the Savior of the world would be born to a virgin in Bethlehem.

But you, O Bethlehem, are only a small village among all the people of Judah.Yet a ruler of Israel,… And he will stand to lead his flock with the Lord’s strength, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God.Then his people will live there undisturbed, for he will be highly honored around the world. And He will be the source of peace.”

Many today have bought into a philosophy that God would not want us to be inconvenienced; God would not want to disrupt our good lives.   Actually, that is exactly what He is looking to do.

Look again at the Christmas Story, and throughout history and you will see where God asks this question. “Do you want relationship with me more than your current schedule or plan?” He is in the disrupting business because our plans would not lead to Him, but His plan leads to an eternal life with Him for us and for others.

Aren’t we glad that Mary and Joseph said, “Yes.”

In this Christmas week, I am praying that we all embrace a little holy disruption to our tradition and that we open that God’s great promise is worth a detour or two.

 

 

 

 

You have Everything You Need

By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence.”  2 Peter 1:3

I get asked where my confidence in God comes through. I am not much of a “Rah, Rah” guy but I am that annoying one who looks at what you have, good or bad and says two things:

1.  What are you going to do now? – Your bus is parked wherever you drove it, if you don’t like it, get back in the bus and drive it somewhere else.

2.  What do you need to get moving?  Most of the times, we don’t recognize how much we have.  We need to take an attitude of abundance and get rid ofour attitude of scarcity.  God has given us more than enough to accomplish what He has asked us to do.

I was not born with an unshakeable faith.  I don’t even think I have it yet.  It has become stronger because I realize that I am loved more than I can imagine no matter what and since God loves me that much, He would never set me up to fail.

Do we sometime s feel like:  We Failed, We are not worthy, We would rather not, sure but this shows more about our nature, not His.

You see, God has given us everything we need to live the life He asks us to lead.  You just need to recognize what is around you and that you are not alone in your life.  Make some room and take advantage of what He gave you.

Say it with Me, “I am not alone.”

Here is a partial list of all of the resources God gave us to help us along the way..  I guarantee, it is more than you thought you have.

God’s Promises – Gold tells us to be strong and courageous because, “He will neither fail you nor abandon you.”   This is one of hundreds of promises that He is always with us, encouraging us and fighting our battles.

The Bible – God did not leave us to guess what we should do.  Get into the Bible and just see what happens.  The Word is alive and more that enough.

The Holy Spirit –  Jesus says “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate,[b] who will never leave you. 17 He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth.”  The Holy Spirit is your helper.

Prayer –   Prayer builds faith and your relationship with God..  “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.”  Philippians 4. That’s right, start talking and then start listening.

Other People“For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.” Matthew 18. We were never intended to go through life alone. You may just be one relationship away from everything you need. If you don’t have everything you need, look around, you need to know someone else. Open yourself up and start living with the understanding We Are Better Together.

God expects us to act and move with the Humility of a follower and the confidence of a leader. This is that powerful connection that allows Him to work it all out for the good of those who love Him.

You can do this. Better yet, let’s do it together.

Excellence is Your Best Long Term Growth Strategy

My grandfather used to day that, “Excellence was its own Reward.” Sounded like an excuse not to pay me at the time.

This was reinforced by my father. He would make us go back outside and rewash the car a second time without even seeing it. He would put it this way. There is no way you could have done your best that fast. He new that rushing a job meant we cut corners and he didn’t even have to see it, to know. Man, I hated that. BTW, He didn’t pay me either… just sayin.

Of course He was right and of coarse I didn’t want to admit it.

Something must have stuck because I got my first job at the balloon shop, I would try and find ways to do my job better, sell more balloons, delight the customers and make the store a fun place to work. If I had time, I put it to work.

I didn’t make more money, but everyone had a better time and the business improved. I also had a better time at work and a job became a joy.

That experience and my grandfather’s wisdom has stayed with me throughout my life.   I find the more I help others improve, the better we all get and the fuller my life becomes.

Today, there is a lot of talk around “building your brand. “ Many want their brand to be relevant, innovative, hip, bleeding edge, a leader, people-focused, etc….

I get it, these are good and helpful. May I boldly state that the world needs most of all are people who will build their brand and companies on Excellence for the Sake of Excellence?

Apple, Tesla, Chick-Fil-A, Virgin Air are all examples of “excellence led” companies where what they produce delights and overwhelms their customers and the process they use encourage and promote innovation.

They then build systems that support you through your interaction. Their systems and product are all designed to deliver an experience that is unique and purposefully different than their competitors.

Put a Chick-Fill-A in NY and just see what happens. Long lines…. That what happens… Repeat Customers… that what happens…. Incredible Growth… That what happens. Chick-Filet and Apple releases have a ton in common. One just comes with pickles.

Excellence is the quality of being outstanding or extremely good.

Here are three things to consider as you contemplate how you want to infuse excellence into your team, company, group, community, church, or non-profit.

Excellence is not Perfection – Perfectionism is nasty and not reachable. It limits thoughts, innovation and progress by only focusing on output.. Excellence is focused on doing the best you can and then getting better. Excellence drives Innovation, Open Thought and a focus on the process and output.

Excellence is not tied to Compensation, or Title – Excellence is, in fact, its own reward. Thanks grandpa… My grandfather started out working in a service station. One of his customers would come in twice a year to change his tires. He would always ask for my grand-father. This was back just after World War 2 and my grandpa had served in the army. One time, this man had come in with a proposition. He wanted to start a fuel company and he wanted my grandpa to run it.

Grandpa didn’t know anything about running a fuel company. The man said this to him. “I can teach you about fuel, but this is a people business, and I can’t teach someone to treat people with the care that you have.” They ran that business together for over 20 years.

We all work in a people business. Don’t let your job define how you act, Let your excellence infuse your job. Excellence opens doors and people are attracted to it.

Excellence is not a sometimes thing – Excellence is not limited to your job, your role and those things at your work. Excellence is a mindset of where we decide that whatever we produce, whatever we spend our time on is done to the best of our ability. It becomes a process where I measure my life and I will then commit to get a little better everyday in everything.   From being a father, husband, leader, pastor, son and friend… If it worth doing…. It is worth doing well.

Hope this helps. Now, Let’s Get Moving.

So, You Want To Sell the Enterprise?

Every Start-up reaches that point where the “Enterprise” segment becomes the next Step… I mean, just look at all that money. They are big, their logos would look so sexy on your web-site and again, look at all that money.

For some, it is not the appropriate next step. More often, businesses get sunk because of the amount of resources it takes to swim in this pond.

It is OK to dip your toe in and determine what it will take for you to sell to the Enterprise.

Before we start, just because you have soled to a couple of larger organizations have bought from you, does not lean you already to proactively sell to the Enterprise. Listen to the early adopters but most in the Enterprise space are not.

You won’t be perfect at it so move forward and keep getting better. Have an answer for what is below. Even if it not perfect, just don’t be surprised. You need to look like you have been there, even if you haven’t

First, Define what Enterprise means to you. … Global 2000. Fortune 1000, Companies over $1B, Companies over 5000 employees, Large Law Firms, etc. If you can’t define it, please don’t try and sell to it. Remember, Aim small, miss small as you get started. Test everything on your way to big.

Next, Is your product/service Ready?   Time to take a long look in the mirror and ask a couple hard questions:

  • Do we provide value to this segment? What changes need to be made?
  • Does the product of service work the way a large organization will use it?
  • Can we actually roll it out? Even SAAS has to scale.

Now, Can you sell it?

Sales Cycles tend to be much longer as the deals get bigger. Weeks will become months and it will be weeks even after you hear, “yes.”  Here are some of the top things you will have to prepare for:

  1. Security – Whether it is specific regulations like HIPPA, GLBA, or ISO27001, every Enterprise customer has a least one Security Expert whose job it seems like it just to say, “Will this work with our security?”
  2. Liability – You may not have had to deal with this before but get ready and make sure your contracts are tight and your contract team has experience.
  3. Professional Procurement – Welcome to working with people where buying things is their full-time job. They are judged by their ability to get a good deal for their company. .. Not yours. They get things done but also make sure it follows a process. This will not speed up your deal.
  4. Pricing – Don’t, Don’t, Don’t fall into the trap of giving pricing early. You will feel this pricing pressure throughout the sales process. This is a negotiation… from Beginning to End. Too often the eager beaver is stuck eating a toothpick because he gave away the tree.
  5. RFP – These three letters (or the just as nefarious RIP and RFQ) have been written on more tombstones of start-ups who had an innovative solution. You job at this level is to get to the next step. Don’t provide more resources than are necessary but make sure you nail it.
  6. Contracts – The negotiation, the process and the contracts will all of a sudden get longer and
  7. Size – People have to believe your company will be around. People will not risk their job for even a better technology if they think there is a chance. Your bigger competition will drop landmines all over this one.
  8. Cost of Sales – Sales people become more expensive, Cost of sales go up with travel. Make sure you test your way into this as well. Make sure there is substance in your sales team and leaders, not just flash.
  9. Cost of Support – Welcome to Quarterly Business Review, metrics, etc. These customers are going to want a dedicated person or team. They will stand in line for resolution.

Many SAAS and Platform Start-Up companies today are making a killing in the SMB and Mid-Market. Fewer of them have made a significant impact in enterprise. Eventually, you will need to navigate this jump into the ocean of Enterprise Selling like Salesforce, LinkedIn, etc.

We did not touch on using a Reseller Network, VAR and Partners to sell. We will touch on that one later.

You may decide to not play, yet. Continue to let the early adopters teach you as you go. Enterprise Selling will change how your organization Goes-to-Market, so go in with Eyes Wide Open.

What Did I Miss? Would love your thoughts.

Leadership Requires Sacrifice

Real Leadership Requires Sacrifice.

There are many examples of leadership are out there and I have been so blessed to be able to learn from some of the greatest. Three examples are all around us.

Three that impacted me greatly are:

John Maxwell – “Learn to say ‘no’ to the good so you can say ‘yes’ to the best.”

Marshall Goldsmith – “What got you here won’t get you there.”

John KotterA higher rate of urgency does not imply ever-present panic, anxiety, or fear. It means a state in which complacency is virtually absent.”

No words impact me like the words of Jesus. No one inspires and reassures me like Him. He epitomizes what is it to make incredible impact by loving people like crazy. He was never too busy speaking to thousands that he missed an opportunity to teach the one right in front of him.

In John 10, Jesus lays out one of his most impactful lessons to his disciples. While describing himself, he also lays out what it is to be driven by a vision and how to influence with confidence and sacrifice.

  1. The Gate Keeper Opens the Gate for you – You are recognized. God Open the Door for you. If you are leading your family, your team, your division, your church or your company. You are created by God on purpose and for a purpose. He opens the gate for you and if He opens it, no one can shut it.

You can lead from this place of security. Even if you are not where you thought or wanted to be. God has you in the right place for this season. Lead well, where you are.

  1. The Sheep know your voice and will come to you. – There are specific people you are designed to encourage, reach and impact. Your job is to speak the truth in love, encourage, and help. Those that you influence, will be helped by you. Don’t change what God called you to do based solely on the feedback of people.

Only Jesus was deigned to reach the entire world. Not so with the rest of us. You don’t have to carry that burden. You just have to introduce them to a savior and let Him carry it the rest of the way..

Be impactful to those who are in your lives. Don’t miss out on the miracle God is trying to do through you because you were trying to get more “likes”, more followers or a larger audience. Don’t confuse larger crowds for more impact.

  1. You have other sheep… You just have to find them. As you are impacting those around you, God will call you to reach more. He will increase your influence and part of that may mean that He may move you. He may move you to a different company, a new neighborhood or across the country.

Don’t fall more in love with the comforts of your pasture than that mission that God gave you… to impact and love people.   He will never tire of going after people so we must be willing and obedient when He calls us to go… or even more courageous….to stay.

  1. Lay your life down.…. Willingly… This is where Jesus goes all Gangster on people. He knows he will be taken to the cross, beaten, whipped and crucified. But he says. “No one can take my life from me.   I sacrifice it voluntarily. For I have the authority to lay it down when I want.”

While I am thankful for incredible leadership principles and models, It is only sacrificial, servant leadership that truly changes people.   Models teach discipline and that has a purpose. Sacrificial love changes that heart.

We can’t do this on our own… At least not for very long. We give and then see how people react. What if we loved regardless of people’s reaction.? What if we gave up our paring spot to the guy who flipped us the “One Way to Heaven” while we were driving What if we were the biggest encourager and supporter of the person who got he promotion we wanted?

That love, real love is what will change the world.

Leadership isn’t about a title. Whether you are at the bottom or top of the organization, you are required to lead well.  You have everything you need to accomplish your task today.

You were built for this.  Let’s go Get it.

5 Ways to Have a Greater Impact

In the world today many people are overwhelmed at what is going on. Maybe something is stirring in side of you. We want to make a difference but may not know where to start.  You are not alone.

Maybe you want to have a greater impact in your community, at work, in school or in your family. Maybe you want to take a leadership position and start leading people in government or in your company. Maybe you want to start organizing your community or your church to pull together and make a difference.  Heck, maybe you just want to have a neighborhood BBQ.

I get this. Here are 5 areas that can help you get started, keep you moving and make sure you are able to stay in the game for a long time.

There is no Impact without Contact

Life is a contact sport. Start with the people in front of you. Don’t miss the miracle God wants to do right outside your door. Many times, we will walk by the one we can impact the most because they are the one we will see daily.  Stop and look whom you can help today.

Aim Small… Miss Small

Be specific with what you want to do then start moving in that direction. Your dreams can and should be big. Just don’t make them general. Be purposeful with your walk and your time.

Big accomplishments are achieved through a series of small victories. Progress is made one step at a time.

 Provide Value – Start with the Question… “How can I help?”

Making an Impact is about those you want to reach, lead, teach and help. You will be blessed by and through it you will find out that you gained more out of it than those you helped. Shift the focus to others and trust that God will always take care of you.

Make sure that you are focused on bringing value every time. The world is too busy for more meetings that transfer information.

Value breaks through the noise. Value changes people.

 Embrace the Small Beginnings

It breaks my heart to think most potentially incredible leaders give up before they even really get started.

 You may want to be an executive but for right now you are leading one intern. You want to speak in front of thousands but right now, your mom is the only one who listens to your podcast or Blog. (God Bless Moms) You may want to be at the end of your journey but you are just getting started.

The beginning is when you get to build the foundation of who you are without the pressure of others. Focus on building a strong foundation and keep moving forward. Embrace and Enjoy this time.

Lastly, your voice, your hands, your ideas are needed. Don’t think someone else has it all figured it all out. People need to hear you.

 Don’t Quit

This one is the most important. Don’t every underestimate what God can do with someone who is willing. Your final story is not yet written. You may have messed us in the past, fix it and keep moving. You may have been trying to plow ground for years, keep plowing. The only way to blow it is to quit.

Your breakthrough is closer than you think. Keep praying that you are on the right track and stay fresh. Too often people give up too soon. They jump from idea to idea… from company to company…. from church to church and they wonder why they never see the fruit of their labor.

Fruit grows where you plant it. Stay in the game. Keep at it, get better every day, learn from experience and apply that be more effective.

People will learn more from your persistence than they ever will from your advice.

God Bless You.

Please let me know what you are working on so I can be praying for you. nothing would bless me more.  What is in your heart matters.

Now, Let’s get Moving.