Passion Depletion?

We all have days, sometimes weeks, months even years when our enthusiasm and love for life is not as high as we want it to be. Don’t we?

We all suffer bouts of ‘passion depletion’.

In my world ‘passion’ is not just about enthusiasm, love and enjoyment.  It is also a measure of suffering – as in ‘the passion of Christ’.

It is a measure of how much suffering we are prepared to put up with to pursue that which we love.  It is linked to the question ‘Are you willing to pay the price for the success that you desire?’  What will you put up with, put at risk in order to pursue your dream?  How many hours of practice, research, writing, planning and thinking?

In this formulation ‘passion depletion’ (now meaning a reduction in the amount of suffering you are prepared to put up with in order to pursue your goals) is a sign that you are falling out of love with your original goal.  Perhaps there is something else that you would rather suffer for?

It maybe a very positive sign that ‘new doors’ are opening.

I know that this formulation about suffering is not popular, but for me it does reflect more of the truth of day to day life and professional and private practice.  It provides me with a useful benchmark against which to gauge my life choices.

When some of your team seem to have ‘passion depletion’  it might be telling you, and them, something important.

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Mini Me or Maxi You?

mini-me

When you teach, coach and instill a new way of thinking into every employee in your company, so that when employees are faced with any decision, they would do whatever YOU would do as the business owner or leader, you very quickly create a company which stands out in its market place as one which is attentive, alert and focused on its customers needs.

Richard Parkes Cordock

Richard Parkes Cordock produces great advice for managers and entrepreneurs.  I am an especially big fan of the Millionaire MBA programme.

However I think he has got this bit wrong.

I want to employ people:

  • who can do things that I can’t do,
  • who can see choices that I can’t see,
  • who act from their own unique perspective to take the action that they believe will be best for them and the business.

Success depends on diversity not a monoculture of mini mes.

More Resources for Learning and Coaching

You might want to add this site to your brainstorming resources when you are coaching your team members.

It is 100 free websites where you/they can learn about all things business.

The Knowing Doing Gap

Mind The Gap

The single biggest challenge in my work with managers is to help them cross the gaping chasm between knowing and doing.

The open sores of apathy and fear that stand between understanding and acting.

What I teach:

  • communication,
  • building relationships,
  • feedback,
  • coaching,
  • delegation,
  • performance management and so on,

is all pretty easy to understand.

Knowing this stuff is not the problem.

The problem is taking what is known and understood and acting on it consistently and skillfully.  This takes both courage and skill – but mainly courage.

  • Courage to say things that we wouldn’t normally say
  • Courage to step outside of habits and comfort zones
  • Courage to live in the face of tension
  • Courage to open and honest

So what is stopping you from acting on what you know and understand?

Courage or skill?

I am working on a number of new approaches to provide a series of nudges to bolster courage and skills and to help break free from old habits and routines.

Watch this space!

Measuring Management

Managers spend much of their time measuring – market share, year on year sales, voids, arrears, return on investment, customer satisfaction, orders fulfilled, calls handled per hour, orders placed, orders fulfilled (again), total invoiced, hours billed, attendance, productivity per employee etc

Why the obsession with measuring stuff?

Because it gives us the data to recognise what has changed, what needs to change, and when we make the change – whether it has had the impact we planned.

But none of these metrics are about US – the manager.  They are all about the performance of the system and the people that we manage.  And this often lets us of the hook for making real change in the way we manage.

What if we measured some more personal aspects of our management efforts?

  • how much time we spend listening in 121 conversation with team members
  • how many times we give REAL feedback – affirmative and adjusting – each day/week
  • how often we make sarcastic or cynical comments
  • how many times we interrupt others mid-sentence
  • how often we check our blackberry in meetings
  • how often we talk about values and vision
  • the amount of time we spend in meetings that are inefficient or worse
  • how many coaching contracts we put in place with our team members
  • what percentage of coaching contracts achieved their goals
  • how many significant tasks we genuinely delegated (rather than then allocated) because they provide great development opportunities
  • percentage of working time allocated to pursuing key objectives
  • how often we acknowledge our own development opportunities and make planned conscious change in our behaviours

I am convinced that if we started to measure our own personal performance in relation to some of these more personal aspects of management, most of us would we would pretty quickly get some powerful data on what we needed to change.  Measurement would also pretty quickly confront us with the fact that our perceptions of our performance are markedly different from reality.

As we make planned changes based on measurements of our own personal behaviours we will soon see a very positive impact in some of the more traditional areas where measurement prevails.  The act of measurement itself would also increase the likelihood of planned changes being implemented and seen through.  That after all is perhaps the main reason why we measure.

To make sure that important things get done.

Finding Feedback Difficult? Try Feedforward!

Great and very simple exercise from Marshall Goldsmith designed to help you get seriously useful ideas for your professional development.

Name the area in which you wish to improve. – e.g. I want to be a better leader.

Tell someone, almost anyone  ‘I want to be a better leader‘.

Ask them for two ideas for things to do that would help you become a better leader.

After they have offered their suggestions – simply say ‘Thank you‘.  No discussions, no debate, no analysis – just ‘Thank you‘.

This should work brilliantly in 121s as a way of getting information on how you can improve.

Pluck up the courage to try it.  It works.

Ten Steps to Better Management

Step 1: Clarify, negotiate, and commit to your role as manager.

  • Many management jobs will have changed priorities in response to the current economy.
  • Check with your manager that you are doing what is best for the organisation.
  • Check with your conscience that you are doing what is best for you and your team.
  • Check that you are prepared to do the work that will help others to be outstanding.

Step 2: Understand the results you are expected to produce.

  • If you are to be recognised as an outstanding manager you need to know what excellence looks like.
  • At the moment you might be expected to drive costs down while producing more value.
  • Watch out for mediocrity. Expect excellence. Don’t let the current climate be an excuse to cut corners.

Step 3: Know your business.

  • Know what excellence looks like. Recognise the behaviours and habits that lead to it.
  • Recognise behaviours and habits that undermine it.
  • Understand the metrics that are relevant to your part of the business. Use them to get better.
  • Understand what your organisation needs from you – now.

Step 4: Build a great team.

  • Recruit, develop and retain people who will take responsibility and work independently – within parameters agreed with you!
  • To make sure you retain your best staff in difficult times talk to them – give them control – give them the chance to shape the organisation and their future in it.
  • Build a team that you can lead – not a flock that you have to herd.

Step 5: Ensure your team knows what excellence looks like.

  • Feedback, feedback, feedback.
  • Coach, coach, coach
  • Delegate, delegate, delegate
  • If you are not sure what constitutes excellence in your business – FIND OUT QUICKLY!

Step 6: Plan – with flexibility.

  • Review and revise plans on a weekly basis.
  • Expect progress on a weekly basis.
  • 121s are ideal for this.

Step 7: Get out of their way.

  • Help them to do great work.
  • Listen to them.
  • Understand what stops them from being great.
  • Get barriers out of their way.

Step 8: Be engaging.

  • Be positive and constructive.
  • Smile a lot.
  • Be energetic and hopeful.

Step 9: Proactively manage progress.

  • While change IS inevitable – progress is not.
  • Make sure that everyone knows what constitutes progress and has their own plan to make it.

Step 10: Leave a legacy: develop people and the organisation’s capacity to produce results.

  • better meetings
  • more focus
  • more knowledge and skills
  • more professionalism
  • better execution
  • higher standards

This post was inspired by Lisa Haneberg over at Management Craft.

Performance Management, Performance Reviews and Appraisals

I was asked by a manager yesterday to help to clarify the difference between performance management and appraisal.  I don’t think I did a great job  so I thought I would try again!

Performance management is a system with four parts:

  1. Specify the desired level of performance for the thing you are trying to manage (people, programs, products or services)
  2. Measuring performance – collecting and recording reliable data, both quantitative and qualitative
  3. Using data to compare actual performance to what is desired – recognising gaps between what is desired and what highlighting –  variances
  4. Communicating performance information – to those that are most able to use it to make progress

Performance management can happen at a number of different levels:

  1. The performance of strategies and plans at the organisational level
  2. The performance of products, services and programs
  3. The performance of teams, department or units
  4. The performance of individual employees

A key task for a manager is to decide at which level an investment in performance management is most likely to pay off.  In my experience an investment in the performance management of individual employees drives improvements at the team, product/service and organisational levels.

Performance Reviews and Appraisals are a small but important part of good performance management at the level of the individual employee and the team or business unit.  When aggregated they can also provide powerful contributions to performance management at the organisational level.

However these ‘one-off’ annual interventions need to be supplemented by more frequent processes for measurement, monitoring and change to keep up with the dynamic context in which organisations operate.  These interventions would include:

  • 121s and quarterly reviews,
  • feedback,
  • coaching and
  • delegation.

Collectively these provide a manager with a powerful framework for the performance management of individuals and teams.  Few managers that I meet consistnelty use these intervnetions with rigour, conviction and compassion. As a consequence they are at best ‘mediocre’.  Without them the likelihood of real progress being made is small.  Putting these simple interventions into practice can transform mediocrity into excellence.

Measurement is central to performance management, but it is a double edged sword that has to handled skillfully.

“People revert to metrics out of fear, not out of vision.”

(Patrick Lencioni)

Measurement is often about the minimum requirements and rarely helps to articulate a grand design.  It tends to lead to reductionist thinking and may have little to do with the ‘high ground’ of excellence.

“Managers who don’t know how to measure what they want settle for wanting what they can measure.”

( Ackoff & Addison)

Most managers spend to little time considering what they expect from an excellent employee.

  • What would excellence look like?
  • How would I recognise it?
  • How would I ensure that excellence was contagious?

Even if managers do have a conception of excellence they rarely build in the time to collect the data and establish the working relationships necessary to achieve it.  Typically this means observing people at work, giving feedback, coaching and so on.  What Tom Peters referred to as ‘Managing By Wandering Around’.

Instead managers retreat to the easy, low ground of using what they can easily measure as a proxy for performance.  They become mole whackers.  Things that are difficult to measure are neglected, while things that are easy to measure become important.

Performance management is just a tool. It can be used to

  • move your agenda forward – what is your agenda? What does progress look like?
  • provide powerful messages about what matters – it doesn’t have to be precise, just influential – what are you trying to influence?

Without Valleys There Can Be No Mountains

I am not sure where I first collected this quote but the more I think about it the more I see its relevance to effective management.

To me it means that wherever there is a great strength there is also a great weakness.  You cannot have one without the other.  Ying and Yang. I think this relates to a Jungian concept that whatever light shows us our way forward will always cast a corresponding shadow.

If this is the case then it becomes impossible to minimise a weakness without compromising the strength with which it is paired.

It also means that whenever we see a weakness we should look for the corresponding strength.  This is important because so many managers become almost obsessed by fixing problems rather than by celebrating and maximising strengths.

So when you find yourself recognising a weakness in yourself or others – spend a few moments looking for the corresponding strength.

2. Say ‘Thank You’ and Smile…

When someone pays you a compliment.

Most of us are lousy at taking compliments.

We often  respond by down sizing our achievements;

‘Oh really it was nothing’

or

‘I was just doing my job’.

This down sizing achieves nothing worthwhile.

First of all it negates the judgement and the goodwill of the person  who offered you the compliments making it less likely they will compliment you in the future.

Secondly it is a kind of powerful ‘self talk’ that is bad for own self image.  We really begin to believe that our efforts were ‘nothing’ or it was JUST ‘doing my job’.

So next time someone pays you a compliment just smile and say ‘Thank You’.

NB: Perhaps you should get in the habit of giving more compliments too – but you may find the process discouraging as many of those you pay compliments too will react by downsizing.  To avoid this you can tag a question onto your compliment that will prevent them from downsizing.  So instead of saying;

‘I love the hair cut.’

try;

‘I love the hair cut.  Where did you get it done?’.

This trivial addition prevents downsizing and helps to get through the embarrassing seconds of silence that might otherwise follow.