Entries by gmader

Stop Prioritizing and Start Promising!

You would think that getting your priorities straight would be the answer to the overwhelming, stressful burden of too many commitments, too little time and scarce resources.  Well, you may want to think again! Setting priorities is definitely a solution, but it isn’t the most powerful and effective one. You write down everything you are supposed to do, want to do, said you would do and have to do. You then take that list and through some form of screening criteria, rank each in order of importance, sense of opportunity, urgency or obligation. You then tackle each item on your to-do list in order of importance starting with the “A” priorities then, as time and capacity […]

How to make your meetings more productive and fulfilling – part two

In my last blog, I stated that one of the most common complaints I hear in organizations is “We have too many meetings.” To coordinate and drive a complex team and business you do need enough points of contacts to make sure plans are clear and people are on the same page. Getting all the stakeholders in one room at one time is often the most effective way to do that. Unfortunately, even though people have the right intent at heart because they don’t know how to run effective conversations people too often leave these meetings feeling that they didn’t produce enough value and progress, and therefore they were a waste of their time. And […]

How to make your meetings more productive and fulfilling – part one

One of the most common complaints I hear in organizations is “we have too many meetings.” I believe in most organizations there are too many meetings. However, I also believe that what is causing people’s frustrations about meetings is the fact that most meetings are ineffective. They don’t produce enough and they don’t leave people with the experience of ‘time well-spent’ and having produced great accomplishments. If you make your meetings much more powerful and effective I believe people will feel differently about “too many meetings.” Here are a few practical tips for making your meetings much more productive and fulfilling: Focus on achieving outcomes, not discussing topics This guideline may seem simple and common […]

How much honesty can you stomach?

If you ask the senior leaders of any organization how things are going in their organization, they would probably give you an upbeat, positive, optimistic description. If you then ask the shop-floor employees, the same question you would probably hear a different story. From many years of experience, I can attest that there is often a dissonance between how senior leaders view their organizational and business reality and how employees do. While senior leaders often paint a rosier picture and claim that things are going well, even if there are issues, their people often highlight all the issues and describe things as not going that well. In addition, employees often express frustrations about their senior […]

Is your team extraordinary? If not, do you know how to make it so?

If you want to know if your team is ORDINARY or EXTRAORDINARY simply ‘put your ear to the ground’ and listen to the internal conversations that are taking place within your team. In an ordinary team when people deal with challenges and new opportunities, the conversations are often oriented around how hard it will be, why it won’t succeed, what are the barriers and problems that will get in the way, and whose fault it is that these problems are in place. Eavesdrop on people’s ‘around the cooler’ conversations and you will most likely hear phrases such as: “This sucks!”,”You would never believe what happened to me today…”, “They only care about themselves…” and “It’s all […]

How’s your team health? Time for a checkup?

The CEO, of a global service company I worked with, focused only on the bottom line of the business and didn’t put a lot of focus on the ‘softer’ side of the business, including building his own leadership team. However, when he identified that his team was not working effectively together and he felt that this was now negatively impacting the company’s performance, he decided to invest the time to train his leaders to operate as a high-performance team. When he started this training with his leadership team their trust was low, leaders were engaged in back-channel chatter and avoiding addressing the business issues, as well as their own inner-personal issues and conflicts, in an […]

Are you managing your objectives or are they managing you?

Aspiring people have personal and professional goals as do most driven teams. However, having goals is a double-edged sword. Goals could be a blessing or a curse, depending on how you relate to them. Why? We create goals in order to focus, compel and motivate ourselves and others. If we are ambitious, we typically take on bold and aggressive ones. We don’t stop there; we typically create a detailed execution plan with strategies and milestones. Then we delve into implementing our goals and it doesn’t take long before we are so immersed in the roller coaster of our day-to-day life that we forget that we are the ones who came up with our goals in […]

Can your team handle the tough conversations?

You could say that any team is as strong as its ability to handle and engage in sensitive and tough conversations. The easy ones are easy. Two types of conversation are typically sensitive and tough for people to have – giving or receiving critical or negative feedback, and any topic that requires them to put their own personal feelings, egos, pride and/or agendas aside for the greater good of their company or team. It could be something more complex such as deciding which team to invest in, which team member to promote or re-allocating resources and budgets from one leader’s team to another. It could be something as simple as giving honest feedback to colleagues, […]

Are you afraid to be articulate and clear?

Would you stay on an airplane that was about to take-off if the pilot said the following as part of their pre-flight announcement: “This is your captain speaking. We are about to take off, we’re just waiting for the fuel truck to finish refueling us. They had an issue with fuel earlier on, but I am confident they’ll give us enough fuel for our flight… In addition, as you can see the weather isn’t great out there. Nevertheless, we have a strong aircraft that can withstand the storm, let’s just hope we don’t encounter any lightning…” Would you put your brain, heart, eyes or any part of your body under the knife of a surgeon […]

Stop stating the obvious and start stating your stand!

I was attending a senior Executive team meeting where the topic of the discussion was consolidating the roles and responsibilities of a few key functions in the company in order to drive greater scale, efficiency and cost reduction. The company was commercially successful. However, it was struggling to keep its historical leading market position in the growing competitive landscape, given its high-cost structure. There were layoffs a few months earlier and the leader’s projection showed that if they didn’t come up with more efficient and wise ways to do more with less, they would have to do it again. Needless to say, the stakes were high as the company had to shed some overhead cost […]

Can you tell the difference between Statements and Questions?

I am sure that if I asked you if you can tell the difference between statements and questions you would be offended by the mere question and respond with “Of Course!” However, based on my experience of working with hundreds of teams in many organizations, I have to tell you that people don’t know the difference between the two. You would think that people understand that the appropriate and effective thing to do in conversations and meetings is to “Answer questions” and “Acknowledge statements“. However, in reality, most people tend to “Answer statements” and “Acknowledge questions.” To be honest, people often simply “Ignore questions“. If you want your meetings to take less time, move faster […]

Don’t let past failures stifle your future success

It is a well-known fact that most change initiatives outright fail. Most initiatives start with high expectations and hope for a better future, but because of a lack of follow through and staying the course, they end up producing the opposite effect; managers and employees at all levels who are even more skeptical and cynical about any future prospect of change, including their inability to make a difference in shaping a better future. This is the starting condition of most change initiatives. I see it in most companies. Take for example the regional senior leadership team of a large global manufacturing company that was operating in a very competitive and commoditized market in which their […]