A Fresh, Fast, and Fun Way to Focus Your Team

If you’re like most managers, you’re neck deep in performance agreements, stretch goals, and the dance between managing your boss’s expectations and warning your team not to sandbag. How you spend January can make the difference between a breakthrough and mediocre 2017.

Too many managers take the goals handed to them, wring their hands for a day or so, and then pull the team together to figure out how the heck they’re going to accomplish all THAT and still “Do their day job.” That approach will get the job done, but it’s unlikely to unleash breakthrough innovation or a head-turning year.

A Fresh, Fast, and Fun Way to Focus Your Team (or Yourself)

One of the most important questions you can ask your team (or yourself) is “What will it take to make 2017 the very best year of your career?” In my exec role at Verizon, this was always one of my favorite questions. It’s amazing how few people start their year thinking that way.

We now build that question into the strategic planning work we do with teams. Here’s one easy DIY exercise you can do to help focus your team (or yourself).

The End of Year Letter

Ask each member of your team to write you a letter, as if it were January 2018.  This can be done in email, or the old fashioned way. Just be sure you save it, so you can review at midyear and again this time next year.

It’s helpful to give them a few prompts. Here are some to get you started.

Dear __________ (insert your name here, if they report to you; if you are doing this for yourself use your bosses’ name).

2017 was the very best year of my career.

From there, pick some sentence starters as prompts for them to complete.

We totally changed the game by ____________.

The most important thing we accomplished was ___________.

Everyone is looking to us to understand how we ___________

I (we) got so much better at ______________.

Our customers are delighted because_______________.

I really improved my working relationships with __________ by___________.

Feel free to make up your own. You don’t need to pick many. The point is to ask your team members to reflect individually about what an extraordinary year would look like and then to identify specific behaviors and actions to help them get there.

I encourage you to proactively write a similar letter to your boss, and to ask them to pull it out mid year. It’s amazing how motivating this can be.

Let Us Help You Jump Start Your Team in the New Year

In our strategic Winning Well workshops and off-sites we always include exercises to get past the “Ugh, how can we get all this done?” mindset to identifying what matters most, isolating key priorities and behaviors.

Goals

Frontline Festival: Leaders Share Goal Setting Strategies for their Teams (and Themselves)

Welcome back to the Let’s Grow Leaders Frontline Festival. This month’s festival is all about goal setting (especially with your team) for the new year. Thanks to Joy and Tom Guthrie of Vizwerx Group for the great pic and to all our contributors! Next month’s Frontline Festival is all about creating connection. The question for the month is:  What have you done to create connection with your team? Submit your teamwork related blog posts and answers to that question here!

Jon Verbeck of JonVerbeck.com suggests that you set five shorter term quarterly goals with the correct specific numeric targets. Ensure the goals are aligned with the overall purpose and strategy of your organization.  Discuss the goals and objectives frequently as a group and be relentless in the pursuit of accomplishing them. Follow Jon.

Shelley Row of Shelley Row Associates gives a simple plan for following through on your important goalsFollow Shelley

Willy Steiner of Executive Coaching Concepts  shares five key steps to setting key goals along with some examples and motivational ideas. Follow William.

Beth Beutler of H.O.P.E. Unlimited is focusing on habits for herself and her team, rather than lofty goals. Regular weekly routines and consistent communication with team members move the needle for all of their connected businesses. Follow Beth.

According to Wally Bock of Three Star Leadership, here’s why you need a system to make sure your goals drive your behavior.  Follow Wally.

David Dye of Trailblaze shares a twist with Nine Ways to Motivate Employees when You Don’t Set the Goals. Follow David.

Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude. – Thomas Jefferson

Chris Edmonds of Driving Results through Culture encourages teams to spend time not only on goals, but even more importantly on writing values into an organizational constitution as a strong foundation for an effective and productive culture. Follow Chris.

Julie Winkle Giulioni of DesignArounds shares that BUY-IN represents more than an emotional connection to a goal.  It also reminds leaders of the five critical components of goal setting that must be incorporated into planning, conversations, and actions to help teams deliver optimal results. Follow Julie

John Hunter of Curious Cat Management Improvement  shares, “In general I believe goals are counter-productive.  To the extent they are useful they guide decision-making about what is valued and what type of improvements to aim for (incremental improvement or try to find a very different way of doing things).  As Mike Tveite says:  “I achieved my goal but not my aim.”  That happens a lot–we honestly translate aims to goals. And then we do stupid things in the name of the goal get it the way of the aim. We forget the aim sometimes and put the goal in its place.” Follow John.

Desire is the key to motivation, but it’s determination and commitment to an unrelenting pursuit of your goal – a commitment to excellence – that will enable you to attain the success you seek. – Mario Andretti

According to Susan Mazza of Random Acts of Leadership, to do lists can easily transform from a useful tool to stay focused and productive to an ever-present reminder of all that you are not getting done. Here are two tips to help you and your team replace the tyranny of “too much to do” with the immense satisfaction of doing the things that matter most. Follow Susan.

According to Robyn McLeod of Thoughtful Leaders Blog, there are many best practices to setting meaningful team goals, and especially at this time of year, suggestions on how to do that proliferate. An essential first step is to focus first on “being” not “doing”; grounding ourselves; being present to what is; and moving forward with intention and purpose. Follow Robyn.

Jon Mertz of Thin Difference asks: Are you acting on the change you wish to see in yourself, your workplace, and your community? To achieve real change, no wall can exist between intention and action. It’s the interaction between these two that enables new habits to stick. Follow Jon.

You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream. – Les Brown

Skip Prichard of Leadership Insights says that one of the most important aspects of setting goals is understanding individual and group motivation. The why behind the goal is often more important than the goal itself. Follow Skip.

 

The discipline you learn and character you build from setting and achieving a goal can be more valuable than the achievement of the goal itself. – Bo Bennett

John Thurlbeck of Wear Consulting shares a method for making SMARTER goals, a successful and proven model he has used in leading teams over the years. Follow John. 

Michelle Cubas, CPCC, ACC, of Positive Potentials, LLC  shares how to simplify your strategic planning with a basic project management tool—a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS). Let it be your compass for the coming year. Follow Michelle.

 

We’ve been making the rounds speaking a great deal on setting clear goals and expectations and accelerating your performance. Here’s a postcard from a recent keynote.

 

Stop This Terrible Habit You Don't Even Know You Have

How do I know you have it? Because I have it too. Most high-performers do.

It’s a sneaky little bugger, because on the surface it really feels like you’re doing the right thing. And on most levels you are. It’s a Winning Well core competency taken to extremes.

But if you go too far, the stress will crush your spirit and undermine your confidence. It’s one more way great managers lose their soul.

In an effort to know your vulnerabilities, to admit mistakes, to always look for ways to improve… it’s so easy to beat yourself up.

  • “What a stupid decision! I can’t believe I didn’t think through all the potential consequences.”
  • “Oh, I didn’t see that coming. I should have been better prepared.”
  • “If I’d only thought about the contingencies early on I could have saved my team a lot of angst and re-work.”
  • “I should have counted to 10 before I sent that email.”

If you’re thinking any of the above or something equally frustrating, I get it. You’re probably right. You made a mistake. You learned something. And you’ll do better next time.

Yes. Own the ugly. Apologize. Get creative and make it right. And then, move on.

Don’t hold a grudge.

Treat yourself with the same level of compassion
you would offer your team, your boss, or the people you love.

I’m writing this as much for me as for you.

When people ask me what’s the hardest part of running my own company, my answer is always the same. “I’m the hardest boss I’ve ever worked for.” And that’s saying something because I worked for some doozies.

Be the leader you want your boss to be… for yourself as well as everyone else. That includes a good dose of compassion every now and then.

4 Secrets to a Successful Performance Improvement Conversation

You sit down for an earnest performance improvement conversation. Things improve for a minute. And the next day (or the day after), she’s back to her “hot mess” behavior.

Sound familiar?

Maybe it’s her. Some people are hard to reach.

But before you write her off as “unfixable,” take a hard look at your approach.

Center Your Performance Improvement Conversation Around These Four Components

Successful performance improvement conversations should include discussion around the following components:

Clarity: “I know what to do.”

Almost every time I work with supervisors on improving their coaching, they are sure they have communicated what to do. And, of course, they’ve been crystal clear on many levels. What is often missing is isolating the very specific behaviors that must change for the employee to be successful. What exactly do you want your employee to do? How will they (and you) know that’s happening. Isolate and breakdown the behaviors you most need for success. Note: “A positive attitude,” “More customer focus” and “Being more strategic” don’t count. Be specific.

Conflicts: “This is where I’m stuck”

Listen here. Closely. It’s easy to discount the “reasons” they can’t improve:  competing priorities; overload; mixed messages; customer angst. This is the part of the conversation that will give you insights to not only what’s getting in the way for her, but also what is driving your high-performers nuts and frustrating your customers.

Confidence: “I can do this.”

Okay, here comes the hard part. If you don’t think she can get there from here, she will see that a mile away. First do a gut check. Are you giving her the benefit of the doubt? Do you believe this is possible? (If not, cross your t’s and dot your i’s on your performance documentation.) But if you are coming from a place of “Yes you can,” be clear on why. Show her examples of how she’s done this before. Break down the goals into bite size behaviors. Start small and be impressed.

Conviction: “I’m committed to doing it.”

If here in lies the challenge, start by asking questions. Why does she choose to work here? What makes here feel great at the end of the day? Connect what you’re asking of her to why it matters.

Holding successful performance improvement conversations takes practice. Consistent focus on these four areas will help you get to the root cause of the issue more quickly. Don’t be afraid to ask her, “What else can I do to be most helpful?” And then, really listen to the what she has to say.

leading for results

3 Ways to Rock Your Role in the New Year

Carol was visibly shaken on the other end of the phone.

Karin, you know that new job I got, well I lost it. I mean, it’s not really my fault, the contract they had anticipated didn’t come through. I get it. But what bothers me more than anything is what my boss said a few days after I got the news. He said, “You never showed up in any meeting as well as you did in the interview. That was disappointing.” So I wonder if I could have saved my job, if I had showed up differently.

The thing is, I didn’t prepare for any of those other meetings like I did for the interview. For the interview, I thought through every possible question and rehearsed my answers. I made sure I got a good night sleep the night before. I was careful to showcase my expertise. What makes me so mad (at myself) is that I’m 50 years old and am just now learning this. The need to prepare and always be your on your game is so obvious.

It’s never too late to up your game.

3 Ways to Rock Your Role in the New Year

“I worked hard. Anyone who works as hard as I did can achieve the same results.”
– Johann Sebastian Bach

Whenever anyone asks me the secret to my career success, my answer is simple. I work very, very hard. Yes, I’ve had great mentors, built great teams, gotten a few breaks… but honestly at the end of the day, the common denominator in any success I can think of has been– effort.

Carol’s not alone. It’s hard to bring your A game 100% of the time. But there are people who are giving that a shot. Want 2017 to be your best year ever? Rock your role.

  1. Perform at Concert Level Every Day
    When I was in high school our  band director drilled into us the cliché, “Practice doesn’t make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect.” Hokey but true. If you want to be seen as an A player, perform at your very best even when you think it doesn’t matter. People will notice, and you’ll get better each day you show up stronger.
  2. Find the Hook
    The hook is the part of the song you find yourself humming 17 years later when you walk down the street. In Winning Well terms, this is the MIT (Most Important Thing). If you want a truly stand-out year pick the right success to be known for, and nail it. Start by talking to your boss. Ask, “What could I accomplish this year that would add real strategic value?” “What contribution could I make that would turn a few heads?” And then work with your team to establish a strategic plan for execution. Focus on the behaviors you would need to perform every day to build toward that success.
  3. Learn From the Virtuosos
    If you want to rock your role, you can’t just keep doing what you’ve always done. You need to hone your craft. Read what the experts are saying about the future in your field. Find a mentor or two who has skills you admire. Invest in a leadership development program for you and your team.

It’s never to late to sing a stronger song. What will you do to rock your role in 2017?

Get Your Team Off To a Great Start

Contact me for a free Rock Your Role leadership consultation to discuss how you can make 2017 your best year ever. You can see learn more about my approach by watching my new 2017 speaking reel. 

 

7 Surefire Ways to Gain More Credibility in the New Year

It’s the time of year where many of us are talking about what we want to lose–a few pounds, some bad habits, a toxic relationship. Today, I’m inviting you to consider what you have to gain– investing in a few key actions to improve your credibility and enhance your reputation.

7 Surefire Ways to Gain More Credibility in 2017

Focus on these behaviors, early and often to give your credibility a boost in the new year.

1. Admit a mistake.
No. not just a small one. I’m going to assume you do that every day. Is there a decision you regret? A strategic move that took the team down a rabbit hole? Or perhaps you let your personal stress bleed into your work, and were harsher in that meeting than necessary.

The truth is when you screw up, your team already knows. You’ll gain instantly credibility points by admitting it.

2. Stop doing something stupid.

I’ve yet to work with a company where folks couldn’t list the “stupid” things they are still doing for stupid reasons. Want credibility as a leader? Pick one of those things and figure out how to stop doing it. Your team will want to kiss you, and you’ll free up more time for them to work on their MITs (Most Important Things).

3. Take a stand.

I bet if I asked you to describe the leaders you most admire, or your favorite boss, we’d only be a few sentences in before you told me a story about them standing up for something that mattered.  Be that person. You know that thing you’re not saying because you’re too afraid? If it really matters, figure out a way to say it well.

4. Forgive a grudge.

I know. This is a hard one. But you know who you’ll gain the most credibility with if you can pull this off? Yourself. There’s huge value in knowing you’re the one that can take the high road and give someone a second chance.

5. Open a door.

The most credible leaders are ones who help people when they have nothing to gain. Building a reputation as a door-opener is a great way to catalyze credibility, not to mention karma.

6. Have a real conversation with your boss.

I was exchanging stories with an old boss the other day about times where we had found ourselves being the only ones having the tough conversations with our bosses. That audacity has served us both well over the years, and has helped me build the muscles I need to now be a successful consultant. There’s huge power and influence in being viewed as the person who will speak the ugly truth in a way people in power can hear it. Gain credibility by being the one who will own the ugly and work to make it better.

And guess what? If you do it well, your boss will start proactively coming to you asking for advice.

7. Rock your role.

Of course you can’t beat the credibility that comes from being ridiculously great at what you do. Show up every day with your A game. Give 10% more than is necessary to every task. Be constantly learning.

Credibility is built through small and consistent actions over time. Imagine the power of paying some extra deliberate attention to a few of these vital behaviors as you turbo-charge your career for the new year.

The Power of a Good Pause

To me the most remarkable part of Christmas is how everything goes from ridiculously busy to a full-on stop.

The Winning Well workshops, the keynotes, the 2017 planning, the filming, the travelling (well not that), the rehearsals, the concerts, the shopping, the cooking, the visits, and then the pause.

When I walk into a candle lit church, all the chaos seems to melt away. We stop, we remember, we give thanks, we hope.

I love to take a run through our town, usually bustling with people shopping or meeting over coffee and feel the peace of the empty village.

I wonder what others are doing and thinking in their stopping. What do those closed doors offer? What inspirations are brewing? What hopes are catching spark?

The Power of a Good Pause

What’s about to start after the stopping?

I recognize that for many there is pain in the stopping. Quiet time does not always equate to peace. My thoughts and prayers are with you. In our family we also have concerns that weigh heavy. Stopping can sometimes be too quiet.

I am also so grateful to all who cannot stop this holiday. Police, firefighters, military, call centers, convenience stores. There are many people “going” to empower our stopping. Thank you.

May this holiday season give you the peace of pause, today or in the year to come. Enjoy the quiet along with the joy.

What will you become in your holiday pause?

In Peace, Hope and Joy,

Karin

what if my team is having conflict?

5 Questions to Help You Resolve Your Conflict

We’d both been looking forward to it–our first Thanksgiving together. We’d each been the primary holiday cooks in our previous marriage, which can feel lonely and overwhelming at times. But not this year. Now we had each other. We’d planned the perfect menu the week before while eating sushi over candlelight. We’d had fun shopping. We were all set.

I was full of anticipation of a snuggly time of gravy tasting, stolen kisses, the warm glow of the fireplace in the next room, and the happy ruckus of the parade marching in the background.

Apparently David had a vision for the morning too, which included precise execution, a clutter-free work space– and not so much noise.

So when I started peeling potatoes while still neck deep in the residue of pumpkin pancakes and bacon grease from breakfast, and he pulled out his spreadsheet to do some “backward mapping…”

We decided to take a time out and go for a walk in the woods.

“I just want this to be a romantic time of cooking together. I’m so glad to be with you and want share the experience.” I shared, a bit choked up.

“You’ve told your Dad I’m a great cook, and your Dad IS a great cook. I’ve got to live up to expectations.  It’s important for me to make a good impression on your family.” David explained.

And there we were neck deep in the frustration of miscommunication and unmet expectations.

Ever happen to you?

5 Questions to Ask When Trying to Resolve a Conflict

1. What am I trying to achieve?

What do I really want the outcome of this situation to be? Have I shared that? What does the other person want? And how do I know?  Have we shared our objectives with one another?

2. What is this conflict really about?

Conflicts are almost never about what you’re talking about. At least at first. Despite the obvious dialogue, we were not really talking about whether the apple pie needs an egg white wash before the apples. We were defining how we were going to roll as a couple, in real life. It’s amazing how we can write a book, share many stages, negotiate the financial aspects of the business, and then get worked up about how to mash a potato.

3. What am I expecting?

What are my expectations? Have I said them out loud? Not once did I say, “Hey what I really want here is for you to pay more attention to me than the Brussels sprouts.” Nor did he say, “It makes me feel better to start with a tidy work space.” As it turns out, all that was a nontroversy. I’m always happy for him to clean the kitchen 😉

4. What’s the best way to communicate about this?

Clearly, we needed a time out. A walk in the woods reconnected us to what mattered most– we were together at Thanksgiving and delighted to be a team. We then laughed and pulled out our Winning Well techniques of clarifying expectations and talking about our MIT (most important things).

Another great tool is to consider the range of style-options you have for resolving the conflict and picking one that may come less naturally for you. The TKI indicator is the best tool I’ve found for working with teams on this.

5. How can we achieve the results we want AND enhance the relationship?

Winning Well teams have conflict. Conflict is valuable and often inevitable whenever two or more people are passionate about creating something remarkable. It’s important to keep both the results and the relationships in mind as you’re working through the conversation.

In our case, relationships won on this one. The walk was productive, but the potatoes cooked too long. My nephew ran out to get a box of instant spuds to save the day. I’ll take it.

Frontline Festival: Leaders Share How They and Their Team are Preparing for the New Year

Welcome back to the Let’s Grow Leaders Frontline Festival. This month’s festival is all about preparing for 2017. Thanks to Joy and Tom Guthrie of Vizwerx Group for the great pic and to all our contributors! Next month’s Frontline Festival is all about goal setting.  Please submit your very best links to your goal setting posts. The question for the month is: “What your best practice for helping teams set meaningful goals?” Submit your answers and blog posts related to this question: here!

Jon Mertz of Thin Difference tells us that preparing is more than an act of getting ready or having a fixed plan. Preparing is creating the proper conditions to act more fully in the change we desire. Follow Jon.

Wally Bock of Three Star Leadership suggests that we forget resolutions. Concentrate on what you will DO differently. Follow Wally.

Michelle Cubas, CPCC, ACC, of Positive Potentials, LLC offers a post, “Loose Ends and Promises”, outlining some thoughts about the transition to a new year. Follow Michelle.

The best preparation for tomorrow is doing your best today.
~ H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

From David Dye: In Winning Well we emphasize the importance of Committing with Clarity: mutually shared, clear commitments are the backbone of breakthrough results and healthy relationships. To that end, one way we’re preparing our team for 2017 is to create a playbook – a one-stop guide to the critical goals, messages, and activities of each strategic theme. It creates alignment, ensures we’re all focused on the same goals, and helps us to move faster. Follow David.

Chris Edmonds of Driving Results through Culture  says:  I’m a solopreneur – but I have some fine players in my “band.” (Bear with me – I’m a working musician on the side.) My publicity pro is amazing. My virtual assistant is brilliant. I’m doing more proactive strategic planning with my publicity pro with monthly calls so we can stay on top of trends and news-jacking opportunities that arise quickly. My goal for 1Q 2017 is to decide what my extremely capable VA can do more of – so I can do less of that and more content creation, writing, and marketing. Only if I trust these players more – and delegate more – can we do more for leaders, companies, and communities in the months to come. Follow Chris.

Eileen McDargh of The Energizer  shares: There are three people on my team: me, myself, and I. If I can get those three people in sync, then I can manage the other people who support me. I take myself away for three days on a silent retreat. I hike, write, and journal ideas. I meditate. I listen deeply. In the stillness that surrounds me, I come away refreshed. I don’t always have great breakthroughs and that’s ok too. The silence centers me because the rest of the year, I will be surrounded by the spoken word. Follow Eileen

Great things in business are never done by one person. They’re done by a team of people.
~ Steve Jobs

Michelle Pallas of MichellePallas.com encourages us to understand ourselves, from all perspectives, before taking on something new. Follow Michelle.

Becky Robinson of Weaving Influence is preparing her team for 2017 by reflecting about and sharing wins from 2016 while setting goals and priorities for 2017. We’re all excited to launch a new website in the first quarter of 2017, which will more clearly reflect our company’s unique offer in the market while showcasing our authors/speakers. As we work on the website, we’re setting the stage for our best year ever.  Follow Becky.

William Steiner of Executive Coaching Concepts  says his team is cleaning up all contact files so our communications can be cleaner and more strategically targeted.  They are also going to have a nice party in January to celebrate the publishing of his new book, which was a collaborative, group effort.  Follow William.

Every day brings new choices.
~ Martha Beck

John Thurlbeck of Wear Consulting is reviewing how he did on goals in 2016 and setting goals for 2017 using Michael Hyatt’s Best Year Ever model. Follow John. 

Dr. Artika Tyner of the Planting People. Growing Justice Institute is preparing her team for 2017 by focusing on their brand. She feels this will serve as the foundation for developing new products and services while also holding the team accountable for clearly conveying their brand purpose and consistently delivering their best. Follow Artika.

Beth Beutler of H.O.P.E. Unlimited has a unique arrangement — she has a small team  of colleagues that help her provide virtual assistance, and she is ON more than team, providing virtual assistance. One of her hopes for the new year is that she cultivate herself and her own colleagues in such a way that the clients HOPE serves feel like the only team HOPE is on–is theirs. Follow Beth.

Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right.
~ Oprah Winfrey
how do I raise the tough issues at work?

4 UGLY Conversations to Have With Your Team Before Year End

The second half of December is a great time for recognition, celebration, white elephant gifts and other fun. Yes, yes, please do all that, but don’t stop there. The best holiday gift you can give your team is to “own the ugly.” To help your team have the tough conversations they’re longing to have; to stare squarely in the face of what’s not working and clear the decks for a remarkable 2017.

Own the Ugly

The other day I was facilitating a 2-day offsite strategic planning retreat for one of my start-up clients. We’d designed a “speed-generation” problem solving session where groups rotated through stations to identify the ugly issues that needed to be addressed and worked on real solutions.

Within 60 seconds of the first rotation, one group listed every “efficiency” tool their company was using to make “work easier” and then created two columns on their easel sheet–a  “should it stay or should it go” vote.  Everyone who rotated through their station got a vote and indicated what work group they were in. By the end of the session over half of the tools were “voted off the island.” The chairman raised his eyebrows, but took the lead in initiating a curious conversation.

What they found was that the tools they had selected one at a time for good reasons all made sense, but the requirements to keep everything up to date were driving people crazy.

I’m convinced that 40 minute conversation (which everyone gladly stayed beyond our promised closing time to continue– even though beer was being poured in their next agenda item…a holiday happy hour right outside the door) will save them thousands of hours of frustration next year.

“Why didn’t you raise this before?” Well, “No one asked.”

Own the Ugly. Make it safe to talk about what’s not working. It’s getting talked about somewhere. Best to lift it up, stare at it, vent if needed and then figure out what must happen next.

4 Ways to Own the U.G.L.Y.

Here are four ugly conversations worth having with your team. Ask, and then really listen.

U– What are we Underestimating?

Competitive pressures? New technology? The destruction that new manager is doing to our culture? The opportunity that we “don’t have time for?

G– What’s Gotta Go?

What are we doing now that doesn’t make sense anymore? What processes are more habit than value? What meetings are wasting our time? What’s gotta go for us to be remarkable?

L– Where are we Losing?

Where are we still under-performing despite our best efforts? Why? Who’s doing it better? How?

Y– Where are we missing the Yes?

What must we say “Yes” to in 2017? What new opportunities are yearning for our attention? Where must we invest more deeply?

Teams admire managers who “own the ugly.” Winning Well managers have the confidence and humility to go there– to start the conversation, and then listen deeply to the solutions.

9 Ways to Strengthen Your Personal Brand

If you Google you, do you like who shows up?

Do you feel like you’ve got a powerful message to share, but without the right positioning, find yourself talking to the metaphorical mute button?

Are you having trouble outgrowing an outdated reputation at work?

Or maybe you’re just looking to get a better seat at the table.

9 Ways to Strengthen Your Winning Well Brand

If your brand could use a power boost, take a step back and give your brand a Winning Well refresh using these nine approaches.

Results

1- Rock your Role
If you’re not knocking your current job out of the park, start there–even if you’re looking for something else. There’s nothing better you can do to enhance your brand than having a long track record of success. 

2- Mind the MIT (Most Important Thing)
Pick something extraordinary to accomplish and prioritize getting it right. If there are 27 metrics on your balanced scorecard, trust me, they are not all created equal. Pick one or two that matter most and be known as the guy or gal that cracked the code. 

3- Focus on the Game (Not the Score)
Don’t go around talking about metrics and stack ranks (even if you’re on top). Identify the key behaviors that will change the game, and focus yourself and your team on executing on those consistently. You build a brand by playing the game, not by measurement and commentary. 

Relationships

4- People before Projects
Of course projects are important (see above) but results without relationships leave people burned out, frustrated, and unlikely to give you their best effort. Take the time to establish genuine connection with the people you work with. Yes, you have time, because it will save you time downstream, not to mention building a reputation that will attract “A players” to want to work with you the next time, which of course, makes everything easier.

5- Prioritize Peers
Most managers understand the importance of supporting their team and making their boss look good. But to build a brand that lasts– have your peers backs (see 8 reasons your peers rate you low on your 360 feedback assessment) and go out of your way to make their lives easier. Trust me. I wish I learned this one sooner. Your boss may want you at the top of the stack rank, but your bosses boss wants a team of people working together to accomplish the bigger picture. A high tide rises all boats. Do what you can to be helpful.

Confidence

6- Take a Stand
When I first started writing my blog, the folks at Verizon got a little twitchy. And, I had no intention of leaving my day job at that point. I just wanted to help spread the word that you can get results without losing your soul, and yes, you can blend the bottom line with the human spirit. I loved my work at Verizon (and received the highest performance reviews during this time) AND I had something larger to say. I thank God every day that I had the courage to speak up and was open to next steps.

7. Expand your Expertise 
If you want to build your brand, get very, very good at something important. When everyone tells you, “You’re the best!”–that’s a great sign… keep learning and work harder. AND work on broadening your knowledge. I started at becoming the best HR expect I could be… and then made a career out of leading teams where I was not the expert in the field. I learned so much. It pays to be a “utility player” with deep knowledge in at least one arena.

Humility

8- Channel Challengers
One of the best ways to improve your brand is to know what people are saying behind your back. Ask for feedback. Say thank you. Work to improve. If you want to be the best possible version of you, surround yourself with people you respect who will tell you the truth.

9- Own the Ugly
Here’s a secret. When you screw up… your team already knows. If you want to foster respect and build a trusted Winning Well brand, admit your mistakes and make it right.

There are no shortcuts to a Winning Well brand. It’s showing up consistently day after day oriented in confident humility with a laser focus on results AND relationships.

5 Ways to Tame a Bad Boss

“Greg” called to share his news, “You know that situation with my boss is going a lot better! I decided to go on the offense and just keep him over-informed. He loves it. Now he stays off my back and I can do my work.”

Bingo. Another “bad boss” tamed.

5 Ways to Tame a Bad Boss

Sure I’ve met some loony tunes over the years. But I’m convinced that almost every bad boss situation can be made at least a little bit better with some proactive work on your part.

Sure he should know better, he’s the boss right? Perhaps. But do you want to be right, or happier at work?

We’ve got a lot more techniques in Winning Well and Overcoming an Imperfect Boss, but here are a few to get you started. 

  1. Get Your Asks Together
    If you need additional resources, tools, or want to attend training that will make you a better leader, you need to articulate a solid argument. Come with data, not emotion. The P.E.R.S.U.A.D.E. approach is a proven methodology that will help.
  2. Communicate Frequently In Bulleted Summaries
    Like “Greg” it might feel like overkill on your end, and if it is, your boss will tell you. But I’ve NEVER minded my team keeping me informed in easy to digest ways. Find a coding system that works for you both (e.g. FYI UPDATE ________ (project name) in the email heading.)
  3. Follow the “No Blindside” Rule
    If you’ve got bad news, be sure your boss hears it from you. Use the Winning Well D.A.R.N. method  of bad news giving.
  4. Ask How You Can Make Their Job Easer
    It’s likely your boss is dealing with pressures you don’t fully understand. Ask how you can be most helpful. Of course be prepared with a good answer when she turns the table and asks how she can best help you.
  5. Let It Go
    I know, easier than it sounds. But harboring resentment never does a relationship any good. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Forgive as needed and try again.