5 Signs the Shared Vision is Clear

When my mom entered the hospice facility this week, the unspoken vision was perfectly clear: Reduce Mom’s suffering as much as possible; keep Dad from keeling over with exhaustion; fill the air with constant love; and eek out any joy we can.

The Power of a Shared Vision

I know you’ve had your unfair share of sad times too. No family can escape them. Just like you, we’re muddling through. I wrestled with whether to share my journey, but decided to go there, knowing that much learning comes from our darkest times. And so today, I offer some reflections on the power of vision in times of crises.

Shared Leadership

No doubt, Dad is in charge. But, Jill is a ninja in navigating the medical scene. When it’s time, she gently takes the helm.

Yesterday, Jane (who can run circles around Martha Stewart) ignored our exhausted surrender of “Let’s just get takeout for Easter,” and single-handedly cooked up a storm to make the day feel special. Ben and I took the video camera to their church and made a montage of personalized greetings from dozens of old friends against the backdrop of the choir singing the Hallelujah chorus. Brad took pics. The kids loved her with all their hearts and played as if the circumstances were perfectly normal.

A shared vision inspires people to use their gifts.

Pushing Boundaries

Turns out you can have an Easter Egg hunt in the hospice courtyard. Yes, you can drink Chardonnay out of hospital Dixie cups. (But, no the nurses don’t have a cork screw).

A strong shared vision inspires boundary pushing.

Willingness to Accept Help

When vision trumps ego, you’re willing to get whatever help needed to achieve your goal. Our family full of helpers is learning to say “Yes” to support we believe will make a difference.

A strong shared vision inspires receiving.

Open Communication

When the vision is clear, there’s less wasted communication. Direct, candid openness is key. Everyone needs to know the real deal to make the right decisions.

A strong shared vision inspires truth-speaking. 

Willingness to Learn New Skills

We’ve learned the names of the meds and the impact of doses, along with clever ways to accelerate our learning. “That medicine’s easy to remember… you know how your sister needs a new van? I just think of it as add-a-van.”

Whatever works.

A strong shared vision inspires learning.

Like every family, planning and execution is not always this smooth. I’m grateful that our shared vision is overpowering ego, personalities and pride.

It’s a strong reminder that during the toughest times in families, teams, communities or organizations, finding a shared vision is vital.

A strong shared vision makes the tough times easier. 

5 Ways to Ensure Your New Program, System, or Idea Is Adopted

From my perspective, the new system was genius. Instead of our enterprise customers typing in their service orders in an email for call center reps to retype them into our systems (which almost always contained errors) the customers now had an easy interface that would “flow through” to the backend systems. Faster, with higher quality, and an added bonus of working on weekends.

Only one problem, the reps (and their union) HATED it. And they had a point. What about white glove treatment for high-end customers? What about relationships?

The truth is both points were true. Large Enterprise customers wanted efficiency AND differentiated service from THEIR kind reps, like Kenetra. It wasn’t either/or. It wasn’t them or us. It was about working together on building a customer-focused adoption strategy.

And that’s why our Region led the Nation in “Flow Through.”

Although I give some tongue-in-cheek credit to my rendition of “The Flow Through Happens Tonight (to the tune of The Lion Sleeps Tonight). Thank God this silliness preceded YouTube.

If your program, system, or new idea isn’t gaining traction, don’t push– involve.

5 Ways to Ensure a Smoother Roll Out

1. Be Honest about the Benefits

ALL employees care about is WIFM (‘What’s in it for me’) is BS. Sure, employees want to know “What’s In It for them.” They equally want to know what’s in it for you and for THEIR customers. Leaving that part out just leaves them to fill in the blanks and make assumptions (i.e. the next thing you’re going to do is downsize). They want to know you’re thinking this through with your brain, and not just your pocketbook.

2. Start Small

Don’t start advocating for a system that’s not ready or full of flaws. Test it first with a small group, take their feedback seriously and get it right. It’s tough to regain credibility. “Oh yeah, I admit it sucked before, but now it’s better,” only leaves the masses wondering why some bozo made a choice to sing praises for a system that was full of problems in the real world. Even if you think it works well in the IT war room, field test it first. Yes, this takes time. Go slow to go fast.

In the example above, we worked the kinks out with one team and gave headquarters feedback until I’m sure they were sick of hearing from us (actually, me… never make your team be the bad guy). Take the risk of making some waves to make it easy for your team. We were slower out of the gate than most regions. But no one remembers that part of the story.

3. Establish Easy to Access Listening Posts

This is perhaps the most important part. Really listen to what your people are saying. Most importantlly, respond to feedback with solutions–not selling. When you fix something, communicate it back five times, five different ways.

4. Gather Reluctant Testimony

Lift up as many testimonials as you can. Get your most excited employees showing how your new idea, system or process changed their world. Your most influential stories will come from the least likely suspects: the sales guy who never bothered with this crap before; the new rep who’s now running circles around the old timers because she uses the system; the supervisor who got her entire team (including the union steward) doing Harlem Globe Trotter tricks with the system.

5. Involve the Team in Key Decisions

No one wants stuff done TO them, or even FOR them. WITH them goes a lot further. What’s working well and how do we leverage it? What enhancements do we need? Where should we head next? All these questions go a long way.

Are you facing a vital strategic change? Please give me a call at 443-750-1249 to discuss how I can best support you through consulting and speaking. Together we will achieve breakthrough results.

employee engagement

The Power of A Good Practical Joke

I had just been promoted to manager and head swim team coach of our neighborhood pool. My staff and I had spent the week brushing algae off tiles, making bulletin boards, and organizing schedules–we were ready for the launch of an amazing season.

I locked up my bike and unlocked the gate, a bit nervous, I was excited to lead the first practice of the season. The kids arrived, and after a few complaints about the extra cold water, jumped in to begin their warm up.

Suddenly, sweet “6-and-under” Ned started splashing and screaming like he’d seen a shark. “Miss Karin, Miss Karin, Come quick! I saw a fish!”

“Ned, calm down, you didn’t see a fish. Put your head in the water and keep swimming,” I replied, knowing that I needed to stand firm to keep credibility as a new leader not much older than most of the swimmers.

But then, my assistant coach, John, who had gotten in the water with the kids to show them it couldn’t be THAT cold, pulled himself out the pool and came running over. As he dripped on my sweatshirt he whispered:

“Uhhhh, Karin. There really is a fish.”

I quickly got everyone out of the pool and discovered that there was not just one fish, but THREE. The kids all jumped back in and tried to chase them with their bare hands. Ned ran home to get his fishing rod.

The phone rang.

It was Peter. The head coach of our rival swim team. “Just calling to congratulate you on your first day as head coach and pool manager. How’s it going?

“OMG, there are FISH IN MY POOL.” As soon as I got the words out I knew who had placed them there.

Well played.

A great start to a great season. Our rivalry turned from competitive angst to collaboration and real friendship.

April Fools Day Prep

“Taking the time to polish a pun or fine-tune a practical joke is a way of saying, ‘I’m thinking about you and I want to please you.”
Andrew Hudgin

In honor of April Fools Day, I’d love to hear your favorite practical joke stories. Who knows what shenanigans we may be able to inspire amongst our tribe.

See also Top 10 Office Practical Jokes (Matt McWilliams), Strategic Silliness:  When to Lighten the Mood (Karin Hurt)

In Other LGL News

Karin Hurt, CEOExciting to have my thought featured in this Time Magazine article:  5 Questions to Ask When You’re Looking For Feedback. It’s a nice collection of thinking worth sharing with your team.

If you’re looking to take your results to the next level, please give me a call at 443-750-1249 to discuss how I can help.