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Hall of Fame…

Has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?

Jon Burianek, 2015 Inductee into the University of Colorado Athletic Hall of Fame.  Has a really nice ring to it!

Jon is only the 67th person to be so honored.  According to Wikipedia,

The University of Colorado was a member of the Colorado Football Association in 1893.

122 years later, 67 people in total have been acknowledged for their Athletic Hall of Fame contributions, Jon is now one of them.

As a former, competitive, collegiate athlete myself, I tend to associate Hall of Fame designations with sports.  As it turns out, Hall of Fame roots are quite different.  Back to Wikipedia:

The concept of the Hall of Fame has its roots in ancient Norse mythology. Valhalla was an enormous hall in Asgard where warriors who were slain in battle would go upon their death. 

King Ludwig I of Bavaria was apparently inspired by this legend, and built two different halls inspired by the Norse legend: Walhalla near Regensburg, Bavaria (completed in 1842), and the Ruhmeshallein Munich (completed in 1853), whose name literally means “Hall of Fame.” These halls were museums containing plaques and statues of important German-speaking people, including scientists, artists, and politicians. 

In 1900, the Hall of Fame for Great Americans was completed. Inspired by the Ruhmeshalle, Dr. Henry MacCracken, chancellor of New York University, conceived the idea for this hall, built in the Bronx. The hall includes Americans in a variety of categories, including authors, businessmen, inventors, clergy, scientists, artists, soldiers, and teachers, but not athletes. The name of this building is the first time that the English phrase “Hall of Fame” was used. 

From there, it wasn’t that big of a leap to come up with the idea of a “hall of fame” dedicated to a particular sport.

Hall of Famers may have enjoyed financial rewards, but all were acknowledged for something other than making money;

I have come to realize that anybody can make money; it is much harder to make a difference. 

James P. Owen

Jon was inducted into the CU Athletic Hall of Fame for making a difference; here’s an excerpt from the Hall of Fame program;

Jon Burianek faithfully served the athletic department for 38 years…  The last 24 years of his tenure he served as associate athletic director of internal affairs… He finished his career working 415 consecutive CU football games (home, road and neutral)… the streak started…in 1970.

38 years; 24 in a leadership role; 415 consecutive football games over a 36 year span; rain or snow; near or far; sickness and health; faithfully serving – all with the same organization.  Hall of Fame indeed!

In our professional pursuits today, how many professionals do we know who are faithfully serving?  For 38 years? Maintaining a 36 year, consecutive streak – with the same organization?

Hall of Fame: Acknowledging the “best of the best”; honoring those who stood out in their field; celebrating their accomplishments; and thanking family members, friends, colleagues, and mentors who collectively contributed their love, time and support – without which – the Hall of Famer would not have been.

If you happen to know of such a person, offer them a pat on the back – they’ve earned it.  And then ask if they could use a little help – during Jon’s acceptance speech, he acknowledged dozens of people by name who contributed to the CU program’s success, and ultimately his personal recognition, because nobody can reach the Hall of Fame on their own.

And that’s called faithfully serving!

GAP

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Made Club?

For many of us, December means year-end and year-end means President’s Club; Quota Achievers; President’s Circle; or the like.  Annual quota attainment goes by many names in a sales professional’s world, true?

My company announced 2014 President’s Club qualifiers last week, along with those that are within reach.  My name wasn’t on the list.  Even though we have a couple of weeks left, I won’t make Club this year.  Will you?  No?  Stings, doesn’t it.

After you’ve earned President’s Club recognition in your career, failing in any subsequent year stings.  Nonetheless,  we compete for a living.  Adversity does not deter our commitment to sales success.  Last year was last year; we are ready to compete again every new sales year as the score is reset to zero.  We know that:

Success isn’t permanent, and failure isn’t fatal. 

Mike Ditka

Although sales professionals work for commissions – many of us will “run through walls” for recognition.  And the best-of-the-best among us earn President’s Club recognition.  In fact, at one company I worked for we put the number of President’s Clubs earned right on our business cards.  That was the “score” that meant the most.

So, if we didn’t make Club in 2014, we will “strap it on” in 2015 and give it another go, yes?  We can do it too, because sales professionals understand the meaning of the word persistence.  We are professionally persistent in our cold-calling; we persist when competing for a deal; and we persist when we occasionally miss Club.  Persistence separates the best-of-the-best from all of the rest:

Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence.  Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful individuals with talent.  Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb.  Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts.  Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. 

Calvin Coolidge

And then, there are those rare performers who earn President’s Club year in and year out.  I remember competing against such a person when I relocated to Denver in 1991.  It was the primary reason I was hired for the job – to compete against the best.

Don Wall was Ceridian’s #1 sales rep for 26 straight years and never missed qualifying for their President’s Club.  Amazing!  The company was known as Control Data back then; I had also competed against that company going back to 1979 when it was known as the Service Bureau Corporation.

I didn’t stop Don Wall’s string, but there was enough business for both of us to qualify for our Presidents’ Clubs.  He decided to retire two years after I moved in, his string of consecutive Clubs intact.  Mine, too.

In recent years, quota attainment has been a bit more difficult, true?  Every year we set out to compete for Club.  And on those occasions when we fall a little short, it stings.  No, we don’t show it – we’re too proud.  We silently nurse our wounds, congratulate our colleagues who out-sold us, and quietly set our mind towards next year.  We are persistent, even in the face of adversity.  We are committed to achievement and personal success – it’s how a sales professional is “wired”.

And after a successful 2014, when we are on the stage to receive our recognition, deep down inside we will tell ourselves we earned it by overcoming the adversity of past years.

Adversity clarifies commitment. 

Gary A. Pokorn

So here’s to our 2014 President’s Club colleagues – congratulations!  For the rest of us, 2015 can’t start soon enough.

GAP

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Context…

So, I am leading this “sales training class”.  Context?  My participants are experienced, successful business people.  My worry?  The term “sales training” can conjure up all sorts of concerns – including “a waste of time”.  Hopefully, they have not moved beyond the philosophies of the original sales masters:

It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts. 

Zig Ziglar

Adding to my dilemma (and their “fun”) the class runs for 3 days.  Three days; from 8am to 5pm; homework each evening; no mid-morning or mid-day breaks; working lunches.  And, although I cannot prevent mobile, multi-tasking throughout the day – I’m willing to compete for my participants’ participation.

You might wonder:  How can I possibly keep a class of senior, successful sales people fully engaged for such a prolonged period of time?  Well, permit me to add a bit more context – because the primary message I deliver in the class is all about the concepts of context.

Sales training:  Actually, the class is a practice session.  You see, from the context of selling skills, it doesn’t matter “what I got”.  What matters is “what they got”.  If I can help what they got even a little, then I have done my job.  “Helping them” is fashioned after the most successful people I can think of (although tempered a bit to remain in the appropriate context of our profession):

Al McGuire, former head basketball coach of Marquette University, once said, “A team should be an extension of the coach’s personality.  My teams were arrogant and obnoxious.”

Waste of time:  The attendees are actually my clients.  They have literally paid a few thousand dollars to join me in Denver.  Before they leave, it is my responsibility to insure they get their money’s worth.  Taking breaks; stopping for lunch; free evenings?  We “run” within the context of a different psychology:

“PACE”… 

Notice that in the mile we do not allow for much of a slowing down of the pace in the third quarter.  We certainly realize that at this point in the race there is great difficulty in maintaining the tempo and many coaches feel this is the proper time to rest.  We feel it is essential to maintain the pace at this time and that quite often the slowing down is merely a psychological thing. 

Joe Newton

Experienced Sales People:  Yes, but experienced in what context?  The challenge many senior, successful sales people have today is adapting to how “modern buyers buy”.  Most participants I work with gained their knowledge and skills last century!  For instance, I too owned a Motorola “brick phone” in 1990.  But that cellular technology experience no longer applies in 2014, true?

Success:  As defined by what?  I mean, how “successful” have I been given the fact that I’m still practicing and trying to perfect my selling skills?  After plying my trade for literally 40 years, I’m still striving to learn how to win every day – every deal.  However, let’s put “failure” in context:

I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career.  I’ve lost almost 300 games.  Twenty-six times I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed.  I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life.  And that is why I succeed.

Michael Jordan

So, when my boss asks, “How did class go?”  I can take a literal interpretation and respond, “Well, nobody quit and nobody got hurt” 🙂  Which in a certain context is called “Success”!

GAP

Did you like this little ditty?  You might enjoy my website too:  The Peace & Power of a Positive Perspective© Please check it out.

 

Sales Performance – Part 1…

Competitive performance (especially sales performance) is one of my favorite topics to study.  You know the discussion:  Is LeBron James the greatest basketball player ever?  Is Michael Jordan?  Is Bill Russell?  Who’s the greatest golfer of all time?  Yep, topics right up there with what’s the key to getting a sales rep to excel?

And in the sales profession we like to add: How can we get all of our sales reps to excel?  And while we’re at it – How can we smooth out their performance peaks and valleys?  How can get them to forecast accurately?  How can we get them to use our CRM?  Lots to study in our profession; lots to discuss.

It reminds me of when I was a young father and would take my son to the practice golf range.  My Dad liked to join us – not to practice, but he loved to watch.  He loved to coach too.  In fact, every time one of us hit a poor practice shot he would ask, “What happened with that one?”  Every time; every poor practice shot.  I stopped inviting him – he was taking the fun out of practice.

Taking the fun out; hmmm; could this apply to sales performance?

I attended a sales best practices webinar recently, sponsored by Hoopla (www.hoopla.net).  Now I’m not much of a gamer, but I’m pretty sure Hoopla offers a gamification application to attach to your CRM.

I’m not much for “gamification” either; encouraging sales managers to resort to technology and entertainment to try to make their sales reps perform.  What – if we can’t prod our people through 7×24, CRM inspection, and daily forecast updates, maybe we can lull them into success with a game?  Let’s look at every activity; every sales rep does; every day – and publish it team-wide and company-wide so everyone can see who is performing and who is not.  Fun.

To entice attendance, Hoopla offered a free copy of the “2014 Sales Performance Optimization” report published by CSO Insights (www.csoinsights.com).   List price for this report is $1,495.  Quite the enticement for attending a free webinar, don’t you think?  Or could it be that a company can gamify “list price”?  I find that entertaining! 

Well, they really didn’t have to “gamify” me to get me to hear the discussion about their research.  As I listened to their presentation and read their report it occurred to me that there is lots of focus on “every shot by every golfer” in the sales profession today.  Might Stephen R. Covey question such an approach?

Avoid the ladder against the wrong wall syndrome: 

Meaning, we climb the proverbial ladder of success only to find that it’s leaning against the wrong wall. 

OK; you might want to discuss, “Gary, what do we do to improve the performance of our sales reps?”  Well, I hope it won’t be too “gamificationy” of me, but I will answer this specific question in my next post, “Sales Performance – Part 2”.

The least I can do is offer you a preview.  You see, I don’t believe the key to sales performance excellence lies with your sales people!

Now don’t get me wrong; I like my sales people.  I have enjoyed working with and learning from some of the smartest, nicest, most skilled, and most successful sales people in the industry during my career.

But the right wall for our sales performance ladder is not the one labeled “people”.

GAP

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Worthless…

Bitcoins: aka virtual currency; electronic money; cryptocurrency.   Engagement: aka the non-monetized metric measuring the effectiveness of social media marketing.  Facebook: aka the new Customer Service media.  I can’t remember a time when I have had more fun getting less worth from such intellectual-based, mass-personalized, business thinking.

Is it me?  Maybe I’m the dinosaur here.  But just in case The Old Guy is on to something, indulge me a little longer, OK?

I like to look at our increasingly complex marketplace of buyers and sellers in a simplified way.  IMO, what connects the buyer and the seller is a transaction.  And – call me kooky – I’d prefer my transactions to include the exchange of money.  Cryptocurrency?  Non-monetized metrics of effectiveness?  Exactly how do I put food on the table with those things?

Now I enjoy the modern, social media; electronically mobile; highly intellectual world as much as the next person.  It’s highly entertaining.  I’m just saying entertainment is not commerce – even for the highly intellectual, highly creative technologies of our day.  Russell Kay cites this universal law:

Grabel’s Law: 

Two is not equal to three – not even for very large values of two.

You tell me – am I crazy if I believe that working for a living and building our businesses should include good, old fashion, hard currency?  Cash money?  Measuring the wrong thing (aka social media engagement); and accepting the wrong form of payment (aka Bitcoins) might be highly innovative; but – and here I go again – innovation is not the same as profit.  And without profit, what do we have?

It nonetheless spoke highly of the firm’s management that they seemed to be going out of business in an orderly fashion.

Norman R. Augustine

One social media premise is that engagement leads to a relationship; and relationship leads to cash money.  So here’s my disconnect:  As a prospect myself, when I’m buying some product or service I just want to buy the product or service – I’m not looking for friendship.  If the seller makes it convenient for me to transact; if they meet my expectations; then I’m likely to transact – repeatedly.

Isn’t it disingenuous to try to establish electronic rapport; or a social media relationship; in order to entice a prospect to transact business?  And after we transact, do we really have to rely on social media to receive customer service?

If a company wants to use social media for their Customer Service delivery platform – fine.  Then institute that approach as company policy; change the voice mail to “Please find our Customer Service Department on Facebook”; and get back to the basics of addressing customers’ needs in a professional and responsive manner.  We don’t care how the vendor solves our issue – as long as our issue is solved, true?

If I have to put my customer service complaint up on an online billboard (aka posting on Facebook) because I can’t get through to their Customer Service Department I assure you I won’t be their customer very long.  IRL, Facebook is not customer service (not even for large values of Facebook).  And real life is a reality:

Reality is that stuff which, no matter what you believe, just won’t go away.

David Paktor

So I promise – if you’d like to transact with me well, you don’t have to friend me on Facebook first.  And the next person who offers to pay me in Bitcoins – I’ll just smile and respond, “I prefer cash, thank you.”

GAP

Did you like this little ditty?  You might enjoy my website too:  The Peace & Power of a Positive Perspective© Please check it out.

Worth it?

I love sports, how about you?  I think I watch a pro, college, or high school game every evening.  I watch more than I participate these days.  You know the old adage:  “I used to be an athlete but now I’m just an athletic supporter.”  Like the  Masters Golf Tournament – stellar!

But there is also a dark side to sports; not exactly what the Greeks had in mind when the Olympics were established.

Golfer Tommy Bolt is known for his sweet swing and foul temper.  While giving a clinic to a group of amateurs, Bolt tried to show his softer side by involving his 14-year old son in the lesson.  “Show the nice folks what I taught you”, said Bolt.  His son obediently took a 9-iron, cursed, and hurled it into the sky.           

Thomas Roswell

Unfortunately, this type of bad manners seems to be increasingly more common in sports these days.  So bad that it is starting to beg the question, “Is it worth it?” From www.definitions.net: 

Worth (prep.)

1.  good or important enough to justify (what is specified): advice worth taking; a place worth visiting.

2. having a value of, or equal in value to, as in money: This vase is worth 20 dollars.

3. having property to the value or amount of: They are worth millions.

4. (n.)  excellence of character or quality as commanding esteem: people of worth.

5. usefulness or importance, as to the world, to a person, or for a purpose:

Your worth to the team is unquestionable.

6. value, as in money.

“Important enough to justify; excellence in character; usefulness as to the world.”  Do these attributes come to mind when you think of sports?  Or does, “value, as in money” dominate sports today?

Think back on a few sporting headlines: Rutgers University’s abusive basketball coaching videos; accusations of payola and grade fixing in Auburn University’s football program; the National Baseball League’s 50 game suspensions for performance enhancing drug abuse; Lance Armstrong; Aldon Smith. There seems to be no end to lightning rod images in college and professional sports.

Even at the parental level, sports can morph into bad situations.  It used to be that kids played sports for the fun of it.  Is back-to-back, competitive baseball, soccer, volleyball, basketball, 365 days a year, year-in and year-out worth it?  It’s not unusual to hear the story of teenagers dropping out of their sport because they’re “burned out”; as a teenager; “BURNED OUT”!  Really – was it worth it, parents?

Thankfully for many of us, there still is a positive place for sports.  And thankfully, there are still sports men and women who believe in the precepts of teamwork, fair play, and character building through competitive lessons, true?  Yes, it’s worth it.

And for those of us whose playing days are over, there remains great entertainment value in watching, reading and debating the highlights of the day’s teams (whether today, yesterday, or yester-year is our paradigm).  Here’s an example – Who is the greatest basketball player of all time?  LeBron James (today’s paradigm)?  Michael Jordon (yesterday’s paradigm)?  Wilt Chamberlain (yester-year’s paradigm)?

Last year, my college basketball teammate shared this 2 minute and 42 second YouTube video.  It’s a clip from a high school basketball game and reinforces the positive power of sports.  Enjoy:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sTaB-hPg0P4

In our world of me-first; trash-talking; win-at-any-cost; if-you-ain’t-cheating-you-ain’t-trying; athletics – the perspective of these high school kids in this game is what I definitely call worth it!

GAP

Did you like this little ditty?  You might enjoy my website too:  The Peace & Power of a Positive Perspective© Please check it out.

Giving our best…

I love football – it’s my favorite sport.  A bit ironic I suppose, because football is the epitome of a time in my life that I did not give my best.  Actually, it was worse than that; it was one time that I quit.

I quit my high school football team two weeks into the start of the season.  It was the only time in my life that my Mom told me I disappointed her. I can remember going into the head coach’s office to quit as if it just took place yesterday.  A bit ironic I suppose, because after being a starter and co-captain my freshman and sophomore years, I was not even going to go out for the team my junior year.   The coach called me over the summer and asked me to reconsider.

I acknowledged his request, but when I showed up I wasn’t prepared to give my best.  And the coaches weren’t prepared to coach me up.  Somehow I decided that quitting was the only escape.  I’ve regretted it ever since.  A bit ironic I suppose – it’s not the not-playing that I regret; it’s the not giving my best.

I bet there have been special coaches, mentors, and managers who have had a positive impact on your life.  Coaches come in all shapes and sizes and use a wide variety of styles and techniques.  I bit ironic I suppose – some coaches resonate with us; some don’t.

Here’s a 6 minute video clip about a high school, underdog football team, their coach, and his expectation to giving our best:

http://youtu.be/-vB59PkB0eQ

Probably not a technique that transfers into the business world, but his message does, doesn’t it?  A bit ironic I suppose – coaches aren’t magicians – we must help them help us.  And in return for their knowledge, enthusiasm, and time; they only ask we give our best.

In business, our favorite, Unknown Sage offers:

Common misconceptions about coaching in the marketplace: 

  • “Coaching is primarily for correcting behavior” – If we only coach people when they do something wrong, we have missed the point.  It’s about building not fixing.
  • “Coaching requires giving up power and control” – The manager relies more on influence. The person is still accountable.
  • “Coaching takes too much time” – Coaching takes too much time if you don’t do enough of it and you don’t do it correctly.
  • “Coaching is soft stuff” – The manager who avoids soft stuff usually does so because it is so hard.  The work is easy; people are difficult.
  • “Coaching is laissez-faire management” – Freedom in the workplace, actually just about anywhere, is rooted in strict discipline.
  • “Coaching is simply being a good cheerleader” – A good manager has the courage and inner strength when needed to tell people the truth.
  • “Coaching is like therapy” – To be a good manager and coach one does need a basic understanding of human behavior and motivation, but therapy has no place in your relationship with the people you are leading.

Coaches enjoy occasional accolades, too.  The best I ever heard was a tribute to Bum Phillips, head coach of the then, Houston Oilers.  It was once said of Bum:

He could take his and beat yours – and then he could take yours and beat his. 

A bit ironic I suppose, but they gave their best to him.  It’s a good idea to find a coach to help us commit to giving our best too, yes?

GAP

Did you like this little ditty?  You might enjoy my website and book, too:  The Peace & Power of a Positive Perspective© Please check it out.

How to have a winning day…

I’ve enjoyed surrounding myself with smart, successful, professional people.  Since I began my career in that innocent state of cluelessness, I felt the best chance I had for success was to do what they did – sort of a “paint-by-numbers” approach.  Well, three decades later I’m still “painting” – and if I can do it, just think what you can do!

I’ve known several great sales professionals:  I worked along side many; managed a few; reported to one; and learned from them all.  I still stay in touch with some of these colleagues (thank you Linked In).  I have even created my own, “Sales Hall of Fame”.  And next to the name of each of the best sales people I’ve known I have reminded myself of exactly what makes them great.  Yep; still “painting-by-numbers”.

These great sales people have many things in common.  For instance, they are all wealthy (Duh!). They have the “earned wealth” kind, not the, “inherited-from-their-families” kind.  Also, they are extremely competitive; very smart; keenly skilled; unbelievably smooth; totally articulate; and quite worldly; again, no surprises.

Some are more personable than others. (Yes, arrogance can creep into successful, self-made sales professionals.)  A few are older than me; most are younger; all of them are the best-of-the-best in their field.

And I’m still learning from them – every day.  Sometimes it’s something new; often times it’s a reminder of the basic principles from those Hall of Famers that came before me.  I mean, if there are time-tested principles why not leverage them?

One example is from Gary Givan, a great salesman I used to work with – the principle of having a good day.  He used to say;

Focus on having a good day, every day; and the year will take care of itself.

Sage advice for us all, yes?  Over the years I’ve found extensions to this principle – along the lines of the “How” vs. the “What”:

How to have a Winning Day 

      1. You have to listen more than you talk…

      3. You have to smile more than you frown…

     10. You have to be fascinated more than you’re

             frustrated…

     15. You have to believe in yourself more than

                     you doubt yourself.

     16. You have to work more than you whine.

     17. You have to do more than you don’t.

Rob Gilbert

Do more than you don’t – I especially like that one!  When you’re having a tough time one great remedy is to just go sell somebody something!  (OK; easier said than done sometimes; but a great remedy nonetheless.)

The nice thing about focusing on one day at a time is that it’s just one day.  Some days we win; some we lose; and some get rained out; but tomorrow is always another day and another opportunity to succeed.  I guess I should add resiliency; mental toughness; and the ability to try and try again to my list of attributes successful people have.  William Feather described it this way:

Success seems to be largely a matter of hanging on after others have let go.

And while we’re hanging on; one day at a time; we can narrow our focus to simply trying to make today a good day.  Oh, and one more tip (from our favorite, unknown, pet loving Sage) regarding the “How”:

Wag more than you bark.

Today – may you the feel the peace and leverage the power of a positive perspective!

GAP

Did you like this little ditty?  You might enjoy my website and book, too:  The Peace & Power of a Positive Perspective© Please check it out.

Give your best…

If you are a sales professional, business leader, parent, or just someone pursuing goals; let’s take a moment to salute those who coach us up to “give your best”

Don’t currently have a coach, you say?  Up to you I suppose – but life can be pretty tough.  Why not add resources to your side of the battle, vs. trying to go it alone?  Linda Richardson reminds us:

            Coaching is for everybody, every day.

I bet there have been many special coaches, parents, mentors, and managers who have had a positive impact on your life.  Coaches come in all shapes and sizes and use a wide variety of techniques.  A matter of style, perhaps.  Here’s a 6-minute video clip about a high school, underdog football team, their coach, and his expectation to “give your best”:

http://youtu.be/-vB59PkB0eQ

Of course, coaches aren’t magicians – we must help them help us.  In return for their knowledge, experience, enthusiasm, and time; they only ask, “give your best”.  Win or lose, our accomplishments achieved are amazing when we commit to “give your best”, true?

I’ve always thought the Olympic athlete represents the epitome of applied coaching and the principle of “give your best”.  Recently, I met Eli Bremer – pentathlete, business coach, and Olympian.  The amazing level of science and sophistication Olympic coaches apply to world class competition is exceeded only by the unbelievable degree of dedication Eli and his fellow Olympians make to “give your best”

I particularly like how Eli positions the value of ½ of 1% relating to “give your best”.  There is success, and then there is elite success:

            http://www.5ringinsight.com/

It’s not one or two big things, but usually all of the little things that seem to determine the degree of success we achieve in our life.  And who better to help us improve all of those little things than a coach, a parent, or a mentor?

In business, here’s our favorite, Unknown Sage:

Common misconceptions about coaching in the marketplace: 

  • “Coaching is primarily for correcting behavior” – If we only coach people when they do something wrong, we have missed the point.  It’s about building not fixing.
  • “Coaching requires giving up power and control” – the manager relies more on influence. The person is still accountable.
  • “Coaching takes too much time” – coaching takes too much time if you don’t do enough of it and you don’t do it correctly.
  • “Coaching is soft stuff” – The manager who avoids soft stuff usually does so because it is so hard.  The work is easy; people are difficult.
  • “Coaching is laissez-faire management” – Freedom in the workplace, actually just about anywhere, is rooted in strict discipline.
  • “Coaching is simply being a good cheerleader” – A good manager has the courage and inner strength when needed to tell people the truth.
  • “Coaching is like therapy” – to be a good manager and coach one does need a basic understanding of human behavior and motivation, but therapy has no place in your relationship with the people you are leading. 

Now, coaches enjoy the occasional accolade, too.  The best accolade I ever heard was a tribute to Bum Phillips, former head coach of the Houston Oilers (the original NFL football team in Houston).  It was once said of Bum:

He could take his and beat yours – and then he could take yours and beat his. 

Stellar coaching! 

So for 2012, let’s find a coach, a parent, or a mentor and commit to “give your best”, yes?

GAP

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Teamwork, or (virtual) manure?

Do you work on a team at your company?  And is this simply an organizational assignment of convenience, or do you actually feel like you’re part of a team? 

According to the Society for Organizational Learning (SOL), the word “team” can be traced back to the Indo-European word deuk (to pull); it has always included a meaning of “pulling together”, SOL goes on to state.  I suppose this origination was directed towards beasts of burden that were doing the pulling back then; not quite the same reference as the people in my office. 

I’d like to be a teamster.  Not the union truck driving kind; I want to learn how to drive my horses to pull a family carriage or a holiday sleigh.  Yes it’s true; I love the smell of manure when I’m working around the corral.  However, when that same smell is detected in the office?  Well, we all know when that occurs either we’re about to be shafted (by our boss or sometimes even one of our teammates); or, our company executives are about to take the company rig on a quick, Gee, while we’re thinking Haw, yes?  But I digress. 

Do you think teamwork in business today is getting stronger or weaker?  Just curious: Are your teammates co-located with you in the same facility, or do they work virtually?  And if you’re part of a virtual team, can the team be effective without team-building activities?  

If we are organized by the org-chart-general-vicinity method, does this make us more of a loosely affiliated group of individuals vs. an actual team?  I think if we were pulling my holiday sleigh under this general-vicinity-method we had better take along provisions.  It will likely take us a long, long time to reach our destination.   

Two of the colleagues I work with are local (one is very local – he is my cubemate); one of my colleagues is located in Singapore; and we report to a Vice President who works virtually from his home in Minnesota.  We are all part of a larger, corporate team; but we rarely have corporate team meetings and we never have any team building activities.  Team building – there’s a concept.  How would you do that virtually, anyway?  

Recently I watched a report on how IBM experimented with virtual team building for team members that were spread out across the globe.  This IBM team set themselves up as avatars in Second Life in an attempt to increase the effectiveness of their working relationship (see www.secondlife.com ).  The founder of Second Life, Philip Rosedale, stated that one of his goals was to improve inter-personal relationships and even teamwork through his virtual world.  Really? With avatars?  Do you smell something, too? 

And how can we tell if our virtual teams are working effectively together?  Are our team-leaders really that smart and that capable to “see” our work even though they rarely “see” their workers?  I mean, are intangibles such as enthusiasm, patience, creativity, and supporting the team easily observed virtually?  Are these traits even of value to our modern, virtual teams anymore? 

Finally, how are virtual team identities established (for those of us not in Second Life that is)?  Here’s how one successful leader viewed it back in the non-virtual, day: 

Al McGuire, former head basketball coach of Marquette University, once said, “A team should be an extension of the coach’s personality.  My teams were arrogant and obnoxious.”

And that’s no horse manure. 

GAP 

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