goals

Leaders Engage!

04 Jun
by Bridget DiCello

Leadership is so much more than doing tasks; and so much more than being a charismatic cheerleader.  It’s about leading people to Greatness – regardless of your specific goals, and in order to meet those specific goals.

Have you had someone who has pushed you to Greatness?  Who has helped you become a better or stronger person personally or professionally?

School was always easy for me and I greatly appreciated the professor who pushed me to not only take a full credit load my senior year in college, but to add a few more classes, including an independent project, work with him to publish two papers, present at a conference as the only undergraduate, and network actively with alumni in my field.  And the hardest part of the tasks was not the considerable time I spent, but the fears and shortcomings I had to overcome to do those things – most of those activities were well outside my comfort zone.

Do you have a comprehensive strategy for pushing your team members out of their comfort zone, supporting them in the process, holding them accountable for taking the first step, persisting through obstacles and growing into new areas of skill and ability?

With a good team, you can run a company successfully, make a profit, minimize turnover and keep customers happy without ever achieving Greatness in your team.  But, people on your team, and your company, are capable of so much more!  Typically, we will not move outside our comfort zone without prodding from someone.

If you find yourself saying that you don’t need prodding and that you are always looking for the next way to challenge yourself – realize that that may be true because you are the entrepreneur or business owner.  Even business owners who thrive on new opportunities have comfort zones.  Maybe sitting down to connect with employees in curious conversations is outside your comfort zone because it doesn’t move fast enough for you.

Based on your goals, what do you really want your individual employees to be able to do or do better?  Are you ready to set some ambitious individual goals for employees, get them talking about how they will reach them, and help them determine the first and next steps?  Then are you ready to walk with them on a journey of professional improvement with a series of accountability coaching conversations?

This requires a level of engagement form you as the leader that many leaders will never display for one of a few reasons:

  1. Their drive to move the company forward and seize new opportunities is so strong, the thought of employee development, especially at the deliberate pace it takes to connect with someone in order to be able to lead them to Greatness, is not appealing.
  2. They delegate the task to a middle/front line manager who doesn’t know how to coach the employees.
  3. It can be exhausting.  People don’t change easily, even in exciting, new and upward directions.  Overcoming fears and areas where one lacks confidence are tough things to do and not all leaders can stomach those conversations.
  4. The leader thinks the employees should do it on their own.  They probably will do some professional development, but I may never have thought of publishing the two books I did if I hadn’t published papers in college – pushed by my professor.
  5. Sadly, some leaders do not have a genuine interest in the professional development of their individual employees.  They can create good companies, but never great ones.
  6. They just don’t know how.  It’s a very specific set of skills that very few people are just born with.  I certainly wasn’t.  If you want to develop these skills further, give me a call and let’s talk.

Finding a Mentor

21 May
by Bridget DiCello

You may have many successful people who inspire you, share insights and who you learn from.  But, how do you find a mentor with whom to build a more concrete relationship?

A mentor is successful – let’s look at what other qualities are important:

1 – They have accomplished what you want to accomplish such as position, certifications, wealth, social stature, and also life balance, spiritual or emotional growth.  In order to identify this person, your goals must be clear.  You must focus on more than just one goal –  we are all much more complicated than that.  Make a list of 50 things you want to accomplish this year and 50 more you want to accomplish in ten years.  Think beyond immediate goals to what you really want  to accomplish.

2 – Have you ever had a successful person offer to help but none of their advice seems to apply to you?  Equally as important as their success, a mentor needs to be someone who has overcome similar obstacles and struggles that you currently face.  To achieve any goal, people take many different paths and you utilize a mentor to successfully navigate your path and overcome your challenges.

3 – An effective mentor is also a coach.  A good coach is interested in helping you access your potential and your greatness – and pushes you to do so.  They care enough about your success to learn about you – your strengths and weaknesses, hopes and dreams.  You build a relationship of trust based on their focus on you and your best interests and your appreciation of them and diligent hard work and putting forth your best efforts.  It goes well beyond getting and giving advice.

As you look for mentors in your life, look for someone who:

1 – embodies the success you want to achieve, both professionally and personally

2 – has overcome the struggles you face

3 – cares about you enough to focus on the success you desire more than the success their believe you should achieve based on their experiences and success

What other qualities do your mentors have?

Top Five Reasons Why People Fail to Achieve Their Goals

08 Apr
by Bridget DiCello

When you realize it’s April, the first quarter of the 2013 calendar year is over, and you look at your goals for the year, are you:

  • Energized by your progress?
  • Depressed by the lack of achievement year to date?
  • Frustrated by what took you off track?
  • Unsure of how exactly you are progressing because you haven’t looked at your metrics yet?

Top 5 reasons why people fail to achieve their goals:

1 – Never wrote goals in the first place. If you never committed to paper, you didn’t see the value in spending that time, were unsure of exactly what your goals were, were never committed enough to put them on paper – lest you fail, or believe things change so quickly that you were going to go with the flow. The commitment from goals in your head, to goals written on paper by your hand, and shared with others – is a big commitment. And it’s a leap for most people. If you have never written your goals, jump that hurdle and put them on paper. Then share them with someone. And, if you have a team who is responsible to achieve these goals with you, by all means, share the written goals with them!

2 – Goals were way too ambitious. Have you ever made a list in your head of what you want to accomplish on your day off, or on a weekend – and never made it even half-way through? Excited by the prospect of a day off, or some ‘free’ time on the weekend, we quite rightly, think of all the things we want, need and would like to accomplish, including some time lounging at the pool. In business, it can be the same way. If you are excited about your job or your business, you will have high hopes and ambitions. Don’t let them get away. Just make sure when you write your goals list, you pinpoint realistic goals, corresponding strategies and reasonable action items, so you and your team can make progress, and can celebrate those achievements at month or quarter-end. Then, also keep a list of your hopes and dreams, ambitious goals and ‘to do someday’ items, and consistently chip away at that list.

3 – Never created a detailed plan. Being able to execute on a project or initiative is a lot harder than it may appear, and the skill is not in everyone’s toolbox. Even the most diligent of people cannot always get things done on time without a solid plan in place that clarifies objectives, creates the roadmap, identifies milestones, pinpoints key action items, assigns responsibility, allows for obstacles that will inevitably occur, and monitors progress on execution of that plan. This is not a lengthy paper document, but it is a plan on paper, with the ‘how’ we are going to get this done (in relatively small bites), ‘who’ is going to do it, by ‘when’, and ‘what we will do when things don’t go as planned.’

4 – Failure to measure progress. It takes some work to identify metrics to measure performance upfront when goals are written, and then to take a moment to check on those metrics throughout the quarter. However, it is more effective to spend this time upfront than to get to the end of the time period and find out you missed your goal. Enormous Accounts Receivable balances don’t occur in 90+ days without first occurring in 30 and 60 days. Closed sales don’t plummet without first seeing a drop in calls and appointments.   Whatever you are concerned about should have a measurement associated with it, not only so you can measure your success, but also your progress. Some measurements are more subjective, and based on manager or owner evaluation. These can be just as effective, when the criteria are spelled out up front.

5 – You moved the finish line. If you work with or for someone who might be called an “Achiever” or even an “Over-Achiever,” you’ve learned that no matter how much success is experienced, it’s never enough – and they are quick to celebrate and move on to the next challenge. Written goals help with this challenge as well, because while you are excited about achieving a goal and setting the next one, you can’t continually move the finish line and not frustrate the team. However, the team can move the finish line as long as the success is acknowledged and don’t burn themselves out working overtime.

What’s in your Job Description?

11 Mar
by Bridget DiCello

When is the last time you looked at your job description? Do you have one? If you’re a business owner, you may never have written yourself one beyond, ‘Chief cook and bottle washer.’

When job descriptions are written, typically it is in an ideal bubble, where someone thinks through what needs to be done, and who is the best person to do it.

Then reality hits.

Ambitious employees keep very busy doing what needs to be done and what they are asked to do. This is admirable and necessary in the short term. But, continuing this way will create a very reactionary culture in an organization. Being too busy becomes the excuse for staying in urgent mode, and never moving to the more strategic and important components of the job.

Certainly, there is a need to be somewhat flexible and adaptable, since not all tasks, scenarios and activities can be foreseen in a job description, and being the person to jump in and get things done is very valuable. However, strategic activity is what moves the company forward through and out of the day-to-day of today and into future and greater success.

Take a moment to think about the key strategic roles that you need to play in your current position:

  • What needs to get done consistently, but often gets pushed to the back burner?
  • What are the things that you’d like to be able to do in your role, but rarely find time for?
  • Who would you communicate with more routinely if you had the time?
  • Where, or to whom, should you give more feedback?
  • For what meetings or milestones would it make sense to spend more time preparing?
  • In what areas would it make sense to measure current performance more accurately?
  • What are you doing to make things work better and more efficiently?
  • Strategy is by nature forward-looking and focuses on improvement. What is your role in improving systems and processes, beyond routinely executing them well?
  • What are the most key components of what you do that impact your customers?
  • When do you spend time on activities that impact future operations?
  • What is your role in consistent improvement of operations, which continues when cash flow is good and things are running smoothly, AND when times are tight and crises are occurring?
  • Which components of your job may not be noticed if you don’t do them, but detract from overall success of the organization if they get pushed aside? (safety committee, staff meetings or daily huddles, improving a process that isn’t broken to stay ahead of the competition, team building activities, and professional development for strong employees – all may be included in this category)
  • Look at your individual professional goals for 2013. Do they reflect the strategic components of your job? Have you made more progress in those areas or on the goals that revolve around routine daily activities?

No doubt you’re busy, doing important work and doing it well. At the same time, ask yourself what strategic components of your job description have you let slide, and what priority will you put on bringing one or two back into the forefront?

Your Personal Goals for 2013

09 Jan
by Bridget DiCello

Will you do the same things in 2013 and expect different results?

Will you try to ‘change’ other people and remain frustrated?

Will you address those things about yourself that you most want to be different?

Personally, we are created by the person we are, the relationships we have, the work we do, the hobbies we enjoy and the legacy we leave. When you think about setting goals for 2013, think beyond work – where goals are most common, beyond weight loss – the most common personal goal, and set goals this year for the whole you.

At work, don’t only set goals for promotion, pay raise or increased sales. Ask yourself:

  • At what tasks do I want to become more proficient?
  • What routines do I want to tweak?
  • What projects do I want to start, and which ones do I want to finish?
  • Which relationships do I need to improve? What do I want to improve about them?
  • How do I want my role to change? Do I want a promotion? Do I really want that new job?
  • What skills do I want to improve?

Then, look at the area over which you have the most control and on which you probably spend the least amount of time and focus – YOU.

Thinking not of what I do, but who I am, what do I want to be different about the way I am in these categories? Maybe it’s related to commitment, time, quality, perseverance, depth, determination, focus or energy…

  • Health/Fitness
  • Business/Career/Studies
  • Self-Image/Confidence
  • Religion/Spiritual
  • Finances/Wealth
  • Social/Friends
  • Family
  • Romance/Love
  • Contribution/Service
  • Fun and Recreation

Jim Collins book, ‘Good to Great’ is a bestseller and speaks to companies who want to go from being Good to having Great results. What about YOU? How can you personally move from being Good to being Great? Only you really know the answer to that question, and only if you take a few moments and slow down long enough to find the answers.

Making Progress on Goals Important to You

26 Jun
by Bridget DiCello

You can verbally communicate a goal to some employees and they will get it done.  Others need to see a goal in writing.  Others feel that goals are out there somewhere, but do not direct their daily work.  Ambitious employees feel that working hard today will lead to accomplishing the goal, but don’t see the pathway.  Big picture thinkers can hear your company goal and set their own goals for their team or themselves.

The best thing you can do as the leader is have clear goals communicated in writing to your team.

Yearly  – It is important they understand where the company and team is headed in the longer term.  They may not know what they need to do today to accomplish that goal, but realize that the discussion will continue on progress made towards the yearly goal.

Monthly – Based on what you want to accomplish in 12 months, and therefore, what you expect to accomplish this quarter, departments and individuals need to clearly understand their top priorities for the month.  To some people, this is intuitive, for others it is not.

Company/Department Monthly Goals – Do you know your company’s/department’s top goals for the month?  Are they way too ambitious for even a team twice the size of yours to achieve in 30 days?  Is the list lengthy?  Overly ambitious goals that are routinely not reached will become a demotivator and employees will lose their focus and drive.

Write 3-5 monthly goals that are the most important things your team needs to accomplish within the next 30 days.  This is in addition to routine work.  This is not all that you and your team will do.  You may make much more progress than this.  But, if you were to narrow it down, these are the most important things to get done.

Examples:

  1.  Hire a salesperson.
  2. Evaluate and make a decision on the new software program.
  3. Establish key company metrics and a method to measure them routinely.  (It’s amazing how many companies or departments don’t have them.)
  4. Complete 50% (8 of 16) of current backlog of projects.

Individual Monthly Goals – Does each employee know the top 3 to 5 goals they need to accomplish this month?  “Keep working really hard on everything on my plate, stay focused and make some progress.”  That’s a scary statement to a leader, but may be the answer from much of your team.  This ambitious employee, who means well, may still frustrate the manager and hold the team back.

Have each individual draft their own 3 to 5 goals for the month, based on your company’s monthly goals.  Ensure they know this is a draft and you will add your input and may make changes.  If you feel the employee does not have a grasp of what they need to do, skip their draft at first, and write the monthly goals for them.

Examples:

  1. Complete the tutorials for three software programs and evaluate them based on the following criteria (end user ease of use, inclusion of our main data points, compatibility with our accounting software and outputs).
  2. Complete performance evaluations on your three direct reports, including obtaining their self-assessment and drafting goals for each.
  3. Schedule time in your calendar each day and work on the backlog of projects, based on an agreed upon priority list, completing four projects by month end, while adding no new projects to the overdue list.

You will not see the results your team is capable of achieving if they are not focused and directed in their efforts.  Their daily efforts need to be focused on monthly goals they are striving to achieve, which are created in order to reach your company’s monthly goals.  Remember, to some employees, setting their individual monthly goals is intuitive and to some it is not.

How to Say “No”

07 Jun
by Bridget DiCello

What to Say?

First, gather enough information.  “Mike, I think I understand your request.  Can you share just a few more details of what you need from me?”

Then, frame it.  “Mike, I am hearing that this project is very important to Bob’s department, and to turnaround times.  This month, Mark has asked me to focus all my energy on the successful interactions with customers through our online systems.  I’m very excited about the opportunity to address some long-standing concerns we have heard from our customers.”

What you can do. “It would be early next month before I could start on that work for you, and I would estimate it would take about three weeks.  I know that Mary and Patrick are also experts in this area, and their schedules may be more free this month if you need it sooner than I can complete the work.  (Only say this if you know it to be true.)  What I’d be happy to do is have you circle back with me at the end of the month to revisit this priority.”

And, if you’re Mike, and don’t like that answer, you might say to you:

“Ryan, we all have a lot to do and turnaround time is everyone’s priority.  I really need to get this done and you and I have worked on it in the past!”

You feel Mike’s pain, but have a clear focus and path for the month, and in reality, his priority is not yours at this time. 

“You are right Mike, turnaround time is a priority and I have enjoyed working with you in the past.  The challenge is that this month, I have items that have been identified as higher priority in my calendar.  Would you like me to introduce you to some other members of the team who would be valuable resources for you since I am booked up?”

If you fail to clarify your goals for the month, and fail to say “No” to tasks outside your focus area, you will end up with too much on your plate, people upset with you more than they would of if you had found a way to say, “No” in the first place, and work that is not up to your quality standards.

I Can’t Say “No!”

05 Jun
by Bridget DiCello

Do you take on too much work and accept others’ requests when you really don’t have the time? And are you not able to do your very best work because you are doing too many things at 75%?

Why do you do this? Do you not want to say “No” because you don’t want to miss an opportunity? Or do you not want to let anyone down? Or do you just not know what words to say to communicate, “No!”?

What to do? First, clarify your areas of focus, your goals, and your strategies to get there. Then, consult those resources in order to make the best decision. Use your focus and goals verbiage in your “No” response.

Clear Goals and Focus

If you are very clear about your most important goals and your priorities for the month, and are excited and focused on them, then it is that excitement that causes you to decline or delegate tasks that are not in line with your plan. Your plan is ambitious and exciting, not limiting and holding you back. It guides your conscious choices of how to spend your time and energy.

Put People in their Place

People are important. Your success will require you to work successfully with others, value their contributions and respect their priorities. And you spend time with another person when your goals and focus overlap their goals and focus. Not necessarily when you are asked to take their priorities as your own. You may be asked by your customers or your supervisor to change your goals and plans and may need to do throughout the month. However, a lot of times when you fail to say, “No” it may be because you like the person and don’t want to disappoint them. But, you may disappoint them or another individual when you take on too much, and don’t do anything as well as you could.

What to Say?   First, gather enough information. “Mike, I think I understand your request. Can you share just a few more details of what you need from me?”

Then, frame it. “Mike, I am hearing that this project is very important to Bob’s department, and to turnaround times. This month, Mark has asked me to focus all my energy on the successful interactions with customers through our online systems. I’m very excited about the opportunity to address some long-standing concerns we have heard from our customers.”

What you can do. “It would be early next month before I could start on that work for you, and I would estimate it would take about three weeks. I know that Mary and Patrick are also experts in this area, and their schedules may be more free this month if you need it sooner than I can complete the work. (Only say this if you know it to be true.) What I’d be happy to do is have you circle back with me at the end of the month to revisit this priority.”

And, if you’re Mike, and don’t like that answer, you might say to you:

“Ryan, we all have a lot to do and turnaround time is everyone’s priority. I really need to get this done and you and I have worked on it in the past!”

You feel Mike’s pain, but have a clear focus and path for the month, and in reality, his priority is not yours at this time.

“You are right Mike, turnaround time is a priority and I have enjoyed working with you in the past. The challenge is that this month, I have items that have been identified as higher priority in my calendar. Would you like me to introduce you to some other members of the team who would be valuable resources for you since I am booked up?”

If you fail to clarify your goals for the month, and fail to say “No” to tasks outside your focus area, you will end up with too much on your plate, people upset with you more than they would of if you had found a way to say, “No” in the first place, and work that is not up to your quality standards.

Plan for Consistency in 2012

04 Jan
by Bridget DiCello

When writing goals, the focus is on what we want to be different, how things will be improved and the areas we want to tackle in the upcoming quarter or year.  However, it’s important to not overlook what you really want to remain consistent.  Things that have enabled you to be successful this year and in the past might be taken for granted.

Doing the same things and expecting different results is the accepted business definition of insanity.  But more than that, doing the same things and expecting even the same acceptable results may be a lot to ask.  Things change.  People change.  Things do not stay the same.  People are not machines and consistency must be purposefully planned for.

What are the core components of your success that you need to remain consistent in 2012?  What is it about your approach, your systems, your customer service, your processes and your values that are the keys to your success?  Do you know?

When writing your goals for the upcoming month, quarter or year, take an inventory of what you consider to be your keys to success, identify the most important components, and determine what it is that will ensure continuity.

What is it that has brought you success?

  • If it is a single key employee that makes things happen, cross-train others.
  • If it is the way a process is running, document it, create checklists if necessary and ensure your team knows how important how they are doing things really is.
  • If it is the connections the owner, managers or key employees have nurtured, pinpoint the key activities that make those possible, should a key person take on a new role or need to leave, or you wish to increase the results you are achieving.
  • If it is your management team’s ability to make good strategic decisions, determine what makes that possible and expand the number of people with these capabilities.

If you want consistent success, the components that have made you successful need to be purposeful and routine.  If creating processes or systems is not in your nature, you need to task someone on your team with those skills with the role of pinpointing and systematizing those key components.  Otherwise, when a part of your success begins to slip, you try to play catch up, which may distract you from the new and exciting goals you have set for the future of your team.