Angry, Cool, Weird and Stupid

Ah, here we go again- another election cycle!  I used to really enjoy politics.  Political science was a favorite of mine in school.  I love the unique characteristics of politics and the history that goes along with it.  But I can tell you politics is not something I care for anymore.  I really dislike the new face of politics.  The discourse is broken.  There is no civility.  It makes no sense to me.  Here are a few observations in this election season and the leadership lesson that goes along with it:

r3pugn5yitg-marcelo-quinan

CC Public Domain

Angry:  Voters are angry and the politicians are completely puzzled. Why are they so angry?  What could possibly be wrong?  Maybe years of gridlock, ideology and rampant spending?  Voters want anyone but the establishment.  And this is really evident on both sides.

Leaders:  The problem with angry is that you can make some really bad decisions when you are angry.   Leaders need to guard their tempers and stay composed.  If your team is angry, you need to address it head on.  Don’t put your head in the sand and let it fester!

 

Cool:  There is a new phenomenon emerging- the cool factor!  This is the breeding ground for the PC (politically correct) group.  We have become obsessed with the coolness principle.  What is cool anyways?  Are we still in high school?  I just don’t get the attraction.  Grow up please!

Leaders:  Cool at its roots is being self-centered.  I do what is cool so I look good.  Cool people make me feel better.  If I get invited to hang out with the cool group then I am cool too.  Be approachable- not cool!

 

Weird:  Both sides are convinced that the other side is weird.  They are freaks.  Guns, global warming, faith, same sex marriage, abortion, environment- anyone that doesn’t think they way you do is just weird.  They are broken.

Leaders:  Everyone is different so get over it.  Diversity is a strength.  You will never feed innovation if everyone thinks the same.

 

Stupid:  Both sides are convinced the other side is just stupid.  If they were just smarter they would see that I am correct.  They are just ignorant.  I am smart and have this all figured out.  Really?  Do you actually think you are just superior and everyone else is not up to your intellect?

Leaders:   Look at all sides of an issue.  Don’t get tunnel vision.  Don’t typecast others as stupid just because of your title.  A line person has first hand knowledge.  You can’t completely understand things until you are in it.  Don’t assume you have it all figured out.  Question yourself.

 

We have become intolerant of any viewpoint except our own.  Can you see the crazy arrogance in this?  We will never solve the problems in this country without an open mind and you will never be an effective leader being close minded.  Consider other options.  Look at the other side of the issue.  You may see a better solution.  And keeping an open mind will make you a better leader!

 

So what do you think?  Do you have any insights on the elections that you would like to share?  Do you think we have become increasingly intolerant?  Click on “Leave a Comment” and let me know what you think!          

Advertisements

Steering Through The Storm

Every year I tell myself that the construction business can’t get any harder.  But every year it does….  

2014-07-life-of-pix-free-stock-photos-palma-sea-lighthouse (1)

 

It’s a crazy business.  Added code requirements, crazy hoops to jump through to get approvals, complicated designs, unrealistic expectations, volatile material and labor costs and availability are just a few of the issues.  Getting a project finished in today’s construction world is a major accomplishment.  I am very thankful for this fact:  Our staff is the very best in the business.  They never give up.  When it gets tough, they just buckle down and work through it.  They are an extremely tough and dedicated bunch.

Yet, sometimes it gets a bit overwhelming.

You can only take so much abuse.

You begin to loose sight of the finish line.

You begin to doubt if you will ever finish.

I visited one of our sites recently during “crunch time” and our field staff appeared exhausted and defeated.  You could see it in their eyes.  It was a combination of overwhelming fatigue and shame.  I know their hearts are right.  I know they are engaged in the battle.  I could sense that they felt like they were letting me down.  They made commitments to me that they were not going to make.  This put the company in a bad position and they knew it.  So what did I do in this circumstance?

I encouraged– When they can’t see the end of the tunnel you must help the group to visualize the path so that they can see the way out.  Even though things were not good, I was upbeat and did my best to pick them up.  It would have been much easier to come in like a tornado, completely change the program and whip them harder.  But I knew this would not be good for them and it would not help the situation.  Yes, mistakes were made and we can talk about them later.  For now we needed to dust ourselves off and keep going.  I encouraged some of the younger employees by telling them that it’s always a struggle and this was not unusual.  They were blaming themselves and it helped that they know that the mad dash at the end was part of the business.  It’s normal.  Not at all fun, but normal.

I made suggestions– I viewed the situation and gave input on several problems that were hurting progress.  A fresh view can be very helpful.  I provided this in a way that was not condemning.  In fact, I left it up to them to decide what was best.  They have superior knowledge of the situation- even though I outrank them.  The suggestions showed that I cared.  It showed that I was looking for a way to help and not criticize decisions or strategy.

I provided extra resources– We made some personnel moves to provide more help.  They needed help.  They were running out of gas.  New faces and fresh attitudes help to pick up the entire team.  It’s like the cavalry riding over the ridge to save the day.  A new influx of energy.

I defended them– Questions were swirling about decisions and processes.  For the time being, I defended our personnel.  I respect them and for now, they need to be supported.  Strengthen what you have and support the weak areas and get through the battle.  Avoid the whispers and gossip.  The team needs to be cohesive and separating and pointing fingers will only divide the team.  For now we need to be united.

I believe the worst thing you can do when leading through a storm is to come in and try to shake things up.  There are times when immediate moves need to be made, for instance, if there is a person who is a cancer to the group.  Generally, the best moves are to provide support until things begin to smooth out.  There is plenty of time to analyze and criticize, but the first order of business is damage control.

Guard your tongue.  Stop the bleeding.  Get the energy level back up.  And get the boat pointed in the right direction!

So what  do you think?  Have you been in a situation where you had to get through the storm?  Do you my approach is correct?  Click on “Leave a Reply” and tell me what you think!

 

Reaching Down

My grandfather was an avid golfer.  He simply loved the game.  I remember thinking when I was a young kid just how great it would be if my grandpa invited me to play golf with him.  I actually visualized it often, but I knew that it would be a pain for him.  I would be sending the ball all over the place and it would be frustrating for him to watch and try to teach me the game.  My grandpa would visit with us often and we would watch golf together on television.  I waited for the day that he would invite me to play golf with him.

But the invitation never happened.

My grandfather passed away when I was twenty something.  I wonder now what our relationship could have been if we would have played golf together.  See, golf was his game.  I saw how he came alive watching golf on TV.  I wish I would have had the opportunity to watch him play the game that he really loved and enjoy spending time together on the golf course.

I thought about asking him to take me golfing.  But I didn’t want to be a bother to him.  I knew that he would rather golf with someone who knew what they were doing.  The problem was, I was not in the right position to initiate the golf game.  My grandpa was.  Even though his position was above me he could easily reach down and pull me up to a golf game with him.

I believe that this condition relates to many relationships.  I believe that the person in the power position has the more natural path to initiate the connection.

To bring others along and walk with them.

To spend time together.

To share problems and struggles.

To teach and mentor.

To share wisdom and experiences.

Do we seize this opportunity or do we let it go by?  If you are in the upper position it’s as easy as reaching out your hand.  If you are in the lower position it is much more difficult as you have to get past “the ask”.

I can tell you, in relationships of growth, even the smallest of things can have a significant impact.  I am reminded of this every time someone repeats some rather obscure instruction, story or lesson that I gave years ago that I have long since forgotten.  I promise you- they are listening and watching.  You have a greater impact than you believe.  If you want to experience more- reach down.  Pull them up with you.  They are waiting.

So what do you think?  Do you have a story to share where you pulled someone up?  Did this get you thinking about your position in relationships?  Click on “Leave a Comment” and tell me what you think! 

5 Ways That Processes Protect You from Losing!

Years ago, I coached boys and girls middle school basketball.  We would run structured offenses and defenses and set plays that we practiced for hours over and over again.  Girls, for the most part, ran the offenses with surgical precision.  Boys, on the other hand, typically were sloppier.   It took time for me to get “buy in” from them- to see that the plays really worked and the power in following the rules of the offense.  See, most of the boys felt they were already basketball stars, so when they had an open shot, they took it.  Three point line, even further!  We worked hard to get them to make the extra pass and get the lay-up or easy inside shot instead of taking the long shot from the outside hoping that it goes in.

Basketball Hoop

I remember calling for time out during the games when the boys would get out of the offense over and over again.  I would tell them if they continued to freelance outside of the offense and play “streetball” that I could not help them win the game.  They were on their own.  I couldn’t tell what the defense was doing or how to attack the other team’s weakness when they were out of the order of the offense.  They might win or they might not.  The only thing I knew was that I couldn’t help them. 

I became a spectator, instead of a coach.

Anything could happen and all I could do is watch.

The same is true with business processes.  As you may have guessed, I am a big believer in solid business processes.  Following a structured process will keep you out of trouble and give you dependable results.  In the construction business, we follow strict processes in most areas.  We have written processes and procedures to guide our projects and what we do as a company.  Processes provide the following advantages and protections:

Filters out Most Common Pitfalls:  A good set of processes and procedures will help to avoid most common problems and issues.  The design of the process forces you to think through the needed steps and formulate a plan that addresses all of the common problems.

Plug and Play:  Solid processes allow you to easily switch up personnel.  If all of your work is accomplished in the same manner, you can move personnel from one project to another and they can pick up the work without loosing a beat.  You can use your bench!

You Can Watch The Weak Areas:  Strong processes will identify areas of weakness where you need to place your focus and resources.  Instead of watching everything, you can concentrate on the areas of weakness and let the process do the work on the majority of the work.

They Give You Power:  If you follow the prescribed process then you have the power of the entire company behind you.  You are not on your own.  If the process does not provide an acceptable result then the issue is the process, not you or your efforts.  Failing to use the process puts you on your own, without support.  You are playing streetball!

Provide Expected Steps and Results:  With structured processes you never have to question what is next.  You follow the plan to the finish.  At every step you know where you are and where you are going.  The process is familiar.  You do it over and over again.  You notice problems.  You make changes.  You are a coach not a spectator!

Don’t overlook structured processes as a method for improving your business.  Every part of your business process should be examined and documented.  I have had great results through the years making the effort to solidify our construction and management processes.  If we make a mistake it costs us big!  We rely on systems and processes to protect us. 

Standardizing processes and procedures will make a powerful impact on your business.  Get in the game!  Guide your team and stop being a spectator.  You will see that, with strong processes, everyone is a winner!

So what do you think?  Do you have a time when processes protected you?  Press “leave a comment” and let me know what you think!