Eric Jacobson

Archive for the ‘Making Decisions’ Category

How To Make Decisions Based On The Real Results You Want

In Eric Jacobson On Leadership, Making Decisions on October 29, 2014 at 5:20 pm

Many years ago, I worked with a person who could not make decisions.  Neither big nor small decisions. That indecisiveness paralyzed our business in many ways.

Unfortunately, the book, Decide:  Work Smarter, Reduce Your Stress, and Lead by Example, had not been published.  Had it, I would have shared it with my co-worker.

  • Decide, published this past February, teaches readers how to make better decisions based on the real results they want to experience.

The author, Steve McClatchy, explains how to use the two forms of human motivation — Gain, or Prevent Pain, to make more effective decisions.  For example, he demonstrates how inserting a Gain task in the middle of a Prevent Pain day can give you the energy you need to move forward and make the Prevent Pain tasks take less time through motivation.

Deeper into the book, you’ll be reminded about not only the problems with procrastination, but also about the benefits of procrastination, and, if you are a procrastinator, how you can make better use of those benefits.

I particularly found useful the chapter on Managing Interruptions.   McClatchy explains that a typical day for a worker interruptions rob us of valuable think time and time needed to make effective decisions:

  • Interruptions by things that aren’t important and recovery time – 28%
  • Productive content creation, including writing emails – 25%
  • Meetings (in person, phone, video, online) – 20%
  • Searching through content: web, paperwork, and digital communications – 15%
  • Thinking and reflecting – 12%

McClatchy is a speaker, trainer, consultant, writer, and entrepreneur.  He is the owner and Founder of Alleer Training & Consulting, a firm focused on helping companies and individuals improve performance and achieve maximum results. Decide is his first book.

Are You Spinning Your Employees In Circles?

In Eric Jacobson On Leadership, General Leadership Skills, Leadership, Making Decisions on October 23, 2014 at 7:25 pm

A manager who can’t make a decision or who can’t make a timely decision will frustrate his/her employees. Equally bad, a lack of decision will impede the progress of the manager’s team.

Some managers make endless requests for data as a way to postpone their having to make a decision. Employees end up spinning in circles, slicing and dicing the information far beyond what is truly needed for the manager to make a decision.

Some managers are simply afraid to make a decision in fear of making a “wrong” decision. These managers don’t necessarily request needless data, but simply just never decide.

Successful managers gather the data from their employees, make any truly necessary follow-up requests (probing beyond what their employee may have researched/gathered on their own), and then make their decision…knowing that in virtually all cases most decisions are not black and white “right or “wrong,” but are the best decisions made at that time for the current circumstances.

Good managers know that most decisions can be tweaked along the way as their teams carry out their tasks impacted by the decision.

6 Questions To Ask To Identify A Leader

In Interviewing, Leadership, Leadership Books, Making Decisions, Management on August 4, 2013 at 8:58 am

list

The next time you are interviewing a candidate and you want to access their leadership skills, consider asking the candidate these questions:

  1. What personal qualities define you as a leader?  Describe a situation when these qualities helped you lead others.
  2. Give an example of when you demonstrated good leadership.
  3. What is the toughest group from which you’ve had to get cooperation?
  4. Have you ever had difficulty getting others to accept your ideas?  What was your approach?  Did it work?
  5. Describe a situation in which you had to change your leadership style to achieve the goal?
  6. One leadership skill is the ability to accommodate different views  in the workplace, regardless of what they are.  What have you done to  foster a wide number of views in your work environment?

Thanks to Sharon Armstrong, author of The Essential HR Handbook, for these helpful questions!

Questions You Must Ask Before Starting A Business

In Eric Jacobson On Leadership, General Leadership Skills, Leadership, Making Decisions, Management, Starting A Business, Strategic Planning on March 2, 2013 at 7:53 am

Eric Jacobson LeadershipAre you a leader contemplating starting a new business?  Or, has a budding entrepreneur turned to you because of your leadership skills to ask for your help?

Here are 11 questions you or that entrepreneur should ask before starting a business.

  1. Is there a true need for my product/service?
  2. What is the competitive environment and how will my product/service be unique, different or better?
  3. Will my location (or accessibility online) be convenient and easy to get to for my customers?
  4. Do I have adequate funding to support my business, particularly during the ramp-up period that could be a year or more?
  5. Do I have the stamina to start a new business and work hard even if it means months of extended work hours and perhaps even seven days a week?
  6. Will my family and social life withstand my commitment to my new business?
  7. Will the name of my business be easy to spell, suitable for print on online, and memorable?
  8. Am I a risk taker?
  9. Am I humble enough to ask for help, especially if I am not an expert in marketing or accounting?
  10. Do I hire well? Do I have the skills, ability and resources to hire people who will share my same vision, work ethic and commitment to the business?
  11. Do I have an exit plan? Do I know how to handle exiting from the business should it fail or, ideally, should it become so successful I’ll be able to sell it?

And, before you start your business, write a business plan even if you don’t have to present one to a bank, funders or lenders.  And, ask a handful of your peers to review your plan.  Be sure to select a few people who are your best critics.

Writing the plan, which could take two to six weeks of working on it nearly every day, will force you to think of all aspects of your business and will require you to address tough questions you will likely not ask without the discipline of writing a plan.

Perhaps most critical in your plan will be the sections on:

  • Competition
  • Marketing
  • Financial Projections

Book Review: Rapid Realignment

In Company Culture, Corporate Culture, Effective Communications, Employee Engagement, Engaging Employees, General Leadership Skills, Leadership, Leadership Books, Leadership Skills, Leadership Training, Listening Skills, Making Decisions on July 15, 2012 at 5:31 am

Spend some quality time with the new book, Rapid Realignment, and you’ll learn how to ensure that your strategy, customers, processes and people work seamlessly together in the service of customers and that those four elements continually realign in the face of constant change.

The authors, Dr. George H. Labovitz and Victor Rosansky, share throughout the book a series of case studies from Federal Express, Quest Diagnostics, Navy Hospital at Camp Pendleton, Farmington Savings Bank and a host of other organizations who have stepped up to the challenge of rapid realignment.

Key takeaways from the book include:

  • Vertical alignment describes a condition in which every employee can articulate the enterprise’s strategy and explain how his or her daily work activities support that strategy.
  • Each organization must have a Main Thing.  That Main Thing as a whole must be a common and unifying concept to which every unit can contribute.  Each department and team must be able to see a direct relationship between what it does and this overarching goal.  And, the Main Thing must be clear, easy to understand, consistent with the strategy of the organization, and actionable.
  • Growth and profits are surely the ultimate aim of every business organization, but they are outcomes of succeeding with the Main Thing.
  • Good bosses understand the value of giving subordinates a long leash.  In addition, best bosses listen, back up their employees, trust and respect their employees and provide feedback to employees.
  • Leaders foster engagement when they listen to their employees, create a common purpose, and give people greater ownership of their work.
  • Corporate culture is the product of four dynamically related components:  attitudes, beliefs, values, and behavior.
  • The fastest and most  effective way to change attitudes and beliefs is to change people’s behavior and show them the beneficial results of the new behavior.
  • Organizational culture is revealed in artifacts and symbols, the stories people  tell, relationships, and the rituals and rules that guide behavior.

You’ll appreciate the Key Points summaries and the Things To Do suggestions from the authors at the end of each of the nine chapters in the book.

And, particularly timely are the book sections where the authors teach readers how to:

  • bring the customer voice inside your company through social media
  • use social media and digital technology to quickly identify points of misalignment

Labovitz is the founder and CEO of IDI, an international management training and consulting company, and professor of management and organizational behavior at the Boston University Graduate School of Management.

Rosansky is co-founder and president of LHR International, Inc.  He has more than 25 years of experience as a consultant, helping Fortune 500 clients to drive rapid strategy deployment and alignment.

Thanks to the book publisher for sending me an advance copy of the book.

Example Of Good Guiding Business Principles

In Company Culture, General Leadership Skills, Guiding Business Principles, Leadership, Leadership Books, Leadership Education, Leadership Skills, Leadership Training, Leading By Example, Making Decisions on March 1, 2012 at 9:25 pm

I really like these 10 guiding business principles that San Antonio, TX headquartered insurance company USAA lives by:

  • Exceed customer expectations
  • Live the Golden Rule (treat others with courtesy and respect)
  • Be a leader
  • Participate and contribute
  • Pursue excellence
  • Work as a team
  • Share knowledge
  • Keep it simple (make it easy for customers to do business with us and for us to work together)
  • Listen and communicate
  • Have fun

Too many companies don’t make it simple for their customers to do business with them.  Is it easy for your customers to:

  • Buy from you?
  • Make returns?
  • Get pricing and terms?
  • Receive timely responses to their e-mails?
  • Quickly get answers when phoning your company?

You can find more examples of companies with impressive guiding principles in the book, 1001 Ways To Energize Employees.

Be A Manager Who Makes Decisions

In Company Culture, Effective Communications, General Leadership Skills, Leadership, Leadership Books, Leadership Education, Leadership Skills, Leadership Training, Making Decisions, Management on January 27, 2012 at 7:59 pm

A manager who can’t make a decision or who can’t make a timely decision will frustrate his/her employees. Equally bad, a lack of decision will impede the progress of the manager’s team.

Some managers make endless requests for data as a way to postpone their having to make a decision. Employees end up spinning in circles, slicing and dicing the information far beyond what is truly needed for the manager to make a decision.

Some managers are simply afraid to make a decision in fear of making a “wrong” decision. These managers don’t necessarily request needless data, but simply just never decide.

Successful managers gather the data from their employees, make any truly necessary follow-up requests (probing beyond what their employee may have researched/gathered on their own), and then make their decision…knowing that in virtually all cases most decisions are not black and white “right or “wrong,” but are the best decisions made at that time for the current circumstances.

Good managers know that most decisions can be tweaked along the way as their teams carry out their tasks impacted by the decision.

Leadership Skills: Be Decisive; Find The Truth; Send A Thank You Note

In Company Culture, Effective Communications, General Leadership Skills, Leadership Education, Leadership Skills, Leadership Training, Leading By Example, Making Decisions, Management, Motivating Employees on December 11, 2011 at 10:59 am

Be decisive

A manager who can’t make a decision or who can’t make a timely decision will frustrate his/her employees. Equally bad, a lack of decision will impede the progress of the manager’s team.

Some managers make endless requests for data as a way to postpone their having to make a decision. Employees end up spinning in circles, slicing and dicing the information far beyond what is truly needed for the manager to make a decision.

Some managers are simply afraid to make a decision in fear of making a “wrong” decision. These managers don’t necessarily request needless data, but simply just never made a decision.

Successful managers (true leaders) gather the data from their employees, make any necessary follow-up requests (probing beyond what their employee may have researched/gathered on their own), and then make their decision…knowing that in virtually all cases most decisions are not black and white “right or “wrong,” but are the best decisions made at that time for the current circumstances.

Good managers also know that most decisions can be tweaked along the way as their teams carry out their tasks impacted by the decision.

Find The Truth

If you’re a parent of two children you already know that when the two are fighting and child #1 tells you what happened, you then ask child #2 what happened, and most often the truth is somewhere in the middle of what the two children have told you.

Surprisingly, many managers, even when they are parents, don’t use this parenting “discovery” skill in the workplace. Instead, they often listen to only one side of a situation. Whether it is because of lack of interest or lack of time, they don’t proactively seek out the other side of the story.

The unfortunate result is those managers form incorrect perceptions that can often lead to poor decisions and/or directives.

So, the next time two employees are at odds, or when one department complains about another department within your organization, take the time to listen to all sides of the situation to discover the truth that’s in the middle.

Send A Written Thank You Note

Nearly all employees want to do both a good job and please their supervisor. When they succeed, send them a thank you for a job well done.

A short note (handwritten is particularly good) thanking them for a good job is extremely powerful. Particularly for new employees on your team. Or, for employees new to the workforce and early in their careers.

Include in your note a sentence regarding what they did especially well and how their specific action made a positive impact. Remember, be as specific as possible in what you write.

Be sure to send your note soon after the job was completed. If you wait too long (more than a week), the note will lose its impact.

Send your note in a way it can be easily saved by your employee. Even employees who have been on your team for a long time will likely save your note.

Finally, reserve your sending thank you notes for the big jobs, large projects, extra special work. If you send thank you notes too often they’ll lose their effect.

Assess Organizational Risk Across The 5 Cs

In General Leadership Skills, Leadership, Leadership Books, Leadership Skills, Making Decisions, Management on September 17, 2011 at 4:56 pm

Within the first 100 days as a new leader in an organization, you’ll want to assess your organization’s risk.

Authors George Bradt, Jayme A. Clark and Jorge Pedraza, in their book, The New Leader’s 100-Day Action Plan (third edition due out on October 10), suggest you do your assessment using the 5Cs:

  1. Customers:  First line, customer chain, end users, influencers
  2. Collaborators:  Suppliers, allies, government/community leaders
  3. Capabilities:  Human, operational, financial, technical, key assets
  4. Competitors:  Direct, indirect, potential
  5. Conditions:  Social/demographic, political/government/regulatory, economic, market

Use a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) as you examine each category if that helps.

70 Ways To Be A Better Leader

In Company Culture, Effective Communications, Employee Engagement, General Leadership Skills, Leadership, Leadership Education, Leadership Skills, Listening Skills, Making Decisions, Management, Mentoring, Motivating Employees, Soliciting Feedback, Team Building on July 9, 2011 at 4:57 am

This list of 70 ways to be a more effective leader is one I like to review every couple weeks:

1. Don’t micromanage
2. Don’t be a bottleneck
3. Focus on outcomes, not minutiae
4. Build trust with your colleagues before a crisis comes
5. Assess your company’s strengths and weaknesses at all times
6. Conduct annual risk reviews

7. Be courageous, quick and fair
8. Talk more about values more than rules
9. Reward how a performance is achieved and not only the performance
10. Constantly challenge your team to do better
11. Celebrate your employees’ successes, not your own
12. Err on the side of taking action

13. Communicate clearly and often
14. Be visible
15. Eliminate the cause of a mistake
16. View every problem as an opportunity to grow
17. Summarize group consensus after each decision point during a meeting
18. Praise when compliments are earned

19. Be decisive
20. Say “thank you” and sincerely mean it
21. Send written thank you notes
22. Listen carefully and don’t multi-task while listening
23. Teach something new to your team
24. Show respect for all team members
25. Follow through when you promise to do something
26. Allow prudent autonomy

27. Respond to questions quickly and fully
28. Return e-mails and phone calls promptly
29. Give credit where credit is due
30. Take an interest in your employees and their personal milestone events
31. Mix praise with constructive feedback for how to make improvement
32. Learn the names of your team members even if your team numbers in the hundreds
33. Foster mutual commitment
34. Admit your mistakes
35. Remove nonperformers
36. Give feedback in a timely manner and make it individualized and specific

37. Hire to complement, not to duplicate
38. Volunteer within your community and allow your employees to volunteer
39. Promote excellent customer service both internally and externally
40. Show trust
41. Encourage peer coaching
42. Encourage individualism and welcome input

43. Share third-party compliments about your employees with your employees
44. Be willing to change your decisions
45. Be a good role model
46. Be humble
47. Explain each person’s relevance
48. End every meeting with a follow-up To Do list
49. Explain the process and the reason for the decisions you make
50. Read leadership books to learn

51. Set clear goals and objectives
52. Reward the doers
53. Know yourself
54. Use job descriptions
55. Encourage personal growth and promote training, mentoring and external education
56. Share bad news, not only good news
57. Start meetings on time

58. Discipline in private
59. Seek guidance when you don’t have the answer
60. Tailor your motivation techniques
61. Support mentoring – both informal and formal mentoring
62. Don’t interrupt
63. Ask questions to clarify

64. Don’t delay tough conversations
65. Have an open door policy
66. Dig deep within your organization for ideas on how to improve processes, policies and procedures
67. Do annual written performance appraisals
68. Insist on realism
69. Explain how a change will impact employees’ feelings before, during and after the change is implemented
70. Have face-to-face interaction as often as possible

%d bloggers like this: