Are you someone who “shows up?”
I visited with a group of pallet plant owners this week at the NWPCA meeting. One of their largest concerns is getting people to come to work every day.
Each manager talked about the problems of missing people:
- Missed production
- Disruption to smooth production processes
- Breakdown in team cohesion
- Injuries and quality mistakes due to people trying to substitute in an unfamiliar job
Attendance ends up being one of the largest hindrances to productivity facing our industry.
It’s a shame really but it’s a lesson to all of us:
If you want to be valuable in the workplace, one habit you can adopt is being on time every day.
To develop the habit of showing up on time, you have to be intentional. There needs to be a decision where the employee says, “My goal is showing up.”
To be one who shows up on time, you have to communicate to everyone in your life the goal of punctuality.
You set benchmarks. You say to yourself, “In order to be on time I must:”
- Allow at least this much time to travel to work
- Make sure I get this much rest so that getting up won’t be an issue
- Set an alarm for this time
- Allow for the things that go wrong which sometimes cause delays
- Create a margin by arriving early to work
These are just a few steps. But, here’s the point:
To become a person who shows up on time does not require an education.
To become a person who shows up on time does not require a particular IQ.
To become a person who shows up on time does not take into account anything in your background or history that could otherwise hold you back.
In our industry, showing up on time moves you ahead. It makes you eligible for more responsibility. It provides job security.
Are you achieving what you want? Part three.
First, what outcomes are you seeking?
Second, what behaviors are keeping us from getting there?
Third, what mindset has caused us to behave the way we’ve been behaving?
Our mindsets are funny things. We acquire them as we go along in life. Frequently, we adopt a mindset without much thought. We do what we see and what we are exposed to without considering alternatives. If you go back and really think about why you as an individual or we as a team do what we do, you will find some interesting origins that cause you to do what you do.
So, as we look at behaviors which plague us, it is useful to dig a bit deeper to get to the thought process that led us to that place.
Here’s a personal example. My dad would delight in being a rebel. Thus, I grew up doing the same.
I would skip school. Not try hard to make good grades. Sneak booze into teenage parties. I wanted to be the same cool rebel as my dad.
It took me awhile to see that rebellion wasn’t the right mindset. It didn’t serve my dad well. Though he was very smart and very charismatic, he suffered disappointment in many avenues of life. At the root of his disappointment was the rebellious mindset. I realized that there was a better mindset and pursued it.
So, what mindsets plague you?
Some folks say we emphasize safety too much. It slows production.
Maybe you value using equipment until it wears out as compared to taking care of it.
Maybe you think honoring seniority or authority is more important than listening to everyone to see if there is a better idea.
If you don’t like your results, your behavior is hurting you. But, the “stinking thinking” or absence of a mindset is causing that behavior. You need to consider both.
Are you achieving what you want?
On Friday, I began sharing some learning about creating a change in a dysfunctional situation.
The expert, Roger Schwarz, said that the smart leader starts with questions rather than answers.
The first question is: What specific outcomes are we seeking? I shared some thoughts on that question Friday. You can read those here.
The second question is: What are the behaviors that are prohibiting us from achieving the outcomes?
The key here is the leader asks the question of the team as compared to supplying the answers from the top.
When you think about it, we behave ourselves into every situation. When we assess why a dysfunction exists, it comes down to the behaviors we are doing that aren’t contributing to the desired cause. It helps to isolate them, consider the impact and make a plan to replace them.
The best way to do that is to ask the team. They know better than leaders where waste occurs, where risks lie, what stops our performance. We just fail to ask as much as we need to.
You see the process so far?
Clarify what we are seeking and communicate it to every team member.
Ask every team member what we are doing to keep us from those outcomes.
My wife will catch me wandering around the house looking for something. She will ask me what I’m looking for.
Once I share the thing for which I’m looking, she frequently helps me to find what I’m looking for.
She says: “If you would have shared what you were trying to accomplish, I could have helped you earlier.”
That’s an insight. Transparent goals lead to honest assessment of performance.
One more on this tomorrow.
Are you achieving what you want?
I listened recently to a Harvard Business Review podcast about dysfunctional teams and how to fix them. The expert being interviewed was Roger Schwarz.
He said that when leading a change, the leader is wise to start with questions rather than action.
Here is the first question:
What are the specific outcomes we are looking to accomplish?
When I think about many issues we fight to resolve, it occurs to me that in our urgency to fix a bad situation, we start working without considering the aim. Action feels good. It feels useful. But, it often turns out to be wasted energy when we don’t consider first the specific outcomes we seek.
Pausing to consider, clarify and record the outcomes we seek helps to focus energy and effort. We become laser-like as compared to “scattergun.”
If you are struggling to effect a change, consider whether the outcomes you seek are clear.
More on this in the next two notes.
A friend of mine, Pat Hamner, teaches business graduate students. We share an interest in seeing others develop their leadership ability.
He shared an article with me where author Bob Buford reflects on the advice of a consultant, Dan Sullivan.
Sullivan says that success in the marketplace calls on developing four habits that contribute to your “referability.”
Here are the habits:
- Show up on time.
I get asked all the time what I wished schools taught better to students entering the work world: “Teach them to show up.” When you’re on the wrong side of someone not on time, you get a strong sense of the impact of tardiness: wasted time, squandered momentum, disrespect communicated, a hit to credibility which causes someone to question training and character. Woody Allen said, “Ninety percent of success is showing up.” Being someone who is reliable by their timeliness creates opportunity.
- Do what you say.
In the world you make assertions. Living a life consistent with the words you say builds trust. Living a life fulfilling the commitments you make builds a reputation of reliability.
- Finish what you start.
Inevitably, some checks are harder to cash. While it is easy to quit, showing the fortitude to stay a course, try again, find a way until the goal is complete makes a difference in the opportunities that come your way.
- Say please and thank you.
They are respectful words that communicate grace and humility. Using them garners good will.
Like so many virtues, the ability to access these habits, put them to use and have them accrue to your benefit has nothing to do with wealth, education, skill or inheritance.
Are these habits your habits?
What makes a team effective?
You can answer this as a teammate or leader. But, here are the questions for which everyone needs answers:
Does each player understand what his job is and understand how the team prospers when that job is done well?
Is there a premium placed on good, honest and transparent communication? Is all the information at hand to do each job well?
Is each person developing skills and abilities which increase her value to the team and to the world?
Do teammates respect each other and work to add to each other’s effectiveness?
Do we feel good about the services and products we provide? Do we have pride in what we do?
Is it easy to be on this team? Is it easy to do what is expected of me without stupid obstacles being in the way?
Honest answers to these questions identify areas where our teams can get better.
As the questions arise and shortcomings are identified, the place to best start fixing them is through discussion among your team.
Discuss it. Consider some options. Try something different. It’s the “lean” path to excellence.
Transformation is change in such a dramatic fashion that you can hardly recognize the new person or situation from the person or situation that existed before.
Have you participated in a transformation before? While a good situation can transform to a bad one, we usually associate transformation with changes which go from bad to great.
I’ve been listening to a series from Rick Warren on transformation. He says that transformation comes in four steps:
- Fed up – There becomes a situation which is intolerable. It doesn’t usually happen overnight. It often comes with a “wakeup call.” A day comes when the pain is greater than the toleration process. Being fed up evokes a plan to change.
- Own up – The person or team acknowledges that they aren’t victims of the intolerable situation but likely have a role in it. They know that the situation won’t be transformed without change on their part.
- Check up – They assess present practices with an eye for change. If transformation is necessary, the present strategy and practices haven’t worked. A new approach must be determined. New methods must be learned. New skills acquired.
- Offer up – A personal commitment to persist and to try must be present. Transformation comes from whole-hearted people. They try new things. They believe in the process. They take setbacks with calm and move ahead with courage. They have belief the process is leading them to a better situation and embrace it.
Transformation isn’t easy but it’s the most meaningful work you will ever encounter. Is there transformation needed in your life?
A writer I admire Bob Goff says this:
“Most of the things I was afraid of never happened; most of what I hoped for did. Let your hopes trump your fears.”
Fear can paralyze you. It can keep you from new experiences. It can cause you to stay in unproductive relationships. It can keep you from pursuing ambitious opportunities.
Brene Brown, an author who studies vulnerability, says that nothing really good ever happens until people respond to fearful thoughts with bravery. She teaches that the brave go ahead despite fears.
Goff’s idea of letting hopes energize your life has merit. Hoping for something means you don’t have it yet. To attain your hopes, you have to progressively work, learn, experiment until you build the experiences to get there.
Being brave has a way of energizing you. It inspires confidence.
Five birds are on a wire. One decides to fly away. How many birds are left?
It’s a trick question. Five remain. Why? There’s a difference between deciding to do something and doing something. Until the bird flies, there are still five on the wire.
Decisions can be easy. Decisions can be hard. But, very little progress occurs until someone decides to do something and sets it in motion.
Effective organizations seek to make good decisions. When they decide, they go to work. By testing decisions as soon as possible, you find out if you decided correctly.
Most decisions aren’t perfect. They don’t stand the test of time. They need tweaking to adjust to reality.
Facts and circumstances change. The agile organization does not fear honest reviews of their actions and decisions.
They are humble enough to know that new information or better understanding could lead to a better strategy and direction.
Honesty and humility create the opportunity for change and improvement. Be a person who decides and puts action right behind it.
“Success on any major scale requires you to accept responsibility…In the final analysis, the one quality that all successful people have is the ability to take on responsibility.” – Michael Korda
Most of you know that my first job in pallets was handling human resources. For almost 20 years, my main job was talking to employees. Sometimes, I spent time with them talking about their dissatisfaction with their jobs. Usually, when someone is dissatisfied with their job, the company is not too happy either.
So, often the willingness to take on responsibility was at the root of our discussion.
Responsible people make and honor commitments. Things like showing up every day, on time. Or, performing every task with safety in mind. Or, dedicating to hit daily performance targets and providing high quality work.
My experience says that when one finds himself in a responsible mode, he is seen as being able to take on more. And, more comes his way.
More responsibility, more discretion about how you do the job. More security as you become increasingly valuable. More confidence as you gain skill and opportunity.
How is responsibility affecting your job?