Why Are We Connected?


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Isn’t it amazing how many people we connect with on Social Media platforms and have no idea why? LinkedIn at least tries to describe their purpose as Social Media for Professionals, a networking tool, and even an online resume. But if you take a glance at the list of your connections, you got to ask yourself, why we are connected to so many of these names.

When I first got online with LinkedIn I was in the Learning Development profession and looked for collaboration from my peer group. Later when I became a consultant I looked to these same people as resources for work and referrals. While only a handful of connections reached out to support me, I always felt I could help others flourish. I made referrals often but after awhile I realized I was not getting any benefit playing this role.

At one point I started to disconnect from those that knew me well but after 10 years or more never reached out for help and I figured never would. Then one of my contacts noticed and asked me why we were no longer connected. He was actually hurt, so we reconnected and I immediately stopped scrubbing my connections.

A few years later when I started to sell travel I began to believe that everyone was a potential client because everyone takes a vacation. I couldn’t have been more wrong! After 18 months, and a zillion postings, I’ve had 2 clients from this source. While it is not a zero level of support, it is close.

So why are we connected? If I can’t do anything for you and you can’t do anything to help me, what is the purpose? LinkedIn is a professional networking platform that doesn’t meet my expectations. Yet Facebook filled with family and friends is no better. Twitter is just a chance to comment on everything going on, and Instagram is for storing your pics online.

Something either doesn’t work as advertised, or I do not understand the whole social media concept. Your thoughts are appreciated.

 

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Are Servant Leaders Becoming Extinct?


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In a world where everyday interactions becoming a series of activities that promote your value over helping others achieve success, I wonder if Servant Leaders are becoming extinct.

With a lot of leadership styles to choose from, I glommed on to Ken Blanchard’s work almost 30 years ago as something I could understand, remember and implement because it aligned well with what I was sort of doing without a guidebook. It was easier back then to be a Servant Leader because I had a lot of role models. Now granted I had a lot of the dark side cousin, Self-Serving Leaders, as role models too, but I saw that style as a losing proposition.

In the past 15 years, Self-Serving Leaders have taken over most of the management roles in corporate America, and in their midst of self-promotion have left carnage in their wake. It is tougher to be a Servant Leader in a corporate culture that rewards self-serving activities more. It used to be a self-serving leader was called out for their behaviors but now they are ignored, or worse, out of fear they are supported.

I bet there is a self-serving leader in your company that you can identify because they do everything to promote themselves, while they work overtime to diminish the value of others. In fact it is this last point I want to emphasis in this blog today.

This individual will often performance manage other employees around them in order to build up themselves as being indispensable. If the only person left standing that knows their job is the Self-Serving Leader, then mission accomplished! It doesn’t matter if you are a subordinate, peer or the manager; you must never come off knowing more than they do. They want to be feared and often they are, so they remain the center of attention.

Servant Leaders are more productive and have less time to play games, especially defense. They will fight to protect their team members, yet often lose their own battles with the dark side.

The only times I see Servant Leadership completely win out over Self-Serving Leadership is when the top boss in a Servant Leader. They simply do not tolerate the disruption of the Self-Serving Leader and eliminate these people. Ask any CEO that is a Servant Leader if they have Self-Serving Leaders in their organization and they will either say No, or yes but not for much longer. Powerful!

I hope you have had the privilege to have worked with at least one Servant Leader. Chances are all of you have had a Self-Serving Leader in your career. Share in the comments the pluses and minuses you have experienced. But please don’t use their real names.

 

Are You Happy With Your Job?


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A good friend I worked with 25 years ago once gave me the best advice about a job. She said roughly, that a job was a source of income to pay for the bills you have now and to save for your retirement. That if I found myself doing what I loved to do and it filled my passion, then I was a very fortunate person. It reminded me that being happy was just a bonus I could hope for if lucky.

Many of you may argue that finding your passion is the first goal, and seeking out that job is the second goal. Yet I realized that day I was finally in a job that made me happy. I had given up a career in retail banking for a career in learning development. I spent 30 years in that field and left after it was no longer fun. I had only been doing this job for a couple of years, and I didn’t recognize all that was part of being happy.

While the actual work became more of a challenge, that only kept me more engaged. But when my manager and mentor left and I began reporting to a real piece of work that was clueless about training, my little world of happiness took a quick dive. The location of my office was changed to a new downtown address with a lengthy and dismal commute. And did I mention to save money this manager had us cubicle sharing? Two days a week it was crowded!

Then one day, I got a new manager that was brilliant in instructional design, performance consulting and wanted me to learn what she knew so well. I had a Servant Leader again for a manager, and a new mentor. We had home offices setup, so no commute and I only shared my space with the cats. Life was actually quite happy for the next 6 years until I chose to leave for a new company and new challenges.

But with that new company, all the money and benefits, great office I also landed one of the most Self-Serving Leaders I’ve ever worked for. He was great when things were going well, and a real monster that liked ripping people apart. While I built up an awesome team of people, everything was fine if I blocked my staff from the top floor chaos. When I had finally had enough I left, and the flood gates were let loose on my team.

I became an independent consultant, and have never worked for another manager since. Instead I am the mentor to many paying forward the good fortune I received. I am happy again. What kept me from my happiness in the field of my greatest passion was poor leadership. So few companies bother to find out why people leave. They just process the paperwork and look for a replacement. All of these terrible managers have done quite well for themselves, and my faith has allowed me to forgive them and move on.

Bottom line though is I have worked to earn money to pay my bills and save for retirement. I have also been happy a good percentage of the time, so I guess I have been fortunate too!

Sending Mixed Signals to the Staff


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You got to love the senior manager that just yesterday preached to the team the virtues of treating people with respect, even pointing to the ever present value statements on the wall, and ripping your face off today for something that happened. What the heck?

 

Nothing to see here, this is Corporate America on most days of the week.

Get used to it. “Do as I say and Not as I do.”

 

While I published two books on how to have a productive learning function, I’d be a lot richer if I had come up with another culture book with some new idea for how to motivate and get everyone on the same page. CEOs would be lining up to buy all of their managers a copy of my book, and no doubt I would be engaging in some pointless, yet very expensive workshop to train their leaders. Everyone would be hyped for a couple of months and then only Sherlock Holms would be able to locate the enthusiasm that once existed.

It is very trendy to spout from on high the latest ideas, and jump head first into an implementation with no outcomes. It makes everyone, (including the board of directors) think you are engaging people. At the same time you are leading the new direction, you fail to monitor behaviors. When people are told one thing and they experience another, the energy dissolves away quickly.

Like lawmakers that pass new legislation to fix one problem while ignoring the five other problems the legislation creates, managers often implement processes that do the same thing.

I know a company right now that struggles with hiring even basic roles, so current staffs remaining are stretched thin keeping up on the work being short staffed. Yet management adds work to the teams that one could argue would challenge full staffs to complete, to already overworked people, because it supports their new initiative. No one thinks about the effects on existing staff, just their newest initiative. Team members start to quit, and HR fails to alert anyone because it means throwing a curve that will slow down the new program.

How does this happen? People are scared to send up yellow flags let alone red flags. Management has made it clear “we are here to support you” while in reality they don’t want to hear about anything that is negative. I know of a CEO that was called in to fix an ailing company that was full of mixed signals. His solution was simple and direct. In the course of 90-days he evaluated all senior managers and fired a whopping 90% of them and replaced them with people he knew walked their talk. It has been almost a year since then and the company is back and doing good.

So if you tell someone to act a certain way, it isn’t hard to succeed. Model the behaviors and hold people accountable.

 

Our HR Is Incompetent – Now What?


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Way too many small to mid-size organizations have to live with incompetent HR. Either someone is wearing the HR hat and knows little to nothing about HR, or someone has the full time role and is in over their heads.

And before any of you lose sleep or want to comment about the obvious, not every company has incompetent HR. I’m talking here about the ramifications if you do, and what can be done about it.

I’ve seen too often a clerical role in HR gets advanced simply because of tenure. A prime example is a marketing administrator was helping in HR and they asked if she would like to stay on permanently. She always wanted to get into HR and took advantage of the chance. She was one of two HR assistants reporting to the HR Supervisor. Within 2 years, the supervisor had left and so did the other assistant that was the supervisor for a brief time. The new HR Manager became the last one standing. 17 years later she is the VP of HR with two assistants. She is a bit more aware of the HR function through time and exposure to events and attending annual conferences, but hardly competent.

In the last 14 years I’ve been consulting for the HR & Training worlds I have run across way to many people that run HR and are in over their heads but somehow explain all the problems their lack of competency creates as part and parcel of the HR world. Yet there are also a ton of competent HR leaders out there that would never have allowed such chaos to exist.

So maybe your HR department struggles with recruitment and even the most basic job search is a challenge. Or how about behavior issues, employee relations and resolutions when problems arise, can this individual respond appropriately? Are they a strong support to management for employee performance improvement or are they quick to terminate? Or maybe they seem out to lunch all the time and everything is over their head all the time.

Those that know me might think I would recommend training, but actually I would recommend a demotion if you want to keep them in HR, hiring a replacement, or a total job reassignment to another part of the company. They are not in the right job, and you either start over their training, or give them new opportunities. In any case, if your HR is incompetent, replace them immediately!

If you are not ready to make the needed changes, at least cut your personal losses by selling your company stock. I’m not giving investment advice, only trying to make a point that your company succeeds on its human employees, and they succeed with strong HR support. It is like a big dominos game and you are going to lose it all if your HR employees and especially leadership are weak.

I know one company that is regretting their previous excuse of hiring better talent as too expensive; as they are now settling a multi-million dollar lawsuit over EEO, ADA and Workplace Harassment with a single employee. Guess what happens when the other employees get wind of the payout? You might hope this was an isolated incident, but it was not.

Lastly, don’t wait until things get this ugly. If your HR Manager struggles with recruiting an entry level person and 90-days later you are still waiting, chances are good this person is incompetent. Find them a new career path and help you company succeed.

Are You Afraid of Vacation?


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In every company in the country you can find at least one person who is afraid of taking vacation. They for one reason or another are afraid of even staying at home (staycation) and being away from work. What are they afraid of if they are gone for a week? Why does the company allow employees to skip taking time off to rejuvenate?

Let’s begin by briefly reviewing the benefits of simply not going to work for a week, even if you stay at home and go nowhere else. A change of scenery does a body good and cleans out the brain fog that develops from routine. Breathing different air, and just changing up the daily activities brings a fresh perspective to life.

However, if you can break away from work and go somewhere, even if it is local places like shopping, eating a few meals out, the park, the library or a museum can open the mind to different things. At home projects in the yard or around the house often uses a different skill set and can check off a few items on the to-do-list making us feel productive.

Going somewhere, whether by car, bus, train, plane or ship can transport us completely away from routine and free us up to see the bigger picture and how we fit in, or maybe introduce us to a change. Many times people come back from vacation and begin looking for a different job or begin training for a new career.

Organizations benefit from employees being gone for a few days as a reminder of what people bring to the table. People that are always around are often taken for granted, but in their absence people realize the value of others and how essential they are to the daily workings of the company. In very rare incidences, companies will discover issues being hidden by the absent employee, but even bad news can be good news if discovered.

I happen to love cruise vacations. I have sailed on over 40 cruises, and each time they bring new experiences and memories. But aside from the great food, unpacking one time, entertainment and interesting ports of call, I find that everything is being taken care of and I can just go along for the ride.

With a cruise, the hardest part of the trip is getting there. Every time I step on board, I feel the tension leave my body. Someone else is transporting me for the week. Someone else is cooking, cleaning, and providing me with things to do. I simply make choices and go do them. While many want Wi-Fi, I choose to disconnect for the week, and don’t even watch the news on TV.

When I get home, I find very little happened, very little changed, and I just step back into the routine, looking forward to my next vacation. We plan out a year or two in advance for all time off, so I always have something to look forward to.

So why don’t you take your full vacation every year? What is stopping you? What might you be afraid of? Let’s plan your next vacation and fill up the memory book. Drop by www.JimLoriTravel.com and start exploring the possibilities!

Everyone Loves a Sale; Except Those That Can’t Make Decisions


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Whenever you see a sale that is short, like a 24 hour sale, or maybe a 48-hour sale, it is usually a good sale because it comes with a very short timeframe to make a decision. Since most people struggle with decision making, they will often spend quite a bit more to avoid being forced to act quickly.

In the past year and a half selling travel (cruises, tours and resort vacations) I have been frustrated by the few and far between really good offers that come up and with it a short time to market. Yet these short timeframe deals have saved my clients a lot of money when I can get them to act quickly. I find that most of the time though, my clients will procrastinate beyond the sale date and lose out.

It is the same in corporate purchasing. When the shoe was on the other foot and I was negotiating with vendors for a lower rate, or added perks to my deal, often it came with a limited time to purchase. Depending how many more hoops I had to clear internally before being able to say yes, I could lose out on savings because I took too long to commit.

Organizations that empower people to make decisions without fear of termination often have a robust and energetic workforce where things are always moving quickly, including decision making. This environment often saves money because they can act quickly.

I felt so bad recently when a client passed up an offer on a cruise because he took too long to make up his mind, and when he finally got around to being ready to book the ship was full. Not only was he going to be paying full fares by waiting, he landed up missing out completely because he waited. Now we are looking for a comparable cruise and everything available is costing more.

Then there is the school of thought that some people simply are not motivated by a sale price or added perks. They purchase off the rack at full retail pricing without bothering to ask about pricing. If these people exist, I have not yet met them.