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Entries in Goals (5)


Back to Basics: Be a More Effective Leader in 2015

Improvement is crucial in staying competitive in an ever-changing business environment. However, sometimes improving is easier said than done. To become a more effective leader in 2015, it may be time you go back to basics.

Focus on Yourself

Before you can be an effective leader, you must first be able to lead yourself. Take a self-assessment to determine what kind of leader you are—and be honest about your strengths and weaknesses. No one is perfect, and even the greatest leaders in history had weaknesses. You may not be able to change your weaknesses into strengths, but you can see them as learning opportunities. Lessen your weaknesses and build your strengths by focusing on what you’re good at and surrounding yourself with colleagues who complement you. One personal characteristic that can be a morale killer is being too hard on yourself. Your team will notice your negativity and it may spread throughout the office. Focus on being better to yourself and then turn to your team to lead them to do the same.

Read Up on History

Staying well-read is a valuable tool when leading an organization. And although it is wise to read up on leadership books and listen to business podcasts, it can be just as helpful to “read up” on your competition. Pick your five closest competitors and learn their history. What are some of their greatest triumphs? How did they overcome certain obstacles? What are the biggest mistakes they’ve made? By learning from similar organizations, you can borrow methods or avoid their pitfalls. And while the age-old saying, “know your enemy,” is still applicable, the flipside is just as valuable—know yourself. Take the new year as an opportunity to read up on your company’s history, including what/who built it into the organization it is today. Before you know where you’re going, it is important to know where you’ve been.

Expect the Worst

The most difficult aspect of trials and hardships is the unpredictable. When a project fails or an issue arises, it often occurs when you were expecting the opposite. That’s why problems carry such a heavy burden for the parties involved. When you expected a win, a loss can be devastating to a team—and sometimes hard to recover from. Though it is good to have high expectations for your organization, it is also great to operate under Murphy’s Law: anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. No one can predict the future, but you can plan for the worst. When developing your yearly plan or employee development techniques, try and picture every outcome, including personal shortcomings, project holdups, and employee turnover, as well as simple solutions for each problem. Should these issues arise, you and your team will be able to push past them and get back on track.

Empower Your Team

U.S. General George S. Patton once said, “Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do, and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.” One of the most effective leadership techniques is empowering your team with self-worth and self-esteem. Giving your team the tools and freedom to overcome obstacles the way they see fit is one of the surest ways to build a team that will follow you anywhere. Moreover, according to a Gallup survey, only 45% of men and 50% of women are satisfied with the recognition they receive at work for their accomplishments. The 50-55% of workers who aren’t satisfied with recognition may not be engaged in meeting goals in 2015. Scare tactics and fear may work in the short term, but leading by developing your team through motivation and encouragement is the best way to get them to buy into your organization’s vision.

Regardless of your achievements and shortcomings this year, 2015 is a fresh opportunity to take the reins of your team and be a more effective leader. By mastering these four techniques, you will be on your way to a successful business year. What do you do to ensure you are being an effective leader? Let us know in the comments section below!


5 Tips for Discovering Your Company‚Äôs Next Big Innovative Idea

If you’re not constantly innovating and staying on the cutting edge of your industry, the competition will very quickly pass you by. In today’s highly competitive business environment, staying ahead of consumers’ changing tastes is the key to building and maintaining a successful company. But, what happens when you hit a roadblock and the new ideas seem to stop coming? It may be time to change the way you’re seeking out that next big innovation.

Flip the Flops
In 1968, a 3M Company scientist had been working on developing a super-strong adhesive, but due to miscalculations along the way, he inadvertently created a reusable, pressure sensitive adhesive. The new “low-tack” adhesive formula really didn’t have much value until 1974 when another 3M colleague had the idea to use it to anchor a bookmark in his choir hymnal, and at that moment the idea for Post-It Notes was born.

  • The Lesson: When one project falls flat, don’t immediately write it off as a flop and move on to the next thing. Take a closer look from a different angle. You may find an even bigger idea waiting to be discovered.

Think About What’s Missing
Friends since childhood, Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield decided to open an ice cream shop together in a renovated gas station in Burlington, VT, for two main reasons: it was a fun college town and, more importantly, it didn’t already have an ice cream shop. Their venture was a resounding success, which led to more locations, more flavors, and eventually the Ben & Jerry’s brand we all know and love today.

  • The Lesson: Instead of thinking about what you have, focus on what’s missing. Sometimes big ideas are hiding in the voids. Who knows if Ben and Jerry would have been as successful had they started in a saturated ice cream market?

Embrace the Absurd
When looking for your “game changer,” don’t be afraid to embrace the absurd, because you never know what may strike a chord with your audience. Think about all the products that have been hocked on late-night infomercials throughout the years – the SnuggieDogglesBig Mouth Billy Bass, the Pocket Fisherman. They were all seemingly ridiculous ideas that ended up making millions. In fact, the Snuggie has brought in more than $500 million in sales since its debut.

  • The Lesson: Don’t dismiss a silly idea simply because it sounds too weird to work. That may very well end up being exactly why it works.

Make It Easier
More than 50 years ago, a Minnesota turkey farmer visited his local welding and repair shop looking for a faster, easier way to clean out his pole barns. The resulting machine became the predecessor to the modern Bobcat skid-steer loader. Today, Bobcat Company is the leader in the compact equipment industry and a mainstay of construction sites around the world.

  • The Lesson: Even if it’s not broken, you can still try to fix it. Think about the things you already do every day, and ask yourself if there’s a better way.

Don’t Throw Out the Trash
Today, we know Mattel as one the biggest toymakers in the world, responsible for iconic brands like Barbie and Hot Wheels, but did you know they got their start making picture frames in 1945? It wasn’t until one of the founders started making dollhouse furniture with the leftover frame scraps that their focus shifted to toys.

  • The Lesson: We’ve all heard the old idiom “waste not, want not.” Even if you already have a successful product or service, there may be a big idea you’ve overlooked among the scraps.

How do you generate big ideas for your company? What are some ways you inspire your employees to think outside the box? Let us know in the comments section below.


Halftime - Maintaining Your Goals

With July in full swing, we are officially halfway through 2014, and with it comes the realization that you only have six months to decide where you want to be when the crystal ball drops on New Year’s Eve. At the start of each year, millions of people create resolutions to become better versions of themselves, and companies are no different. More than likely, you and your team developed goals for 2014 that would take your business to the next level. Whether it’s hitting a sales target, developing a new product, or transitioning into small-business ownership, most of you have set certain goals you want to achieve this year. Regardless of where you are in your pursuit, it’s vital for your team’s success to evaluate where you are at the halfway point of the year.

Take a Halftime

Have you ever watched a football game where one of the teams was trailing by a touchdown or two going into halftime? And just when all hope seemed to be lost, the losing team came out of the locker room and utterly stunned the other team, winning the game. The win can be attributed to the adjustments the coaches and players made at halftime. By evaluating their first-half performance, they came up with a new game plan. Author and speaker John Maxwell tells a similar story of when he observed the University of Tennessee’s women’s basketball team during a halftime break. Maxwell explained that the coach asked his team three questions and made adjustments according to their answers. This game-changing power is just as applicable in business as it is in sports. Take your team aside and spend a few hours evaluating your first half progress by asking these three questions:

1. What did we do right?

The first step in evaluating your company during your halftime meeting is to figure out what your team has done right through the first six months of the year. Review the list of goals you made for the year and take a moment to see where your company is in completing them. Whether you have already achieved them or are continually pursuing these resolutions, now’s the time to reflect on all of the ways you and your team have successfully moved toward their completion. Celebrate success and acknowledge your workers’ hard work.

2. What did we do wrong?

Though it’s never easy to admit fault, realizing where you went wrong is the next step in getting your company on track for success. Remember, this is not a time to point fingers and look for the scape goat. It’s imperative to be constructive with criticism and remain positive. Sometimes it’s impossible to see if a potential solution to a problem is a mistake until it is put into action. Decide what was done wrong and move on to the next question.

3. What will we change?

This may be the most important question you ask your team moving forward. Just like coaches sometimes change the game plan at halftime, you also have the opportunity to make changes for the rest of the year to help your team achieve the goals you set. For everything that was mentioned in the “What did we do wrong?” phase of this evaluation, make a new solution that will help get your business back on track. Goal setting is not an exact science; in fact, it’s almost like predicting the future. Since you have no idea how things will work out, it’s important to be flexible. Don’t be afraid to do a complete overhaul if something isn’t working.

With any organization, planning what you want to achieve is an important part of maintaining a competitive advantage in your market. And though it may seem like a daunting task, taking time halfway through to evaluate where your team is and making adjustments can help ensure you reach your end goal.

How have you faired with your goals so far this year? How do you ensure your team’s success in achieving annual resolutions? Let us know in the comments section below!


Succession Planning: How Strong Are Your Reserves?

Turnover isn’t an issue companies face with just their entry-level employees anymore – it affects all levels of the corporate ladder. According to a survey conducted by AMA Enterprise, a division of American Management Association, only 28% of respondents are confident their organizations have sufficient leadership depth and no significant gaps in management. And regardless of when turnover will strike your company next, only 19% of those surveyed say they are well prepared to deal with rising turnover or management departures. One thing is certain, as the job market improves, your top producers and most effective leaders may start entertaining the idea of looking for a more attractive company to work for. This threat is real, and if companies don’t do anything about it, they could soon be affected by loss in productivity, creativity, and loyalty among remaining staff. Luckily, it may not be too late to make the changes needed to strengthen your company’s bench and create a succession plan that has a long-term affect on the overall health of your company.

Focus on Career Development

It isn’t just entry-level workers who are focused on their career advancement – even senior-level leadership wants to ensure they are taking the right steps to finish strong. So whether they are 20-somethings who are starting out in the workforce or seasoned professionals who are closing in on the home stretch, individuals are often more loyal to opportunities than to a company. According to the 2013 CareerBuilder Candidate Behavior Study, 77% of workers are either actively searching or open for a change in employment if the opportunity is right.

Understanding what a leader needs to flourish at a company is paramount in sustaining a core workforce. However, though many companies try to have employee development plans in place, some are going about it all wrong. Instead of sending employees and management to cookie-cutter seminars, consider focusing on each individual’s personality traits, strengths, and interests. Then, mold a custom development plan that sets team members up for success, embracing nuances of each person instead of trying to create a homogenized workforce.

Cross Train for Sustainability

Sometimes, employee development doesn’t keep workers at a company. At the end of the day, your team is going to do what’s best for them. Though there’s no need to prepare for mass exodus, it is pertinent to start training others in case a key component in your workforce does head for another job. A study by Gallup, A Succession Plan that Works, explains that in developing sustainability it’s important to know how many leaders you need. First, create an organizational chart, which includes the CEO, the CEO’s direct reports, and then the direct reports of this group. Then multiply that number by three. Though seemingly excessive, it gives your hiring manager three qualified candidates to find one staff member who would be the best fit to fill a position should a high-level management position become vacant.

If your number is in the hundreds, don’t be alarmed, just know that your senior leadership has their work cut out for them. Instead of assuming the normal promotion succession – the worker excels in a particular task, so they would do so with a new one – start introducing responsibilities and training associated with the person they directly report to. This will create a deeper bench should one of your managers get promoted or leave.

Have Open Communication

Another key issue that companies have is the lack of open communication. Although, communication is a two-way street. So it’s not enough to merely have management be open about where the company wants and plans to go, it’s important to encourage employees to do the same. According to another CareerBuilder study, 20% of workers are planning to change jobs in 2014. And though you typically can’t expect workers to openly discuss these sort of future plans, you can discover their personal career goals and see where that fits in your company.

If there are any stepping stones that are already laid out at your company, point them out to your employee. Explain what it will take to reach each mile marker and encourage them to take the necessary steps to reach those goals. When employees at all levels know their company has a vested interest in their career, they tend to flourish. Have an ongoing conversation with your employees about what you want and what they want.

A Place for Everything, and Everything in Its Place

First printed in 1640, this famous idiom was popular among sailors who needed to be sure they had everything organized below deck, as well as all tools and ropes properly stowed and secured so nothing went overboard. In business, this phrase can also have an important meaning to your company. Your staff is made up of a plethora of different personalities, skills, and interests, yet they all have a place under your roof. However, not harnessing their potential could be holding back key players in your leadership succession plan. Understanding the leaders you already have is the first step in being turnover resilient in management, but putting key leaders in place should change occur is the step needed to truly foster sustainable success that’s built to last.

Do you have leaders in place who would step up if a key position became vacant? What are you doing to beef up your bench? Let us know in the comments section below!


Achieving Goals in 2014

With the new year in full swing, millions of people are well into their self-imposed challenge, which regardless of the resolution, usually boils down to bettering themselves in 2014. In fact, according to research from the University of Scranton, 45% of Americans usually make New Year’s resolutions. But the point of goals isn’t to make them, it’s to achieve them. And though nearly one in two people set personal goals each year, a staggering 92% of those goal setters aren’t successful in achieving their resolutions. Despite good intentions, well-meaning individuals fail each and every year. So, how do we break such a habitual issue? The short answer: power through. The long answer: go deeper into how we set goals and how to set ourselves up for success. The outcome could take you to the next level.

Big Goals, Small Steps

There have been countless studies devoted to goal setting, and though everyone is different, there is one truth in common: success happens one step at a time. As the saying goes, Rome wasn’t built in a day. It took centuries to accomplish the outlandish goals of the empire. Most of us dream big, have grandiose ideas, and larger-than-life aspirations. But once we put them to paper, we get overwhelmed with the seemingly impossible expectations of the goals. This is where the mantra “Big Goals, Small Steps” comes in. For instance, if your goal is to move from mid-management to senior leadership, map out the little things it would take for you to get there. One small step could be volunteering to take on a project outside your job description to show your loyalty to the overall success of the company. It’s important to dream big and set our eyes on the seemingly impossible. Just break up that goal into smaller ones and see how much more successful you are this year!

Timing is Everything

Breaking down large goals into small ones is imperative to accomplishing your New Year’s resolutions. But, setting time frames to each step is what will give your goals some skin. According to the University of Scranton’s research, the percentage of goals setters who maintain their resolution drops each week, and though 75% maintain through the first week, the average drops to only 46% after six months. The problem is not setting checkpoints along the way. After you map out the steps it will take to achieve your goal, it is important to set a time frame for each step to help you visualize deadlines throughout the year. If there are 12 steps to get to your goal at the office, focus only on one goal at a time. Don’t look forward until you have achieved the previous step. Mapping out each small accomplish allows you to view your progress along the way and keep yourself accountable.

Flexible and Fluid Process

One issue many have is once a goal is set and steps are in place, any unaccounted-for variable along the way throws them off and they have a hard time diverting from the original plan. Though it is important to build out steps to reach goals and schedule timeframes for each step, sometimes things change along the way and you must reevaluate the process. For instance, if you find the second step is no longer relevant to the overall process after you finish the first step, then update your plan and jump to the third step. Just because it is planned and scheduled in the beginning, doesn’t mean it’s etched in stone. The process of achieving goals is fluid and always evolving. Be open to change and flexible enough to roll with the punches. Remember, these are your goals. You’re accountable for the end result. Evaluate each step at the end of the time frame and decide whether the process needs to be updated or not.

Sometimes goals can be daunting; especially if you are shooting for the stars. But if you break down each goal into specific steps, create a timeframe for the process, and allow yourself the ability to evolve along the way, 2014 could be the year you take that next step in your life to become the leader you want to be.

Do you set resolutions? What are some steps you take to accomplish them? Let us know in the comments section below!