‘Team’ Category

How to Resolve Conflict – A Key Leadership Skill – Part 2

Tuesday, August 29th, 2017

In order to achieve success in our business and career, we need to work effectively with people.

In Part 1, we pointed out the need to stick to the following helpful conflict resolution guidelines:

• Make the relationship your priority. Be respectful of the other person and his or her viewpoint.

• Focus on the present, on what you can do in the here and now to solve the problem.

• Pick your battles. Consider whether the issue is really worthy of your time and energy.

• Be willing to forgive. Resolution lies in releasing the urge to punish.

• Know when to let something go. If you can’t come to an agreement, agree to disagree, disengage and move on.

Communication Points to Remember

7% of your communications are accomplished through the words that you use.

38% of your communications are conveyed by your voice.

55% of your communications are conveyed by your body language.

Voice and body language are controlled by your state (a soup of your attitudes, world view, intentions, and emotions).

Helpful Questions to Ask

If we’re sure a conversation is going to be tough, it’s instinctive to rehearse what we’ll say. But a difficult conversation is not a performance, with an actor and an audience. Once you’ve started the discussion, your counterpart could react in any number of ways – and having a “script” in mind will hamper your ability to listen effectively and react accordingly. Instead, prepare by asking yourself:

1. What is the problem?

2. What would my counterpart say the problem is?

3. What’s my preferred outcome?

4. What’s my preferred working relationship with my counterpart?

You can also ask the other person to do the same in advance of your meeting.

Optimists tend to assume that every disagreement is just a misunderstanding between two well-intentioned people; pessimists may feel that differences of opinion are actually ill-intentioned attacks. In the fog of a hard talk, we tend to forget that we don’t have access to anyone’s intentions but our own.

Remember that you and your counterpart are both dealing with this ambiguity. If you get stuck, a handy phrase to remember is, “I’m realizing as we talk that I don’t fully understand how you see this problem.” Admitting what you don’t know can be a powerful way to get a conversation back on track.

Resolving conflict starts with a sincere desire to achieve a win-win situation. If you keep that in mind, both of you will.

Combining Vision and Innovation to Create the Future

© Rich Kohler 2017. All rights reserved. For copies, please contact Rich at rich@rich-kohler.com.

How to Resolve Conflict – A Key Leadership Skill – Part 1

Tuesday, August 15th, 2017

In order to achieve success in our business and career, we need to work effectively with people.

Do you find yourself approaching conflicts like this:

• I’ll be really easy to get along with once you people realize I’m right.

• You sound reasonable. It must be time to up my medication.

Managing and resolving conflict can be tricky, frustrating, and even frightening. It requires emotional maturity, self-control, and empathy. You can ensure that the process is as positive as possible by sticking to the following helpful conflict resolution guidelines:

• Make the relationship your priority. Maintaining and strengthening the relationship, rather than “winning” the argument, should always be your first priority. Be respectful of the other person and his or her viewpoint.

• Focus on the present. If you’re holding on to old hurts and resentments, your ability to see the reality of the current situation will be impaired. Rather than looking to the past and assigning blame, focus on what you can do in the here and now to solve the problem.

• Pick your battles. Conflicts can be draining, so it’s important to consider whether the issue is really worthy of your time and energy. Maybe you don’t want to surrender a parking space if you’ve been circling for 15 minutes. But if there are dozens of spots, arguing over a single space isn’t worth it.

• Be willing to forgive. Resolving conflict is impossible if you’re unwilling or unable to forgive. Resolution lies in releasing the urge to punish, which can never compensate for our losses and only adds to our injury by further depleting and draining our lives.

• Know when to let something go. If you can’t come to an agreement, agree to disagree. It takes two people to keep an argument going. If a conflict is going nowhere, you can choose to disengage and move on.

Communication Points to Remember

7% of your communications in a face to face situation are accomplished through the words that you use.

38% of your communications are conveyed by your voice (pace, tone, pitch, timbre, volume).

55% of your communications are conveyed (primarily at the unconscious level) by your body language.

Voice and body language are controlled by your state (a soup of your attitudes, world view, intentions, and emotions).

Resolving conflict starts with a sincere desire to achieve a win-win situation. If you keep that in mind, both of you will.

Combining Vision and Innovation to Create the Future

© Rich Kohler 2017. All rights reserved. For copies, please contact Rich at rich@rich-kohler.com.

Quick Tips to Be Much More Productive – Part 3

Tuesday, August 8th, 2017

One of the most valuable assets you have as a leader is your time.

The same goes for your Team, your colleagues and your family.

Unfortunately, we don’t give it the same level of attention as we do to the myriad of other things we do in our lives. So time just kind of slips by, and we do not maximize our use of it, or our impact.

This the 3rd in a series of quick tips for you to choose from to help you regain control of your time.

I suggest you review the following, and select five or six of these steps a week and include at least one in your Daily Planner List.

Think about what it means to accomplish this step in your mastering of time. Another idea, is to keep track of where your time kind of slips away on you over the next couple weeks. You might be surprised…maybe even horrified.

Preoccupation … Alertness … Energizing

1. When explaining an unfamiliar point, make comparisons

2. Be aware of when you are tapering off from peak levels of performance. At that point, shift to another vital priority be on time to meetings, appointments and scheduled events

3. Reduce the overlong visitor stay

4. Reduce the overlong telephone call

5. Accumulate telephone calls and handle them at a time when the chance of getting through is most likely

6. If you have a secretary, use him/her to screen incoming telephone calls and drop-in visitors

7. When a visitor stay is too long, have a co-worker or secretary interrupt you

8. Establish an appropriate balance between vocational work and management work

9. Retire early and rise early

10. Get the necessary sleep each night, but no more than is necessary

11. Be sensitive to the vital priorities of others around you

Remember, time is our friend – not our enemy – and by using it wisely, we get to do more of what we like.

Combining Vision and Innovation to Create the Future

© Rich Kohler 2017. All rights reserved. For copies, please contact Rich at rich@rich-kohler.com.

Quick Tips to be Much More Productive – Part 2

Tuesday, July 18th, 2017

One of the most valuable assets you have as a leader is your time.

The same goes for your Team, your colleagues, your family, and for that matter, your entire social network. As such, we need to give it the same level of attention as we do to the myriad of other things we do in our lives.

Here are a number of positive action steps for you to choose from to help you regain control of your time.

I suggest you review the following, and select five or six of these steps a week and include at least one in your Daily Planner List.

Think about what it means to accomplish this step in your mastering of time. Another idea, is to keep track of where your time kind of slips away on you over the next couple weeks. You might be surprised…maybe even horrified.

Preoccupation … Alertness … Energizing

1. Set up a systematic program for reading

2. Double your speed of reading

3. Read a book like a newspaper

4. Do one thing at a time

5. Always have a high priority job with you for when you have unexpected free time

6. Keep a writing pad accessible. Draw pictures/diagrams as you explain a point to visitors

7. Replace writing letters longhand with a dictating machine

8. Dictate letters into a machine instead of directly to a secretary

9. If possible, move your home closer to work, or work closer to home, to reduce commuting time

10. Instead of bringing two or three individuals in from different parts of the country for a brief meeting, set up a “conference call”

Remember, time is our friend – not our enemy. Use it wisely.

Stay tuned, I will provide a few more productivity tips in the coming weeks.

Combining Vision and Innovation to Create the Future

© Rich Kohler 2017. All rights reserved. For copies, please contact Rich at rich@rich-kohler.com.

Quick Tips to be Much More Productive – Part 1

Friday, June 30th, 2017

One of the most valuable assets you have as a leader is your time.

The same goes for your Team, your colleagues, your family, and for that matter, your entire social network. Unfortunately, we don’t give it the same level of attention as we do to the myriad of other things we do in our lives. So time just kind of slips by, and we do not maximize our use of it, or our impact.

Over the coming weeks, I am going to provide a number of simple, positive action steps for you to choose from to help you regain control of your time. Not all at once, as big lists tend to overwhelm us.

I suggest you review the list and select five or six of these steps a week and include at least one in your Daily Planner List.

Think about what it means to accomplish this step in your mastering of time. Another idea, is to keep track of where your time kind of slips away on you over the next couple weeks. You might be surprised…maybe even horrified.

Preoccupation … Alertness … Energizing

1. Cultivate observation

2. Perform tasks faster

3. Think with pencil in hand

4. Periodically remind yourself to “Think Alertly”

5. Do the job right the first time

6. Reduce preoccupation time

7. Locate energy losses

8. Unblock natural drive by doing what you enjoy

9. Establish a balanced exercise program

10. Be highly selective in what you read

Let’s make time our friend – not our enemy by using it wisely. Stay tuned, I will provide a few more productivity tips in the coming weeks.

Combining Vision and Innovation to Create the Future

© Rich Kohler 2017. All rights reserved. For copies, please contact Rich at rich@rich-kohler.com.

13 Reasons Why Your Marketing Isn’t Soaring With The Eagles – Part 1

Monday, July 11th, 2016

I’ll take it for granted that your product offering, price, and customer service, etc. are all at a standard which ensures your customers will be delighted with their purchases. However, before you can become an Elite Marketer dispensing Marketing Magic, there are two things you MUST do:

A) Resign yourself to the commercial reality that business is 90% marketing. As a business owner or manager, you must concentrate your efforts on getting your marketing tactics and implementation 100% right.

B) Know the basics of marketing. This is one area where rank amateurs abound, wallowing in blissful ignorance of the money they are needlessly squandering and the opportunities they are “burning.” Oh yes, the most dangerous animal in business is the amateur marketer.

Now to those 13 Reasons Why Your Marketing May Not Be Soaring With The Eagles – the first 3:

You don’t have a marketing plan

You must have a clear and very precise sales and profit objective – over any given period of time, but usually a year – for every one of your products and/or services.   Then you have to address the three specifics:

  • What are all the means available to you to reach your dollar objectives?
  • What marketing alternatives can you use, how can you use them, and how often should you use them?
  • How can you convert prospects to customers, and convince your existing customers to buy more, and/or more often?

You don’t know your customer

Hey, this violates the most fundamental rule of marketing: “Know Thy Customer”. You have to be customer-oriented.   Elite Marketers can give you chapter and verse on what their customer looks like. They have a mental image of the customers’ business, their age, sex, educational status, income levels, and other pertinent demographic information. They know their buying patterns, and they understand what makes them tick.   For now, ponder these two questions:

  • How does the successful marketer gather all this information about his/her customer?
  • Who is your customer? (If you can give an accurate answer to this question, congratulations… there are very few of your kind around.)

You don’t know what compels your customers to buy something

People don’t buy things because you want them to. They need their own reasons – very good reasons – to buy.   And you and your staff have to understand fully what these reasons and their motivations are, and then cater to them – as many of them as possible – in every marketing and selling situation… in every customer or potential customer contact … in everything you do.   People don’t buy products or services:

  • They buy benefits … benefits … benefits!
  • They buy solutions to their problems
  • They buy other people’s opinions of you, your business and your products
  • They buy credibility and believability
  • They buy your promises and guarantees (don’t ever let them down)
  • They buy your business and product “reliability”
  • They buy “value”… and, please, don’t confuse value with price
  • They buy certainty, honesty, convenience, and timeliness
  • They buy hope, comfort, success, wealth, security, love, and acceptance
  • They buy expectations of being pleased
  • They buy product selection options
  • They buy freedom from making a wrong buying decision
  • How many from this list can you line up against your product or service?

Let me ask you this simple question:   Why should I buy your product or service?   Come on … can you tell me right here and now why I should buy from you? (More on this next time)

Combining Vision and Innovation to Create the Future

Begin here to accelerate your success: http://www.ignition-pathway2growth.com/

© Rich Kohler 2016. All rights reserved. For copies, please contact Rich at rich@rich-kohler

Being Invisible

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2016

What do structural engineers, anesthesiologists, fact-checkers, and interpreters have in common? When they do their jobs poorly, the consequences can be catastrophic. But when they do their jobs perfectly…They’re invisible.

“In fact, Invisibles are found in all walks of life. What binds them is their approach—deriving satisfaction from the value of their work, not the volume of their praise.” – David Zweig

Invisibles are almost counter-culture: performing anonymous work in an age of constant self-promotion.

In the book “The Invisibles”, Zweig takes us into the behind-the-scenes worlds that Invisibles inhabit. He interviews top experts in unusual fields to reveal the quiet workers behind public successes. Combining in-depth profiles with insights from psychology, sociology, and business, Zweig uncovers how these hidden professionals reap deep fulfillment by relishing the challenges their work presents. It is reminiscent of the study of introverts in the workplace, “Work that is purposeful and mission-based fits naturally within an introvert’s professional toolkit.”

For a lot of us, the better we perform the more attention we receive. Yet for many “Invisibles” –  skilled professionals whose role is critical to whatever enterprise they’re a part of – it’s the opposite: the better they do their jobs the more they disappear. In fact, often, it’s only when something goes wrong that they are noticed at all – think the anesthesiologist, instrument technician, and structural engineer.

Millions of these Invisibles are hidden in every industry. You may be one yourself. Surely you know of a few. And despite our culture’s increasing celebration of fame in our era of superstar CEOs and assorted varieties of “genius” – they’re fine with remaining anonymous. Zweig’s criteria for the “invisibles” are threefold: ambivalence toward recognition, meticulousness, and the savoring of responsibility. The people he writes about — a fascinating and varied bunch — are those who measure success not by celebrity or financial return, but by the quality of the work they do. And it’s a persuasive argument that they are happier, more fulfilled human beings as a result. Fame, as Zweig demonstrates, is a hollow, fickle thing. Money can also be a much overrated as a source of happiness.

The reality, as many professionals who tend to fall more on the silent end of the spectrum can attest to, is that many of the best workers—be they at the top of the pyramid or somewhere in the middle—go about their business, achieving great results without fanfare. And while it may feel as though the whole world is beguiled by those who make the most noise in conference rooms and boardrooms, it’s encouraging and, critically, worth noting that that’s not actually the case.

Zweig reveals that “Invisibles” have a lot to teach the rest of society about satisfaction and achievement. What has been lost amid the noise of self-promotion today is that not everyone can, or should, or even wants to be in the spotlight. The book reminds us that recognition isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and invisibility can be viewed as a mark of honor and a source of a truly rich life.

In closing, perhaps you have a few people around you who are Invisibles. People who, though they don’t pursue recognition, would be thrilled to have someone notice them and give them a little praise. It is a little thing – but then the little things make life worth living.

Combining Vision and Innovation to Create the Future

Begin here to accelerate your success: http://www.ignition-pathway2growth.com/

© Rich Kohler 2016. All rights reserved. For copies, please contact Rich at rich@rich-kohler.com.

A Little Secret to Increase Productivity

Wednesday, September 30th, 2015

Rewards Can Cost A Lot, But Be Valued Little

“Rewards” generally have a cost, so if you have a strong, rewards-based system of reinforcement, it has the potential to be expensive. In other words, you almost have to “buy” or “bribe people for” the desirable behavior.

Ironically enough, while that may be seen as a bad outcome from your point of view, it is almost invariably seen as a poor arrangement from the point of view of the “bribe” too! Continuing the irony: Bribes can lose their effectiveness (they have to be bigger and bigger to work) while recognition just seems to keep going and going.

Recognition, on the other hand – acknowledgement, praise, gratitude, icons such as trophies and awards – are usually low or no-cost items, and yet uplift and honor both parties.

So, if recognition has a low cost, but a high perceived value, what could you do to apply this principle in your business to uplift and empower people, while shaping their behavior to provide better outcomes?

Three Parts Recognition To One Part Reward Is The Best Glue

Experience has taught us that pure recognition can look a bit thin after a while, and consistent, long-term pure reward systems just “rot” and cease to work. So what is the ideal balance?

Start with providing three parts recognition to tone part reward. Make it different types of recognition also: public praise, an award, promotion, etc., and, where possible, keep the reward non-monetary. You’d be surprised how little value may be placed on a $100 reward, and just how much value may be placed on two Gold First Class Theater Tickets, or a meal for two (of the same or even lesser value).

An example: A winning real estate sales team were “rewarded” with a trip away together for two years and, then in the third year, when the reward was swapped to a cash equivalent, the entire team under-performed. They were demotivated by being offered money in place of a fun holiday together.

So, if you were to design a “recognition-and-reward system” that fitted your operations, what would it consist of?

People Can Learn To Expect A Better Outcome

“Positive people produce more consistent and more positive results.” Not likely to be a surprise for anyone in that statement – but not everyone who joins your team in necessarily going to come in with a positive orientation (though we hope this would be among your selection criteria).

One of the more rewarding tasks of any leader is to lead their team members to dream a better outcome, and to then to move them to achieving that dream.

If you take people to achieve in a team, things that they believed were beyond them individually, they will do practically anything to maintain or repeat the feeling they derive from that achievement.

So what can you do to encourage your team to “dream big,” and then to Coach them to achieve that dream? What is that likely to do for morale (yours and theirs).

Good Feelings Are Rewards

When you make someone feel good about themselves, and about what they are achieving – or even what they are “working towards” – you are already creating a form of reward that we all value. We tend to come back to situations that give us that type of feeling; tend to do the things that will invoke them again.

On the flip side, bad feelings about failure or lack of progress or frustration or lack of appreciation, are “punishment” (or at least “pain”), and we naturally tend to avoid situations, activities and people that give rise to them. Consider the cost to productivity and morale of a toxic workplace.

We can extend this one a little further and look at the fact that consciously creating a warm, nurturing, physically-and-emotionally safe workplace will be seen (by the good folks, at least) as a form of on-going reward that you create for them, and they’ll tend to be uplifted by it.

So, how could you employ this particular insight in your work situation? And what is likely to be the response if you did?

Sometimes, we make things too complicated and forget that in the end what we all want is to be appreciated and feel good about who we are. Apply the KISS principle and you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Combining Vision and Innovation to Create the Future

Begin here to accelerate your success: http://www.ignition-pathway2growth.com/

© Rich Kohler 2015. All rights reserved. For copies, please contact Rich at rich@rich-kohler.com.

Times are Changing – Are You?

Wednesday, August 12th, 2015

Nature has trained us to accept the changing of the seasons, and you don’t hear too many people exclaiming, “Oh no! What’s gone wrong? Another Winter!” And yet, while every market, including yours, is a broader part of Nature and so breathes in and out with a rhythm resembling the seasons, you’ll still hear plenty of people exclaiming, at the next contraction, “Oh no! What’s gone wrong? Another Recession!”

Surprise, surprise! Did they expect that unlike anything else in their experience, markets in general would just continue to breathe in – and expand forever? Come on! If it did that, the logical result is pretty obvious, isn’t it?

So, if and when the market, like the seasons, has contracted, how do we go about being smart – adjust our behavior to harmonize with it – or wear the consequences.

Change is Hard

From the outset, it’s smart to accept that changing behavior is hard for most people, and even harder for most groups of people – and most businesses are a “group of people”.

So just how hard is Change?

On a scale ranging from one (easy) to 100 (impossible), I see a strong case that Change is perhaps an 89 in difficulty.

Why?

Because for every 100 people diagnosed with heart disease and scheduled for bypass surgery, only 11 will make the changes to their diet, exercise and weight loss recommended to extend their chances of survival. The other 89, while clearly appreciating their need to change to avoid a significantly increased risk of death, fail to do so – because Change is hard!

So, before we get into the “What change do we need to make to meet our changing market?” a better question might be, “What will I have to do so that I and those I work with, can change?”

I’m going to leave the answer to that one – the $64,000 question if you like – to the end, and begin with what changes are indicated.

What Changes Are Needed?

Space dictates one take a narrow approach here, so we’ll address the question of, “What changes to the selling processes would be wise in a softening market?”
1. Don’t do knee jerk cuts. Don’t cut sales budgets or staff without first analyzing the likely effect of doing so. A 10% cut in sales staff or resources projected to result in an 8% drop in sales might sound tolerable, but if the bottom line effect is 12% less profit, it’s illogical to cut.
2. Think counter-intuitively. If your competition is cutting staff, then their market coverage, contact frequency and standards of services must generally suffer. That may also mean that some good sales people who were previously inaccessible to you are now on the market, enabling you to top-grade your own team and to step up coverage, contact frequency and service levels to clients who are still out there needing to buy. Don’t underestimate the power of the positive message you generate into your marketplace with this move, and be aware that a nervous market will gravitate towards strength and certainty in uncertain times.
3. Look for Savings, Then Spend. If the market is softening, and you have managed your cash flow well in the past so as to provide a capital reserve, you are going to get more bang for your buck on any purchases in a soft market as people compete keenly for your business. This could be an excellent time to embark on a project that could cost a lot more in a stronger market. The “strength message” applies again.
4. Be flexible. You could just cut 10% of your sales staff. Or, you could ask all of your sales team to take a 10% cut so that you can keep them all. The actual financial cost to them will be less than 10% due to the effect of marginal tax, and the effect on morale and esprit de corps is likely to be huge. If things tighten further, consider asking your sales team to take one day in ten off (say, every second Friday) – that saves another 10%, is likely to add positively to their work/life balance and keeps the team together so that you are at full strength if the market surges momentarily, or recovers fully.

Notice, thinking differently from the herd, can be the best route – even when it’s not obvious.

Combining Vision and Innovation to Create the Future

Begin here to accelerate your success: http://www.ignition-pathway2growth.com/

© Rich Kohler 2015. All rights reserved. For copies, please contact Rich at rich@rich-kohler.com.

Multi-tasking – It’s Not the Answer

Wednesday, August 5th, 2015

There is strong evidence emerging that multitasking is not all it’s cracked up to be. Surprised? Well in fact Dr. Edward Hallowell, a Massachusetts-based psychiatrist specializing in the treatment of attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, describes it as a “mythical activity in which people believe they can perform two or more tasks simultaneously.” Hallowell titled his book, rather aptly, “Crazy Busy”.

He claims “Attention Deficit Trait” is rampant in the business world as a result of our attempting to use our brain in a way that evolution has not developed it to act. In simple terms, we have evolved to be single-focused in our tasking, and any attempt to multi-focus appears to strike a “response selection bottleneck”.

So What’s the Cost?

The cost of that bottleneck can be frightening: In a 2007 New York Times article Jonathan B. Spira, an analyst at the business research firm Basex, estimated that extreme multitasking (or “information overload”) costs the US economy $650 billion a year in lost productivity.

The sometimes-fatal consequences of attempting to multitask mobile phones with driving have been clearly recognized – and legislated against – but that has not stopped us breeding a generation who exhibit technical and intellectual ability coupled with extreme impatience, dissatisfaction with slowness, and discomfort with silence: “I get bored if it’s not all going at once, because everything has gaps – waiting for a website to come up, commercials on TV, etc.”

Even those who believe we will “evolve out of this” and eventually master our input-overloaded environment, have found that multitasking contributes to the release of stress hormones and adrenaline which, if not controlled, can cause long-term health problems and contribute to a loss of short-term memory. The reason that memory suffers, appears to lie in the fact that, when multitasking, learning is less flexible and more specialized and so information retrieval is more difficult.

Less, Not More Efficient

For those readers over the age of 16, the last word probably goes to Russell Poldrack, a psychology professor at the University of California who said, “We’re really built to focus. And when we sort of force ourselves to multitask, we’re driving ourselves to perhaps be less efficient in the long run, even though it sometimes feels like we’re being more efficient.”

For those who are hiring 16 year olds, however, the future may be a bit brighter: They may be adapting through “acquired inattention” – the habit of ignoring much of what is going on around them to – guess what – focus on the task at hand!

That’s not multi-tasking. That’s single-tasking in a multi-distracting universe.

Call to Action

So, is it time to look at your own work habits and those you influence around you, and see if there is anything that you can do to minimize the temptation or demand to multi-task? Could you trial a “Single Tasking Day” one day a week and measure the effect on everyone?

On output?

On stress levels?

For a real solution to multi-tasking, that will let you get twice as much done, on time, in time, and with half the stress, why not ask me to assist you with a real solution to your Time Management challenge?

Combining Vision and Innovation to Create the Future

Begin here to accelerate your success: http://www.ignition-pathway2growth.com/

© Rich Kohler 2015. All rights reserved. For copies, please contact Rich at rich@rich-kohler.com.