Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Write It Down; Bring It With You

Ever attend an important meeting - one where you really wanted to make a good impression - and then as soon as the meeting started you forgot all the wonderfully insightful points you were going to raise?! You're not alone - it happens to a LOT of people, actually. I could tell you exactly how many people, but, unfortunately, I forgot to write it down!

And the last three words of the problem, become its solution: Write it down!

Yes, write it down - whatever "it" happens to be - and bring it with you - to wherever you need it to be.

Unless your an actor, actress, professional singer/songwriter, or rogue card-counting gambler, the ability to memorize is rarely a prerequisite for success.

There's no downside to bringing notes with you to an important meeting, sales call, performance review, interview, etc.

  • Best Case: You're so in the zone that you don't need to look at your notes.
  • Worst Case: You're asked about them, to which you can simply say that you felt the conversation important enough to: (a) properly prepare; and (b) be sure not to digress off-point ... out of respect for the topic and the meetings attendees.

Tell me, who would fault you for that?

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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Enabling Successful Change

Six elements are needed to successfully enable change*
  1. A clear and compelling case for change
  2. Demonstrated leadership commitment
  3. A clear WIIFM (what's in it for me?) for all
  4. A concrete implementation plan
  5. Necessary skills, knowledge, and tools
  6. Proper reinforcements
If any one (or more) of the six elements are missing or underdeveloped, the change initiative will likely be derailed in some manner or fashion.

So how can you learn which element(s) are missing or underdeveloped? Just listen to what people are saying:
  • If they're saying, "it's not urgent," that likely means that a clear, compelling case for change - element 1 - is missing or underdeveloped.
  • If they're saying, "it's not real," that likely means that demonstrated leadership commitment - element 2 - is missing or underdeveloped.
  • If they're saying, "it's not worth it," that likely means that a clear WIIFM (what's in it for me?) for all - element 3 - is missing or underdeveloped.
  • If they're saying, "it's going nowhere," that likely means that a concrete implementation plan - element 4 - is missing or underdeveloped.
  • If they're saying, "it's just not possible," that likely means that necessary skills, knowledge are tools - element 5 -is missing or underdeveloped.
  • If they're saying, "it won't last," that likely means that proper reinforcements - element 6 - is missing or underdeveloped.
Diagnose carefully. These are each different types of problems and, as such, require different types of responses. One size definitely does not fit all. To that end, it might be helpful to consider how your response would vary depending on which element was in question so you don't get trapped into thinking too myopically.

Consider the very real possibility that more than one element is in question, as well, as that is so often the case.

-----
*source unknown

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Thursday, January 17, 2008

FAQ Sheets - Frequently Asked Questions

New Year, new plans. New organizational changes? Likely so. But while org changes may make intuitive sense to those directly involved with the redesigning process, those usually most affected by the changes - lower level managers and front-line operatives - are left to figure things out on their own. (And please, let's not kid ourselves; those one-shot, let-me-explain-what-you-need-to-know meetings only scratch the surface of what really needs to be said ... and heard.)

But time is tight. And those meetings - especially when they devolve into extended Q&A sessions comprised of dozens of off-topic, if not completely irrelevant, queries from people who don't seem to know enough to sit down and give someone else a turn - can be downright back-braking from a morale standpoint.

Have you ever tried releasing an FAQ Sheet in support of the changes?
  1. What is an FAQ Sheet?
    An FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) Sheet is a compilation of the not-so-obvious, but certainly reasonable, questions people are likely to have about the changes ... and their answers.
  2. What's helpful about an FAQ Sheet?
    It gives real answers to real questions, all right there for everyone to see.
  3. How does one create an FAQ Sheet?
    You, or those closest to the change initiative, do.
  4. What if the questions I/we come up with are difficult to answer?
    As you brainstorm on questions for the FAQ Sheet, expect some to be quite difficult and challenging to answer. (If they aren't, then you're likely not thinking deeply enough.) Please don't ignore these 'tough' ones - they're actually the most important in the bunch. They're the ones that matter most with respect to acceptance of the changes. And they're the ones best-suited for an FAQ Sheet in that you can answer them thoughtfully instead of just trying to wing it right there on the spot during your big meeting.
  5. How else is an FAQ Sheet helpful?
    An FAQ Sheet can also help frame how you want people to think - and talk - about the changes...especially when you're not there to tell them yourselves. By providing everyone with the same explanation as to the key reasons for the changes, and the same explanation as to the overriding rationale that makes these particular changes the best of all possible solutions, the FAQ Sheet is a valuable level-setting, and misinformation-fighting, tool.
  6. What if no one reads the FAQ Sheet?
    Simply point people back to if their real-time questions are answered by it. (Note: Numbering FAQ Sheet questions makes it much easier to point them back to a particular questions.)
  7. How do I tell if our FAQ Sheet was done well?
    You'll be able to tell simply by listening to the 'sounds' that people make when reading it - hmmm's and oh's and people saying things like 'that actually makes sense,' and 'yes, that's what I want to know' - are all excellent indications that you've done a good job with it.
  8. Does the FAQ Sheet have any lasting value?
    Absolutely. By having a written record of the rationale for change, it becomes an excellent source document to make sure everyone stays focused and true to purpose. If written properly, it can also serve as an arbiter to differences of opinion and which 'fork in the road' to take, as the changes unfold.
So the next time you have an important change to tell people about, get in front of the issue by creating an FAQ Sheet for it. Worst case, it'll give you some great answers for your big meeting. More likely, though, the questions won't need to be asked so you can use your time together much more productively.

Any questions?!

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Monday, January 14, 2008

I'm Trying to Evolve

(excerpts from Evolve, by Ani Difranco)

"I walk in stride with people
..... taller than me
..... and partly it's the boots but
..... mostly it's my chi

"And I'm becoming transfixed
..... with nature and my part in it
..... which I believe just signifies
..... I'm finally waking up

"I am trying to evolve
..... I'm just trying to evolve

"I am trying to evolve
..... I'm just trying to evolve

"So I walk like I'm on a mission
..... cuz that's the way I groove
..... I got more and more to do
..... I got less and less to prove

"It took me too long to realize
..... that I don't take good pictures
..... cuz I have the kind of beauty
..... that moves

"I am trying to evolve
..... I'm just trying to evolve

"I am trying to evolve
..... I'm just trying to evolve"

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Thursday, January 10, 2008

Finishing Unfinished Business

Yesterday's post focused on one aspect of unfinished business from 2007 - having the conversations you know you need to have. Here are some other items to finish up, as well:
  • What's something you've been meaning to do for someone that you haven't as of yet?
  • What's something you've been meaning to do for yourself that you haven't as of yet?
  • Who's someone you've been meaning to reconnect with that you haven't as of yet?
  • Who's someone you've been meaning to introduce yourself to that you haven't as of yet?
  • What idea have you been meaning to share with someone that you haven't as of yet?
  • What's something you've been meaning to read that you haven't as of yet?
  • What's something you've been meaning to write about that you haven't as of yet?

You're invited to do so now.

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Wednesday, January 9, 2008

What conversations do you know you need to have?

New year. Fresh start. Ready-go.

But wait.

No doubt there's some unfinished business from 2007. No doubt, there are some conversations that you meant to have, but never quite got around to it. And no doubt, they're conversations that you really need to have if this new year is to be the "fresh start" you're hoping for. So,

  • Who do you need to talk with?
  • What is it that you want to say to him/her?
  • What is it that you want him/her to say back to you?
  • What's the real conversation you know you need to have?

While it may not be easy, inviting someone into a conversation like this can help set a much more collaborative tone, moving forward. But depending on circumstances, the conversation may need more than just one 'sitting' to complete. Grudges dissipate slowly, after all.

To speed the process - and the likelihood of success - be sure to remember to these pointers:

  • Be respectful
  • Be honest
  • Be interested
  • Listen carefully
  • Ask a lot of questions
  • Seek to understand

If you do, you might be happily surprised to find that there are some misconceptions that can be easily cleared up. You might also find that certain things that were taken out of context and given a life of their own can be reeled back in. You might even find that you've been unwittingly contributing to making things worse, but can take some immediate actions to set things right.

But only if you have the conversations you know you need to have.

So who do you need to have an open and honest conversation with?

I know you know. You know you know! So go. Do.

Yes?!

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Friday, January 4, 2008

Wishing You a "Great" 2008!

Happy New Year, everyone! And while it might sound a bit sing-song-y to say, here's wishing you a great 2008!

Too trite and hackneyed? Surely not. But if so, here are some variations-on-a-theme that maybe get a little less airplay:

  • Here's wishing you a top-rate 2008!
  • Here's wishing you a clean-slate 2008!
  • Here's wishing you a gold-plate 2008!
  • Here's wishing you a easy-skate 2008!

I could go on, you know. In fact, I will!

  • Here's wishing you a not-too-high-of-a-gate in 2008
  • Here's wishing you a winning-debate in 2008!
  • Here's wishing you a really-short-wait in 2008!
  • Here's wishing you an ice-cold-salad-plate-of-a 2008!
  • Here's wishing you an extremely-satisfying-state in 2008!
  • Here's wishing you keep-off-that-extra-weight in 2008!

Okay, you get the point.

Now go make it so.

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Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Business in General - category archives

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Favorite Quotations - category archives

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Also see: Notable Quotables.

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Getting Unstuck - category archives

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International Coach Federation - category archives

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Interpersonal Networking - category archives

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Just for Fun - category archives

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Leadership Development - category archives

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Life Coach - Life Coaching - category archives

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Mentoring - category archives

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Music and Music Related - category archives

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Success at Work - category archives

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Job Search Stuff - category archives

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