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Management and Performance - That "Oh So Enticing" Spirit of Healthy Internal Competition

Management and Performance - That "Oh So Enticing" Spirit of Healthy Internal Competition

On more than one occasion, a client has openly crowed about the “healthy competition” that goes on within the company.  You can hear their jaws drop when I respond “Gee, that’s too bad.”  You see, I don’t know that I’ve ever seen healthy internal competition; so, from my perspective, that concept is just as much an oxymoron as “family business”.  Perhaps Walt Kelly, who wrote the famous and well read comic strip “Pogo”, summed it up best in an often quoted frame:  “We have met the enemy, and he is us.”

Many successful business owners and leaders are competitive spirits, confident risk takers, creative and innovative people who believe that employee engagement in the business – family or otherwise – and personal respect are rewards that must be won.  As a result, they set up incentives, rewards, promotions and other forms of personal and professional advancement so that there can only be a few winners – possibly as few as one – and multiple losers.  All of this effort is made to honor the rationalized belief that “Healthy competition is good for us.”

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Management Synergy - How to Design Team Collaboration

Management Synergy - How to Design Team Collaboration

Teams are a puzzle to me.  Individuals with unequal talent, different experiences and education, and sharing only a commitment to a common goal come together in ways that pull them together or push them apart.  The elements that make them succeed or fail have certain characteristics that repeat over time; and even replicating those that are successful is no guarantee of success the second time around.

There are, however, certain characteristics and patterns that consistently lead to successful outcomes and results. 

Here are some of the pieces that I consider most important in designing team collaboration.

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Not Every Collaborative Team Decision Has to Be Built on Consensus

Not Every Collaborative Team Decision Has to Be Built on Consensus

One of the great myths of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries is that collaboration stems from consensus. 

The common approach to collaboration suggests that engagement is not possible unless people have an opportunity to participate in the decision making.  My experience as a Certified Succession Planner® leads me to believe something somewhat different. The behavioral assessments we use in helping select the right people for groups such as operational teams, family councils, and various types of boards suggest a great many people want to be involved in the decision making process without necessarily having the responsibility for actually making the decision.

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Harmony, You Know It Don’t Come Easy

Harmony, You Know It Don’t Come Easy

My apologies to Ringo Starr.  In case you’ve never heard of him, he played drums for the Beatles during the 1960’s until that family business came undone.  Wait a minute, you say, the Beatles were not family members.  Well, perhaps not by the traditional definition of family; but remember, we define a family business as two or more people together for purposes other than making money.  Whether you’re family, friends, or strictly business partners, personal and professional partnerships are a lot of work; and they require the eternal vigilance of the night watchman.

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The Incentive Trap, Are You Caught In It?

The Incentive Trap, Are You Caught In It?

Here’s something that may challenge your current thinking about incentives: Not all incentive programs motivate people towards better and higher levels of performance.  In fact, a good many of these programs have just the opposite effect. They can also serve as a source of motivation for the wrong people or a source of entitlement.

Basically, there are three types of motivation:  Fear (self-imposed or direct threats); Extrinsic (outside programs such as bonuses, special perks, etc.); and Intrinsic (internal drive for accomplishment).  While fear and extrinsic motivation may have some immediate impact on performance levels their impact is generally short-lived.

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Employee Motivation - How to Power Your Organization from the Inside Out

Employee Motivation - How to Power Your Organization from the Inside Out

If your overall compensation package is at least competitive and provides a reasonably comfortable life style for your employees and family members, then it is going to take more than additional money to bring out the creative and productive energy that your staff carries around with them.  It’s going to take INTRINSIC motivation.

Intrinsic motivation is the compelling desire to do and be better because we want the satisfaction that comes from doing something simply because we love to do it.  In his book, Drive, Daniel Pink tells us that there is a “mismatch between what science knows and what business does.”

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When Is the Best Time To Give Someone Feedback?

When Is the Best Time To Give Someone Feedback?

Life seems to be full of “Goldilocks” moments.  You know, the time when whatever is going down is just right.  So, when it comes to giving family members, employees or partners the benefit of your counsel, when does that magic feedback moment actually occur?

Before we talk about the timing, however, let’s mention one or two things about the nature of the feedback.  If it is constructive criticism it may actually have more weight than positive reinforcement.  While positive comments may be good for morale, they do not appear to have much influence on actual performance.  It seems that we pay more attention to criticism than we do to “wonderful, wonderful.

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Please! What Is Succession Planning and Why Do I Need to Involve Outsiders?

Please! What Is Succession Planning and Why Do I Need to Involve Outsiders?

The process of succession planning is significantly different for a privately-held and/or family owned business compared to a publicly held company.  For our purposes today, we’ll be dealing with the privately held because most businesses fall into that category.

Depending upon your advisor’s field of expertise, the definition of succession planning takes on a variety of meanings.  For some, succession planning is all about wills, buy/sell agreements, trusts, and estate planning.  For others, it’s about business performance and for another set of advisors, it’s all about family harmony.

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Should I Hire People I Do Not Like?

Should I Hire People I Do Not Like?

Of course not.  No. Never.   Roy Reiman, publisher and philanthropist, writes and speaks about the virtues of hiring people you like and the positive impact that has on building or sustaining an accepting culture. Hiring people you do not like almost certainly leads to problems down the road, and those can be expensive in terms of energy, time and money.

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Rediscovery - The Secret to Life Transitions

Rediscovery - The Secret to Life Transitions

Regardless of what kinds of activities you follow – sports, music, movies, politics, etc. – you’ve probably wondered why some people hang around for so long, before it becomes too long.  Brett Farvre may have played a season too many.  Frank Sinatra may have sung a few years too many.  Why it happens is fairly simple; and how it happens should be a lesson to all of us.

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To Sell or Not to Sell? Removing the Confusion from the Question

To Sell or Not to Sell? Removing the Confusion from the Question

I know someone whose business has been for sale many times over the length of our relationship.  In fact, he could actually have sold it on at least six occasions that I know about; and each would have given him a “never have to work again” lifestyle.  But, for reasons best known only to my friend Sam, he routinely leaves a willing buyer scratching his head in bewilderment.

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4 Simple Steps to Make Change Easy

4 Simple Steps to Make Change Easy

We have become conditioned to believe that change is hard.  That is not always true.  For example, we do not even think about the change we made from lying down to rolling over to sitting up to crawling to standing to walking to running.  It happened so naturally that many of us do not even remember when we did not have the requisite skills to perform any of those activities.

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Driving Results - How Awareness Impacts Change

Driving Results - How Awareness Impacts Change

Lots of “best practice” programs promise to improve corporate performance and family harmony in seven (choose your own number) or fewer steps.  Some work for a period of time, and then the effects fade into the sunset.  They fail most often because they don’t increase the awareness level of those involved; and, neglect any new heartfelt emotion or head-smart reason to persevere with new behaviors and attitudes, the momentum to change for the better gives way to the inertia of getting back where we belong.

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Featured

How to Overcome the Feeling of Being Blindsided by the Unexpected

How to Overcome the Feeling of Being Blindsided by the Unexpected

Most of us go through the day thinking that we’re pretty much on top of things.  Then, a business colleague or associate comes into our office; or a family member asks for a few minutes to talk; or we get a tweet, an email, or some other piece of information that catches us off guard.   Innocently, we ask “How long has this been going on?” and we feel the breath leave our bodies as we discover that something usually incredibly wrong or sad has been going on around us for far too long.

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Putting Your Business on Steriods

Putting Your Business on Steriods

Some pretty famous people are back in the news for their alleged use of performance enhancing steroids.  That topic came up during a lunch with a client and a couple of her key advisors.  She turned to me and asked “Are there any steroids to enhance business performance?”

We all laughed, and then I said “Yes.  Of course there are.  We have been talking about them all morning; we just haven’t been calling them steroids.  We have been calling them by their generic counterparts:  policies, processes, and procedures.”  

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Featured

The Key to Ending Business and Domestic Turf Wars

The Key to Ending Business and Domestic Turf Wars

Conflict and disagreement are natural human occurrences.  Sometimes they escalate to the level of a “turf war”.  The consequences may not always be fatal in terms of physical life and death, but all too often they lead to the emotional death of a relationship.  Sometimes it’s a domestic fatality, and sometimes it’s a business fatality.  The real tragedy is that neither has to occur.

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Watch Out for That New Best Practice. It May Not Be Right for You!

Watch Out for That New Best Practice. It May Not Be Right for You!

Much of the literature and buzz around best practices seems to presume that there is a universal business model or family governance structure that fits everything.  Personally, I haven’t found that to be true; so I generally do not recommend that a client, business, or family run out and adopt the latest and greatest approach to anything.  In fact, the greater the hype, the more likely I am to want to move away from it.  There’s something about a herd mentality that makes me want to wave the caution flag.

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6 Steps for Developing High Performing Cultures

6 Steps for Developing High Performing Cultures

Most people would never think of beginning a building without a blueprint or some kind of schematic drawing. Succession plans and business cultures, however, are often viewed in a very different light. Many people consider themselves experts in succession success and business cultures, even though their frame of reference is limited to their personal experience with a single organization.

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Business Communication - How to Maximize Outcome and Reduce Conflict

Business Communication - How to Maximize Outcome and Reduce Conflict

Mismatched expectations supply the fuel that ignites much conflict. What is so amazing is how often the mismatched expectations result from the proverbial “failure to communicate.”   If you have ever seen the movie Cool Hand Luke, you may recall that a failure to communicate can be deadly.

Clients and audience participants often ask what makes communication so difficult.  The answer is people.  Most of us believe that we are exceptional communicators.  My experience in working with groups, businesses, and families is that most of us are not exceptionally good at letting people know what we expect or want them to do.  Depending upon our natural behavioral style, we communicate, or talk to others, in one of four different languages:

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BP's Flawed Decision Making Process and How You Can Avoid It

BP's Flawed Decision Making Process and How You Can Avoid It

The Gulf of Mexico is going to take a long time to recover.  While the people responsible may never have intended the consequences, the choices and decisions made during any number of strategy and implementation meetings, all made well before the explosion of the oil rig, have left all of us with a terrible mess.

Most of us are not going to experience the same kind of public scrutiny that BP executives are going through as a result of their failure in the Gulf of Mexico.  However, the impact of a bad decision can be equally devastating, even if to a smaller business, organization, or family.

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