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What Do You Think?

What Do You Think

As leaders and managers, we tend to take our fulfillment from answering questions and making decisions.  While these are very important things we do, we need to make sure they are done appropriately and at the right time.  If we simply “do” all the time, how do we mentor?   We need to make sure we develop our teams to be able to take on more and more responsibility as they grow.  If all they hear from you daily is “do that” and after that “do this” when is there decision making turned up?   Answer: (see I just did it, jump in to answer).  Eventually, their problem-solving muscles are going to atrophy from lack of use and they will begin to be discouraged and even look for other opportunities where they will be able to contribute more.  Nobody wants this to happen.  We should want our teams to feel empowered, that their opinion is important and it does matter to the business daily.  So, let’s talk about how we change this approach as there are a couple of simple things to do.  Simple yes, but training our “reacting” muscles to do them can be challenging.

If you have always been a problem-solver the team will notice your changes immediately. Be prepared to address why the change is necessary.  Let them know that you want more out of them and trust them to do more.  Also, share that it is a work in process and may take some time to perfect the process.  So, how do you facilitate it?  There are two techniques that are most effective.

First is the simple “What do you think we should do?” or “How would you handle this?” questions.  These will put your employee on the spot for sure and they may not have an answer the first couple times, but do not jump in.  I know this will be hard not to do because old habits die hard.  Silence is valuable and you must let it happen.  The answers will come, but not from you.  The second builds on the first.  Simply ask your team when they bring you a problem to have at least one solution to share with you.  This will do one of two things.  It will either encourage them to share and express their thoughts or it will force them to think on their own.

These are both simple things but require a large amount of discipline from you to make them happen.  Your team will see the change and begin to adapt to the “new you”.  This will encourage and empower them to be better managers and leaders and help them grow for their own chance for further advancement.  In the end, is that not what being a great manager is about?  We want to make our teams better and stronger.  By doing this you have increased their accountability and they no longer have to defer that to you.  Now, you are asking them to share in that role and become what they set out to be in the first place.  This all sounds interesting and probably some things that could work, but… What do you think?

Wishing you success and growth.


0 comments on “Good Luck Finding A Talented Leader”

Good Luck Finding A Talented Leader

Businessman standing with back against city

Or, at least one who will tell me everything I need to know in a couple of hours interviewing!

At one point or another, we all have the charge to hire employees.   If you are an Executive in a business, you will be hiring other managers to step in and lead your teams,  divisions or so on.  So, how do you make sure you have hired the right person?  I wish I could say it was simple & just do 1-2-3.  By now, you’ve figured out it’s not.  Let’s see if we might create a slightly more effective approach and at least offer some ideas.

For our discussions, we are going to be hiring a VP level to run parts of your business.  This role will have significant P & L responsibility.  They will be managing managers as well.

First, we need to advertise for the position.  The key is letting folks know.  Whether it’s a referral by word of mouth, an ad (digital or print), it doesn’t matter.  LinkedIn is a great tool for this as it allows you to target and recruit (keyword!).  You want to select this person as much as possible.  Look for the skills and features you feel fit the position and align with the culture, then reach out to these candidates and try to recruit.  In these markets, you need to pursue top talent and don’t wait for it to appear on your doorstep, it won’t.

Once you have what you feel is a qualified candidate you need something additional to give you a subsurface to know who you are talking to.  I, for one, am a strong believer in screenings such as PI, Strengths Finders or Profiles.  These tools aren’t foolproof but they seem to work the best based on experience and feedback.  You want to know what holes might be there so you can address them in the interview to see if the weakness is enough to toss the candidate.   Also, try to better validate those strengths that are indicated in the screening through the interview.  Check their personality, their body language & how they come across in speech.  The screenings are a great preparation tool for the interview process and will signal you to address certain aspects of a person that you may not have thought of without it.

Now, to focus on the interview process.  So, how much is too much?  It’s my opinion that a multi-step process for a VP is critical, but a gauntlet is crazy and may cost you a great leader.  This person will need to have at least 4 interviews over 2-3 different days.  Make sure the candidate’s interview across all levels of your company.  This is important because you want to see if a person changes behavior based on who they’re talking to.

Once a person has passed through the interviews it’s also important to bring them outside of the business for a social contact, a spouse dinner or something to get them out of character. This throws in the wild card of spouses and most likely personal things that will be discussed not business related.  Really pay attention here.  How does the candidate relate to their spouse in this setting?  Does the spouse look at the candidate before they speak all the time?  Try to pick up anything here that may give insight into communication style or honesty vs. the person you have interviewed so far.  If a spouse is getting a non-verbal “OK to talk” every time they open their mouth, there is a reason they are being that careful.  Drill into it and save yourself a headache down the road.   You are working through all these steps to try and weed out any of those you feel will not make it.   If you are fortunate enough to have 2-3 that make it to the decision point, you are very lucky.  This is where my decision becomes based on the “X” factor to make the final call.

What is an “X” factor?  It could be something said between interviews or a mention in a thank you note.  Did all the candidates even do thank you notes?  Maybe it was something they brought to an interview or some creativity they showed above and beyond.  Typically, it’s that positive notion you’ve gotten somewhere throughout the process that has stuck with you.  We all know when we have seen it and out of 2-3 people, someone will outshine the others in a small way somewhere.  Coaching to discover the person with that unknown is possible and there are ways to drill into it that I just don’t have space for here.  Finding real grit for the job is a science and an art, but it can be taught.

Wishing you growth.


0 comments on “Do or Die – Delegation or Death (of my business)”

Do or Die – Delegation or Death (of my business)

Passing the Torch

There’s not a manager I’ve met or talked to that doesn’t have a hard time delegating work to others.  Why is this?  Why do we all tend to resist what can help us be more productive and allow us to focus on more important roles in leadership?  Is it simple control?  Our normal behavior as managers and leaders is to want to do everything ourselves because we know it will be done correctly.  Sound familiar to anyone?

Another famous statement I’ve heard spoken time and time again would be “By the time I show them how to do it I could have done it myself.”  This is the dilemma of delegation.  Wow, it’s a tough nut to crack!  That statement feels like there is some merit to the arguments about time spent teaching versus doing.   But wait, there, right there is the flaw that holds us back.  We never want to account for the tens or hundreds of times into the future this task could be completed for us and thus save us hours upon hours of time.  Yes, any given one instance there is a loss in our time spent teaching versus doing it ourselves.  Or is that even true?  Was the time lost or was it spent investing?  By investing I mean investing into the time you gain later when this task surfaces once again.  Not to mention, the investment in developing your team member to be the support you need.

As managers, in most cases, we got to where we are by being doers, by hitting the door running in the morning and mowing to do’s down like fresh grass.  We thrive on it.  We live for it.  Then someone says “If you show me how to do that, I could start doing it for you each week.”  Suddenly, this causes a break in our view of why we’re important and needed in our roles.  This is where the average manager will operate for most of their time.  They will hold onto work that should be passed on and will fight for it.  Those managers that have evolved beyond this group may allow some work to be done by their team but will replace it with more work that should be done, you guessed it, by their team.  Then, there are the true visionary leaders.  Those that delegate effectively and capture that time they have recouped to work on the business, not in the business.  This allows them the time to think freely, less the clutter of to-do’s that normally would be chasing them down.

Coaching leaders to this last stage of development are one of the bigger challenges because we fight against it so hard. It’s also very rewarding because once we can truly offload the work that should be done by our teams then we can elevate our thoughts to the vision of the business. There, surfaces the creativity that’s needed to drive real growth and change in thriving companies.  Our focus is to teach the value of what to do with this time saved to help inspire great leaders to find a new drive.  We want to help managers understand the liberty in delegating as much as they possibly can to their teams and how to use the time they’re saving to build some of the best companies out there.

Wishing you continued growth,


Copyright © 2017 The Growth Factory

0 comments on “Did I Really Say That?”

Did I Really Say That?

My guess is that we’ve all experienced a case of this before.  You’re in a meeting with one of your managers or team members and you’re discussing with them a need for change.  The meeting appeared to go well with no red flags and you felt accomplished that all was communicated clearly.  Later, you hear them talking to their team or another team member about what you said and as they are talking you think, “Did I really say that?”  “How did they come up with that interpretation?”  “That’s not at all what I said!”  Welcome to the world of filters and selective listening.  This is something we all do.  Sometimes it’s completely harmless.

How about this scenario? – Your spouse or your child is talking and your mind is focused somewhere else, maybe it’s still wrapped up in business from the day, so you nod and grunt as they talk until they stop.  Then comes, “Well, what do you think?”  Now, you freeze!  You haven’t heard a word they’ve said, but not giving an answer is out of the question.  Here’s my go-to response – “Honey, I think you are right”.  (The prior example was all fictional and never really occurred.)  ; )

In business, this is not going to work.  When we don’t listen well, or hear through our own filters, it can harm our communication and the ability to get things done.  When we choose to hear what, we want, and we don’t confirm what is said, we only set ourselves up for problems.  There’s a simple strategy to solving this problem and it’s called “Active Listening”.  If you learn to practice this technique I assure you that miscommunication involving yourself will drop to nearly nothing.  Here is how it works.  If you follow these few points it will make a major difference:

  1. Acknowledge the person speaking. Make good eye contact.  Nod your head when you’re in agreement.  Your non-verbal cues should be clear as to what you are hearing, giving no mixed messages.
  2. Practice reflective listening – Phrases like “What I am hearing is” or “Sounds like you are saying” are a couple of ways to do this.
  3. If any confusion still exists please clarify and ask questions. “What do you mean when you say?” or “Is this what you mean?”
  4. Assuming is your enemy and I know we’ve, all heard what to A-S-S-U-M-E means. Don’t forget it.

So, I say give it a shot.   These are points that I try to coach to whenever possible to make sure communication is improved and there are not problems created by simple listening mistakes.  It is an easy fix to practice these steps, but it will ensure you are a much better communicator and a great listener.  If there is one skill out there that the world can use a lot more of – it’s listening.  So, avoid that moment when you look at yourself and say “Did I really say that?”

Wishing you great growth.


0 comments on “Try, Try Again…”

Try, Try Again…

We can all recall the saying that ends with the three words above, “try, try again”.  How many of us truly live by them?  My observation is that statistics would show not that high of a percentage.  Why is that?  Sure, there are many things we can view as out of our reach or out of our control as we focus on current limitations.  We probably grumble and complain about them daily.  Am I right?  A person’s effort, my friends, is something that is 100% within control.  All the riches can not buy a person’s effort.  No one is handed more of it than others.  A person’s effort is not found in even their physical or mental abilities. As a matter of fact, it’s been proven time and again that effort supersedes both physical and mental capabilities.  It comes from a determination.  Some call it heart, others would say willpower, yet others call it drive.

Okay, so let me say it again and let this statement seep into your minds so that it is rooted there forevermore.  A person’s effort is 100% within their control.

So, if this is the case why are there not hundreds of thousands of people launching new businesses?  Why aren’t the dreamers fulfilling their dreams of opening that new bistro down the street, becoming doctors and lawyers, or climbing that business ladder to success?  Rather than, the percentages are higher of those who are conditioned in such a way that the possibility of success is an outreach.  Everything is stacked up against them and the excuses are endless.  Truly, the only person to blame for wherever we are in this life is ourselves.  It is up to the person living it each day to take ownership of their success.  Let today be the day that you keep your dream alive.  Look in the mirror and tell yourself “today is the day I will succeed”.

Persistence sums up the blend to success.  Effort + Persistence = Success!!  It’s the key to keeping us going.  There will be more falls than not on this journey and we must get back up, dust ourselves off, and go again and again and again.  Thomas Edison failed many times over in his efforts to invent the light bulb until he actually invented the light bulb. When things get tough don’t give up because it may be that next adjustment that gets you over the climb.  If you think things should be easy they usually never are.  Those with persistence will keep pushing until they overcome and will celebrate crashing through the challenges put in front of them.  Have any of you seen the movie, “The Founder”? It’s another great story that drives the point of persistence home.  Ray Kroc was just a man with a crazy idea.  He failed to hit it big with many opportunities, but his persistence finally pushed through to his big deal with McDonald’s and he never looked back.

How about our 2017 Superbowl?  The Patriots stayed the course, maintained persistence to their game plan and methodically began to score.  The game got closer and closer until it was tied.  As it headed into overtime I don’t think there was much doubt on who would win the game after the coin toss.  The score was down 28 to 3 and their persistence to not give up and to keep trying play after play showed drive that not many teams would have.  The Patriots have won their fair share of Superbowls.  They’re winners and they’ve earned it by being persistent and never giving up no matter the odds.  This mindset will take you so many more places than where you’ll end up with a list of excuses.

When asked which Superbowl ring he likes best.  Tom Brady simply answers, “The next one.”  Persistence is not something that’s taught it’s in each one of us waiting to come out.  Unleash the power of it today and make tomorrow whatever you want it to be.  It’s under your control 100%!!

Wishing you continued growth.


Copyright © 2017 The Growth Factory

0 comments on “Trust me”

Trust me

We have all experienced it, you hit that magic mileage number or your vehicle says time for an oil change and off you go to the dealership or a speedy oil change to take care of it. Most of you probably know where I am going next.  You roll in for the fast service and then it begins.  The parade of items that your vehicle needs that are just about to wear out and without them, you are putting the lives of yourself and children into uncaring hands.  The air filter, windshield wipers, brakes, complete system flush and it goes on.  You then begin the internal battle of are they telling me the truth or not.  Our spouse has said don’t ever let them talk you into anything you don’t need.  We then become conditioned to not trust anyone at the dealership or at the oil change place.   Whether they are telling the truth or not the fact that a lot have “oversold” people in the past has made our first impression and belief to be we can’t trust them.

So let’s take this into our business lives.  Depending on the research you look at it shows around 33% of employees do not trust their management.  That is not a good place to be operating from and can have an impact on the performance of your business in many ways.  Without trust, idea implementation is much more challenging.  So the growth and the development of your business has hurdles in front of it due to this trust statistic even before you do anything else.  We can go on with examples, but let’s look at what we can do about it to help our business outperform the many others.

We often talk about knowing yourself before managing others and the same applies here.  We need to ask ourselves who is it that I trust or do not trust and the whys behind those feelings.  As we explore those answers we then have to ask how I as a manager measure up to that expectation of trust.  This is the easiest way to understand what may or may not have people trusting you and where your gaps may be that need attention.  Trust requires consistent behaviors of honesty/integrity, competency in our work and a real caring for our employees.  All of these items seem simple and we all say we do them all the time, and if we all did there would not be 33% of the workforce that did not trust their management.  There are ways to improve and help build trust in your teams and we work on these behaviors in classroom and development programs every day.  The main thing is awareness and the commitment to build trust and leadership by exhibiting the correct behaviors and living by them.  As always easier said than done.  Persistence to working on this daily will deliver the positive results.  Tools and techniques will make this a bit easier.

Wishing you success and growth.


© copyright The Growth Factory 2017

0 comments on “What Happened To You?”

What Happened To You?

As a manager and a leader have you ever had that moment where you say what happened to the person I hired?  They look the same, sound the same, but behaviors have changed to the point where you do not recognize them anymore.  How did you get here?   When did things change?  Most importantly…  How do you fix it?  How do you stop it from happening in the future?

Now that you have identified something needs to change where to start.  You must first address how it happened.  These things never happen overnight, it may feel that way but truth is they erode over time and as managers we own the responsibility of not letting that happen.  I know what you are thinking…  my responsibility?  Really?  Yes really…  It is easier to blame the employee, but we need to grow and enable our employees all the time not just when we need something from them.  As leaders, we must always keep our employees top of mind and their development our focus.  What about the business needs and driving goals and revenues??  Yep…  You need to do that as well.  Managers get caught in this trap a lot of which is more important.  And how do I find the time to fix it.

Where do we find more time?  Delegating to these same employees we are concerned about is one way to create more time for what is needed for both parties.  So the first place I always look is there.  Are you doing things others should be doing so that you can focus on what is most important (business goals and team development)?  Empower your team and elevate yourself.  Accountability is another area that is often missed.  Has there been consistency in this area to keep the employee sharp and delivering results?  If leaders do not have consistency in expectations it has a negative effect on yourself and your employee(s).  Education and development are critical to keeping employees growing and increasing contributions to the business.  If we fall short here we will see the employee stall and not keep up with what we have set in our minds as their performance level we are expecting, but not playing our part in developing.    As leaders/managers sometimes we miss the obvious that we do not have enough time to do it all ourselves either and can benefit from third party development assistance.  Use the sources that you have access to if you have that luxury.

Next time that employee(s) seems to have changed and fallen below standard.  Take these steps to help regain momentum and to make sure they don’t happen again:  Delegate to enable growth,  Accountability to avoid getting off track, and education and development to help show them the path for future responsibility.

Wishing you great growth!!


© copyright The Growth Factory 2017