The Importance of SOP’s

Building on what we looked at last time about our cultural obsession with productivity, I’ll share an example of something I learned as I was working to implement Lean Manufacturing initiatives in the facility I worked at for nearly twenty years…

We all tend to have our own way of doing certain things, right? While that’s typically true, that can wreak havoc on a manufacturing process! If each person who attempts to complete a task takes a different approach, it can be extremely difficult to produce a consistent product or nail down a reasonable expectation for how much labor is required. When quality and pricing shift with the wind, repeat business isn’t very likely. And that doesn’t even touch on how complicated these different methods for producing the same product make training new team members, especially when that training occurs on multiple shifts… Regardless of what industry we’re considering, some sort of standard operating...

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If We Can’t SEE It, We Don’t Usually Expect It...

Last time I suggested that the only real difference between soft skills and hard skills is that most hard skills only tie to certain fields where soft skills have the power of impacting nearly any type of work we’ll ever engage in. None of us come out of the womb being amazingly equipped with either type of skill; they ALL require cultivation throughout our lives if we ever hope to master them. And we should absolutely be seeing measurable results from the action steps we take in applying what we learn as we study any new skill!

The most common disconnect I’ve seen with this over the last twenty years has been that most of us have learned how to measure technical tasks; it’s fairly simple to track how many widgets can be produced in an hour or how many procedures can be completed each day. Measuring the effectiveness of what most people refer to as soft skills isn’t quite as straightforward because it rarely produces a stack of something at the end of an...

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What Approach Works Best for YOU?

The vast majority of the work Cindy and I do is focused around developing effective leaders and building effective communication into the cultures of the organizations we work with. But when we’re digging into Why Professional Development is Important, understand that there are so many more things to consider! Don’t get me wrong, I still believe effective communication and leadership are crucial, I’m just saying that there are more things we need to consider than the one-size-fits-all baseball caps I referenced in closing the last post

Several years ago, while working with some of the most experienced team members some friends of mine had working in their company, one gentleman commented, “We’ve done it this way for 30 years. This is the best way it can possibly be done!” Having been involved in so many continuous improvement initiatives over the years, my initial reaction was to jump on the table and preach about all the risks that come...

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Some Very Tangible Intangibles!

OK, let’s pretend the nearly 275% increase in profit that we just looked at doesn’t make a strong enough case for being intentional about focusing on ongoing professional development… I mean those particular numbers were only based on the study referenced by the Association for Training and Development, showing the impact on revenue per employee and overall profitability. But other areas of a business can ongoing professional development impact?

Over the last two decades, I've taken part in the orientation process with more new employees at the various companies I’ve worked with than I can count. It’s pretty exciting when hiring happens because the company is growing, but it’s far less of a thrill when the push is to fill the spots of people who leave the company voluntarily. And more often than not, this is a significant cost that’s not tracked all that effectively - with regards to the direct costs of recruiting or the total indirect...

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Speaking of Benjamin Franklin...

I closed the last post with a quote from Benjamin Franklin, “an investment in knowledge always pays the best interest,” and I promised to circle back with a look at how we can each expect to get a solid return on what we invest, personally and in our organizations. Interestingly enough, that same idea was the topic of conversation for me and Cindy earlier today as we filtered through a massive amount of junk mail and looked at the two pieces that actually had a bit of relevance; our quarterly IRA statements…

As we each made career changes over the last several years, we’ve rolled what we had in our respective 401(k) plans into IRAs; partly to avoid the crazy tax hit we’d take with an early withdrawal and partly to maintain some potential to recognize some level of ongoing interest. While our risk tolerance for our investments are nearly as different as our behavioral styles, the historic return on our plans have been nearly identical. Cindy’s,...

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My Way or the Highway!

We started down this path by looking at some Essential Qualities of Leadership, then we looked at just how critical Leadership in Management really is, and we’ve worked through several Qualities of a Bad Leader - which I believe provide us with great insight on what NOT to do! Let’s look at one final example to close the loop and tie this all together...

While each of the qualities of a bad leader that we’ve looked at to this point can certainly drive a wedge between someone with positional authority and the team they’re responsible for, there’s one thing that I’ve seen serve as that final proverbial nail in the coffin: the my way or the highway approach to basically anything and everything that needs to be done…

One of the tasks I was involved with frequently while I still worked in manufacturing was developing something called “Standardized Work Sheets” for various processes in the facility. Regardless of the name, it’s...

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The New Sheriff in Town?

Last time we looked at some of the challenges we may face when we move into a new position of authority, and leadership responsibility, for a team of folks who had previously been our peers. But what if that’s not the situation we’re in? What if our first day with the organization is also the day we have to start managing processes and leading our new team?

If you’ve more than a few of these posts, you’ve likely seen me quote John Maxwell as saying that “Everything Rises and Falls on Leadership!” Since leadership is so critical to achieving results through a team of people, someone new to an organization really needs to be prepared to flex their leadership muscles from day one, right?

Before we jump right into showing everyone that there’s a new sheriff in town, we should probably consider what I’ve heard John share just as frequently, “Leadership is Influence. Nothing more, nothing less!” And it’s highly unlikely...

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The Single Most Important Ingredient

I truly believe that one of the most essential qualities of leadership is serving the team we’re leading. Unfortunately, the idea of serving those team members is often mistaken for catering to those team members, which doesn’t serve anyone!

As we worked through that quality of service in the last post, I closed by sharing that some of the most effective servant leaders I’ve ever known weren’t willing to accept mediocre performance; they certainly certainly weren’t ones who catered to each passing whim any of the team members came up with. In fact, the leaders I’m picturing as I share this had some of the highest expectations for their team of anyone I’ve ever been around. And because they led by providing a consistent example, their teams delivered on those expectations!

Here’s where I need to stress a critical point… Those expectations weren’t met simply because the leader demanded that level of performance. Those...

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Why is Emotional Intelligence Important?

There’s a section in chapter three of Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry titled “The Impact of EQ” that shares some statistical that nearly knocked me out of my chair:

“How much of an impact does EQ have on your professional success? The short answer is: quite a lot! It’s a powerful way to focus your energy in one direction with a tremendous result. We’ve tested EQ alongside 33 other important skills and found that it subsumes the majority of them, including decision-making and communication. Your EQ is the foundation for a host of critical skills - it impacts most everything you say and do each day. EQ is so critical to success that it accounts for 58 percent of performance in all types of jobs.”

I’ve read a few books and numerous articles over the last several years that provide answers to the question Why is Emotional Intelligence Important? When I read something suggesting that emotional intelligence, or EQ, accounts...

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Return On Investment

Had last week not been quite as packed as it was, we would have wrapped up this final response to Why is Effective Communication Important? and now be starting digging into Communication Skills in the Workplace. I could run through the list of craziness that’s packed the last 10 days or so but that wouldn’t get us where we need to be - and I doubt you care… So let’s work through one last response to Why is Effective Communication Important? so we can turn the page!

We started by looking at how the message we send can be so much different from what we intend if we’re not incredibly intentional about crafting it to specifically match the communication style of the other person. Then we looked at why effective communication is absolutely critical for anyone with leadership responsibility; “Leadership is influence. Nothing More, Nothing Less!” Those two reasons alone should make a strong case for why effective communication is important! But...

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