You Never Even Call Me By My Name

By Ryan Lisk – Originally written February 2016

You Never Even Call Me by My Name

Yes, that’s a reference to the country song by David Allen Coe from 1975.  

The customer service department for one of my clients had just completed a weeklong surprise audit by a federal agency, and passed it with flying colors. The happy COO of the company sent out an email to the entire 500-person organization:

“I want to thank the customer service department for their cooperation in facilitating an outstanding audit. I also want to thank Angie in human resources for the support she provided during the week. Thanks to you all and our great organization.”

They had just aced an intense, high-pressure audit. The customer service department was relieved, validated, and even giddy … until they read this email.   

What happened? Did the COO mean to offend the customer service department with his congratulatory email? Of course not.

Yet the customer service director was furious. “What about Amy, our supervisor, who came in from her ‘staycation’ to avert this potential disaster? Without her, we would have bombed this thing. Not to mention, we still managed to complete all of our regular work while we were short-staffed.” 

The truth is that the COO had zero awareness of his email’s impact. The department was upset because the COO didn’t call out their director, supervisors, or anyone in the department by name, only Angie in HR. 

Most people like being called out publicly for their good work. Loyalty, engagement, morale, and results rise when people feel valued on an individual basis.

Great leaders call people by their names. 

One of the biggest causes of disengagement at work is when employees don’t feel known as people. This COO didn’t need to know how many kids each employee had, or what their dog’s name was—he just needed to know the individual contributions of everyone who made an impact on the work, especially if he was going to call out individuals. Luckily this new COO took action to value the customer service employees: He apologized at their team meeting where he actually called people out by name.

Effective leadership is cultivating a balance between knowing employees as humans and knowing what they bring to the team. There is power in knowing something about a person. Here are four ways to foster connection and loyalty with your employees:

Ask about them. A great guide here is FORM: Family, Occupation, Recreation, Mission. If you ask simple questions in each of these four areas, you will learn a great deal about a person. (That said, sometimes Mission can be a little too deep for simply breaking anonymity with employees, so it’s not always needed.) It’s best to do some sort of “getting to know you” during onboarding. The longer you wait to learn about your team, the more awkward it becomes.

Assess them. There are many tools available to help teams understand and work better together. We use DISC and Motivators to help people gain insight into what makes others tick, and how they can work better together. By investing a minimal amount of time and money in assessments like these, you’re building trust and a sense of value that stretches across projects, and helps people support one another during times of stress.

Take their temperature. A big part of building relationships is awareness. It’s impossible to know if you’re offending people if you’re not aware of their opinions. Keep tabs on how your team is feeling by checking in with them weekly or monthly. Make continual feedback a part of your culture, and don’t use honest feedback inappropriately. That’s the quickest way to lose trust. What we find is that people aren’t usually reacting to big things; it’s the small stuff that eats away at morale.

Launch and celebrate. The nature of business is that we are continually launching new initiatives and programs in the name of growth. Yet many times organizations have a lot of launch and very little celebration. When your team hits a goal it’s important to take the time to celebrate it. If you’re constantly launching, without recognizing accomplishments, no one feels appreciated.

If you do these things, not only will you see an increase in workplace connection and happiness, but you will probably also feel more fulfilled in your own work as you build meaningful relationships with your team.

Let’s Rock-n-Roll

From Led Zeppelin to Lady Gaga, here are 11 Rock-n-Roll leadership & business quotes for you in 2021

Air guitar signed by Eddie Van Halen after one of the greatest nights of my teenage life: “To Ryan, OU812-You Kicked Ass”

I originally wrote this article as a tribute to Eddie Van Halen when he passed away in October. I had misplaced some of the quotes and this got put on hold. I found the quotes and decided to change my theme from a tribute to a kick-off. Let’s hope 2021 rocks for you. Here are eleven rock-n-roll quotes you can use this year for leadership, sales, coaching, or whatever.

#1. “Why don’t you take a good look at yourself and describe what you see” -Led Zeppelin, Misty Mountain Hop

When you want to get better at something, start with yourself first. It’s not for selfish reasons. If you don’t realistically and accurately know your own strengths and weaknesses, it’s difficult to coach, lead, or work with others.

#2. “I don’t condemn, I don’t convert” -Ziggy Marley, Love is My Religion

Your job as a leader, coach, or teammate is not to judge or condemn others ideas’ or viewpoints. You don’t always have to agree, but be agreeable.

#3. “Half my life’s on book’s written pages, live and learn from fools and from sages” -Aerosmith, Dream On

It’s really the second half of this quote that should resonate with you as a leader. This is all about listening. Do you think you learn more from fools or from sages?

#4. “What comes next? You’ve been freed, do you know how hard it is to lead? You’re on your own. Awesome! Wow! Do you have a clue what happens now? -Hamilton, What Comes Next

This isn’t exactly rock-n-roll, but it is leadership. There are so many great leadership quotes from Hamilton. What if you changed the word “freed” to “promoted”. It wouldn’t rhyme, but it fits.

#5. “If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice” -Rush, Freewill

This is one of my favorite rock-n-roll leadership quotes. It’s so true. There’s a good book I read called “Pushing Back Entropy”. When I got the book, I didn’t even know what entropy meant. The book was about continuing to take action as the forces of the world (and business) are constantly pushing on you. If you do nothing they continue to push, you must push back.

#6. “We look at each other, wondering what the other is thinking, but we never say a thing, and these crimes between us grow deeper” -Dave Matthews, Ants Marching

Ants Marching is better the louder it is, and the live version is better. On the one hand, you may be better off to simply wonder what someone else is thinking vs. filling in your own story and saying, “I know what this person is thinking.” That’s a leadership assumption mistake you shouldn’t be making.

#7. “I don’t know where I’m going, but I sure know where I’ve been” -Whitesnake, Here I Go Again

As an entrepreneurial coach, whether working with athletes or leaders or salespeople or engineers, I want to teach them to learn from the past, but don’t dwell on the mistakes from the past. Learn from those mistakes and move on. As my counterpart Jason Cummins would say, “Let’s go make some new mistakes.” As my dad would say, “I don’t mind you shooting yourself in the foot, I hate it when you reload.” RealTime Coaching wants to invest 90% of the time in the present and the future.

#8. “I know what I like” -Lita Ford, Kiss Me Deadly

It’s the beginning of the year and a great time to get clear on what you want vs. what you don’t want. If you know what you like and what you want, it’s easier to ask for and take action to get what you want. I would call this exercise “Taking a Wants inventory”. On a scale of 1-10, how clear are you on what you want? If it’s a 1 and you don’t know what you want, how are you supposed to know what to do?

#9. “My mama told me when I was young, we were all born superstars” -Lady Gaga, Born This Way

2021 will continue to build on the movement of diversity & inclusion. Who better than Lady Gaga to remind us we are all superstars. However, you cannot be a superstar if you are in a job that is not the right fit for you.

#10. “You may be right, I may be crazy” -Billy Joel, You May Be Right

As you read this one did you keep going with, “But it just may be a lunatic you’re looking for”. This is a good reminder as a leader to know you may not have all the answers. And, some of your answers may seem a little crazy. You may need to apply rock-n-roll quotes 1 through 9 and take a bigger view.

#11. “10% luck, 20% skill, 15% concentrated power of will, 5% pleasure and 50% pain, and 100% reason to remember the name” -Fort Minor, Remember The Name

Getting better at whatever it is you do, takes effort. It’s rare to just “burst on the scene”. At the 1995 Grammy’s, Green Day was nominated for Best New Artist. Billy Joe (who was 23 at the time) was asked about Green Day bursting on the scene and he said, “Man, we’ve been doing this for years”. You have to put in the work and enjoy the grind. Whether it’s sales, basketball, golf, coaching, leadership, customer service, or anything else, being great at what you do takes a mix of luck, skill, will, pleasure & pain.

If you have a rock-n-roll quote you’d like to add that inspires you, please add a comment.

I hope you have a great 2021. Rock on!

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Holidays

This article is adapted from the original written by Randy Lisk in December 2008. I hope you enjoy this year’s version of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Holidays.

History Lesson
This year marks the end of our 29th year in business. Did you know Lisk Associates originated because of Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People? My dad (Randy Lisk) was an engineer at IBM for 20+ years in Lexington, Kentucky. In 1991, IBM was bought by a company called Lexmark which manufactured computer printers.

As part of his buyout, he was asked to establish a business and become the facilitator for this new workshop. Every new Lexmark employee had to attend the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People workshop. At the time, Lexmark had 10,000+ employees and Lisk Associates was born.

We don’t offer that workshop anymore, but the principles still apply, especially during the holidays, and especially for the year 2020. With credit to Dr. Stephen Covey and Randy Lisk, here are the 7 habits for highly effective holidays.

Habit #1: Be Proactive
The habit of personal choice

Being proactive means that no matter what circumstances you face (and many are facing tough times right now) you still have the power to choose your own response to those circumstances.
You are able to choose your attitude and your effort.
You can be thankful for what you have vs. what you don’t have.
Reactive people tend to focus on what’s being done to them; proactive people focus on their options, freedoms, and possibilities.

Habit #1 Thought-starter: What are you focusing on? What one proactive action item could you take on something you may have been putting off?

Habit #2: Begin With The End In Mind
The habit of goal setting, planning, and visualization

You can only predict your future, when you have first visualized it in your mind. Once you have visualized it, be proactive and write down your goals for 2021.

Habit #2 Thought-starter: Picture this…It’s January 2, 2022 and you just had your best year ever…what happened? (Did it make you smile? Did you write it down?)

Habit #3: Put First Things First
The habit of time management and self-management

Dr. Covey said, “Do not get caught in the thick of thin things.” Make time to be fully “present” during the holidays. Richard Carlson wrote, “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff”.

Habit #3 Thought-starter: Considering all of your current roles, Are your priorities in order? What is truly most important to you? What could you do over the holidays to be better focused on what is most important?

Habit #4: Think Win-Win
The habit of cooperation

Help others: family, friends, colleagues, even strangers. The holidays are stressful, and if you’re feeling a little down, go help somebody else out. There is someone out there who could use a boost from you.

Habit #4 Thought-starter: Who would you be willing to help before the week is over? What are you going to do?

Need some ideas? Check out the December Kindness Calendar

Habit #5: Seek First To Understand, Then Be Understood
The habit of communication

You can’t really understand somebody else without listening and asking good questions. Listening to understand vs. “fixing them” or “straightening something out” helps you know what’s important to the other person. And they will most likely appreciate you asking them one more question vs. just telling them what to do or giving them advice.

Habit #5 Thought-starter: Take time to listen to someone you know well as if you were listening to a stranger and ask that one extra question. How did that feel?

Habit #6: Synergize
The habit of creating

The concept of synergy says the whole is more than the sum of its parts. Holiday choirs, and decorated streets are a couple holiday examples. Tis the season of magic. As we get older, some of our belief in the magic of this season may fade.

Habit #6 Thought-starter: If your “belief-o-meter” is running low, go find a kid under the age of 10 and ask…”What are you looking forward to this holiday?” Try following their answer with…”And what else?”

Habit #7: Sharpen The Saw
The habit of renewal

Dr. Covey suggested, “Spend one hour per day in the private victory.” His private victory meant a person’s physical, mental, social, and spiritual self. You can only go 24-7 so long without feeling “out of balance”.

Habit #7 Thought-starter: What are you willing to do the last 14 days of this year to sharpen your saw for one hour per day?

I wish you all a happy holiday season filled with wonder, awe, magic, good times, and belief. I look forward with hope to a healthy and prosperous new year for all of us. Thank you for your partnership with Lisk Associates.

Re-boarding in the Workplace: What You Need to Know

This article was written by our assessment partner, TTISI.

It’s no secret that 2020 has been hard for leaders and their teams. 2020 has provided many challenges for professionals and organizations across the world, but not all the changes that have occurred are negative.

On the contrary, many businesses have realized that remote
work is a viable option for their teams, are now focusing on
employee engagement, and have found new meaning in
their work. Those who embrace the changes coming their
way will be the ones to conquer the marketplace and lead
the new world of work. Make sure your organization is one of those
leaders by mastering the reboarding process! Reboarding is the process of employees entering and re-engaging in the workplace.
Your teams might be fully back in-person, they might be hybrid, or they might be fully remote. No matter your situation, you can be better
prepared for this process by remembering the three Rs of reboarding.

Click here to access the three R’s and the free re-boarding e-book.

What Does Lisk Associates Do?

Last week I updated my voicemail message to say: “You’ve reached Ryan Lisk of Lisk Associates and RealTime Coaching….” One of my best friends left a message and said, “I didn’t know you owned RealTime Coaching.” I thought that was a problem.

2021 is Lisk Associates’ 30th year in business (Lisk Associates Timeline) and because our name isn’t very descriptive (another problem) we must work consistently to tell others what we do.

Lisk Associates is a #peoplefirst business with a simple, practical, and valuable approach. Our two big umbrellas of #peoplefirst work are “Selecting the Best” and “Professional Development”. Our cheesy slogan would be: “Select the best and develop the rest”. Our professional slogan is: “Making people, teams, and organizations more valuable”. Our ideal clients believe the majority of their business results rely on people. If you have initiatives, opportunities, and problems involving people, we may be the right fit.

Selecting The Best: We specifically fill the gap in your hiring process measuring a person’s fit to a job. We have tools available such as job360’s, job benchmarks, competency measures, targeted behavioral-based interview questions, day-one development plans, gap reports, and fit reports.

Professional Development: We have several areas of #peoplefirst development such as: On-boarding, Re-boarding, Team-Building, Leadership Development, Executive Coaching, and our Lisk Associates’ proprietary content: RealTime Coaching.

What type of Lisk client fits you best?

There are three types of Lisk Associates clients:

First are “Project Clients”. Project clients have a need for RealTime Coaching, Professional Development, or Selecting The Best, they email or call us, we complete the project, and invoice for that project.

Second are “Superuser Clients”. Superusers are certified in either Behaviors, Driving Forces, EQ, and/or RealTime Coaching. Once certified, Superusers enjoy certain privileges and are eligible to run their own reports, workshops, etc as they need.

Finally are “Business Partner Clients”. Business partners use any of the 15 services and products from our business partner menu which in 2020 made up over 95% of Lisk Associates’ total business. Business partners have an open order allowing Lisk to run whatever is needed without Lisk having to get approvals for individual projects or invoices allowing us more time to do the work. Units are deducted from the total based on the work completed. Below is a look at the business partner offerings.

I want to speak with you (“huddle”) about our core areas we help with and various ways we could work with you in 2021. Many times, during these “huddles”, our clients have discovered a service offering that’s an even better fit that what they originally had in mind.

I look forward to hearing from you: ryan@liskassociates.com

I Can’t See You, Are You Even Working?

Many leaders are frustrated because they can’t see their people in person. Recently, I was asked, “Ryan, How do I know if my people are even working?” If you are thinking the same thing, now is a good time to level-up your leadership game and get some clarity.

In this case, the leader had done a less-than-average job of understanding and/or communicating what they want, what they’re doing, determining if what they’re doing is working, and what the plan is. There was a lack of job clarity.

The leadership tool to put into your toolkit is a Key Results Sheet (KRS). The KRS can be done as a DIY or it can be facilitated by an outside facilitator depending on your needs. The KRS starts with getting feedback from a brief questionnaire from 3-5 subject matter experts on the job which we call the Job360. A subject matter expert for the Job360 is defined as: someone who knows the job well and/or interacts with the job on a daily basis. It is valuable to get several opinions to confirm your gut or to provide you with new insights you hadn’t thought about. Here are the seven basic questions for a Job360:

  1. What is the purpose of this job?
  2. What would happen if this job didn’t exist?
  3. What are the top three measurable results this job generates?
  4. What are the top three things this job should spend it’s time on?
  5. What does this position do that no other position does within the organization?
  6. Who are the internal/external customers for this job?
  7. What are some of the daily rewards of this job?

You will hear several voices in your head when you answer the questions: The voice of how the job used to be performed, the voice of how the job is currently being performed, and the voice of the job telling you how it should be performed. Do you best to listen to that third voice: Let The Job Talk.

Once all Job360 answers are consolidated, the end result is the 1-pager Key Results Sheet.

This KRS captures the purpose of the job, the key results, the time, measures of success, and the motivators or driving forces for this job. A solid KRS should capture at least 80% of the time, 80% of the measures of success, and 80% of the rewards of the job. The KRS will become an accountability partner to the person in the job.

With a good key results sheet, leaders have a better handle on what people are working on, what they are spending their time on, and what results they should be generating. Leaders won’t need to have eyes on their people to know they are delivering key results.

If you have questions on the Job360 and key results sheet, feel free to reach out to me: Ryan@liskassociates.com

Name an Animal that Swims

Quick: Name an Animal that Swims. What did you say?

My family and I have always liked watching Family Feud.  Steve Harvey cracks us up, and he wouldn’t be nearly as funny without the families teeing him up with their crazy answers. 

I was watching fast money.  Contestant #1 comes up.  The question is: Name an animal that swims.  The contestant says, “Fish”.  I shout, “good answer”!!!  Survey says: 16. 

Contestant number two’s turn….Name an animal that swims.  She says, “Dog”!!  I “boo” and laugh, “no way”.   Survey says: 20.

Steve Harvey says, “Dog was the number one answer.”  I said, “That can’t be right. What the heck did the other 64 people answer??” While the answer “fish” was the crystal clear “right answer” to me, it wasn’t even the #1 answer. 

Today is election day. Do you see the link?  Not everyone sees things the same way as you AND their answer is as clear to them as yours is to you. Dog vs. Fish.

Your mindset, choices, leadership, teamwork, and communication start with the experiences you have, what you want, and what you’re passionate about which determines your responses and answers.  

The next time an answer seems obvious to you, but others just aren’t seeing it the same way, instead of trying to argue why you’re right and they’re wrong, remember they are thinking “dog” while you’re thinking “fish”.

Don’t Give Up, Don’t Ever Give Up

Spoiler alert, you should go watch this 1:58 video before you read this article.

Don’t Give Up, Don’t Ever Give Up

I hope you enjoyed watching that 11-year-old throw it down on the 19th try. I know I enjoyed it as that was my son, Griffin. Some of you have met Griffin when he makes an impromptu appearance on our ZOOM calls. He’s competitive, determined, and smart; all of which are on display in this video.

Here are three lessons I learned with this video.

Lesson #1: Fail vs. Lesson Learned. At first, I was just going to trash the “fails”. But as I watched, these weren’t fails at all, he was learning. Look at attempt #4. What he was thinking with that huge run-up? I don’t know, but what he quickly learned was our driveway has a slight upward slope and that wasn’t going to work….only one attempt going uphill.

Lesson #2: Get Better. I knew he was going to be successful after attempt #10 when he said, “I messed up right there, that would have been the one.” He was getting his steps right. He was improving his process (see lesson #1).

Lesson #3: Don’t Give Up, Don’t Ever Give Up. I’m not sure how many tries he would have stayed out there for, however many it was going to take. Watch attempt #18 and see how different he looks from the earlier attempts. And then on attempt #19 – SLAM DUNK! He got his steps right, got the slope right, got his explosion right and it all came together. Don’t give up, don’t ever give up.

What other lessons do you take from this video you could apply in your professional and personal life? I look forward to your thoughts and comments.

The New Engagement Report: What You Need to Know

OK, while it may not be as big as Apple’s IPhone 12 announcement going on today, TTI has released an entirely new stand-alone product using behaviors and driving forces called The Engagement Report.
The look and feel of this report is simple, practical, easy-to-understand and more conversational than past reports designed to provide thought-starters and conversation-starters within your teams and organization.

You may see a sample copy of my report here:

Ryan Lisk Engagement Report

TTI has published a 3-minute blog with everything you need to know here:

The Engagement Report.

The investment in this report is only $75 per person.

Lisk Associates call-to-action: If your organization commits to using the new engagement reports, I will create a custom youtube training video for your organization how to read and what exercises to do with The Engagement Report.

We hope you find a fit for the new TTI Engagement Report.

The 4 Types When Hiring For Fit

Organizations use Lisk Associates’ “Selecting The Best” tools and services to assist with up to 33% of their total hiring process. Selecting The Best focuses on hiring for fit and assesses potential risk based on fit. Organizations are ultimately responsible for the hiring decision. Once they make the hire, there are four types of hires to determine how we did on assessing fit to the position.

Type #1. Low-Risk High-Performer

There’s no real magic to this category. The organization identified this candidate as a viable candidate from the get-go. They felt this person was the right fit and our services agreed. Our process provides value in it verifies our clients’ original gut instincts. I would explain this category as “We thought they would be a high performer and they are.”

Type #2. High-Risk Low-Performer

This is the category that has brought the most value to our clients. It’s also the category that has brought the most professional conflict with our clients. Imagine you’ve worked hard to recruit a candidate and then Lisk Associates’ Selecting The Best process deems this candidate a high-risk fit. You ignore it, tell Lisk why this candidate is going to do great, make the hire, and then this happens….

“Unfortunately Sarah is not working out. They plan to let her go before her 90 day review. She was a high risk fit to the benchmark.”

or this….

“As a follow up, I just learned that the problem child (the one who was a horrible fit to the benchmark) resigned.”

I would explain this category as, “Selecting The Best thought they would struggle and they did struggle.” Many of Lisk Associates’ customers for life have experienced this type of hire and are willing to do whatever it takes to not make the same mistake again.

Type #3. High-Risk High-Performer

High-Risk High-Performer is a rare combination, but when it happens can be a head-scratcher. In this category, we have identified a high-risk fit meaning the work doesn’t align with who the person is, what they enjoy, and/or what they can do, but they are doing a great job. How can this be? My first thought is “Motivation”. There are times when hard work will overcome the fit. What is motivating this person? Why are they working? Who or What are they working for? There may be a good story behind the hard worker. I remember a surgical resident who was a high-risk fit to the position and was making it work. He was driving three hours each way to get to the hospital and doing everything in his power to make it in order to support his family. Everyone loved this guy. I sometimes believe motivation with a will to work hard will overcome what the fit may say on paper. Even though a high-risk fit, the person’s motivation and hard work outweigh their lack of natural fit to the position. If this is the case with one of your recent hires, “What could you do to make work-life easier or more efficient for them?”

Type #4. Low-Risk Low-Performer

With Low-Risk Low-Performer, our process has identified someone who CAN do the job, but is not doing the job. We know they align with the job and have the capacity to do the job, but something is preventing them from crushing it. It’s hard to fake high-potential. So, when this is the case, look to their leader and determine what has been done to insure this person is getting what they need to do the job. Has this person been given on-boarding, training, and team-building? Also, a leader’s use of RealTime Coaching would be helpful to determine if there is any interference or distractions that is keeping this person from doing the job.

To join our community of clients Selecting The Best, contact Lisk Associates. Ryan@liskassociates.com