Which Candidate Said That?

I just had a call with one of our clients reviewing two candidates for a position. As we talked I mentioned I felt one of the candidates may be quicker to pick up on other people, tasks, and systems and the other may struggle more. I asked, “Did you happen to notice any areas where one of them seemed to “get it” more than the other?

My client said, “That’s amazing! You won’t believe this. One of the candidates was professional and we immediately connected with them. We were hesitant to even interview this candidate as they didn’t really have the industry experience.

The other candidate has the industry experience we are looking for but debated, almost argued with us about our selection process, didn’t want to do the video interview or complete their personal talent report stating they were not a fan of these types of tests. Even though this candidate has much more industry experience, we feel we can train those skills and are looking for someone more likely to fit in.”

How did we predict which candidate said what? One part of our “Selecting The Best” process uses the Hartman Value Profile. In the two graphs below, just look at the World View: People-Tasks-Systems columns for the two candidates. Without providing the technical analysis and getting in the weeds here, Candidate A doesn’t see People, Tasks, and Systems as clearly as Candidate B. Overall average score for Candidate A is 67 while Candidate B’s average score is 93. For those of you working ahead, did you notice they both have similar Self View scores?

While we didn’t know exactly HOW it would play out, we simply asked the question and let our client fill in the rest of the story. Our client already picked up on this confrontational vibe from Candidate A, but our personal talent report helped verify their gut instinct and added objective data to their subjective feelings. We let the job talk telling us what it wanted and we let the candidate data talk allowing our client to “Select The Best”.

If you want to improve your selection process, check out our “Selecting The Best” page or feel free to reach out to me: Ryan@LiskAssociates.com

Which Career Would You Suggest For This Person?

I recently received an email from a client that said…

Ryan,
I was wondering if you would be able to help me use my TTI assessment to identify some career paths that may fit my personality and help me find joy at work? Through my own research, I believe that wealth management, consulting, business development, and business strategy may all align with my personality. I have been told banking or lending may be another place I would enjoy, but am quite unsure. I am still not entirely certain what I want to scour job boards for, but I know that the different personality traits identified here ring true with what I am looking for in a career.

I looked at this person’s report and pulled the behaviors, driving forces, and personal talents that were most natural, developed, and passionate about (natural strengths, energizers, and skills).

Behavioral Traits: Urgency

Driving Forces: Objective, Commanding, Structured

Personal Talents: Goal Orientation, Conceptual Thinking, Planning & Organizing, Problem Solving, Leadership

As you read over, do you feel wealth management, consulting, business development, business strategy, banking, or lending fit this person’s traits & talents? The answer is maybe.

What type of career would you recommend for this person?

I posted this question to our Lisk Associates Superuser community and got the following answers:

Emergency room doctor

Construction site manager

Navy Seal

Action movie director

Fighter Pilot

Squadron leader

Trauma surgeon

Agile project manager

Executive pastor

Trainer/consultant who works on a team but is not the owner/entrepreneur

Manager of TSA or Dept. of Homeland Security

Turnaround manager

Fractional COO

Director of operations

Events manager

Logistics Manager

Casino floor manager

Professional project manager

Air traffic controller

Law enforcement

Fire fighter

Management track in chosen field

Project management

Sales management

Operational leadership

Business Strategy

Marketing/product development

Lead in production/manufacturing facility

Problem-solver/fixer

The superusers did a great job sticking to “career” vs. industry which presented a couple thought-starters to me:

#1. Understand the difference between role and industry. What is the difference between a role and an industry? Which of those two is more important? Would you rather have a great role in a bad industry or a bad role in a great industry?

#2. Be the best version of you. In order to do that you must work to your strengths and get clarity around what you want. It’s always better to focus on what you want vs. what you don’t. As one of our counterparts says, “When is the last time you went to the grocery store with a list of items you didn’t want?”

If you want help, coaching, mentorship on getting more of what you want, feel free to reach out: ryan@liskassociates.com

Have a great week!

Time Wasters

Time Wasters
We are all given the same amount of time in any given day. What you do with that time makes you more productive or less productive. We all have our natural behavioral style which both helps and hinders us. And, we all have potential Time Wasters that may make us less productive. TTI Success Insights has identified 30 potential time wasters listed below. After the initial list, each time waster is broken down in detail with a definition, possible causes, and possible solutions. Which of these are holding you back from being more productive?

Check out your time wasters in more detail and feel free to reach out to Lisk Associates to help you identify and improve upon your time wasters.

Cluttered deskCrisis managementDaydreaming
Desire to be involved with too many peopleExcessive socializingFailure to anticipate
Failure to clarify precise responsibilities with managerFailure to share informationFear of mistakes
FirefightingHabitsInability to say no
Lack of a written planLong lunchesLooking for hidden meaning
Not exercising authorityOpen door policyOverreacting to constructive criticism
Poor filing systemPoor delegationPostpone the unpleasant
ProcrastinationProlong events in order to gain improved results  Resisting change
Seeking all of the factsSeeking the best, but not necessarily workable solutions  Snap decisions
Tendency to be overly neat and orderly  VacillationWaiting for events to happen

Cluttered Desk
A cluttered desk is one that is overloaded by papers, supplies and equipment to the point of impacting the ability to be productive.

Possible Causes
• See organizing and filing activities as a waste of time
• Want everything at fingertips
• Do not conceptualize a system for grouping information and materials
• Have not established a timeline for tasks or projects

Possible Solutions
• Handle each piece of mail only once, i.e. pitch it, file it or delegate it
• Set up (or have someone else set up) an information storage and retrieval system
• Get off mailing lists that are of no interest to you
• Remind yourself that the time it takes to open “junk” mail robs you of time for more important tasks
• Establish a time limit for certain projects and only have current project material on your desk

Crisis Management
Crisis Management is defined as a management style that is consistently driven by uncontrolled external issues as the preferred method of managing. This style allows crises to precipitate rather than anticipating them and being pro-active.

Possible Causes
• Lack planning
• Place unrealistic time requirements on people and tasks
• Always looking for problems to solve

Possible Solutions
• Have a well defined operational plan
• Target key individuals to handle specific problems
• Ask for recommendations from key people
• Delegate authority and responsibility when possible

Daydreaming
Daydreaming is being preoccupied with non-task or non-work related thoughts. It is being easily distracted from at-hand tasks and focusing on past or future events for prolonged periods of time.

Possible Causes
• Being a creative thinker and always thinking of new ideas
• Being more excited about the future than the here and now
• Bring personal problems to work
• See work as routine and unexciting
• Experience stress from working on something too long
• Focus on past pleasant experiences as a way of coping with routine and stress

Possible Solutions
• Learn to read body signals for fatigue
• Change routine
• Remind yourself that worrying about personal problems interferes with your productivity
• Set tasks/objectives

Desire To Be Involved With Too Many People
The desire to be involved with too many people is involvement that
extends beyond business interactions to the point of interfering with
work. Beyond being friendly, it is excessive socializing.

Possible Causes
• Have many interests
• Want to be seen as one of the gang
• Need praise and approval from others

Possible Solutions
• Recognize your time constraints
• Be selective in getting involved in activities
• Monitor energy level
• Keep personal and job related priorities in view

Excessive Socializing
Excessive socializing is defined as those interactions that go beyond the usual required time for discussing an issue or task. It can also be interacting too frequently with those who do not support or contribute to the accomplishment of daily priorities.

Possible Causes
• Enjoy people
• Want to be liked
• Are creatively motivated when with others
• Allow and even encourage visitors and telephone calls
• Haven’t prioritized daily requirements
• Confuse deadlines

Possible Solutions
• Keep daily priorities in view to keep you on task
• Set time guidelines for informal conversations, lunches and meetings
• Monitor your open door policy
• Screen and put a time limit on telephone calls
• Be willing to tell visitors and callers that you cannot be interrupted at this time

Failure to Anticipate
Failure to anticipate is the lock of focusing on possible outcomes or requirements.

Possible Causes
• Expect only the best to happen
• Expect everyone else to do their best
• Trust the system to run well
• Focus on the here and now rather than the future
• Resist change

Possible Solutions
• Set aside a specific amount of time each day to consider outcome possibilities
• Talk with others who may have prior experience with a specific task or person

Failure to Clarify Precise Responsibilities with Manager
The failure to clarify precise responsibilities with your manager assumes that you have a full understanding of his/her expectations. It infers that your manager understands your job and concurs with your assessment of requirements.

Possible Causes
• Unsure of how you will be perceived
• Don’t want to overstep authority
• Want to be a team player
• Want to help everyone so you don’t object to the manager when requests are being made that are not your responsibility

Possible Solutions
• Have informal conversations with the manager about his/her expectations
• Share with manager your expectations
• Clarify with peers and other managers your duties and responsibilities
• Read and discuss articles on “management by objectives”

Failure to Share Information
The failure to share information is the inability or unwillingness to discuss with others.

Possible Causes
• Don’t think others want to know the information
• Unclear of the way the information will be used/received
• Wait until asked before sharing information

Possible Solutions
• Let others know that they need to ask for information
• Share with those whose opinions you trust

Fear of Mistakes
Fearing mistakes is the mental process of focusing on negative outcomes and is often a preoccupation with past mistakes.

Possible Causes
• Want to avoid criticism
• Take criticism personally
• Want to be seen as efficient and competent

Possible Solutions
• Practice focusing on past successes
• For every mistake that you think might happen, write down two positive possible outcomes for a completed task
• Focus on several possible future outcomes

Firefighting
Firefighting is often defined as being pulled away from priority tasks to answer questions, offer solutions, delegate or solve problem-related minor issues. These issues usually “flare up” quickly and are “put out” quickly.

Possible Causes
• Desire to solve problems quickly and sometimes without adequate information
• Lack of delegation
• Lack of standard operating procedures
• Poor/wrong priorities
• Failure to fit intensity to the situation

Possible Solutions
• Establish a plan
• Create operational procedures for tasks and known problems
• Establish a “management by objectives” approach

Habits
A habit is a specific thought, behavior or way of doing something that was acquired by repetition or by reinforcement from self and/or others.

Possible Causes
• Have established routines that are comfortable
• Routine creates a feeling of security
• Resist change for change’s sake
• Have been praised repeatedly for a specific behavior

Possible Solutions
• Evaluate habits and decide which contribute to your accomplishments and which deter you from success
• Try new ways of performing a certain task
• Ask others for recommendations on different approaches
• Consciously practice changing your routine

Inability To Say No
The inability to say no is when you are unable to or feel powerless to refuse any request.

Possible Causes
• Have many interests and want to be involved
• Confuse priorities
• Fail to set priorities
• Do not want to hurt others’ feelings
• Do not want to refuse a superior’s request
• Do not feel comfortable giving “real” reason and doesn’t want to lie

Possible Solutions
• Realistically evaluate how much time is available
• Understand limitations and what can be done well
• Set daily and long-term priorities
• Learn to say no to those people and tasks that do not support daily and long-term priorities

Lack of a Written Plan
A plan in this context may be an overall business plan including mission,
goals, objectives, task requirements and utilization of resources. It may
also simply mean written priorities and a written daily plan of action.

Possible Causes
• Action oriented, want to get things done now
• Priorities keep changing (self- or other-imposed)
• Have been successful without a plan in the past
• Want to “go with the flow” and not be stifled by a written daily agenda

Possible Solutions
• Write down personal and job-related values and prioritize them
• Write out a long-term plan that will support those values
• Recognize that by having priorities clearly in mind, constant change will be replaced with change-by-design

Long Lunches
Long lunches are those that extend beyond the normal time for eating.
They could be kept within a specific time frame but are not.

Possible Causes
• Get involved in the excitement of conversation and forget about time
• See long lunches as a networking opportunity
• Like doing business in a social, non-threatening environment
• Use long lunches as a way to avoid unpleasant tasks, people or the work environment

Possible Solutions
• Set a specific time for lunch and STICK TO IT
• Have meetings in the office
• Set meetings right after lunch
• Have working lunches

Looking for “Hidden Meaning”
The habitual practice of looking for hidden meanings demonstrates the inability to take messages, information and people-signals at face value. It may indicate that issues and people are suspect or have potential negative impact on you and your work.

Possible Causes
• Critical listening ability may cause you to read more into a situation
• Want to look beyond the obvious
• Have a need for additional information
• Do not have a high level of trust in others

Possible Solutions
• Ask questions
• Share initial evaluation/opinion with others

Not Exercising Authority
Not exercising authority is the inability to make decisions that might adversely impact some people and compromises the success of task accomplishment. It is also the resistance to making the tough calls.

Possible Causes
• Want to be seen as supportive
• Believe people will do what is right
• Fear offending others
• Fear creating conflict between team members

Possible Solutions
• Have clearly defined and written performance objectives
• Have clearly written rationale for specific decisions
• Assign decision reporting to the deputy/assistant
• Appoint a strong deputy or assistant
• Have a “good guy/bad guy” image agreement with deputy/assistant

Open Door Policy
An open door policy in this context refers to giving unlimited and unmonitored access to anyone who wishes to see you.

Possible Causes
• Want to be seen as supportive and available
• Want the social interaction of people dropping by
• Have a difficult time saying “no”
• Use people interruptions as a way of procrastinating or justifying missed deadlines

Possible Solutions
• Set aside time to “close your door” and work on projects
• Set aside time to interact with co-workers
• Learn to prioritize activities and say “no” to low priorities
• Place your desk so that it is not always in “view” of those who pass by
• Avoid eye contact with people who walk by your desk or office

Overreacting To Constructive Criticism
Overreacting to constructive criticism is the inappropriate overt or covert response to feedback and recommendations.

Possible Causes
• Have a high comfort level with past methods
• Have high standards for work performance
• Think that your way is the correct way
• Don’t see the benefit of doing things differently

Possible Solutions
• Practice listening without evaluating comments from others
• Begin responding mentally with “that’s interesting” or “that’s a possibility” as a way of controlling immediate negative response
• Communicate feelings with peers and supervisors

Poor Filing System
A poor filing system is one that has no predetermined method for subject matter grouping. It is one that you may understand but is not usable by others who may need to retrieve information from your files.

Possible Causes
• Have not determined or prioritized subject matter groupings
• Categorize by emotions

Possible Solutions
• Set up a cataloging system that you AND others can use easily
• Have someone assist you in setting up a system
• Use cross-referencing indexes
• Computerize information

Poor Delegation
Poor delegation usually means the inability to discriminate between tasks needing your time and attention, and those others are capable of accomplishing.

Possible Causes
• Do not want to give up control
• Do not trust the abilities of others
• Do not understand the abilities of others
• Fear the talents of others
• Do not want to overload others

Possible Solutions
• Train and mentor others
• Develop a support team
• Give people the opportunity to help
• Recognize the time spent training others on routine tasks will result in gained cumulative time for higher priority tasks

Postpone the Unpleasant
Postponing the unpleasant is similar to procrastinating but is usually a continual reprioritizing of daily tasks. It is often a way to delay something that is not enjoyable.

Possible Causes
• Like low-conflict environments and relationships
• Want to feel the success of accomplishment so the simple tasks are done first

Possible Solutions
• Change your routine and, for one week, do the unpleasant tasks first
• See the accomplishment of unpleasant tasks as an equal or even greater achievement of success
• Reward yourself for every unpleasant task that you complete without postponing
• Confront those people who are causing you discomfort and discuss the problems

Procrastination
Procrastination is the process of delaying action. It is also the inability to begin action.

Possible Causes
• Priorities have not been set
• Do not see projects or tasks clearly
• Overwhelmed with commitments
• Hope that time will solve or eliminate the problem
• Fear of failure

Possible Solutions
• Set goals and establish priorities
• Break large projects into small steps and do one at a time
• Agree to follow established priorities
• Consider consequences if it doesn’t get done
• Remind yourself that you will avoid the stress of putting something off until the last minute

Prolong Events In Order To Gain Improved Results
Prolonging events in order to gain improved results is the process of doing and redoing, evaluating and re-evaluating and changing to and changing back as a way of “testing” the best possible outcome.

Possible Causes
• Want to ensure that success is always achieved
• Feel that if rushed, the results will not be satisfactory
• Hope situations will work out themselves

Possible Solutions
• Set realistic schedule and timeline
• Follow the schedule
• Seek advice or assistance from others

Resisting Change
Resisting change is the process of consciously or subconsciously not participating in the change process. Measures of resistance may be active or passive, not doing things the new way, or making excuses for not having tasks accomplished.

Possible Causes
• Need a high degree of security
• Like to maintain the status quo
• Routine/procedures have worked in the past
• One specific aspect of a proposed change violates sense of values
• A specific change is not seen as contributing to successful accomplishments

Possible Solutions
• Acknowledge that change is a natural part of any job
• Develop the habit of writing down all of the pros and cons of a specific change
• Evaluate each objection to a change
• If there is one specific objection that is overriding the ability to change, share the specific concern with those involved and seek advice or input from others

Seeking “All” of The Facts
Seeking “all” of the facts is thought and action of continually gathering new information and re-evaluating current information.

Possible Causes
• Want to be certain/prepared
• Want to avoid mistakes
• Want extended time for getting tasks done

Possible Solutions
• Set a timeline for gathering new information or evaluating old information and then take action
• Evaluate importance or risk factors to how much information is actually needed

Seeking The Best, But Not Necessarily Workable Solutions
Always seeking the best solution may prohibit getting the task accomplished. Something better is always on the horizon.

Possible Causes
• Want to do things right the first time
• Want personal approval for preciseness of work
• Fear criticism if solution doesn’t work

Possible Solutions
• Establish required standards
• Determine the solution that meets or exceeds those standards
• Set a timeline for making a decision or completing a task

Snap Decisions
Snap decisions in this context are those decisions that are made too quickly without having all the necessary information.

Possible Causes
• Impatience overrides need to wait for more information
• Try to do too much
• Failure to plan in advance
• Lack specific goals

Possible Solutions
• Ask for recommendations
• Establish process for decisions prior to situation occurring
• Establish standard operating procedures and alternative procedures for possible problems

Tendency To Be Overly Neat and Orderly
The tendency to be overly neat and orderly is usually a compulsive behavior that overrides the need to accomplish a task. More importance may be placed on cleaning off your desk than completing the actions required (out of sight, out of mind).

Possible Causes
• Easily distracted by non-related materials in view
• Need a systematic method of working
• Catalog information for later retrieval

Possible Solutions
• Recognize that this is a strength as long as it is not over extended

Vacillation
Vacillation is the process of regarding an issue or a requirement in one way at one time and a different or the opposite at another time. It is the inability to make an immediate decision and stick with it.

Possible Causes
• Lack confidence in information
• Fear making the wrong decision
• Lack a systematic decision making process
• Hope that time will eliminate the problem or issue

Possible Solutions
• Acknowledge that the decision will be the best based on experience and available information
• Establish a time frame for making decisions
• Develop a method for analyzing a problem and choosing a solution
• Seek the advice or input from key people involved in the issue

Waiting For Events To Happen
Although patience may be a virtue, being pro-active allows the decision-maker to be in better control of events within their scope of influence.

Possible Causes
• Want to affect the here and now
• Fear rushing into something will show unpreparedness
• Need for high standards inhibits getting started

Possible Solutions
• Plan alternative solutions
• Determine most likely scenarios
• Implement a plan that best meets those needs without jeopardizing other scenarios

Be A Goldfish: Team Building The Ted Lasso Way

I recently had a client ask if I had seen Ted Lasso.  I said no.  She then said, “you have to see it. You are Ted freaking Lasso!”   I started watching and was immediately hooked.  I do bear a striking resemblance to Ted Lasso.  OK, not the way we look, but what we do.   I work with teams across all types of verticals including sports, utilities, manufacturing, healthcare, and everything in between. While I’m rarely an expert in their business, they all have one common thread: people.  All of our clients know the first question we ask: What percentage of your results relies on other people? If your answer is more than 50%, you may want to watch Ted Lasso if you haven’t already. Here are some Ted Lasso team-building lessons from Season 1.

“Taking on a new challenge is like riding a horse; if you are comfortable while you’re doing it, you’re probably doing it wrong.”

“You could fill two internets with what I don’t know about futbol.”

“Training makes perfect.”

“Smells like potential.”

“If he thinks he’s mad now, wait until we win him over.”

“The harder you work, the luckier you get.”

“Do you know what the happiest animal on earth is?  It’s a goldfish.  Do you know why? It has a 10-second memory.  Be a goldfish.”

“I have a real tricky time hearing people that don’t believe in themselves.”

“The easiest way to get that done well is to do it well.”

“A teacher that tells a bully not to pick on someone is just gonna make it worse.”

“You remind me of one of those robot vacuums, kind of just wandering around looking for dirt.”

“That’s the funny thing about coincidences, they just kind of happen.”

“For me success is not about wins and losses.  It’s about helping these young fellas be the best versions themselves on and off the field.”

“You two knuckleheads have split our locker room in half.  And when it comes to locker rooms, I like ‘em just my mother’s bathing suits, I only want to see them in one piece.”

“You don’t need to be best friends to be great teammates.”

“Youth is wasted on the young.  Don’t let the wisdom of age be wasted on you.” 

“You know why we won the league (previously)?  It’s the same shit Yankee Doodle is peddling.”

“This is an undiscovered mega-talent.  You do not want to judge this book by it’s cover.”

“We’re broken.  We need to change.  I know change can be scary. Most of the time change is a good thing.  I think that’s what it’s all about, embracing change.  Being brave.  Doing whatever you have to so everyone in your life can move forward with their’s.”

“Know thyself.”                     

“You haven’t been fired, it’s worse…you’ve been promoted!”

“Y’all got a saying, “it’s the hope that kills you.”  I disagree…it’s the hope that keeps you alive.”

If you BELIEVE more than 50% of your results relies on other people, check out our suite of products/services or reach out to me: Ryan@liskassociates.com

Hiring is Dead (again)

100% of Lisk Associates’ clients believe the majority of their results relies on other people. They intentionally “Select The Best”. Selecting The Best has always been a top priority, concern, and strength of our clients. Over the past 30 years we have seen many different hiring cycles. Today’s hiring cycle is unique (sort of). It’s unique in that people are making more money staying home on unemployment than many businesses can pay. I don’t blame people for not applying (especially now that school is out for the summer), it’s the way the system is currently set up. What’s not unique is the fact that we’re short on candidates. Remember not long ago when unemployment went below 4%?

Our clients see hiring as a competitive advantage and this cycle has them frustrated. One of my clients said to me, “Ryan, no offense, but your assessments for hiring don’t mean sh*t if we can’t get any applicants.”

Another client said, “If we get a candidate come in to interview, our goal is to not let them leave without making an offer.”

Another has said, “We now have to compete with our usual competitors plus Chick-Fil-A, Costco, and the U.S. Government for talent.”

Those of you that know me know my usual response. “I hear you. I agree with you. Now, what are you going to do about it?”

To get unstuck, here are five thought-starters to consider.

#1. Get your head right. Start with yourself (put your oxygen mask on first before helping others) and work your way through the five levels of change (see blog link below). You need to let go of the way things were, navigate disorientation, and get back to re-appraisal and re-commitment as soon as possible. Three years ago, we didn’t have any candidates. We have navigated change before and the process is no different. How to flatten your curve during major change.

It also helps to think about the future of your company, team, or department. What could your A-team look like 6 months from now? Unemployment won’t last forever (I don’t think), kids will go back to school in the fall and at least some people will want to be a part of something bigger than they’ve got going on now.

#2. Re-appraisal & re-commitment: Work will never go back to being what it once was. It’s time to re-appraise what your organization is offering besides a salary. Why would someone want to work there? Why would someone stay there? Remember why you got started there (and stayed). People will be able to look for something they feel connected to.

#3. Everybody wants something. People will stay at organizations where they feel like they are a part of something, they felt known, cared about on a professional level, and what they’re doing matters/making a difference (Patrick Lencioni’s 3 Signs of a Miserable Job). Become intentional about uncovering what the person really wants.

#4. Develop the person from day 1. If you are going to “settle” on your selections, then invest in more development. This is where the Job Benchmarks and Key Results Sheet work in conjunction with the Personal Talent Report or the Talent Insights Report or The Engagement Report or even the Style Insights Report to point you in the right direction from day 1 for on-boarding and development.

#5. Quarterly reviews. If you are doing annual reviews…STOP. If your company is doing annual reviews, you need to START doing your own quarterly reviews. If you are doing quarterly reviews…CONTINUE doing them. In today’s world of instant results and gratification, the annual review makes no sense. Candidates are being coached to ask interviewers, “What is your typical job or employee appraisal process?” If you answer with either, “Uh…we don’t have one” or “Annual appraisal” they are more likely to view your organization as one with antiquated management methods vs. what they are looking for which is RealTime Coaching and feedback.

If you’re reading this article, your organization has more to offer than a competitive salary. The one thing you can’t afford to do is recruit, interview, and hire the way you have always done. It’s time to let go of the old, re-appraise, re-commit, and level up Selecting The Best.

How to Avoid Death By Meeting

Death by Meeting is a 2004 book by Patrick Lencioni. I have adopted this post from his book. I see many similarities between Lencioni and myself. I have most (if not all) of Lencioni’s books on my shelf including The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. I wonder if he has any of the Lisk books on his shelf?

Lencioni calls meetings, “the most painful problem in business”. The meeting has certainly changed over the past 12 months, but his concepts about meetings are timeless. Here are some action items to take your meetings from the most painful problem in business to a competitive advantage.

Lencioni says most meetings are boring and ineffective. They are boring because they lack drama (conflict) and they are ineffective because they lack contextual structure.

Boring usually occurs because your topic lacks drama.

Boring Example #1. Expenses. Using Lencioni’s example from the book, “All right people, we are 12% over budget and from what I can tell we’re spending way too much money on travel. Going forward, we need to have better controls and monitoring to meet the corporate guidelines on the budget.”

Boring Example #2. Remote workers. “All right people, I don’t know about you all, but the fact we don’t have our people back here in the office where we can see each other working is ridiculous, am I right? What do you all think?”

This are examples of “Do-To” where the leader is providing their authoritarian opinion. Neither of these examples encourages anyone to get their brain into the game. One way to overcome boring is to incorporate “a hook”. Here’s what a transition with a hook may sound like.

Example #1 with a hook: “OK everyone, we are here to talk about cutting expenses, which doesn’t sound like much fun. But, consider there are plenty of people out there who have a vested interest in the way we spend our money. And, our competitors are hoping we throw our money around carelessly. Our customers don’t want to pay higher prices. Our families would rather see more money in our paychecks than in our travel budget. So, let’s dig into this issue with a sense of urgency and focus, because I certainly want to make sure that we’re using resources in the way our investors and shareholders intended.”

Example #2 with a hook: “OK everyone, we have all been through a lot in the last year. Our employees have done a great job overcoming adversity, not only professionally but personally. They have kept our ship afloat. We have survived the worst and we have lots to look forward to this year. While we want to be safe and remain a best places to work, it’s time to start looking forward at what opportunities coming back to in-person work could look like. What are you all hearing from your people?”

“Ineffective” occurs because your meetings lack contextual structure. In my view, contextual structure is a fancy way of saying, they lack purpose.

“The Staff Meeting”. Lencioni finds the staff meeting a “catch-all” which could include strategy, administration, tactics, and culture. The attendees don’t know whether they will be brainstorming, debating, voting, weighing in, or just listening. Lencioni refers to this as “Meeting Stew”.

Here’s an example: The leader has set a weekly staff meeting every Wednesday from 09:00-11:00 AM. They have sent out an agenda (which has basically the same order of topics every week) with five topics on it. The meeting starts at 09:00-ish. The first topic takes an hour because everyone knows they are going to be there for two hours so they find something to say. Topic #1 may or may not be the most important topic on the agenda. Topic #2 takes 45 minutes (and the leader got off track talking about something that wasn’t even on the agenda) which now leaves only 15 minutes for the last three topics. And, topic #2 may or may not be the most important topic of the day. The last three topics are rushed and the meeting still let out 20 minutes late. One person is upset the meeting started late and ended late (again). Another was upset they didn’t debate his topic until the very end (but everyone was tired and ready to get out of there). One thought there was too much brainstorming and “pie in the sky”. Another there wasn’t enough brainstorming and too much problem-solving. Finally, one was upset because we still didn’t set a definite date for the company picnic. As Lencioni says, “This may not be exactly like meetings in your organization. But it represents many of the problems that I encounter time and time again.” He’s talking about “meeting stew.”

How to overcome “meeting stew”. Lencioni suggests, “There should be different meetings with different purposes”. Each meeting should provide an important function. I also believe the meetings should meet our “simple. practical. valuable.” criteria. He suggests four different types of meetings.

Meeting #1: The Daily Check-In. Length of time: 5 minutes. This has also been called the daily huddle or the daily stand-up. The purpose of the daily check in is to get everyone focused on doing the right things at the right times and report on the activities they anticipate working on that day. There are two ground rules for this meeting: The first is you keep it to five minutes and the second is you must stand. In addition to those challenges, this meeting is a challenge for remote workers and different time zones. Could this be done on ZOOM? Could the daily check-in be sent in as a video?

Metting #2: The Weekly Tactical. Length of time: 45-90 minutes. The weekly tactical meeting includes three phases: Phase I – The Lightning Round. Each team member reports their top 2-3 priorities for the week. The lightning round is 1 minute per person. In today’s generation, you could call this the “Twitter Round: 140 seconds per person”.

Phase 2: Progeess Reporting. Progress reports is the routine reporting of critical information or metrics. There should be between 3-6 key metrics to report on. Each person’s progress report should be 5 minutes. Questions for clarification are allowed here, but debate and brainstorming should be avoided here.

Phase 3: RealTime Agenda. As the owner of RealTime Coaching you know I like the concept of the RealTIme Agenda. Phase 3 should begin approximately 15 minutes into the meeting. The leader of the meeting must have what Lencioni calls “discipline spontaneity”. The purpose of phase 3 is to invest time talking about the most important tactical decisions we need to make this week. These topics are designed to ensure success on short-term objectives. If you are the leader and are having trouble determining the realtime agenda, you may need to ask a question: What is the #1 problem we need to solve this week?

The challenge with the weekly tactical is discipline. Discipline to not prepare a ready-made agenda. Discipline to not let the lightning round go over time. And, discipline to not go into strategic discussions that deserve more thought and brain-storming vs. decision-making. Strategic conversations will be the primary focus in the next meeting type.

Meeting #3: The Monthly Strategic. Length of time: 3-4 Hours. Lencioni calls these meetings “the most fun”. This meeting is where executives wrestle with, analyze, debate, and decide upon critical issues affecting the business in fundamental ways. The challenges for this meeting are twofold: #1 – Failure to schedule enough time for them. If you only have one issue, schedule for two hours. If you have 4 issues, schedule an entire day. Related to challenge #1 is putting too many items on the agenda. Challenge #3 is failure to prepare. This is an executive team meeting held monthly. The team should know about the topics as soon as possible and begin preparing their point of view vs. “winging it”. The final challenge is “fear of conflict” (one of the five dysfunctions of a team). Team members must be able to openly debate, discuss, and participate in productive business conflict.

Meeting #4: The Quarterly Off-Site Review. Length of time: 1-2 days. An effective off-site provides executives the opportunity to step away from working in the business to working on the business. Lencioni identifies several topics to cover including: Comprehensive Strategy Review, Team Review, Personnel Review, and Competitive/Industry Review. The challenges for these types of meetings include over-structuring the agenda, creating a boondoggle by having it an exotic location, and inviting outsiders to attend as executive team members.

One way to help your off-sites become more productive is by utilizing an outside facilitator. If you would like more help making your meetings more effective, reach out to me and I’d be happy to help. ryan@liskassociates.com

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.