A Mid-Year Review to Finish Strong

As August begins, we’ve officially entered into the second half of this year. And, it will seem like the blink of an eye before we are exchanging holiday gifts, eating too much and making New Year resolutions. The bad news is time flies. The good news is you’re the pilot. With a little prioritizing and planning, there is still time to meet or beat your annual goals.

Mid-year is an excellent annual milestone to check in. This is done best when we take a pause to look…really look at where we are directing our time and talents and the results we are creating. A good process for self-reflection includes four steps. They are:  Reflect, Re-evaluate, Recalibrate, Recommit. Use it to elevate your perspective and verify you are on track, moving forward and progressing toward the results that are most important to you.

Reflect
As we begin to feel the sand slip through our hands and see life picking up speed, it is tempting to get busy being busy. But first, take some time to ensure you are headed in the right direction. Don’t mistake movement for achievement.

To ensure you are progressing in ways that matter most to you, consider each life dimension including Health, Intellectual, Financial, Career, Spiritual, Family and Social. Even if you have not focused or planned a goal for each area, you will gain valuable clarity by reflecting on these questions:

  • What is working for me, right now?
  • What accomplishments am I most proud of?
  • What is my status in each area of life?(Health, Intellectual, Financial, Career, Spiritual, Family and Social)

Reevaluate
Your priorities aren’t what you say they are; they are expressed by how you live. It is far to easy to fall into the trap of habit without examining the resulting risks or rewards. Challenge status quo—it may be uncomfortable but necessary to tap into your potential. Consider where you desire or require change or improvement by asking:

  • What is demanding more time and attention than is truly important to me?
  • What area(s) needs greater energy or attention?
  • What do I really want to accomplish by the end of this year?

Give yourself permission to edit and shift your priorities. Since it is probably not realistic to work on every life dimension simultaneously, focus in areas of greatest importance then stay hyper focused there.

Recalibrate
What gets measured gets done. Goals and renewed commitment are important but until you identify exactly what success looks like, you may miss it when it arrives. A lot of people and professionals miss defining metrics that matter. They reason, “I’ll know it when I see it!” which is really just a poor excuse for not setting clear ways to measure progress. Keep it simple by asking yourself:

  • How will I measure or recognize success?
  • What methods will I use?

                “Motivation Gets You Going…and Habits Get You There”                    

                                                                                                      ——  Zig Zigler

Recommit
Now is the time to double down on doing. Identify new or recommit to the steps and rituals that will lead you to the results you desire.  If this feels overwhelming or nebulous, try this exercise. Take out a blank sheet of paper and do a thought download to list all of the incremental steps or actions needed to achieve your goal.

Don’t let your brain tell you that you don’t know how or that you need more information. Exercise your innate creativity to find options. Make reaching your goals a must. You are your only limit. It is a good idea to complete this exercise in two sessions on separate days. Your brain will work on options even though you may not be consciously thinking about it. The second pass at ideas is usually easier and yields the best results.

Commitment is sticking to what you said you’d do long after early excitement has left you. Add lift and sticking power to progress toward your goals by keeping your WHY top of mind. Recommit to your results by focusing on your reasons behind your goals for sustained enthusiasm and focus.

Time may continue to fly by, but ultimately you control the shadow your impact creates. A mid-year check in and checkup, provides a new view of the daily efforts and results they shape. This shift in perspective along with a willingness to trade routine and habit for what works better is how success is won.

Why Trusting Your Gut Instinct is a Bad Hiring Strategy

There are a variety of factors that can negatively impact hiring decisions. One bad hire is one hire to many. Staying alert to the common factors that derail recruiting will minimize mistakes. One such frequent fail is trusting your gut when assessing candidates. Over 39% percent of company leaders say they rely on personal instincts when hiring. And, not surprisingly, 71 percent of the same line managers surveyed would change their hiring decisions if given a second chance.

Relying on gut instinct when interviewing is a bad idea because it introduces unconscious filters that can bring unwarranted opinions, feelings and considerations that get in the way of making objective hiring decisions. As a result, less qualified candidates may receive unmerited advantage and those potentially a better fit overlooked. In an ideal world, hiring managers would select job candidates based on credentials and their track record for results.

People like people most like themselves. As a result, personal bias may show up where common interests are shared or the same sports team or alma mater are followed. According to UCLA Professor and author of Social: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Connect explains, “Social connection is as important as food and shelter. It’s been baked into our operating system for tens of millions of years.” These associations are not harmful or negative in and of themselves. Only when they bring unfair advantage when objectivity and balanced decision making is required do they add risk to the hiring process.

Our brain makes broad brushed assumptions or stereotypes to gain greater understanding and influence with others. Social scientists once believed that only bigoted people used stereotypes. However, it turns out, all of us routinely stereotype others, without knowing it.

In a typical interview situation stereotyping can undermine impartial decision making and add risk to employee selection practices. For example, when we are exposed to people of different cultures, ethnicities or religious practices. Despite a commitment to embrace diversity, we are hard wired to view differences as reason for separation not harmony.

Consider the notion, all blacks are good athletes. Fat people are lazy. People with glasses are smart. Mexicans came to America illegally. Arabs and Muslims are terrorists. Jews are greedy and all Irish are drunks. These exaggerated untrue and inappropriate beliefs constantly press up against our inner most desire to be fair, impartial and open minded. Ignore them we fall victim to their lies.

Competency stereotyping tends to be more insidious when making hiring decisions. Intellectually, we know that hair color has no influence on intelligence yet, blondes are commonly jeered as ‘airheads’ or dumb. Yet, could hair color effect a person’s candidacy for a position requiring high intellect? Would an Asian candidate receive higher favor for a job demanding strong competency in math and science? Is it possible a female hiring manager would be disinclined to hire an individual native to a country known for undervaluing women? Alert to the presence of all forms of prejudice, we control its influence and limit the impact.

Individuals who carry a commanding presence may set up hiring resistance against themselves. When meeting powerful people, it is likely you will either get inspired or intimidated. One creates a positive impression the other repels it. It is natural to be wary of people who we perceive as a threat to our status within an organization. Hiring managers may unintentionally overlook strong and potentially exceptional employees in an effort to protect his own power and position.

Allowing all forms of personal bias to negatively influence hiring decisions can lead to hiring mistakes and expose managers and their organizations to considerable risk. In addition, superstars who might have made considerable contribution may be bypassed for lesser qualified candidates. All forms of social profiling sets up untrue unfair conditions whereby the best person for the job overlooked. As a result, we must stay rigorous in our efforts to recognize when personal bias raises its head and adhere to solid hiring practices that reveal individuals who represent the best cultural and job fit.

The best weapon to combat the negative influence of personal prejudice is to rely on a structured selection protocol that standardizes the hiring process among candidates, eliminating much subjectivity. These interviews pose the same set of questions in the same order to all candidates, allowing clearer more accurate comparisons between them. This may seem like an obvious approach, but incredibly it remains underused. The dialogue during the interview will be slightly more awkward than it already is, but the payoff in reduction in risk and discovery of the right people for the company and the job is worth the effort.

Keep your bias at bay and spot your next superstar using this FREE Candidate Interview Scorecard for fast easy talent candidate comparison HERE.

How to Spot & Keep Top Talent

Using Science and Technology to Create a Happier More Productive Company

The key to building a high performance organization is to recognize, recruit and retain the elite few who will make the greatest contribution to desired results. Most people are at their best during the hiring process. A comic once said, “The closest some people come to perfection is on a resume!” And, unfortunately, it’s true—some even stretch the truth to score a job. Fifty-six percent of more than 2,000 hiring managers say they’ve caught a lie on a resume, according to a 2015 Career Builder survey. This makes it difficult to recognize superstars from the mediocre performers.

When a leading sports coach was asked how he consistently assembled winning teams he said, “It’s easy! I can smell a champion a mile away!” Fortunately, advancements in technology and human sciences have made your job, as a hiring manager, a lot easier to sniff out champions. Today, with computer-aided tools, it is possible to compare the skills of employees or job candidates against critical job requirements with a high degree of accuracy. When talents match up, success comes easier and employees are more productive and happier at work. This means, increased retention of superstars who require considerably less direction and supervision.

A large number of organizations employ rudimentary and haphazard approaches to selecting their workforce. This represents a serious disconnect for companies that claim their talent management system offers a competitive advantage. Many firms fail to use scientifically proven assessments to make selection decisions; even though such assessments have been shown to significantly increase productivity, reduce costs and attrition and offer other critical organizational outcomes that translate into literally millions of dollars. There are many financial advantages associated with using assessment tools to guide selection and employee development decisions.

The obvious question: which assessments are best and how can their results benefit you? There are hundreds of assessment tools on the market today. Yet, not all are appropriate for spotting the best talent. Sample the power of our assessments and learn what motivates people at work by clicking here.

There are legal, cultural and financial considerations hiring managers must be aware of when utilizing assessments in the workplace.

Legal

United States law holds that employment practices (E.g. use of pre-employment aptitude tests) may be considered discriminatory and illegal if they have a disproportionate “adverse impact” on members of a minority group. Not all assessment instruments on the market meet the EEOC and OFCCP standards; therefore it is wise to verify those selected do not adversely impact any protected groups.

Ethical

There should be good evidence that assessments are both accurate and valid. Accuracy or reliability means the results are reliably repeatable or consistent. Validity, on the other hand, is the proof that the tool actually measures what it says it does. Example, if an assessment claims to assess selling skills, their needs to be strong evidence to prove or back up that claim.

Cultural

Your company culture is your brand. Think about how your current organization differs from competitors or other firms you have been with in the past. It is important, therefore, that company, cultural and job attributes are considered in the assessment process. These requirements serve as desired benchmark talents to compare people for selection, training and promotion.

Financial

Differences in cost of assessments, ranging from free to over $1,500 per person, vary greatly as does the value they provide. As a general rule, these tools are like most purchases; you get what you pay for. It is only when the benefits received outweigh the cost incurred that any expense becomes an investment. To squeeze the biggest return from assessments, clarify the results you expect (i.e. reduce turnover, spot leaders, save time hiring) along with how you intend to use the information gained.

Quality assessments administered by qualified experts offer considerable advantages in recognizing, recruiting, and retaining top performers. They do this by providing accurate insights to reveal job fit, cultural compatibility and predict performance. As a result, employee turnover is reduced, job satisfaction increases and overall productivity is improved. The bottom line: companies using assessments employ more people doing more work they are good at and enjoy.

ANSIR International invites managers of dental companies to sample a FREE talent assessment measuring workplace motivators. Get access to complete your FREE custom Driving Forces Motivators just Click Here by August 31, 2016. (Your results will be automatically sent to you upon completion of the assessment.)

Performance Improvement

Skills Training is Not Always the Answer

It is easy to assume weak employee skills are to blame when sales or productivity are down. In an attempt to boost productivity, managers will roll out a training initiative to improve the knowledge and talent used to drive performance. It’s been our experience that short falls in productivity are often the result of environmental factors managers can control and not necessarily a deficiency in employee skills.

Managers assume their direct reports understand the results that are expected and know the best approach to get there. Apparently, this isn’t the case for many. According to Gallup, only about half of employees ‘strongly agree’ that they understand what is expected of them at work. Obviously, to hold team members accountable for results—they must clearly understand the results expected…and how to get there.

One way managers can positively impact the productivity of their direct reports is to strengthen communication. This is the fastest most effective way to boost performance and results. Only 32 percent of employees, in the same Gallup survey, said their manager assists them in setting or reviewing performance goals. As a leader, the more clearly you set expectations and goals up front, the less time you’ll need to determine what went wrong later.

There are two practical management methods that significantly improve the quality of relationship between manager and his/her team and productivity. They are

One-On-One Sessions. These are short (30 min) weekly meetings managers’ conduct with each team member. They are designed to:

Catch Up on the status of projects pending

Confer about challenges to results expected

Connect on issues (both professional and personal) that build intimacy and loyalty in the relationship.

For a FREE copy of a helpful cheat sheet used to conduct One-On-One Sessions, download it here.

Another successful strategy to boost performance is the monthly Mentorship Meeting. This is a status meeting with each team member to review performance, tactical efforts and goals at a higher level. Too often, employees mistake feedback from managers as corrective or being in ‘trouble’. As a result, they dread, fear or withdrawal from what would otherwise be valuable learning opportunities. Inconsistent review of issues that matter to employees creates distance in manager-direct relationship and promotes job dissatisfaction and disengagement. Monthly Mentorship Meetings keep momentum moving forward in a positive direction.

If you think your people are happy, motivated and good to go…. think again. Gallup learned in a recent study that only 20% of sales people describe themselves as being ‘very’ or ‘extremely satisfied’ at work. And, just 42% say they are ‘satisfied’ Monday-Friday’s. This suggests, a considerable 62% of your sales team is probably not as passionate about work as you might think they are.

As an effective leader, you must lean in when employees may be leaning out. One reliable way to remedy low job satisfaction is to connect with consistent coaching sessions. This includes hosting weekly and monthly meetings to check in and observe where their head, heart and habits are. One-On-One and Mentorship Meetings offer a great opportunity for both of you to step above day-to-day activities and see how employee efforts are translating into results (both good and bad).

Employee productivity, therefore, is not necessarily a reflection of skills. More often than not, performance is a by-product of the culture and conditions managers create. Leaders can shape the behavior of their team by elevating the environment through clear consistent communication, practical processes and finally serving as positive role model for the actions and attitudes they desire. In the end of the day, you are usually the best training program some employees will ever attend!

 

Use this FREE One-on-One Cheat Sheet to start your sessions now.

4 Steps to Summit Your To-Do List

.... After a Long Weekend

Good memories of extra time off from work still linger. Yet, the triple digit messages blowing up your INBOX prove you’ve been away from your normal routine. Sure, you are rested and relaxed, but back at work the beat goes on.

After a vacation, long holiday or just a restful weekend, adopting these proven tactics getting back into high gear can make the transition a little easier.

“Minimize your movement and maximize your efficiency.

Plan more, move less.”

Kyle Connaughton

One of the best ways to hit the ground running at work is to clarify your priorities. Ideally, the day before or prior to everyone getting into the office, take some time to do a little productivity prep work. Studies have shown every minute invested in planning saves ten in execution.

COLLECT

Catalog everything in your life that requires some action or consideration on your part. This step is not about deciding where to put your attention, it’s about acknowledging what is pulling or pushing it. Do a data dump on everything in your mind: work, personal or both (depending on how wide and deep you want relief). List projects and tasks including those you need to do, want to do, should do, like to do, or are fun to do. You get the picture. This process of ‘collecting’, according to time management expert David Allen, author of Getting Things Done is that it frees up your brain’s random-access memory (RAM) to think more clearly and creatively for higher quality results.

CATEGORIZE

Not all tasks are created equal. Yet, our mind tends to trick us into thinking everything holds high completion or priority value. They don’t. We can see it when we step back and view tasks in relationship to each other filtered by our true priorities or our highest intentions.

A quick and easy way to categorize tasks is whom is responsible for completing the task:

  • Tasks I must do: these are projects that only you have the knowledge, skill, insight or background to complete. You must do these items yourself.
  • Tasks I don’t know how to do: completing these tasks would require a learning curve too time consuming to deliver an appropriate ROI. These typically are ‘one off’ tasks or require skills or knowledge that you simply don’t possess.
  • Tasks I should not do: Items that are either so mundane that the time and effort you’d expend completing them would rob from more important tasks. These projects could offer an excellent teaching or development opportunity for a member of your team. Delegating these tasks would strengthen or create new skills that would elevate the value employees bring to your company or department.
  • Tasks that should not be done: Every executive has activities and tasks that remain on our TODO List that if we were bold or brave enough, we’d admit we are never going to do them! These are items that would be ‘nice to do’ or tasks to tackle when we ‘have the time’—but they just don’t seem to rise in priority to ever take action on. So, you officially have the permission and my encouragement to cross these items off your list! They are draining valuable emotional energy that could be better directed elsewhere.

CLARIFY

Directing your attention to your Tasks I Must Do List, prioritize items listed and estimate the time each task will take to complete. This step will require you to consider your most critical tasks within the context and importance to the others on your list. Simplify your life by establishing priorities. Reduce or eliminate procrastination by ascribing estimated completion times. Download a FREE To-Do List Template.

CONNECT

Identify the energy required and importance of each task and plan to complete them based on your natural energy fluctuations throughout the workday or week. This is one of the most important, yet frequently missed elements of productivity planning and effective time management.

Assign High, Good, Moderate or Low Energy to Peak, High, Moderate or Low Effort Tasks. Download a FREE TO-DO List Template.This will allow you to best leverage your energy, attention to boost productivity by keeping you focused on the priorities that matter every day… not just the ones after time away.

5 Ways Sales Meetings Can Payoff

….. After the Meeting is Over

The investment required to attend sales meetings is enormous….and not just for the company footing the bill. Every member of the sales organization makes a considerable investment of time, energy and productivity. Time away from territories, customers and daily work responsibilities mean loss in sales and productivity. Yet, seldom do participants take the few finish and follow up steps necessary to enjoy the additional benefits these events can deliver.

Since many dental companies are wrapping up their annual or regional meetings around this time, you will find value in using these ideas to make your meetings pay off and pay up greater returns to your advantage:

  1. Collect Top ‘Take Aways’ from meeting content, speaker recommendations, or the good ideas sparked by after hours conversations with colleagues. Once you’ve captured these items, prioritize and incorporate them into your Personal Productivity Plan* (See downloadable MSWord document HERE).
  2. Identify Results Expected associated with each item you’ve listed. This simple post-meeting step is like adding rocket fuel to super charge your ideas into action! Clarifying the impact or benefits expected will keep you connected with the advantages you anticipate to receive by taking action on meeting ideas. Let’s face it; your enthusiasm for adding items to your task list will fade quickly unless a positive outcome is pulling you toward the benefits you expect to receive.
  3. Schedule a Deadline for Completion. Placing a deadline next to each action item will assist in further prioritizing the importance of the ideas gleaned from the meeting. It will also provide the valuable accountability most of us need to complete a task.
  4. Create Permanent Reminders. If a meeting take away is more of a daily habit or sales tactic then create a permanent reminder to assist in making a long term change. ‘Permanent reminders’ are notices with more sticking power over Post-It notes, which are easily lost, moved or forgotten. Printed labels, recurring pop up reminders and mobile home screen messages are a few great examples.
  5. Summarize the Macro Message. Getting the most from any educational event requires a clarification on how the meeting message directly contributes to advance your interests. Encapsulating the main message aligns the intention of the event with results received. Miss the point– lose the advantage. To gain greatest benefit from meetings, ask yourself, “What concept or idea received advances the value I contribute at work?”

Taking the minimal effort to clarify and take action on the big ideas inspired at meetings or educational events has the power to inspire results that ripple rewards long after the conference is over. Make your investment attending off site events deliver greater rewards with these finish and follow up habits.

* To make the most of your valuable time and talent, download a FREE  Personal Productivity Plan  HERE.

Leadership is not a Popularity Contest

Working toward goals gives our lives meaning and purpose

As a manager, it is more important to be respected than popular. Yet, bosses often relinquish their leadership responsibility to ensure their employees are answerable for their actions because they want to be liked.

There are significant consequences when employee accountability is low. The most important, individual and corporate productivity fails to reach its true potential. These organizations are easy to spot because plans never get off the ground, agreed upon actions are not completed or commitments are not fulfilled.  If people are not carrying their weight, others feel the burden of picking up the slack and begin to resent it. As a result, employee motivation and initiative is severely lacking, morale drops creating a culture that rewards mediocrity.

Human beings are teleologic—they are target seeking individuals. Working toward goals gives our lives meaning and purpose. Therefore, people (especially salespeople) inherently want to learn, grow and contribute to something meaningful. They even desire a healthy environment of discipline where they are held accountable reach their goals and those of their employer. When business professionals are not held to certain performance standards—effort relaxes, productivity declines and expectations are not met.

Managers are often unclear on how to hold people accountable—they tend to be too harsh or too soft. As a result, they tend to shy away from demanding their employees keep their commitments because they are afraid or want to avoid confrontation. They believe, if they press — people will quit or undermine their efforts. The most common reason managers fail to hold their people accountable is they value popularity over being effective.

Somewhere along the line, bosses adopted the misconception that good management means being “friends” with subordinates. They believe that if they can get their teams to like them enough—they will work harder for them. Yet, this could not be farther from the truth. The most effective leaders are trusted first then respected. How much would you trust and respect a supervisor for allowing you to get away with mediocrity when you were actually wired for greatness?!

Frankly, it is much easier to let employees off the hook. It takes a lot of time to monitor, follow up, guide, correct, advise and help people stay on track.

A Better Way to Reach Sales Goals

An Action Plan for Sales Managers…

The New Year is a season ‘fresh starts’ and renewed resolutions. It is also a good time for reps to review and renew their annual sales goals. Some may be quite adept at goal setting, but it’s rare to find salespeople who remain focused on their professional goals throughout the year without some managerial guidance. And, it’s even more rare to find reps that are good at implementing plans over an extended period of time. Salespeople get busy and are easily distracted while trying to work a plan throughout an entire year. Reps will be far more successful achieving their goals with the support, direction and guidance of their manager.

Promote the Power of Planning

Salespeople already know that goal setting is important, yet many tend to reject planning as busy work that gets in the way of their selling efforts. It is the necessary groundwork required to improve the attitudes, accuracy and accountability so many sales teams lack. Educate your team to view planning as critical step in obtaining the results they desire and the goals aspire to. Many sales managers make the mistake of including sales plans as just another report due at the end of the year. The better you are at getting your team to view this tool as a critical component in getting where they want to go, the less you will have to work at getting them to create and use it and more important—reaching your company’s objectives.

Success Follows Structure

One of the fundamental reasons people don’t achieve higher levels of performance in sales is the lack of a structured, organized way of achieving them. It is here that sales managers can offer invaluable support to their reps and results by teaching and coaching effective goal setting tactics.

Most sales people will embrace ideas that will help them achieve better results with less effort. Therefore, your challenge is to assist reps to recognize that goals are met faster and better when preceded preparation and planning. A Strategic Sales Plan is a written tool that outlines the specific tactics and strategies necessary to meet annual sales and key performance objectives. It paves the path with milestones and markers required to reach intended outcomes.

Every Strategic Sales Plan should be as unique as the territory and representative who creates it. A good plan will guide reps through important considerations needed by this territory, during this year, given the specific market conditions that exist at this time in this territory. The sales plan itself, as a deliverable document, isn’t the most important element. More beneficial to results, is the process required to research and analyze the elements and trends a Strategic Sales Plan exposes. Provide your reps with template or topic outline to guide their considerations that will lead them to spot bigger and better opportunities for growth. If you would like a copy of the SSP we routinely use with clients, click here for our Strategic Sales Plan Template.

Encourage reps to customize their Plans to meet sales goals and the needs of their territory. Ask them to take into account a distributor or customer requiring special attention or different strategies. Build the template to view each market or territory at a higher level than the ground zero view they have on a daily basis when their feet are on the street. This exercise will help to strengthen rep research, data analysis skills and strategic thinking while preparing these plans. The more reps put their unique thumbprints to the Sales Plans, the more they will commit to and own the results.