Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Celebrating your greatest assets this Labor Day, Your team

As members and leaders of TEC, we understand the value our people and relationships, whether it’s between a TEC member and a Chair or a CEO and his/her employees, play in our personal and business success. Through our mentoring program and one-on-one sessions, we give leaders the tools they need to inspire others because with passionate employees, organizations thrive. 

As Labor Day approaches, it is important to celebrate your largest asset – your employees. While sometimes thought of as the last hurrah of the summer, there are ways to make this Labor Day mean more for you and your team.

Reflect. When the kids return to school this year many will be asked to write the tradition “What I did this summer” paper.  Why not make this a writing assignment for your company newsletter?  Vacation stories and family photos are great reminders of what we all work so hard for all year long.

Reward. As you reflect back on your summer, Labor Day is a great time to assess the year-to-date in general. Words of encouragement to your team members this month can set the tone for your whole fourth quarter. Who has made great strides so far this year? Be sure to let them know.  Anything from a small gift to a bonus day is a nice gesture to those who may have had to put extra hours in during the summer months to cover employees out on vacation.

September can be the perfect time to set year-end goals and finish the year strong. Creating a fourth-quarter challenge, small or large, is great way to build momentum heading into fall. Invite your team to a discovery session to set any last year-end strategies, goals and objectives to encourage full participation and an “all-in” mentality.

How do you celebrate your employees? What do you do to fire up your team for fall?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Leveraging an Inspirational Speaker for Personal Growth

One of the ways TEC promotes the growth of its members is with high-caliber inspirational speakers. From regular TEC group meetings to the annual Inspirational Leadership event, TEC provides ample opportunities to network and learn from inspiring leaders from across the nation.

Following these events, TEC members return to their organizations with new insights, ideas and passions. However, sometimes it is difficult to translate everything you’ve learned to your employees and the post-event excitement can fizzle out in a matter of days without implementing or sharing any initial ideas.

Below are a few ways to help you get the most out of inspirational speaking events.

Invite a friend. Whether it’s another member of your organization or a mentor, hearing from an inspirational speaker with someone who is familiar with you and your company will allow you to share ideas and receive personalized feedback. Schedule a check-in with your guest in the weeks following the presentation to digest the information and help hold yourself accountable to implementing any initial ideas.

Write it down.
Taking notes during a presentation is valuable to trigger your thoughts later. Revisit your notes shortly after the event and organize your thoughts while they’re still fresh in your mind. Share your notes and insights with your team in an informal meeting or written summary to evaluate which points resonate with them to encourage team participation and adoption of new changes.

In your experience, what strategies have succeeded to get the most out of a keynote speaker? How do you maintain your passion and excitement following an event? 

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

People sell products, not the other way around

Whether you’re a small business owner or the CEO of a large corporation, you understand the key to outselling the competition and satisfying your customer is with a high quality product. Especially in today’s economy, consumers and companies are tightening their wallets yet still expect the same level of quality and customer service. While the product is what they buy, a strong relationship and personal connection with people is what keeps them from shopping around.

As leaders, you must recognize this and provide your employees with the tools necessary to build bonds with and maintain your customers.

Create community and trust. When employees identify themselves with your company, they make great brand ambassadors that share a glimpse of your company’s culture and values with each person they meet. To foster this positive perception, work to hire employees who have both the needed professional experience and possess values similar to that of your company.

Share information across all disciplines. Each one of your employees is the face of your organization, not just the sales team, and each has the opportunity and capability to go the extra mile to build external relationships. You never know whom your employees will meet in their daily life and your next referral could come from anyone, in any department. Equip everyone in your organization with the tools they need to accurately describe and “sell” your services by providing company updates to all employees via regular meetings or an internal newsletter.

How have you added to your employee’s tool kit so they can better represent your organization? What is the most challenging aspect of creating employee brand ambassadors?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Coaching 101: How to build a successful team

As members of TEC, leaders are exposed to best practices in business, utilize work and personal experience to mentor others and gain valuable insights in order to inspire others. TEC members and Chairs invest their time developing these skills so their organizations and groups can succeed.

But what really makes a team successful? Newseek Magazine states very simply that winning teams win because they have the best players and a coach who knows how to make the sum greater than the parts. Seems easy enough. Using this simple sports analogy, and considering a few of the points shared in the article, below are three important aspects to build a winning team.

Pick your roster. While its high-scoring talent may categorize a successful team, if the individual’s personality doesn’t mesh well with the team, it’s a recipe for disaster. As a leader, you must recognize that no matter how much experience you have mentoring others or how much personal time you invest in an individual’s development, you can’t change behavior and personality. Evaluate each team member and choose those that align best with your company’s values and culture over those with the most experience.

Share your playbook.
On a sports team, each member knows exactly what their position is and what they’re responsible for. It is important to let your team members know where they stand and what they need to work on to ensure the team succeeds. Also, make sure your game plan is transparent. By knowing and understanding the competition, your vision for the future, or your weakness in the marketplace, your team members will have a greater sense of how their individual efforts impact the larger picture.

Foster trust. On the court, if a team doesn’t trust each other, players are hesitant, afraid to make mistakes and don’t perform to their full potential. It’s the same in the workplace. Trust between a team creates an environment of idea sharing, risk taking and innovation because team members feel confident their ideas are supported. The first step in creating trust within a team begins with an honest leader. By being sincere in your communications, your team will learn to communicate honestly with each other. Continue to build up trust by celebrating successes often and acknowledge what and who worked well to promote continued success.

What is the first thing you consider when building your team? In your experience, what coaching techniques have helped, or hindered, your team’s achievements?

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Handling Changes to Command with Grace, Part 2: Leaving with poise

In last week's blog post we discussed how to prepare for higher positions within your organization and how it affects those around you. The same can be said when leaving a position of leadership.

There are many factors to think about when deciding to leave a company. Whether it’s for relocation, a greater opportunity or a better fit, quitting your job is about what’s best for you and your career. However, others are obviously affected.

Before you make the big announcement, there are necessary steps to take to ensure your transition out is seamless for those around you.

Stay positive. As a leader, you are looked up to in your organization. A positive attitude is just as important before your announcement as afterward. If your behavior is obviously different in the weeks and months leading up to your leave, your team will notice. Following the news, your colleagues will want to know details about the decision. It is best to keep it brief and speak positively of the opportunity.

Lead the transition.
Be proactive in finding a replacement whether it’s working with your internal team or assisting with the hiring process. Share as much information, documents, tips and tricks as you can with your team so that they can efficiently carry out the work instead of overwhelming them after you leave.

Maintain relationships. Strong business relationships are critical to a strong leader. While it can be difficult to see the long term in an uncomfortable or difficult parting situation, avoid portraying any negative emotions or feedback. After you leave, those you worked keep in touch with closely with and managed. You can still be a mentor to others and may even offer a better perspective when not directly affiliated with the same company.

Leaving any position is difficult to do and when in a position of leadership, your actions are monitored more carefully. What is a mistake you’ve seen leaders do when leaving? In your experience, what is the most important thing to keep in mind?