Monthly Archives: October 2013

What About the Penny?

Take the quarter, dime, nickel, and penny and add them up.  Obviously, the equal 41 cents.  In order to make a purchase for 41 cents, all coins are essential.  In fact, you can be missing any one of them and the transaction cannot be completed.  Even the “measly” penny, only 1 cent of the transaction, is essential to the whole.  The penny only represents 2.4% of the value of the whole and yet it is vitally important!  Do we see each person on our team through the proper lens?

In my retail world, the “penny” individuals are collecting carts off the parking lot, clearing the receiving area of cardboard boxes from freight flow and trash to go down the compactor.  They are busy pushing cleaning machines around the store to ensure that the floor is fit for our customers.  They are wet-behind-the-ears associates just starting a journey with us by down-stocking, fronting, and facing merchandise for our customers.

4 Reasons why “Pennys” are Important

1.  They are people.  This may seam silly to list; however, it is important for us to remember we are in the people business.  I don’t care if you sell services or merchandise.  It makes no difference if you’re in warehousing, manufacturing, sales, or fill-in-the-blank.  We are in a people business.  Success heightens or plummets directly by the skill we have in leading and interacting with people.

2.  Often, they complete tasks that have front line impact on our customers.  How do you conduct effective business if basic essentials like cleanliness, orderliness, and presentation are not top notch?

3.  They are the next game-changers.  Within that group of rookies are more basic function employees are future managers, VP, and CEO’s.  Our job is to find that talent and create an environment for people to develop!

4.  They have as much right to a great work environment as the next person on the team.  Everyone, no matter their ranking, desires a place where they feel like they’re part of something bigger, where they’re contributing something to the cause.  Let’s be the leaders that recognize that and intentionally create that type of environment.

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What is a 41 Cent Leader?

41 cents 3According to Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman, in their book, First, Break All the Rules, the best managers on the planet do not expect that people will change all that much. They subscribe to the “what you see is what you get” mantra. They intentionally get to know each person on their team and their individual talents and figure out how to leverage that talent to realize the goals of the whole team.

In John Maxwell’s Winning with People, he discusses the elevator principle. He describes that each of us has the ability to lift people up or take them down – just like an elevator!

And yet again, in The 24 Carrot Manager, Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton unpack this idea that great teams are a product, at least in part, of an environment where there is intentional praise and appreciation for team and individual contribution to successes. People need to be recognized for their efforts!

I could provide example after example from leadership booksyou and I have read and experiences you and I have lived out. Our teams are in dire need of leaders who will make a difference…servant leaders who will change a culture in their organizations.

I don’t believe we have to keep searching for the a missing key or the next 6 principles that successful people use to make a difference. I believe it’s already in us. We have been given a sense of truth north in our spirit. It is simply a matter of committing to consistent intentional people development as the means to accomplishing the goals and directives our teams are to accomplish.

That’s why I have developed this simple tool. We need reminders as leaders! Take the quarter, dime, nickel, and penny and place them in your pocket. Aim to genuinely express appreciation to individuals. Aim to appreciate their individual expression. Each time you do, simply transfer a coin to the other pocket. Make it your goal each day to transfer all four coins. As I have utilized this technique over the past 6 months, I can genuinely tell you that it has helped me take the time needed to connect with my team in my leadership role! I believe it will help you as well!

So … who’s with me out there? Who acknowledges that praise and encouragement is lacking a little in their leadership toolbox? Simply reply back to this post. I would love to hear some stories of how this simple tool is helping you!

Influencer – Part 2

The realization hit me … I am not very deep! I have somehow thought for a long time that I will have to have tons of depth to make the difference in the world that I born to make. So, therefore, real influence is quite a ways off. But, I need to be real. Yes, I will continue on my quest to grow my depth, but the perspective needs to be tweeked just a little.

With ideas, I love to think up the idea, incubate the idea, connect it with other ideas, devise the strategy for the idea, then hand it off to someone else.

In my friendships, I love to have meaningful relationships with a lot of people in a lot of countries doing a lot of different things and coming from a lot of different perspectives. Some of those relationships are deeper while others are more surface – but all are meaningful to me. In fact, I love to meet people then connect them with other people or organizations with whom they share commonalities.

In my work, I love to become part of an organization, observe the strengths and weaknesses in that organization, identify the opportunities, devise processes to seize those opportunities, develop people to develop people within that organization, then move on or at least move into different areas.

As for habitat, I have lived in 22 different houses, 3 apartments, and a 5th wheel trailer travelling around a fair piece of the U.S. I have lived in 10 states and have traveled somewhat extensively around the world – with more of that to come!

In regard to knowledge, I love to master the skeleton ideas of a discipline to be able to speak with some semblance of intelligence … and be able to do that across a diversity of subjects. But if the conversation moves on to deeper matters within a subject, I’m not bringing much more to the table save maybe some humor here or there.

I could go on and on but I will spare you the details. The fact of the matter is … I discovered something about myself tonight that will forever change my perspective. It’s how I’m wired! And I’m more than OK with that. God has wired me to be an influencer. I can now strategize a little more specifically what that is to look like.

You’ll see what I’m talking about it … I’ll keep you posted – quite literally!

In the meantime, please tell me … how are you wired? What have you discovered about yourself that has shifted the trajectory of your life? I would love to hear your story.

Influencer – Part 1

I was born to be an influencer of people! And I believe you are too! We may all be wired up a little differently, but deep within each of us something is placed that must be mined out, developed, and unleashed in our world!

Many of you, like me, may be on a quest to realize that incredible potential within! We somehow sense a deep responsibility to develop and execute some master plan for our lives.

Well, my journey became just one click clearer tonight – not totally clear mind you, just one click …

This moment of clarity came as I had the opportunity to hear Dr. Peter Daniels speak on Life Goals just two hours ago. Parts of his presentation will change the course of my life. For those of you that are not familiar with Mr. Daniels, just do a google search … go ahead, do it now then come right back!

OK. You’re back! Thanks. It’s an incredible journey this Australian fellow has walked! Throughout his lecture you could sense his strong commitment to God and family. That indeed is the backbone from which all these life and leadership principles, like tendons and muscles in the body, connect and align as a structure for successful living. Among many incredible accomplishments, he is a billionaire. A billionaire … that’s 1 with nine 0’s following. It’s 1000 millions. I think you will agree that anyone who has built a net-worth of a billion is worth getting near and listening up to what they have to say.

Sure there were 16 keys to success shared, and 7 steps to goal setting, and the like. He quoted tons of great historical figures and spoke with great eloquence about men and women of greatness who changed our world. Those were great thoughts and will indeed lend themselves quite useful to meditate upon. But he encouraged the audience of which I was a part to “turn back on the dream machine!” And so I did. Then it suddenly hit me …

Just a Stack of Coins …

41 Cents Leadership – The placing of a quarter, dime, nickel, and penny in your pocket as consistent reminders of the importance of expressing appreciation to and appreciating expression of the individuals on your team.  Transfer one coin to the other pocket each time you meaningfully connect with someone on your team through expressing appreciation or appreciating their individual expression. The goal … to transfer each of those coins at least once each day!

Now, on to a leadership principle …Take a look at the quarter, dime, nickel, and penny. Stack them with the largest on the bottom, then the next largest, the next, and the final coin. Obviously you would have the quarter on the bottom, then the nickel, the penny, and finally the dime on top.

There’s a few takeaways with this simple picture …

The quarter is the most valuable contributor to the total 41 cents. It supports the rest of the team. But it’s on the bottom! Often times our strongest contributors aren’t necessarily the people you see at first glance. You have to look a little deeper to see the real picture. Who are those people on your team that are key strengths to the entire organization? Take some time today to appreciate their contributions!

Think of that stack of coins as your organizational chart. Arranged by size, the coins do not align with actual value. Just because someone is in a certain layer of the chart or has a certain title on their name placard, doesn’t necessarily indicate their overall contribution to the organization. Right now, you can probably identify people that are higher on the organizational chart, but contribute very little to the health and productivity of the organization. And conversely, you can readily identify people lower on that same organizational chart that contribute significantly more than their role would indicate. Don’t allow a job title to be your filter of assessment. Look more closely at each individual – their strengths, their uniqueness, their character. Take some time to appreciate their contributions – regardless of where they are on the organizational chart!

One final thought and I’ll let you go …

The most stable structure for these coins is in the arrangement you are looking at right now. Imagine if the dime stack were reversed … Now consider the pressures that an organization faces in today’s economic climate. There are the ever-increasing pressures to produce more with less, to beat last year’s metric by a strong 10%, and to properly position the organization for the next round of changes. Our people in the right places on the team is integral to our success! If you place those same pressures on a team where several people are not in the right fit, it is likely you will see failure or underachievement at best! Take the time needed to appreciate the expression of individuals on your team. Are they in the right places? If they are, continue to grow them there. If not, it’s time to make some strategic shifts.

Go! Lead! Be bold in your leadership! This world needs difference makers!

I would love to hear what thoughts you might derive from this simple illustration. I’m sure there are some great thoughts out there! Thanks for checking in …

Fit Trumps Size

You’ve got the quarter, dime, nickel, and penny in your pocket.  They are consistent reminders of the importance of expressing appreciation and appreciating expression (individuality) in your team.  As you go to transfer one of the coins after a meaningful exchange with one of your team members, you reach into your pocket and grab the quarter.  Take a look at that quarter and consider this …

The quarter is just 13.5% larger than the nickel but is a whopping 500% more valuable!  And what about comparison to that penny? It is only 21.5% larger than the penny but a staggering 2500% more valuable.  People’s “size” of value to the organization may be quite similar.  People may have a similar position, similar educational backgrounds, even similar career histories.  But one may be an exponentially better “fit” than the other for a particular task, project, or role – that person may, like the quarter as compared to the nickel or penny, bring the organization considerably more productivity.

I will explore this principle further in future postings, but FIT trumps SIZE all day long in our organizations!  Get to know the people around you and how they are wired.  Move them into the best fit possible so they can do what they do best everyday!  The organization will benefit exponentially!

What are your thoughts?  I would love to hear some examples of how you’ve seen this principle play out!  Thanks much for checking in.

Why 41 Cents?

41 Cent Leadership – Take a quarter, dime, nickel, and penny and place them in your pocket everyday.  Your goal is to extend genuine appreciation to individuals around you at least 4 times everyday.  Each time you do, transfer a coin.  Those coins remind us of two things – the importance of appreciation and the tremendous diversity in our teams.Image

Do you see the Spiral?

Do you see the Spiral?

Source: You Already Know How to Be Great by Alan Fine
If you see the spiral, you might want to take another look. It’s actually a series of concentric circles! When I saw this, it fired up some questions regarding my leadership …

1. How often do I come to conclusions about situations before I really see the correct picture?
2. What are the results of wrong conclusions?
3. What can I do to make sure that I assess situations with more complete information?
4. How can I mentor my team(s) to do the same?

41 Cent Leadership – ROEI … Return on Energy Invested

Business People

You’ve got the 4 coins in your pocket – the quarter, dime, nickel, and penny. They are there to remind you to genuinely appreciate your people daily! They are always reminding you of the tremendous diversity you have in the people around you! Today consider this …

Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman, in their book First Break All the Rules, describe a talent as any recurring pattern that can be used for good. I absolutely love the definition. It opens up a world of consideration when looking at ourselves and our teams. We are talented people. We are wired in certain ways that can produce incredibly positive outcomes!

So, if this idea is a principle to lead by, then we can make the following analogy. Pull those coins out of your pocket… Each of these coins has value … different levels of purchasing power but all have value. On our teams people will have differing impact for the organization but no one is invaluable. To the entire 41 cents, the quarter contributes 61%, the dime 24.5%, the nickel 12%, and the penny 2.5%. Each have differing impact in the outcome.

Let’s look at your team. Likely there is someone or a group of someones who make an impact similar to that quarter. Without them, the team would greatly suffer. And you likely have people similar to the dime and nickel – key players making solid impact but could be removed and the team would adjust without serious detriment. And, if you’re like the rest of us, you have some people that are contributing at the penny level – not moving the needle much at all. (Make sure you read my post published Oct. 2, 2013 regarding the people producing at the penny level because we just might be the reason why they are performing at that level!)

You do know your team, however. You do know their talents and their not-so-talents. You have placed them in their best fit so they can do what they do best!

Now, let’s say it comes to reviews in your fiscal year and both the “quarter” associate and the “dime” associate are under-performing by 50%. The quarter associate’s lack of performance is costing you nearly 1/3 of your business productivity because remember they contribute 61% to the overall business at optimal performance. And how about that dime associate? Yes, they are important and they are costing you nearly 1/8 of your business productivity. But which is the bigger threat? You know you are going to need to commit some energy to investing in these two associates. You know you only have so much energy and time! Where are you going to leverage that energy most? One choice will likely improve your team by approximately 30% and the other by approximately 12%.

Too many times are perspective gets skewed by personality, perceptions that are not necessarily accurate, and even our own biases! Be objective and make the best decisions to bring the strongest RETURN ON ENERGY INVESTED!

Do you believe people’s contributions to the overall productivity vary?
Do you find yourself leveraging energies toward areas that will not yield much return on energy invested?
What skills have you developed to become more effective in leveraging your energy and time in areas most needed?

41 Cent Leadership – A Penny is Worth 2 Cents?

You’ve got the four coins in your pocket.  The quarter, the dime, the nickel, and the penny all represent the diversity that you have on your team.  Consider this …

According to usmint.com, in 2011 a penny cost 2.41 cents to make.  The penny actually cost more than double to make versus its applied value!  Parenthetically, in that same year, the nickel cost 11.18 cents to manufacturer while the dime cost 5.65 cents and the quarter cost 11.14 cents.

Think about some of the people on your team that seem to be only bringing a “penny” of value to the organization.  Is it possible that there is more value there?  Is it just possible that, for whatever set of reasons, they could be producing at a higher level if we, as their managers, could unlock that potential within them?

I believe there are several ways that we might unlock more value in our team.  Among them, I’ve listed 4 below.

Clear Vision, Mission, and Job Expectations

Our team needs a clearly articulated organizational vision.  It needs to be more than just a framed saying hanging on the wall in the CEO’s office – it needs to be a living and breathing idea that shapes the strategy, processes, actions, and reactions within the organization.  Built upon that, our team needs a clear mission.  How does our department, team, division, or region contribute toward fulfilling that vision?  How does my immediate team contribute toward that overarching vision?  Finally, our team members need a clearly stated set of job expectations with outcomes.  This can take on different shapes, but they must understand the expectations and the measurements we are going to use to determine if they met the expectations.

Training and Resources

Just the other day I was walking my store with the manager, the district manager, regional vice president, vice president of Merchandising, and the CEO.  Now, you need to understand that our company has over 2000 stores and employs over 330,000 associates so this was a big deal that these folks were in our store.  As we were walking the store and introducing associates, our regional vice president began a conversation with a lot loader – one of the lowest paid positions in our team.  He asked him about his training.  He had just started with us maybe 2 weeks prior to this walk.  What did it involve?  Was there an orientation and computer training, a hands-on piece, etc.?  The young man answered no to every single question and nuance of the question!  I, as an assistant manager, was absolutely embarrassed.  This same scenario actually took place again when the RVP asked another associate the same set of questions – this time a cashier that had started with us approximately 3 weeks previous to this walk.  This walk was a big deal and our store passed with flying colors in most other metrics and inquisitions.  However, I took away from that walk that we had dropped the ball with those two young men.  There was training in place for them.  There is an orientation every weekend for our new associates.  There are trainers in place to help new associates learn their position and learn what resources are at their disposal to fulfill their job expectations.  We simply did not care enough for their well-being to take the time to walk them through those paces.  Instead, we were happy to fill a hole with a body.  Needless to say, that’s not the most effective way to build a team!

Genuine Care

Our people need to know that we care about them!  A few generations ago, this might not have been seen as too important.  People tended to fulfill directives from their leaders because they had the position of boss and that’s what you do when the boss gives instruction.  Those days are long behind us.  Today’s worker is looking to join a team where they feel like they belong.  If we are going to attract and retain the best talent out there, we need to build environments where people know that they matter!   They build that perception through our personal interaction, our communication, as well as our policy and procedure!

Commitment to Their Development 

Our people need an environment that is saturated with the purpose of opportunity to grow competencies and develop personally.  They need to know that their supervisors are committed to their growth and advancement.  What tools do you have in place for people to intentionally develop their skills?  What people on your team are wired to invest in others in a mentoring type relationship?  It is time to leverage some of your energy and resources toward enhancing this element of your organization if is not already in place and thriving!

Certainly not all “pennies” will respond to these four opportunities with increased productivity.  However, before we write off someone as just a “penny,” we might serve them well by taking a good look at our organization and seeing if there are some places where we can improve the health of the environment we provide.