What questions did you ask the last candidate you tried to hire? What expectations did you have about what they would bring to the table and the types of leadership and results you expected to see? What were the things that made you want to choose the person you actually hired?
Now ask yourself, are you performing at the level that you expect or hope for in your job candidates? Are you expecting something from a new hire that you aren’t even doing yourself?
No, I don’t mean the actual tasks that are being performed by that new person, because it doesn’t mean that you should just take on more tasks. Didn’t you focus on more than just task execution in your interview?
Maybe it’s time to interview yourself.
One particular summer Friday a few years ago, I was fortunate enough to be working from a remote location at a beach town. I wasn’t supposed to be working that day, but an “urgent” (in quotes because it was someone else’s definition of urgent) project meeting came up that was four hours long that I “had” to attend. We were told to have the meeting urgently because it was described as a critical meeting to get something designed and moving that HAD to be completed immediately.
Beach towns aren’t always the greatest at WiFi connectivity (thankfully) so I had to ride my bike around town till I found a spot with internet connectivity. I sat on a rickety chair in the town library for the next five hours taking part in the meeting. Thankfully, because I was already at the beach, I could put the meeting out of my mind about ten minutes after it was over as next steps could wait till Monday.
Fast forward to that same weekend, one year later, and as I drove into that beach town again for the first time in the season I saw the library building and immediately had flash backs to that meeting–the meeting that had to get done on that particular day, because we had to get the project moving immediately.
Quickly my flash back turned into a great teaching moment as I realized that while it was now a year later, that particular project had still not started and was still having “urgent” meetings.
I just drove by that library again this season, and now every time I see it it becomes a great lesson in building trust with a team and how taking action to move a project forward is usually better than just talking about doing something.
There are plenty of programs for students to learn more about career choices and industries in their field (think internships and co-ops). Why do businesses stop doing that for experienced people?
What if you could build a bootcamp / externship-type program for your business where you bring in talent from other industries to work in your space for a while? What if you could even do this between the different groups within your company?
Do you think skills you have from working in one industry could be useful in another? There’s an easy way to find out once you find a company with this type of program embedded in the organization.
How else could you benefit from the knowledge someone else has in another field?
Have you ever ran a half day, all day or multi-day meeting and wanted to get better live feedback about how it was going? Would you like to receive real time feedback about your performance, without disrupting whatever was happening? What are some ways you could receive this type of instant feedback, and make it as simple and non-disruptive as possible?
What if you handed everyone a red, yellow and green card at the start of the meeting and asked that at any point in time a participant would put one of the cards on the table to indicate their feelings. What if everyone vote at every break? What if it’s an app that people can click their feedback and it gets aggregated to a continuous monitor on your screen?
Incredibly simple ideas, but the start of what could be very powerful and even more elegant ideas to immediately improve your process and outcomes.
The main idea is that you should start to ask for more instant feedback.
I love going to spas. No, not the kind that are advertised in the back of local newspapers, but the real kind that are luxurious retreats from the outside world. Periodically being in a place that is specifically geared towards helping me relax and recharge while being extremely comfortable is as close to perfection as possible: fluffy robes, soft towels, salt rooms, wet and dry saunas, different temperature hot tubs that get hotter and hotter, cold plunge pools, lounge chairs, hot towels for your face, rainfall shower heads…
When you’re immersed in the spa those features may seem like they’re geared for your body, but it’s your mind that is getting a radical change of pace as well.
Imagine if you could use that different mindset for your work. How about integrating some elements of the spa into where and how you get work done?
Introducing the Work Spa.
Much of today’s most important work (if not all) involves creativity. The Work Spa is about being in an environment, periodically, that enhances your creativity while also being conducive to getting work done–if you want.
Could you be more effective immediately after a series of hot and cold plunges in the different pools? Would you stimulate a latent part of your brain and be able to better solve problems because you’ve never tried to find a solution while you’re sitting around in a robe and towel surrounded by eucalyptus steam?
There are plenty of movies where the two power brokers in some financial transaction go into a steam room, so let’s take that idea to the current times.
A simple start would be putting wi-fi and laptop lockers in existing spas and having a section where the keyboard clicking wouldn’t interfere with the silent portion. What else would your ideal work spa have?
Very similar to Beg Forgiveness Cards—
How about creating an awards program in your group specifically to highlight failure.
Celebrating success is great, but celebrating failure could just lead to better success.
What else do you need to celebrate in your group to help entice more of that behavior?
Getting your team to believe that failure is an option or that taking prudent risks are OK is sometimes hard. Most people in a work environment are trained to believe that things need to work out correctly all the time.
If you’re trying to get your team to live into the phrase “beg forgiveness rather than ask permission” maybe you can help accelerate their adoption of this with “Beg Forgiveness Cards.”
Think of little business cards that simply say “I took a risk and it didn’t work out. I am begging for forgiveness.”
Give out 2 or 3 to your team per year as a way to signal that they have a free pass to try something they think is risky, even if it does fail. Maybe even include a line on the back like “and the thing I learned was ______.”
This shows that even when someone messes something up they can learn from it as well. After some time, you can display the collected cards for everyone to see what was learned and increase the overall risk tolerance of your group.
What other types of cards could people use at your office? What could this little piece of “permission” unlock in your organization?
If you have to work five days a week, work a better five days.
Work on Sunday and you’ll be less distracted and focus better because to most other people it will be a day off. Being able to focus means you’ll also get your work done faster and usually with better quality.
Take off Friday and you’ll enjoy all the things you’d want to do during a weekend without the weekend traffic and crowd. Again, this will make the overall experience more enjoyable.
There are innumerable benefits to moving your schedule to be slightly opposite the majority. Test it and see how it works for you.
What else could you do to your schedule to improve your effectiveness?
Want to know a quick way to stand out in the increasingly crowded marketplace for online classes? Get smaller, go niche.
Sure, you could take niche to mean “we’re only going to offer classes in this particular subject and be the absolute best source for online classes for that subject”. Or you could take a page out of The Amazings and focus your niche on who actually provides your content.
The Amazings is a great site that is built on the idea that society has always learned from its elders and therefore is focused on having teachers that are over 50 years old. A great niche concept that is sure to standout in the marketplace. Hopefully it’s also going to be a site that helps get even more experienced expertise into the public.
So, what’s your niche? What aspect of your online learning concept will you “make smaller” and focus on?
How about a site where people in Corporate positions at large companies can teach others looking to excel in those types of positions? Hmmmmm.
A few days ago, I got an informational handout from a company that made me laugh. Basically, the bottom of the page featured the disclaimer: “Reproduction by any means is prohibited without permission. If you’d like to purchase copies of this handout please…”
This was from a consulting company that makes all of its money from in-person engagements with medium to large companies.
If you were running a consulting business and wanted to get more leads and help other people share how great you were as a company, wouldn’t you let people copy and distribute simple handouts? But let’s be clear. I’m not saying they should allow folks to steal their copyrighted information or intellectual capital.
The more your name and information is out there, the more chances you have to book an engagement.
What are you giving away? What are you not giving away? Worse yet, what are you scaring your existing customers from not sharing by means of your outdated policies?