Archive for December, 2013

Christmas Story Is One of Love and Giving

Saturday, December 21st, 2013

In this beautiful season as we’re busy buying, wrapping and giving gifts; entertaining and being entertained; and in many cases, traveling long distances to be with family and friends across the country or aroudn the world, it’s easy to forget that the Christmas story is one of love and giving. It’s the story of our Creator giving the earth the ultimate gift–the gift of His Son in human form, who would be sacrificed for the benefit of humankind.

All of the activities of the holiday season are enjoyable, although sometimes exhausting! But the most satisfying is to give to strangers who need help. Some are homeless, some are jobless, some are ill…the list of misfortune could go on and on. This year my husband and I chose to buy gifts for a 3-year-old boy whose father is in prison, and we’re also launching a fundraising campaign for a friend of ours who’s facing a mountain of debt following his wife’s nearly four-year battle with ovarian cancer. She died this past June, and our friend has been consumed since then with all the legal and financial responsibilities as well as negotiations with healthcare providers in the effort to reduce the overwhelming amounts left even after insurance benefits have been paid. In addition, he now is the single parent of a bright, sweet and talented 10-ear-old daughter.

If you have a giving heart and a little money left in your wallet after buying your family’s Christmas gifts, will you please help us help our friend? Please donate now to the campaign on GiveForward for Matt Dunn. Then e-mail all your friends, “like” the page of Facebook, and tweet a request to all your followers to do the same.

The fund is entitled, “A Father Fends Off the Wolves” and can be found by clicking here

Thank you–and Merry Christmas!

Two Steps to Creating a Culture of Learning

Thursday, December 12th, 2013

Employees certainly need training on occasion, such as when they first join a company and need to become familiar with the organization’s processes; or when new systems are installed; or when they’re being groomed for a higher-level or leadership role. But why is training so often boring? Is it really necessary to be so dry as to put the audience to sleep?

Those are the questions by an article at–and of course, the answer is, No! Training doesn’t need to be–and shouldn’t be–boring! In fact, professional trainers know very well that getting the audience involved and giving them opportunities to apply key lessons right away are crucial elements of learning. What’s more, it’s been shown that when people are having a good time (yes, actually laughing and having fun!), they learn more easily and retain the knowledge.

The crowdbase blog offers two great tips for creating a culture of learning without breaking the bank: 1) Involve your employees by inviting them to share their own expertise and providing the tools, such as videos, for doing so; and 2) Nurture a storytelling culture in which people share their successes; in this way, co-workers learn from one another and create a database of tried and true techniques and professional practices.

Both ideas are excellent for several reasons: 1) People like to learn from people they know and admire; 2) Lessons from co-workers are automatically relevant and valuable because the parties involved work in the same culture with the same set of values; 3) The “teacher” is readily accessible for follow-up questions and discussions; 4) Employees want recognition more than monetary rewards, so being asked to share their knowledge and experiences is highly valued compensation for a job well done.

How can your organization create a culture of learning–or strengthen its current learning practices? If you aren’t yet sponsoring  employee-led classes or fostering storytelling circles, how soon can you begin?

Jack Welch on Leadership Communication and Performance

Thursday, December 5th, 2013

Reacting to the recent announcement that Microsoft would stop force-ranking employees, a practice often referred to as “rank and yank,” former GE CEO Jack Welch delivered a strong case for another approach. Calling the “rank and yank” approach to performance evaluations”a media-invented, politicized, sledgehammer of a pejorative,” he said that it “perpetuates a myth about a powerfully effective real practice called (more appropriately) differentiation.”

Much has been written about “rank and yank” approach used by companies in recent years. It can, and often does, result in the firing of excellent employees who happen to be on an exceptionally high-performing team. Under the system, the bottom-ranked employees have to go, even those who are strong contributors. If it seems self-defeating, that’s because it is!

Writing in The Wall Street Journal, Welch states a strong case for differentiation, which, he says, is “about building great teams and great companies through consistency, transparency and candor. It’s about aligning performance with the organization’s mission and values. It’s about making sure that all employees know where they stand. Differentiation is nuanced, humane, and occasionally complex, and it has been used successfully by companies for decades.”

Welch clearly articulates the need for leaders to clarify mission (where we’re going) and values (how we’re going to get there)–a goal achieved through storytelling, as emphasized in my Corporate Storytelling® workshops. Aligning performance with mission and values is crucial. To achieve that goal, Welch advocates for honest, supportive performance evaluations that let employees know where they stand, where they excel, and where they need to improve.

With this approach, everybody wins! And everybody wins when someone is let go. That’s because only those who aren’t performing well enough are let go–after they’re given help in identifying where their strengths would be a better fit and supporting their efforts to find another job.

Leadership communications based on consistency, transparency and candor are the keys to building and retaining high-performance teams and building strong, enduring companies. The most powerful tool for clear communication is storytelling.