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This is what we should be doing!

My eldest child Liam is a teenager and loves his Australian Rules Football and his cricket. He is on an Australian Football League (AFL) Pathway program and he played representative cricket last summer. While he loves both sports he has said that his personal goals are to be the best that he can be so that he can (at the very least) enjoy his sport at the local level.

Gary RyanEver since he has been exposed to a higher standard of training it has opened his eyes to how low the standard is at his local team. This isn’t a criticism it is just a fact.

He has come to realise that if he hadn’t been exposed to a higher standard he would have continued to think that his effort at his local team was at a high standard. He wants his local team-mates to raise their standard and is frustrated by the fact that he knows that they think that they are already training with a high level of effort. He doesn’t blame them for thinking that way because he used to think that way too. They simply don’t know anything different.

He has a dilemma. How can he help his team-mates to ‘see‘ the gap that he has seen without looking like a know-it-all!

Unbeknown to me he has executed a plan. You see, as part of his own development he has “run water” for the past two seasons with our local Under 19 team who play in the Victorian Amateur Football Association (VAFA). His perspective is that by being involved with the older boys he is continuing to be exposed to a higher standard of effort. His plan has been to continue to invite his team-mates to come and help him run water with the intention being that by doing so they will be exposed to the higher standard of effort and have the opportunity to see first-hand the gap with his underage team.

Last weekend, for the very first time, one of his team-mates took up the offer. At the end of the warm up his team-mate came over to Liam and said, “Wow, did you see the standard of their warm-up? This is what we should be doing too!”

Bam! Liam smiled and agreed.

His plan had worked and it only took exposing his team-mate to the Under 19 team’s warm-up before their game for the gap to be ‘seen’ for the first time.

This example is relevant well beyond junior football. If you have team members who are performing at a low standard, it may be that they have never seen what a high standard actually looks like. Finding ways to expose them to that higher standard is a leadership challenge. It can be a slow journey, but one by one you can change a standard and a culture by exposing people to a higher standard, having them ‘see‘ the gap and then challenging and coaching them to ‘bring‘ that standard to their normal work.

Gary Ryan enables talented professionals, their teams and organisations to move Beyond Being Good

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What every employee needs to know (but most don’t!)

If you wish to be successful in your role there are two critical questions that you need answered:

  1. What is my role?
  2. How do I know that I am doing a good job?

Gary RyanKnowing the answer to the first question is not enough. You also need to know the answer to the second question. The performance of your role may be measured in many ways and if you aren’t addressing the measures that matter to your employer, you will be judged as a non-performer.

The reverse is also true. If you are a manager one of your roles is to make sure that your team members are clear about their role and are clear about how they will be judged for doing a good job. If your team members aren’t clear about the answers to both of these questions, chances are they will be doing unproductive work. And that reflects poorly on you.

How well do you understand your role and are you clear about what you need to do to be sure that you are doing a good job? If you are not clear about the answers to these questions go and find the answers now. Success in your role depends on it.

Gary Ryan helps talented professionals, their teams and organisations to move Beyond Being Good.

 

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Dan Price Gets It. Do You?

Dan Price, the Founder of Gravity Payments, gets it. Dee Hock, the founder of VISA International got it. Do you?

“Gets what?” you ask.

Gary RyanWhen Dee Hock founded VISA International in the early 1970s he created a rule that his pay could be no more than ten times the lowest paid employee in the company. “How could I possibly provide more than ten times the value of any other employee in the company?” was his perspective. This rule remained in place until Hock retired from VISA International in 1985.

Dan Price has just reduced his $1M salary so that he could provide a pay rise to his staff to ensure that the lowest paid staff members at Gravity Payments earn at least US$70k per annum. Why this number? Because it is the number that Price read in an article about happiness that indicated that if people are earning lower than this amount, then any extra money they receive up to US$70k makes a big difference in their lives. So he decided to do something about it. He wants his staff to be happy.

Dee Hock was an explicit practitioner of Servant Leadership. I don’t know whether Dan Price even knows about Servant Leadership, but his behaviour is certainly aligned with Servant Leadership principles. I’m not suggesting that CEOs should be paid the same as everyone else, after all Peter Drucker recommended that CEOs could reasonably earn up to 20 times that of their employees. But the current gap where many CEOs are earning thousands of times what their employees are earning is unbalanced.

Dan Price, kudos to you!

 

Gary Ryan helps talented professionals, their teams and organisations to move Beyond Being Good®.

 

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Your plans to create your future must be grounded in reality

When you imagine your long-term future, dream big. Be as clear as possible about what the direction of your success will look like, without being too specific.  Leave open a thousand possibilities to make your dreams become reality. Let your four step plans bring to life the specific things that you will achieve over the short to medium term.

When establishing your plans for success, you must be grounded in reality. The good, the bad and the ugly. If you miss this step and either gloss over your current situation or paint a picture that isn’t as bad as you make it out to be, your plan is doomed to fail. You can’t plan for the future if the starting point that you are using for your plan isn’t your real starting point. If your industry is suffering from a range of economic factors that have caused a slow down, then you need to accept your brutal reality. Your plans need to be grounded in the fact that you will need to address how you are going to first survive and then thrive throughout the economic downturn. Behaving as if nothing has changed is doomed to fail.

Recently the CEO of a Shire Council with whom I was working re-enforced the positive vision that the organisation he serves is striving to create. He also painted a very real picture of the challenges that his shire is facing and the strengths that his team have in addressing those challenges. Rather than place his head in the sand, he took ownership of what he and his team could control, and identified the issues that were out of their control. You’ve heard it before, control what you can control and be prepared to mitigate as much as possible what you can’t control.

He spoke about the role that innovation would play in enabling his team to move from their present situation toward their vision. He recognised that just talking about these issues wasn’t going to be enough. His staff had to make a decision. Did they accept their current situation and were they prepared to do what they could to continue to build on the great outcomes that had been achieved over the previous two decades?

So how do you plan under these circumstances? Here are four steps that work for any type of planning.

1. Clearly identify what success looks like. Use timeframes to take the direction of your vision and make it specific. As an example you may have a personal vision to own a healthy property portfolio by the time you retire. You may have a five year plan that you are using to focus your activities. Your goal in this plan may be to pay off your own mortgage and to have purchased your first investment property.

2. Honestly assess your current situation as it relates to the success that you wish to create. Your current situation needs to consider all relevant variables including both the positive and negative ones. Continuing with our example you may have a secure job and a combined gross income with your partner of $120k. You may be renting in a wealthy area and have both vehicles on higher purchase. You are regularly charged interest on your credit card. You may have set budgets with your partner in the past but not followed them. You may also have a strong superannuation balance given your age and the contributions that you and your partner have been making over the past five years.

3. Identify all the actions that you will need to take to move from your present situation toward your goals. One action will always involve research. You will need to investigate the possible options that are available to you so that you can take the most optimised actions that will help you to achieve your goals.

4. Once you have completed your research and tapped in to subject experts, your task is to prioritise your tasks. Which actions will give you the highest leverage? Do these ones first. Then re-assess your current situation because it will have shifted and complete step three again. Then do step four again. Keep this process going until you achieve your goals.

This four step planning process ensures that your plans remain both dynamic and grounded in reality, while also providing you with focus for your actions.

Gary Ryan helps talented professionals, their teams and organisations to move Beyond Being Good.

 

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Why Quitting Right Now Is Dumb

You’ve had enough. You can’t handle your job anymore and you want to quit.

Don’t do it. Not if you live in Australia and you haven’t secured a new job, that’s for sure.

On Monday 23rd February the ABC Four Corners program The Jobs Game revealed the true state of unemployment in Australia. I don’t know about you, but despite all my education and experience I have always struggled to make sense of the reported unemployment figures. On the 12th of February, The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) reported that Australia’s unemployment rate was 6.4 %, a rise of 0.1 percent since December 2014.

iStock_000009570322SmallWhat does an unemployment rate of 6.4% mean? In all honesty I can’t tell you and I haven’t been able to find a definition that is clear enough to share with you.

What I can tell you is that according to the ABS, 795,200 people are looking for work. The ABC Four Corners Program revealed that there are only 150,000 jobs available in Australia.

Ratios I can understand. This means that there are, on average 5.3 unemployed Australians looking for each available job. Why isn’t unemployment reported as a ratio of job seekers to jobs available?

Surely it is much easier for the average person to understand what that means, versus a figure such as 6.4%. I don’t know about you, but the figure 6.4% doesn’t represent the reality of the unemployment situation anywhere near as clearly as 5.3 people looking for each job. And that’s only an average. Clearly some jobs will have higher ratios.

Perspective matters. If more people understood the reality of the Australian unemployment situation then I believe that more people would be taking action to create more jobs, because clearly more jobs is what we need. In addition, more people will think twice about quitting their job.

If you are thinking about quitting your job, make sure that you have secured another job before you resign. Create a plan and treat your job hunting as a project. Above all else, don’t quit if you don’t have a job to go to. Not now. It just isn’t the smart thing to do.

Gary Ryan helps talented professionals like yourself, your team and organisation move Beyond Being Good.

 

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You Don’t Know How To Create A High Performing Team

A high performing team is one where the output or performance of the team at least equates to the output that you would expect from the collective talent of all the teams members. This statement is easy to say, but hard to achieve. In fact, 93% of my clients report that from a professional perspective they have never worked in a truly high performing team. They have worked in good teams, but not high performing ones.The Teams That Matter® model for creating high performing teams includes seven key elements. Most teams naturally do three or four of the seven elements. But it is the three or four that they aren’t doing that stops them from being a high performing team. The main reason for not doing three to four of the key elements is that they don’t know about them and they haven’t seen them modelled in the past.

1. Decide
If you intend to create a high performing team, then you must make a conscious decision to become one. Why? The three to four elements of the Teams That Matter® model that you haven’t completed in the past will require some getting used to. Your team members won’t be used to them either. Having a conversation as a team about what you would look like if you were a high performing team will help your team to clarify exactly what this statement means for them. It will then act as a catalyst for you to complete all the seven key elements of the Teams That Matter® model.

2. Purpose and Goals
Why does your team exist? The answer to this question highlights the purpose for your team. Your goals reflect the specific outcomes that you are striving to achieve. Your goals should reflect your ‘purpose in action’. Have you even been in a team where you have discussed your team’s purpose?
What if you discover that your team doesn’t have a purpose? Well, thank everybody and close the team down. Clearly time spent with this team would be a waste of time and who wants to do that in this time poor world that we live in.

3. Skills and Composition
Most teams have completed an assessment of the experience and skills of the members of their team. No doubt you have done that too.
I bet you haven’t taken steps to better understand the personality profiles of the members of your team. Or if you have, you haven’t done it in a way that has enabled you to use that information to improve communication on a daily basis among team members.
I use the What Makes People Tick tool, not because it is the most scientific, but because it is a tool that participants can use on a day to day basis beyond the introductory workshop. I find that other tools are too complex and require you to become an expert on the tool for it to be useful. Most people are too busy being experts in their own field of work to also have to become an expert on a personality profiling tool!
The benefit of understanding how each of your team members ‘tick’, is that you can modify how you communicate to ensure that your message is being delivered effectively. Effective communication is essential if you wish to become a high performing team.

4. Agreed Behaviours
Do high performing teams accept or reject unacceptable behaviour? I understand the answer to this question is a ‘no brainer!’. Yet, are you and your team members clear about what behaviours are acceptable or not for your team? Or do you assume that ‘everyone knows how to behave properly’? I’m telling you, they don’t know! Which is why you and your team need to make those behaviours explicit. Three questions is all it takes (I’ll share them in another post).

5. Plan and Measure
This is one of the elements that most team do. Although be careful with your measurements. Russell Ackoff, Professor Emeritus at the Wharton Business School said,

It’s better to do the right thing wrong, than the wrong thing right. If you do the wrong thing right you just get wronger and wronger.

Make sure that your measurements are measuring the ‘right’ things.

6. Perform
This means that you ‘do’ all seven elements in the model. It also means that you never, ever forget that if your team changes only by one person, it is a brand new team. You need to quickly review all seven elements and make any necessary adjustments. This is a critical lesson that most teams don’t know exists.

7. Monitor and Review
No doubt you monitor your progress toward your goals. Do you monitor your agreed behaviours? It’s hard to do if you haven’t made them explicit! This key element works hand in glove with the Agreed Behaviours and Plan and Measure elements.

In addition, when you complete a milestone or achieve a goal, the following four After Action Review questions are very powerful.

What did we plan?
What actually happened?
What did we learn?
What will we do next time?

Now you know how to create a high performing team. Give it a go!

Gary Ryan enables talented professionals, their teams and organisations to move Beyond Being Good.

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Innovation is not as hard as you think

Innovation. Like oxygen is necessary for survival, innovation is necessary for business. Without it you won’t last long. But what exactly is innovation? A Google search results in 409,000,000 hits. Wow, that’s a lot of different definitions and perspectives on what it is. Like ‘leadership’ (488,000,000 hits) there is so much information available about innovation that most people are confused about how to put it in to action.

Many people get stuck when it comes to taking actions to innovate because they think of it in terms of ‘inventing‘. They think that you have to invent something that is brand new, something that hasn’t been done anywhere in the world before. No doubt this form of innovation is necessary for humans to continue to progress, but it isn’t a particularly useful definition for the vast majority of us. Innovation is contextual.

The ‘never been done before‘ context is best considered within your local context. If your team has never conducted ‘stand up meetings‘ before and you introduce them and they become an effective form of communication for your team, then you have innovated. If you introduce an app that helps your team to more quickly access sales data while they are out on the road, and the use of that app is useful for your team, then you have innovated. If you copy and modify the telephone welcome script from a company that you visited yourself as a customer, and the new script ‘works‘ for your team and improved engagement with your customers, then you have innovated. If you visit another department in your organisation and you copy their approach to how they understand the expectations of their customers to your department and it improves your customer relationships, then you have innovated.Innovation is more ‘doable‘ than you think.

If you take something (a process, a service, a product) and put it with something else (an idea, a concept, a new process, another service, another product) and what they produce when they are put together is useful, then you have innovated.

In terms of the recruitment process interviewers are more regularly asking interviewees to share how they have contributed to innovation. Seeing innovation from the perspective that I have shared with you will enable you to have clear responses to those questions. And that has to help your chances of getting the job you want!

Take out your tablet and note down the innovations that you have helped bring to your organisation. If you can’t find any, then remember the simple formula. If you take something and place it with something else and what they create together is useful, then you have innovated.

Gary Ryan enables talented professionals, their teams and organisations to move Beyond Being Good.

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A Better Way To Manage Your Task List

Most effective people who I know use a task list to help them to stay focused throughout the day. Some randomly work their way through their list, while others start at the top and work their way down.

Gary RyanA better way to manage your task list and to improve your daily effectiveness is to follow these simple steps.

1. Prepare your list

This is a classic brainstorm of all the tasks that you need to complete today. Given it is a brainstorm your list will be in a random order in terms of priority.

2. Identify your high value tasks

Rate each task in the context of value that you receive from completing the task. A ‘High’ rating means that the completed task gives you a lot of value in the context of what your role requires you to do, a ‘Medium’ rating gives you medium value and a ‘Low’ rating gives you low value.

3. Identify your hard-to-do tasks

Rate each task for how hard you find it to complete the task. A ‘High’ rating means that you find this task difficult to do (such as having that ‘important’ conversation with your colleague about her ability to meet deadlines). A ‘Medium’ rating is a task that is moderately difficult for you to do and a ‘Low’ rating is a task that you find relatively easy to do.

4. Identify how long it takes you to complete each task

Rate each task in terms of how long it will take you to complete the task. a ‘High’ rating means that the task will take you a long time to complete (you decide your time scale for yourself as it will depend on the type of work that you do), a ‘Medium’ rating means that it will take a reasonable amount of time, and a ‘Low’ rating means that you can complete the task quickly.

5. Complete your tasks in the following order

A. High Value, Hard To Do Tasks That Can Be Done Quickly (H/H/L Task Rating)

In his book Eat That Frog, Brian Tracy refers to these tasks as your frog. If you were to eat a frog at the start of each day, nothing you do for the rest of the day will be as bad as eating that frog! In this context, your High Leverage, Hard-To-Do Tasks that can be done relatively quickly are your ‘frogs’. When you do these tasks first, you clear your mind for the rest of the day. This is a terrific habit to form. When you know that at some stage during the day you are going to have to eat a frog, it clouds your mind until you do it. So you might as well get it over and done with at the start of the day! You won’t regret it!

B. High Value, Easy To Do Tasks That Can Be Done Quickly (H/L/L Task Rating)

Getting these tasks completed creates a sense of accomplishment and shortens your to-do list in the process!

C. High Value, Easy To Do Tasks That Have a Medium and/or High Time Rating

These tasks take longer for your to complete them, but they provide high value in the context of your role.

D. High Value, Hard To Do Tasks That Take a Long Time To Complete (H/H/H Task Rating)

In my world these are my proposals. Each one needs to be tailored to my clients specific needs, so they tend to take a fair amount of time to create. I require decent chunks of dedicated time to complete this task. Knowing that I have already completed other high value tasks before getting to these provides me with the clear ‘mental space‘ that I need to get on with completing this task.

E. Everything else on your list

All these tasks are the things that provide a level of value but aren’t the most important tasks that you need to get done. Sometimes you may find that these tasks can change in value if they are time related. As a deadline nears the value in completing the task may rise. If you find yourself moving these tasks across to your new task list each day (because they aren’t being completed), make sure that you continue to rate them just in case their value has changed. Another option is to set aside an hour or two every week that is dedicated to completing these tasks.

If you follow the five steps that I have outlined above you will discover that you get more high value work done than you do today. Give it a try and let me know how you go!

Gary Ryan enables talented professionals, their teams and organisations to move Beyond Being Good.