Hard Truths – For Me AND You

“Good advice often grates on the ear;” so goes a Buddhist maxim.

When I’m hired to develop and conduct a training program or provide one-on-one consultant services (coaching), clients are not always happy when they learn new information or see their reflection in the metaphorical mirror. Behaviors that have served well over an entire career are no longer working as effectively. While I consider my words carefully, there are times when no matter how it’s phrased, the truth can be harsh to hear.

The result is that I then receive feedback that people don’t like some of the messages I deliver.


  • You can’t ask illegal questions of prospective candidates – “I’ve always asked this question in job interviews.”

  • People don’t think that you listen to them – “These employees are wimps.”

  • Coaching employees is not a directive exchange – “Coaching requires patience I don’t have.”

  • Tolerating ‘jerks’ sends a message to the workforce that their behavior is OK – “Sometimes the best person is a jerk.”

  • It appears that your desire to appear nice is diluting the message – “Your observation is inaccurate; I’m not being too nice.”

What kind of consultant, trainer, coach, or facilitator do you want?

Do you have the courage to listen to unpleasant truths about yourself, setting aside your ego long enough to consider them at least briefly on their merits? 

Can you view an honest colleague as truly supportive?

Some of my clients don’t/can’t.

However, if I don’t think I can be honest, my service as a good consultant wanes. Working together becomes a waste of the clients’ money AND my time.  If I were to continue the work, I’d be carefully monitoring what I say to make sure I don’t hurt feelings or say things that upset anyone.

While it makes me a bit sad, it clarifies for me that these are not a good fit. I want the clients who can hear and consider things that are uncomfortable. I want to work with people who understand that while the learning may be uncomfortable, the outcome/goal/objective is worth the uneasiness.

I continue to learn that I have to be very VERY clear about how hard and challenging learning can be. If people are looking for affirmation that everything they are doing and thinking is perfect as is – they don’t need a coach, a consultant or a training program.

Posted in Change, Communication, Consulting, Employee Development, Feedback, Guided Execution 1:1, Skills, Support, Training | Comments Off on Hard Truths – For Me AND You

Diplomatic of Dishonest

“What do you think of my management style?”
“Do you think I’m ready for that promotion?”
“Do these pants make my butt look fat?”

In an effort to avoid being considered impolite or rude, you may be trying to avoid embarrassment or awkwardness on the part of the other person. That can result in your being less than honest. If you soften the truth by omitting key information, offering misdirection or providing what is known as ‘little white lies’ on a regular basis, you are being deceitful.

Deception is commonplace and can be standard operating procedure when trying to be polite. Who hasn’t offered the response “fine” when asked how they are doing? If someone shared their actual status every time you asked how they were doing and frequently shared their problems and worries with you, you’d either start avoiding them, or stop greeting them that way.

Balancing Act
The truth is that it’s a balancing act between honesty and tact and we have to work to get it right. If you are only honest, you risk offending others and if you are only polite, you are often lying. And women are often encouraged to avoid being too direct because it can be received as strident, forthright and apparently, not appealing behavior for a female.
Employing honest AND tact allows for an understanding of how to be aware of the others opinions, ideas, beliefs, and feelings of others. A good response finds a way to deal with the awkwardness and bad feelings that can occur when being frank and at the same time sanding up clearly for your own ideas and feelings.
Knowing what to say and how to say it without damaging your relationship is a critical interpersonal skill.

While common sense and good judgement are the underpinning of being diplomatic and honest, some people lack common sense and their judgement is suspect. I find that people get better at being honest and diplomatic is they practice those skills, and not everyone has the courage or professional discipline needed to practice as often as it might take to get good at this stuff. Patience AND perseverance are required.

Human relations is a tricky business which is why it can be so challenging to figure out the best strategy, behavior, and wording to use in any given situation. While lots of people like flashcards and scripts, the problem with them is that the person you are interacting with hasn’t learned their lines and may go off in a direction you aren’t prepared for.

People are Messy –
Which means that they can be unpredictable. Sometimes the best and most difficult thing is to say nothing. There are times when taking some time to reflect and think make the best sense. Every now and then it’s better to take a definite position, stating exactly what you want and how you want to go about getting it. In order to deal with the capricious nature of human interaction you will need to develop a strong set of communication skills, the ability to thoughtfully plan, the discipline of self-control, and some confidence. A little emotional intelligence (self-awareness) and some social intelligence (a heightened sense of what’s going on with others) are good assets as well.



Diplomacy and tact often depend on others skill sets. People who can be both honest and considerate are also good at:


  • Active Listening – the ability to hear not just the words being said, but how things are being said so that they can understand and react appropriately.
  • Empathy – the ability to see the world from another’s point of view. You share their perspective, suspend your own judgement, recognize the emotion they are feeling, and communicate that recognition to them.
  • Assertiveness – the ability to stand up for yourself without stepping on someone else, this skill set allows you to influence others to think or behave is a specific way.
  • Rapport – the ability to connect with someone else and create a common ground that is appealing.
  • Politeness – the ability to be courteous, showing respect and reducing friction, making another comfortable.

Now About Those Pants
Wouldn’t it be an interesting world if you could avoid all loaded questions? That’s not likely. There are plenty of people who recognize a no-win situation when they see it, so when you are asked:
“What do you think of my management style?”
“Do you think I’m ready for that promotion?”
“Do these pants make my butt look fat?”

You could lie:
-“It’s great!”
-“Not at all.”

You could be candid:
-“You micromanage and care more about your own career than developing us.”
-“You need much more seasoning and more operational knowledge.”
-“Yes. Wear something else.”

Or you could develop the powerful combination of honesty and tactfulness:
-“I’ve observed that there are many people you manage well and some people that you seem to find challenging.
-“If you have gotten feedback that you meet all the qualifications, then you should go for it.”
-“I am your biggest fan so I think you always look great.”

Posted in Communication, Employee Development, Feedback, Guided Execution 1:1, Preparation, Skills, Training | Comments Off on Diplomatic of Dishonest

Caffeinated Conversations

coffee cupsClients, friends, colleagues, the folks that follow me on Twitter or connect with me on LinkedIn all know that I’m a coffee lover. I’ll rarely turn down the chance to meet over a cup of caffeine. I like to find the new places that cater to coffee drinkers and I support my favorites as often as I can.

For me, coffee is like comfort food. My mom and dad had coffee and ‘something’ (pie, cake, a cookie) when the 11:00 pm news came on. It was the end of the day ‘catch up’ with one another in the house where I grew up. I associate the aroma with the feeling of connection and intellectual and emotional sharing.

My folks are no longer living, but I find that I reproduce the same sense of connectivity every day with others. It might be emotional, intellectual, a first-time meet up, finding time to finally catch up with a friend, supporting, being supported, problem solving, working, planning, or simply laughing – it’s often done over coffee.

Coffee wasn’t always so stylish, but it’s always been a staple. The best diners often serve the best coffee but you can enjoy your cup at the local wi-fi locally sourced/roasted/ground hot spot, the greasy spoon place that has plenty of chrome, or your own living room or kitchen table. It might be Keuriged, perked, dripped or french pressed.

Coffee shops today always seem to have an interesting mix of people, and sometimes they come and go in waves:  the runners and early morning gym rats, the moms with strollers, the business meetings, the folks who want to grab a quality cup on the go, students off to class, the people who need a non-home office, professionals who have networking meetings, retired folks who have created a structure to their day – all deciding to leaving home for their cup of coffee.

You can plan, dream, share, plot or confess over coffee. It can serve as a prop for your conversation – a vehicle that takes some of the focus off of all the attention being on you.

You can savor the taste and appreciate the aroma. But can have a few cups, witch over to decaffeinated or linger over a single cup. you can combine it with foamy steamed milk, a shot of flavoring, add in or replace it with espresso, sweeten it with real or artificial sweetener, or stick with  your basic black.

But if you want to connect, I’d do that over a cup of coffee.

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Why Stay?

My 37th wedding anniversary is coming up this month. While there were some who thought that our pairing didn’t make sense and wouldn’t last – it has.

I’m sometimes aStayorGosked what I think are the biggest contributors to staying married. I think about how I sometimes joke in presentations and training programs when the topic of motivation comes up, that being married does not motivate people to stay married. Many folks (OK, more men than women, but that’s just been my experience; yours may differ) think that marrying someone is the best indication of “I love you” that there is. Once accomplished, it doesn’t really have to be said again.

When I say that out loud, program participants and audiences laugh. But there is also some recognition that perhaps they have not done the things that make their partner feel loved. Today’s employers are starting to notice that providing people with employment is not the same things as motivating them. If you don’t show them that you ‘love’ them, they look elsewhere.

You can’t undo months of neglect or poor treatment. You can’t magically erase the challenges you were facing while everyone was holding on with their fingernails. But you CAN do some of the things that matter, because they matter now:

Ask What They Want – Don’t assume that they are just like you want the same things you want. Ask them! Find out what they would find motivating. While you are on that subject, ask them what de-motivates them too. While you can’t promise anyone a job that is free of unhappiness, you can at least know what hurdles may be placed in their way.

People Leave YOU – It’s not HR, or the Board of Directors, or the compensation committee, or the CEO (unless that’s you!) who is in charge of retaining your employees – it’s you! Most studies indicate that allegiance (as well as disloyalty) lies with the boss. YOU are the one in charge of keeping your good employees.

Get Out of Their Way – Most people want to build a positive future with the organizations they work for but if you are not helping them design that attractive future, you could be standing in their way. They aren’t interested in spending a lot of time trying to change you or teach you. They’ll just leave.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T – How do you show that you value others and make them feel welcome? Are you making eye contact when they stop in to talk with you – or are you scanning your screen for texts and emails? Everyone can make occasional prejudgments about others (people with young children go home early; women avoid conflict; people in their 20’s don’t appreciate customers in their 60’s) but if it stops you from showing respect to the people you need to get the work done, they probably feel that. If they don’t feel respected, it makes little sense to stay.

Go to Grow – If employees think that there is only a small chance for them to grow professionally, whether it is the amount in their paycheck, their title, skill development. or level of responsibility, they will leave. You lose the investment of time and money, the potential they would have contributed and you might have provided the competition with an advantage.

Or Else – If you make your employees choose between work and home, you have planted the seeds of stress and resentment. Yes, it can come down to a difficult choice but as adults, it’s theirs to make. Punishing them for not choosing as you want or as you would makes you act like a harsh parent, and it may cause them to act like unhappy kids.

In addition to the above points, I’d encourage you:

Laugh – keep a sense of humor because laughter works wonders

  Be patient – few things happen as fast as we’d like

Forget 100% don’t expect everything. Have interests outside of the job or your partner

Above all else – in work and in marriage, make a good choice. One that works for you now and has the potential to change and grow as you will, in the future.

There are no real secrets to happy employees or a happy marriage. The challenge is to remember the basics cited here and attend to them on a daily/weekly basis.

Posted in Change, Communication, Employee Development, Executives, Feedback, Mangement, Motivation, Skills, Stress, Supervision, Support | Comments Off on Why Stay?


newskillsA few C-Suite clients have called in the last month or so and they are frustrated. Even though they have offered my services to their managers and employees, assuring complete confidentiality —  no one is reaching out to have me assist them in applying new strategies and skills back on the job.

How do you get people to ask for help?

I know that it is hard to ask for help in an environment that expects and sometimes demands self-sufficiency. A request for support can make people to feel ashamed, fear the loss of control, and worry that they will appear “less than” in the eyes of those who matter. And often those that matter are the same ones that hold the keys to the next promotion.

They are often unable to see that self-sufficiency minus the accomplishing goals or improving performance actually reflects poorly on them. When organizations provide resources and people don’t use them, it makes the C-Suite wonder why they should bother providing support.

If your organization has no one at the top that models the same behaviors they request of others (e.g., asking for input from someone else or getting support from an outside source), the message gets lost.

What can executives and managers do to model the behavior they hope to see in others?

You can:

Talk about help you have asked for, how you asked for it, what you learned, and how it made a difference in the outcome.

Ask, “What stops you from using this resource?”

Be direct – “I’d like you to connect with Larry and see what ideas/strategies/skills he can help you develop.”

Notice – “I’m glad you’re reaching out and using Larry as a sounding board. I have noticed the improvement in your _______________.”

Follow-Up – “Tell me how using Larry made a difference for you?”

If you want people to ask for help, tell them you hope they will ask for help. Then follow up and ask them if they have asked for help or reached out to connect with Larry. Tell them why you think it’s important if they haven’t, and ask them what’s stopping them from taking you up on your suggestion, and then tell them you think it’s a good idea if they reach out to the resource.

There are some Executives who might think that using consultants is only for people who can’t do their job and need remedial help.

I asked a client I’ll call Murray if he went to the doctor when he was sick, and he assured me that when he was ill (usually waiting until he was really, REALLY sick) he’d make an appointment to see his doctor.

I asked Murray if he ever went to get a routine physical, and he assured me that he got one annually. Sometimes it was standard and boring. Sometimes Murray had the chance to ask questions about things he had noticed and get some good information. In fact, twice his doctor caught something early that would have developed into a bigger problem. Getting help when you need it and support when you can use it makes a lot of sense.

Self-reliance is still seen as a badge of honor is some circles. Asking for help and support go against everything people have been told about career development. But not using resources to increase professional effectiveness is a good way to sabotage a career.

Posted in Change, Communication, Consulting, Employee Development, Executives, Guided Execution 1:1, Mangement, Skills, Support, Training | Comments Off on Help!

Competing for Air Time

Competing for air-time is a professional sport. We compete to get our ideas heard, to win the argument, and to clarify our points. More often than not, people interrupt each other to maximize their air-time. (Presidential debates aside!)

There is a lot of research data out there to support the observation that when it comes to communication in the workplace, women talk less, get interrupted more, and have their ideas picked apart more often. There is additional data out there that supports the idea that when men speak up, they are thought of as more competent and when women speak up more they are thought of as less competent!

When women get interrupted and try to hold their ground, they are frequently labeled as aggressive, which, don’t kid yourself, is not meant as a compliment. Can women ‘keep the microphone’ and not end up on the losing end of the interaction?

A tactic that I observe, which is not effective, is to ask men to stop interrupting women. Interrupting women as they speak is not a problem for men, so demanding that men stop the behavior makes little sense. And it may be that for men, it’s not really about women as much as it is about competing for air-time.

However, shutting down women is shutting down a large percentage of the workforce, and I see that as a serious business problem, which in turn makes it everyone’s problem.

Is there really anything we can do about this?

Admit it: It’s is an organizational problem and therefore we all own it.

Call it out: We know it when we observe it, and hear it, so gently and firmly call it out when someone interrupts. Any group that meets can make an explicit rule about interruptions and then identify when the rule is not being observed by members.

Have a signal: Create a visible signal to indicate when it happens. For some people, the habit is so deeply ingrained that breaking it is not easy. The signal can be subtle (a hand up) or more overt (‘Hang on, she’s speaking’), but intercede. Some teams use a ‘talking stick’ and only the person holding the stick can talk. It might sound goofy, but you can get over that if it works.

Frankly, interruptions impact women more negatively than men, so here are some thoughts about what women can do:

Look like you mean it – Have good posture, gesture with palms down, and make eye contact.

Sound like you mean it – Make statements (‘I think’) and avoid asking questions or being tentative (What do you think…? I could be wrong but —)

Support other women – You don’t have to support another women’s ideas to support better treatment for your female colleagues. Women need to have each others back and not compete when it comes to how they are treated.

Have a male ally – A good strategic resource is a male who will back you up in a meeting, nod when you speak, support your ideas, and ask interrupters to hold off until you’ve finished your contribution. Men listen to other men.

It‘s true that talking directly, concisely, and confidently may not stop the interrupters, but it’s a good start. There is only just so much air-time to go around so create some sound strategies backed up by solid behaviors to ensure equal air-time for everyone.

It may not stop the interrupting behavior but it will challenge it – and that’s something we all can do.

Posted in Communication, Employee Development, Feedback, Motivation, Planning, Skills, Stress, Support, women | Comments Off on Competing for Air Time

Before Your Team Takes a Bow

meetThe last stage of your Project Team’s existence is not the implementation of the project. It’s not the bow during applause, and it isn’t even measuring the all-important ROI. The last stage of being a project team is actually the step that gets the least amount of attention, has the biggest impact on employee development and almost never gets the consideration it deserves. If you really want to develop a high performing team, spend some time assessing and talking about the lessons learned. If you don’t know how success (or a less-than-terrific outcome) came about, you won’t have much luck when you try to reproduce it or the members move on to lead their own teams.


Goals – Did the team members know what the goal (or goals) was for the team? Did the goals and objectives change over the course of the project? If so, how was that communicated?

Roles – Were team members clear about the role they had on the team as well as the role of others? How did they learn about who did what?

Hope and Reality – What did people expect to happen at the outset of the project and what actually did happen? What accounted for any gaps?

Keep – What went well in each of the above categories and why? Future teams will want to know what worked. Future leaders will want to have a template to use for their teams. It is also good for team members to have group and individual success’s encouraged and articulated out loud.

Toss – What would be done differently and how? Everything that could be improved upon can contribute to a better experience and outcome next time. Everything from pre-team planning, meeting logistics, communication processes, conflict resolution, obtaining resources and support, and potential problem protection can be assessed. Outline not just what could be done, but how it could be done.

Lessons learned is how continuous learning, development and improvement can be woven into the fabric of your organizational culture. Spend time talking about those ‘lessons learned.’

And adding refreshments when you meet to do that can make it feel more like a welcome and celebratory stage that ends the project.

Posted in Communication, Employee Development, Executives, Feedback, Mangement, Planning, Skills, Supervision, Training | Comments Off on Before Your Team Takes a Bow

Leader – How Do You Really Know?

leaderThere is no single definition of leadership. There are people who are the right person at the right time. They have the skills, personality, and temperament that an organization requires at the exact time that it needs that style of leadership. Then things change. The leader may be have a flexible style and can adapt to the changing needs of the organization. However, the skills needed in a crisis are not the same skills needed during a maintenance phase. Fast growth brings challenges that are very different from stagnant or declining revenue. So it would appear that leadership is actually transactional.

However, there seems to be a general consensus that a leader is someone who can commit people to action, convert followers into leaders, and convert leaders into agents of change

Effective Leadership, no matter the situation, involves the following strategies:

Communication – The ability to relate a compelling image of the desired state of affairs; inducing enthusiasm and commitment in others.

Empowering Others – The ability to entrust others to translate intentions into reality; pulling rather than pushing people – with enthusiasm and energy being the by-products. People are motivated by identification rather than reward or punishment.

Conveying Vision – The ability to turn their vision of the organization into a realistic, credible, attractive future; allowing people to feel pride and satisfaction.

While there are people who assume that leadership and management are synonymous, the terms are not really interchangeable. Management is the formal authority people are given within an organization. Leadership is informal, and doesn’t require an organization provide its authority.

It is said that Managers do things right; Leaders do the right thing. It is the often the difference between strategy and execution.


  • Create values through communication.
  • Develop committed followers.
  • Inspire lofty accomplishments.
  • Model appropriate behavior.
  • Focus attention on important issues.
  • Connect their group to the outside world.

What follows is a useful checklist to determine if you are acting like a true Leader. If you answer ‘yes’ to the questions below, then you should be able to identify the observable behaviors that others can spot to confirm that you are behaving like a true Leader.

Because it’s one thing to think you are a Leader but it’s another thing to be seen as one. What you think and what people observe can often be quite different.

At the end of each question – ask yourself “How do I know? What are people observing?”

• Do the people I lead know where we are going and how we are going to get there together?

• Do I carefully consider my employees’ input in establishing plan, resolving problems, and improving operations?

• Am I accessible to my people?

• Can my people predict how I will react to different situations?

• Do I share my optimism about our success with my staff?

• Do my people enjoy coming to work? Do we have fun?

• Do I promote my people to greater responsibilities in my group and elsewhere in the company?

• Are my people encouraged or discouraged by my success?

• Is working with my people the most important part of my day?

• Do my people know how they are doing, what we can expect of them, and what they can expect with us over the next few years?

Posted in Communication, Executives, Guided Execution 1:1, Mangement, Skills | Comments Off on Leader – How Do You Really Know?

Build a Career of Your Own Design


You have been working at this job for a few years and would like to negotiate for a higher salary. Your boss tells you that you knew what you were getting into when you made the decision to work there.

Cutting back to part time while your family obligations require more of your focus makes sense to you right now.  Your boss gets angry when you try to broach the subject and says that with what the company is paying you, you should do the job you were hired to do. He adds that there are head count issues and he simply needs you full time.

No matter what kind of deal you made when you were hired, times change. Making changes, however, is not always as important for your employer as it is for you. And creating change is rarely easy. Before you go to negotiate for what you want, you need to break out some Power Tools so that you are more empowered and better prepared for the discussion.


Tools to Use

Safety Goggles
Have a clear vision on the dollar value of the contributions you make in your job. Be clear about the impact you have on the organization. Focus on your proven commitment (“I’m pleased I’ve been able to accomplish –“) and the potential you have to make contributions in the future. (“I envision that my future contributions will encompass –“ )
Power Drill Ask the questions that will provide you with valuable information so you can build a good case. Why won’t they want to do what you are asking? Are there company politics that come into play? Has this been tried before? If so, what was the outcome (and if it was an unfavorable one, what can you suggest to insure there won’t be a repeat performance?) Timing can be a critical factor; avoid bringing up an issue for negotiation after you’ve made a mistake. Mention the topic after you have completed something successfully.

Does your boss have the power to create a solution? If the boss is not the person with the actual power to make changes, you still have to enlist them so that they can support your effort, take it to their boss, champion your cause and be your advocate. Ask “What do you need from me to help make a case for this?”

Are you trying to challenge a policy or set a new precedent? If your boss thinks that if you do it then “everyone will want to do it,” prepare to point out why you are NOT like everyone else.

Electrical Sensor Pick up the clues from your manager about his or her style. You want to approach him in a way that is advantageous to a review of your request. You want the conversation to be a calm one. If your boss likes to review written material, don’t put it in writing before your conversation; it can appear as an ultimatum. Instead offer to put in writing what has been discussed after you’ve broached the subject and talked about possible options. Listen to her concerns and make sure you are clear about what she is really troubled about. Ask her for suggestions about how to overcome obstacles so that they can be reduced or eliminated.

Tape Measure You are entering a negotiation, albeit a personal one. Prepare for it as if it is a business issue. You do not want to sound like you are handing down an ultimatum. Try not to get carried away, and avoid phrases like “—“or else.” Don’t make your request conditional.

Anticipate objections and have your responses ready. If the organization has had a bad experience with an option that you want them to consider, point out how you are aware of the previous problems and outline your remedy.

Some times opportunities present themselves for a negotiation and the window of opportunity is only open for a finite amount of time. You need to be prepared. Think of what you would like to negotiate and keep your eyes and ears open. A new project, a sudden business downturn, or a change is someone else’s employment statues due to maternity leave or promotion can be good timing for you to start the conversation. If you aren’t ready, the opening might pass, or someone else will take advantage of the opportunity before you get your chance.

Know your limits. Measure out your bottom line and see how flexible you can be in staying above it. Phasing in an increase, a trial period with periodic reviews, or a mentor to get you through the probationary period can be creative ways to move things towards your goal. Identify the point where the outcome is unacceptable. That will be your bottom limit.

Duct TapeHave a back up plan. Before you start this conversation, know what your Plan B (or C, or D) is so you can approach the negotiation with confidence and not back yourself into a corner. Can’t get the whole raise? Suggest phasing it in over a period of time with quantifiable milestones. Not possible to go part time right away?  Perhaps you can work out an arrangement the allows for flextime a few days a week to test the waters.

Career negotiations are like any other kind of negotiation. You need to determine what all the issues are before you sit down to discuss them. For each issue, be clear about what the best case could be, as well as your bottom line. Spend time thinking about what their concerns will be and be ready to address them so that they are not obstacles to reaching an agreement. You may have to have more than one conversation in order to achieve the outcome you are seeking, so along with being persistent, be prepared to exercise some patience.

Times DO change, so once your have a strategy, plug in your power tools and engage in a little job remodeling. You can have a career of your own design.

Posted in Change, Communication, Employee Development, Employment, Planning, Preparation, Skills, Work Life Balance | Comments Off on Build a Career of Your Own Design

Back It Up!

Picture1I love it when things go exactly as I had planned. Reality mirrors what I’ve pictured in my mind.

However, more often than not, reality takes a sharp turn and looks very different than what I had been thinking. That’s when I reach for my Back-Up Plan.

I don’t have to look too far back to see just how handy having a Plan B would have been:

The Client who loved my work and hired me to help lay the groundwork for a significant initiative. Then the person I was working with was relocated and the implementation was handed off to a new someone else. That person was a no-show at two meetings that they had asked for and I quickly got the not-so-subtle hint that my time working with that company was at an end.

The Prospect who was eager to meet scheduled a meetings that they canceled at the last minute. They apologized profusely and rescheduled immediately. Cancelling again at the last minute. I detected a theme and wondered if I had turned away others who might have made the meeting and scheduled work.

The Colleague who agreed with my assessment that our work was complementary. We met many times over several months and they asked me to do some work for them. When I talked about receiving possible payment, our conversations ended.

It’s good to have a plan – it’s the map of how you are going to get to where you want to go. When you find yourself in need of a sensible detour, (and in my daily life, there is a 50=50 chance that it will happen at least once), then Plan B is the insurance needed so that when things change (or other people mess up your carefully constructed intentions) you don’t have to fall apart – even if your plan does.

So here are some ideas about creating an outstanding Back-Up Plan:

  • Be Ready To Adjust – Having a Back-Up plan gives you the advantage when it comes time to pivot. When things change, you are ready. It’s tempting to think you are in control of everything and everyone but be smarter than that and expect the unexpected.
  • Get Ahead of Yourself – Create a cushion by creating a moved up deadline/date on things so that you have the time to review and revise. It’s very hard to craft a Back-
    Up Plan if you are behind on your Plan A. Getting things done ahead of time lets you consider options and allows you to avoid operating in crisis mode. If you are always creating fires, you’ll have a tough time when other fires break out.
  • Time to Reflect and Dream – Since a Back-Up Plan is made when you have time to think, you can be more creative. Often we do things the fastest way, but it may not be the best way to get something done. There are many ways to accomplish tasks.
  • Be Ready for Slack Time – Back-Up Plans can allow you to get things done during the downtime that shows up during your day as 5 or 10 minutes at a time: waiting for the meeting to start or waiting for your appointment. Put that time to use by reading the article you had earmarked, working on a report that is due, or reaching out to a business colleague?
  • Back-Up Plan = Less Stress – Backup plans can reduce your stress. You don’t need to dive into panic mode because you already know what you will do when things don’t go as planned.

If you are running at top speed during the day and don’t give any time to think about possible alternatives to getting tasks and objectives accomplished, then I can confidently predict that life will throw you a detour.

Have a Back-Up Plan and plan for it!

Posted in Change, Communication, Employee Development, Guided Execution 1:1, Planning, Preparation, Skills, Stress | Comments Off on Back It Up!