Things to do before sending a team member on a one-way trip to Mars

Mars with shipAn article about a one-way mission to Mars published in the New York Post caught my attention. The article was based on an idea by two scientists who believe that a trip to Mars would be possible and one of their reasons was it would cost one-quarter of the price of a “there-and-back” mission.

So this caused me to think; wouldn’t be great if dealing with an unproductive team member was as easy as sending them on a one-way trip, never to return again. Certainly in many cases, you as the leader of a team, may have that option and can just send them packing. But what do you do if you have no control over who’s on your team? What if your boss says they must remain on the team or if it’s a volunteer organization and they were elected to their position? What do you do then?

 You then must find out why this member is not productive. There could be several reasons and you can begin by asking several questions:

    1. How well do I know this person? – Have I spent enough time with him to understand what motivates him or what makes him laugh or cry?
    2. Has this person been properly trained? – Was enough time taken to ensure that he knows his responsibilities and was given the information and training to succeed?
    3. Are there roadblocks or people interfering with his ability to do his job? – Have I, as the leader, made sure that significant impediments are cleared for him?
    4. Have I provided encouragement and motivation?
    5. Are the other team members supporting him and his efforts?

Answering these questions will help you understand why a team member is unproductive. Everyone wants to succeed, but sometimes things beyond their control or ability will cause them to appear unproductive. It is your job as the leader to train team members and anticipate possible problems for and solve them before they hamper progress.

So many times we complain about the non-performance of a team member without ever finding out why he or she is not performing. Spend time with them, understand their strengths and weaknesses, and help them develop a plan to carry out their assigned tasks.

Don’t be so eager to send someone on a one-way trip to Mars without first doing your job as a leader.

Have a Great Blahless Day!

Burning your Candle at Both Ends the Right Way

Candle at both endsThe picture at the left is by Terry Border and you can find more of his creations on his blog http://www.bentobjects.blogspot.com/ . A friend sent me an email with a series of these creatures and this one caught my eye.

Any leader worth his salt is passionate about the people and the organization he is attempting to lead. With that passion often comes the tendency to try to do too much, and as the picture suggests, it will burn you out quickly.

I don’t want to discuss the negative aspects of “burning your candle at both ends,” but the positive things you should always be doing as a leader.

What are the things a leader should be doing constantly?

  1. Maintaining and displaying a positive attitude – Napoleon said, “A leader is a dealer in hope.” How can you expect your followers to work hard toward the organization’s vision if you, the leader, are not positive and encouraging?
  2. Assist and support those who you have empowered – Always be connecting with your people and making sure they have all the tools necessary to carry out their responsibilities. Are there roadblocks? If there are, remove them. Is there something else they need to do their job? If so, get it for them.
  3. Assess your goals and adjust if necessary – Always be re-examining and be willing to adjust if conditions change.
  4. Communicate – Don’t ever stop doing this. Keep everyone armed with the latest information.
  5. Learn – Leaders are always learning. They don’t stop and they always look at every encounter with people as a learning experience.
  6. Know your limits – Remember that Superman is a fictional character so don’t try to be him. Rely on your team.

So, if you are a passionate leader and find yourself burning your candle at both ends, stop and assess your activity. Is it positive activity or are you headed for a meltdown?

Have a Great Blahless Day!

You don’t know what you’re talking about!

ToleranceLeaders sometimes find themselves in situations when meeting debate starts out as polite dialogue and then as emotions and passions take over, it erupts into heated argument and maybe red-faced name calling.

If you’re not careful you too can be drawn into the fray. After all as the leader you were just trying to facilitate debate and all of a sudden you’ve got two people who seem to be ready to pull out dueling pistols and step off ten paces. These idiots have disrupted your meeting and now you are mad at them for causing a disturbance and abandoning civility. If you are not careful what you say you could lose all control of the meeting (if you haven’t already).

 

How does a leader practice tolerance for another person’s opinions and beliefs?

Dictionaries explain that tolerance is “the disposition to be patient with the beliefs, opinions and practices of others, especially those differing from one’s own.” Some definitions say that tolerance is “respect” for such differences, others that it is a “permissive attitude” toward them — thereby suggesting the divergent ways that tolerance has been understood and practiced.

Leaders then, by these definitions, need to be:

  1. Respectful – Understand that there will be diverse opinions as you lead and let people know that their positions will be listened to and considered. Not only are you being respectful to them, your approach will win their respect.
  2. Patient – Someone who is passionate about a subject just wants to be heard. Being patient and listening intently as they express their views will show you truly care.
  3. Permissive – Create an organizational culture that welcomes diverse opinions. Demonstrate this by allowing thoughtful dialogue even though you may disagree with the subject.

Aristotle said: “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.”

The practice of tolerance will raise your worth as a leader and a person. Let’s all try to be tolerance leaders.

Have a Great Blahless Day!

Long Haired Freaky People; Can’t You Read the Sign?

Sign, sign, everywhere a sign, Blockin' out the scenery, breakin' my mind, Do this, don't do that, can't you read the sign? - Five Man Electrical Band - 1970

Sign, sign, everywhere a sign, Blockin’ out the scenery, breakin’ my mind, Do this, don’t do that, can’t you read the sign? – Five Man Electrical Band – 1970

Our patience worn very thin as I, and the group I was working with at the Memorial Golf Tournament, repeatedly explained what could not be brought into the course. Generally people were very understanding and complied with the rules, but it was the few who could not comprehend why their backpack, purse, chair, etc. was required to be left behind that made all of us wish we were somewhere else.

As leaders we will have to enforce rules. These rules may be ones we initiate or rules handed to us by others for our enforcement. In either case we must ensure that everyone, including those who will complain, follow and obey the rules.

Here are some suggestions when communicating and enforcing rules:

  • Make sure the rules have been communicated to everyone
  • Make sure everyone understands why the rules are necessary
  • Clearly state the penalties for non-compliance
  • If you encounter resistance make sure you indicate the concerns will be passed on to the rule maker
  • If you are the rule maker listen very carefully to objections and if changes are justified, make them
  • Be consistent with enforcement; don’t make exceptions on the fly

Rules are to ensure that the organization operates in an organized fashion and continues to be true to its mission. Rules shouldn’t impede people’s progress but guide them correctly to achieving the organizational vision.

Leaders will need to enforce the rules. Some won’t like them and try to break them. Be ready.

Have a Great Blahless Day!