About Workforce Echoes

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Behavior Changes! What do You Need, Knowledge or Desire?

My last blog posting was about motivation. Most of what I write about and most of my work in my business has to do with behavioral topics such as this. Here’s the problem however. I am providing information; but so many of our problems in life and business are NOT due to a lack of information, but rather are due to us not using that information. We have the knowledge, we just won’t use it.
Maybe some examples will help illustrate this point. Think about time management. Perhaps this is something you aren’t good at, and not being good at it is holding you back from achieving important goals. Is it really because you don’t know the standard techniques of effective time management? Probably not. Plenty of information is available at your finger tips: plan your time, learn to say “no,” differentiate between urgent and important. All of these bits of information would help you. You have the knowledge, but will the behavior change?
Conflict and anger management are another good example. Is conflict taking the joy from your days? Do you have trouble controlling your temper? We all know how ineffective we are at resolving problems when we’re really angry. This isn’t rocket science. Again, these types of problems are usually not due to a lack of knowledge. Just Google “anger management tips” and you’ll get over a million hits. Take a “time out.” Avoid the person who makes you angry until you can deal calmly with him or her. Get some exercise. Change your expectations. Talk it out with someone you trust; how is this person or situation making you feel and why? Listen to different perspectives, and then let it go; anger is hurting you more than the other person. Don’t scream; it causes an adrenaline rush that takes away all reason and logic. These are just a few tips I found in a 60 second search on the internet. Handling conflict well requires knowledge for sure, but knowledge doesn’t always improve behavior.
Here is a final example. Are you overly accommodating? Do you give in too easily but feel frustrated inside? Is it because you haven’t been told how to be more assertive? Again, probably not. You’ve probably had at least one boss or friend or relative give you a much needed “how to” lecture. No, it’s not because you don’t know how, it’s because you won’t.
I’ve been dealing with someone with an alcohol problem over the past many years. I am so often frustrated by his behavior. I often complain that he’s been to rehabilitation and countless A.A. meetings and certainly knows what he needs to do to say sober. But he doesn’t. It’s dragging down his life quickly, but he just won’t use the knowledge he’s been given. You might think, well that’s different, it’s a disease. Yes, I know; but what is it called when one of our own behavior problems is causing huge problems in our life yet we don’t stop? Isn’t it just a little bit the same? We can’t blame it on a disease, so what is it? Stubborn? Even when we have great advice and know exactly what we SHOULD do to improve our behavior, we don’t.
I’d like to make it clear that I do know it is possible to improve behavior; it happens all the time. Workforce Echoes is in that very business. The article is about the problems we complain about but do NOT fix. For those people that do successfully and regularly strive to improve themselves, I know that you need constant reminders and encouragement. Maybe the occasional blog posting will help!! Here is my challenge to both myself and to all of you. Choose a behavior you want to improve. Think of all the good reasons to improve that behavior. Then, write down 2-3 methods you will use to make that improvement. Knowledge is everywhere, maybe even in your own head!! Think back to all the advice you’ve ever heard, all the things you know, and everything you’ve ever read on the subject. Then, armed with the knowledge and goals, JUST DO IT.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

When Motivation Takes a Nose Dive

As a business owner, manager, or team leader, you are expected to stay motivated and set a positive example for those working for and with you.  What happens however, when your motivation and attitude take a nose dive?  It’s impossible to stay upbeat 100% of the time.  We all have bad days.  Missed deadlines, stress, unhappy customers, set-backs and people not pulling their weight are just a few of the problems dealt with on a regular basis.  However, if you’re leading a team, you better be really good at picking yourself up, dusting off, and moving forward.  You cannot stay down for long or you might just pull the business with you. 
Here’s another worthwhile saying; “Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.”  We are responsible for our own attitudes.  One thing I find helpful is to look beyond the problems of the day and keep my eye on the bigger picture.  Why did I go into business for myself anyway?  If my reason was to not have to answer to anyone but myself, or to make lots of money, or to work less, I’d better think again.  I need a bigger reason.  I need a purpose, a passion, a drive to improve or change something.  I must fully believe in my products and services.  I am more likely to achieve financial success if I’m working to make some difference in the world rather than only to make money.  The money will follow.
This is not to say that extrinsic motivators, like making money, are not helpful.  Just take a look at Howard Schultz who grew Starbucks from four stores to the world wide company it is today.  He once had a goal of building 2,000 stores by the year 2000.  (He beat that goal by a long shot.)  This is obviously a financial type of goal; an extrinsic goal.  Yet Schultz had intrinsic motivators working as well.  Schultz was quoted on many occasions as saying that his vision for Starbucks was to become a national company with values and guiding principles that employees could be proud of.  He wanted Starbucks to become the most respected brand name in coffee and for the company to be admired for its corporate responsibility.  Along the company’s route to success he offered employee benefits and incentives unheard of in most businesses and started many foundations to support worthwhile causes. 
So, are you having a bad day?  Get over it quick!  The costs of a bad attitude are just too high.  Read a motivational book.  Spend a day relaxing and thinking and talking to someone you trust.  Take a day or two to learn something new that might help you with your current setback.  Then, get up, find your motivation, and keep moving forward.  Think strategically and make your vision a reality one small step at a time.
I’ve listed below a few websites with helpful advice and resources for small business owners.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


"We don’t know a millionth of one percent about anything." - Thomas Edison
“Surround yourself with smart people” is advice you will hear many times over in the business world. It does not necessarily mean to find people with higher IQs than your own. It is much broader than that. Emotional intelligence also plays a huge factor. In addition, the advice refers to surrounding yourself with people who have different talents, skills, experiences and abilities from your own. Why? One of the most important lessons you will learn as a business owner, or manager of any team, is that you don’t know everything! That’s a hard pill for some to swallow. It doesn’t matter if you have the highest IQ of anyone in the country, you still will not have had all the experiences nor have all of the talents and skills to make the best decisions about every topic every time.

I can offer so many examples of this in my own business that it is hard to even know where to start. Let me just briefly describe three examples that have occurred just in the past week:

I was signing up to attend a training course to become certified in a certain personality/behavior profiling instrument. The certification training would have cost $2,500. I had researched many other profiling instruments and felt that I had made a good choice. However, before scheduling my travel arrangements I sent a quick email to a friend who is certified in many of these types of personality and behavior profiles. I asked his opinion about the certification I was about to attend. He sent back a message that completely changed my plans. His experiences with both marketing and delivering this particular profile far surpassed my own knowledge. Had I not sought his advice, I would have wasted $2,500.

I am developing the outline and content for a team building presentation. I brought my plan to my business partner who handles all the design for our presentations. Despite the fact that she handles design and I handle content, we always bounce ideas off one another. In this particular example, she made several comments about the flow of the presentation that improved it many times over. Together we produce a better presentation than one of us alone could do.

Last year we made a big investment on computer equipment, software, and software training. This week, after a two hour demonstration at the Apple store, we realized we made some bad choices in the equipment and training that we chose. In total this was about a $10,000 mistake, not including the time we could have saved by having the right equipment and software that would have significantly increased our productivity over the last year. If we had brought in the expertise last year that we sought this past week, we could have avoided this mistake.

REACH OUT! Talk to people, listen to people, and learn from other’s experiences and talents. The smartest people are “smart” because they take full advantage of the talents, knowledge and experiences that surround them