Monday, February 23, 2009

Quiet Please!

True silence is the rest of the mind; it is to the spirit what sleep is to the body, nourishment and refreshment. – William Penn (1644 – 1718)

The value of silence is often overlooked in today’s society. Like a favorite book covered by mounds of unfiled paperwork, out of sight is out of mind. We tend to forget the beauty and fullness of silence, and how silence allows us to create. But the richness of silence should never be overlooked. Instead, silence should be savored like a cup of hot cocoa on a cold winters’ day.

If you are at all like me, you find yourself constantly “plugged in”...... with technology rapidly becoming the center of your life. A day or so away from email and social networking can lead to withdrawal pains. Your boss may want to make sure that you are still available by cell, even though you are on vacation. And, of course, you always need to keep track of your fantasy teams.

We’re told that multi-tasking is good and that we should make the best use of our time by listening to self-help books on tape while driving in the car. And our nature hike would not be complete without our trusty I-pod providing us with our favorite tunes and blotting out all semblance of nature.

What if silence was not the vast wasteland it is presumed to be, but rather a place of physical and spiritual healing? What if silence allowed us to hear the thoughts behind the words; the meaning behind the actions; and intent behind the behavior?

How much smarter would we be if we spent more time listening and less time talking?

Do you allow silence into your life? Do you allow time for reflection and thought? Or are you too busy completing the tasks at hand to hear the whispers and messages being sent to you in the quiet of the day.

Silence is the conduit of thought. Without silence our thoughts are distorted by the noise around us.

Until next time....

Dave Meyer
ECI Learning Systems LLC

Monday, February 16, 2009

Welcome to DISC Lesson 3 - The High D

This is the 3rd installment on the DISC personality assessment. In this video, Dave Meyer discusses the High D personality identifying both strengths and shortcomings.

Welcome to DISC Lesson 2 - The 4-Quadrant Model

This is the second in our series of videos about DISC and how to use it. In this session, Dave Meyer looks at the modern theories in DISC and introduce you to the basic 4 quadrants.

Got Results?

I’ve had some interesting feedback and discussion on my earlier blog postings. In particular, I got questions about the change in my own thought process between “History and Background Part II” and “A Whole New Perspective”. The questions seemed to center around two themes:

1. Am I suggesting that results are not important?
2. Did I get less results after I began focusing more on the team?

These are fascinating questions and I want to take a few minutes to clarify my thoughts around results.

Results are absolutely critical to your success. The battlefield of business is littered with the bodies of “nice guy” managers who couldn’t get results. Of course that same battlefield is also littered with the bodies of task-oriented managers who got short-term but not long term results.

Ultimately we are all measured by our ability to get results. But as we progress up the leadership ladder the measurements change. First line managers are judged by how well they know the details of what their team does and, of course, the results that team gets. But at higher levels, the question is much more about “how smart is your team” versus “how smart are you”. This is a paradigm shift that many executives fail to make. Because they were the smartest person in the room when they were at lower levels, they believe that they should be the smartest person in the room at higher levels as well.

The truth is, when you are at lower levels of management you need to be the smartest person in the room on many of the technical aspects of the job. That is how you get results: by digging in, understanding the details, and challenging your team. But there is a shift to be made when you become an executive. That shift involves WHAT you need to be smart at.

At higher levels you no longer have to be as smart about the technical issues that go on at lower levels. Now you need to be smart at things like:

- Team Dynamics
- Hiring Talented People
- Giving Clear Direction
- Soliciting Input
- Building Relationships
- Motivation

These are the things that make for a successful executive. Unfortunately they are NOT the type of things for which we are ever provided training. Too many executives (myself included) continue to do what they do best. And that means trying to be the smartest person in the room and getting detailed results.

As executives we must make a non-intuitive shift in how we measure our success. Failure to do so means that we will continue to measure ourselves by our technical knowledge and abilities while others measure us by our leadership skills.

One common cause of the Workplace Energy Crisis is a leader who doesn’t fully appreciate the fact that the measuring stick has changed. By insisting that they will continue to be the smartest technician in the room, they reduce the value of the team and fail to create the energy that every leader should create.

Back to the original questions:

1. Am I suggesting that results are not important?
Of course not. But the types of results that you need to focus on are vastly different. If you continue to focus on technical results you will severely limit your career.

2. Did I get less results after I began focusing more on the team?
Once I understood ALL of the things that would make me a successful executive, I actually got better results. But I had to get used to the fact that it was ok not to be the smartest technical person in the room.

Until next time…..

Dave Meyer
ECI Learning Systems, LLC

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Welcome to DISC Lesson 1 - Introduction & Background

ECI Co-founder, Dave Meyer, gives a brief introduction into the background of the behavioral assessment called DISC.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Big Block of Cheese

Over the weekend I had the opportunity to watch one of my favorite TV shows, The West Wing. This show is extremely well written. It has great storylines, engaging dialogue, and fascinating, complex characters. There is a theme that appears several times in the series called “Big Block of Cheese Day”. This theme is first introduced in a Season 1 Episode called "The Crackpots and These Women."

According to The West Wing President, Andrew Jackson was so determined to make sure that the country belonged to the people that he would place a 2 ton block of cheese in the front room of the White House. People in need could then come to the White House, get some food, and talk to the President and lawmakers. This idea was fascinating to Leo McGarry (White House Chief of Staff on The West Wing) and so on a regular basis he would have what he called “Big Block of Cheese Day” where all of the White House staffers would take appointments with people who would not normally have a chance to meet with people from the White House.

In the TV show, the staffers hate this assignment because they believe it is an absolute waste of time. But they end up meeting with these people who would not otherwise be worthy of their attention and invariably they learn something that they had not expected. Now, don’t get me wrong. Not all of the ideas were good ones, but the key was that the White House staffers began thinking of things in a new way.

In business, it's often easy to forget to give attention to your most valuable asset, your employees. And just like the people in the TV show who have interesting ideas that they never get to share with anyone. Your employees have a bird's eye view of what is happening in your business and they often know what is working and what is not. But your employees don’t always have a mechanism to pass that information along. Or, they don’t have a mechanism that they trust to pass it along.

One cause of an Energy Crisis in the workplace is employees who don’t believe they have the opportunity to contribute fully to the organization. And sometimes we get so consumed in dealing with big people and big issues that we forget to listen to the people who know the most; the people who see what is happening in the business day in and day out. Like Andrew Jackson we should be concerned that we don’t lose touch with those who we can serve, and who can serve us best. And maybe we should schedule our own “Big Block of Cheese” day.

Until next time.....

Dave Meyer
ECI Learning Systems LLC

Monday, February 2, 2009

Do You Love Your Job?

In the last couple of weeks I have had a number of conversations with people about their jobs. Some people really hate their jobs, while others seem to love their jobs. It made me think about the value of really loving your job. And by value, I mean the value to yourself and also the value to the people that you work for. As I thought more about people who love what they do I found myself mentally compiling two separate lists.

1. What is the value to yourself when you love your job?
2. Why do people love their jobs?

There is probably also a third list to be developed here. A list that says, "Here is what the company gains when I love my job". But that list will be for another week. I started the two lists below with my thoughts. But I would love to hear your thoughts on this as well.

In fact, I would like to encourage a dialogue about this topic, so I would encourage you to read the lists below and then add your own comments as well.

Let's start with why it is important that you love your job. If you love your job you will:

1. Look forward to going to work each day
2. Have a brighter outlook on life
3. Do a better job because you enjoy it
4. Be more fun to be around
5. Be more willing to help those around you
6. Have better interaction with your co-workers and boss
7. Enjoy better mental health
8. Enjoy better physical health
9. Tell others how much you enjoy your job/company
10. Take better care of your customers
11 Spend the extra 10 minutes to do something right rather than just try to get it done
12. Be more wiling to sacrifice to get through tough times
13. Have more trust in your boss and co-workers
14. Be more creative in finding solutions
15. Work longer and harder because you enjoy it

Why do people love their jobs? Here are some common reasons why:

1. I get to use my natural talents
2. I'm good at what I do
3. My boss treats me with respect
4. People here value my opinion
5. I get to be creative
6. I get to have fun while I work
7. My boss understands that I have a personal life
8. I get to learn new things
9. I am empowered to make decisions
10. I know my boss and co-workers care about me
11. Mistakes are viewed as a learning experience not a career-ending event
12. I get valuable feedback from my boss and co-workers
13. I am encouraged to stretch myself
14. My company cares about its employees
15. My boss listens and understands me
16. Teamwork is present in the office and outside the office as well
17. We are encouraged to work together and not compete against each other
18. I know what is expected of me

So, those are my first thoughts. I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject. Please feel free to comment, add your own reasons, or even dispute some of mine. For as much time as we spend at work, it is my belief that we should not just like our jobs, but we should love our jobs.

Until next time.....

Dave Meyer
ECI Learning Systems LLC