Archive for the ‘ Focus ’ Category

The 3 Habits of Highly Effective Millennials

We’re doing something a little different this week.

Instead of a written post, Gus Jaramillo and I collaborated on a video post as part of the Leadership Quote vlog series. Subscribe for future videos!

Act Before You Think – The “OODA Loop” in Leadership

I have always been taught to “think before you act” – I should  consider what exactly I want to do; why; and what the impact is. This way, you have clarity on what you’re doing, and you can avoid making the wrong decision or upsetting people (especially important in leadership).

However, we’re working in business around the globe, using real-time communication, and keeping up with continuous improvements technology; and we need to keep pace with a constantly changing environment – and this means changing our decision making process to match this faster pace.

The “OODA Loop” is not new – it was developed by US Air Force Colonel John Boyd in the 1950’s, and refers to the recurring decision cycle of: observe-orient-decide-act. The quicker this cycle can be processed, the more an organization or individual can gain the upper hand, by being one step ahead of their “opponent’s” decision making.

The model demonstrates a four-point decision loop that supports fast, effective and proactive decision-making:

Observe Gather as much relevant information as possible. (In business, data becomes an important part of this process).
Orient Analyze the information, and use it to change the situation. The better and quicker the leader of an organization is able to gain clarity, the better the decision that can be made
Decide Determine a course of action. Having good data analysis and orientation allows organizations to make better and more repeatable decisions.
Act Follow through on your decision. Act with energy, discipline and drive. This is the heart of the execution process

You cycle through the loop by observing the results of your actions, reviewing and revising your initial decision, and moving to your next action. It needs to be a smooth, continual process, and the faster you can move through each stage the better. In fact, if you were to sit down and map out each step, it would slow down instead of speed up.

OODA Loop

The initial concept was based on military combat operations. Consider a fighter pilot trying to shoot down an enemy aircraft. Before the enemy is even in vision, the pilot considers information of the enemy pilot (level of training, cultural traditions, etc). When the enemy aircraft comes into the radar, our pilot gets more information on speed and size of the enemy plane. A decision is made based on the available information. Our pilot can then loop back to observation: is the attacker reacting to the action of our pilot? Then to orient: is the enemy reacting characteristically? Is his plane exhibiting better-than-expected performance? Based on these, he can cycle back through the loop to making a decision on his next course of action, and carry it out.

Fighter Pilot (TopGun)

If you’re looking to work on your leadership, and become a better leader, your first step might be to create an action plan. “In order to be a better leader, I want to do this, this, and this”. Whilst this action plan might focus your efforts, and provide a roadmap; it is just that: a plan.

When it comes to leadership, the way to produce the change of mindset – to improve the skills you require to become a better leader – is to act differently, rather than just think about it.

In fact, acting differently is more likely to make you think differently.

Someone once told me that, if I act like someone that I would like to meet, in time, I’d become a person that other people want to meet (and this is now written on a piece of A4 paper, stuck on the ceiling above my bed, and I read it every morning when I wake up). This is Boyd’s OODA Loop theory applied to being a ‘nicer’ person; but the same can apply to leadership. Act like the leader that you would like to have leading you, and in time, you’ll become the kind of leader that others want leading them.

You can try something new and, after action, observe the results – how it feels to us, how others around us react – and only later reflect on what our experience taught us.

In other words, we “act like a leader” and then “think like a leader”.

What I learned about customer service from an American Golf employee!

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Customer service is something we all come across in our daily lives. It can be used as a key differentiator for you and your company. 9 out of 10 US consumers said they would pay more for a superior service. I want to share with you a customer service experience I had a few weeks ago and how this made me feel valued.

Background

I wanted to buy my partner (Daniel) Golf clubs for Christmas. I initially searched on line for the best deal but didn’t have a clue what I needed, so decided to visit American Golf.  The guy serving me knew I didn’t know much about clubs, so he advised what I should buy and gave me a 30 minute personal fitting voucher so I could return with Daniel.

A few weeks ago we took the clubs back to American Golf for our 30 minute personal fitting to find out how they needed to be altered. All of which was free of charge. We turned up and a man came up to us straight away asking, ‘how can I help you’. I explained about the voucher and he took us to the area where men/women hit golf balls into a net (I apologize to golf fans in advance, I am not a golfer).

My Customer Service Experience

Working in training and development I am always looking out for great customer service and learning why these people behave the way they do. So I am going to tell you what I learned from this young gentleman, Mark, a few weeks ago.

  • It doesn’t matter who made the sale, the client is your customer and you must help them – When Mark asked me who sold me the clubs, he said ‘he isn’t in today, but I can help you’. So often in sales roles we are concerned with ‘MY’ client rather than ‘OUR’. We look out for self interest rather than the company’s interest. It is vital that an organization creates a team culture, rather than an ‘I’ culture.
  • You need to know what you are talking about – When Dan was swinging the golf clubs into the net, Mark was making notes. He could tell instantly what Dan needed, however he still followed the process of checking each detail to make sure that they altered the golf clubs just right. (If you are interested in the fitting process please see the below YouTube clip) 78% of customer satisfaction comes from a competent service rep.
  • The manager needs to train you up and let you go   I asked Mark how he had learned what he had. He mentioned that when he first started, his manager told him all he needed to know (direction). The manager then asked him to fit him with the right golf clubs following the process and equipment they had. He also mentioned that the manager encourages them to play golf and to always be on the lookout for opportunities of watching friends using their clubs.

When I was in American Golf the manager didn’t get involved once. He let his employee who obviously knew what he was talking about get on with it. This showed to me as the customer, that the manager trusted Mark to do a good job, and he did.

Why am I telling this story?

Customer service isn’t rocket science, yet it can create huge financial benefits to your company. 7 out of 10 people say they would spend more with companies who offered excellent customer service.

American Golf created a culture where employees feel empowered and trusted to do a good job. It also showed me there is a strong link between leadership and customer service. Without the right environment, Mark wouldn’t have been able to offer the great customer service that he did. The outcome of this great customer service is that I will always shop at American Golf and I will strongly recommend them.

All statistics are taken from helpscout . The American Golf store is in Guildford, UK.

Exercise: It May Help Your Memory

We’ve barely started the new year and already resolutions are being thrown to the wayside. From eating healthier to saving more money, there’s one resolution is quite popular: exercising more.

I’m currently struggling against the hump that we all face after heading to the gym a few times. My motivation is at an all-time low. If you’re like me, you may be more willing to exercise after hearing that exercise can potentially improve your memory:

Credit: BrainCraft

What have you forgotten lately, both at home and at work? Perhaps an anniversary or something more physical like your keys? Or at something you had to do that wasn’t on your calendar?

Well, exercise may be the answer. So motivate yourself to push through the hump, because once you get into the groove, you’ll be improving not just your body but your mind as well.

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Image Credit: 1

Millennials are Here to Stay

In 2015, Millennials will be the largest generation in the workforce according to a new report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Millennials already make up 28% of management and 2/3 see themselves in management within the next 10 years. Millennials are turning the page to a new chapter for the workforce and will take over as the majority leaders and will have the ability to make large decisions and have great impact.

So what do we know about Millennials? Let’s break this down into what non-Millennial hiring managers believe about Millennials vs. what Millennials actually believe about themselves.1471951_586401470518_4259087240555250497_n

In a recent survey…

Technology

What non-Millennial managers believe:

  • 82% believe that Millennials are more technically adept than prior generations

What Millennials believe:

  • 74% believe they can learn new things more quickly

Loyalty

What non-Millennial managers believe:

  • The majority (53%) report difficulty finding and retaining Millennial talent

What Millennials believe:

  • 79% say that would consider quitting their job and work for themselves in the future
  • A majority (52%) say corporate loyalty is outdated and a majority (58%) expect to stay in their job fewer than 3 years

The majority (80%) of hiring managers surveyed believe that Millennials are narcissistic, 65% believe Millennials are money-driven, and only 27% believe Millennials are team players. However, those same managers also feel that Millennials are more open to change (72%), creative (66%), and adaptable (60%).

The question isn’t whether there is a discrepancy on perspectives, but more so how we handle these differences and positively influence or channel the Millennials’ energy.

Gus is a Learning and Performance Professional at the Ken Blanchard Companies and is currently finishing his PhD in I/O Psychology. He can be reached at gus.jaramillo@kenblanchard.com

Streaming: The Future of Virtual Learning?

There is a revolution happening in the world of video games. It is called Twitch. It’s a website where gamers can directly stream footage of their game daily and provide voice commentary. Most also share their webcams in the corner of the screen and respond to chat either directly in the chat window or via voice. They generate revenue through subscribers who pay monthly ($5 on average) for special benefits (like being entered into giveaways) and donations. And it’s gaining so much popularity that Amazon purchased it for almost a billion dollars and was considered the fourth largest source of internet traffic in the US in early 2014.

Pewdiepie Playing Goat Simulator

So why is this important? Well, within the realm of learning, MOOCs have gained much popularity for providing content on the go at little to no cost. But the content is not flexible and other than forums, there’s no fast way to interact with the content provider, especially if you need clarification or have a quick question. It lacks the feel of communicating directly with a live human being. And virtual training/learning is great, but could be expensive and the scheduling might be inconvenient or infrequent.

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In a sense, MOOCs are like YouTube, where people upload content and others view it. So what is out there for learning that is like Twitch? Currently, virtual training/learning and live video blogging comes the closest. But imagine if there were entertaining individuals streaming, for instance, a fun learning videogame or sharing some interesting but educational videos for just a half hour every night and providing witty commentary. And also answering questions out loud on the video as you ask them in the chat window. And providing free giveaways for both subscribers and regular viewers.

How-To-Video-Your-Way-To-Success

There are technology platforms already in place to enable this type of streaming to occur. And there are many people who would benefit from this type of content. And for the streamers, there is revenue to be generated through subscribers. I believe that this will be the next big learning platform to take off once more people start taking advantage of this technology, particularly when more of the YouTube generation starts to enter the workforce.

What are your thoughts? Would this be something that would interest you?

Image Credit: 1 | 2 | 3

Managing Your Mind

Doorway to Consciousness

Before you can effectively manage your career, relationships, home, hobbies, and the pursuit of your dreams, you’ll first need to master the skill of managing your mind. Yes, it is a skill. Yes, it can be learned and strengthened through the practice of meditation. Essentially meditation is mental training. Mindfulness—my preferred form of mental training—is the practice of focusing on present-moment experience. As simple as it sounds, it certainly is not easy! Mindfulness is learned experientially and getting a firm grasp on it takes time, but not as much as you might think. In this popular TED talk, Andrew Puddicombe explains it best:

The mind is the seat of consciousness, the realm of all mental and emotional processing, somatic sensation and perception, and the intricate combination of moment-to-moment experiences we call life. That’s where it all plays out, in your mind. Knowing that, you can see why a calm and well-functioning mind is the foundation for health and happiness.

How can mindfulness help? Focus. Blanchard consultants and coaches will attest that in order to sustain learning after training, focus is key. Without focus the untrained mind is like a puppy, distracted by anything that moves. Training a puppy takes energy and discipline. The process can be frustrating and it won’t work without consistency and patience. Mental training is similar. In its natural state the mind is like a puppy, running in circles and sometimes colliding with walls because it can’t stop. Frantic mental activity perpetuates stress, anxiety, pain, and struggle. When we lack focus, we lack control over our experience. We cannot always change the events that occur but we can change how we experience them. Mindfulness is a way of redirecting attention and thus acting with greater intention and less struggle. It starts with noticing what you are experiencing in the present moment and simply observing without judging it—Sort of just sitting with it rather than reacting to it. Mindfulness is the space between stimulus and response.

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A common misconception about mindfulness, as Puddicombe explains, is that “people assume that meditation is all about stopping thoughts, getting rid of emotions, somehow controlling the mind. But actually it’s…about stepping back, seeing the thought clearly, witnessing it coming and going.” Did you know that we spend nearly half of our waking hours thinking about something other than what we’re doing? Astounding! Cognitive neuroscientists have shown that a wandering mind is an unhappy mind, and an unhappy mind is an unproductive one. Instead we can choose, in any moment, to sit with reality by mindfully bringing our attention back to here and now.

TNH_Meditation

Looking for an introduction to the practice of mindfulness and how it can improve your wellbeing? Here are some resources to get you started:

Mind full, or mindful? The choice is yours.

About the Author: Sarah is a Professional Services Intern at The Ken Blanchard Companies. She is pursuing a Ph.D. in Consulting Psychology, and her research is based on mindfulness. Contact: sarah.maxwell@kenblanchard.com.

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