Monthly Archives: August 2012

Think Globally: Get outside of your “four walls”

Here is an article that was recently published on the Personal Branding Blog of which I am a contributor to…

With the Olympics in London underway, there is a wave of global consciousness that seems to run through many of us. Whether it is being inspired by the stories of the Olympians competing from all corners of the globe, or it’s being exposed to new cultures and ideas, a rare level of consciousness is in the air.

Besides being reminded of the diversity I have seen from the 30+ countries I have visited, and how it allows me to learn about new cultures to add to my list of future trips, this Olympic games has made me think about the scope of my thinking.

In our day-to-day lives, we have a tendency to think very locally. It’s only natural. We focus on our job, within the four walls of our office. We zero-in on a specific goal or project our boss gave us. After work, we go home and focus on what is happening within the four walls of our house or apartment. While we do use Facebook and other means to stay in touch with our friends, most of the connections we make are within the four walls of our social network.

When we strategize how to tackle a new obstacle in our career, we often rely primarily on what lies within the four walls of our past experiences as we tap into our successes and the mistakes we have made to determine the best path forward. 

Unfortunately, the best answers often don’t lie within these four walls (of our experience, social network, job, home, and so on). It is crucial to think beyond these constricted four wall areas.

Having a global perspective does two things, (1) it exposes us to new perspectives and things we have never known, and (2) it takes us out of our comfort zones.

First, when you think globally, you gain new view points and information that can help you in the future (in ways you have no idea it would). When traveling in Asia a few years ago, I was exposed to how business was conducted there. It was new and different to me and I subsequently took an interest in learning more. I was glad I did because recently, as my company has involved me in projects that require interactions with Asian business leaders, I have been able to leverage these lessons to better relate to them. This is one of countless examples.

Second, this global perspective takes us out of our normal day to day routines and places us in a new and challenging territory where we don’t always have the answer. If you are safe within your normal, “culture” or day-to-day four wall routines, it is easy to be comfortable and lose the edge you need to be an effective leader and owners of our careers. You need to be on your toes. Having a global perspective takes you beyond the focus on your job, your company and your industry and it brings you on a quest where you meet new people and get exposed to new things. Leverage opportunities to get outside of these “local” communities and branch out into something new.

While I have been passionate about improving education for a long time, it never really came into play in my career. A few years ago, I joined a non-profit organization that focused on helping socially-conscious entrepreneurs that were tackling some of the biggest challenges in a certain industry. In the process I made many connections in this space and learned about a brand new world unrelated to my career. Recently, my job responsibilities have given me the opportunity to work directly with leaders in this market and because of my wiliness to get out of my comfort zone and focus on a new “market,” I have a great foundation to accomplish my work goals with the connections I have made over the last few years.

When stepping out of your comfort zone, take it at your own pace, but make sure to stretch yourself a couple steps further than you thought you could. Go to that extra event, read that extra article, make that extra personal connection. You never knew when it will come in handy later in your career.

This global perspective garners diversity. Diversity of not only what you see, but diversity in the experiences you have. I have worked in very diverse industries from technology to consumer goods and in business functions from sales to operations to marketing. This diversity of perspectives and experiences has been extremely valuable as I have progressed in my career.

While every couple years an Olympic games (either Summer or Winter) will attract the focus of the world (you included), don’t wait until these times to think outside of your various sets of four walls referenced before. Challenge yourself, step outside of your comfort zone, learn new things and most importantly, catalog these experiences, perspectives and important information. It all will most definitely make you a better leader and a more effective steward of your own career.

BE AWESOME!

-MR. BIZ

 

Follow my blog by clicking the link at the bottom right of your screen.I’d really appreciate it!

If you found this article useful, then please retweet and share on Facebook by clicking Like.

And please leave your comments and suggestions below

The best question a manager can answer: “Why?”

Here is an article that was recently published on the Personal Branding Blog of which I am a contributor to… http://www.personalbrandingblog.com/the-best-question-a-manager-can-answer-why/

Let me lay out a situation that most of those that work at almost any company are familiar with: Company management undergoes a reorganization and change is coming. The change can be vast including entire groups or functions going-away, leaving hundreds or thousands without a job) or could be something slight, like people have to work on an upcoming Saturday.

Corporate leaders are (rightfully so) worried about big things like, will this new strategy and organization structure cause the company to lose momentum? Or, will this change cause us to lose profit or become vulnerable to our competitors? Yet one thing that does not receive as much thought is how to “break the news” to all the employees. For most, it’s as cold and calculated as sending out a company announcement via email, and then letting the chips fall where they will. This lack of thought about communicating change can be disaster because (quite simply) people talk.

When people talk two things happen, (1) they get distracted and no longer focus on their work, and (2) they come up with some of the most creative conclusions as to why things changed and the rationale behind the new system. Most of the time these self-crafted answers are based on wrong assumptions or are just completely rationalized and made up by someone who is ill-informed.

In managing people, I have found that the best way to deal with change (and basically the changing of any policy or rule that is set) is to answer the question that is often disregarded by managers; the question “Why?”

Managers can wrongfully think, “I’m the boss and I know why I needed to make this change. My employees just need to focus on the new way we are doing things so we can reach the new goals I set for them.” Instead, effective managers don’t just tell their people that a change has been made, but they offer rationale behind why the change was made.

For example, a friend of mine’s company had an entire team that was focused on making products for and selling to a certain industry. One day, it was announced that the team would no longer be focused on this industry but instead would be targeting international customers. Along with the announcement, some people’s job would be eliminated and some would have to move to Europe and Asia. Unfortunately, that was the extent of the announcement. There was no why.

Left to their own devices people spent a great deal of time and energy speculating whether the change came because of something going on in the industry (which appeared to be growing) or a new opportunity that came about internationally, and beyond. The company did not share that this industry  focus was not profitable or that the cost of paying experienced people on the team was causing the company to lose market share in other product lines because there was less money for marketing. The reasoning could have been anything, but the bottom-line is that it was not shared.

The beauty about sharing why with your employees is because it allows them to move on. It’s like ripping off a band-aid. It may hurt, and they may disagree with the rationale that you used in making your decision, but at least they understand your reasoning.

Telling the why behind a decision allows people to feel like they are important and deserve to know. Instead of de-motivating them, it allows people to focus more on their work and can even empower them to work better and smarter because they will naturally look for new ways to support your rationale for making the decision in the first place. If you talk to the team about the purpose behind a cost cutting measure you are instating, they will begin to uncover additional ways to cut costs in other areas (often times without you even asking them to). They will work smarter and in a way that is mindful of why the decision was made, while you will get better results.

While it is important to use tact and put the right “spin” on the reasoning behind your decision, make sure to share the why with your people and not just what the change is. It can mean the difference between achieving the result that you are hoping the change would create and total failure and low morale. Remember the answer the question, “Why?” even if you aren’t directly asked.

BE AWESOME!

-MR. BIZ

Follow my blog by clicking the link at the bottom right of your screen.I’d really appreciate it!

If you found this article useful, then please retweet and share on Facebook by clicking Like.

And please leave your comments and suggestions below

%d bloggers like this: