Empowerment is a Win-Win

Empowerment helps you get Wow resultsWhat would your life be like if all of your employees were a high-producing sales force and an outstanding customer service staff rolled into one? 

What if you could take a day off, confident that effective work would be done. Problems would be solved without you having to step in?

It’s not just a dream, it’s what happens when you practice empowerment.

It Starts with Hiring Smart

Years ago, I started a career counseling business.  One of my bragging points I used to say was that I hired people smarter than me.

Call it karma or whatever, I later took a job with a company called Sherikon that specialized in government service contracts; in fact it was their lifeblood.  It was a private company and the owner/president, Ed Fernandez, was a great presence and leader.  He used to constantly brag that the success of his company was that he hired people smarter than him and then got out of their way and let them do their job!

It’s Also What You Do AFTER You Hire Smart

That’s not the complete story, however.  Not only did he hire people smarter than him (or so he says) but he also equipped them and empowered them to do their jobs for the welfare of the organization. And that’s important.

Here’s how he did it. They lived and breathed on government contracts. Therefore I and every other new hire attended a multi-day training course on how to seek out, pursue, bid, and secure government contracts.

I found out that every single employee in the company was put through that training. Line workers, administrative assistants, all the way up (and down) the ladder.  EVERYONE.

Equip and Send

Not only that, but after we completed the training we were told that we were AUTHORIZED to go out and get contracts. If we did, then we would be placed on the work for that contract and if possible trained to be the project manager.  So there was not only benefits for the organization but the individual employee as well.

That’s what we want as well: every single employee working for the welfare of the organization. Whether through increased sales, outstanding customer service, or top-level efficiency.  And all without us having to put our fingers in.

Empowerment Starts with Building Believers

Empowerment Builds believersZig Ziglar used to say you need the mindset that the Sales Department is not our whole company, but our whole company is the sales department. Every employee from the janitor to the CEO emulates the values and speaks the gospel of the organization. They represent that in the way to they speak to EVERY SINGLE CALLER and customer.

Here’s the catch.

Your employees can only effectively represent the organization IF they understand it’s values and have bought into it. IF they are provided with the tools they need to communicate the message. Only IF they KNOW they are given the authority to set the stage for sales, provide over the top service, and solve problems. No one can represent effectively and consistently what they don’t understand and don’t believe.

How Successful Leaders Empower Their Team

  • Model Expected Behavior – Demonstrate the behavior you desire.  Do as I say and not as I do did not work when you were a kid and it won’t work with your team.  You must daily model whatever behaviors you expect from them.
  • Set Expectations – This is critical. You must let them know exactly what you expect from them. Without this, it is almost impossible for them to measure up and you will be disappointed. So will they and they won’t try again.
  • Equip Them to Do It – Provide them with what they need to do the job.  You can’t just say, “yeah, go out and get government contracts” and not train them on how to find them, bid on them, and secure them.
  • Go Hands Free – If you are the person who has to have their fingers in every pie or have total control then you are not really empowering people. In addition, you are not going to get the results you want.  You have to be able to let go of things. This is the hardest thing for entrepreneurs to do. They spend so much time being involved in everything out of necessity, it’s hard to let go when it’s no longer practical or desirable. Remember the objective here is not just benefit the organization or the employee but you as well.

Empowerment is always a win-win situation. Employees who are empowered are more engaged. Therefore they are more productive. The organization wins, they win, and the customer wins.

And you get a more peace of mind and perhaps even a little more time on your schedule.

I would love to hear how you or your organization empowers their employees. Leave your comments here or drop me a line at psimkins(at)BoldlyLead.com.

And HEY, why not get a copy of my e-Book 15 Innovative Ways to Show Employees You Care! It’s my gift to you. Get it now!

Just Can’t Communicate

I heard Zig Ziglar tell this joke about communication many years ago.

A woman meets with an attorney and says “I want to divorce my husband!

“OK” the attorney responds, “let’s start with a few questions first.”

“Like what?” she asks.

“Well, do you have any grounds?”

“Yes, we have about 5 acres out in the country.”

“No, I mean do you have a grudge?”

“No, but we have a nice, wide carport and a storage shed.”

“Let me ask this a different way. Do you have any complaints about him?”

“Like what?”

“Well, does he beat you up?”

“No, I’m up at least an hour before him every day.”

“Well, what about your role here? Do you ever wake up grouchy?”

“No, when he’s in a bad mood I just let him sleep.”

Exasperated, the attorney finally asks, “Why exactly do you want to get a divorce?”

“Well,” she replies, “the guy just can’t communicate!”

Communication Fail

Our biggest struggle with communication is when we simply assume it happened. You can hear the assumption in the language people use. You may have heard statements like this from others or even coming out of your own mouth. I know I have.

“It made perfect sense to me!”

“How could I be any clearer?!”

“Why can’t you understand this?!”

“What do I have to do to get through to you?!”

“Do I have to say it again?!”

Yes, You Do

So the assumption that communication happened just because we said something is a strong impulse. And despite evidence again and again that it doesn’t work that way, we persist. And communication fails.

communication fail during the telephone gameDid you ever play the Telephone Game when you were a kid? You may remember how it’s played. Everyone sits or stands next to each other. One person whispers something in the next person’s ear, usually some silly phrase or complex sentence. That person then whispers it to the next and so on until everyone hears it. The last person then repeats what they heard, which is usually only vaguely related to what the first person said.

Why does it come out like that? Shouldn’t the message successfully pass along accurately every time? In fact, it almost never does. Here are some reasons why:

  1. As listeners, we are not always focused as much as we should be on what is being said. Since the speaker can only say the phrase once, we have to rely on what we think was said.
  2. Related to that, our brain tends to fill in the unfamiliar with the familiar. So words that were missed get substituted with words we know.
  3. As speakers, our own tone, inflection, pronunciation, and mindset effect how the words come out.

Communication Success

Relating that to our daily communication, what we say and how we say it has a great effect on what people hear. The environment in which the conversation took place makes a difference. The mindset of the listener also has an impact on what they hear and how they interpret it.

So for communication to be successful it is important to be aware of our own emotions and attitudes. We must also be mindful of the emotions and attitudes of the listener. Have you ever tried to have a conversation with someone who is angry or upset or fearful or stressed? How about when you were angry or upset or fearful or stressed? How well did that really go?

A farmer who wants to grow crops doesn’t just throw seeds out and hope they grow. The farmer will prepare the environment where he wants things to grow. He might till the ground so the dirt is fresh and airy. He might fertilize and water the ground. When spreading the seeds, he might make sure they end up in the right place for optimal growth. When he sets up the environment correctly, anticipates weather and other conditions that can negatively impact the crops, and provides ongoing care then the farmer can enjoy a successful harvest.

Tips for Better Communication

If we truly desire to communicate successfully, like a farmer sowing seeds, we have to make sure we have the right environment.

  • Check Your Own Emotions. When we are emotionally charged we are more concerned with having our say than we are with communicating.
  • Check the Listener’s Emotions. While sometimes it is unavoidable, it’s best to not attempt communication when the other person is experiencing high emotions before the conversation begins.
  • Choose Words Familiar with the Other Person. You ever have someone talk to you with jargon totally unfamiliar to you? People connect better with words they already have a relationship with.
  • Ask for Understanding. Don’t assume they know what you mean. Ask them to repeat back what they hear you to say. It keeps them involved in the communication and it ensures that it actually occurs.

So, I’m curious. What’s the funniest or dumbest thing you have heard someone say during a communication breakdown? Share it here in the comments or email me at psimkins@BoldlyLead.com.

Cuz I’m Happy!

You have mostly certainly heard it and perhaps seen it.  The song from the movie Despicable Me 2 called Happy.
The song from Pharrell Williams became enormously popular.  The video went viral on the Internet and there is actually a 24 hour music video web site called 24hoursofhappy.com.  Go there and watch at any time of day or night.  The site automatically detects your local time and cues up and plays a video of someone dancing and liHappyp syncing to the song.  Different person and different surroundings depending on the time of day.  It’s a neat little diversion.

What Makes Happy

When I ask people what they really want in life or in business, I hear a lot of the standard replies. “I’d like a better career”, “I’d like to make more money” (hear that one a lot), a better car, a better house, sometimes it’s even “if only I could find the person of my dreams”.
We have a tendency to assign our happiness out to other things and other people as if someone else or something else is responsible for our happiness.
Even when we know, or think we know, what we really need to be happy we let other things get in the way.  We live in a world of instant gratification and so we sometimes take what’s right in front of us instead of what we really want or need to find our happiness.
Zig Ziglar said it best,
[snaptweet]The chief cause of failure and unhappiness is trading what we want most for what we want right now.[/snaptweet]

It’s Your Job

We have to take responsibility for our happiness.  We need to take the necessary actions to achieve that happiness.
[snaptweet]Happiness comes in your reaction to the circumstances, not the circumstances themselves.[/snaptweet]

Work towards the happiness that you truly desire.

  • Take Responsibility for Your Happiness – Don’t try to delegate your happiness out to someone or something else. You and you alone are the determinant for your happiness.
  • Set the Right Priorities to Move Towards Happiness – We let things of the day interfere but when we understand what our priorities are, then that helps us make the decisions to stay on target and moving in the right direction.  It creates focus.
  • Be Positive in Your Daily Outlook – Things happen every day that can be potentially negative.  The positive thinker tries to find the good or benefit in every situation.  It’s not sticking your head in the sand, it is simply refusing to anguish over what we don’t have and work with what we do have to create the best possible scenario.
  • Make Gratitude a Daily Practice – There is both research and anecdotal data suggesting again and again that a regular dose of gratitude leads to a happier life.  In the face of all that, we often fail to show gratitude for what we have, instead focusing on what we don’t have.  Each day, for thirty days, write down at least one thing for which you are grateful.  It must be a different thing each day.  That will build the habit of gratitude thinking.
  • Nurture Relationships – Happiness is built when we are in relationship with other people.  Not one of us on the earth is built to be a hermit!  We are made for relationships.  That does not necessarily mean romantic relationships, but valuable friendships and even acquaintances that build us up and care for us.
  • Be in the Moment – Focus on the now.  When we look back at what was or spend too much time hoping tomorrow is better, we fail to appreciate or fully leverage the moment we have right now.  Wherever you are, be there with your heart, mind, and soul.

So, what’s your action plan?  How are you going to move towards happiness?   Share your thoughts here.

Baseball Season!

We are coming up on another baseball season and I looked back on the statistics for the last season.  The number hitter in all of baseball last year was Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers.  He finished the season with a .338 batting average.  What that means is that for every three times he went to bat he was only successful once.  In other words, one-third of the time he successfully accomplished his job.
How does a hitter handle that?  He goes to bat again; he goes up convinced that this time he is going to get a hit, whether or not he was successful the last time.
great hitter hank aaronOne of my all-time favorite players and another one of the great hitters in baseball was Hank Aaron of the Atlanta Braves.  Aaron was the the first one to break Babe Ruth’s all-time homerun record.  I remember watching it on television; even at that age I was a rapid Atlanta Braves fan.  Hank Aaron was more than just a homerun hitter, he was a great hitter overall.  When asked about how he accomplished so much in the game, he said,
My motto was always to just keep swinging.  Whether I was in a slump, or feeling badly, or having trouble off the field; the only thing to do was to keep swinging!

The Key

There is the key to being the big hitter.
The successful DON’T STOP!
They keep going.
No matter what else is happening in their lives, they keep swinging and have the hope and belief that they will connect this time.
The salesman who wades through a hundred no’s until he gets to the yes.
The job applicant who goes to interview after interview, taking care to always look their best and always remain positive; enduring the uncertainty and lack of call backs until that time that the opportunity is offered to them.
The inventor who creates and redesigns products until she finds the one that meets the needs of enough people to make her prosperous.
Anyone who keeps adding value to others until they are able to reach their goals.  Zig Ziglar said it best in his ageless statement
You can anything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want!

Keep Swinging

So how are some ways that we can keep swinging to become the big hitter?
  1. REFLECTION – spend time learning lessons from your experiences
    • Daily – keep a journal.  Look back at the day’s experiences and what you have learned from them.  Learn from the good and the bad.
    • Quarterly – what’s working?  what’s not working?  what needs to change to help move you towards your goals?
    • Annually – look at you accomplished in the last year and look forward to what you want to accomplish in the coming year
  2. ACCEPT WHAT IS BUT NEVER BE SATISFIED WITH IT –  Accept things as they are but be constantly looking for ways to make them better.
  3. DON’T STOP!  Whatever else happens, keep moving forward towards the kind of person you want to be.

And take time out to go see a ball game on occasion!

How Grows It?

So tell me how your personal growth journey is going.
Or more to the point…is it going?
Do you have a definitive plan?  Is it written down on paper (or computer)?  That alone is a great start.

Get Out of Your Head

Ask most people and they will tell you they have a plan but it’s all in their head.  If you manage to get it out of them, you will find the plans vague at first.  Not good enough.
Get out of your head and into your greatness. –Les Brown
Your personal growth plan has to be written down and it has to be specific.  Not just what you want to do but by when and how.  You can’t hit a target you can’t see.
But even that is not enough.  You have to actually act upon that plan.  This part can seem very overwhelming to most people because they see all that they have to do to reach their goal and it seems like so much that they get discouraged and just give up.  Is that where you are?  I know I have been there many times.

Bit by Bit

To overcome this, it helps to break it down.  As they old saying goes you eat an elephant one bite at a time.  Focus on what you can do right now to get a little closer to your goal.  To become a better leader, connect better with people, build better relationships, learn to increase your influence; whatever your personal growth goals are they can be broken down into daily activities.

Become a 1%er

So think 1%.  
growth by 1% a dayFocus on growing yourself just 1% a day.  
That’s a fairly easy thing to do.  If you grow yourself by just one percent a day, then think about this:  over one year you will have grown yourself 365 percent.  Actually even more than that because it is exponential; one percent on one percent on one percent and so on.  So if you focus on that one percent and do that on a daily basis, then you are going to get much closer to your goal.
Every day do something that will inch you closer to a better tomorrow. -Doug Fireball

Pick It and Plan It

Start with WHAT you are going to do daily to grow.  Read a book, attend an online seminar, practice a particular skill.  You need to have a specific activity.  Random doesn’t work.  When we are specific, we choose activities that actually lead us where we want to go.  Random leads us anywhere.
I’m a big fan of what Zig Ziglar called “Automobile University“.  Buy CD’s ( or use your MP3 player) and listen to learn.  Motivational recordings, instructional programs, books on audio; there is a never ending supply.  You can even borrow some from the public library.
Did you know that if you subscribe to Success Magazine (and you should) that there is a CD in every issue with tips and guidance from thought leaders?
Whatever you choose, stick with it until you finish it.  And most importantly, schedule it.  Your commute to work is ideal for this.

Become a 1%er today and move closer to achieving your goals.