All posts by wpadmin

The Great Value Migration No. 2

90% of today’s professional jobs will disappear. Will your career disappear too?

This week we, in part 2 of the GREAT VALUE MIGRATION we examine, why your job isn’t safe & why you shouldn’t care…

As always, I invite you to be a part of the process by sharing your insights with me directly at jeff@jeffkaplan.com.

SPECIAL NOTE: Thank you to all those that took time to share your thoughts and ideas regarding the GREAT VALUE MIGRATION. We’ve read every comment and considered every perspective – you are each a part of the GVM story.

Stay connected,

-Jeff

The Great Value Migration No. 1

We’re taking it up a notch! 

(See e-book segment below message)

Since we began publishing this blog in 2013, we’ve learned so much from your feedback. In fact, your insights and stories were so valuable, we asked ourselves how we can get you more involved.

The answer? We’re inviting you to become co-authors and help shape our content as it develops! Starting this week, we’ll be publishing e-book segments focused on things that are happening right now, changes in the world of work that effect all of us. And we ask you to share your insights, stories and opinions; anything that helps clarify, illustrate or extend the topic.

We begin today with an e-book series examining, the greatest career challenge (and the greatest opportunity) we’ve faced in a generation: The Great Value Migration.

What are your thoughts? Do you feel it? Is it affecting your organization or career?

Reach out directly at jeff@jeffkaplan.com or text me at (310) 220-5139.

Cheers,

-Jeff

SELL NO!

While some still consider it a dirty word, selling is becoming a make-or-break skill.

The competition is too fierce.
The opportunities are too few.
And time is running out on personal brands that don’t include sales capability.

If you don’t consider yourself a sales person.
If the idea of selling doesn’t agree with you.
It may be time to think again.

Last month, I facilitated a session that brought together a dozen public and private organizations to discuss the future of business education. Held on behalf of Iowa State University, the session explored the question:

Has an operational and functional understanding of selling and the sales process become a business education requirement?

Iowa State is not the only institution of higher education exploring the question and educational providers are not alone in recognizing the rising importance of sales capabilities. As the author of “Everybody Sells”— a book that advances the thesis that organization-wide sales engagement is becoming increasingly important to organizational success — my opinion has long been registered.

The groundswell of interest in selling extends far beyond the logical advantages of possessing basic sales skills. The ability to articulate ideas, influence resource allocations and garner and maintain the support of other people is of undeniable practical and tactical value. However, one might reasonably associate similar outcomes to other areas of focus, including leadership, entrepreneurship and marketing.

No, it appears that the rising interest in sales skills represents some deeper movement, some more fundamental change. Moving from the one-on-one to team-on-team; rejecting form, function and price in favor of value realization—each incremental change has altered what sales excellence means and what sales performance requires.

The table stakes are rising. Sales success now requires the highest levels of product and service fluency, a deep understanding of client operations and the ability to harness and coordinate support from a broad range of internal and external resources. What better proving ground of tomorrow’s top executives?

If you’ve distanced yourself from the sales function because you still associate sales with manipulation, trickery, fast-talking or sleight-of-hand, you’ve missed a generation of maturity and development. And it may be time to join the club…

Selling matters—no matter who you are.

As always, I invite you to share your comments and experiences directly at jeff@jeffkaplan.com.

Until next time. Stay connected.

-Jeff

You’ll Only Get Answers to the Questions You Ask… (Flashback)

The devil is in the details and there’s no more fertile ground for relational bad-doing than what’s been left unsaid. Learning to ask more disciplined and purposeful questions will help you increase communication’s effectiveness, decrease unvoiced assumptions and keep devilish surprises out of your interactions. So, this week we’re looking back to 2015 for some timely advice about questions…

You’ll Only Get Answers to the Questions You Ask…
(Flashback)

Discovering possibilities, opportunities and potential takes the same skills as uncovering ignorance, incompetence and evasion. It’s all in how you ask the question.

Executives, lawyers, salespeople and anyone that’s ever been in a relationship can benefit from a deeper understanding of questions. The topic is so important that in 2014, John C. Maxwell dedicated an entire book to the connection between leadership and asking good questions.

Here are 6 commonsense ways to ask better questions.

  1. Be specific: Clear questions generate clear answers. Specificity doesn’t mean that you need to structure your questions narrowly, but state them clearly. Remember, the information you request also defines the information you won’t receive. This is especially true in evaluating strategic progress with rich activity levels. If you don’t know the information you need, it’s unlikely you’ll receive it.
  2. Listen: A question is only as good as your ability to understand the answer. Life is full of nuances, so an answer may contain information or shadings you may not appreciate while you are hearing the response. Be thoughtful and give yourself time to consider the answer and its implications.
  3. Don’t play ahead: Avoid thinking about your next question while someone is answering your last one. Show respect and care by being in the moment.
  4. Avoid judgmental responses: Great questions facilitate great conversations. The point of the conversation is to learn, build trust and develop a platform for future interactions. Providing judgmental feedback is a sure way to shut down the entire process.
  5. Follow up: Having taken the time to consider the answer purposefully follow-up with clarifying questions.
  6. Open up: It’s a two-way street, others are likely to mimic the degree to which you let your guard down, share openly and be yourself.

As always, I invite you to share your comments and experiences directly at jeff@jeffkaplan.com.

Until next time. Stay connected.

Original Post: September 4, 2015 (http://jeffkaplan.com/2015/09/youll-only-get-answers-to-the-questions-you-ask/)

Dysfunction Wanted

“Before we start, I want you to know that you’ve never worked with an organization like ours…”

This statement, or one like it, generally marks the start of my work with any organization. Global enterprise, mid-sized regional player or single shingle start-up – clients want me to understand the unique nature of who they are and how they operate.

Over the years, I’ve thought a lot about that statement and why clients are universally compelled to establish that they are one-of-a-kind.

FACE VALUE?

For many years, I took the comments at face value; believing that I’d soon see the operational or cultural unicorns, of which my clients warned. Inevitably, each organization came to resemble every other organization; a group of people just trying to make sense of a business world that doesn’t come with a manual.

PRIDE?

Later, I began to wonder if claims of uniqueness sprung from pride. Were they bragging? Were my clients calling attention to some hyper-successful operational cultural aspect of their organization? The idea didn’t last long, as I soon realized the warnings were almost always about bracing me to witness some dysfunction.

TRUST?

Often, we distance ourselves from our work, openly promoting the precedence of our personal life over our professional life. We say, “I work to live. I don’t live to work!”

But that’s not really the case, is it. Our work lives generally include high-value, family-like relationships we cherish. Most people can name their work spouse and may have even discussed the title openly. Many bosses mistake leadership for parent-like oversight; making an office atmosphere resonate with the tension normally produced when real parents interact with unwilling teenagers.

I came to realize the warnings were a form of vulnerability and a show of trust.

CAUTION ENTER AT YOUR OWN RISK

I was getting the business version of the talk we give our partners before they meet our parents for the first time. “Ok, this is what you are about to walk into…”

People often ask me how I define organizational culture. In the end, culture is simple – the sum of the interactions of the people comprise the organization. Organizational culture is sort of the same dynamic as when our families get together for the holidays.

THE BIG QUESTION

Are you hiring for capability and competency or are you really looking for someone to play the role of weird uncle Fred?

It may sound crazy at first, but ask yourself, what’s the dysfunction your organization keeps hiring? Look around, whatever it is, that’s your organizational culture.

As always, I invite you to share your comments and experiences directly at jeff@jeffkaplan.com

Until next time. Stay connected.

-Jeff

Arguments, Discussions & What Bad Bosses Do…

“Any argument has two sides, and they’re usually married to each other.”

There are three basic ways to resolve differences among people; argue, discuss or declare. It’s likely that you’ve had experiences with each and every favor (sometimes unknowingly) one approach over another. What method you choose and when and where you choose to apply it speaks volumes about who you are and the nature of your personal relationships.

While most people outwardly view showing and telling as a high-risk, low-reward approach; few of us consciously choose to argue out our differences. Typically, an emotional response with little forethought, our ability to avoid arguments in favor of discussion, is a strong indicator of emotional maturity.

Being right doesn’t mean much, if you are the only one that thinks so ”.

Many of us prefer to view ourselves in the well-balanced light of the listener-learner that harnesses the power of the discussion to drive performance and enhance social bonds. However, just as emotions can move use into an argumentative danger zone, lack of consideration may cause us to overlook opportunities for productive discussion.

The big no-no for leaders comes with the short-fused use of declarations. At home, out of frustration, exhaustion and the sheer desire to make-it-stop, parents resort to declarations as means to summarily dismiss younger children. The approach loses much of its effectiveness on pre-teens, is entirely ineffective with teens and is a cautionary tale when applied to a spouse (DON’T DO IT).

So, why do some leaders feel they have the right to summarily dismiss the opinions of employees by declaring how it’s going to be? Sure, there are some cases where snap judgments need to be made and made now. But for those leaders that believe their hierarchical role, paygrade or other anointed power gives them the right to treat employees’ opinions with less respect than we would grade school-aged children, is simple unacceptable.

The bigger question is… why do we let leaders behave badly?

As always, I invite you to share your comments and experiences directly at jeff@jeffkaplan.com

Until next time. Stay connected.

-Jeff

Company Killer: How to stop FUD before it’s too late!

Why Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt may be draining the life from your organization…

How was your day today?

Are you living the dream or playing out the clock?

Are the decisions your organization is making, spiritually uplifting or are you operating with a pit in your gut?

Our latest research indicates that many of today’s workers—folks that should be operating in career primetime—are too often finding themselves searching for 5 o’clock, ending the day so exhausted that they’re going bed at the same time as their children.

It’s not the work.

It’s not the latest crisis.

It’s not even the economy.

The cause?

F.U.D. Fear. Uncertainty. Doubt.

  • That merger that made millions for the stockholders, meant that thousands weren’t sure how they’d fit in to the new organization.
  • That amazing new sales leader who promised to bring back the good old days, also wants to reorganize.
  • The bosses that think their emotional intelligence is off the chart, while they insult, dismiss or otherwise diminish their employees with the same ease as they shuffle file folders.
  • The HR policy that restricts the contributions of the most capable and most knowledgeable employees in favor of qualifications gained decades before.

It’s the not knowing.

FEAR

It’s the wondering what’s next.

UNCERTAINTY

It’s the gut-wrenching thought that what you do isn’t so valuable any more.

DOUBT

As the saying goes, “if you want to make God laugh, make a plan.”

And of course, there are no guarantees in life but great leadership is becoming more and more about managing expectations (and thereby anxiety) about the future.

Leaders don’t need to coddle employees, who already understand that into each career some rain must fall…

Leaders MUST do everything in their power to minimize the FUD caused by what tomorrow will, or will not bring.

Fortune cookie sum-up?

Leaders need to respect their employees enough to give it to them straight, in as near real time as is possible, because in most cases it isn’t knowing the outcome it’s the not knowing what’s coming.

Until next time, I welcome your stories, comments and ideas directly at jeff@jeffkaplan.com.

Stay connected,

-Jeff

Is Your Organization A Slinky, A Box Or Sacred Cow? Experiments In Leadership

(DO TRY THIS AT HOME)

On my office wall, where my degrees and other trinkets of achievement once hung, is a single framed picture. A gift from my mother; who knows, as only a mother can, what captures the imagination of her child. Beneath the glass is a reproduction of J.T. James’ nearly 70-year old patent, which depicts the use of a technological marvel we’ve all come to know as the Slinky

My interest in the Slinky stems from the work of Harvard trained scientist Donella (Dana) Meadows, who helped me see leadership in a whole new way.

LEADERSHIP EXPERIMENT: PART ONE

  1. Perch a Slinky on your upturned palm.
  2. With the fingers of your free hand, grasp the Slinky from the top, partway down its coils.
  3. Now pull your bottom hand away quickly…
What happens? 
…the end of slinky drops and recoils like a bungee-cord, right?BUT what MADE the Slinky bungee up and down like that?
…if you think it all happened because you moved your hand, you’ve just made a critical leadership error!

LEADERSHIP EXPERIMENT: PART TWO

Repeat the experiment, but this time replace the Slinky with the box it came in.

  1. Put the box in your upturned palm.
  2. Grasp the top of the box with the fingers of your free hand.
  3. Quickly remove your palm from under the box.
What happens?
…Nothing.THE POINT
The motion of the hands (your leadership efforts and your employee’s efforts to support you) mean little, if they don’t align with the nature of the system….

A Slinky’s got to be a Slinky and a Box has to act like a Box.

RECIPE FOR LEADERSHIP SUCCESS
Organizational performance comes from the alignment of leaders and followers, working together in the right system.

How to get there?

  • Everything hinges on aligning leaders and employees, if you do that
  • You’ll earn the right to be wrong, because if you and your employees are aligned and you fail, you’ll receive rapid and unambiguous feedback, but
  • Leaders that act without employee alignment will never know, “Is it them or is it me?” and in all such cases, the answer is it’s you

Slinky or Box, so long as your system isn’t a Sacred Cow, you’ll have the opportunity to unleash the untapped leadership potential that exists in your organization right now!  

Wake up leaders, it’s time to lead!

And thanks for the picture mom…

Until next time, I welcome your stories, comments and ideas directly at jeff@jeffkaplan.com

Stay connected,

-Jeff

Reference:
Meadows, Donella H. (2008-12-03). Thinking in Systems: A Primer (Kindle Locations 178-190). Chelsea Green Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Chief Hugs Officer (Creating A World Of Success – Part 2)

How Dreams & Happiness are Becoming the New Business Imperatives

Dateline – Hiawatha, Iowa

Among the storefronts of an otherwise unremarkable strip mall, one door carries no sign and its windows display no products. Otherwise indistinguishable from the countless cookie-cutter replicas that dot America’s suburban commercial districts, what makes this mini-mall and this storefront different, is the very particular executive who’s working there. Sitting alone, seamlessly moving between the laptop keystrokes, tablet and smartphone taps and whiteboard scribbles, Jerry Akers is thinking, tinkering and working to create a different kind of company.

A decade ago, with a successful and financially rewarding career already behind him, Jerry’s unbridled energy and heartfelt desire to help others succeed, made him a poor candidate for retirement. So, Jerry and his wife Mickey left their corporate pasts behind and decided to operate a small local business. At least that’s how it started. Never having run a retail operation and with no prior cosmetology or franchise experience, Jerry became an owner-operator of a Great Clips franchise.

Today, Great Clips has become the world’s largest hair salon brand and Jerry has become one of its most successful franchisees. What sets Jerry apart can’t be found in a profit and loss statement, can’t be expressed in a spreadsheet and doesn’t show up in an earnings call. Jerry wants to help peopleparticularly the young stylists he and his wife are dedicating their lives to.

In a far-ranging interview, Jerry recounted his personal journey as a young executive; how he’d followed the teachings of Zig Zigler and John T. Molloy to learn everything from how to get what you want to dressing for success.

Three decades later, having moved from style to substance, Jerry embraces practical and tactical ideas and rejects things that “might sound good in a lab but doesn’t necessarily work in the real world”. Jerry humbly suggests that the business would continue to be successful without him, the Akers’ daughters now run the day-to-day operations and Jerry’s wife Mickey has assumed the role of Chief Hugs Officer – the one that makes sure every employee understands how valuable they are.

What’s Jerry’s role? Changing the lives of others.

Whether he’s working with one of his employees, or another franchisee or teaching basic business skills to young people, Jerry is driven to help others succeed.  “What I’ve found about myself, is that I really just love changing people’s lives…” Jerry shared. Helping other people is not only good for the soul, it’s good for business as well, “if you can impact the life of an employee and their family, they’ll never leave you.”

Akers’ philosophy is translating directly to operational performance including a cutting-edge recruiting program that not only helps cosmetology students learn the beauty business but also ensures Jerry’s business enjoys a steady stream of the best talent. In addition, he’s created a unique bonus and incentive program that gives employees control over the speed and trajectory of their careers and how much they earn.  All of which has not only contributed to making Akers’ operations profitable, but has also generated an off-the-charts long-term employee loyalty rate exceeding 70%.

Reflectively, Jerry pauses and sums up the secret to his success as simply, “We’re successful because our salons have gotten happier.” That happiness starts with the first question Jerry asks each new hire, What big dream do you have that working here can help you achieve?

Know any people-first business leaders that are redefining success in your world? Share your stories with me directly at jeff@jeffkaplan.com.

Until next week,

Stay connected!

-Jeff

The Art of the Possible: Creating a World of Success (Part 1)

From boardrooms to wakeboards, the world of work is changing and over the next month I’ll be introducing you to a group of people that are changing how we view work, careers and even our definition of success. In this series, we’ll travel the globe to meet a group of top executives that are behaving in ways we’d never imagined, a couple of upcoming executives that are turning careful planning and hard work into off-the-charts career progression and a few exceptional young people that are starting their careers while they’re still in school and blowing up all the rules along the way…

Dateline – Brussels, Belgium

A sliver of sun peaks over the lush green tree line that boarders Cable Park Lake; signaling the start of a new day in Wakeboard Paradise. First to break the glass-still water, Fabrice Tardioli gears up to strut his stuff at a sport where boundaries are only temporary suggestions. A reflection of the sport he loves, Fabrice defies conventional notions of extreme athletes; this family-first father of two young daughters enjoys a well-established career as a high-tech sales executive. Fabrice offers a simple formula for success that starts at home, “My wife is my rock,” he says. From demanding physical preparation to “the numerous calls she receives from hospitals unannounced, she goes through a lot!”

I met Fabrice a few years ago, after a presentation and he’s stayed in contact. He writes me occasionally to share his perspective on a blog or just check-in. What impressed me most about his story was how he systematically set out to create the life of his dreams and did so without sacrificing any one thing at the expense of another. Fabrice doesn’t have it all… but he does have what’s important to him. He’s living life on his own terms and in the process, he’s giving back more than he’s taking.

As we’ll see over the next several weeks, success comes in many forms but it never comes alone. A solid base, a truly connected partner, engaged children, a career that satisfies your needs or provides you the flexibility to pursue what does; these are all parts of finding the kind of success that can help you become the person you were meant to be.

As always, feel free to share your comments directly by writing me at jeff@jeffkaplan.com.

Until next week…

Stay connected,

-Jeff