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Communication Library

You Love Collaboration. Do You Think It’s a Substitute for Communication?

One of the most popular words in the business lexicon these days is collaboration.

Everyone’s eager to flatten the organization, get rid of hierarchy, eliminate command-and-control structures and collaborate across broad multifunctional teams.

Is There Anything Really New about Collaboration?

Do we really understand collaboration and why it’s become such a ubiquitous battle cry?

On most days, I’m pretty sure that collaboration is just the newest sheep in communication clothing, a word designed to give new life to the tiresome concepts of “communication” that remain at the root of so many of our life’s challenges.

Both are about encouraging people to share information, be transparent in decision-making and work in teams across functional groups without becoming isolated in silos that neither see nor speak with each other.

Lack of Communication is at the Root of Failed Relationships

If you crawl under the hood of most marriages … consider child-rearing … or employer–employee relationships and organizational culture … you’ll find that communication trumps every other reason for relationship failure.

Keep Reading for 3 Rules to Help You Get This Right …

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Why don’t people return phone calls?

It’s remarkable that so few people return their phone calls on a timely basis. Why is that?

Are we just lazy? Too busy? Did I mention lazy? Don’t give a rip? “If it’s important, they’ll call back?”

 

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Are you eyeballin’ me? Of course not … not you. You return all your calls. Right?

Wanna think about all the time we invest in phone tag? Nah, me neither.

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Ok, let’s do it anyway. Talk about a time sink … keeping track of all those who …

  • don’t return the call,
  • are out of the office,
  • traveling,
  • on vacation,
  • sick,
  • already on the phone …

… what a bother, huh?

If you’re like me, you’ve probably got dozens of these floating around at any one time.

What if they don’t return phone calls at all?

Keep reading if you need a few more reasons to NOT return phone calls

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There’s a simple one-word formula to Achieve Excellence

PREPARE to Win … or get ready to get your butt kicked!

I n our travels, we’ve seen plenty of obstacles to success, from making the tough decisions to staying focused on execution.

As if all that isn’t enough, there are still a few more barricades around the corner.

Lack of preparation is one of them.

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How many people have the will to lose?

How many of us have the will to lose?

Few, I’d guess, probably between zero and none.

How about the will to prepare?

The determination to do the unrelenting hard work to prepare to win … maybe not a lot more … and yet that’s exactly where the rubber mallet hits the lobster claw. Keep reading to embrace the key to success

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Hope Springs Eternal … but it’s not enough!

How’s that strategy execution coming along?

I ’ll bet things are starting to drag about now, aren’t they? Summer’s here, you’re dialing it back a little, taking some well-deserved vacation. You launched the year full of promise … but many of your initiatives seem to be stuck, people have too much on their plates, the plans you made may not quite make it to the finish line …

How do you get your initiatives back on track?

The gum does kinda lose its flavor on the bedpost overnight, doesn’t it? Even though you’re about to round the clubhouse turn toward year-end, you’re discovering that it’s much easier to start than to finish.

You struggle to keep the engine stoked with the same energy that propelled your launch at the beginning of the year.

You may be feeling some of the air coming out of the tires, and begin to wonder … “where did all of our energy go”?

What’s that whimpering sound?

Keep reading …

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How Many Times Have You Been Through This Revolving Door?

Remember how Mom used to say: “You know better than that?” 

She knew we could make better decisions. So, why did she have to say this so often?

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It wasn’t that we were ignorant or unaware of what was supposed to be done.

Quite the contrary. We knew damn well what we were supposed to do but we just didn’t want to do it.

Why not?

Why Don’t We Do What We Know We Must Do?

That’s the eternal conundrum, isn’t it my friends? Why don’t we do what we know we must do?

Continue reading to detect the symptoms & learn the solutions for indecision …

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Why is Your Company Even Here? 3 Tips To Tell Everyone Why.

You may think you’re a pretty good communicator.

B ut, have you clearly communicated the purpose of your organization so everyone in your company can recite it?

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Communication is a critical ingredient of business success and we all probably think we’re pretty good at it. We can walk, talk, dictate, speak and even string together a few intelligible sentences.

We chat with our troops, talk to our customers and vendors, share information with colleagues and shareholders. We hold meetings, BBQ’s and off-sites to talk about what’s going on.

We’re all pretty good communicators … aren’t we?

What exactly is Communication?

The inimitable Mr. Webster focuses on the transmission of thoughts and ideas, as if the means of communicating, or the act itself, constitutes “communication”.

Yet, when you peruse a thesaurus for synonyms, you get words like

communion

connection,

conversation, and

interchange, as well as

transmission, and

advisement.

When you think of advisement and transmission, it’s more about talking than conversing, while with connection” and conversation, you expect a collaborative, two-way exchange.

Is it Talking or Conversing?

what is the purpose of your company? Keep reading …

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Accountability | What Does It Really Mean?

Accountability comes up as one of the top 3 issues on the minds of CEOs in almost every conversation I have with them.

T hey know, deep in their bones, that unless they build an organization that embeds this elusive concept into its DNA, the chances of achieving their goals will be equally elusive.

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When does Accountability begin?

“When is it no longer my responsibility to get people to complete their assignments … and where does their responsibility to perform begin?” a North Bay CEO asked me recently.

“Your responsibility never ends … and neither does theirs,” I said.

“Your job is to work tirelessly to build accountability into the organization so that your team understands that being held accountable is the cornerstone of a strong, successful organization. It is not punitive.”

Recently, we’ve discussed personal accountability as the “singular touchstone of professional success over which we have the greatest control.”

We’ve also discussed the After Action Review a valuable teaching tool that reinforces accountability and inspires a culture of continuous improvement.

An organization focused on accountability might be seen as the thread that connects our personal accountability

–talking the talk, and, the After Action Review as …

walking the walk.

But what is it, really?

What is Accountability … Really?

In simple terms, accountability is a willingness to accept responsibility for our actions.

It’s being reliable and making certain that the commitments we make, from the perspective of others, have been kept. For a responsible culture to prevail, each of us must make certain that those commitments are honest – and honored.

At the core of accountability is the requirement to set clear expectations.

Keep reading to make sure you understand what Accountability really means

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Accountability | The 4 Key Principles of Powerful After Action Reviews

After Action Reviews are a powerful force to learn from what went right … and what went wrong.

L earn these 4 Principles to make it work for your team and organization.

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Many years ago when we lived in the Midwest, we became very good friends with a young couple down the street.

He was a fellow fraternity brother, from another college, but I remember him as a super bright physician with a unique ability to describe complex medical subjects in layman’s language.

After Action Reviews are for Learning – NOT Blame

One day, he asked me if I’d like to go to work with him on Saturday. He’d show me around, we’d have lunch, hang out.

He couldn’t leave for lunch, but he would bring along some homemade sandwiches, bologna with lots of ketchup, he said, and I could sit in his pathology lab as he performed an autopsy … and while he was cutting and sawing, we would enjoy our lunch together.

It was when he started laughing that I realized why my vision of an overloaded bologna sandwich, dripping with ketchup alongside an autopsy table, was kicking up a firestorm in my gut.

Keep reading to capture the 4 Key Principles of After Action Reviews

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The Four Common Features of Equally Successful but Different Cultures

We’ve been exploring the impact of different cultures and how they affect our organizations.

W hat are the common threads shared by these radically different cultures that you can apply to make your company equally successful?

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“Lary, give this customer a call. We’ve just received an unauthorized return, and I want these shoes sent back. Funny how the green shoes they bought don’t fit and the red ones fit perfectly.”

It wasn’t uncommon for the Chairman of company North (remember, “N” for “Nasty”?) to stop by my office with a message like this. His remarks were actually a code:

“The red shoes sold well but the green ones the customer bought aren’t selling … so now they’re claiming they don’t fit so they can return them. We’ve had no other such complaints. Tell them we won’t accept them and ship them back.”

I made a note to contact the customer, figuring I’d call them after lunch when I would be more likely to catch them three time zones away. No e-mail back then.

Unexpectedly, the Chairman returned to my office 20 minutes later to ask,

“What did they say?”

The first few times this happened I asked,

“Who?” …

failing to make the connection he expected.

While I learned the nuances of merchandising economics with these examples, what I finally realized was that the Chairman expected me to drop everything and call them immediately.

He wasn’t happy,

“What else are you doing?”,

and after a few unpleasant encounters, I finally caught on.

Don’t miss the 4 Common Threads that bind successful companies

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Can Radically Different Cultures Produce Equally Great Results?

There’s more emphasis every day on the value and influence of culture on business success.

W hat does it mean if your culture is dysfunctional and your employees think it’s a train wreck?

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“He threw a lead crystal ashtray at his son’s head?“ I asked. ”Thank God he missed.”

“He threw his secretary’s typewriter through a second story window – it wasn’t open – into a parking lot full of cars below?”

These are just a few of the stories I heard after I joined the firm.

You do not lead by hitting people over the head – that’s assault, not leadership.” ~ Dwight D. Eisenhower

Ever feel like you were a galley slave?

In short order, I recognized that the company’s cultural ancestors probably included a toga-clad, sweat-drenched galleon driver pounding out a cadence of “ramming speed” with a wooden mallet.

Their cost-containment strategy was medieval.

Keep reading to capture some of the most important elements of a great culture

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