Greg Hartle – Wisdom from walking around

I had a chance to share a meal with Greg Hartle.  Does his name sound familiar?  It shouldn’t.

Not that he is not remarkable, but he is not trying to be remarkable and famous.  He is just traveling around the country, making enough, and trying to rebuild his life as he works towards some goals – one of which being to help 500 people.

Really?  After a near death experience and asking himself some big questions, he decided to take $10, a laptop, and some clothes – and go help people.  If you want to know more here is his link. I want to brand him with some statement like – Meet Mother Theresa wearing jeans.  But the truth is that would do a disservice to Mother Theresa and to Greg.  You see, he is just trying to be a better Greg, and that should be good enough for all of us.

I loved listening to Greg.  What hit me was the perspective he has gained from sitting in the living rooms or across the table from over 250+ people across this country trying to help them through their life transitions.  He is focused on micro-micro economics.  In that world the graphs go away and we can talk in names, addresses, and challenges.  He is also one of those genuine people that makes you want to shut out the world for a while and enjoy being present.

Two thoughts he left me with that continue to roll around –

He sees lots of people fully prepared for a world that no longer exists. If you are not ready to personally manage the cycle of learn, unlearn, and relearn – then in a few missed cycles you risk becoming stuck in a difficult place.  Learn, do, do, do, do better, do, do, do, do, do a little better – does not exist.

Purpose + Passion + Skill for their craft.  Many people have purpose and passion, but too often the gap is in the level of skill they have for their intended craft.  You see, the skill piece takes a dedication to something, over the course of time, to work towards mastery.  (see Gladwell’s 10,000 hour rule)  Also, see point number one.

The rest of Greg Hartle’s story can be followed on Facebook, or check out the business he just launched at  He was also a great speaker if you are looking for someone to inspire your group.

Thanks Greg.


Rule 3 – NEVER cancel without rescheduling

Enough said?  You can stop here if you get it.  If you need more convincing here are 451 more words to get some clarity.

In his book The Speed of Trust, Stephen M.R. Covey said We judge ourselves based on our intentions.  We judge others based on their actions. Never is that statement more true than in the relationship between a leader and follower.  Do any of these examples ring true?

1.  A leader cancels a one on one because of a customer issue.  Does not reschedule it because he/she just talked to the person as they walked around the office yesterday.

Leader intention:  Customer is critical and everything stops when they call.  Plus we just talked yesterday and you know I care about you.

Leader action (as interpreted by follower):  Here we go again.  Your issues always trump mine and this issue could have been handled by the field service team with just a little support from us.  This is the 6th time this has happened in the last 8.5678 months (slight exaggeration on the number – but do not be surprised at the human mind to keep a key measure like this).

2.  A leader has the one on one and interrupts the conversation three times because of calls from home.

Leader intention:  Apology issued before each call, and since it was his wife on all three occasions and it was an emergency it was okay because family comes first.  Family is a core value of our organization.  (Emergency = at the mechanic with their new Audi A8 and the repairs were not going well)

Leader action (as interpreted by follower):  Would it be okay if I did this?  His/her spouse is a great person, but can’t this wait 20 minutes?  Isn’t this my time?  I will just cut my time/agenda short and let them deal with their issues.  Afterthought – A8?  I wonder why my evaluation/increase is six months overdue?

3.  Leader leads the time with two things that went wrong last week and they want to know what happened and why.

Leader intention:  Accountability.  If we cannot have the hard conversations then I am not doing my job.

Leader action (as interpreted by follower):  What a jelly fish.  There have been four days to talk about these things since they happened, plus I owned them and fixed them.  What about the bad decision he/she made yesterday that kept me here until 8pm to fix?  Can there be accountability there?

Being a leader is tough.  It is tougher when priorities are not clear and the tyranny of the urgent rules over the one on one time.  Never break this rule – and if you do point back to the last date/time/location/reason that it happened so they know you are keeping score too. 🙂

Talent management is about great conversations.  Follow these three rules for one on ones and you can have some great conversations.

Links related to this post:

It must be the shoes – Yes and No, but mostly No

First it was Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, wearing the ruby red shoes.  Then Michael Jordan did a whole ad campaign that immortalized the line It must be the shoes!

Yesterday, I received my own set of special shoes – Chuck Taylor Superman Shoes.  They were a gift from a group of people in the Shifting Gears Program where we spent over 100 hours together on a career transition journey.  I was part of a great team of people that facilitated the journey, but these 21 individuals did the work.  The shoes became a symbol that we needed to remember what strengths and talent are inside of each of us.  I love the shoes.

Performance can be attributed to a lot of things, but in the end it is about confidence and commitment to learn/grow through the peaks and the dips.  It is also about being in community with people, giving to that community, and leveraging the the strength of that community to celebrate the peaks and to climb out of the dips.  For 21 people in the Shifting Gears program, it was about coming together on 13 different days, spending 80+ hours working at a real company on a real business need, spending another 100+ hours networking/rebuilding a resume/mock interviewing and other work to move towards a preferred future.

One individual shared the story – I went back to a familiar place (my old company), but as I entered I could feel that it had stayed the same and I was a different person.

Is it the shoes?  No, it is what is inside of us that we need to see AND to unleash on something that we are passionate about.

But I do love the shoes. 🙂

Questions to help the work get done (and the team to be built)

Seth Godin had a recent post titled Two questions behind every diagreement.  In it he shares two questions that will help move through/solve every disagreement:

  • Are we on the same team?
  • What’s the right path forward?

By definition, you cannot have a team without common goals and group decision making power, and getting there requires conflict.  These are two great questions, but let me add a few more to help you apply this in your own team and move things forward:

1. Are we on the same team? –> What is the issue?  What is the outcome we want?

2. What’s the right path forward? –> What are three steps that will move us ahead?  What 1 step will I own?  What 1 step will you own?  What 1 step will we BOTH own?  (remember 1 + 1 + 1 = 3)

If you cannot answer/agree on #1 don’t skip/move ahead to #2.  The key to #1 is addressing the issue and not the person – ie.  If the issue is someone or what someone else needs to do to make my life easier, then the whole discussion is about winning and not solving a problem.  That means you are the problem –> so step back, take a deep breath, apologize, and step back into the discussion with a different mindset.

If you get to #2, the best way to build teamwork is to own work together.  If a solution takes 20 steps and 3 months, focus on the next 3 and 48-72 hours.  Progress/success builds relationships between people and teams are created along the way.  I can hear the complaints now – – But this is a very complex problem and 3 steps is too small. My next question:  Is the issue that the problem is too complex or We are not agreeing on/owning a solution as a team?  In either case – either start moving forward or punt the problem to another team.

fyi – If anyone on the team has a goal to sit back and let someone else fail so they can either:  a) Ride in and save the day or b) Play the I told you so card – – – they should be given one chance to hit the reset button, and then removed from the team.

Thanks for planting the seed Seth.

Our Talent / Self Awareness Language – Have One?

How do you talk about what you are good at doing?  Does it sound like a list of your educational accomplishments?  Do you share the last three job titles you have?  Does some answer come out as you look awkwardly at the floor?

Developing a language around who you are, what you bring to a role, and how the learning from your past will be a fuel for your future success is where talent management starts.trUYou: our model for developing self-awareness

The challenge – making the journey for wisdom a habit and not just something you do once and then just put your head down and work for the next 10 years.

Not sure what this Journey looks like? Read the book Mastery by George Leonard or LinchPin by Seth Godin

Are you stuck with thinking of yourself as a degree or a role? Buy the book Strengthsfinder 2.o by Tom Rath and take the assessment.

What are the key things I need to understand about myself? Take a look at my trUYou™ model and fill in the boxes.  Where are your gaps?  How confident are you in the picture it paints?

I was talking to a community organization this week about coming to their area to provide a keynote for a community leadership program.  I thought  what seeds can I plant in that community to help each individual move it along and initiate some conversations among the people that will keep things going long after I leave. One tool – Strengthsfinder 2.0 and one model – trUYou™ are great ways to begin any journey towards development and performance.

Once we share a language, the conversation becomes more impactful and a learning community is born.

Sound like a great journey?


Development Tips: Communication that Creates Momentum

This week I will be publishing a review of the book Great on the Job by Jodi Glickman.  One request I get often is for ideas for helping develop the skills/capabilities of people.  This book provides an opportunity for some great conversations around communication and initiative.

Here are 4 ways Great on the Job could be used as a development tool for people on your team.  Each is a 30-60 minute conversation, that could go longer depending on how much actual skill practice you do.  Always ask for a commitment to use it on the job and plan a time to debrief/share at the next team meeting.

1. Calling people they do not know: Sounds simple, but in the world of texting you will be hiring people that are used to providing sound-bits and not professional introductions.  This book has a great chapter that will help people get to the point on a phone call with a busy client/customer.  It is very applicable advice for friends doing a job or to build communication skills/professionalism of your team. Here is a sample outline of what learning time is with an individual/team:

  • Provide them with a scenario that requires them to call someone they do not know with a request.
  • Give them 5 minutes to craft a 30 second message they would leave.
  • Ask them to share their message.  Do very little editing/correction.
  • Follow-up questions.  What was the biggest challenge of this assignment?  Who gave the most effective message in your opinion?  Why was it so effective? (write answers on the board for comparing to GOTJ content later.
  • Review Chapter 1 with them in the book.
  • Give them 3 minutes to rewrite their introduction.
  • Go around the room sharing revised introductions.
  • Go around the room and ask for each person to make a commitment on how they will use it in the next week.  Some examples – “I commit to posting this on my phone and tracking how many times I use it this week . . ”  “I commit to meeting with ____ for 30 minutes and practicing it.”
  • Spend 10 minutes at next staff meeting reviewing commitments and learnings.

2.  Interacting with Executives/Leaders: The #1 question asked at work to start conversations is –  How is it going? It is a crappy question, but it happens and it does provide an opportunity for people to give a BRIEF update on one thing they are focused on.  Here is an example of how this could be used with a group of high potentials or new hires:

  • Put people in groups of 3 and give them a scenario that you run into the CFO in the elevator and he/she asks “How is it going?”  Craft a great answer.  Craft a terrible answer.
  • Go around the room asking for both to be shared.  (this should generate laughter . . . )
  • Debrief:   What is the difference between a great answer and a poor answer?  Which was easier?  (write answers on a white board)
  • Review the GOTJ chapter for Status Update and Outstanding Answer.  Give half the groups the class of doing a Status Update answer and half to do an Outstanding Answer update.
  • Go around and ask for both to be shared.
  • Assignment:  Ask groups of 3 to be learning partners and test each other randomly, either face to face or during the work day until the individual provides a solid response.  (ie:  When your learning partner asks How is it going? – answer them as if they were the CFO.
  • Set 30 minutes to get back together in a week to review commitments and debrief the practice.

3.  What to say when you are asked something that you do not know: Job scopes generally change before people get hired, and after they start there will be continuous creep into areas where they are not experts.  The formula presented in the book is simple:  Here is what I know / Here is what I do not know / Here’s how I’ll figure it out.  Here is how this would fit into an onboarding session for new employees:

  • Day 1 with new employee, share your support for them and acknowledge that you will be asking them questions they do not know the answers to.
  • Share the GOTJ methodology.
  • Ask them a question they do not know the answer to – and have them use the GOTJ method to answer it.
  • Commit, as their leader, to help them by being willing to pause a conversation where they are rambling and asking each one of these questions to lead them through an answer.

4.  Asking for feedback: Leave the “millennials need more feedback” excuse behind.  Everyone needs to know how they are doing, and yet asking for that feedback is tricky.  GOTJ offers some great advice for how to ask in such a way that it is easy for people to give you feedback.  Here is how a work team could use this:

  • Ask everyone to read Chapter 6: Ask for Feedback.  Set the expectation that you will spend 30 minutes on the topic at the next meeting.
  • Facilitate a discussion around feedback: How do you feel about getting feedback?  How do you like to receive feedback?  Share a time when you received some great feedback/poor feedback?
  • Focus on how it works today:  What are ways you receive feedback today?  What are two parts of your job that would be easy/beneficial for others to give you feedback?
  • Using the Chapter 6 material in GOTJ, what is one commitment you make for gather feedback this week?  (What feedback will you ask for? How will you ask for it (script). Which teammate will help you? When will it be done?)
  • Practice your response when people give you great feedback – Thank you. 🙂
  • Go around the room and ask everyone to share their commitment for the week on using this material.
  • Set 10 minutes at the next staff meeting to revisit commitments and talk about next steps.

90% of development/learning happens outside of the classroom.  Any of these activities is 30-60 minutes of focused time spent on skills that can help people of any age/experience levels.  If people are just afraid or nervous to speak, one year in a Toastmasters group is still the best option, but as a leader this book can be used to empower and refine the skills of your team.  The result, they will become better at communicating to each other and you – which will make your life as a leader easier.

Talent management is about great conversations.  Go have one.

Listening – Add This 360 Habit

Recently a leader asked me a question:  How can I know what my people think about how I am leading?

My response – ask.  Then I filled in the blanks.

This leader had a very strong habit of weekly one on ones with their team (the 2nd question on the Talent Scorecard).  Building off that habit, at the end of each conversation ask the question: What is one thing that I can do (or stop doing) that would help you the most?

First, deal with the actions associated with the answer.  Secondly, write down what people share in a single place – and make it a personal habit review the list every couple of months, maybe in your own one on one with your leader.  Here is an example of how this would work.

If your recent input is centered around comments like:  “Give me a heads up when a leadership change is happening in another group.  I have been surprised lately and received some questions from my own team that caught me off guard.” or “Let me know what you are thinking.  You have seemed distracted lately and I often wonder what I can do to help.”  Action plan – Need to focus/refocus on communication with your team and keeping them in the loop.  Maybe add weekly phone call/stand-up on Monday am for 5-7 minutes to check-in or carve out a 3 minute update from you at your team meetings.

Talent management is about great conversations.  We use 360 evaluations as a tool to help leaders get feedback from others on what they could do to be more effective.  Making this one question a habit integrates the 360 process into your conversations.

Process vs Solution – What does my focus say?

If relationships matter, then the process trumps the solution.

These words were spoken by Greg McCann, an expert in helping families come together and work through passing the business on to the next generation.  It is brilliant, because it is simple and gives you a choice.  Do you allow for time to have a process, or do you drive the perfect outcome?

Too often we focus on the outcome, and the process just becomes something we have to do to get there.

Talent management is about relationships and trust.  Trust is built by focusing on the process, not necessarily the outcome.  I often share with leaders that true Talent Management is like cooking with a crockpot, not a microwave.  It just take time, and the end is not an exact time, but a time of day.

Outcome minded leaders like the microwave because it is exact, predictable, and efficient.

If you are a microwave person put the quote above on a post-it and put it up as a reminder for yourself.

  • What if – – – we worried more about getting people involved in solving the problem?
  • What if – – – we worried more about asking what other people think, giving them a little extra time, letting them fight a little, and accepted non-powerpoint answers that got most of the way there?
  • What if – – –  we focused on the customer in front of us and not the 9 more we knew we had to talk with?
  • What if – – – we stopped filling the one on one agenda and gave that off to our people to make it THEIR time?

But, business results are critical and accountability is synonomous with goal achievement and a clear process for getting there!  Enjoy your microwave . . . .

3 Simple Habits To Help Strengthen Teams

Are there things about you that people do not know?  We all know the answer to that question – but is anything on that list that others need to know?  Maybe you love to problem solve.  Maybe you led a team of 20 people at one point in your career.  Maybe there is some part of the business you want to learn more about.  Maybe you get 150 emails a day and prefer phone calls.

Are there things about you that others see and you do not?

Several years ago a friend shared some feedback with me that we still laugh about. He told me that whenever he told a story, I usually followed up with a better one. I did not realize it – but watched myself for a few days and there it was – the proof.   It was funny, and I was unaware of it.   In JoHari Window language, it was a BLIND SPOT.Talent Management tool - JoHari Window

If you are not familiar with it, here is a link to a short YouTube video that explains it.

Talent management is about having great conversations.  When we talk, we develop relationships with the people around us, and at the core of those relationships is knowledge that we bring to every interaction.

Here are 3 tips to continually develop your team and teamwork.

TIP 1: As part of any team meeting spend 5 minutes asking/answering these questions:

  • This week – What are two wins?  What is keeping me up at night?

These questions are almost guaranteed to  keep a steady flow of HIDDEN items that will be valuable for the team to know.

TIP 2: When you have an off-site and you are looking for ways to get people sharing/laughing – have everyone answer the following questions for themselves and their teammates.  Next, go around the room and have others share first, seeing if they matched answers with the individual.

  • What is one thing I am really good at doing?
  • How do you know I am having a good day?
  • How do you know when I am stressed?
  • How do you know I am listening / not listening?

After this, watch the JoHari Window video and ask the questions:  What came out in our last discussion that could be considered HIDDEN? A BLIND SPOT?  What is the impact of having that information in the OPEN area for you?  For this team?  What is one way we can be more purposeful about these conversations?

TIP 3: I often use a tool called the Team Member Fact Sheet to get people talking.  Using it as a tool to get to know new teammates or test the knowledge of existing teams.

Talent management is about great conversations.  Go have one!

Friday Fun – The cumulative effect of Happy moments . . .

In his interview about happiness in HBR, Daniel Gilbert makes the following statement:  “…the frequency of your positive experiences is a much better predictor of your happiness than is the intensity of your positive experiences.”  It is not the big initiatives, but the cumulative effect of the little things we do at work and at home to generate smiles that makes the biggest difference.  While we are thankful for some research – Did we really need some PhD to tell us that?

So what can we do with this?

Every culture treats humor differently.  For example, I am not sure a That Was Easy button or a zany sound effects box would work in a bank.  What about comments about what people are wearing, or smiles received or handing a sucker to a customer with a smile?  Anything where we purposely create one of those moments that Gilbert talks about will make a difference.

Maybe a good Friday goal would be to generate 6 smiles in other people.

Here is my first try:  A great video about how making people smile caused a shift in their behavior.  It made me smile, and is just good clean fun.  Take a look.