The challenges of today's global marketplace are forcing companies to look at doing things differently in order to get that extra edge over their competition.According to Makino, a global provider of advanced machining technology, companies doing things the same way they have been doing them for the last 10 to 15 years are probably in a "recurring uniform trap," or "RUT," while the global market is passing them by.Why do something differently? Productivity is a big reason. A 21st century equation explains what productivity requirements will be for the future; the conceptbeing half the number of people, making twice as much money, but doing three times the amount of work.In manufacturing, this concept is coming true today. Companies are looking under every rock for opportunities to improve productivity, increase efficiency and lower costs.In many machine shops, machining centers sit idle while manual work is still being performed. By doing things this way, the companies are not getting the most out of their machine nor their personnel investment.In today's competitive environment, companies must identify if they are stuck in a RUT. In order to improve, they must be willing to step outside their comfort zones and create solutions.Culture change takes place gradually, and everyone, especially the people who are out on the floor, must first have a high level of confidence that new technology will work and work reliably before they embrace it. Reliable, high-performance machines not only produce results but also eliminate your business RUT.
Recently, a teacher whose class regularly scores top marks shared her secret for team building success with me. "It's easy," she told me. "Each week, we set a goal as a class. If we've reached the goal at the end of the week, I treat the class to pizza and a game and then we sit down and plan next week's goal."There in a nutshell is a tried and true strategy for building and maintaining successful teamwork that any corporate event planner should take to heart. My teacher friend's Friday afternoon 'pizza party' serves a triple function - it recognizes the work achieved, rewards the team for their work, and serves as a springboard for the next goal. To be successful, a corporate event should do three things - recognize, reward and motivate.Granted, when you're dealing with high-powered executives, programmers or salespeople, a Friday afternoon pizza party may not be quite the ticket. Higher goals merit higher rewards - but the principle remains the same. If you're planning a corporate event weekend, then your plans should include all three arms of the success formula.This isn't as difficult to do as it may seem. Any corporate event that's meant to recognize and reward contributions to the team can serve as a springboard for planning further successful activities and include team building activities to further cement the bonds of the work group. An event that's planned as a team building weekend could easily include a recognition dinner to reward those members of the team who've made oustanding contributions. The key to making sure that your corporate event accomplishes all of your goals is careful planning right from the start. Before you decide on the activities for your corporate event, take the time to work out your goals. Is it your aim to reward your employees? Recognize achievement? Motivate your teams? Hammer a group into a team? Once you know what it is that you want to accomplish, it's time to call in the professionals.A corporate event planner with expertise and experience in team building activities, corporate event planning, outdoor team building and corporate hospitality events can show you a wide range of fun corporate events and activities that will serve any corporate event strategy you have in mind. Even more importantly, they'll bring their own experience to the planning table - and the execution of the event. Using a professional corporate event service means you needn't worry that someone will forget to meet the keynote speaker's plane, and your own key people aren't tying up their time running around to find matching napkins for the company reward dinner.In the end, choosing to use a corporate event planning service is no different than any other business decision. You hand the work to those that have the best resources to accomplish the task. When it comes to fitting a corporate event to its purpose, a professional event planner can turn your company recognition dinner into a motivating, rewarding and inspiring team building event that will kick your next quarter into high gear.
Most people treat meetings as a free resource that can be used to deal with any issue. As a result, huge amounts of time and money are wasted on trivia. A meeting is a business activity (not a social event) and should be designed to earn a profit. Heres how.Once youve prepared the goals for your meetings, use the following analysis to plan the agenda.1) Calculate the cost of the meeting by multiplying the number of participants (N), their labor rate (R), and the length of the meeting (t). Then add all other expenses (E), including travel, materials, refreshments, room rental, and other expenses.Cost = N * R * t + E2) Estimate the value of the results expected from the meeting.For some issues this step will be easy. Resolving a manufacturing inefficiency, for example, could save thousands of dollars. Or developing an effective strategic plan could earn millions.This step becomes difficult for less tangible results, such as exchanging information in staff meetings or making some policy decisions. In those cases, estimate the value by comparing outcomes with their potential costs. For example, does it make sense to spend ten thousand dollars on exchanging information in a staff meeting or is five hundred dollars more appropriate?3) Determine the return on your investment (ROI) by comparing value versus cost.ROI = Value - CostIf this analysis predicts a loss, either revise the meetings scope or cancel it. After all, a meeting, like any project, must earn a profit.In addition, a profitable meeting will be an effective meeting.
(speed) n. 1. Mathematics & Physics. Distance traveled divided by the time of travel. 2. Business & Life. The ratio of results to time invested.Speed is distance (results) divided by time, period. Some leaders confuse this with the fools gold formula: action divided by time. This is a costly and destructive illusion that produces one of two fatal results: either attempting to avoid speed altogether by deferring action, and becoming stagnantor red-lining the culture into a pattern of unbridled acceleration. So speed either becomes the great enemy, or part of the self-crafted mirage masking fundamental flaws in strategy, execution, or both.Review any business periodical or annual report, and you will likely read about the virtues of rapid action or the wisdom of waiting. This makes for great copy, but when the anesthesia wears off, were left with a debilitating hangover and the sobering reality that action isnt the problem or the answer: Its all about Speed.Life may be full of choices, but speed isnt one of them. Speed is no more optional than gravity or evolution. Speed is part of every marriage, every friendship, every contest, every physical and emotional interaction on the planet. And without question, speed is a critical component of any business model. Ultimately, all business results are measured against the one constant in the universe . . . time.Revenue is measured against time. Service is measured against time. Customer loyalty, production, earnings per share, debt, turnover, cost of goods sold, tax burden, gross profit, net profitany metric you, your employees, your leadership, or your competition can come up with, is inextricably tied to time. But we cant manage time. If we are to increase speed, we have to work the other side of the equationthe results side. More specifically, we must identify and leverage those resources that create results.Yeah, I know. Leverage is one of those consultant words we all get so tired of hearing. But it may be the only word that accurately describes exactly what a leader is supposed to domultiply force. In fact, if a leader can be likened to any inanimate object, then lever fits the bill.Lets face it, if a leader already possessed all the force necessary to achieve the objective(s), he wouldnt complicate things by involving other people. And if the people already had enough force to accomplish the objective(s), they wouldnt need a leader. So . . . its the leaders responsibility to multiply force - - leverage current resources to increase the ratio of results to time invested.Most sources of competitive advantage todaytechnology, talent, capital, intellectual property, even superior product -- have an incredibly short shelf life. And when the grease gets hot (yesterdays advantage becomes todays norm) organizations can become extremely vulnerable.Specifically, were at the mercy of three distinct populations keenly focused on their own survival and prosperity:- Acutely perceptive employees who ultimately determine the organizations level of discretionary effort- Increasingly sophisticated and unforgiving customers- Faster, more nimble competitors poised to create and fill the next voidOrganizations that consciously manage and monitor speed (pair high velocity business practices with their other sources of competitive advantage, to meet more needs for more people in less time) strengthen their culture, grow their customer base, and dominate their market.Leaders who neglect speed -- fail to incorporate a systematic, deliberate process for increasing the ratio of results to time investedare Frying Bacon In the Nude . . .It might feel good at first, appear very liberating, and even produce short-term gains. But without the right disciplines in place, were dangerously overexposed and very likely to get burnedeven permanently scarredby one or more of these three critically important constituencies.High Velocity Leaders simply wont take the chance. They understand the critical nature of speed, its role in meeting their market, and the key disciplines necessary for producing Better Results in Less Time.Top performers in every arena consistently (relentlessly) commit themselves to the fundamentals. They religiously apply just a handful of basic principles that give them that slight extra edge. So it should come as no surprise that fast, agile companiesand the people who lead themexhibit a powerfully simple method of leadership thinking.Specifically, they express, model, and reward five distinct disciplines. The 5 Disciplines of High Velocity Leaders:SPEEDS tructure(repeatable processes and transferable tools for key tasks)P ersonal Accountability(taking, and expecting, personal responsibility for corporate results)E mpathy(understanding how and why a person/group thinks, feels, and acts)E ducation(establishing learning as a 24 / 7 / 365, job-critical responsibility)D irection(clearly communicating where were going and why)Consider the common characteristics shared by all five:- All are present to some degree in every companyincluding yours.- All are unrealized to some degree in every companyincluding yours.- Each has an immediate and direct impact on performance.- All are as dangerous in their absence as they are powerful in their presence.Combined, they strengthen (exponentially) any other form of competitive advantage we may possess.And most importantly, all five are under our direct control: Simply put, they can and should be managed.WHY SPEED?Speed Kills (The Competition)In virtually every industry, the first to market enjoys as much as ten times (10X!) the profit of its nearest competitor. More importantly, after this first leg of the race is over, the Law of Compensation kicks in. And with few exceptions, prosperity is distributed in direct proportion to the quantity and quality of service rendered. In other words, organizations that meet the most needs for the most people with an increasing economy of motion dominate their respective markets.Speed Cures . . .Speed, as a method of leadership thinking and a cultural mentality, displaces a variety of organizational pathologies. Like a powerful antibiotic, speed travels through the corporate bloodstream neutralizing the debilitating diseases of procrastination, apathy, confusion, malicious compliance, blame, and victim thinking.The 5 SPEED disciplines literally increase the organizations metabolismtransforming the corporate body from a pot-bellied couch potato into a sleek, agile athleteteeming with vitality, armed with momentum, and uniquely fit to meet the rigors of an increasingly competitive marketplace.Momentum is a natural by-product ofand increases or decreases in direct proportion tospeed. Momentum is the wonder drug of achievement. This intangible, yet powerful, resource allows athletes to play with pain, salespeople to endure temporary defeat, friends to forgive transgressions, and leaders to produce extraordinary results through ordinary people. Like compound interest for the diligent investor, momentum works while you sleep. It magnifies original effort and rewards consistent discipline.Speed is Exponential . . .Even incremental shifts in speed produce quantum results.At a distance of 100 yards, raising or lowering the barrel of a high-powered rifle by as little as 1/8th of an inch will alter the strike point of a bullet by as much as 4 to 6 inches on the target. Also, as in business, environmental variables such as the amount of gunpowder (new technologies, high-caliber talent) or windage (competition, economic recession) must be factored in to produce consistent results.The skilled marksman, recognizing this, has a pre-determined plan for adjusting his sighting device a certain number of clicks to compensate for these variables as they appear. To take the analogy one step further, youll find that most sportsmen will use sandbags as a stabilizing device when initially sighting in their weapon. And when hunting game in the field, they will try to reproduce this advantage, if possible, by using a nearby tree or rock to prop their rifle up against.Likewise, the five SPEED disciplines stabilize our business practices. They help us guide and direct precious momentum to strike our targets accurately within an acceptable margin of error. Speed is not an additivenor is it a simple multiplier. Because it truly is an exponential variable, one small degree of speed advantage can compensate for otherwise insurmountable differences in other resources. By the same token, one small degree of speed lost can render any other form of competitive advantage useless.Lessons From The Quick & The Dead:In this age of advanced technology, rapid change, accelerated communications, and increasingly sophisticated customers, two distinct types of organizations are beginning to emerge: The Quick . . . and The Dead!Like the fearless gunfighters of Wild West lore, anyone traveling in the fast lane must be keen of eye, steady of hand, and driven with steeled resolve. The road is narrow, and paved with stones (problems and opportunities) of every shape and size. On either side of the white lines lie fatal SPEED Traps: business practices that destroy momentum, consume resources, and severely reduce the ratio of results to time invested. Between the ditches of this commerce autobahn are fast, nimble competitors, fickle customers, and wayward employees.There is no other road to success, no 4th quarter shortcut to prosperity. Your only decisionyour only source of leverageis the extent to which you choose to preach, practice, and promote the five key disciplines of High Velocity Leadership . . .High Velocity Leadership SPEED CHECK:S tructureDo my people have repeatable, transferable processes for key tasks?Have I clearly defined roles and responsibilities?Have I created a culture that values structure as an implementation tool?Am I personally using structured processes to achieve objectives?Am I rewarding my people for using repeatable, transferable methods?P ersonal AccountabilityDo I hold people individually responsible for meeting company objectives?When my people fail, do I hold them responsible for returning the learning to theorganization?Have I created a culture that values personal accountability as a business tool?Am I consistently asking myself What can I do? / What could I have done? whenplanning strategies and evaluating results?Am I rewarding people for taking personal ownership for corporate results?E mpathyAm I tailoring my management approach to reach a variety of communicating styles?Am I helping my people customize their strategies and tactics to impact many differentframes of reference (mind-sets, points of view)?Have I created a culture that values empathy as a business tool?Am I personally investing the time and energy to understand my people before trying tobe understood?Am I rewarding thinking/behavior geared to meet the unique needs of differentemployees and customers?E ducationAm I effectively using new information to create new results?Am I providing my employees with practical training that helps them drive our businessstrategies more effectively?Have I created a culture that values education as a business tool?Am I personally participating in some type of learning activity on a regular basis?Am I rewarding my people for engaging in self-development?D irectionDo my people have a clear sense of where were going and why?Are my decisions and actions consistent with our stated goals?Have I created a culture that values direction as an implementation tool?Do I personally understand and agree with our direction?Am I rewarding my employees for utilizing direction as a basis for making criticaldecisions?
In a previous article I shared a couple of tips that will reduce the feelings of discomfort that often come when a performance appraisal is discussed gather your materials in advance, make a list of the key points you need to cover, and pick an appropriate place for the discussion. Here are four more suggestions that will make the performance appraisal discussion more relaxed.Choose a Convenient TimeWhen is the best time to hold a performance appraisal discussion? There isnt any one particular time that is ideal mornings or afternoons, early or late in the week, it doesnt matter.What does matter is having enough time. Wise managers set a specific time for a performance review perhaps 60 minutes and announce at the beginning of the meeting just how long they have budgeted for the discussion. But they also make sure that the next activity scheduled for after the appraisal discussion is one that is either a low-priority (so that it can be re-scheduled) or highly flexible (like working on a long-range plan). It may turn out that more time is needed to discuss some sensitive items that arise during the discussion. It may also be that the performance appraisal discussion turns into a highly creative brain-storming session that needs to continue beyond the one-hour schedule. Make sure theres enough time for unexpected events to play out. Determine the AgendaHow are you going to kick off the performance appraisal discussion? What are the first words you plan to say? Will you review the performance appraisal sheet section by section, or do you want to start with the final rating and move backwards from there? When are you going to go over the employees self-appraisal?Too often these questions are answered simply as it just happened that way the manager gave no thought to the sequence of events that he wanted to follow.A better approach is to have an agenda for the meeting. The agenda need not be written down (although thats not a bad idea) but the manager needs to decide in advance how he wants to structure the discussion.Arrange for Work CoverageIf you dont have someone to answer your phone and you cant switch the phone to send all calls directly into voicemail, then make a firm decision to simply ignore any phone calls that come in during the meeting. Steal a Do Not Disturb sign from the next hotel room you stay in and put it on the door handle of the room where youre meeting. Tell your staff and colleagues to follow the thousand-mile rule dont disturb you with anything unless its of the same urgency that they would track you down and interrupt you if you were a thousand miles away.Give the Individual a Copy of the Performance Appraisal to Read in Advance of the MeetingBefore I became a consultant, I spent fifteen years working for three large corporations: General Electric, United Airlines, and PepsiCo. Each one of those companies had a rigorous performance appraisal system; every one of my bosses took the process seriously.But each one followed the same clumsy procedure when the day came for my performance appraisal discussion. At the time we had set for the meeting I would walk into his office and he would hand me the appraisal. I would try to read through the multi-page document just as fast as I could while my boss sat behind his desk trying to gauge from my reactions how I was taking it.What a bumbling way to start the meeting! How can an employee take everything in from 2 minutes of speed reading?Heres a far better way to get the meeting off to an efficient, business-like start. An hour or two before the appraisal meeting is scheduled, give the employee the performance appraisal. Say, Sam, at 3:00 this afternoon were going to get together for your performance review. Id like you to read through the performance appraisal ahead of time so that youre prepared for our meeting. Feel free to write any questions you have directly on the form, or highlight anything that you want to be sure we talk about. See you then."Sam now has some time to read carefully what you have written, at his own pace. He can reflect on the things youve said without having to immediately defend or explain himself. He can jot down notes and think of questions hed like to ask.If you ask people to complete a self-appraisal, ask for it at the same time that you give them a copy of their appraisal (if you havent asked them to send it to you earlier so you can use it as an information-source in completing the official performance appraisal.) You too will be more relaxed and better prepared by being able to read, in an unpressured way, what the individual has written about herself.One caution, however. If the person youre reviewing is a marginal performer with a bad rating, wait until the beginning of the meeting to hand over the performance appraisal. This increases your control of the situation.Must performance appraisal discussions be uncomfortable exchanges? No. Following these small suggestions will help produce appraisal discussions that turn out to be productive learning events and true team-building experiences.