Category: Blog

You’ve probably heard the term. If not, it refers to this: during the Mad Men era, where you start working for a company after earning your college degree, you slowly move up the corporate ladder, getting a yearly Christmas bonus, an occasional plaque, and when you have reached a certain milestone with a company (either 20+ years or end of a career), you receive a gold watch.

The Current Era

It’s a bit different. First of all, the average job tenure in America right now is about 4.6 years — which is, perhaps surprisingly an increase from 1983, when it was 3.5 years. But still, no one is getting a gold watch at 4.6 years! What is interesting is that I work with dozens of companies and I don’t hear much talk about awards for longevity? However, I do hear a lot about awards for top performer, most sales, highest recruitment, or highest % of growth. Just look at your Facebook feed, you will see the recognition flow out monthly, quarterly, and annually. Now, it can be argued that it’s better than the large majority of companies that are likely to do nothing at all to recognize their employees.

The question that I want to ask is, what should we be rewarding and what are the foundational values behind our awards. It will have to be addressed at another time, but philosophically, values should drive awards just as ethics should drive laws, not the other way around.

The Gold Watch –

It celebrates loyalty, commitment, and steadfastness. Those are good things, right? 

The idea of monthly awards celebrating selling, performance, and hustle; also good things.

The problem is, they both have weaknesses as well.

The gold watch approach can lead towards apathy, mediocre performance, and decreasing creativity.

The top producer awards can fuel self-serving, individualistic behavior, selling over valuing people, and an unhealthy workaholic approach.

Is This a Business Issue or a Societal Issue?

That’s the interesting question to me.

For most of human history, identity came from the tribe — i.e. the group we participated in. This is what gave us meaning and validation. If the tribe succeeded, we counted that as our success. Spartans could hunt and kill Helots, but they were expected to die for the sake of Sparta. You grew corn so you could trade it with your neighbor who grew fruit. You had a mutual desire to see success for the whole as you worked in your individual area. Identity came from the success of the whole.

Modern man has flipped that.

Now, we are told our identity comes from within. Just think of all of the Disney movies that talk about going and “finding yourself.” Leave the island (tribe) and find out who you are (Moana). Frozen is about the need to escape to find and accept your true self. Meaning comes from within.

The question, then: do we need to disconnect from community to find ourselves or do we find ourselves as part of a community?

Should we award those that make the whole better or should we award those that achieve great things on their own?

That is the True Question

A lot of companies do have signs hanging up in the office like “TOGETHER WE WIN,” but then their entire incentive and recognition system is individually-driven.

That doesn’t work.

There needs to be three attributes to how this is designed:

  • Be purposeful, as in- What is the purpose of recognizing people? What behaviors in others are you hoping to inspire?
  • Be intentional, as in- Do it regularly and proclaim the intent and the reasons for this person or this team receiving the recognition when it happens. This requires some creativity. Maybe you reward for some different reasons other than what is typically thought about. Think of ways you can reward activity and effort over just results.
  • Be aligned between how you compensate/reward and what you believe are your core values

Again, cultures that often talk of togetherness and collaboration and winning as a team only have recognition programs for top sales guys. Those cultures are lying to all the other employees, and eventually those employees will see through that. (It might take years, yes.)

But if you have a culture of collaboration and reward teams of 3-4 people that worked across departments/silos together, then you are sending the message that “Teams and collaboration do matter!”

That’s purposeful, intentional, and aligned.

Think More About What You’re Doing, Too

Consider this:

There are roughly 2,400 Google searches per month for ’employee recognition ideas.’ That’s really not that many when you consider how many people are managers/bosses in the world, and the low volume shouldn’t be too surprising.

In this book I recently read, The Carrot Principle, they discuss one particular set of employee recognition ideas.

Let me set this up for you.

They refer to another book, Hardwiring Excellence, and four questions you can ask an employee at 90 days. The four questions are all good ones:

  • Have we lived up to our promises to you?
  • What do you think we do best?
  • What have you seen in your other jobs that might work here?
  • Have we done anything in 90 days where you might consider leaving?

These four questions are awesome to ask at the three-month mark. It’s all about showing the employee you value them.

It’s an easy, cost-effective version of employee recognition ideas.

So in various studies around these four questions, consultants have asked employees one simple question:

  • Has your manager ever asked you any of these four questions?

In years and years of asking that question, they’ve never heard the word “yes.”

That’s a problem.

Again: rewards and recognition are about purpose, intent, and alignment. Focus there.

“Hey, got a minute?”

If you have ever had any type of job at all, you have heard this. From a hotel bartender to a corporate VP. Someone rolls up on you and asks for a minute of your time to go over something.

But it’s never a minute.

It’s usually 5 — but sometimes it’s 35.

We’ve all seen this drill.

In fact, this drill has huge economic impact: unnecessary interferences stemming from Qs like “Hey, got a minute?” cost the U.S. economy $588B per year. Yes, 588 billion with a B. For context, Google’s 2017 revenue was $110B. So unnecessary interferences are costing the U.S. economy about five Googles worth of money.

Why does this happen?

A partial list:

  • Workplaces aren’t often driven by priority. So each new thing people are working on can feel like a priority. Therefore, they feel they need to check in with you often, causing unnecessary interferences.
  • Attention spans have been declining for years
  • Some people don’t know how to have a succinct, business-driven conversation (i.e. perhaps they never mastered “the elevator pitch” concept)
  • Sometimes people are doing it to procrastinate on their own work, but hindering your work in the process

So, if these interferences are unnecessary, the question is “How do we keep them out of our way?”

This answer is in two parts: ‘broader level strategic’ and ‘specifically tactical’ .

Strategic:

Be purposeful about what you are working on and what needs to be done that day. There are lots of different approaches here, but the sheer reality is that most people are capable of achieving 3-5 major things in a work day. Look at what’s on your plate. Look at family and friends too; perhaps on a given Tuesday, something from those areas needs to rise to No. 1. Determine the 3-5 big things you need to do that day and then work purposefully and directly on doing those things. If you can establish consistency around this practice, you’ll get to the end of most weeks feeling extremely fulfilled. You might have a to-do list with some task work still on it, yes. But you’ll feel fulfilled and purposeful about what you did that week, both personally and professionally, and there’s literally no better feeling than that.

Tactical:

Schedule uninterrupted work time on your calendar. Calendars are sacred to many in white-collar workers; if they see a block on your calendar, they won’t schedule over it (unless they outrank you in a hierarchy, in which case they might try to). If you simply block three hours on a Wednesday to focus on those things you really want to focus on, and don’t let anyone intrude on those three hours, you’ll crush unnecessary interferences and get forward-driven, purposeful work done. (Don’t use your three hours on administrative work, please. Administrative work can wait or, better yet, be automated to technology or outsourced.) A similar idea is “The Focus Day,” whereby you block an entire day for projects of importance. Just go to a coffee shop no one knows and hide out working on what matters. Who’s going to come up on you there asking for a quick minute?


Side Note for Entrepreneurs and Owners:

Fridays should be spent recapping their week — what worked, what didn’t — and setting up their next week. Trying to work on Fridays in terms of task-achievement or big meetings is usually complete folly. Use it to recap and focus on what’s coming next. Set your priorities for the next week by Friday at 1pm. If they change over the weekend, we can adjust Monday morning.

The Bottom Line

You start everything by being purposeful about what matters. Then you design the tactics of your days and weeks to make sure those elements are achieved first, and the rest is outsourced. Work on what matters to you and your organization. Do those things and you’ll be a Purposed Performer instead of a member of the rat race.

Postscript

We just talked about removing unnecessary interferences. However, we all know that life is marked by interferences that are truly out of our control. The market changes, we lose a big account, someone gets sick or worse yet dies, the company downsizes and you lose your job. These interferences can’t be delegated away but they can be dealt with purposely. Unnecessary and necessary interferences go together in this way. By removing the unnecessary ones, you have created the margin and space that you need to adequately deal with the necessary one.  It won’t make them any easier, but it will place you in a position to make good choices.

Previous Blog In The Purposed Performer Equation: Recognizing Your Potential

In our last blog (linked above), we talked about the path to recognizing your potential.

Great!

But here’s the dirty little secret of life: plenty of people recognize their potential and never go anywhere. You probably know more than a few people who actually think pretty highly of themselves but don’t seem to have the corresponding levels of achievement. That means they realized something about their abilities (it could be self-delusion, yes), but they can’t move forward with it.

The next chain in this bridge is the idea of personal conviction though.

Start With Why

The idea of personal conviction is rooted in your “why,” or your purpose. Across the last 10 years, that idea is maybe best associated with Simon Sinek and his famous TED Talk “Start With Why.”

The “why” underscores everything. A simple work example: Have you ever been given a project and just told it was urgent? There’s no background or context to it? It just has to get done now, now, now? Many of us have been in that moment; it’s often called a “fire drill.” No one likes those moments because they’re rushed and scary and people are yelling to do this or do that. The real reason, however, that our souls don’t like those moments is because they lack any semblance as to “why.” The reason for it even happening — the “why,” or the purpose of the project is gone and replaced with “Get it done.” We, as humans, don’t love these kinds of moments.

Sometimes we get asked ‘why’ we frame up this overall idea as a “Purposed” Performer because “Purposed” is a past tense. Shouldn’t it be “Purposeful?”

We don’t think so and here’s why…

“Purposed Performer” is the term we use because we believe the idea of purpose has to be a choice one makes ahead of time with intentionality. Personal conviction means that you chose a course in life, as opposed to waiting for something to happen to you. You went out and made something happen based on your beliefs.

Eric Thomas and the Guru Beach Story

You may have heard this; some call it “the most powerful marketing message ever.” It’s been incorporated into a few hip hop songs in recent years.

The basic breakdown:

A young man goes to a guru and says he wants to get on the level of said guru. The guru says “Meet me at the beach at 4am tomorrow.” The man is confused, but he goes. When he arrives, he asks why they are at the beach. “I don’t want to learn to swim,” says the man. “I want to make money.”

The guru tells him to wade out, then deeper, then deeper. When he gets past waist-high, the guru goes out and plunges the man’s head under the water. The man struggles. As he gets weaker, nearing passing out, the guru pulls him up.

“What did you want in that moment?” the guru asks.

“I wanted to breathe.”

“When you want to succeed as much as you wanted to breathe in that moment, then you’ll succeed.”

This story underscores a key idea here: the more convinced of something you are (that you should be successful in this case), the more committed you become to it (you need to get it to the level of needing to breathe). Is it a bit over-dramatic? Potentially. But the idea is there.

How many people do you know that tell themselves they “should” do something — say, go to the gym — but never really do it?

The lack of commitment is really a lack of personal conviction. It’s a lack of understanding your “why.” Even the young man in this story might miss his mark if the goal is just to “make money.” That “why” is seldom deep enough to sustain a person over the long haul.

Conviction drives commitment and conviction begins with having a purpose around what you want to do in life.

Now, as you run after that purpose, obstacles are going to get in the way.

This is what we’ll address in the next blog as we complete the triangle.

For the next couple of blogs I want us to discuss what it means to be a ‘Purposed Performer’. This is the bedrock of The Tappe Group training.  (Don’t worry, we’ll cross-link everything for those really interested.)

In simplest terms, a “Purposed Performer” works according to this equation:

Recognized Potential + Personal Conviction – Unnecessary Interferences

It’s common now for people, teams, and organizations to talk about the importance of purpose. Purpose is crucial, but you need to understand the entire equation around it to take your purpose and put it into action

In this blog we want to focus on the first part of the equation: Recognized Potential.

We all have potential –

This is the most important thing to remember first. Everyone was designed for a great purpose. Now, that thought alone is not always accepted and could be explored deeper. However, in my experience, most people feel that to be true. Deep down you have a desire for purpose, a longing for significance, a hope for impact. So whether you attribute that to a higher power, a coping mechanism of evolutionary biology, or a social construct within our own consciousness, the reality is that it’s there.

But the problem is this: while we are all born with great potential, numerous roadblocks, both internally and externally, can get in the way of us actually realizing/recognizing it.

Such as?

First, a focus on the immediate: This is unfortunately very common. Consider some notable examples:

  • Microwaves (“science ovens” in the parlance of American Hustle)
  • Netflix shifting from red envelopes to streaming
  • Almost everything Amazon does
  • Quarterly focus in business fiscal reporting

 

We live in a very here and now now now time; The Wall Street Journal has even deemed it  “The On Demand Economy.”

This leads to a massive focus on the immediate, but recognized potential is a much more long-term concept. To understand your potential, you need to (a.) see it play out over time and      (b.) respond to the challenges and setbacks that will inevitably arise. You don’t understand your potential or yourself in a quarter of time or in the time it takes to load up a new episode of Ozark. For you to be able to recognize your potential, you need a much more long-term focus and that’s not what society values at scale right now.

Second, the creation of winners and losers: One of the best podcasts I’ve heard in the last year is this discussion between Tim Ferriss and Tony Robbins (both pretty big names) about the idea of “achievement” vs. “fulfillment.” Most, white-collar-driven societies are “achievement” cultures. It’s similar to what we described above — the immediate matters — but it’s also about accruing more and more in terms of salary, cars, possessions, respect, power, etc. Those are markers of achievement. They are not necessarily markers of fulfillment. The example used in that podcast episode is Robin Williams. Admittedly this is a touchy subject because he committed suicide, so I don’t want to go deeply into mental health here (an entirely separate issue). Robin Williams achieved a great deal. He had wealth, family, fame, awards, but based on the end you can argue he wasn’t fulfilled. They are very different concepts.

Society at the broadest level has a way of slotting people into certain categories, often around this idea of achievement. But a Purposed Performer sees potential in a way that says: it’s uniquely yours, and how it will be realized is unique to your journey as well. It’s not easy to box up or slot a specific way.  Let’s say your greatest potential is as a loving father. Unfortunately this is not often rewarded in an achievement culture. Almost everyone would agree that the fatherhood side is more important on almost every level, but many men sacrifice that potential for the reward and accolades that they get in the professional realm. If you let the boxes of society determine your potential, as opposed to your unique journey and giftings, you will end up feeling depressed and isolated.

Third, a journey not a destination: We tend to be big on destinations in the first world — hit this number, achieve this marker, pay down this debt, buy a house this big, etc. But potential is the epitome of a journey. You might not even know where exactly your potential is leading until much later in life. Samuel L. Jackson didn’t land Pulp Fiction until he was 46, as one example. (There are countless others.) Potential is a journey,  and it requires purposed dedication.

Finally, go deeper not higher: Because of this focus on external markers and results, sometimes we tend to believe we need to be going higher — but recognizing potential actually means you need to go deeper. Maslow called this “self-actualization,” or growth of the individual towards fulfillment of deepest needs and purpose. This is not easy it do. It requires a large degree of self-awareness and cultivation. However, the result will not only benefit you in seeing your own recognized potential,  but more self-aware individuals and teams tend to have much greater financial success too! So double benefit!

The next piece of the puzzle

Next blog, we’re going to discuss personal conviction. If you understand your recognized potential now, you will be ready to answer and address the values that make up your personal conviction. This will be step two in the equation to becoming a purposed performer.

Wanted to talk for a few moments about the notion of “accountability” at work. It’s a big topic — maybe even a bit nuanced for a simple blog post. (Probably is.) But we’re going to try.

From a semantic perspective, one thing that makes no sense is the word that almost always precedes “accountability,” that being some form of “holds” or “holding.”

This is actually ludicrous.

“Holds” are what UFC fighters and bouncers do. Or Ric Flair. The figure-four leglock is a hold.

You shouldn’t be thinking about your people this way.

Consider this, from a 2015 Harvard Business Review article about how leaders should react when an employee disappoints:

But here’s what people almost never need: to feel scared or punished. And more often than not, that’s how we make them feel when we talk to them about us “holding them accountable”.

This is unfortunately very true in the case of many managers: they confuse the idea of “accountability” with “fear.”

For example: I attended a sales kickoff meeting for a company not too long ago. At the end of Day 1, all the sales reps had to get up and discuss their 2017 productivity. On the surface, this isn’t such a bad exercise. It shows numbers transparently and it’s a form of accountability.

Right?

Right. Well, right if it’s executed well. In this case, the sales manager grilled the reps, deeming it “constructive.” In reality some of the reps looked like they wanted to cry, or slink into the floor. You could argue that the reps were “soft,” sure. That would be one approach.

A more logical way to look at this: what happened wasn’t really accountability. It was a dog and pony show.

Accountability is an invited relationship based on two concepts:

  • Agreement ( clarification concerning everything from overall purpose to roles and responsibilities)
  • Alignment (voluntary execution of that agreement by all parties, intentionally carrying out the purpose or the responsibilities agreed upon)

If agreement and alignment (two A’s) aren’t present, the third A — accountability — won’t be invited. Forced accountability is what bad managers do when they claim to be “holding” someone to something.

Invited accountability means both parties know the expectations on each side, and there’s a clear connection between the bigger strategy (the end goals you want to accomplish) and execution (how you get there logistically). People who want to do better invite accountability. And most people will invite it when you help them see accountability through new lenses; when agreement has been reached first, and they own their own alignment.

Above all, there’s a purpose: why are we doing this? That’s going to be the strongest bond of them all. If a boss and a sales rep both understand the purpose of what they’re doing, both will want to be accountable. Without the purpose, though, what’s the point of being accountable?

As a leader, you should inspire people towards a purpose, not dictate it. So, talk to your team. Understand how the other likes to work and have work delivered. Go bigger picture. Ask questions about the why of different things and different ways of doing things. Don’t hide behind email or platforms. Be present. Get deep on tougher topics. The most important sales job you’ll do is to help your team tap into a greater purpose for their day-to day-things activities.

Once the agreement is there and the alignment is there, the accountability can become meaningful again. Stay tuned for the next part which is why most of us avoid or don’t like accountability.

Taking your business to the proverbial next level most often begins with taking things deeper. My challenge for you is to begin that journey by seeing “conflict” through a different lens.  It is time to stop avoiding your reality.  Life is “conflict”.  It is time to engage it on purpose.  Here are six opportunities that when engaged will take your business to new heights.

Diversity … Recognize and respect it!

Distinction … Realize and celebrate it!

–  Development … Accept and embrace it!

–  Discipline … Choose and commit to it!

–  Doubt … Expect and be energized by it!

Destination … Begin with it and plan for it!

  

The purposed and positive engagement of conflict is your next move!

 

 

You may have heard it said that there is no “I” in team.  While the spelling of team requires no letter “i”, the culture of team absolutely requires words that are led by the letter “I” and that begins with each “individual” player on the team.  Here are five other “I” elements essential to building purposed teams:

 

Be impressive … Impressions are everything!

 

Represent integrity … Do what you say you will do!

 

Purpose influence … Lead with intention!

 

– Show initiative … Look for opportunities to contribute!

 

– Bring imagination … Each day is a new creation!

 

Remember, there is plenty of room for “I” in team!  Its just not all about you!

Every morning brings with it a greeting for a new day.  The gift comes with the light of God’s smile.  As the sun breaks, it signals the blessing and opportunity for a new day of life.  Here are four purposed thoughts for response to the gift you receive every morning.

 

Live!  Open your eyes and give thanks.  Pray for wisdom as you arise from your bed and take your first steps.  Smile at the thought that you have another day of opportunity.  Open the package and celebrate your gift!  Choose to live the embrace and engage the gift you have been given!

 

Love!  Your purpose each day is to find a creative way to love your world.  It is a creation uniquely yours because you are the only one who occupies the place in life you occupy and writing the story you are writing.  Choose to love the people in your world!

 

Learn!  The gift of every day is the opportunity to experience another day and learn new things.  You can learn it from asking and listening.  Your can learn from watching little children.  You can learn from reading the thoughts of others.  Choose to nourish your mind and learn!

 

Lead!  Each day of life you receive will influence the lives of others.  You are a leader.  It is your reality.  How you lead is a choice you make.  Purpose to lead in a way that makes the world around you better.  Make a positive difference.  Choose to lead with powerful intention!

 

Live … Love … Learn … Lead

How often do those who represent themselves as professionals in your world underwhelm you?  It really is trick or treat isn’t it?  Here are a few thoughts for those of us who wear that “professional” tag:

 

Be on time!  With whatever service or product you represent, be on time with the delivery.  Show up on time if that applies to your work.  It is a matter of personal integrity.  If it is the delivery of a product, make sure you don’t promise something you can’t deliver.

 

Be better than they expect!  Send them away wowed by what they receive.  Give them reason to tell everyone they meet about what you brought their way.  Earn their praise!

 

Be memorable!  Bring all of your preparation and all of your power to the moment.  Give them every reason to cause them to call for an encore.  Literally, give them reason to call for more. 

 

Make it a treat, not a trick, for the people in your world!

What do you intend to create today?   Every day you have a life canvas upon which you can create a work of art.  That art should be reflective of you and your purpose for living this life. Think these thoughts with me …

You are making history today!  What you choose to create today through your life has never been seen.  You get to set something brand new into motion.  You are writing new history!

–  You are meeting new people today!  Even if you are with people you love and have known all of your life, they are new to you today.  You will be meeting them in the midst of thoughts they have never thought.  You are looking at a new person today through a new lens!

 You are seeing new opportunity today!  Every day presents a new story filled with new conflict that will serve as the raw material for new opportunity in your life.  No matter what, you have new opportunity waiting for you today.  It is yours to discover!

_   You have new reason to be thankful!  If you are above ground and breathing, you have reason to give thanks.  Through creative eyes looking at new life on a new day, you always have reason to celebrate!

Live a Purposed day, today!