Wednesday, November 18, 2009

How to Annoy People at Work

Every once in awhile the burden of helping companies become more productive gets to me. It’s then that the evil consultant in me comes out and makes me share ideas that actually are disruptive to production.

Here are some ways to annoy your colleagues at work. I got these out of Casino Magazine.

• Page yourself over the intercom without disguising your voice.

• Every time someone asks you to do something, ask if they would like fries with that.

• Call a meeting wherein you encourage your colleagues to join you in synchronized chair-dancing.

• Put your garbage can on your desk and label in “In.”

• Pretend like you have an unnatural fear of office products.

• Finish your point with, “at least that’s what my psychic says.”

• Don’t use any punctuation or capitalization in your memos.

• Find out where your boss shops and buy the exact same outfits. Wear them one day after your boss does. (This is especially annoying if your boss is of the opposite gender.)

• Respond to everything someone else says with, “Is that what you think?”

• Put mosquito netting around your cubicle.

• Tell your boss, “It’s not the voices in my head that bother me. It’s the voices in your head that do.”

If you want to annoy people outside of the office, you may want to try some of these:

• Specify that your drive-through order is “to go.”

• Sit in your parked car along the side of the road and point a hair dryer at passing cars to see if they slow down.

• Call a psychic hot line and say, “Guess who?”

• When the money comes out of the ATM, scream “I won! I won! Third time this week!!!”

• Tell your children at dinner, “Due to the economy we are going to have to let one of you go.”

• Every time you see a broom say, “Honey, is your mother here?”

Powerful Training Course Forces Managers to Assess Their Effectiveness

The most effective management development programs cause leaders to piercingly look within themselves in an honest introspective assessment of their management style. The best training courses provide managers with powerful tools and techniques to improve their leadership approach.

Every management workshop developed and facilitated by Innovative Management Group is designed around what we call the Four Phases of Personal Development. During our workshops we help managers become AWARE of their management philosophy and style. We help them ANALYZE the value and effectiveness of their management practices to determine where changes are needed. We then provide them with skills, tools and techniques to take the necessary ACTION to improve their performance. Finally, we encourage them to continue on the correct path until they ACTUALIZE the learning into their daily routine.

Attendees at IMG’s Effective Management Practices Workshop experience each of these four phases. By the end of the course they have gone through the developmental process again and again, resulting in very specific, real, long-lasting changes to their management behavior.

During the first section of the training, Building Team Commitment and Trust, the participants experience a thought-provoking exercise that challenges their behaviors concerning trust. The exercise brings out the participants’ best and worst characteristics during a negotiation experience between competing teams. The debriefing after the exercise, which sometimes lasts many hours, begins the self-awareness and self-analysis process the participants will be confronted with in every subsequent activity.

In the next section, Establishing a Productive Work Climate, the participants assess the work environment of both their company and their individual work unit. They learn about the elements that create an effective organizational climate and compare and contrast it to the work climate they have created as managers. They analyze how effective their management practices are and identify specific actions they can take to improve their work climate.

During the Communicating in a Productive Work Environment section the participants take a self-assessment survey that identifies how well they interact with subordinates, peers, and superiors. The tabulated results of the survey provide the participants with three perspectives of their managerial abilities. From this survey the managers gain significant awareness of the differences in their communication patterns when they communicate with subordinates, peers, and superiors. They learn how sharing of information (exposure) and solicitation of input (feedback) is altered depending on to whom they are communicating. They then analyze whether this is good or bad and assess what action, if any, should be taken to increase their effectiveness.

From this experience the participants then use what they have learned to assess their company’s communication style, as well as the communication patterns they’ve established in their work unit. This self-awareness and self-analysis results in the development of specific action steps to be taken to improve the communication practices in their organization.

The next section, Communicating Managerial Expectations, provides the participants with significant insight into the impact of their management actions. They first read and analyze a case-study called, “A Manager’s Influence.” It shows the impact of a manager’s management style on three employees. From the story the participants become aware of how their management behavior impacts the performance of their workers.

They next are given a “totem pole” exercise where they’re asked to force-rank their employees. They’re also asked to categorize their employees according to the employees' effectiveness and analyze any impact their management style might have on their employees’ performance. Most managers are shocked (awareness) at the influence they have on the performance of their employees. From this, of course, they evaluate what actions they can take to improve their employees’ performance by improving their own managerial skills and style.

This pattern of self-awareness, self-analysis, and self-action continues throughout the workshop. In one of the last sections, Building an Effective Team, the participants are provided with the strongest self-awareness and self-analysis tool yet. Having worked in teams throughout the workshop, they now assess the effectiveness of their workshop team members and provide specific feedback to each other concerning the strengths and weaknesses they’ve observed during the three-day workshop. This exercise provides final reality to everything that has been discussed in the workshop.

The last section, Data Analysis, provides a structured format for the participants to develop action plans to implement all they have learned. This is a very meaningful experience. We’ve had participants who have stayed many hours after the workshop ended pondering the feedback they’ve received and evaluating how they can become better managers because of it. Which, of course, is the purpose of the workshop.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Motivate Employees With a Dash to the Performance Finish Line

Several years ago I wrote an article entitled, Winning at Work: How to Instill Enthusiasm and Commitment in Employees. In that article I used a sports analogy to identify nine elements from the sports world that can inspire employees to achieve the same remarkable levels of performance that athletes exhibit when they “work.”

One of those essential motivational elements is that in the sports world at some point the game comes to an end.

The fact that one game ends and another begins has significant impact on the way people perform. The National Football League did a study on scoring in the NFL and discovered that more points are scored in the last two minutes of each half than in any other twenty-minute period.

When players know the game (or the half) is about to end, they perform much harder. As time runs down the players realize they need to put forth the extra effort to protect their lead, to get back into the game, or to win. Having paced themselves for this very moment, athletes produce an enormous amount of energy to score another touchdown in the final seconds of play.

Professional fund-raisers know 80% of the money raised will be gathered in the last few hours of the event. Items at the end of an auction are sold at higher prices. The fervor of excitement rises as people become motivated to solicit more, give more, or get more as the end of the event approaches.

Sadly, in the workplace employees often perform repetitive, ceaseless activities with no hope of reprieve or an end to the process. Workers leave the office or factory floor without having experienced the excitement that comes from knowing they’ve edged out the competition or achieved a new “world record” in productivity. Employees need to experience the emotion of making a game-winning score in the final seconds of play. They need to feel the exhilaration and personal satisfaction that comes from breaking the tape at the finish line.

Managers need to find ways to stop the production game clock and assess the score. The most motivational work environment is one where employees can tell every day whether or not they are winning. The best performance feedback mechanisms allow employees to measure their progress, celebrate their success, and recharge for the next production push.

Managers can motivate their employee to perform at higher levels by breaking up the work into performance periods with a beginning and an end. They need to set performance goals at the beginning of the period and measure their achievement of those goals at the end of the period. They also need to celebrate the victories when the team wins or refocus the team after performance failures.


If you would like help developing an effective performance management system for your company, or would like a copy of the "Winning at Work" article, please call us at 702-258-8334 or e-mail

Friday, November 6, 2009

Making the Unconscious Concious

I’ve received many compliments throughout my career as a management consultant and trainer, but two comments in particular mean the most to me. I believe these two comments encapsulate best who I am and what I do.

The first declaration was made several years ago after a strategic planning meeting I facilitated with a group of executives at a large corporation. The session went very well. It was one of those unique times when every executive in the meeting opened fully and dove deep in their assessment of the business, and of themselves. When that happens learning is profound and meaningful. That day the depth of insight and understanding was intense. One could actually hear and see people’s attitudes and behaviors changing in the room. For some this session was a life-changing experience. For the company the decisions and actions made that day set the future tone for the business. That meeting made a difference.

After that session the Chief Executive Officer of the company came to me and said these words: “Mac, do you know what it is you do? You make the unconscious conscious! That's why we're able to accomplish so much when you facilitate our group.”

That comment hit me like a bolt of lightning. That is exactly what I do! I draw out from the deep recesses of people’s minds the hidden truths and insights they know, but cannot articulate. I cause people to discuss that which they refuse to discuss. I help people confront that which they cannot confront. I bring truth to the surface and set people and organizations on fire with that insight.

Galileo said, “You cannot teach a man anything; you can only help him to find it within himself.” That is what I do.

I’m often amused, but not surprised, at the number of clients who say the reason why they hired me as a consultant was because they knew they couldn’t hide from me. They knew I would make them address the real issues, no matter how difficult. That’s because no one is “safe” from me. I am no respecter of title or position. I will make people confront the tough issues. I will find truth wherever it lies and bring it into the open. I will make the unconscious conscious; for only when something is conscious can it be addressed. I engage people who may not want to be engaged on issues they may not wish to address, but need to address. I do so for the good of the whole, as well as for the good of the individual. When people address real issues in an open and realistic way, great things happen.

A short time ago I received the second most meaningful praise I’ve ever received. It, too, explains well what I do and who I am. A woman was participating for the second time in an Accountability Management Workshop I facilitate. I gave her my condolences that she had to sit through the same session twice since I always conduct the session the same way and tell the exact same stories each time. Her response surprised and pleased me, although I’ve heard similar comments before.

“You are like a good movie,” she explained. “Each time I watch and listen to you I learn more. Each time I participate in a meeting with you I get something new and totally different out of it.”

Several years ago a manager at a large utility company in California expressed a similar comment. He’s been through my Team Start-Up Workshop seven times. The workshop is four days long. It’s a great workshop and helps cross-functional teams achieve tremendous results. But 28 days of listening to me teach team skills seems like cruel and unusual punishment. Each time this manager brought a new team to the session I was embarrassed that he would be listening to my instructions and stories once again. But he too declared that it was worth it. He said that each time he attended the session he “got a little more out of it.”

Then one day this same manager came to me and said, “Mac, I think I’ve finally got it! I’ve finally become what you preach. Now this is who I am. I am this team stuff!”

This is who I am. Isn’t that how it’s supposed to be?

Customers want employees who are customer-focused, not just those who pretend to be friendly. Employees want mangers that are employee-centered, not just those who do it because it is good managerial technique. Companies want leaders who truly are leaders, not just those who by rote implement that which they read in a management book.

So how do I get people to confront themselves — to go deep — to bring about the changes necessary to actually become better individuals and more productive work teams?

To get people to change their behavior — to become what you want them to become, or, even more important, to become what they need to become — they must “go inside themselves.” They must become introspective. They must see themselves as they truly are. They must understand how they truly feel and discover in what they truly believe. They must know why they do the things they do. They must become conscious of their unconscious motives.

The first step to consciousness is SELF-AWARENESS. An individual must first become aware that a need for change is necessary. They must recognize that something is amiss in the way they behave or act. They must see that what they are doing is not as effective or as helpful as it could be.

The key to this awareness is that it must be self-awareness. Behavior change does not occur until an individual personally accepts the fact that a change is needed. Few alcoholics stop drinking until they want to. Family members can beg, plead and nag, but until the person accepts the fact he or she is an alcoholic, they will not change.

Self-awareness usually occurs when something happens to cause the awareness. Some people learn from books. Some learn from observation. Some learn from their own mistakes. Some learn from the mistakes of others. Still others only learn when the consequences are severe enough to bring the problem to their consciousness. Life events and significant emotional experiences can cause self-awareness. So, too, can one become self-aware through simple assessments found in magazines or offered in training programs. Personal feedback, management pressure, advice from a spouse, or a seemingly innocent comment from a child can make one aware. But sometimes it takes a good facilitator or therapist to help people accept that which they cannot accept without guidance.

Generally people are more convinced by the reasons they discover on their own than by those given to them by others. However, external factors or other people can be a catalyst to the change. The job of a manager is to help employees become aware of their actions by making those actions conscious to the individual.

Once a person becomes aware of their dysfunctional or off-purpose behavior, the sudden awareness can be overwhelming. Sometimes when people become introspective they become depressed because they see themselves as being totally bad or completely wrong. But no matter how serious the discrepancy may be, the person still has value. And it is the manager’s role to help the employee to see their value. I always say the last step after giving someone corrective feedback is to "put back the person's self esteem." This means the person must leave the counseling session feeling good about themselves.

Even the most derelict employee is not bad all of the time. How they act and what they do may be bad sometimes, but certainly there are other times when they behave and act well. There are times when they are effective and times when they are not. This is why the second step to behavioral change is so important.

Once a person is aware of the need to change they must go through SELF-ANALYSIS to determine what works in their behavior and what doesn't. They must analyze where they are effective or ineffective, good or bad, helpful or not helpful, appropriate or inappropriate. This requires an honest assessment of one’s strengths and weaknesses.

Someone once said, “Strength is not the absence of weakness but how we deal with our weaknesses.” Consequently, the third step in bringing about personal change is for the person to take the SELF-ACTION necessary to make the improvement. They must deal with their new found shortcomings in an appropriate way.

Notice the third step is self-action. No one can make the change for the individual. They must do it themselves. But the person may not know how to change. They may need help in determining how best to make the change. They may need tools or techniques that are not within their normal repertoire of skills or behaviors. To change they may require ongoing feedback as they adjust their performance. They may need reinforcement, encouragement and coaching from the manager.

After the individual has learned to take the necessary actions to improve one's behavior or performance, the final step to personal change is SELF-ACTUALIZATION. Self-actualization occurs when the new found behaviors or performance have become a part of who they are. They finally "become this stuff."

It may take many days, sometimes months, before a person internalizes a change and actually becomes what they seek to become. In the beginning the person may have to consciously think about their actions and force oneself to do the right thing. Eventually it will become easier for him or her to perform well without conscious thought. A person becomes self-actualized after they consciously and consistently take the corrective actions needed to bring about the change. After doing the right things over and over the new found practices become a natural part of the person's behavior. They can do the right thing without thinking because it is who they are.


To find out more about how I can facilitate your team to greater results, please contact me at 702-258-8334 or email