Girlfriday: Every Successful Person Needs an Assistant

Recently, I interviewed a good friend of mine, Takisha Bromell. Bromell always had a knack for organization. In 2017, she started helping real estate agents with their sales and listing contracts, having a background in real estate herself. Despite the encouragement of others, she still thought the biggest challenge lay in herself and the initial seed money, or rather the lack of it.  A friend once told her “Every successful person needs an assistant.” Not being exposed to the concept of an assistant for hire, she sought counsel from business professionals as well as family members who understood what made her tick. Now, she considers her work a labor of love.

 

Bromell says the best things she can provide other businesses is balance and purpose. She has several clients who operate from a shared workspace or otherwise away from the corporate office. These regional managers or high-level sales reps don’t have an onsite staff anyway, so it makes sense to use virtual assistants.

“How I help the business owner is to create balance in their lives so they can go home and rest assured things are going to get done. By helping them, I create that support system, that foundation so that they can go out and be great. They can do what it is God has called them to do.”

Read the entire Murfreesboro Pulse article here. https://boropulse.com/2019/07/girlfriday-every-successful-person-needs-an-assistant/

 

 

Favoritism in the Workplace

A common concern for well-meaning leaders is to avoid the appearance of favoritism. Let’s take a closer look at this. What exactly is favoritism? In its purest form, it is a preference of one person to the exclusion of all the others. In short, it’s a teacher’s pet. Only the leader need not be a teacher, it can be a boss or even a parent. As a foster parent, I have witnessed this latter relationship all too many times. Perhaps this is most apparent between just two siblings. Favoritism does nothing but spur feelings of resentment and a lack of will for much of the life of the disenfranchised.

Most of us would agree anyone who would show more love to one child over another is simply a bad parent. In fact, it’s not about love at all as true love is without strings attached. So why might a parent create such a dichotomy in the first place? In most situations I have observed, it appears to be due to the favorite sibling making life seemingly easier for the parent. Essentially it goes to the self-interest on part of the adult. As stated, it makes for bad parenting, but favoritism also goes for making a bad manager. A team may not be supervision’s children, though they do seek consideration, appreciation, and support just like children. Furthermore, employees deserve consideration, appreciation, and support.

In a large group, those of us who have experienced it first-hand will observe favoritism is generally more than one single person who has the approval of the leadership. In an organization, it’s a partiality toward those who are simply liked by the boss, while everyone else must suffer a bias to work harder, longer and without appreciation. In short, you are either in the club or you are out of the club. Merit, that is to say, appropriate recognition for a job well done doesn’t exist if you have been deemed unworthy for whatever political reason. Just like the slighted child, they will suffer feelings of resentment and a lack of will. This leads to low morale and a loss of production. A leader sets the overall tone of morale within a team and if that morale is low due to a lack of fairness, the boss has only him to blame.

http://MomentumSeminars.com

 

A Little Encouragement Goes a Long Way

The need to feel unique starts in grade school or even earlier if we have siblings. With so many people in the world, we want to stand out and be noticed for our talents and ideas. That is not something that goes away when we graduate from high school, however.  It carries on to adulthood and in to business, where even if we do not work for praise. it is still nice to be recognized for the effort we put in.

A good manager will have the emotional intelligence to realize a paycheck doesn’t get people to go the extra mile. Even if our leaders miss the mark, any member of the team can increase morale by letting others know they are appreciated. This is where honest, positive reinforcement comes in to play. And many in the American workforce are starving for professional validation.

All human beings need to feel appreciated by others we respect. Simple, sincere words can be inspiring to those who may have no inspiration otherwise;

“I AM PROUD OF YOU!”

This phrase, when sincere, can touch someone at the core of who they are. However, in some work environments, it may be too familiar. A more professional comment may be;

“YOU DID A GREAT JOB!”

Of course, both mean pretty much the same thing. The idea is to recognize those teammates around us who may not get the much needed recognition they deserve or even crave.

The Leader of the Band

Every team has a leader, either officially or otherwise. We typically think of a leader as one who is out front like an officer leading his unit into war, a businessperson at the end of a meeting table or a conductor with an orchestra. Though not every influential person is out front, this is likely what we imagine and for good reason.  A team will take comfort seeing the one with control over our livelihoods at the head of the pack. Or else, we start to wonder where that person is and get paranoid with all sorts of frightful thoughts.

In college, I was required to take a music appreciation class. I reluctantly attended, after all, what were you going to teach me about AC/DC or Billy Idol I didn’t already know? To my surprise, I actually got a lot out of the class. Though I rarely listen to Classic Music these days, I did learn a rConductor.jpgespect for other genres. Perhaps the most was gained for an orchestra and all the tireless work that group goes through to make a concert seem effortless. One nagging question I had for years before the class was; what instrument does the conductor play? If the musicians know what they’re doing, why do they need that guy? AC/DC didn’t need a conductor.

I asked the professor to shed some light on the issue. He stated a conductor is also a composer and will many times put his own spin on a classic piece. Although he cannot play all the instruments, he knows HOW each should sound. If there is a problem, the conductor can devote time working with the musician to figuring out what is wrong. There are many such things that go on behind the scenes, but when it is “go time”, the orchestra and the audience expect to see him there.

In a lot of ways, that is how it is in business. The CEO may not have all the answers or be the smartest person in the room, but she is expected to lead nonetheless. Like a conductor who cannot play the tuba, a leader may not be someone who has come up through the ranks of the technicians (accountants, maintenance and IT people)  they lead. However, it is very important the leader demonstrate her abilities. Members of a team are always giong to ask; “How is my job easier or more difficult with her around?” It’s a fair question and one that all bosses must answer. Otherwise the team will suffer from trust issues.

If the president of an engineer firm has a civil engineering degree and spent the past couple of decades working on high profile projects, that president will easily gain the confidence of rest of the firm. Otherwise, management must go another route to win the trust of everyone. Years ago, medical centers were run by the smartest doctor on staff. Now, many hospital administrators in the 21st century do not come from medical backgrounds. So, they are expected to show expertise in being up to date with procedures, keeping the facility out of lawsuits, confirming people are properly trained, making the important decisions and sharing the overall vision of the hospital with its people. NOT performing open heart surgery.

I do know one hospital administrator who has her RN, but she also seems to display her managerial prowess as well. She’s very approachable and even takes lunch with patients. And that is the point. A leader MUST SHOW the team they are worthy of the leadership position. Where there is no trust in the leader, there is paranoia among the team. Position power is short lived and “because I told you so” just doesn’t cut it in today’s world.

Mandatory Meetings!

Meetings in the business world are like cellphones and opioids. You can’t live with them and you can’t live without them. But is every formal get-together really necessary? Most people NOT presiding over one would say “no”. Maybe they have a point. When was the last time you heard a group of people leaving a conference room and collectively say; “Now, that was productive”. If anything, they rush back to their workstations to return missed calls and make up for the LOST time.

Don’t get me wrong, meetings have their usefulness. It is an opportunity for the boss to show his face and thereby get an instant read on where everyone on the team is with the latest project. It also shows the boss’ support of his subordinates. By maintaining the flow of information, management may prevent certain members from secluding themselves… and doing God knows what.  The team may discover mistakes being made and get the project back on track. Too, there is something to be said for synergy and collaboration.  It also provides much needed face time for building team camaraderie (psst… Millennials, that’s REALLY important). But these are perhaps the most grand ideals for having a meeting in the first place.

Here are some quick pointers on how to have a more effective meeting time:

Is it necessity or habit? If there is a “standing meeting”, perhaps Wednesdays mornings for the sales force, consider whether you really have to meet THIS week. If sales are good this quarter, keep your people in the field and OUT of the office. Actually, that applies to poor sales as well.

Select a time frame (like an appointment?) and stick to it. Keep a “huddle” to just that., short, sweet and to the point. If you call a meeting at 11:30 and lunch begins at Noon, you have exactly 30 minutes. Going over time and ordering everybody food is NOT OK. The occasional overage due to an unforeseen emergency will be forgiven. Make it a habit and your team will grow to resent you. After all you are not respecting their time or tSurvivedAnotherMeetinghe productivity they bring to the company during it.

It’s alright to have empty seats. Should everyone in the department be present for a meeting just because they are in the department? People not assigned to the latest projects and other specialist would much rather be doing their own work.  Veterans who have been “down that road before” should only be asked to attend due to the expertise they can provide or to understand how the work will be distributed.

I have a love/hate relationship with agendas. Granted, the boss is paying the employees so he or she gets to ramble on as long as they want. However, irritated and underutilized employees tend to find work elsewhere. It may seem too formal to have a list of topics but being too casual can pull the discussion down a rabbit trail. Before you know it, people are looking at their watches. Select the points you think most imperative to discuss and stick with it. Don’t keep it a surprise! Email copies of the agenda to all participants BEFORE the meeting so people will know what to expect… oh and to be prepared too.

Perhaps the most productive meetings I have attended are where the participants are independent contractors or volunteers rather than employees. And therein lies the rub. They WANT to be there. If you are calling a meeting, you need to ask yourself what the attendees will get out of it. If your people do not grow in some way or become more efficient, the meeting may not be necessary at all.

Over 2500 years ago, Sun Tzu wrote The Art of War. Millions of business people have  read it and liken business to war itself. Personally, I do not like that analogy because at the end of the day, no one has died and hopefully, no property was destroyed. However, Sun Tzu did have a wonderful grasp of how groups are effected by leadership, be it good or bad. He stated an army (company or other group) did NOT exist for waging war (or simply to come to work each day). Rather, an army exists for VICTORY (productivity or increasing market share).  Holding meetings may seem like a very managerial thing to do, but is it a good use of everyone’s time when an email would have done just as well.

Blaine Little

 

The 8 Most Common Mistakes of New Managers

Recently, I was speaking to a group of business owners. It was a luncheon, and I was brought in as the guest speaker. The topic that day was on turning new managers into effective ones. It was a portion of my one day management seminar I conducted the month before. Entrepreneurs want to know how to get their management team up and running as quick as possible.

Almost as important as what to do, it to know what NOT to do. With so many people, procedures and other considerations in any organization, mistakes are sometimes made.  It is not enough for a leader to continue to develop his or her skills. The boss must also be mindful to avoid potential obstacles that could derail an otherwise positive environment.

1) Leading all members of a team in the same manner.

One size does not fit all when it comes to dealing with human beings. And if you’re in management, THAT is the job; dealing with human beings. Everyone responds different to the chief motivators of pain or pleasure. To uncover what motivates a person, a manager must first have an individual relationship with all members of the team.

2) Offensive, obnoxious, rude or abusive behavior.

Being offensive simply isn’t acceptable in the 21st century workplace. Truth is, it wasn’t acceptable in the 20th century or any other. Being loud or issuing threats will simply repel good employees. For those who are motivated by achieving pleasure and reward, this tactic provides neither.

3) Failing to show appreciation when it is deserved.

One thing that keeps good employees in place for years when perhaps the title wasn’t as glamorous or money wasn’t as good compared to somewhere else, is a sense of satisfaction. Simply Receiving a paycheck isn’t enough for someone to take pride in their work. Employees need validation from the boss.

4) An inability to gather or give information due to poor communication  skills.

If you don’t have a TEAM, you are not really a manager. You are a specialist. A siloed technician can get away with not speaking much or constructing emails in bullet points devoid of adjectives, a manger cannot. Issuing edicts like a monarch doesn’t work in the American culture. People need to know what, how and even why.

5) Not being a role model or leading by example.

It is not necessary for managers to DO everything alongside the rest of the team every day. However, it is necessary illustrate that the manager CAN. This is not only good for esprit de corps but it also allows the boss an opportunity to exhibit what the standard of work is to be.

6) Blurring the lines of management and being too friendly.

Managing friends and former co-workers is always tough. But if the position has shifted, so should the relationship. Notice, I did not say there is no relationship, it has simply transformed. Those who will call on the loyalties of “friends” in their new corporate rung will always fail. It better to establish what the new relationship is on the front end.

7) Being absent or otherwise detached from the organization.

A good boss has to be present in mind and body. Yes the mice will play, so it is imperative they physically see a manager. Though it is not just a matter of work ethic, but teams need to know they have the support of management. Support given from a distance may not be perceived as support at all. Morale, whether good or bad, stems from leadership.

8) Micro-managing; not delegating responsibilities or trusting the team.

I could go deep here, but the bottom line is: nobody likes a control freak! If the boss is hovering over the collective shoulder of the team, the team will essentially give up. Why should they try so hard if everything is to be critiqued and modified later? It also teaches employees to not engage their own ingenuity.

The relationship between employer and employee is just that, a relationship. As such, it must be cultivated by both parties. Proper interaction is a must to achieving organizational goals.

http://MomentumSemainrs.com

Time for Faith

A local dining favorite is about to close it’s doors in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Peter D’s American Southern Bistro will close it’s doors on 4/18/2018. It’s named for Peter Demos, a prominent businessman in Tennessee.  It was said to be “Upscale, casual dining”. I’m not sure what that means, but the food was pretty good.  My  family and I went there several times since it opened about four years ago. You could find things on the menu there that were  hard to find elsewhere. Things like candied ribs and a quinoa salad. The foodpeter-d-s was good, the service was good and so was the atmosphere.

When you first walked into the restaurant, you could not help but notice the THOUSANDS of copper pennies inlaid into the floor of the foyer. I once asked the owner exactly how many coins there were and he told me. I have since forgotten that number but I was struck that he knew it down to the penny. The interior was rustic with rock walls and bourbon casks. But one thing in the decor that really fascinated me was all the “broken” clocks hanging in the waiting area. It looked like a scene from American Pickers.

The first time we visited, I didn’t ask about the odd timepieces as I was just taking it all in. When we went back, curiosity got the better of me. When I finally asked the hostess; “What’s with the clocks”, I was expecting to get some philosophical response about how time is money, the mortality of man or even the restaurants hours of operation. What I got instead was a little card that explained the meaning of each and every clock. The “times” correspond to a different bible reference.

The first clock was set to 6:33. This represented Matthew 6:33, “But seek first the kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” I thought this was pretty bold, especially in a day and age when it is not politically correct to be a Christian, let alone a Christian business. 3:05 was Proverbs 3:5, Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.”  I was amazed to see such a witness in a time when there are those who grossly misinterpret the United States Constitution to read as a separation of church and… well, EVERYTHING.

Peter Ds ClocksYeah, this guy is a radical alright. In fact he even went so far as to remain closed on Sundays, so the employees could go to church that day.  A couple of years ago, I heard Mr. Demos’ testimony one Good Friday at a function sponsored by another public speaker in town, Coach Micheal Burt. He related how difficult it was to open this particular restaurant though he had been a restaurateur for decades. Nonetheless, God showed him the way. A way which would ultimately bring glory to the Lord if for no other reason than to share his story. That’s appropriate as it is a part of the restaurants purpose statement.

According to the Daily News Journal, which shot the main photo of this post, the Demos’ received an offer from a national deli chain to lease the property which was too good to turn down. The Peter D’s name will go on as the family’s catering business. Already, Peter has his sights on his next venture this Summer in Nashville. I’m sure my family and I will visit one of his many establishments for years to come, but I will personally remember how bold the Demos family is in their faith.

Blaine Little

http://MomentumSeminars.com

For the entire DNJ article, visit; https://www.dnj.com/story/money/business/2018/04/14/peter-ds-closing-murfreesboro-demos-restaurant/517178002/