Generations are Different – Embrace It

I experienced it during my last few years working in industry and continue to hear about it as I consult with various organizations.  The “it” is the frustration with those that have been entering the workforce over the last few years.  Organizations are dealing with staffing shortages, attendance issues, high turnover, poor morale, and low engagement.  Managers are using quite a few words to describe the younger generations that are having such an impact on these issues.  I hear words such as entitled, impatient, unreliable, lazy, and unprepared to just name a few.  Rather than continue to bash this group of young people, let’s take a look at a deeper level.

The younger group of Millennials and the Gen Z people that we are talking about grew up in a much different world than many of us more tenured folks did.  Let’s evaluate some of the comments above based on the culture and society they experienced.

Impatient:  Well, they are a group of people that had access to instant gratification at the tip of their finger.  If they wanted to watch a movie or a tv show, they didn’t have to wait for it to be shown, but rather just went to some streaming service and pulled it up.  If they wanted food, they could just push a few buttons, and food would show up at the doorstep.  They don’t even have to wait for an order at Sonic, because they can order ahead on an app.  They are accustomed to instant gratification.  They have had to wait for very little.  It’s not their fault.  Progress is great, but it sometimes comes with unintended consequences.

Unreliable:  Hey, with the expansion of virtual learning, many of these young people are no longer attending in-person classes.  The virtual classes are oftentimes just assignments posted on a website.  There is no interaction with the teacher, no discussion, and no requirement to be on time.  They sign on at their leisure.  They don’t interact with others and discuss the subject matter.  They work in isolation when they want to at their convenience.  Again, it’s not their fault.  The expansion of learning opportunities for people is a great achievement, but it also comes with unintended consequences for many. 

Lazy: I recall going to a summer football workout at 7AM, working 8 hours on a summer job, and playing baseball at night – talk about a full summer and developing a work ethic.  Today, the requirements of athletics all but eliminate a summer job option for a young person.  In addition, the jobs that were so readily available for young people have been greatly reduced through enhancements and efficiency gains over the years (lawn mowing, car washing, gas station attendant, etc. – some of my old jobs).  Don’t blame our young people.  We are responsible for everything noted above.  Those aren’t necessarily bad things, but they do come with unintended consequences.

Entitled, Unprepared, etc.:  These young people are smart and ambitious, like every generation before them.  However, they were likely exposed to more of the “everyone gets a trophy” concept and how “special” they are to ensure they didn’t get their feelings hurt at times.  Many were likely afforded better options growing up from parents that were able to do more for them as well.  In any case, let’s don’t blame them.  We led many of those efforts and are now seeing some of the unintended consequences. 

So, what do we do in light of those facts?  Rather than complain about it and blame these young people, let’s embrace it.  As I have stated previously, these generations are bright, ambitious young people with all kinds of skills and talents.  Sure, they are lacking in some areas, but they have so much potential!  What they need are organizations to understand where they are coming from and for the leaders within these organizations to adapt their approach to meet the needs of these young people.

I have seen some misguided attempts at this adaptation of leadership.  These young people aren’t asking for free food, smoothie bars at work, yoga classes at lunch, or casual dress days every day in the workplace.  Sure, they will take all these things, but that’s not what they are after.  They want meaning and purpose to their work.  They want to know what they are doing matters.  They need to see and understand the bigger picture and how they are contributing to the overall purpose of the organization.  While they may get impatient if they aren’t being promoted every six months, what they are really wanting is an effective development plan that they can see in action.  They want regular interaction with their leader on development and growth. 

Sure, they need to learn accountability, commitment, and teamwork.  Many of them missed these items growing up for all the reasons previously mentioned.  So, we must invest in them and develop them in these areas also.  Many of these young people aren’t accustomed to communicating in person, asking questions verbally to understand, working through a problem within a team environment, or grinding through a difficult task.  We must help them.  Leaders will need to adapt and invest to experience the results that we all want.  Culture has always been important, but it matters more now than ever.

Leaders need to embrace this challenge, make a difference, and create a workplace culture that attracts team members to drive results.  Let’s create a culture of purpose, development, teamwork, and mutual care that transcends generations.  That’s a sustainable plan!  Be a leader worthy of following and embrace this challenge!

For future articles, please consider following me on LinkedIn as I will be consolidating down to that approach in August.

Doug Strickel

Doug.strickel@gmail.com

Let’s Be Sure We Aren’t the Problem

When I was fifteen, I got a summer job working at a gas station/garage. My duties were to pump gas, wash/wax cars, change oil, and keep the garage clean. You can tell it was forty plus years ago based on those assignments. There wasn’t the level of automation back then and those manual tasks allowed me the opportunity to work. I was very thankful to have this job, but to be honest, I hated every second of being there and couldn’t wait for school to start.

I had no problem with hard work. I had started mowing lawns every summer when I was twelve, and I needed the money in order to have spending money for the school year. My parents were divorced, and my mom was doing all she could to just provide for basic needs. I viewed the ability and opportunity to work as a blessing. However, this job was a miserable place for me to go each day. I wasn’t trained very well and therefore wasn’t very comfortable with what I was asked to do on a regular basis. The other workers were not very accepting or engaging of me and that caused me to be very insecure the entire time that I was there. The owner wouldn’t tell me my work hours for the week to allow for me to plan anything else for the summer. I would often find out that I was working a complete weekend shift on Friday. It seemed like I was corrected and criticized on a regular basis, but I rarely heard any positive feedback. I never knew where I stood with those that hired me. I could go on and on, but I think you get the picture.

After thirty plus years in manufacturing, I recall instances where all of those issues likely took place in the workplace for facilities that I worked in as well. Those same issues impact workers today. Those same issues that impacted a fifteen year old, impact people of all ages. People need and want to be trained well to feel comfortable. They want to be part of a team and be accepted by others at work. They want balanced, regular feedback on performance. They want to know their work hours and be able to plan for things outside of work. People want to be a part of something with a purpose and identify with something beyond just getting a paycheck or some owner’s goal that they can’t relate to personally.

It is very easy for us today to talk about this generation not having the work ethic that we had. It is very easy for us to label this generation of workers with many catchy phrases that denote their lack of toughness, lack of desire, and lack of commitment, Hey, those comments may be warranted in many cases, but before we just go blaming and complaining, we might need to take a step back and evaluate the workplaces that we lead. What kind of environments are we leading? What type of workplace cultures are we developing? What levels of leadership are we providing? Those are some key questions that we might want to take a look at before we just keep going through the hiring process over and over again as staffing challenges continue.

Staffing challenges are impacting everyone today. There are obvious changes in the views workers are now bringing to the workplace. The key is and always will be leadership. Those leaders that can adapt, create desirable workplaces, define purpose, create identity, and engage with people at a meaningful level will ultimately find success in this staffing challenge. People want to be a part of something with purpose that they can identify with beyond just getting a paycheck. People want relationships in the workplace. People want a life outside of work. People want to know what’s important, how they are doing, and how they can help. People, whether they realize it or not, want solid leadership.

Take a step back this week and evaluate your facility or organization. I still recall that gas station/garage experience. I couldn’t wait to get out of there and find something else. Don’t settle for that level of operation for your people. Create something people want to be a part of with you. You be that leader worthy of following.

Note:

This will be my last post on WordPress. I will be consolidating my posts to just using LinkedIn. Please consider following me on LinkedIn for weekly postings on various leadership topics.

Don’t Neglect “Why”

Unfortunately, leaders are called upon to perform incident investigations involving safety occurrences, quality mistakes, and reliability failures on a routine basis. In each of these cases, the leader is trying to identify the root cause and get to a corrective action. From my experience over years in performing these investigations regarding the various situations noted above, I have noted that a significant number of these failures are the result of human behavior to at least some extent. More specifically, many of these cases involve a decision or choice someone either made or didn’t make that resulted in the injury, quality mistake, or reliability failure. These type incidents can be the toughest for the leader to address. Far too often, I have seen supervisors and managers just go directly to disciplinary measures as the answer to these issues.

Now, before I provide another consideration for leaders in this situation, let me say that I am not saying that facilities and/or organizations should neglect individual accountability, diminish the importance of following policy/procedures, or abstain from disciplinary measures when appropriate. I am merely suggesting another consideration in the midst of this process. This suggestion is simple. Ask Why! By simply probing into the “why” of the behavior, we may learn a great deal about our facility or organization. If we would just take the time in the midst of the investigation to ask why and be patient for an honest response, we could learn a great deal. By asking this question and calmly probing with follow up questions, we can learn a lot about the effectiveness of our systems, our training, and maybe our leadership.

Over the years, I have had incidents where employees made a choice to use the wrong tool or use equipment improperly that resulted in an injury or near miss. Many times I discovered that we had not designed the environment for success. We did not ensure the employee had easy access to the right tools. We did not maintain the equipment properly and placed the employee in situation to make a bad decision. We simply did not provide a work environment to make it easy for the employee to make the right choice. I didn’t realize our shortfall until I asked why.

There were many occasions where I asked this question and discovered that our people just didn’t understand the safe process to follow, the hazard of not following the process, or the proper steps to follow in completing the quality procedure. I would often hear from others in the organization that I shouldn’t listen to those excuses because we had trained on the respective subject at some point in the past. Maybe that point has merit, but just maybe our training is not as effective as we would want it to be. Just telling people what to do is not training. Effective training is conveying necessary information in a manner that people understand, validating that understanding on the production floor, highlighting those key processes through postings in key areas, and reviewing those key requirements regularly in engaging discussions with our people. Asking why just may reveal the effectiveness of your equipping system.

I have also heard many times that the employee was just in a hurry. Sometimes this “rushed” behavior was the result of reliability issues causing the crew to be behind in production. Sometimes this rushed behavior was the result of pressure placed on the crew from a manager to expedite the process. I have even witnessed examples of “rushed” behavior driven by incentives to increase throughput. In each of these cases, there was some degree of supervisory or management influence that had some level of impact on the employee’s decision. I would have never realized the mixed messages that were being conveyed on the production floor if I had not asked why. I learned a great deal about our engagement level and messages that were being sent by our team leaders.

I am not justifying poor choices or decisions by any means. I am simply suggesting that all leaders take the time to ask “why”. You will learn a great deal and have a more thorough incident investigation and corrective action. Don’t rush to discipline before you truly understand the entire “why” behind the behavior. The few extra minutes in that investigation may prevent your next injury, your next quality issue, or your next reliability failure. It will also help expand your leadership influence with your people. Take the time and ask “Why”!

Great Teammates Make a Difference

As my son grew up, I would try to be in a position to coach all of his youth teams.  My desire to coach wasn’t about being in control or ensuring he got special attention.  Rather, it was all about ensuring he and his teammates received solid instruction and were taught the importance of being good teammates to one another.  More specifically, I wanted them to learn fundamentals, to be respectful of their opponent, to play hard, and to learn how to be great teammates.  I am afraid that “be a great teammate” concept is not emphasized enough in youth sports, in higher levels of athletic competition, in the workplace, or in our communities in general.

Being a great teammate can be summarized as follows:

  • Encouraging others on our team or in our organization
  • Placing success of team/organization and other team members ahead of personal success
  • Sacrificing one’s personal attention or achievement for team/organization recognition and accomplishment
  • Celebrating team/organization and teammate success regardless of personal performance
  • Leading others and providing an example of how to face challenges together
  • Making others better through unselfish play, work, and conduct in general

This concept of being a great teammate is meaningful to me because I was not always a great teammate.  I wasn’t a bad one, but I let my personal performance overshadow being a great teammate too many times.  When things were going well for me personally, I was that great teammate, but when I struggled, I selfishly focused inward far too much.  That approach followed me to the workplace until my eyes were opened to that shortfall and my need to place the needs of others ahead of my personal pride.  I regret that I was an inconsistent great teammate growing up and in those early years in the workplace. 

Our culture places so much emphasis on recognizing the most talented performers, but very little attention is placed on those individuals that are great teammates.  I appreciate talent and gifted people as much as anyone, but I have also learned the value and importance of great teammates in every aspect of our society.  If you were to go look at the athletic teams that have sustained success, you will no doubt see talent, but you will also see great teammates.  If you go look at organizations that are great places to work, you will see talented people, but you will also see a workforce of great teammates.  

The often overlooked, intangible value of great teammates is often the difference in long-term sustained success and a talented group of individuals falling short of their potential.  I encourage all of us to consider the value of both being great teammates and teaching others to be great teammates.  We should incorporate this concept into all our youth sports, school sponsored athletics, academic approaches, and in our workplaces.  Think of the impact when we consider great teammates more valuable than superstars.  Everyone can be a great teammate and have impact!  Let’s value it, teach it, and recognize it!

The Power of Team – Better Together

The concepts of workplace flexibility, remote work, and virtual learning have significantly taken off in the last couple of years. Advancements in technology and a willingness from senior leaders to consider new concepts of how to accomplish work and provide educational opportunities have opened the doors to vast expansion in these areas. While the pandemic lockdowns necessitated some of these measures, the concepts appear to be very appealing to many for a variety of reasons. Workplace flexibility, remote work options, and virtual learning opportunities can be a great asset and alternative for many organizations, but we do need to be aware of the downside of going too far too often with these concepts.

There is great value in teamwork and being present with one another. A team is a group of people coming together to pursue a common purpose, achieve a common goal, or serve a common need. Teams bring out the best in individuals and help everyone achieve more. There is a multiplying impact of people working together. When teams are led well, team members are encouraged, challenged, supported, cared for, and motivated. Teams also hold one another accountable, offset strengths and weaknesses, and promote development. For teams to have the most impact, members need to be together and present with one another on a regular basis. Teams are strengthened when relationships are formed and developed.

When leaders lead well, the statement “Better Together” is so true and so powerful. Special things happen when people come together, form relationships, and bond over the common themes noted above. The key for any leader is to ensure people come together and pursue those common focus items. When that occurs, true teams are formed. Far too often today, we use the term “team” very loosely. A group of people wearing the same uniform or having the same company name on their pay stub does not make them a team. Teams are formed based on actions and relationships. Real teams are powerful, impactful, and are what people want to be a part of. The desire to work remotely by so many tells us a lot about our former workplaces.

People also develop more effectively when they are able to interact regularly with others. People learn when they can interact with one another, share ideas, ask questions, and experience different views firsthand. While there are benefits to workplace flexibility, remote work, and virtual learning, there are also benefits of being together in team.

After thirty plus years of working in the paper and packaging industry, I can attest to the value of being together! During the pandemic, we were an essential industry and had to find ways to operate safely together. Manufacturing work is not done remotely or in isolation. Our facility leaders did an outstanding job of maneuvering through those challenges. They provided great leadership to our teams in taking care of our people, staying focused on the mission, and meeting the challenges. Those teams are stronger today because of what they worked through together!

Hey, there is a place for workplace flexibility, remote work, and virtual learning. I just encourage leaders of all organizations to be careful going too far too often with these concepts and losing sight of the value to team. The military and many athletic teams are great examples of the power of working together. Leaders create a culture of teamwork and develop teams in the process. Team can be powerful! When leaders lead well, we are “Better Together”.

The Leadership Dilemma

Mid-level managers and frontline supervisors continue to face quite a challenge as senior leaders and owners become further removed from the day to day operations and challenges on the frontlines. Regardless of the industry segment, staffing shortages, supply chain challenges, transportation issues, rising costs, and a whole host of other problems are making it more and more difficult for mid-level managers and frontline supervisors to deliver target results. Senior leaders and owners, while aware of these issues at varying levels. are facing uncertainty in the economy, volatility in the market, and are likely ramping up the pressure to deliver targeted results. The mid-level managers and frontline supervisors are caught in the middle of real pressure from above for results and real pressure from the frontline to take care of their teams, create desirable workplaces, battle all of the obstacles in front of them, and still deliver results.

These mid-level managers and frontline supervisors face this ongoing dilemma on a regular basis. Regardless of time in the job and experience level, the dilemma can be tough and wear down even the strongest of leaders if not handled well. The dilemma is nothing new and is quite understandable on all accounts. Results are important, but so are the people that drive the results. Problems and obstacles are present at every level, and the associated pressures can be passed down or self-imposed. Regardless, mid-level managers and frontline supervisors are facing an increasing challenge today with this dilemma. I would like to suggest the following approach for the entire organization to consider as a means to address this dilemma and ease the strain on the mid-level managers and frontline supervisors.

  1. Purpose: The owners, senior leaders, mid-level managers, and front line supervisors need to identify purpose in their organization beyond just results. Results are absolutely important, but they are not purpose. Purpose is “who” not “what”. Results are the “what” that we need/want to achieve. Purpose is focused on “who” we are going to impact. The “who” can be employees in the organization, customers using our product or service, or people in the community we serve. The “who” can be any focus group of people and provides a real foundation for why we are organized together. Hopefully, the organization exists for something beyond just making money. This purpose provides a basis, a focus, and a motivation for existing in the most difficult of times. The purpose will take precedent over results and provide direction in times of uncertainty. Purpose can be the guiding light and calm things down in uncertain times.
  2. Perspective: Leaders at all levels need to have a proper view and understanding of their organization. Far too often, owners and senior leaders get so short-term focused that they lose perspective of the damage done on the frontlines of short-term decision making. Organizations are not in the business of making short-term profits, but rather should want long-term relevancy in the market and the segments served. Leaders with perspective can navigate through short-term challenges with long-term thinking in mind. Leaders with perspective can make daily decisions with a focus on long-term relevancy as the basis for their strategy. Leaders with perspective aren’t thrown off course by a bump in the road, but stay focused on purpose and strategies that will serve them for the long-term!
  3. Plan: Leaders at all levels need to plan well and have solid strategies that allow for flexibility as variables change in the market and in the workplace. Leaders should continually be asking “Are we doing right things” (strategy) and “Are we doing things right (execution). Strategies that can’t be executed at a high level are a poor plan regardless of how they look on paper. Be honest with your view on execution. If you can’t get there consistently, change the strategy! A well conceived strategy at the senior level will have honest execution buy-in at the mid-level manager level. Strategy and execution have to go hand-in-hand for optimum results. If an organization wants to reduce unnecessary pressure and strain on the entire team, do the planning phase well and balance strategy discussion with execution evaluation.
  4. Poise: A leadership team at all levels that can remain composed and calm regardless of the situation is a strength for any organization. The ability of leaders to remain poised in the midst of challenging times provides confidence, self-assurance, and stability to the workforce, the customer base, and the market. Leaders that are poised make better decisions. Leaders that can avoid unhealthy emotional responses and maintain composure will be more effective leading both short-term and long-term. Poise is an attribute that can make a solid leader a great leader. Poise in the leadership team in challenging times can make an organization a great team, and one this is desirable for people to be a part of long-term.
  5. Persistence: At some point, every organization or team will be challenged. Leaders that have a strong commitment to purpose will work through the most challenging of times together. The leadership team that can press on together and just embrace the grind at times together can form a very solid foundation for the organization. Times are tough in many respects. These tough times require tough leaders to navigate through these times without placing excessive burdens on the workforce. Perseverance and persistence are key attributes for any leader in the organization and are a great example to the workforce.

The key is for senior leaders and owners to recognize the dilemma and consider working with the mid-level managers and front line supervisors on the above progression of management / leadership considerations. We can create great workplaces that deliver results over time if we are willing to communicate and care about one another. There will be tough times, market volatility, economic pressures, and the need to just grind through some days. However, if we approach leadership with the progression of concepts noted above, these tough times will solidify our teams and strengthen our impact. We can create great workplaces that people want to be a part of and reduce this strain on mid-level managers and frontline supervisors!

A Memorial Day to Remember

For so many of us, Memorial Day is thought of as a long weekend, a day at the lake, or another reason to cookout with friends and family.  All those things are fine, but Memorial Day is really a day of remembrance.  Memorial Day is a day set aside to remember those who gave their life for our freedom. In consideration of that remembrance, this year I made the decision to take the Murph challenge.  The Murph challenge is essentially a very demanding workout done in memory of Lt. Michael Murphy.  Murphy was killed in combat while serving in Afghanistan. 

The Murph was the toughest physical challenge that I have ever taken.  While I made it through to completion, I was reminded of two very key things during the workout that we should all remember.

One, goals and determination will only take you so far.  I was very determined, had trained hard, and had set some very challenging goals for myself.  However, when your body is so tired and you hurt all over, the importance of achieving those goals can easily be compromised if you don’t have a clearly defined purpose that really drives you.  I had a twofold purpose that day that was more important than any goal that I had set.  My daughter was there with me counting reps and sets on the various workouts.  I wanted her to see me give it everything I had and never quit as an example for her.  I also wanted to push myself beyond limits as a thank you gesture to those fallen soldiers that gave their life for our freedom.  There was no way I was going to let either of those purposes down.

Secondly, the power of team was so evident that morning.  One of the local CrossFit gyms allowed me to join them for the challenge.  While I wasn’t a member of their team and didn’t know any of them prior to the event, the engagement, energy, and encouragement at that gym was off the charts and impacted me as well.   Those team members brought out the best in each other. 

It was a great day of remembrance and reminding.  The remembrance of those that gave so much, and a reminder of the power of purpose and teamwork made that day awesome.  We should all be reminded of the power of purpose in our lives, and the power of a team working together for a common goal.  A clearly defined purpose based on people and a team pulling together to achieve that common purpose sounds like the recipe for success. 

Whether you are striving to improve the safety in your manufacturing facility, the engagement level of your students in an academic arena, the commitment to offseason training for your athletic team, or the community impact of your organization, a clearly defined purpose based on “who” and a true team approach will position you well for long-term success.

Those two things working together can change our life, our business, our community, and our nation.

We Need Bridges Not Walls

I think everyone would agree that there is a great deal of division in our country today.  This division is apparent on a national, state, and even local level.  It seems that many people are embracing a far right or far left view of things.  Political party affiliation seems to dictate how elected officials vote in many cases.  People are shaping their lives and identities around their conservative or progressive positions and apparently are expected to choose a side representing one extreme or the other.  Once these sides are determined, communication becomes hostile, listening to the other side is no longer valued, and walls are built.  These walls of division limit the opportunity for discussion, reasoning, listening, and compromise.

We have seen periods of division and lack of unity before, but with the current social media outlets, and the apparent power of the national media, the impact of this division can lead to a very real threat to the sovereignty of our nation.  History tells us that internal division not handled well can be more damaging than an external threat.  Many of our “external threats” are actively sowing seeds of division in our nation for this very purpose.  Why would these external threats go to the trouble of military or economic aggression when they can subtly sow seeds of division for us to crumble within?

We need to be in the business of bridge building not wall building today with respect to our personal interactions with others.  People have the right to their views on issues and should always hold firm to their convictions, but we also need everyone to accept the fact that others may have different views.  People come from different backgrounds with different experiences and will often see things differently.  When we can disagree on a matter but still show respect for the other person, we build that bridge.  When we have a different view on an issue but are willing to listen to someone with an opposing view, we build that bridge.  When we are willing to seek to understand where another is coming from on an issue, we can better understand their motivation, and we build a bridge.

We need leaders at the national, state, and local levels to return to being statesmen/stateswomen and not purely political party representatives.  We need leaders to set the tone for the rest of the nation and seek to serve and do what’s best for the nation rather than positioning for power.  We need humble men and women willing to listen to one another, to engage in hard conversations, and to make decisions in the best interest of those they are leading.  We need to start building bridges of communication and stop constructing walls of division. 

Don’t forgo your rights to your thoughts, opinions, and views on issues, but respect others, listen to others, and accept the fact that we will have differences at times.  Diversity in thoughts and ideas can either make us better or destroy us.  It will all come down to how we treat one another.  It’s not always about proving we are right or winning a debate.   Why not build some bridges today, and let’s seek what’s best for everyone involved? 

Goals Get You Nowhere

Now before you start looking for ways to respond and tell me how wrong I am for that title, let me explain.  Goals and objectives have a place in everyone’s life.  They are an important factor in the business world, for athletic teams, for non-profit service organizations, and in personal development and growth.  The use and focus of goals are where the problem lies for many of us. 

First, goals in and of themselves don’t accomplish anything.  Daily habits, committed effort, and focused actions drive long-term results.  While goals may provide direction and temporary motivation, long-term achievement is driven by consistent behavior not a goal statement.  Repetitive actions develop habits which lead to a lifestyle and ultimately an identity.  In the midst of that process, we set goals as evaluation points to monitor our progress.  These evaluation points indicate whether we need to make adjustments or not.

Secondly, I would encourage everyone to start with purpose before setting goals.  Purpose allows us to think long-term and broader in our view of what we are looking to accomplish.  Here again, goals can be used as mile markers along the way to gauge our progress and identify when adjustments are needed.  Goals support the purpose, not the reversal.

For example, several years ago I decided that I wanted to live a healthier lifestyle.  I changed my eating habits and started an early morning workout routine every day.  I set goals within that workout routine from time to time to monitor progress. I even monitor my run times at different mile markers to check my pace and make adjustment where needed.  The goals though are just evaluation points and not the ultimate purpose.

Goals are often finite and have an ending.  Purpose should not end. Purpose continues even when goals are not met.  Purpose continues when the run time is not what you wanted, the scales don’t provide the number you want, or the scoreboard proclaims another the winner.  While goals can be motivating to some, they can demotivate others if used improperly. 

Start with purpose to frame an identity.  Develop a lifestyle to shape that identity.  Commit to habits to lead to that lifestyle.   Take regular actions to develop those habits.  Set some goals along the way that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely (SMART), but keep in mind, these are mile markers only.  Those regular actions are more important than achieving a temporary goal.  Those actions, habits, lifestyle, and identity lead to sustainable results and a purposeful life.

The progression above is relevant for individuals, organizations, teams, and governments.  We should all be known for our purpose(s).  What’s your purpose?  What’s your organization’s purpose?  What’s your team’s purpose?  Give it some thought and go live a purposeful life!

A Different View of Chemistry

I recall struggling with chemistry during my junior year in high school.  While I made it through the classroom part with sheer hard work and commitment, the lab portion was a different story.  After blowing up a few glass beakers in one lab session, I was banished back to the classroom to focus on homework.  Well, I survived that class and got that one behind me.  I was able to avoid chemistry in college and never had to face that lab challenge again.  La Tech probably saved some money on beakers!

Over the last thirty plus years, I have provided leadership in business, coached teams, and led various other organizations.   Based on those experiences, I can attest to a different form of chemistry being important.  This chemistry is the composition of a team and the relationships among those team members.  A good team chemistry has team members that are aligned in purpose, work effectively together, support one another, off-set weaknesses, enhance strengths, and achieve synergies together. 

I have found that fit is more important than the format of the resume when adding new team members.  The value to the team is more important than the magnitude of the talent.  The quality of the individual is more important than the qualifications of the applicant.  As Aristotle so famously stated, “The whole is greater than the sum of the parts.”

There is nothing wrong with talent or a group of talented people, but I will take team chemistry over a group of talented individuals that don’t work well together.  I have experienced both scenarios and will take loyalty, commitment, and teamwork over raw talent when given the option.  I encourage anyone leading any organization, group, or team to consider this aspect in the staffing, development, and culture building aspect of their leadership.

The initial key to this type of focus is to accurately assess the team concept.  Far too many organizations use the term team flippantly and are really nothing more than just a group of individuals getting paid by the same company.  There is no real team culture or team chemistry.  A team is a special group of people that are more interested in team success than personal achievement. 

Take some time and assess your organization with respect to the concept of team.  Consider the value of team and fit for your organization as you make progress through the rest of the year.  The statement that Together Everyone Achieves More for team is so true.  The value of teamwork is just as important in organizations as in athletics.  Chemistry is a powerful thing whether you are blowing up beakers or building teams!

For more information on leadership support, go to dougstrickel.com or contact me at doug.strickel@gmail.com.

If you are wanting to develop leaders in your organization, let me refer you to Leadership Basics for Success. This short book contains 15 minute practical leadership lessons you can use with your team to build and enhance their leadership capability. Just go to Blurb.com for access to this book.

I’m here to help you be a leader worthy of following.