Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Leaders cannot motivate employees. Period.

The most common question that I am asked when I facilitate leadership development programs is, “Gary, how do I motivate my employees?”.

The idea that a leader can motivate their employees is flawed. I cannot motivate you and you cannot motivate your employees. I cannot take my motivation and give it to you so that you can be motivated, just as you cannot take your motivation and give it to your employees so that they are motivated. 

Motivation is not a ‘thing’ that can be extracted, given, taken, passed on or any other action from one person to another.
Business group showing teamworkIf you are reading this article then it is because of your own motivation, not someone else’s. 

Even if someone put this article in front of you and demanded you read it, you could choose not to read it. Even if they held a gun to your head and said, “Read it out aloud”, you could easily read it out aloud but not take in this article.

Motivation is intrinsic. Period. Each of us, including your employees is 100% self-motivated. 

This is critical for leaders to understand. It is not your responsibility to motivate anybody other than yourself. Likewise it is your employees’ responsibility to motivate themselves. If you attempt to take this responsibility away from your employees then you will create a false dependency that is unsustainable.

What can leaders do?

A leader’s job is to create the conditions, to the best of her ability to enable employees to be self-motivated. They must also do everything they can to end the conditions that foster a lack of motivation in employees. They must also do everything they can to end the conditions that foster a lack of motivation in employees. What are the factors that are reducing an employee’s capacity to be self-motivated? Is it that they aren’t being paid fairly? Is it that they are being micro-managed? Is it that they aren’t being recognised for doing a good day’s work? Is it the fact that they don’t have an opportunity to develop themselves?

Leaders must also talk and act in ways that support this concept to make sure that their employees are 100 responsible for their own motivation.

To enable employees to be self-motivated leaders must know what drives their employees. They must help their employees to see the alignment between their personal goals and the organisation’s goals. Maybe the alignment will come from the money they earn which allows them to continue to invest in their passion for motorbikes. Maybe the alignment will come through the opportunities that the workplace can offer that will allow the employee to progress their career or maybe the alignment will come from the employee being able to get access to time off work to attend a course they had really wanted to attend but is only offered during ‘normal’ working hours. These are just a few of the endless possibilities that relate to how a leader can create the conditions for their employees to be self-motivated.

What are you doing to enhance the self-motivation of your employees?
Gary Ryan enables organisations, leaders and talented professionals to move Beyond Being Good.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

What are you 'feeding' your mind?

Imagine a farmer has two healthy fields, side by side.

iStock_000009570322SmallIn one he plants corn. In the other he plants poison ivy.

If he nurtures both crops they will flourish. Corn will grow in one field and poison ivy in the other. The fertile field treats the corn and the poison ivy the same. Each, if nurtured will thrive and grow.

Your mind is no different to a fertile field. Whatever you plant in it and nurture will grow. If you plant seeds of success and nurture those seeds with materials that help you to learn and to create your successes, your mind will come alive with ideas and suggestions to help you on your journey.

If you plant seeds of negativity in your mind and you nurture those seeds with self-doubt, negativity and material that is designed to keep your mind occupied and not energised, your mind will fill itself with reasons why success can’t be created, excuses that caused you to fail, resent for others who are successful, blame for everything that prevented you from being successful, jealousy for those who are successful and many more dark perspectives that drain energy and stop you from creating the success you desire.

What is a simple, time effective way to nurture your mind with success?

Multiple studies have identified the benefits of mobile learning practices such as listening to audio learning programs. In Australia data suggests the average commute is 45 minutes, each way to and from work. This equates to an average 600 hours of commuter travel per year (assuming 48 weeks of work and four weeks holiday).

For time poor people, using this time to learn material that will help you on your journey to create Life Balance and Personal Success is an opportunity waiting to be put in to action. Imagine adding an extra 600 hours worth of focused learning material to nurture your mind! Given the research indicates that mobile learning does have benefits (it isn’t perfect, but learning benefits do exist) why not turn your commute (by car or public transport) into your very own mobile university. Buy audio books and subscribe to relevant podcasts that will enable you to feed your mind with material that will nurture it and keep it healthy. 

Given an average full time university semester equals around 500 hours of learning, you could be accessing the equivalent of a full semester of academic learning if you choose to use this strategy. 

Gary Ryan enables organisations, leaders and talented professionals to move Beyond Being Good.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Saying I will try is useless

“Are you coming to the party this weekend?” Your response, “Hmmm, I’m not sure I’ll try to get there.”
“Can you get me the report by tomorrow afternoon?” Your response, “I have a lot on. I’ll try to get it to you.”

Self talk, “I know that I should read more so I’ll try to read fifteen minutes every day.”

“Have you lost some weight?” Your response, “Yes I’m trying to get fitter and to lose a few pounds.”

“Are you coming to training tonight?” Your response, “I’m going to try to get there.”

I’ll try.” When you read the above statements are you filled with confidence that the person is really going to do what they are saying they will “Try” to do?

When I hear people say, “I’ll try” I’m about 98% sure that whatever it is they are saying they are going to “Try” to do isn’t going to happen, get done or achieved.

The statement is pathetic and provides an instant ‘get out‘ clause for not doing something.

If you are serious about creating success in your life you must drop this statement from your vocabulary. Instead, follow this formula.

1. Make a commitment
If you are going to do something properly commit to it. Make the decision. Saying “I’ll try.” is neither a decision nor a commitment.

2. Be clear with your responses
“Are you coming to the party this weekend?” Your response, “Yes. I’m there, count me in.”

“Can you get the report to me by tomorrow afternoon?” Your response, “Done!
Self talk, “I read for fifteen minutes every day on topics that are helping me to improve my skills.”

“Have you lost some weight?” Your response, “Yes I’m getting fitter and healthier. This ‘new me’ is here to stay!

“Are you coming to training tonight?” Your response, “No. Not tonight. I have a more important commitment to my family. I’ll be there next week.”

Your language should support your commitment and decision.

3. Imagine success
Whenever you make a commitment to something, imagine what success will really look like. See yourself handing the report in to your boss thirty minutes ahead of schedule. Imagine the pleased look on your boss’s face when she reads through your report. Imagine the appreciative comments you will hear her say.

When you have a goal to be fitter and healthier ‘see’ the new you being active and looking good, not just for a short period, but for as far as you can see into the future.

4. Create a plan
No doubt many things can be planned in your head. If something is important and really must get done, then having a plan that lives in your head is a major risk to your productivity. Instead, write your plan down. Identify clear outcomes. Identify your starting point. Work out what you need to do (your actions) and then work out which actions have the highest leverage – in other words if these actions don’t happen then the job won’t get done or won’t get done to the required standards.

For example. You’ve committed to getting the report to your boss as requested. It now has to be delivered a day early. You have already imagined what success looks like so write what you imagined in Step 3 above. Next, write your current starting point. If the report is 50% complete, then write that down. If you are waiting on some data from Jane, write that down. Next, identify the actions that you’ll need to take to complete the report and to get it to your boss as requested. Out of the tasks that you have listed, identify the ones that have the highest influence on achieving your objectives. These need attention and focus and must be completed as soon as possible. In this example, such an action would be to contact Jane directly and explain to her how the deadline for the report has been moved forward and how you will do whatever you need to do to help get that information from her.

Your list of actions will also include less important tasks that someone else could do. Quickly delegate those tasks to other people. If there are no other people then you have to do them yourself. But do these after the most important tasks have been completed or are under ‘control’.

5. ‘Do’ your plan
Take action. Follow your plan. Adjust if necessary but stay focussed. Create the success you desire.

These five steps will take you from being someone who “Tries to be successful” to someone who is “successful”. Do yourself a favour and drop the word “try” from your vocabulary. It’s useless and it doesn’t work.

Gary Ryan enables organisations, leaders and talented professionals to move Beyond Being Good.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

What are your 'Leadership Theories'

Last weekend I facilitated a leadership development program for thirty experienced leaders. One of the results of the pre-program research that I conducted was that only one person enrolled in the program acknowledged that she used explicit theories/models to guide her in her practice of leadership.
From my experience over time results like this are common and highlight that the majority of ‘managers’, i.e. people in formal leadership roles, do not have a conscious set of theories/models to guide them in their roles.

Businesswomen working on laptop.When I say “theories/models” I mean everything from explicit, research based theories such as the Hersey-Blanchard Situational Leadership Model, or Tuckman’s Stages of Team Development, or Belbin’s Team Roles approach, all of which are solid theories/models built upon academic research. Or you might have your own ‘lay’ model that is reflected as an, ‘If…, then…‘ statement or a guiding set of ‘Do‘ and ‘Don’t Do‘ behaviours. Some of you may even use poetry or quotes to aid in providing a theoretical approach that underpins your behaviour. While not a ‘model’ per se, these can represent high level principles that inform your behaviour.
The alternative, of course, is to ‘wing it‘. This means that you ‘make it up as you go‘ and never settle on a consistent approach that keeps you grounded. With all the education that is now available I urge you to find explicit theories/models to guide your behaviour as a leader. Theory and practice don’t have to be separate. In fact they are designed to work together. The whole purpose of research is to improve practice, and practice informs research. They work together to help us improve the world around us. Think of road laws and vehicle safety as an example. The improvements in the safety of vehicles and the laws that are designed to help us drive around our cities safely have, over the past four decades, seen a dramatic reduction in the number of deaths caused by traffic accidents. While there is still a lot of improvement to be made in that area, theory and practice have worked together to improve the human condition.

If you desire to be the best leader that you can be then it is your responsibility to find, practice and gradually master your Theory of Leadership. Occasionally people ask me, “Okay. But what should I do if I discover that the theory I am using doesn’t work in practice?

The answer is simple and straightforward. If your theories/models aren’t proving useful, then find and adopt new ones that do. The principle remains the same. Make sure that at the very least you have conscious theories/models that you are trying over time to master, rather than having no theories/models at all.

You’ll find that this approach will have a positive and everlasting impact on your effectiveness as a leader.

Gary Ryan enables organisations, leaders and talented professionals to move Beyond Being Good.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Defeat Your Enemy - Resistance!

Eastern cultures have taught us that there are equal and opposite forces that co-exist and influence our lives at the same time. Each force cannot exist without the other. Day cannot exist without night. Courage cannot exist without fear. Good cannot exist without evil. These forces are known as Yin and Yang and are present in our lives every day whether we realise it or not. 

I urge you to be the best that you can be; at home, at work, in the pursuit of your passions. To be fair I have to let you in on a direct consequence for such choices. 

This consequence is something that you will recognise but prefer not to know. But you need to not only know this consequence but you must understand it as much as you understand yourself, maybe even more so. Failing to understand this consequence places the future you desire in grave danger. When you decide to take action to create a better life an equal and opposite force is automatically released. This force is RESISTANCE

Its purpose is to stop you from creating the success and future you desire. In short it wants to kill your ideas, your passion and your creations. It never sleeps, has a high intellect and is prepared to use the dirtiest of tricks to stop you from creating the life you desire. You need to be aware of this force right now. 

If you are not sure what I mean, think about every great idea that you have ever had or any major task that you have decided to undertake. Did those ideas see the light of day? Has your song been published? Did you start that club? Have you lost the weight you decided to lose? Have you kept that weight off? Have you learned to play the guitar? Did you speak to that fellow student who you identified as someone who could help you to achieve a higher grade? Did you cross the room to introduce yourself to that attractive person with whom you had momentarily met eyes? Did you update your resume and apply for the ‘perfect’ job that you saw advertised? Did you make a stand against a decision that your boss was making because deep down you knew that it was wrong?

 Why didn’t you do those things? The answer; RESISTANCE

Right now don’t be surprised if resistance is at work challenging you to stop reading this message. “This guy is full of crap. Don’t keep reading this stuff he’s trying to use some form of hocus-pocus to get you to do something you don’t want to do. Plus, you don’t have the time to read this stuff!” If these thoughts are in your head right now then you know RESISTANCE exists. 

It is important to note that resistance is impersonal. It doesn’t just pick on you – it selects everyone. We all have to fight resistance or let it rule our lives. It is ruthless and unending in its attempt to de-throne you from your ideas and your attempts to create a better life. If you don’t believe me, then why haven’t you already created the life balance and personal success that you desire? 

Where does this resistance come from? It exists in you, but it isn’t you. This may be hard for you to understand, but it is essential for you to grasp if you are to win your battles against it. You are not your thoughts; like the weather they randomly enter your mind. Resistance likes to take hold of your thoughts and to create chatter in your mind that clouds your desires. It attempts to create fear; fear of success. Yes, that’s right; resistance likes to create fear because fear is its fuel. The idea of being successful is one thing; actually being that success is another. Resistance likes to create fear to stop you from creating the success you desire. 

Resistance can be manifest in the people around you; your partner, family, friends, colleagues and bosses. But any resistance coming from them only serves to fuel the resistance inside you. The resistance inside you is far more powerful than any resistance external to you. In fact, resistance is strengthened every time you believe that whatever is stopping you from creating the life that you desire is because of someone or something else

I know from my own experience that resistance grows in stature the closer I get to completing a project. The last 10kms in a marathon are the hardest to complete, more because of the chatter in my mind than the aching in my legs. The hardest part of publishing my first book was pressing the ‘send’ button for my final draft to my publisher. “What if this thing is a flop? What if I don’t sell a book. It owes me thousands without counting my time and effort. What if people don’t like it? I’ll be publicly humiliated!”. 

If you have ever lost weight, then you know resistance. Resistance is most powerful when you reach your target weight. Yes, that’s right folks; it is at its most powerful at that point in time. “How?” you ask. It is at the point of reaching your target weight resistance awakens with all its fury. It does everything in its power to stop you from doing the habits that enabled you to achieve your target weight in the first place. It creates chatter in your mind that it’s now okay to have a little bit of this food and a little bit of that food and you don’t need to exercise today, after all look at yourself, you look fabulous. Before you know it more than half the weight that you had lost has been put back on.

As mean as resistance is, it is selective. It doesn’t present itself when what you are doing is taking you away from the life balance and personal success that you desire. It doesn’t lift you off the couch when you are watching episode after episode of mindless reality TV. It doesn’t stop you from eating more chocolate than you should, from sleeping in, from missing a deadline or forgetting to say thank you to your spouse for cooking dinner. It doesn’t stop you from taking on more and more duties at work even though all these tasks are doing is taking up more of your time and preventing you from doing the things that you really need to do to create the life you desire. 

While resistance can’t be seen, touched, tasted or smelled, it can be felt. It is that awkward feeling you get when an idea or action pops into your mind and you know that it is a good idea or the right action to take. But that feeling you get quickly stops you from taking any action. In resistance’s incredibly astute way that feeling disappears as suddenly as your idea or your intended action fade to a distant if not extinguished memory. Resistance’s desire for you not to become your best has been satiated so it no longer needs to create the feeling it generated to stop your idea or action. Remember resistance possesses a cunning that is unmatched and it will sneak up on you like a leopard stalking its prey. 

Resistance can also come from those who love you the most. When you change, if even for the better it can be scary for them. Because they love you they will get used to you changing but maintain your awareness that they can behave in ways to stop you from improving. One such example may be putting pressure on you not to spend time on improving yourself. In its extreme, the type of resistance I’m describing is present when a street gang member attempts to leave the gang. “Who do you think you are? Do you think you are better than us?” While this example represents an extreme version of external resistance from the people around you, the same sort of behaviours can be exhibited by people close to you when you try to improve yourself. 

What can you do about resistance? First, you must accept that it exists. If you don’t it will blind side you at the first opportunity and you won’t even know. The proof will be that your ideas and the life that you had hoped to create will be left as ideas or even worse as fuzzy memories. Second, you have to be prepared to battle resistance every day. This is no ordinary battle. As Steven Pressfield says in his book Do The Work this is literally a fight to the death every day. 

You can defeat resistance and you can slay it. But it will rise again tomorrow and take you on once again. Think of any of your life achievements so far. Were they plain sailing? Hell no! You had to work hard to overcome many obstacles. Where did those obstacles come from? Resistance

Remember the character Michael Corleone played by Al Pacino in The Godfather III? He is trying to legitimise his business and move away from crime related activities. But his family and associates keep killing people. Michael remarks, “Just when I thought I was out…they pull me back in!“. Even Michael, as powerful as he was, had to fight resistance. 

The good news is that you can defeat resistance, one day at a time. You already have. Any success or improvement in your life that has taken you closer to being the person you desire to be provides you with examples of having slain resistance. Draw on these examples to give you the confidence that you can, and will, defeat it again and again. On the odd occasion when resistance defeats you, use your knowledge of your past successes to give you the confidence to take it on again. Interact with other people who understand resistance and who are able to defeat it. Let their successes give you energy for your battles against it. 

The Yes For Success Program exists to help you win your everyday fight against resistance. When you win a battle, the Yes For Success community wins a battle. Your success is the community’s success. Sharing your successes when you defeat resistance provides both encouragement and energy for others. Likewise the successes of other community members provides encouragement and energy for you to take on this mighty foe! After all, we’re all fighting resistance, myself included! 

Take action to defeat resistance now. Join the Yes For Success Program and take the execution of your strategies for life balance and personal success to another level. If you have read to this point of the article then you understand the power that resistance has – win your first battle and at least check out what the Yes For Success program includes. Click here now

Gary Ryan enables organisations, leaders and talented professionals to move Beyond Being Good.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Customer mistakes are your problem

If you are in business then you know that customers make mistakes. They get things wrong. They don’t read the information that you have provided them. If they have read the information they mis-understand your message. They don’t turn up when they are supposed to. They miss bookings. This list could go on forever!

As service providers we can either see these mistakes as a pain in the neck and wish for the day when our customers will no longer make them. Or we can see these mistakes as opportunities to innovate so that the mistakes are either eliminated, reduced or mitigated.
Recently I flew to the USA with my wife and five children. International travel with five children can be a stressful experience. Anything that the airlines can do to cut the stress is a blessing. Anything they do that increases stress makes the travelling experience more challenging.

Despite being an experienced traveller I forgot to arrange our visas for entry to the USA. This error, my error, was surfaced while we were checking in. “I’m sorry sir, but you can’t check in until your visas have been approved. Here is a card with a website address for you to quickly complete your application. Please move your bags to the side so that I can check in the next customer. There is an internet cafe just down the foyer past gate 60.”

I made the mistake. The airline, in this case United Airlines was not to blame for my mistake. It was my fault. That said, at that moment, how do you think I felt about United Airlines? The error wasn’t theirs, but in that moment I felt that somehow they were responsible, even though they weren’t. 

I ran through the airport to find the internet cafe. I then spent over fifty minutes completing my online applications. Each application took about eight minutes to complete. You can imagine my stress levels rising. As each minute passed we were getting closer and closer to being excluded from being able to board our flight. Twice through the application process the computer I was using crashed, meaning that I had to reboot it and I had to restart the application process again. Everything around me became a blur. All I was focussed on was completing the applications so that we could complete our check-in process.

Finally all seven applications were complete. I ran back to the check-in counter. We were the last people to be checked in. The staff were wonderful as they helped us through this process as more forms needed to be completed and we still needed to clear customs. As we were checking in the staff told us that it had been one of those days where multiple people had not completed their visa applications. My mistake as a customer had also made life for the staff more difficult as they too were frustrated by their inability to check us in in a timely manner.
When we were finally on the plane and I had some time to catch my breath and reflect on my mistake, it dawned on me that the staff had indicated that there had been a pattern of customers making the same mistake that I had made.

From business perspective I find patterns interesting. They can often lead to opportunities. We had waited in line for over an hour before being checked in. A United Airlines staff member had been ‘walking’ the line asking us if we required tags for our luggage. Many people found this service useful. However, what if this staff member had also been asking customers if they had completed their visa applications?
If I had been made aware of my mistake earlier I could have completed the online application process while my wife and children were waiting in the check-in line. 

United Airlines also had access to a system that informed them about our visa status. I know this because the staff member who checked us in accessed this system to check our status. I wonder whether this information could have been used to contact me three days before our flight. Imagine if I had either received an email, a text message or even a phone call three days before our flight informing me that I was yet to complete my visa application. I could have been made aware of my error so that it didn’t become an error. People missing flights isn’t good for anyone so anything the airlines can do to reduce the chances that flights are missed has to be good for both the airlines and the customers.

Flight Centre was our travel agent and once again, in this self-help world that we live in a travel agent is an expert in international travel, not me. Imagine if Flight Centre had also had a system in place to help me to help myself? After all, as experts in travel the very thing that they would know that could negatively impact my travel plans is not having appropriate visas. In fact my wife had spoken with our travel agent a few days before our departure and this issue had not been raised with her. An opportunity missed!

Once again I want to make it clear that I am not blaming United Airlines nor Flight Centre for my mistake. Rather, I am using this personal experience to highlight that organisations need to be aware of the common mistakes that their customers make and to do whatever they can to help their customers reduce those errors. Whether we like it or not, most customers will blame the organisation for mistakes that they (the customer) has made. Customer driven mistakes are the service provider’s problem. Looking at the patterns of mistakes and then seeing these patterns as opportunities can definitely enhance an overall customer experience.

What common customer errors happen in your world and what are you doing to cut them?

Gary Ryan enables organisations, leaders and talented professionals to move Beyond Being Good.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Power and management behaviour

Watching university students role play salary package negotiations is fascinating. Without question the student who acts as the manager negotiates from the perspective that they have the power in the negotiation. The student acting as the prospective employee, who is trying to negotiate the best possible outcome for themself also adopts the perspective that the ‘manager’ has the power.

Several minutes in to the role plays I interrupt and tell the ‘manager’ that their CEO has a memo for them. The memo informs them that, due to the war for talent, they must do everything they can to secure the services of the prospective employee while maintaining responsibility for their budget.

Gary Ryan, Creator Yes For Success personal development programThe negotiations continue with a changed dynamic. The power has shifted. No longer does the ‘manager’ see that they have control. While having adopted an initial distributive bargaining strategy, they quickly shift to an integrative bargaining strategy. Even their body language changes. As I said this is fascinating to watch.
What is also fascinating is that the students involved are yet to begin their professional careers. Many of them have part-time jobs and/or volunteer roles and the majority of them have never had a manager’s role. Yet they follow this pattern of behaviour.

The role play is conducted as part of a Communication For Business program. In it I teach the students about the power of their mental models; their theories about how they believe the world works and how these theories directly affect their behaviour. Their perception of having or not having power affects the mental models they adopt in the role play which in turn affects their behaviour. As soon as the power is ‘shifted’ by the memo, they adopt a different mental model and their behaviour changes.

I have conducted this activity over a seven-year period and the observed behaviours have been consistent over this period of time. The perception of power has a direct implication for behaviour. This is not right or wrong. The challenge is that your mental models often act at a sub-conscious level rather than a conscious level. Either way they will affect your behaviour.

Reflecting on the activity students report that they were aware of the position they were taking in the negotiation but not aware of the deep mental models that were ‘driving’ their behaviour. Their view of the power they had or didn’t have had a direct impact on their behaviour.

What lesson does this activity surface for leaders and developing leaders alike?
Let’s assume that you value talent. If you are not aware of the influence that power has on your subconscious mental models and ultimately your behaviour, you are unlikely to treat the talented individuals you are working with as talented people. You will treat them as people who have less power than you. You will not be equals who have different roles.

Raising your awareness of your mental models is a key element for success. What is your experience of mental models and how they drive your behaviour?

Gary Ryan enables organisations, leaders and talented professionals to move Beyond Being Good.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Innovation - value is the key!

In its recent report New Concepts in Innovation – The Keys To Growing Australia the Business Council of Australia defined innovation as:
Innovation can be defined as the application of knowledge to create additional value and wealth. Innovation involves using knowledge to find new ways to create and bring about change for the better. This definition of innovation has implications for the types of activities within businesses that can be considered innovative.
First, innovation does not necessarily involve technology and technological knowledge. Successful innovation can involve the use of any type of knowledge, provided its application results in additional value and wealth.
Second, innovation is not invention. Innovation may not even require the creation of new knowledge – be it to the world or to the firm. What it does require is the inspired application of knowledge (old or new) to create additional value.
Yes For Success, Life balance, plan for personal success, Gary Ryan, Organisations That MatterWhat I like about this definition is that it makes innovation easier to understand. Value determines innovation. 

If you create something and it doesn’t hold value, then you haven’t innovated. In an earlier post Understanding Innovation I explained that innovation was as simple as taking something and adding it to something else. Providing the result creates value, then you have innovated. 

Your somethings can be anything. They can be something physical with another physical thing, such as wrapping paper and a brown paper bag that together created the Gift Bag

They can be a concept such as portability which was added to music and you create the Sony Walkman. You can have selling white goods and providing people with access to finance for those goods and you create GE Money. You can have a passion for baseball and a desire for a large free wedding and you create a fully Sponsorship Public Wedding.

Given the Business Council of Australia advocates innovation as a critical skill for career success, practise this concept and start testing the value that you create. You might just take your most successful program and the desire to create a like-minded community and create the Yes For Success Platform!

Learn about the Yes For Success Platform here.

Gary Ryan enables organisations, leaders and talented people to move Beyond Being Good.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Who's in control of your development?

Handing over 100% control for your personal and professional development to your employer is flawed. In our current world it doesn't work. Not any more.
Yet that is the place that many of you are in. You rely 100% on your employer to develop you.

According to Mark McCrindle you are likely to have at least three different employers over the next decade. The reasons will be varied but will include you deciding to shift jobs and/or your employer no longer requiring your services. 

This is the world we now live in. Jobs for life are a rarity. Just ask the folk at Shell, Ford and Target in Geelong in regional Victoria, and Ford in Broadmeadows in the Melbourne's northern suburbs. Over the next two years more than 1,900 people will be losing their jobs, many of whom will have worked for those companies for decades.

plan for personal success, Gary Ryan, Organisations That Matter, Yes For SuccessImagine if you were one of those workers. In good faith you had trusted your employer to develop you. After all you were part of their 'big family'.

When the economy tightened, what was one of the first budget items to get cut? Traditionally, the budget item is training and development. 

Let's consider some logic.

The reason the budget is getting cut is because the company is earning less money through sales. Should that trend continue then people's jobs will be cut at some point in the future. This isn't rocket science! 

Yet, if you were one of the employees in these circumstances, the writing is on the wall - at some point in the future you will be looking for a new job. It is with some irony that it is under these circumstances when you, the employee needs to be developing yourself more than you ever have before. Yet, when you have handed 100% of the control of your development to your employer you are getting less. Does this seem like a good formula for security and success?

If you, the employee have handed 100% of control for your development to your employer, then you are facing a situation where your employability is going down, when you should be aiming to have it go up.

Some more logic. When you are a job seeker is it safer to be more employable or less employable? Not a hard question, is it!

"My organisation provides wonderful training and development Gary, this isn't relevant to me!" you might say. I'm sorry, but this is relevant.

Treat the training and development that your organisation provides as a bonus. If they are a decent employer they will understand that it is in their interests to keep developing you. That said they'll limit their development to what they think is good for you, not necessarily what is good for you, your talents and your future. I'm not suggesting that companies are bad for having this view. It is understandable and reflects how the world actually works. The important thing is that you need to understand how the system works and you need to be in control over of development.

My message is simple. Keep your development 100% in your control. Don't hand that control to your employer. Use whatever development opportunities they give to develop your talents. Be the best employee that you can be. But don't limit your development to what your employer provides. Do online courses, join Toastmasters, do whatever you need to do to keep developing yourself.

Right at this moment what are you doing that indicates that you are in control of your development? Your security and future depend on it.
Learn about the Yes For Success Platform here.

Gary Ryan enables organisations, leaders and talented people to move Beyond Being Good.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Passion and Success

Published with permission
Passion is the first principle that underpins the Yes For Success Platform. Several years ago Denis Smith held a high pressure sales job, was drinking too much and suffering from depression.

His life lacked passion despite all the trimmings of a successful sales career.

Fortunately he knew 'something' was missing from his life and he went on a search to discover his passion. He quickly found photography and realised that he was somewhat of a natural with the camera. Upon uploading his photos to sites he discovered that his 'good' photos were the same as everyone else's. But he didn't want to be the same as everyone else.

So his evolving passion took him on a journey of discovery where he came across the concept of 'light drawings' through photography. With passion comes innovation and he decided to 'play' with the concept, creating surreal 'Ball of Light' images in his photographs.

Today Denis has turned his passion into a business. More importantly he is living a life full of positivity and energy. View this short video to learn more about Denis' story.

Personally I feel energised when I hear about stories such as Denis' and I thank my good friend Andrew Scott (an amateur photographer himself and a personal friend of Denis') for sharing the story with me.

How present is passion in your life?

Learn about the Yes For Success Platform here.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Change Perspective To Create Success

A member of the Yes For Success community shared his struggle with 'getting the word out' about the great work his NGO was doing.

"How should an NGO get the word out so that people know about what we are doing?" he asked.

 Jock, an extremely successful consultant, author and illustrator who is one of the members of our community asked, "Michael, if you were a retail organisation, how would you approach this situation?"

"Oh! That's easy. I'd use testimonials from happy customers, ask them to spread the word, use traditional advertising and social media to highlight these points, share 'good news' stories, invite key people and media to events..."

As it transpired I was able to learn that Michael had a view that because an NGO has limited financial resources it would be difficult for it to spread the word about what it does.

His mindset had blocked him from taking action because his mindset had predetermined what was possible and what wasn't possible.

When Michael reviewed his answer to Jock's question he was able to 'see' that the vast majority of his suggestions, while requiring effort, didn't require a lot of funds. A change in perspective enabled him to see his problem in a different light which opened up possibilities that had previously been impossible.

This is a major strategy that successful people utilise. When you are stuck, find a way to see your issue from a different perspective. Look at what that perspective suggests and implement what you can.

If you struggle to imagine a different perspective because you are so close to your own issue, then find people who genuinely want to help and are prepared to propose a different perspective. Ask them what they think. Their answers could be worth their weight in 'gold'.

How are you accessing different perspectives? Visit our community to see how you can join an ever growing community of like-minded people who are all striving to create their own version of Life Balance and Personal Success.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Your Stories Matter For Career Progression

If you are looking to prepare yourself to take on a new career challenge, how do you capture your experiences in a useful way?

Your stories are important in the context of both creating your resume (The Essay Expert’s specialty!) and preparing for an interview.

Are you the right fit?
Once you are in front of your prospective employers, your goal is to communicate that you are the right fit for their organization. The interview is largely about testing your personality. The interviewers already know that you have the right technical skills or a demonstrated ability to learn them. What they don’t know is whether or not you will fit in their company culture.

This is where your stories about your employability skills kick in.

95% of interview questions are behaviorally based. This means that you will be asked questions that require you to provide an example about how you have demonstrated your employability skills in the past. If you haven’t prepared your answers, you will likely fumble your way through your interview.

Tell us about a time…
As an example, imagine being asked, “Please tell us about a time when you had to work with a difficult person.”

This question is meant to elicit how well you will interact with your fellow employees. Will you be a good team member to have around the office?

If you have prepared stories about teamwork, communication, leadership and problem solving, you will quickly be able to modify one of your existing stories to provide a succinct and coherent answer to this question.

If you haven’t prepared your stories, your face could turn white, the blood draining from your brain: “I’m not sure. I can’t think of one right now. I know that I have worked with difficult people before but I can’t think of one right now. Sorry.” It is not unusual for these sorts of responses to be heard in an interview.

How do you think the interviewers will judge your organizational “fit” with this kind of response?

A structure to rely on
Now here’s the good news: Interviewers have formulas that they listen for with regard to how your answers are structured. If you know the formula, you can prepare so you don’t get caught off guard.

One common formula is the CAR (Challenge / Action / Result) method. When answering a question such as the one above about working with a difficult person, you might choose a CAR story that you had prepared.

Let’s break down the components of a CAR story so you can create some of your own:
‘C’ is for Challenge or Circumstance. What situation sets the scene for your story? What was the context? Who were the players? What goal were you (as a team or individually) trying to achieve? What roadblocks stood in the way?

Although the first place to look for CAR stories is in your work experience, some of your best examples might come from family, recreational, or other extracurricular activities. This is especially true if you are a new graduate, but might be relevant even if you are a seasoned professional. If you planned a wedding, for instance, you learned skills that will apply in any paid position where you might be asked to organize a project or event. And if you get along well with your family, that’s a great sign that you will be a great person to have in the workplace!

‘A’ is for Actions. This is where you differentiate yourself. What did you do that made a difference? Be specific and include the most pertinent actions that you undertook. In the example above, you may have recognized that part of the reason for the “difficult” person’s behaviour was that you hadn’t been clear in your communication. So you may have stopped talking and just listened. Perhaps you discovered that they had misunderstood what you said—enabling you to communicate your message in a way they could comprehend.

‘R’ is for Results. This is the “So what?” part of your story. The results you have produced are some of the most important employability skills you can demonstrate. In the above example, your effective use of communication through improved listening may have resulted in a clearer understanding for the entire team of what it was trying to achieve—which in turn created a high level of focus and ultimately a successful project. You might even add that a big lesson from this experience was that through effective communication, you realized that the “difficult” person in question wasn’t that difficult after all. By sharing your results, you emphasize the positive impact you can have on an organization.

Reap the benefits of preparation
Preparing your CAR and employability skills stories, complete with results and lessons learned, provides you with flexibility when answering questions. You will be able to simply listen to the question and then select the most appropriate story to answer it. Your answers will be well-thought-out and evidence-based, and will make your interviewers engaged and favourable toward your application.

The power of telling your stories through a structure such as CAR is that it enables you to shine and reveal your personality, in addition to demonstrating how well you prepare for important meetings (yes, an interview is a meeting!). Your interviewers are then in a position to objectively judge how you would fit in the organization.

If you’d like to learn more about how to prepare yourself to be a successful interviewer and Young Professional, including another powerful formula for creating your stories and examples, then access What Really Matters For Young Professionals!

Gary Ryan is the Founder of Organisations That Matter, author of What Really Matters For Young Professionals! and creator of the Yes For Success online platform for creating and executing a life of balance and personal success! 

Friday, June 7, 2013

Optimise versus maximise

The word 'maximise' is used far to often by managers. 

"I have to maximise the performance of my team members. I have to get as much out of them as possible."

Think of your car. If you drove your car to it's maximum potential, how safe would you be driving? Even if it were possible, how long do you believe that your car would last before it broke down?

When systems work to their 'maximum' they are operating on the edge of breaking down. Keeping with the idea of cars, drag cars are designed to operate at their maximum for a quarter of a mile. Very often something goes awfully wrong when the attempt to drive the car for that short distance breaches the maximum capacity that the car's engine can tolerate. The cars explode or crash and the driver loses the race. Think about it. A huge amount of time, money and effort goes in to ensuring that the drag car completes a quarter mile. Yet, because they are operating at the maximum, a high number of them don't make it.

In this context, and given that humans aren't machines, why would we even consider trying to 'get the maximum' out of people?

Instead we should be trying to optimise output. When we optimise a system we are considerate of the long term effects of running our system 'too hot'. Pushing people to work long hours, day after day and requiring them to work on weekends just to keep up, week after week, month after month is an example of a human system trying to maximise output.

It is interesting how the everyday language that people use reflects what is actually going on.

"I've hit the wall."

"I crashed and burned."

"I have nothing left in the tank."

When people are treated like machines they will often talk as if they are machines!

But people aren't machines. They need time for rest, relaxation and re-energising.

Remember folks, relative to an organisation's goals, an employees personal goals will always come first. So leave some room for them to achieve success in their personal lives and help them to perform at their optimum. They'll be better for it and so will their performance for the organisation over the long term.

Monday, May 27, 2013

'Edge Moments' Interview With Rachael Robertson

Rachael Robertson was just the second female to lead the Australian Antarctic Expedition for a 12 month period. As you can imagine such extreme conditions require you to find ways to lead when there is literally nowhere to hide.

View this interview where Rachael explains how it came to pass that a woman without a scientific background found hersaelf leading up to 120 people in the Antarctic. Rachael's insights about leadership and 'Edge Moments' are nothing short of powerful.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Do the right thing - even if you are doing it wrong!

The following quote comes from one of my heroes Russell Ackoff, Professor Emeritus of the Wharton Business School. Among the many reasons why I like Russell so much, none the least was that he wasn't afraid to make up words!

"Doing the right thing wrong is better than doing the wrong thing right. If you do the wrong thing right you just get wronger and wronger and take yourself further away from wherever you want to be."

I don't believe that I need to add much more to Russell's statement, other than to suggest that you stop doing any 'wrong things' that you may be doing 'right'.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Creating Winning Resumes - Video Sneak Peak

Below is a sneak peak of the interview I conducted with Pauline Bennett from the City of Whitehorse on Creating Winning Resumes.

Members of have access to the full version of this video.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Do you really 'Have' to do that?

"I have to submit this project tomorrow.
I have an assignment I have to complete tonight.
I have to go to a dinner with my partner.
I have to attend my child's performance.
I have to prepare for a meeting tomorrow.
I have to. I have to. I have to."

Guess what. You don't.

You don't "have" to do anything.

Sure there are consequences for not doing these things. There are also consequences for doing them too.

Which brings me to my point. Think about how differently you would apply yourself to the above activities if you actively chose to do them or decided that you are doing them because you want to do them rather than you "have" to do them.

Think about all the things that you are doing because you believe that you "have" to do them. What would happen if you didn't do them?

Maybe the consequence would be that you would miss out on something that you really want, such as your partner feeling that you really do love him/her. Or maybe you would miss out on a promotion that you really want.

What if you were to switch from the perspective of "have to or else...", to "want to because..."?

When you understand why you are doing what you are doing in the moment and how it will help you to achieve what you really want, it is amazing how much happier you are right now when you fully apply yourself to the activity whatever it may be. This also increases the chances that you'll also be happier in the future.

This is one of the key success strategies when you plan and action personal success.

Try it out and let me know how you go. I'm confident that you will be positively surprised.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Creating Winning Resumes Audio Download

This is a recording of my recent interview with Pauline Bennett, Manager Organisation Development from the City of Whitehorse.

Pauline shares key insights from an employer's perspective about what you should, and most definitely shouldn't include in your resume if you don't want to be rejected within the 15 to 30 seconds that a recruiter will be reviewing your resume.

Either play or download this terrific information.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Key Steps When Planning Personal Success

Last week I surpassed 5,800 participants of the OTM Plan for Personal Success® program. The program enables participants to identify exactly what they want out of life and how they are going to create that life.

The program covers:
  • One Core Concept
  • Background Research - on yourself
  • Five Principles for Personal Success and Life Balance
  • Six Vital Strategic Areas for Success
The planning process always follows these four steps:
  1. Identify what you want to achieve
  2. Clarify your starting point
  3. Brainstorm the strategies/actions that will move you from where you are to where you want to be
  4. Prioritise those strategies/actions so that you identify their order and/or key strategies/actions that have the highest leverage for achieving your desired outcomes
You might wonder why you don't start with Step 2 first?

No matter what planning you are doing whether it be for your organisation, your team or yourself, you should always start with what you want to achieve. If you start with where you are then you are at significant risk of being 'blinded' by your current circumstances. For example if you are in a job that you don't like because it isn't fulfilling, you aren't challenged and not recognised for the value that you are providing, then this will make it hard for you to create a plan to achieve what you do want from a career if your starting point for your plan is your current situation. Quite simply your current situation will have very clear examples of why you can't have what you want out of a career.

Your current situation often provides motivation for you to move away from it, but when you create your plan you must focus on getting as clear as you possibly can about what success really looks and feels like. You must focus on the outcome you desire first.

What would a fulfilling career look like? What would your relationships with your colleagues look like? Would you be working more on your own, as part of a team or a mixture of both? What would 'respect' look and feel like up, down and across the hierarchy of your ideal organisation? Would you be travelling a lot or not all? What would your income be?

For each of your answers to these types of questions you must ask yourself why you want what you want and picture it as clearly as possible. "But what if I don't know exactly what I want?", I hear you ask.

If you don't 'know' exactly what you want then I encourage you to identify the questions that you would like answered. If you think about it, what you actually want is to have discovered the answers to your own questions. So discovering and exploring the answers to your own questions become the focus of your strategies and actions in Steps 3 & 4 of this process.

Fortunately we humans are amazing explorers. I'd argue that the world we have created has resulted largely from our ability to explore and discover the answer to our own questions, such as a famous question asked by Isaac Newton, 'How can electricity provide light?'.

When planning follow the four steps above, they are powerful and they work.

The OTM Plan for Personal Success® has just been launched on an online platform called Yes For Success so that anyone can now access this powerful process for creating the success and life balance that you desire.