Chaos Addiction in the Workplace

I know this may come as a surprise, but believe it or not, some people just don’t like to be told what to do. Some find comfort in following the rules. Others, for whatever reason, find it a challenge. This is the mystery that every manager (and parent) has been trying to unlock since the dawn of mankind.

As a young manager years ago I had a misguided opinion of why people would discard systems and processes in the workplace.  It can be frustrating when others don’t share your same desires when you are trying to accomplish something as a team.  The systems and processes that are important to you don’t seem to be a top priority to your some team members.  It is easy for an unseasoned leader to take this personally and point the finger at a person’s character.  Why don’t they value what you value?  Why are they so stinkin’ stubborn? Do they realize their success depends on doing things “right”?  It is easy to assume that this careless rulebreaker is taking a personal stand against me and what I value. Maybe that’s not all together true.

Approaching people from this cynical perspective can have minimal or an adverse effect. Directly calling out the perpetrator on their non-conformity can cause them to hide these behaviors from the authority.  Rule breakers learn when it’s worth following the rules and when they can get away with out.  “When the cat’s away, the mice will play.”

Another Perspective

Over the years, my understanding to why some people struggle with systems and processes has grown. My thoughts in this blog come more from leading people who struggle in this area over the last 25 years, and less from any medical or psychological expertise.  Reading and learning from experts help me gain a clearer understanding of why people behave the way they do in the workplace.

It is easy to label a person as rebellious, stubborn or even careless.  I have discovered that there may be other reasons for their lack of compliance.  I believe that “Chaos Addiction” is a real thing.  A related but slightly different version of this I call “Order Averse Tendencies”.  Here is what I have experienced.

Chaos Addiction

Chaos Addiction is when a person is more comfortable when they can rely on experiencing the predictability of the unpredictable. They have adjusted their worldview to survive in a constantly changing, unpredictable environment.

Chaos Addiction can happen when a person develops their mindset amidst a chaotic environment. When order is not present, the child or adult can feel like they have limited control. When boundaries are absent from a culture or family environment, a young person learns to adjust to survive. Sometimes in the form of disorders, hence the name “Dis-order”, or the absence of order.  There is actually a physical change in development in a young brain that causes it to form differently to adjust to the chaos.

Order Averse Tendencies

When a person struggles with “Order Averse Tendencies”, they may have come from the opposite environment.  When a child or young person grows up under strict rules or a controlled environment they may not have the opportunity to learn to be responsible for their own actions. When they have little choice or control, it is difficult to develop self-imposed boundaries or a strong sense of self-control.

When kids grows up and graduate to a place of needing to make important choices on their own, under developed discernment skills lead them to indulge in their new freedom.  To them, the rules they grew up with kept them in bondage. They enjoy their new found freedom and for the first time in their lives they don’t have to do anything they don’t want.  Think of the average freshman dorm room.

Another and possibly more common cause for “Order Averse Tendencies” is ADHD.  A person who struggles with staying focused can also find it difficult to keep their attention on following a prescribed protocol.  Focus issues and Control issues can have a similar appearance in the workplace to the untrained eye.

It Hits Home

My wife and I have been foster parents for several years and we have had interactions with therapists that have helped us to understand this better.  When children have experienced trauma in the home, then move to an environment of peace and order, they often react the only way they know. They try to recreate what they have become comfortable with.  When they cause disruption and rebel against instruction they often are merely behaving the way they have been trained.  This was a surprise to us.  This understanding helped us form a more knowledgeable and responsible approach towards chaotic behavior.  This was especially difficult for me, having a bent toward kids needing to learn personal responsibility.

Grown-ups too

I have discovered that when adults find it hard to follow systems and rebel against authority, they too may be reacting the only way they know how.  It may not be that they won’t follow directions, rather that they can’t.

Imagine a person who has an extreme fear of heights.  You place a $100 bill at the top of a 12 foot ladder, they get three steps up and completely freeze up.  They are motivated to keep going, but they simply can’t.  Something in their subconscious kicks in and convinces them of something that is not true, and they freeze. Their perceived threat of altitude is blown out of proportion in their mind causing an emotional reaction of fear.

I believe that the same thing can happen to people who have never seen or experienced the freedom and fruits of following a system or operating within the rules.  Many people believe that rules and systems are in place to take your freedoms away.  They are there to control you and take control away from you.

The truth is, only within the confines of following the rules and doing things the prescribed way, can you truly experience freedom and personal control. You have to use the right tools to get the right results. This is a paradox that can be difficult for some people to come to understand.

Example: When you don’t drive over the speed limit, you don’t get a ticket.  When you exercise your freedom to drive as fast as you want, your freedom is removed by a judge.

Addressing the Problem

So as leaders, how do we approach people with Order Averse Tendencies or Chaos Addiction?

  • We could continue pleading our case with them hoping they will change.
  • We could get tough with them and put the hammer down and make them do it our way.
  • We could give them heavy incentives to bribe them into following the rules.
  • We could simply move them out of the company.

Unfortunately the last option sometimes ends up being the only method that will protect your customers, your company and co-workers from the erosion that comes from having a cog in the wheel.

Another Approach

I believe that people matter, and as leaders we have a responsibility to try to help people move past their obstacles within our capacity.  We also need to understand our own personal limitations. It is important to recognize when it is time to recommend them getting assistance from a person more appropriately trained.

Moving people past a Chaos Addiction doesn’t necessarily have a high success rate for a complete turn around, but a person can develop better self-awareness and self-management techniques to stay ahead of it the best they can. Here are some suggestions on how to coach a person struggling in this area:

  • Trust – The first step is to make a connection with them. Any leader will have little to no effect if they do not gain trust and respect of the employee.  You absolutely need to earn the right to be heard. If you don’t care, they will know.  If this is the case, the problem is with you more than with them.  Get yourself fixed first.
  • Self-awareness – Many people who struggle with Chaos Addiction don’t even realize it. Many just believe they are broken and can’t be fixed.  Others believe that everyone else is broken. By asking them pointed questions, you may be able to help them see a more clear and objective perspective.  You need to help them to remove their blind spots with gentleness and respect.

Asking the following line of questioning can be a non-threatening way to help someone see the relationship between their thoughts and results.

– “When you are asked to comply to a set of instructions, how does that make you feel?” Why?

– Ask them to describe to you how their approach toward systems and rules have affected them in previous jobs/life. This is the “How’s that going for ya’?” question. Are there any patterns that you can help point out to them?  Do they keep repeating a cycle?

– Ask about tasks that they have accomplished that required following specific instructions. How did that effect the results? Are they able to repeat those results in other areas? Why/Why not?

– Ask them how you can best help them. Sometimes they know best and a great question can draw it out of them.

  • Vision – Help paint a picture of the one common factor in all highly successful people and organizations. They find out how things work, then they adjust themselves to those unchangeable principles.  Staying within the boundaries of how things really work is the only way to make things work. Any other way ends in chasing the wind.
  • Guardrails – Help them determine for themselves what guardrails they need to put in place for themselves in order to be able to self-manage their way through this maze. These are boundaries they have to own and be responsible for.  The idea is that when a person owns their own boundary, they aren’t being controlled by others, rather they are self-directed.
  • Commitment – All self-directed activity is anchored through commitment. Any notion of successful self-guidance without being fully committed is a fantasy. If you leave a way out, you will take it when things get hard.
  • Accountability – Talk through the need for accountability to help them with their guardrails. Create written SMART goals, and make sure they line up with their vision. Follow-up is one of the most crucial factors in helping someone change a lifelong habit. If they cannot come to a place of committing to accountability, they may never get past it.

As the leader of people we need to fully commit to helping individuals become their best self.  Trying to balance between the needs of the individual and the health of the organization is very tricky and can be stressful.  As a steward of a business we need to maintain a healthy approach to keeping the health of the organization and the needs of the many, a priority over any individual.

A rule of thumb; When you allow a struggling person to continue being a part of a team, you have a limited time before the problem begins to overflow onto the rest of the team.  You have to navigate with assertiveness and within the confines of a time limit.  If you are not able to make the appropriate progress within the prescribed time, you need to have the discipline to make a move for the health of the organization.  This is one of the hardest responsibilities of a leader.

I would love to walk with you through your journey!

The Dangers of Following the Crowd

Most of us have heard our parents say “If all your friends jumped off a bridge, does that mean that you would too?” My answer was, “Well if the bridge is narrow and there was a speeding car coming at us, then yes!”.

The truth is that there are times when following the crowd can be safe, secure and justified. Following the crowd can also give us a false sense of security. It can make us numb to the dangers that may be down the road. We have this delusion that the masses can’t be all wrong, and even if they are, at least I will be in the company of others like me.

Billy Joel wrote “I’d rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints. The sinners are much more fun. You know that only the good die young.”

As we look back over the history of life on this planet, we see many patterns of individuals following the crowd. We see this in every war, every election and every cultural trend. It happens in the media, in the supermarkets and in every religion in the world. Sometimes crowds don’t even need a leader to take them there. In unison we take the route of least resistance, whatever feels good at the time or meets an immediate need. Billy Joel gave us a classic example of the blind leading the blind.

There is a branch of social psychology that studies crowd behavior. They look at the behavior of both individual members of the crowd, as well as the crowd as a whole. They have discovered a correlation between crowd behavior and responsibility of the individuals.

Individuals that take full responsibility are much more likely to move away from the crowd. They choose their own results independent of popular opinion. Those who avoid responsibility find comfort and stimulation from groups of likeminded people. Social acceptance makes it easier to justify their thoughts or behavior. Confirmation bias fuels the illusion and perpetuates the feelings that encourage their position. It’s is not hard to influence someone to do what their nature already wants to do.

The emotions of a crowd headed down a path that aligns with their desires can be appealing. These feelings can grow as the group grows, leading to a movement. This is where the danger of following the crowd begins

Every destructive influence has a touch of appeal that tantalizes our senses. It is just enough to get us interested. Every world religion, political view or philosophy of life can tempt our allegiance. It can be difficult to identify where we fail to line up with reality. It’s amazing how individuals can feel so strongly about popular ideas they know little about.

There is a basic human need to align ourselves with the crowd. We all have the need for acceptance and to find significance in what we do. We have a desire to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. The problem is we can tend to be short sighted and seek to have these needs met at the cost of a much bigger picture. We all do this to some extent. Some people are people pleasers seeking affirmation. Some are black and white thinkers in need of certainty. Others are running away from responsibility looking for relief. Either way we find comfort in numbers.

There is a great quote from my favorite book.

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” Mat 7:13-14

Travelling the “broad road” is quite easy to do. It is by far the most popular route. It assures you of your freedom to be in control of your own destination and requires no commitment. It give the appearance of a much easier route than the option of the narrow gate. There is no sign at the beginning of the road that says “Road to Destruction”. If there were, it would lose some of its appeal. “Broad Road” is much more soothing to the eye and non-offensive.

On the “broad road”, there is no disclaimer, only the promise of not being alone or accountable. There is no promise of any specific destination, nor is there even a map to how you may get there.

Lewis Carroll summed this up well in Alice in Wonderland:

“Alice: Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?

The Cheshire Cat: That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.

Alice: I don’t much care where.

The Cheshire Cat: Then it doesn’t much matter which way you go.

Alice: …So long as I get somewhere.

The Cheshire Cat: Oh, you’re sure to do that, if only you walk long enough.”

So why do only a few find their way through the narrow gate? …I would say it is because so few are even looking for it. The majority of people are not looking, or willing to take the road less traveled that leads to a full life. Some believe they are taking the narrow gate, only to find out they have been on the same broad path as everyone else. Taking the narrow gate has an immediate admission price that most are not willing to pay.

If you want to know where your path is taking you, just take an honest look at where you have been, and where you are now. If the trajectory doesn’t seem to be travelling in a favorable direction, you may be on the “broad road”.

“If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.” Lao Tzu

If you want to know what path you are on, just look around you. Are you surrounded by people that lift you up and contribute to your well-being? Do you find significance in your hard work and feel great about your impact on others around you? If so, you are likely on the narrow path or at least headed that direction.

You are the sum total of the people that you are closest to. If your assessment of your inner circle doesn’t pass the sniff test. You may need to change to a new path that includes others who are experiencing life to its fullest. The good news is that there are many, you only need to join their path.

If you think your current life is a result of exterior circumstances out of your control or bad luck, you are on the “broad path”. This is the signature belief of the broad-pathalogians. If you don’t know how you ended up on this path, don’t blame the path or crowd. You went along with them. Even if you stayed on your default path, you could have chosen a different one. Others can choose a different path for you, but they can’t make you take it.

You always have a choice, and that choice is 100% your responsibility to make. No one will ever grab you, kicking and screaming, and force you to enter through the narrow gate. We all get to freely choose our own path. Choose wisely.

If you are struggling with your direction personally or professionally, please contact me. I would love to have a cup of coffee with you.

How Are You Branding Yourself?

You are branded, whether you know it or not.  We all are.  Every , company, team and every individual.

When you think of branding, you probably think of marketing or advertising.  Branding is all around us. TV, radio, websites, social media, signs and billboards and even on our clothing.  The idea behind commercial branding is to make an impression on you that will be remembered. It will prompt you to take action to enter into a positive transaction. We try to distinguish our service or product, as having a greater benefit than other options.

Branding increases our opportunities. The reason branding is so effective is because it allows the consumer to take a peek behind the mask.  It helps them see what we are all about.  Consumers want to know what we stand for and what our mission is. Why should they trust us, and most of all, what you are going to do for them.
Branding can be used in many ways.  Branding is used as an agent of influence.  It helps the world see our “best” side, hoping to keep our “work in progress” side non-visible.  It can also be used to connect with people through transparency and authenticity.  Regardless of the branding motives, the consumers will always determine effectiveness.  They will always have the last say.

Think about successful companies like McDonalds, Chick filA, Apple, Disney and Toyota.  They generally have great credibility in the eyes of consumers.  People are fanatics because of how these brands make them feel. How they make their world just a little better.  It is an experience, not just a product.
Not all branding ends up as initially planned.   When you hear the name Enron, you remember the scandal that took the whole company down along with many associated business’s. How about “New Coke”?  Back in 1985 they thought they were on to something great only to find out their consumers wanted the “Old Coke” back.  They had some damage control to do.  I am sure Pepsi got a chuckle.

In one way branding is sharing “who you are”, or at least who you wish for them to think you are.  Who you are will largely determine whether they wish to continue with you.  This is true with companies, products, services and even individuals.  We like to think that what we brand is exactly what others will perceive.  What ever people perceive defines your brand.

Over the past year or so I have been hearing more and more about “personal branding”.  This is not a new concept, but it has been popping up more and more lately.  There must be something more to it.  Personal branding is much like any other branding. It is intentionally building credibility in the eyes of others. Personal branding can increase your opportunities if done effectively.

Those who are not on the front line of marketing or sales, you too are branding yourself, whether you know it or not.  Someone may ask “But I am a restaurant manager, how am I branding myself?”  Your customers, employees, and your supervisors are continually evaluating “who you are”.  They determine what you represent by what they see in you. This is how we as humans determine level of trust.  We do it subconsciously, without even knowing we are doing it.  It’s not only what you say about yourself, but your actions and behaviors.  You won’t always behave according to what you say, but you will always behave according to who you truly are.

This brings me to the heart of personal branding.  Some would say that your actions will determine “who you are”.  I say “who you are” will determine your actions.  When you do things or behave in ways that are generally not in line with who you really are, you may find yourself running out of mojo, and reverting back to who you really are.  This is the reason you don’t generally see the real person is on the first date.  In most every case, given time, who they really are comes out. This hold true with new employees and new leaders on the scene.  There is such an emphasis on first impressions (and they are important), but not enough emphasis on continued impressions.

We can’t fake it for long. An honest person doesn’t need to remember what they told people.  A caring person doesn’t need to pretend to care. And a person with emotional intelligence doesn’t need to hold their anger in.  When “who you are” stands out above others as excellence, others will go out of their way to be part of what you are doing. When “who you are”, regardless of what you say stands out negatively, others will go out of their way to avoid you.  Who I am will determine my brand.
The effectiveness of any leader is determined by their personal brand. This isn’t always realized by the leader.  When a leader justifies himself by his own assessment of his work, or by his intentions or desires, he misses out on one of the most important resources he has. The truth as seen by others. We love to hear others tell us how much they like our brand, but when it comes to a hard honest evaluation, most of us too often turn a blind eye.  We don’t want to know about the bad stuff.

Protect your personal brand like it is the key to all future opportunities, BECAUSE IT IS!

Your future opportunities will depends on the impression you leave on everyone who crosses paths with you.  This is your wake that you leave behind.  You will either be a magnet that attracts others to your personal brand, or something less.  If you  don’t offer the world anything remarkable, don’t be surprised if others don’t seek out your un-remarkableness.

In your workplace, if you show stress and fail to keep your emotions in check, you are branding yourself.  If you believe you are always right, and are condescending to people, you are branding yourself.  If you show up late and take short-cuts, you are branding yourself.  If you are more concerned over results than you are people, you are branding yourself.  If you fail to take full responsibility for your actions, make excuses and blame others, you are branding yourself,  Likewise if your actions line up with values such as integrity, commitment, personal growth, transparency and kindness, you are branding yourself.

If you are struggling with your personal brand, or if others are struggling with YOUR personal brand, don’t give up.  There is hope.  You can learn to improve your brand by first beginning to change what you believe about yourself.  You can’t change what others see in you (your brand), until YOU change what you see in you.

You have the ability to brand yourself to make an impact in your workplace, your family, in your community.

If you want to make sure you are displaying a positive impression that will lead to opportunities, you’ll need to be willing to change your perspective. You may benefit from finding a person that has the skills and desire to coach you to become the brand you know you can be, and wish to display to others.

I would be glad to discuss with you the opportunity to help you change your personal brand.  You can change “Who you are”.

You Should Be Committed!

We live in a world that struggles mightily with commitment. We either fear commitment or we over commit ourselves.  The value of a commitment has depreciated greatly over the last century.

“Most people fail, not because of a lack of desire, but because of lack of commitment.”  Vince Lombardi

We live in a culture where:

  • On average less than 30% of employees continue beyond one year in the hospitality industry.
  • Our most recent retirees changed jobs an average of 11 times by the time they retired.

In light of social media, the quality of our relationships has taken a back seat to the quantity of our relationships. This is both personally and professionally. The lack of face to face interaction makes it much easier to disengage and look elsewhere to have our needs met.

We can always find another “friend” or job when things start to go sideways. Our unemployment rate is at its lowest in decades. It’s easier now to move sideways to avoid responsibility and start over than ever before. The average number of Facebook friends is 338!  Do we really have or need that many?  Is it possible to have so many friends that we experience loneliness? That seems to be what is happening.  It only takes a click to  friend, and a click to unfriend.  There is not a lot of trust required, and virtually no commitment apart from the effort of a click.

The Lateral Loop

Another trend that I see is that the number of employees that bounce to lateral positions has increased.  It’s like musical chairs for a large portion of the work force. They are searching for significance, wanderers in the universe trying to find that just right place to land. Unfortunately what we are looking for cannot be found in a job alone, nor can it be found without a level of commitment. I would estimate that around a third of the workforce in the service industry moves around from place to place without any significant growth or advancement. Are they are moving to find something, or to get away from something?

Stepping Stones

There are many very responsible reasons why people move on to other opportunities.  Starting a new career, or advancement in compensation, and opportunity for personal growth are a number of excellent reasons to terminate employment for another opportunity.  We love when people come to us with a bigger plan and use us as a stepping stone to get reach their dream destiny. Unfortunately in the hospitality industry, these are the exceptions rather than the norm.  Most turnover in the service industry has less to do with opportunity and more to do with a lack of commitment to push through current obstacles to reach another level. It’s amaizing how many people fail at the easiest jobs.

So many people are blind to the potential that is just down the road if they just stick it out, and be willing to stretch their capacity and develop their long-term credibility.  People who keep starting over never see the top of the mountain, but they work just as hard without ceasing because they have to.  They don’t get to experience the fruits of success that only comes through commitment, dedication and resolve.

No one who has accomplished anything worthwhile ever did so without first fully committing to it.

There is a greater opportunity for a person without a college or high school education to become a millionaire in the hospitality industry than any other industry in our country. I personally know many. For those who choose an alternate route than college, this should be music to your ears.  This industry is screaming out for responsible people willing to commit to learning and serving.  Opportunity isn’t the problem.

We have entered an era where lack of commitment leads to a lack of trust, and a lack of trust leads to a lack of commitment. It’s a downward spiral that will only reverse if we choose to break the cycle.

“Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort.” Paul J. Meyer

Stick it out!… Decide, Commit, Push Hard!…. Get there!

Are you truly committed? 

The Commitment Test;  (Be honest with yourself)

  1. Do you do as much as you can, or as little as you have to at work?
  2. Are you committed to personal growth?, or are you just living out who you already are?
  3. Are you fully committed unconditionally to your significant other, or is there a point that will justify a disconnect?
  4. Do you have 2-3 people in your life that you trust and can be 100% transparent with?
  5. Are you easily distracted by entertainment that keeps you from progressing?
  6. Do you go out of your way to find comfort and security?
  7. Do you struggle to finish what you start?
  8. Do you have several wasted days each month that you simply exist without cause?
  9. Do you have trouble saying “No” to good opportunities or people?
  10. Do you have trouble saying “Yes” to good opportunities or people?

If you have answered yes to more than a couple of these, you likely struggle with commitment.

If you wish to change that, here is a good start.

  • Decide what you want. Remove all other options and excuses from your brain.
  • Make one decision TODAY to commit 100% to something that what will move you closer. Write it down.
  • Tell someone about it and give them permission to hold you accountable to it.  Hint, don’t ask someone that is not committed to you.
  • Repeat tomorrow, and the next day until you feel satisfied that you have fully committed to what you want.
  • Keep an ongoing list of the commitments you need to focus on for growth, and a list of what you need to uncommit to, to make room for your new commitments. Hint, you cannot commit to one thing without uncommitting to another.
  • Now, stand by your commitments, and teach others…

I would love to hear your feedback.

 

 

The Art of Professionalism

I grew up never really knowing what professionalism was. I came from a blue collar family that was more about living and acting in the moment according to the culture.  We didn’t always consider our actions and how we should behave or what we should or shouldn’t say around others.

In my early twenties I was more focused on my freedom to say whatever I feel, and not really worried about my responsibility to put a guardrail in place to keep my words from hurting others.  My filter was weak.

I had a wake-up call that caused me to question much of my cultural upbringing. I realized my circumstances, limitations and personal history did not have to control who I become. If I truly want to be successful at anything, it was going to take a lot of work, dedication and a change in the way that I look at myself, and present myself. I needed a new outlook on who I am and what I wanted to become.

Now as I find myself a business owner, I really appreciate a person with great verbal and writing skills. There is something about a skilled individual who can use their word to say, “I care about what you think”, or “I would like to assist you the best that I can” and “I assume the best in you and appreciate you”. Most of the world says “whatchu want?”, or “make it quick, my time is valuable”, and “Have I got a great deal for you!”

Professionalism is not just about looking sharp and acting sharp, but being sharp with direction and conviction. It doesn’t come from a script and you can’t simply take a class to become professional.

Ultimately professionalism will only come when we make the decision to put others ahead of ourselves and take what we do seriously. That’s really it. When we begin to understand what others need to hear we begin to think outside of ourselves. When what we do matters because we have already determined that it is worthy of our efforts and worth doing well, we begin to act and communicate more professionally with purpose and conviction.

Wisdom plays a major part in professionalism too. Wisdom of speech is the measure of a person. What comes out of your mouth is what others will judge you by. Even if what you say is socially acceptable, shouldn’t we try to be socially exceptional?

I have to admit that when I was in my late teens and early twenties, I had a pretty poor vocabulary (swearing), and now when I look back I see that it was mostly just to fit in with a society.  I wonder what people thought of my poor choice of words when I was young living without restraint.

What does it mean to live without restraint? Well, for me it meant that no one was going to tell me what I can say and can’t say. I was my own boss and if people don’t like me the way I am, they can take a flying leap. Foolishness!

The problem with being your own source of accountability is that you end up saying many stupid things that hurt others and yourself. You don’t even realize your own blind spot because what others see is not on your radar.  It should be.

When I was a kid I learned the term “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me”. While the intentions are good, that is one of the biggest lies ever to be told. Words can crush the spirit and wound people greatly. They can also heal and mend people if used with wisdom.

We need to be responsible with the words that we say and what we communicate to others. Learning to speak with restraint helps us to be more professional and courteous to others and keeps us from looking like a fool.

Learning to look at other people and determine what they need to hear makes us difference-makers. Sometimes people need encouragement, sometimes a smile or instructions; sometimes they need a kick in the pants. Whatever they need, when we do it with professionalism and respect it will be received with much better appreciation.

I don’t claim to be the most professional person or claim to have reached my best, but I do believe my behavior will make a difference in people’s day. So I will try to make it be a positive difference as often as I can.

 

 

5 Things Shift Leaders Need

The Shift Leaders Challenge

If you are a leader in the service industry, you fully understand how important our Shift Leaders are to our business.  Shift Leaders have a very challenging job.  They get to do much of the work and they don’t get to make many of the important decisions, yet they get their share of blame when the crew members they oversee fall short.

Shift Leaders are very valuable to restaurants.  They are leaders with the most hands on opportunity to make a direct difference with the crew and with customers.  They are right there in the thick of things rolling up their sleeves, making it all happen.

Sometimes Shift Leader training gets overlooked.  It’s easy to rely on their talent and experience as a crew member and overlook their need for leadership development.  This is usually an important transitional stage of a young leaders career and has the potential to make or break their leadership future.  Training sometimes gets truncated and they can tend to be a lightning rod for criticism when things don’t go right.  It all rolls downhill, but usually doesn’t quite make it to the bottom.

As veteran leaders in the service industry we have a responsibility to our entry level rock star leaders to help them kick off their leadership journey on the right foot.  Their survival may depend on it.  The example we set, and the impressions we make in these early years will stay with them for a lifetime.

Five things all Shift Leaders need from their Supervisors:

Quality Time – Shift Leaders need for their mentor to spend quality time with them. People don’t develop by accident.  Things don’t just happen without strategy and intentionality and certainly without trust.

When a supervisor takes a young leader and handcuffs with them, they introduce them to a new world. They begin to see their new opportunity in a new, practical, real way.  There is no substitution for going through the experience with someone you trust and look up to.  Likewise, there are few experiences more destructive than being thrown to the wolves during these vulnerable times.

A Vision Caster – Most young leaders have an idea of what they have done to earn the opportunity to be responsible for others in the organization.  What they usually lack is a clear understanding of what they may become.  When it comes to vision, few people really have an accurate perception of what they are capable of.  We tend to settle for what we already are, rather than focus on what we could someday become.  It takes a Leader to paint this picture for us.

A skilled and intuitive supervisor will be able to observe and identify specific areas of strength of their young protégés.  They have the power to help them understand their own talents and passions.  Without someone to paint a picture of what the future looks like, we tend to stay in the present.

Repetitious Communication – Shift Leaders need regular, daily communication.  The clay is still wet, it will take many conversations covering the same message over and over every day for some time in order for the message to take root and begin to be internalized.

Think about how many songs you know by heart.  You learned them by not intentionally memorizing them.  You learned them because you listened to them over and over again.  No one really likes this song but when you hear the lyrics “Here’s a little song I wrote…” people sing along, even against their own will.

Repetition is the key to any message that you wish to be heard, embraced, and passed on. You need to risk being a little annoying in order to make sure your students are developed without excuse, being armed with all the necessary buzz phrases firmly stuck in their heads. My team calls them Joelisms.

To Be Challenged – Everyone needs someone in their corner cheering them on to new adventures and new challenges.  Most of us are not capable of overcoming our natural fears without someone to walk with us through the doubt and confusion.

It is far too easy to stay in our comfortable zone and focus on the simplest or least challenging course.  It takes a leader to challenge us to move forward into unknown territory, to stretch our competence and raise our capacity.

A great leader influences their students to become leaders of themselves so that they are equipped to be leaders of others.

To Be Appreciated – There is no worse feeling than to put your blood sweat and tears into something to help someone or a group of people accomplish something, only to be dismissed without being noticed.

The more mature and self-sufficient we become the less we tend to rely on praise of others to fuel us.  We can forget that our fellow leaders at the beginning of their career still need encouragement to motivate their desire to perform. Everyone needs encouragement from time to time, but one of the most important skills we can develop is the ability to connect and read into other’s needs.  When we connect with them, we get a better idea of what makes them tick and how you can meet their emotional and motivational needs.

To Trust and Be Trusted (bonus)

All too many times our best crew people are left to fend for themselves and to learn the ropes by being thrown into the fire.  What they really need is to be able to trust their supervisor and know that they have their back when things get rough. They need to know they will not be stranded and that their needs are important. They need to know that when they have questions or problems, there is someone they can count on to help guide them to solutions.

If a young leader is ever going to be able to be trusted, their supervisors will need to prove to be trust worthy.  There is no shortcut for this.

Are you a leader?  or a leader of leaders?  There is a difference.

It’s Not My Stinking Fault!

The Problem With Blame

Over the years I have made a few observations how leaders and managers tend to handle situations that have gone south or are going south. When problems arise, for most of us we prefer the problem be someone else’s mistake so it doesn’t reflect on us.  Some people go their entire life trying to avoid blame.

It seems to be important to clarify our innocence to avoid any negative perceptions about us. Once the blame has conveniently been assigned to someone else, we breathe a sigh of relief.

Man Wearing A Suit Jacket And Stripe Necktie

Sometimes we get so caught up in blame-shifting, we lose sight of perhaps the most important factor, the solution. Somehow blamelessness becomes our highest priority, or at least one of them.

“Some people’s blameless lives are to blame for a good deal.” – Dorothy L. Sayers

We will go to great lengths to make sure blame doesn’t stick to us. Inevitably we can’t avoid blame forever. We often truly are at fault. Our employees always see our faults, even when we re-assign them. When we admit our faults, we are usually the last to know.

Sometimes the question goes from “Why can’t people do anything right?” to “Why can’t I do anything right?” We associate fault with our identity. Sometimes we internalize blame and beat ourselves up.  We believe the more blame becomes attached to our name, the less others will think of us, and the lower our self-image will be. We can become paralyzed by the fear of what others think of us. The lower our self-image is, the more it hurts to receive blame or criticism. It’s a vicious cycle that spirals downhill unless interrupted. This is not a healthy way to think and will lead every leader down a black hole of dispair.

“With everything that has happened to you, you can either feel sorry for yourself or treat what has happened as a gift. Everything is either an opportunity to grow or an obstacle to keep you from growing. You get to choose.”Wayne W. Dyer

If you are a person in charge, and have authority to produce results through other people, you may have learned that if something goes wrong under your care, it’s your fault. There may be some truth to this, but there is a difference between fault and responsibility. It may be entirely, or partially your fault. Either way it is your responsibility as the leader to determine the reasons the problem happened, so we can determine the solution and how to prevent it from happening next time. This is far more important that assigning blame.

I have seen people in the middle of a crisis, become fixated on proclaiming “It’s not my fault!” We see this with customer service. Instead of solving the customers issue that would require a simple apology (regardless of who is right), they make it personal and take up their need for innocence or justice. The solution gets ignored, and the problem grows.

Blame is one sided and typically leads to feelings of judgement. Blame drives people further away from taking responsibility for their actions, not closer. When blame is quickly heaped upon a person already struggling with their self-image, they move further away from taking ownership and initiative to fix the problem. Their fight or flight instincts kick in and self preservation safeguards go up. Their confidence takes a hit and they lose hope that they are capable of being part of the solution. This leads to a feeling stuck and helpless.

Ironically, some struggling managers are quick to deflect blame onto their employees thinking that somehow, they will respond differently. We pass on the disfunction because we don’t feel strong enough to stop it.

The Solution

When blame is big, responsibility is small. Responsibility is the missing ingredient that gets pushed aside for blamelessness. Responsibility takes ownership of the problem, but more importantly it takes ownership for the solution. It is positive outcome focused, rather than avoidance driven.

Great Leaders have the ability of taking the focus off the problem and redirecting it towards resolutions. They encourage ownership of solutions both corporately and individually. When people begin to take ownership of their own solutions, they begin to grow personally and the organization grows.

There is a fork in the road that all in leadeship have to face. This choice we make will determine if we take flight, or if we remain grounded by blame and doubt. Leaders in most any field inevitably must go through this doorway to get to your personal launch pad.

When you make the conscious decision to commit to being 100% responsible for your life, and let go of the need for blamelessness, you will be free from the control of blame. Those people in your past that helped form your self-perception by using blame or control, will have no authority or power over you any longer. You will be free.

Glasses Reading Glasses Spectacles Eye Wea

Once a person makes this choice, the light comes on and the blinders come off and a new refreshing outlook on their career and life begins. Those of you that have crossed this bridge understand what I am describing. Everyone has a different story for how they got to this place, but we must all get through this to find clarity.

“Once a person makes this choice, the light comes on and the blinders come off and a new refreshing outlook on their career and life begins”

This World Sucks!

We want so badly to believe that all of our problems are because of our environment.  It’s the people in our lives that let us down.  It’s my parents fault,  It’s the political environment.  It’s the younger generation. Or my favorite, “it’s McDonalds fault that I am unhealthy”.   The truth is that we are all 100% responsible for our  own view of the world.  When we stop trying to bend our worldview (or religion) around our personal justification and begin yeilding our lives around others, we will learn to appreciate what we have, and the people around us.  When you see the world as a jungle, survival at others expense becomes our goal.  When we see the world as a mission field, helping people at our expense becomes our joy.

No one else is responsible for your crappy worldview! It is 100% your responsiblity, so get over it and start doing something for others and your worldview will improve.

The day you take 100% responsibility for your life is the day you will conquer the ugly blame monster and learn to give yourself and others a little grace and learn to pass it on. It’s the Law of Exchange. Like a trapeze artist, you grab ahold of responsibility with one hand and let go of blamelessness with the other. You go from bondage to freedom with one swing.

“If you want to create the life of your dreams, then you are going to have to take 100% responsibility for your life as well. That means giving up all your excuses, all your victim stories, all the reason why you can’t and why you haven’t up until now, and all your blaming of outside circumstances. You have to give them all up forever“– Jack Canfield – Taking 100% Responsibility for Your life. (great article).

John Maxwell says “You have to give up, to go up”. When you lead by example by being 100% responsible, people take notice and navigate toward you. When you give up blame, and embrace solutions, you become a magnet for future leaders. You become a vehicle to influence and prepare your employees for the time they come to their own fork in the road.

You can’t give away what you don’t have. So go get it!

I would love to hear your story of how you got over this obstacle.