I was discussing how fast time flies by with my friend and colleague Kymme Lightfoot who is a consultant with McGhee Productivity Solutions. McGhee specializes in helping organizations with these very challenges and she hooked me up with partner John Witty. John is the author of Take Back Your Life! (Microsoft Press) and if you are looking for perspective to get a better handle on the demands of work and life, this episode's interview is especially designed for you.
Thanksgiving is, indeed, one of my favorite holidays. Though celebrated this week in the States, many other countries have a similar holiday with essentially the same purpose: give us a chance to reflect on what we're thankful for.
The People and Projects Podcast is all about helping you to deliver projects and lead teams. So, it's worth asking: how important is being thankful to helping you lead and deliver?
It's critical. In fact, let's test that out for a second....
Think back through bosses you've worked for in the past. Or consider teachers you've had over the years, and perhaps even your parents. Out of that list, who jumps out as someone who was stingy, so to speak, with their gratitude towards you? Whether in word or action, they just didn't dish out appreciation very often.
Can you think of someone? Many people can. What consequences come to mind that resulted from that lack of gratitude?
Some two years ago I was talking with a CEO about how I like to send Thank You cards to people. He actively tried to convince me that such expressions of gratitude--especially in writing--were a waste of time, much like "holding hands and singing." He said, "People don't need a boss telling them 'Thank You'. Rather, results speak for themselves."
Wow. I can only imagine what he's like to work for!
Go back to your list. Get that ogre out of your mind and replace them with someone who did a great job of making you feel appreciated. Once again, whether in word or deed or both, they oozed with gratitude.
What difference did they make?
In my experience, those leaders are able to accomplish so much more. Their teams are more engaged. They can be more innovative because they are working less out of fear and more out of self-motivation. Expressing gratitude and recognizing others for the work they do is a clear mandate for anyone who desires to deliver projects and lead teams.
Maybe it's the economy... Maybe it's the growing discontent among many that our political leaders are out of touch. There's no shortage of things to be upset about.
So here's what I've found. Being thankful is a choice. It's something we need to proactively pursue to avoid being sucked into the whirlpool of negativity and entitlement that surrounds us.
In recent years my company has sponsored a gratitude project called the World of Thanks initiative. Each year people from around the world write in to answer a very simple question: "What are you thankful for?"
Though the answers vary widely, I always get great feedback from people about how they find it refreshing to take a moment to participate in the project as well as read the results from young and old alike.
As many of you know, this year we opened it up for people to call in with their message so we could include their thoughts in this podcast. For all that called in or just replied to the invitations with messages on LinkedIn, Facebook, or e-mail, thank you for participating.
And now, it is my pleasure to share with you the voices of your fellow podcast listeners as they answer the question, "What are you thankful for?"
OK, here's the situation.... You're the security guard at a data center, giving a new security guard a tour of the facility. Near the end of the tour you point to a button on the wall. The button is labeled "Do Not Push". While looking back at the new guard you remark, "See this button? Make sure you never pu...."
Oops. You accidentally push the button.
What happens? I'll tell you what happens. Lights out. Systems go dead—immediately. No nice shutdown. You turn pale—you know this isn't good.
There's more to the story. The systems people can't get the servers restarted right away. When they do, there are problems with the network. Your company is unable to process transactions.... not for 1 hour. Not for 2 hours. It's not until 15 hours later that transactions are flowing through the system.
Sound scary? This isn't a made up story. It actually happened. Thankfully, you're not in it. But let's say you were... When you get called into the bosses' office, what do you expect them to say?
What are the odds you'd hear them say, "Kelly, get in here. I want to thank you for helping us see how incomplete our disaster recovery plans were. If it wasn't for you, we would have gone on, maybe for years, falsely thinking we had everything buttoned up. You also helped us learn that our shutdown button is too accessible. We'll put together plans to fix that. Kelly, from all of us in senior management, thank you very much!"
Not likely? You're right. In fact, in the real world version of this story, the accidental button-pushing security guard got fired. Enough money was lost that management decided "Someone must die! We need flesh!"
Was this the best way to respond? Though normal, does it fix the problem by firing the guard? My guess is the new guy never pressed the button! But did it really fix things? Or did it just assign blame.
When things go wrong--even in a big way--what's a leader to do? Can we really celebrate failure without creating a culture of complacence? Could the way we react--such as firing someone in the name of accountability--actually create additional dysfunction?
These are issues that Ralph wrestles with in his book. I look forward to your feedback on the interview with Ralph in this episode. Have a great week!
I hear it all the time when people describe themselves in a work setting: "I'm a good problem-solver!" Are you a good problem-solver? I'm guessing you would say "Yes!"
Well, guess what? According to Michael Roberto, author of Know What You Don't Know, maybe we're all focusing on the wrong thing. According to Michael, it's not about becoming better problem-solvers. We need to be better problem finders!
I had the opportunity to catch up with Michael by phone recently and look forward to sharing that discussion with you in this cast.
Before we wrap-up, may I ask you a favor? I invite you to tell a friend or colleague about The People and Projects Podcast. I continue to be amazed at how many people still haven't started using podcasts as part of the professional development strategy. Send them a link or tell them how to find us on iTunes. Thank you very much!
Thanks for joining us for this episode. Enjoy the cast!
Hello! Thank you for joining me for this episode of The People and Projects Podcast.
I'm over in Europe this week facilitating a project management workshop for a great international company. Though I'm thousands of miles from home in a culture and language that is notably different from my own, I find a couple things remain the same: if you want to deliver projects and lead teams anywhere in this world, you're going to have to deal with conflict and organizational politics.
It's just a reality of working with people.
When I think of politics with projects, I think of my colleague Brian Irwin, PMP. Brian is the author of Managing Politics and Conflict in Projects, published by Management Concepts and is a contributing author to the book The 77 Deadly Sins of Project Management (Management Concepts, 2009). I had the opportunity to talk with Brian recently and look forward to sharing that interview with you in this episode.
How about letting your friends and colleagues know about The People and Projects Podcast! Send them a link to our web page here, or have them look us up on iTunes! It would be a privilege for me to help develop their ability to lead and deliver as well.
Thank you for joining me today! Have a great week! We'll see you next time on The People and Projects Podcast!