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Business Observer Friday, Jan. 23, 2004 18 years ago

Garber: Increase Productivity

Avoid common pitfalls in the quest for higher performance. And build a solid foundation.

As I begin my third year of writing for the GCBR, I think it's appropriate to sum up some of the things I have learned after more than two decades of coaching individuals and organizations. Crossing the transformational bridge to higher performance has proved both easier and harder in different areas. Some of the foundational principles I have seen demonstrated time and again. These foundational principals are presented in no particular order.

× High performance - The difference between high performance and average or low performance can be traced to the way people behave. High performing people behave differently from lower performing individuals. High performing people understand the impact of their behavior on those they deal with - customers, competitors, colleagues, etc. High performing people have thought out, ahead of each interaction, what the impact of their words and behaviors will be on achieving a win/win outcome.

× Change - Expecting people to change is unrealistic. Only in unusual circumstances will a very few people actually change. Expecting people to adapt for limited periods of time is much more realistic. All that's necessary is helping each individual understand how, why and when they need to adapt to create a better outcome for all - a win/win.

× Instinctive behavior - Relying on your instincts when making business decisions is generally a bad idea. You need to think things through rather than make instinctive decisions. How will the decision impact others?

× Time management - Time management seminars, books and tapes continue to make trainers, consultants and marketing people wealthy. Forget about managing time - you can't! Nobody can do 15 things in the time available for only 10.

Instead, think about what is really important each day. By doing the really important things, you eliminate the inevitable urgent things that arise because you didn't do the really important things. Review Dr. Stephen Covey's book, "First Things First." You'll learn about doing the important things so the urgent things don't come up.

× Forget 'to do' lists - They are often fiction. Many things that clutter these lists are wishful thinking. Make an appointment in your daily calendar for the important tasks, just as you would for any other business meeting. If you can't find the time for an appointment to do something on your 'to do' list, it likely couldn't get done anyway.

× The human factor - More people in corporate America get promoted for their people skills than for their technical ability. Profitability, innovation and long-term success come from investing as much money in developing your people as you do in your plant and equipment.

× Customer service - You can't talk your way out of problems that you behaved your way into! To create a customer service culture you must begin by learning to understand what your current behaviors and attitudes are, what other people's behaviors and attitudes are and how to recognize and adapt to those other behaviors and attitudes.

× Hiring great people - What are the three most important factors for success in management? I suggest the answer is selection, selection and selection. Employee selection is so crucial that nothing else - not leadership, not team building, not training, not pay incentives, not total quality management - can overcome poor hiring decisions. Consult a professional when making hiring selection decisions.

We each see the world through our own window or through the filter of our beliefs. These beliefs are called attitudes, and they are the results of experience and one's values. Selecting great employees requires the ability to understand people and their attitudes and values. Yet 90% of all hiring decisions are based on an interview, and interviewing is only 14% accurate, according to University of Michigan research.

Interviewing is inaccurate because the interviewer sees the candidate's conscious, or "dating" behavior, not the unconscious behavior that always reveals itself once the candidate is hired.

× Productivity problems - Look at the process before looking at the people. Most people want to succeed - often the process does not allow it.

× Definition of insanity - Continuing to do the same things and expecting a different result!

× Theory of change -Trying to implement change yourself, according to the "Theory of Change," by Galois, is called First Order Change. First Order Change always ends up back at the starting point. You can easily see that in the example of personal exercise and fitness. Many people make New Year's resolutions to get fit. They buy exercise equipment in January. When is it in the garage sale? Isn't it somewhere around June? Why? Because we didn't have Second Order Change that Galois talks about. First Order Change always comes back to A. We go from A to B to C to D and then end up back at A again. No matter what the time frame, we always seem to come back to A - and the changes end up being no real change, no lasting change.

× Second order change - It's the same as first order change - with one difference - there is an outside agent. That outside agent creates accountability, creates change, holds people by the hand and helps them - walks with them. In getting fit, it may be a personal trainer. In organizations it's usually an outside, objective change agent. The agent of second order change, the transformational change person, helps the individual or organization implement second order change. Second order change is lasting change. It's change that occurs over and over and over.

Stephen Garber, who lives and works in the Sarasota area, provides executive coaching for people who want to become better executives, improve productivity and build consistently effective relationships. Questions and comments are always welcome at [email protected] .

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