JASB e-Newsletter Winter 2013

“News to Lead, Grow and Succeed By”
Published by JASB Management Inc. – Winter 2013

Message from the President
By Jerry S. Siegel
Start off the New Year right. Manage yourself better.

With 2013 in front of us, we have opportunities to improve our performance and increase our success. Integral to both are how well we manage some very basic things, starting with time.

First, let’s dispel a common myth about time management. The truth is since we cannot manage time; we need to manage ourselves. The focus should be on how we use our time to increase productivity. That means we need to change the way we do things, in order to get a better result – whether more sales appointments, proposal presentations and/or ultimately, sales, or more time to spend with a spouse or child every week.

A national survey of small and mid-sized businesses conducted by the Wall Street Journal asked executives and managers, “What is the biggest challenge facing your organization?” The top four responses were:

  • We need to execute better.
  • We need to think and act more strategically.
  • We need to invest more effort in leading our people
  • We need to get some balance in our lives.

All of these responses relate to managing ourselves and our team better. Changing won’t be easy. It never is. In fact, according to research, an estimated 95% of what we do every day is done out of habit and that includes the attitudes we have.

How we think directly influences our actions, which in turn, determines the results we achieve. It’s not enough to simply create new procedures for how we act; there also must be a change in our habits of thought. This enables us to control what we achieve over the course of any given time span – an hour, a day, a week, a month, a quarter or a year.

Once we have changed our habits of thinking, there are other ways to more effectively manage ourselves so that we can achieve more with our time. For instance, too many meetings are one of the biggest time wasters in the workplace. A U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistic finding was that unnecessary meetings cost U.S. business an estimated $37 billion annually. When should you schedule a meeting? Meetings should be scheduled only when the communication would be enhanced if a personal exchange of ideas among multiple participants is warranted or a decision is to be made.

We can also optimize our time by not multi-tasking. Studies have proven that a very small percentage of individuals – less than 5% – can actually multitask without there being a negative impact on any of the tasks they’re simultaneously performing. For the majority, multitasking actually reduces productivity and quality in the long run because the mind can only focus on one thing at a time.

Finally, how many times in a week are you bothered by interruptions? A TIME Magazine study found that office workers experience interruptions about seven times per hour or a total of 56 interruptions per day. What makes these interruptions worse is that, according to the TIME article, 80% of the interruptions are regarded as trivial.

Manage yourself by not allowing yourself to be interrupted. Let coworkers know that you have priorities and are not available all day long or at any time unless the situation is of a time-sensitive and/or critical nature which requires your immediate attention. A good way to accommodate coworkers without compromising your goals is to indicate you would be glad to schedule a time to meet to address their needs. You will be surprised at how interruptions can be minimized simply by changing how you think about them and respond to them. Also, avoid self-imposed interruptions such as checking your email constantly.

One of the best ways to manage ourselves and therefore accomplish the most with our time is through written goals. Take the time to set goals and write them down so you can remain focused on them as well as regularly benchmark your performance against them. For the first quarter of 2013, consider what you want to accomplish and develop a step-by-step plan of action and timeline to help you achieve those goals.

What Makes a Good Leader

Leadership is one of those topics about which almost everyone has an opinion. Many famous people have given theirs. For example, of leaders and leadership:

-Jack Welch said, “Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.”

-John Quincy Adams said, “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”

-John C. Maxwell said, “A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.”

-Woodrow Wilson said, “Leadership does not always wear the harness of compromise.”

-Napoleon Bonaparte said, “A leader is a dealer in hope.”

They are all right. Effective leaders create an environment whereby others choose to follow them, take responsibility and be accountable. Managers direct people on what to do, monitor their progress and assist them with modifications that will enable them to improve. Leadership and management both are important; however, if you lead well, you will need to manage less and less.

There are four basic reasons people do not succeed in their jobs:

  1. They don’t know what they are supposed to do. This is a communication problem between leader and employee.
  2. They don’t know how to do what they are supposed to do. This is a training problem.
  3. They don’t want to do what they are supposed to do. This is a motivation problem.
  4. They are not capable of doing what they are supposed to do. This is a hiring problem.

Following are key steps to effective leadership:

  1. Determine where you are going and communicate your direction and goals to those you are leading. Give them a purpose and responsibility for meeting target objectives. A list of tasks alone won’t do it. They need to be informed, inspired and empowered.
  2. Gain their commitment. Make sure you have communicated clearly what your expectations and standards are within the context of the big picture. Provide the required training and support so that your team members can meet your objectives and their goals.
  3. Seek out input for process improvement. Encourage your team toward continual improvement. Ask for their ideas. Be careful not to set the bar too high. Benchmark improvement and praise improvement.
  4. Show you care. Demonstrate a genuine interest in how your team members are doing. Ask how things are going…both on the job and in their personal lives. That interest builds loyalty.
  5. Help your team members to find the right fit. Each of us has unique talents and abilities. A round peg in a square hole won’t work. Tap into the innate talents and learned skills of your associates. Monitor how well each team member is doing at his/her particular tasks. If something doesn’t seem to be a good fit, make a change.

In the words of Peter Drucker, “Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.” The above steps reflect the right path to good leadership.

Training Truths & Trends

It has been proven that organizations that invest in staff development and training have lower turnover and those that don’t have higher turnover and rates of failure. Additionally, organizations that do offer training programs have higher customer satisfaction and profitability.

In its 2010 Industry Report, Training Magazine found that the total 2010 U.S. training expenditures had increased from $600 million in 2007 to $52.8 billion in 2010. In 2010, the average annual training expenditures per individual was estimated to be approximately $1,041 and the average hours of training per employee was approximately 40 hours.

Despite the dollars spent on training, there still persists the myth that training has minimal effect on a company’s bottom line. That perception is changing however as more employers recognize that having a skilled, knowledgeable and trained workforce is essential to their organizations achieving growth and success.

The American Society for Training & Development (ASTD) found that by and large, leading businesses are increasing their training investments both in terms of dollars spent and hours allotted. There is also a growing awareness that training must be oriented differently for different workforce demographics. For example, Generation X and Y/Millennials are very comfortable using technology to learn whereby Baby Boomers benefit less from “virtual” instruction and more from person-to-person training. For both groups, the lower instructor-to-student ratio seems to deliver better results in training sessions especially those where workers need to be motivated and feel a sense of empowerment from the training.

For training relating to certain skill development, personalized instruction appears to be the most effective. One particular Personalized System of Instruction known as the “Keller Plan” provides small, self-paced sets of instruction accompanied by study guides which direct the students through the various curriculum modules.

Other key variables essential to effective training are:

  • A well-prepared instructor who demonstrates both a command of the subject and the ability to structure the training in a way that engages the students and enables them to learn.
  • The use of informal learning methods such as online study programs or traditional workbooks to accompany formal training,
  • The proper ratio of instructor to student. In large companies, it is believed that individuals serving in the role of Human Resources Development (HRD) or training should be employed at a ratio of 1 HRD staff member per 100 employees.
  • The integration of multi-sensory learning tools which engage more than one of the five senses in training programs through which information is better learned and remembered.

For more information on training, visit the ASTD at www.astd.org.

Jointly Achieving Successful Business

To succeed, businesses must develop their most precious resource – their people. Often, that means being open to their ideas. Here’s how one business leveraged this practice.

The Managing Partner of a medium-sized law firm of 20 attorneys and 50 employees recognized the importance of empowering staff members. He saw opening up the lines of communications as the first step. He interviewed five of the firm’s leading employees, asking each of them, “If you were in charge of the firm, what would be some of your suggestions?”. He thanked them for their input and then presented the suggestions to his executive team (two other senior attorneys). They were unanimous in their selection of what suggestion should be implemented at the firm. The “winning” suggestion was to hold a contest among employees to determine who could refer the most business to the firm in a six-month period. The individual who made this suggestion was rewarded with a $250 gift certificate to his favorite restaurant or store. The other four staff members who provided suggestions were recognized in the firm’s quarterly in-house electronic newsletter and pictured along with the winner. As far as the suggestion’s implementation, the firm asked for a volunteer to track the results of the contest. This individual was recognized in a firm email message as well as in the next company newsletter. As a result of this initiative, the motivation level among employees increased significantly along with their productivity which increased by more than 18%. Considering that there was no incentive for increased productivity, this was an added benefit of the referral suggestion contest. As for new business, the referral contest generated 23 new clients who were expected to yield over $250,000 in annual revenues; a high ROI considering the minimal out-of-pocket costs and the high return of 1,000%. If you factor in the productivity gains, the return was even higher. Total time for the meetings to generate this was less than 20 hours.

With the completion of their first suggestion referral contest in the allotted six months, the second best idea was put into action. In turn, a culture of continuous improvement was created and integrated into the firm’s mission. Today, the firm continues to enjoy steady growth and enhanced performance. The take-away here is that empowerment promotes maximum involvement, commitment and productivity. In addition to benefitting all parties, an organization gains recognition as a great place to work; an employee-centered environment which attracts high caliber, high achievers.

JASB in the News

- JASB Management Inc. President Profiled as Executive of the Month in New York Real Estate Journal

- Newsday’s Small Business Columnist Jamie Herzlich’s column on “Small Business: Soliciting Employee Feedback” featured advice from JASB President Jerry S. Siegel.

- JASB Management Announces Betsy Jacobs, SPHR, GPHR as New Associate

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