Archive | April, 2012

Two Lessons from my Personal Hell II: Deliver Superior Performance

8 Apr

Those who read the last post know that I have been going through a personal hell of having worked the past month straight without a day off.

Such is the problem of management.

The two lessons I have gleaned from it, however, are invaluable.  The first lesson is to remain spiritually, emotionally, and physically in shape for what might be a grueling experience.

The second lesson we will discuss today is that you still must deliver quality service, no matter what.

When you take over a new leadership role, especially if you’re not the top dog, you should become intimately familiar with the philosophy of your company.

Burger King promises that the customer will have it his way.

Wendy’s prides itself on quality.

McDonald’s is a production line — delivering prepackaged food at unmatched speed.

Fast food is almost always short staffed, as I am right now.

But guess what?

That’s no excuse for not delivering what your company says it will deliver.  Do not cut corners just because you’re short staffed.

I think a great way to look at this is to set a goal for yourself.  Don’t let anyone that you don’t directly tell find out you are short staffed.  Don’t even let them suspect you’re short staffed.

This means a lot of extra work for you.  This means a lot of delegation to your staff; they will have to learn to juggle multiple jobs effectively.  You will have to be their cheerleader.  And you will have to reward them and celebrate victories or other milestones.

But let your short staffing be as brief as possible.  Plan to solve the situation as quickly as possible, because you will burn out and your team will burn out quickly.

Once the short staff issue is solved, you can celebrate in your own way.  Today, for example, I took my first day off in over a month.  It felt great, and I have many more to look forward to in the near future.  Things are rapidly beginning to look up, and those are the things you and your team should celebrate.

Nobody wants to hear that you can’t do something because of short staffing.

But everyone is wowed when they find out you were short staffed but never batted an eyelash; all of the work still got done and all of the customers left the building happy.

That’s leadership.


Two Lessons from My Personal Hell I: Getting in Shape During the Countdown Period

2 Apr

I’m going through hell right now.

Not the literal hell described in the Bible, just a harrowing gauntlet of which I am a partial architect.

When I took over my new role as director of environmental services for a long-term care facility, I knew that I would have to let some people go.  I planned on one for the short term, but ended up letting four go in less than a month.

So now I’m short staffed, which has led me to working for over three weeks without a day off, beginning week #4 today.

I have learned two lessons from this.  The first is to get in shape.  The second is to deliver superior results and service no matter what.  Let’s turn to the first.

In You’re in Charge — Now What? by James Citrin and Thomas Neff, the authors outline an 8-point plan for having a successful first 100 days in a new leadership role.  The first step is to have a successful countdown period — the time between accepting and starting your new assignment.

One of the things Citrin and Neff discuss is to make sure you are physically ready for the rigors of your new role.  It might seem trite, but if you have to work 20+ days straight, then you will appreciate having taken some time to get in shape.

I have three simple tips for enduring the worst job-related hells.  And mind you, this isn’t the first job-related hell I’ve experienced.  This is just the one I’ve managed to whether the best, and it comes from failing to handle similar situations in the past.

First, have a workout routine.  I still don’t follow this, and it is to my serious detriment.  If I were in better in physical shape, I’d be able to sustain longer hours.  Not for the job, mind you.  My lawn wouldn’t look like an African savannah right now, my house wouldn’t be a toxic disaster area of old McDonald’s wrappers and ancient cans of pop, and when I look up to consider my next sentence I wouldn’t see a nasty black cobweb.

Second, have a hobby or outlet.  My hobbies are reading good books, blogging, and having fun with my kids.

During this time, I have spent time playing with my kids.

I’ve read Dave’s Way by Dave Thomas, and I’m meandering through The Last Patriot by Brad Thor (very overrated writer, but he gets the job done and keeps the pages turning with an engrossing story).

I’ve seriously lapsed on writing, finding myself less-than-inspired.

I’ve maintained two of my three hobbies — dropping out of life just fuels depression.  Staying active in non-work pursuits is very important.

Third, place your hope in a higher authority.  I encourage everyone to find fulfillment in the God of the Universe, father of Jesus Christ and the one described in the Bible.  When people feel connected to something bigger and better than themselves, they experience far more motivation and job satisfaction.  The spiritual dimension is no different — so search for God and become connected.

With these three in play, you will feed your body, mind, and spirit as you manage your current assignment.