Would you notice if anyone fell by the wayside?
One of my favourite books is “Three Men on the Bummel” by Jerome K Jerome. He also wrote the better-known “Three Men in a Boat”. Both have hysterically funny passages concerning the antics of the three men and those connected with them.
One of these antics concerns an episode where one of the men, Harris, and his wife are riding a tandem. He’s on the front. He tells her to “Sit tight,” but unfortunately she hears “Jump off.” She jumps of. He doesn’t realise she has jumped off and cycles on for several miles.
I always thought this was a weak (though funny) story because it would be impossible for the cyclist on the rear to jump off without the cyclist at the front noticing.
How wrong I was.
Falling by the wayside
When we were out visiting our friend in Singapore recently we took a trip out on two hired bikes and a tandem. Initially the tandem was for my daughter and my husband, but that didn’t work too well. So my husband and our friend took on the tandem.
Sadly I didn’t have a video camera available. Our friend was on the front, being the most experienced cyclist. The duo seemed incapable of travel in a straight line, let alone staying on the ample path provided.
But they deserved a medal for staying power. Time after time the bike wobbled and they almost came to a sticky end, but they persevered. Then, on about the 20th attempt at elegance, a small crowd of on-lookers watching curiously, my husband half fell and half jumped off. Just like Harris in the book, our friend continued riding and raced off ahead, leaving my husband standing there more than a little surprised.
We called out and our friend turned back, astonished to note my husband waiting with us.
He had raced off because he honestly thought that the two of them had finally got the hang of it.
How did it happen?
It turns out that when the person at the back of a tandem is out of balance and not pedalling, it’s a lot of work for you at the front. However, when the person on the back is balancing well and pedalling hard, the effort for you on the front is vastly reduced, in fact, it’s rather similar to cycling along with no one on the back.
Have any of your people fallen by the wayside?
It occurred to me that this is not the only place where people can fall by the wayside without being noticed. We often notice those who are causing problems, but perhaps don’t notice those who have disappeared or become invisible.
It’s very easy to assume everything seems to be going smoothly because you haven’t heard otherwise. That’s the way you can occasionally get a nasty surprise. It’s what can happen if you don’t check your bank statements or electricity meter for a few months. By the time you realise there’s a problem; it’s too late.
This is why your car has a warning light to tell you that the oil is low. It saves you checking the oil every month, but gives you enough time to top it up so you don’t overheat the engine.
Set up your warning lights
You need to have the same ‘warning light” systems at work (and at home). The important thing is to have a system that warns you before it’s too late, giving you enough time to resolve any problems.
To make sure you get the information you need, it helps to set up feedback systems. This is just a way of making sure you are getting the feedback you need. It could be anything from checking your meter to checking your bank balance. Sometimes it’s a simple as glancing behind you to make sure the passenger is still on the bike.
How can feedback help you? And how do you set up systems to do it?
Feedback can not only help you to avoid the pitfalls, it can also be a powerful tool to help you improve your results.
To find out how the experts do it; get the recording of my interview with Mel Stephenson. He has taken feedback to new heights and has had phenomenal success doing so. The interview is not called “Double Your Profit” for nothing.
In the interview you will discover:
- How he has reduced his working time to one day a week and his business is still growing
- How he has reduced time spent in meetings
- The unbelievable difference in performance from his team
- The actual figures
And much, much more. Get it now.
Do you want to get old?
In a large study in Newcastle (UK) people over 85 were asked to rate their own health. To the surprise of the researchers 78% rated their health as good, very good or excellent.
Interestingly people who are more optimistic are happier in their old age. You won’t be surprised to learn that exercise and diet play a big part too.
The people who did the study also identified that those who are enjoying their old age have taken actions to help them to do that. In other words, they have an internal locus of control.
Locus of control
Julian Rotter is the research scientist who identified the internal and external locus of control.
If case you are not familiar with your locus of control, it is the belief you have on whether you are a victim of events or if your actions have an impact on the world. It’s the difference between believing that you can be successful by working hard or the belief that have to be lucky to be successful.
In a recent interview, Julian Rotter (94), who still sounds lively and energetic, was asked what the advantages and disadvantages of the two profiles were.
In his view there really is no advantage to having an external locus of control, or believing you are at the mercy of everyone and everything else.
External locus of control
I have seen a lot of this over the years. Often those who are being bullied have an external locus of control. Surprisingly those who bully others in many cases also have an external locus of control, blaming others for their own problems instead of taking responsibility.
You have more control
Those who carried out the study suggest that you have much more control over our life than you think. They suggest that when you retire, you should ask yourself, what is my purpose going to be in the next part of my life?
From their research it turns out that most people of 85 or over are happy. It’s those between 40 and 50 who are the least happy age group. And that made me wonder what you could do about that. Why wait till 85 to be happy?
Taking more control is probably a good start. But before you do that, why not ask yourself the same question: What is my purpose in this part of my life? And then work out what it is you would like to achieve. It will help.
I have been working with business-owners in completely different fields, helping them to set their objectives.
As soon as one of them admitted that his real reason for running his business was so that he could pursue his hobby of sailing, everything fell into place. Up till then he had really been struggling.
Another wanted to raise standards in his field. This is a completely different top-level objective and leads to some very different objectives as you cascade it down.
Both these clients are now much happier, just because they know what they want to achieve and now have a plan to achieve it.
It doesn’t just apply to business owners. Adopting and internal locus of control can affect all areas of your life. Instead of blaming others, it’s always more effective to work out what you can do yourself to improve matters.
The important thing
From the study one of the most important things in how much you enjoy your life is how you respond to issue in life.
“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring.
How to write your objectives and set your goals
Deciding what to do isn’t always easy. Our handy booklet How to Write Objectives That Work will walk you through 55 simple tools and techniques to ensure that you get your objectives right. It’s short and to the point so you can quickly find the help you need.
And of course we’ll show you just what to do with those really difficult objectives that people struggle with.
- The key steps to take to write any objective
- 7 key words and phrases you must avoid when writing objectives and what to do instead
- How to make your objectives SMART
Get “How to Write Objectives That Work” now.
What differentiates quantitative and qualitative objectives?
Here is a question from a Grapevine reader.
I have a question that I feel sure you can help me with and which has troubled me on and off for years. Sometimes I feel that I have squared it away and at other times it comes back with more blurred contours. The question is what differentiates a quantitative and a qualitative objective?
This is indeed a difficult one.
Qualitative vs Quantitative objectives
In my view “quantitative” refers to how much / many of something is produced or achieved. The easiest examples would be:
Produce 1000 widgets by 1st July
Get £30k worth of orders by 1st July
These are generally perceived as being easy to write.
These are also ‘easy’ to measure, as we all know.
Sometimes people think of these as objectives that are measured by getting feedback from others. I am always concerned when people cite measures for objectives as being “feedback from _______”.
It’s about standards
Qualitative objectives are about the standards that need to be met. So they could be things like:
- Ensure all widgets that leave the production line meet the company quality standards.
- Ensure every member of my team has SMART objectives
- Ensure the database is accurate and up to date by the end of every day
- Ensure all customer queries are resolved within 24 hours
An interesting point here that I came across when working with a large number of admin people at a conference was that they wanted a way to differentiate between the junior and senior administrators.
The objectives were similar but there was a difference
It turned out that the objectives were very similar for both groups; the differentiation lay in the quantity. A junior person may book 10 flights a year; a senior person would be doing that many a week or even a day. This showed more efficient and much faster working (whilst still maintaining the quality).
In the case of HR, the objectives are quite tricky. You cannot make people meet the required standards because you are not their manager. You can only provide them with the tools to do it.
So an HR person might have an objective:
Ensure everyone has access to material that enables them to write SMART objectives.
If you are going to use feedback as a measure
When you ask for ‘feedback’ on this objective, you need to ask:
Did the material/training course you had enable you to write SMART objectives? If so, how? If not, what else do you need to help you?
How does differentiating these two types of objectives help?
Lastly I’m not sure there is much point in differentiating between these two kinds of objectives. How does it help?
The important thing is the measure
As long as you can measure the objective, it doesn’t matter if it is ‘quantitative’ or ‘qualitative’ in my view.
As a leader, how do you motivate a failing team?
Here is a great question from a client. It’s about a situation that most leaders have to face at some time or another.
This client has recently taken on a team and is doing very well. Every now and then he comes up with some superb questions. I’m hoping you’ll find this one helpful if you have a team and need to achieve some tough goals.
“How do you behave as a leader when you are failing to achieve your goals?”
The answer is pretty simple. You keep going.
You hold a meeting with your team. This is what you say:
“Our goal is to reach $XXX by ________. I’m sure we can do it, especially given what we have achieved recently (give examples). What we need to do in this meeting is work out our plan of how we are going to achieve it.”
You gather ideas from the team and work out your plan. Then, after the meeting, you work with everyone making sure they get the support that they need in order to achieve their part of the plan.
Monitor the plan
Keep your eye on all the critical steps of the plan, particularly those that look a bit risky.
If something slips
Let’s say, after a couple of weeks, something slips that means you may not reach your goal, here’s what you say in the next meeting:
“So far A, B and C parts of the plan are all on schedule. We have a problem with part D. We have so far achieved _______ and we need to get to _______ by next Friday. What are your ideas on this?” (I would then ask each person individually, especially if it’s a virtual meeting)
As you go round I guarantee you will get lots of ideas.
Make sure you use the word “what”. Don’t say: “Have you any ideas?” This is a completely different question and encourages the answer “No.”
You then say
“What else can we do to catch this up?”
And you will get some more ideas.
Then you say
“Which other parts of the plan are looking a bit tight at this stage?”
You again ask each individual:
“What can we do to make sure we stay on track?”
Repeat this process till your goal is achieved.
Oh yes, and in case you are wondering, it did work for my client. He was quite astonished at how well.
How to Motivate Yourself and Others
Motivating people in these situations isn’t always easy. Our handy booklet How to Motivate Yourself and Others will walk you through 67 tried and tested simple techniques to ensure that you get your motivated and they stay motivated. It’s short and to the point so you can quickly find the help you need.
And of course we’ll show you just what to do with those really negative people who can drag the team down.
- How to find out what motivates individuals
- How to motivate in particularly difficult situations like when you have unpleasant tasks no one wants to do
- What to do if you are faced with negativity
Get How to Motivate Yourself and Others now.