Archives for May 2014

A Leader’s Obligation: Deal With Your Employees Mental Freight Train

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One of the more anxious events in someone’s career is enduring a change of control & leadership transition.  People’s fears tend to go sky high when a new Leader takes over, with many thoughts along the lines of:

  • Will I lose my job?

  • Will they bring their own team in?

  • Will they change everything about how I do my job?

  • Will my pay/benefits be cut?

  • Will my quality of life go down/up/sideways?

It’s natural for people to let their mind race, and it may be racing in “packs” as they talk with their co-workers and supervisors.

Change is mandatory in business, but it needs to be managed aggressively.  An employee’s mind can be like a freight train when it starts to run.  A leaders role (and in my opinion, OBLIGATION) is to NOT allow it to become a freight train if it heads in the wrong direction.  It is the leader’s role to tell them….

  • What their leadership principles are (how they manage)

  • What a vision for the future could be.  Make it a better tomorrow than today

  • Start ACTING in accordance with both who you ARE and where you want to GO.  

Last, a novel concept:

Catch people doing something RIGHT.  Not wrong.  Call them in.  Celebrate it.  Make it a habit to recognize the productive behavior.  

Another reason why leaders should do this?  It feels pretty darn good for all those involved.

Recognition injects Oxygen into a culture, something a business can never have too much of.

Catch them doing something right

The Great Production Team of LM Foods, LLC, Celebrating An Everyday Positive Moment

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Excellence in Action: The Hustlin’ Warriors

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One of the hard parts of starting a new challenge in life is a temporary separation of the family, selling a house while buying another one.  Thankfully, I have a very supportive wife, sister, brother in-law and God Daughter in Warren NJ that make this experience enjoyable along the way.

While going for a Saturday walk, I stumbled across something that made my heart “skip a beat.”  The Hustlin’ Warriors baseball field!  Home to Watchung Hills Regional High School Baseball team, the field was just the start.

My favorite word HUSTLE drew me in.  What I was about to see KEPT me there and fascinated me.  

Hustlin Warriors Baseball Watchung Hills NJ

Being around 9:30am on a Saturday I was fortunate to see the 10am start.  I’d rather be lucky than good.

  • First, there’s something about a team that clearly is INTO every single pitch.  Chanting.  Chatter.  Clearly pulling for their teammates.
  • Second:  There’s something special when the team all gets out of the dugout at once to congratulate their teammates successful accomplishment.  Homerun?  NO.  A BUNT!

I have never seen a team celebration of a bunt before in my life, and I played baseball for 12 years and followed it all my life.  Do you think this team is consumed with execution of the fundamentals?  Absolutely.

Next observations:

Bat Boy/Team Manager

  • He was into every pitch.  He was cheering on every player.  Every player ALWAYS had a smile on their face that seemed to be a bit wider when they high fived him.
  • This Team Manager happened to have Down Syndrome.

“It used to be that James Soranno only worked the home games…..Then, Watchung Hills Regional High School head baseball coach Joe Tremarco figured something out.  You don’t take the heart and soul of your team out of the dugout just because you’re not playing at home.”

* Source: Echoes Sentinel posted 5/16

Image Credit: Roger Howell, from “Heart and Soul: Watchung Hills bat boy/team manager a favorite of coaches, players and parents”

One things certain, though. When James eventually does move on, it will leave a big void.

“Because the truth is, I can replace my shortstop,” Tremarco says. “But I can’t replace James.”

*  Source:  Echoes Sentinel posted 5/16

Next, the Voice of the game.

A PA announcer at a high school baseball game is not common.  When you here with GREAT personality and clarity, that is even more rare.  And when that announcer has Cerebral Palsy?  Well, now we are talking VERY rare.

I encourage you to watch the video of Skylar Weisberg’s story…

“If you work hard, if you have a big heart, and if you have a whole lot of spirit, you can make anything happen.  Dreams can come true.”  Skylar Weisberg

The Excellence of the Hustlin’ Warriors is a complete team effort.  But like all great teams, it starts with the Coach.  I do not know Head Coach Joe Tremarco, but I certainly would love too.  He gets more than just baseball fundamentals.  He gets what it takes to create something truly special.  He has found value in hidden places, and created something memorable.  

There are examples of greatness everywhere.  

Hope you find a Hustlin’ Warriors on your next walk.  

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Organizational Culture: Not the First 90 Days, But EVERYDAY

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It has been about 3 weeks since taking over as CEO of LM Foods.  It has been an absolute blast learning the business and developing a strategy for the future.  

What was the most important factor leading up to the acquisition that leaves me in a position of optimism vs. feeling overwhelmed? 

Ditching the Data Room.  Learning from the lions by going to the jungle, not the zoo is always the best crash course. 

In the first 90 days, I have 2 core objectives:

  1. Gain a baseline for where the business is at (“Learning”)
  2. Start the process of building a Strategy.

Strategy can be fancy, complicated and many times…..academic.

Businesses don’t compete in academia, they compete in the real world, so keep it simple.  Strategy is about building a plan to WIN.  In sports, they call it a playbook.

The right Strategy/playbook is important.

Executing the Strategy/playbook is MORE important.

Something that brings Strategy AND Execution to its knees? Culture.

A toxic culture will suck the oxygen out of the business.  A vibrant one will inject it. Cultures don’t happen by chance, they are intentional, whether you pay attention or not.

I’ve always believed in Culture.  After 3 weeks, that belief is put on steroids.  I will expand on the great Peter Drucker’s thought:

Culture eats strategy for breakfast
So while the 2 objectives (Learn & Build a Strategy)……don’t have the word “Culture” in it, there is a reason:

Building a Culture is an everyday, on-going effort, not a point in time “dive in then dive out.”

The life of an Entrepreneur, and a Leader can feel like a roller coaster.

It’s a bit ironic, I personally never liked roller coasters, with a fear of heights, the lack of control and the “whiff” of danger.

I never understood why people pay money for it!  But I love the roller coaster of business.

Business is the driver of this great country.  And when you REALLY get into a business, most would agree that CULTURE is the driver behind any great company.

Building a great culture is not easy.  Nothing great ever is.

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