“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” John Fitzgerald Kennedy
Automobiles are a necessary evil. Whenever we have to have our car repaired, it can be quite frustrating. There is such a relief if something is fixed on time and right – the first time.
In other words, what you have is worth keeping. We have been discussing how to retain your employees, helping them to achieve the organizational goals as well as their career growth.
What is your most important asset? Every organization will say it is their people, their team, their associates. What do you do if your assets are not as robust as they should be?
When I first started interviewing, I did not know what questions to ask to recognize a person’s true capabilities. I defaulted to technical questions to understand their skill level. As I developed and gained more experience, I recognized the best questions I could ask the candidate had more to do with problem solving, communication skills and decision making.
Not that long ago, that quote would have only meant you were a Star Wars geek and referencing the two robots in the movies – R2D2 and C-3PO. Now of course it means your Android smart phone. Hopefully nothing is wrong with that!
Everyone knows the “Measure Twice and Cut Once” motto. In other words, plan and prepare in a careful, thorough manner and then take action. Well, we had to learn the hard way more than once!
Our family loves to play all types of games – cards, board games, volley ball, croquet and so on. This summer we have played a good deal of cribbage. It keeps the ‘mental math’ gears going as well as developing the various strategies and approaches. Of course, sometimes it is just about the luck of the cards you are dealt.
Recently, our daughter has become quite the master at creating and canning jam. How did she do that? She took a class, researched the area for the appropriate ingredients and pricing. She also decided she would create jams with the fruits of that season.
I know when I get back to work after a vacation, I have a tough time getting up and running again. There is a backlog of work to catch up on. I miss the carefree schedule of the vacation and being with friends and family.
As the world is watching and praying for the health of Nelson Mandela, there is no question he has inspired many and has demonstrated significant leadership qualities.
This week’s blog is from the Washington Post. It is a thought-provoking summary of the leadership examples of Mandela. The eight lessons that have been widely shared are:
- Courage is not the absence of fear — it’s inspiring others to move beyond it.
- Lead from the front — but don’t leave your base behind.
- Lead from the back — and let others believe they are in front.
- Know your enemy — and learn about his favorite sport.
- Keep your friends close — and your rivals even closer.
- Appearances matter — and remember to smile.
- Nothing is black or white.
- Quitting is leading too.
A few years ago, the movie Invictus was released, sharing a true story of Mandela’s leadership utilizing the World Cup Rugby Competition to unite his country. I was interested in why that title? Mandela frequently read the Invictus poem by William Earnest Henry to maintain his determination while in prison and after. It is an inspiring poem, ending with:
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
What an inspiration and example of what is possible. It makes you pause to reflect and ask what would you have done in similar circumstances.
Clearly Mandela has mastered change management (quite an understatement). As we work through various professional challenges, some of these lessons can be very helpful. We often get stuck on the same track that is comfortable for us. If we take the time to step back and review some of the approaches Mandela used, we might find that a better, stronger solution evolves.
Have you had any examples of using one of the leadership lessons noted above? Were you surprised at the outcome?
Children ask a lot of questions. It is a great way to learn. Often they are ‘why’ questions. When my daughter talked to her grandfather, she almost always started the conversation with “Guess What?”. After a while, that became his nick name for her.
Many organizations are using some situational interview questions in the process. This helps to determine the fit of the candidate, specifically in how they communicate, problem solve and make decisions. Consulting houses have been using this approach for a long time. A classic question was “How much does a 747 airplane weigh?” It was not the answer that mattered but the process and method of communicating that response that was the key.
Similarly, when in your procurement role and working with suppliers, asking questions of them can really help differentiate their capabilities. Charles Dominick of Next Level Purchasing has a blog “Three Supplier Interview Questions that should be included in your discussions with them.
- How will doing business with your company instead of your competitor(s) make my organization more profitable?"
- "What have been the biggest operational challenges that you have faced recently?"
- "What changes do you see in your industry in the next few years and how are you preparing for them?"
One question that I use and find extremely helpful, both in my profession and in personal interactions is “What have I not asked you that I have missed, based on your experiences?” That is always an eye opener and a great way to wrap up the meeting.
Have you used any of these approaches? What technique and questions do you find helpful?
Small businesses begin when we are very young, selling homemade crafts at a yard sale or perhaps a road side lemonade stand. I know we ended up drinking most of our product and making very little profit.
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” - Thomas A. Edison
Notice I did not title this as do you want to SUCCEED like Thomas Edison. Of course we would like to get to the answer on round 1. Most time that does not happen - ever is more like it. If Edison had not taken a chance, and kept at it , would we still be reading by candlelight?
When I read this blog by John Maxwell, Traits of a Successful Failure, I got thinking about procurement applications. How can I take more risks, fail, learn from it and eventually succeed. Perhaps with a different spec, supplier or process.
Maxwell talks about the four traits of a successful failure. I think we can agree that Edison certainly has those characteristics.
1. Optimism. Find the benefit in every bad experience.
2. Responsibility. Change your response to failure by accepting responsibility.
3. Resilience. Say goodbye to yesterday.
4. Initiative. Take action and face your fear.
We do often fall into patterns of work and comfort with various suppliers. However, taking a chance to try something different or offer a new idea is an opportunity to fail like Thomas Edison. And when you succeed, the value and results to you and your organization can be quite significant.
What have you tried differently this month? Did it work? Have you tried a revision and a new approach? Can you describe what your learned?
Surviving in the wilderness is something many of us will never have to experience. Unless you use it as an analogy in our professions which can sometimes fell like we are lost in the forest.
In the Northern Hemisphere, the first day of Spring was 3/21. Sometimes that day feels like everything is waking up and beginning to grow. Other years, there is still snow on the ground and quite chilly.
Our daughter is working on perfecting the recipe for cranberry jam. Some have walnuts, some with various spices and some just the original mixture of sweet and tart. In that quest, she is following the DMIAC problem solving methodology without realizing it.