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Leading a global team April 7, 2009

Posted by rickbron in Bronder On People, Getting what you want, Management, Management Principle, Team basics.
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Do you have to lead global teams? Many companies are expanding globally to take advantage of the basic economics of hiring workers. While some of us may not agree with that strategy, it is widely adopted. It is not the purpose of this entry to discuss the viability of international outsourcing. It is my purpose to give you some tips and techniques on how to be more effective in that environment.

 Some of the most common challenges facing managers and leaders in a global environment are:

  • Staying connected
  • Time differences
  • Alignment or mis-alignment of goals
  • Language
  • Culture differences
  • Expectations of senior management
  • Managing performance

 Not everyone can be successful as a global manager or leader.  Effective global leaders typically have:

  • A willingness to communicate, form relationships with others, and try new things
  • Good cross-cultural communication and language skills
  • Flexibility and open-mindedness about other cultures
  • The ability to determine if a global worker is performing up to expectations

 The principles that guide us in becoming an effective team leader with co-located teams also apply in the global arena. However, the effective global leader is aware of four factors that affect their performance in a global situation.

1.      Pay more attention to time. Things just take longer when you are acting globally. It is sometimes difficult to convince senior management of this concept, but it is true and the global leader must consider it. In addition, the effective global leader understands that not everyone lives in the same time zone.

2.      Have more patience. Since things take longer and people do things differently across the globe, the effective global leader has more patience. I once had a manager tell me, “I know I need to learn more patience. How long will this take?” Learn how to breathe deeply or learn the art of Zen or something to increase your patience. You will need it.

3.      Make effective use of technology. The purveyors of technology are rapidly working to close the global gap. Global leaders have telephone and visual technology available to access people in any part of the world. Learn the technology and use it to help you close the global gap!

4.      Adapt to different cultures. When everyone shares the same building, it is easy to interact culturally. Once you go more than 50 miles, nuances start to creep into the culture. Just imagine the cultural differences when the person is over 5000 miles away. It is the responsibility of the global leader to create a team culture. That culture must not violate any of the cultural taboos of the global community.

 Using these four factors as a foundation, I will be writing a series on leading global teams with emphasis on communicating, building rapport and getting results.  Stay tuned.

Feed the Big Dogz March 21, 2009

Posted by rickbron in Bronder On People, Coaching, Feedback, Fixing performance problems, Getting what you want, Management, Performance issues.
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Do you want to get even more from your top performers? The Big Dogz know that it is very effective to spend your coaching time with the Big Dogz rather than the low performers! However, some managers tend to spend their precious coaching time with the low performers trying to get them to perform at the acceptable level. Although this strategy may sound effective, it does not represent the optimum use of your time and energy. Just where am I supposed to focus? Let’s look at the range of performers you may have to manage, and then map an effective approach to investing your coaching effort with each of those performers.

 

Star performer — this is your go-to person. The star is highly motivated, willing to learn and is ambitious. The star performer is always looking for ways to improve productivity in your team. Normally they are self-starters and need little of your time. Just the kind of person you want on your team.

 

Spend most of your coaching time with this performer. It is effective to schedule very frequent coaching session to develop the contributions of this performer. It would not be an ineffective use of your time to meet with this person 2-3 times per week to provide coaching. Give them effective feedback and provide opportunities for them to develop and contribute. These performers will take up more than 50 % of your coaching time and effort. Coaching this performer will most likely stretch your coaching skills to the highest level and you will grow in your capability to coach. So, there is some personal benefit for you by spending time and energy with this performer.

 

 

Rising star performer — this performer is also highly motivated, willing to learn and ambitious. What makes this performer different from the star performer is the level of skill and experience. They really want to do whatever it takes; they just need some guidance. The rising star has some ideas about how things could be better, but is reluctant to come forward. And, by the way, this person will seldom ask you for help. Having performers like this on your team is an opportunity waiting to be developed.

 

This performer is your next highest ROI (Return On Investment) for using your coaching time. Encourage them to come to you for advice and support. Meet with them as often as you can; at least once per week. Have a detailed agenda on what topics you will coach this performer. Use a consistent coaching model to have them perform self-reflection on the coaching focus areas. Identify learning opportunities for them and provide encouragement. Look for opportunities to pair them with a star performer on a team activity. These performers are generally the easiest to coach. They want to learn and be successful.

 

 

Solid performer — this performer is motivated, somewhat willing to learn and is not overly ambitious. The solid performer is a person you can count upon to deliver quality work in a reasonable time. The solid performer has the process figured out and will accomplish what needs to be done. They do not feel it is their responsibility to make changes to the work process. However, they always have ideas on how things can be done more effectively. You can count on them to deliver what they say they will deliver. Having people like this on your team can allow you the opportunity to develop the stars and rising stars.

 

These performers are not necessarily interested in making larger contributions, nor are they slackers. They may have other higher priorities in their lives. Meet with them on a regular basis, perhaps 2-3 times per month to discuss development activities.

 

This performer is a good source of ideas for development opportunities for your stars and rising stars. The solid performer sees things that could be changed or improved, but is not motivated sufficiently to actually make the changes.

 

Some mangers try to convince the solid performer to make the effort to become a rising star. I know this because I was one of those managers! Do not take this approach. It will just irritate the solid performer and frustrate you. If the performer does express an interest in raising the performance level, be sure to take advantage of the opportunity. Often management has neglected and taken the solid performer for granted. Value the solid performer and appreciate their contributions. This performer is usually self managed and will allow you time to coach the stars and rising stars.

 

 

Struggling performer — this performer is not well motivated, wants things done the way they have always been done and is not ambitious. The quality of their work is low and it takes them longer than the performers above to get something done. They complain about the process of getting work done and have many excuses why they are not able to perform. They often give the appearance of “trying hard”. Having a struggling performer on your team is a major drain on you and the other members of your team.

 

This performer may have been mis-managed in their career. Probably, this performer is frustrated in their job. For almost every situation, they will explain to you why they cannot be successful. It is always someone else’s fault. Helping a struggling performer to become a solid performer is hard work and one of the most difficult coaching tasks. If you are not successful, then move them out of your team. Do not invest in regular coaching session with this performer. Effective coaches use a one time coaching approach to help the performer improve. The first step in this coaching process is to determine the source of the performance problem. Is it ability or motivation?

 

To find out if it is ability, ask the struggling performer what they are doing to accomplish their work. If they obviously do not know how to do it, then arrange for a development opportunity for them to acquire the skill. Monitor this process closely to insure the person has the opportunity to acquire the skills necessary. The time allocated to this activity will be in the 30-60 day window. If they cannot acquire the skills, then you will have to move them into a position where they can be successful or move them out of the business.

 

To find out if it is motivation, ask them how they feel about working in your team. If they have the ability to do the job, why aren’t they doing it? What motivates them? If you can, set up an environment where they will receive the motivation they need. If this is not possible, then you clearly state the consequences of poor performance. In most situations, you would put them on a 30-60 performance improvement plan. Work with your HR professional to help you meet statutory requirements.

 

Coaching the struggling performer takes a great deal of time and is best limited to a one-time effort on your part to help this performer improve. When you are successful in moving them to the solid performer category, treat them like any other solid performer in terms of your coaching time and effort. Many struggling performers are stuck in this category because of poor management and coaching. By paying attention and holding them accountable, you may experience one of the most positive outcomes of this type of coaching engagement. You have a high probability of helping this performer skip the solid performer category and vault to be a rising star!

 

Unsatisfactory performer — this performer is not only personally un-motivated, but is a demotivator for others on your team. Their work products are often incomplete and of poor quality. It is amazing how these people continue to be on the payroll. They show up late, leave early and complain about everything. Having a performer like this on your team makes more work for everyone else and drains your personal power for not handling the situation.

 

This performer has moved from being a struggling performer to a performer who has given up! You may have worked with this performer and they have not responded. They are most likely not skilled enough for the position and have a poor attitude about the job. Usually, when you inform the unsatisfactory performer of their status, they will make an effort to improve. However, this effort does not last, nor is it sufficient. In most cases, unsatisfactory performers lack the ability to do the job. This lack of skill is serious. A reasonable skill development activity cannot overcome this deficiency. The unsatisfactory performer is most likely suited somewhere else.

 

Coaching this performer is also a one-time activity and is usually a much shorter engagement than coaching the struggling performer. Get your HR professional involved because your objective is to get this person out of your team and into the job or profession that suits them.

 

Where are you spending your coaching resource? Are you getting the most effective ROI on your investment of time and energy?

 

Take a quick inventory of how you are spending your coaching time. For the next 25 business days, take a couple of minutes at the end of each day and answer these questions:

 

Whom did I coach today?

How much time did I spend on that coaching engagement?

(Be sure to include any preparation time you spent)

What result did I get?

 

After the 25 days, you will be seeing more improved results with your coaching investments! Remember, feed the Big Dogz.

 

 

Tips to survive a layoff February 3, 2009

Posted by rickbron in Bronder On People, business strategy, Confidence, Dealing with change, Getting what you want, Performance issues.
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Are you worried about your job? The Big Dogz know that sometimes it is just a matter of the economy, but you can take steps to improve your chances of keeping your job. Of course, you need to be a good performer to be considered a “keeper”.  When it comes time to decide who stays and who goes, here are some strategies that can help you keep your job.

 

Pay attention to the small stuff

It may not seem important that you get to work a little earlier or stay a little later than others, but your boss will notice it. Look for opportunities to make observations at meetings — observations that add value. Keep the boss thinking about how much value you add. If you have been delivery near perfect results, focus on that last little bit to make your deliverables perfect. Anticipate questions before you talk to the boss. It is much more powerful to have an answer than to say you have to check it out.

 

Be a financial resource

In these tough times, the focus is on money. How do we make more of it and how do we spend less of it. When you are the employee making suggestions on how to reduce costs or to generate more revenue, management views you as a team player that is part of the solution; not someone we need to layoff. Look around you. Where is the waste? Where can we do it cheaper? What new markets can we go into? Once you identify some money, let the boss know the opportunity, the result and the process for doing it. It is even better if you present the results already implemented!

 

Display a positive attitude

Things are tough; everyone is depressed. Nobody likes depressed. Start looking at the positives around you. Frame problems as opportunities. Provide creative solutions to those opportunities. When faced with a difficult challenge, respond with what you can do, not with what you cannot do. Focus on associating with positive people; avoid the negative folks. When people start complaining, find a reason to go somewhere else. I am not suggesting you be Captain Sunshine or Pollyanna, but be a positive force. You will find others associating with you. People will follow your lead. The boss will notice it!

 

Pump up your skills and credentials

Now is the time to take that evening course or to get certified in your profession. If you have some special knowledge, prepare a short presentation and invite people to a lunch time session to share your knowledge. Create a “best practices” group with your peers. If you work in a global company, learn a second language so that you become more valuable. If you have skills that are not normally used on your job, offer to use these skills at work. If you are the treasurer of the local PTO, then you could help your manager with the budget. The more skills you have, the more valuable you are to the boss.

 

Expand your job

Management is asking everyone to do more. This situation is an opportunity for you. Not only do you want to take on more responsibility when asked, you want to look for opportunities where you can take on more responsibility. Especially important are those critical functions that no one else wants to do. However, management will notice any activity that you perform outside of your responsibility.

 

Take credit

You can do all of these things, but if nobody notices, you are just like everyone else! Let management know you are taking action to increase your value. Let them know you are taking evening classes to sharpen your skills. Too often, we feel it is immodest to take credit. Taking credit can be the difference between having a job and looking for a job.

 

The Big Dogz assume a proactive role in keeping their job. You can also. If you have any other tips to help keep your job, please send them to me and I will publish them here.

 

rbronder@gmail.com

 

Principle of organizational memory January 13, 2009

Posted by rickbron in Bronder On People, Decison making, Getting what you want, Grow your skills, Handling hot buttons, Management, Management Principle, Managing up.
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Does it irritate you when senior management reserves the best parking spots for themselves? How about when the executive have their own dining room, or when they travel, they travel first class. The Big Dogz do not like these irritants any more than you do — they ignore them for now. As the Big Dogz build their personal power and acquire more position power, they remember what it was like to be in the trenches. The Big Dogz apply the principle of organizational memory!

 

It is not effective to complain or fret about senior management actions or attitudes. These actions are not within your circle of control — you cannot change them. The Big Dogz capture the irritants in an ongoing file called “Things I will not do when I get to be a senior manager.” It is not the place of the Big Dogz to publicly criticize or critique senior management behavior. If you are asked for feedback or your offer of feedback is accepted, then you may give your observation. Otherwise, make an entry into your file. When you get to that level, review your file and make sure you are not doing those actions.

 

Many times, the average manager will automatically adopt the behaviors of their predecessors. Well, the VP of Development gets to park in this spot, so I may as well do it. I deserve it! I am flying on that business trip with two of my people. They are in coach and I am in first class. I deserve it! What these managers do not recognize is that the things that irritate them also irritate others. Why do something that irritates your followers and reduces your personal power? One of the first tasks you undertake when you are promoted is to evaluate what your predecessor did that irritated you. Then decide if you will continue or eliminate the practice. But first, you need to be promoted. You get promoted by managing power.

 

I have talked about how to get power in previous entries, but here is a quick review. First, you get personal power, and then because you are more effective than your peers are, you are promoted to a job that has position power. You use this position power to access more potential personal power. This new personal power gets you more position power – and it is a growing spiral.

 

Here are some examples of applying the principle of organizational memory:

 

  • Management planning meetings are held offsite at a nice place and include lunch or dinner. Key project planning meetings are held in the big conference room and everybody gets their own lunch. The Big Dogz will make sure that moving management meetings off site are really required. They will select key project planning meetings to be held offsite.

 

  • Senior management waits until the last minute to make change announcements, and then they expect a quick implementation. The Big Dogz know that sometimes this is unavoidable for solid business reasons. Most of the time it is not! When you get to be the senior manager, you will include as many people as early as possible in your decision-making.

 

 A classic example of organizational memory is the response of General Norman Schwarzkopf in the 60 Minutes interview during Desert Shield. He talked about how when he was a battalion commander in Vietnam, the generals were in the rear eating off white tablecloths and being served by soldiers. His response was “That’s not going to happen in my command. It better not happen!”

 

Not all us have the opportunity to have such clear irritants. For sure, you experience actions and attitudes that irritate you. I think this situation is quite widespread in the corporate world, but I need data to support that assumption. I have a request of you.

 

Please send me your observations about something senior management does that is irritating. In this economy, there is an abundance of examples. If you could state what they did and how you would do it differently, it would be useful for everyone.

 

When I get a large enough number of these responses, I will summarize and post them here. I will also send you an email alerting you to the posting so you can see how others are applying this principle along with a file containing the responses. I promise to scrub them so the source is not identified.  Having current real world examples can really reinforce this principle and give the Big Dogz suggestions on what to do in their organizations. Please take the time to be heard.

 

rbonder@gmail.com

Manage your manager for more effectiveness November 28, 2008

Posted by rickbron in Bronder On People, Getting what you want, Management, Managing up, Relationship, Uncategorized.
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p5130012.jpg After you, the most important person to your success is your manager. The Big Dogz know that having a good relationship with your manager is a key to harmonious, stress free and highly productive days. Let’s look at one of the elements essential to your relationship with your manager.

 

Know them as a person.

  1. What are their professional goals? Your manager is managing other managers or people. What are they doing? How can you help? Be on the lookout for opportunities that can help your manager in areas other than your assigned responsibilities.
  2. What are your manager’s strengths and areas for improvement? Give your manager an opportunity to help you by utilizing a strength they have. Look for opportunities to provide services in areas where your manager needs improvement. A personal example of this was my own weakness in doing budgets. I really appreciated when one of my direct reports would volunteer to do this odious task for me.
  3. How does your manager like to communicate? Are they a visual person, do they like lists, charts, graphs or text? Are they email oriented or do they appreciate face-to-face interactions? Do they like lots of detail or prefer summary information? Find out how they like to communicate, and then communicate that way. Just being aware of your manager’s communication will make your relationship stronger.
  4. What questions does your manager ask? We have discussed the customized “need to know” profile for your people. This concept also applies to your manager. Whenever your manager asks you a question, write it down. When you do this over a short period of time, you will see a pattern with the topic your manager is interested in. now use that topic as the lead in to your communication with your manager.
  5. When does your manager perform most effectively? Some people are morning people; others are afternoon or evening people. Watch your manager for signs that give away when they are most effective. Optimize your engagements around these times. It is an excellent time to ask for coaching — they will be at peak performance. This knowledge also lets you avoid times when your manager is not as receptive.
  6. What irritates your manager? We all give off signals when we are irritated. Observe your managers reactions when you or others deliver news. When you have news that may irritate your manager, frame it around some particular goal they may have. Wait until they are at peak performance to deliver the news. Be on the look out for ways to circumvent these types of events.
  7. What pleases your manager? This is the opposite of above. Being the bearer of good news has its value.
  8. What kind of solutions do they like? Whenever you need to approach your manager with a problem, always provide a suggested solution. I always tried to come up with three possible alternatives and a recommendation. Coming to your manager with no solutions is worse than coming with wrong solutions. Your manager may prefer solving problems with money, or people, or reduction in scope or whatever. Pay attention to the solutions your manager proposes or accepts. Recommend these types of solutions to problems.
  9. What are your manager’s personal interests? People like to talk about what interests them. Your manager is no exception. Find out in daily conversations what their hobbies are, what sports teams they like, what shows they watch on TV, and any other personal information you can. The best way to get this kind of information about people is to tell them something about yourself first, and they will generally tell you something about themselves.

 

The Big Dogz know that paying attention to your manager as a person yields high dividends. Make a plan on how you will get to know more about your manager, and how you will use that information to be more effective.

Exercising control November 14, 2008

Posted by rickbron in Achieving goals, Bronder On People, Getting what you want, Management, Performance issues, Self reflection.
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p5130012.jpg  It is difficult to be in charge. There are responsibilities and pressures to control. The Big Dogz know that if we push the control lever too far we become Domineering and the result is reduced productivity, increased costs and more stress. On the other hand, if we do not control what is going on, we will often fail to accomplish our goals.

 

I propose we look at two ends of the control continuum — Domineering and Dominant.  These words mean different things to different people, so I want to make this distinction for this discussion:

 

Domineering means pushing your personal agenda and wanting to control every action of others.

 

Dominant means exercising influence or control, usually through leadership.

 

Domineering managers rarely succeed. Of course, there are exceptions to this statement, but in general, if you use a Domineering style, you will always achieve less. What are some of the signs that you may be a Domineering manager?

 

  1. You are working excessive hours.
  2. You personally do the most critical jobs.
  3. You have frequent stressful conflicts (outbursts) during the day.
  4. You use micro-management as a way to make sure things get done.
  5. Morale in your group is low.
  6. You believe your people are “not up to the challenge.”
  7. You have to make all the decisions.

 

You get the picture. There are many things going wrong. There are only a few people you can count on to help you achieve your goals.

 

Dominant managers rarely fail! Again, there are exceptions to this statement, but in general, if you use a Dominant style, you will always achieve more. Besides the opposite of the Domineering manager signs, what are some other signs you may be a Dominant manager?

 

  1. People give you feedback on your performance as the manager.
  2. Your people are getting awards, recognition and promotions.
  3. People in your department are proactive in solving problems.
  4. People make suggestions to you on how the department can be more efficient or effective.
  5. Your people know exactly what result you expect of them.
  6. People are exercising creativity in developing processes that are streamlined.
  7. There is a waiting list of people wanting to join your department.

 

You get the picture. There are many things going right. There are many people you can count on to help you achieve your goals.

 

The signs are clear. The choice is yours.

 

Sometimes we do not achieve the results we want and we find someone or something to excuse it away. The problem may be in your style. I have created an assessment to help you determine if you are more Domineering or more Dominant. Please download it and take it yourself, then get three people to validate your self-assessment.

 

When you have a validated assessment, use it to create an action plan on how you can be more effective as a manager. If you send me your action plan, I will include your actions into a future blog on how to become a more Dominant manager.

 

rbronder@gmail.com

 

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Inaction breeds poor behaviors August 14, 2008

Posted by rickbron in Bronder On People, Changing behavior, Diagnosing performance problems, Effective meetings, Feedback, Getting what you want, Management, Management Principle, Performance issues.
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p5130012.jpg  Are people consistently violating your policies? The Big Dogz know that it could be caused by inaction. This is the principle the Big Dogz follow:

 

If you allow it, you encourage it!

 

Here is an example of allowing a behavior, resulting in encouragement. Let’s say you make an announcement that all team members will be in attendance and ready to participate at the scheduled start of team meetings. Rick casually strolls in 3 minutes late. You do not want to appear inflexible, tyrannical or picky, so you let it go. You have just sent the message to all the people who were on time, that it is OK to be late. You can be sure others will be late the next meeting and the degree of lateness will increase.

 

Overlooking an infraction because it is minor or because you don’t want to ruffle feathers is a sure fire way of seeing that action more frequently. This principle does not require you to make a big deal of the situation or to mete out Draconian punishment. A gentle reminder to the person that the behavior is not appropriate will work. Say something like this, “Rick, please make an effort to be on time to our meetings.” Don’t get into an argument about justification. If need be, have a conversation about his lateness outside the meeting.

 

If the reminder does not work, then you will need to escalate your actions. Most of time, people do not want to violate your policies. Give them the opportunity to learn! If you do not take action on this policy, people will start to think you are not serious about your other policies. Now, you can get into some serious trouble!

 

In the One Minute Manager, Ken Blanchard talks about “Catching them doing something right.” That concept applies doubly in this situation. First, we want to catch them when an infraction occurs. Bring it to their attention, publicly if appropriate. Encourage them to behave in the way you want. When you see them make an effort to adhere to your policies, take the time to thank them. In the above scenario, I might give Rick a compliment for making the effort to be on time. At the next meeting, he is there, on time and ready to go. I would walk by him and in a low voice say “Thanks for being on time.” Again, no need to make a big deal of it since it may embarrass him.

 

Whatever actions you allow on your team, the more of those actions you can expect to see. Over the next 30 days, look around at your team and decide what actions you want to reduce or eliminate. Now start holding people accountable in a firm supportive way. The Big Dogz know you will see a significant improvement.

 

Please let me know how this suggestion has worked for you.

Get what you want April 4, 2008

Posted by rickbron in Achieving goals, Getting what you want, Keeping Organized, Uncategorized.
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p5130012.jpg  How would you like to get what you want? The Big Dogz know how to do that. They use a three step model to get what they want.

 

If you look at successful people, you can see some common characteristics like passion, vision, persistence, courage and preparation. Regardless of the characteristics you acquire or even demonstrate; there are three steps that you must follow if you want to get what you want.

 

1. Have a plan

Clearly articulating what you want and how to get it is the key step. Whenever I get the opportunity to speak in front of a group, I always ask them “Who knows what they want out of life?’ Almost every hand goes up. “How many of you know how to get that?” generally results in all the hands dropping. If you don’t know how to get what you want, talk with people who have already gotten it! Do what they did.

 

The more clearly you can define want you want, the more likely you are to get it. Use all your senses to visualize it. What will it look like? How will I feel when I get it? How will it sound when people tell me about it? Next identify what steps are necessary to get what you want.

 

2. Write it down

Keeping your plan in your head is a surefire way to lose focus. By documenting your plan, you reinforce the acquiring of your goals through the physical act of writing. Using a keyboard is almost as effective, but not as powerful. Doing both seems to add to the probability of achieving your goals.

 

The more detailed your plan and action scenarios, the more powerful they become. Be specific in what you will do, when you will do it and how it will benefit you. Review this document with a trusted advisor. Get and incorporate suggestions on how to get what you want.

 

3. Review your plan at least quarterly

Hold a quarterly status meeting where you review what you have accomplished. Check your goals to make sure you still want them. Modify action plans to direct your energy towards your goals. Here are three questions you might want to ask yourself at these status meetings:

 

  • What have I accomplished since my last status update?
  • What do I plan on accomplishing before the next status update?
  • What challenges am I facing and what am I doing about them?

 

If you are not making sufficient progress, set up more frequent reviews. After each review, rewrite your goals and action plans to reinforce your commitment to achieving them. Either physically write them or keyboard them into a computer. Using Copy and Paste is not effective!

 

This sounds like a lot of work. It is! The Big Dogz know that if they follow these three steps they can have anything they want.

 

Over the next 30 days, start to put together your goals and written plans. Set up a status meeting for 30 days and hold yourself accountable.