jump to navigation

Instant messaging best practices for the global team leader May 12, 2009

Posted by rickbron in Bronder On People, Communication, Global communication, Global leadership, Grow your skills, Leading globally, Management, Networking, Uncategorized.
Tags: , , , , ,
add a comment

When the message is urgent and simple, the Big Dogz use Instant Messaging (IM) to communicate.

 Some of the advantages of using IM are:

  1. It is quick, saving time that can be used for other tasks
  2. Using an IM option, you can save the conversation for later referral. This feature eliminates the need to call someone back and ask the same question again!
  3. It allows people to work on important tasks while waiting for an important asynchronous interrupt from colleagues or clients.
  4. If a person is busy working on that high priority project you want done NOW, others know to leave that person alone.
  5. It allows you to communicate immediately to everyone at once.
  6. Studies have shown that when IM is used, email traffic goes down; sometimes significantly.

 Here are some tips to using IM to help communicate with your global team.

 Define a policy for IM use. You as the leader can establish guidelines on how and when the global team will use IM. However, do not be so inflexible that your people think you are inhibiting their creativity. Periodically review your policy to make sure you are getting maximum advantage of IM. A good starter policy is to use IM for quick information about project status, meeting times or if a person is available.

 IM should never be used to transmit confidential or sensitive information. This type of communication is high on the interpersonal scale and the complexity scale. Face to face communication is the most effective followed by the telephone call.

 Create criteria for people to be added to “buddy” lists. Separate business contacts from personal, clients from team members, etc. to avoid the possible conflict of interest in an IM situation.

 Make you team aware that all IM conversations will be recorded to facilitate archiving of essential information.  IM is not to be used to disparage others or to complain.

 If you decide to use the file attachment feature of IM, make sure you have the appropriate security measures in place. If you do not understand this comment, check with your IT support group before you attempt to allow file attachment. Failure to follow this tip could result in serious damage to your team.

 Depending upon the IM software you use, there is some exposure to non-intended people seeing your IM’s. Include in your policy a prohibition of using IM to send phone numbers, passwords or other sensitive information.

 Keep IM communication short. IM is an effective communication technology for urgent and simple information. If an IM session becomes more complicated, move it to another communication technology up the scale. A conference call would be an effective choice. With the communication technology awareness of today’s global worker, a virtual meeting might be even more effective.

 IM can be an effective way to set up a discussion or a phone call. A global team leader (GTL) in one of my workshops gave this tip about using IM to communicate with a global team member (GTM) about a complex issue. Here is the IM conversation:

GTL: Are you there?

GTM: Yes

GTL: Do you have 10 minutes to discuss “complex issue?”

GTM: Not just now, how about at 1030?

GTL: Great, I will call you at 1030

GTM: OK

It is simple and it is really effective. Using an IM in this manner demonstrates respect for peoples’ time and still communicates the urgency of the situation.

 One of the most effective features of IM is the ability to set your status to “busy” or “not available”. When you send an IM and get one of these responses, leave a short message stating your purpose and when you need a response. When you can not be interrupted, set your presence indicators accordingly. When you do become available, reset your indicator.

 Always check to see if someone has the time to chat with you. If they don’t, respect that judgment and make an appointment.

 When you are engaged in an IM session, give the other person(s) an opportunity to respond. This conversation is just like a face to face conversation; people need time to process your requests.

 Use proper English. IM has spawned a whole new language complete with emoticons, abbreviations and jargon. This is fine when communicating with friends but is not effective in a business environment. Of course, the use of common terms within your global team is appropriate and can facilitate quicker communication.

 I ran across an excellent article on using IM. The article is written by Stowe Boyd and is useful for the novice as well as the expert IM user. It is worth a read:

 http://www.stoweboyd.com/message/files/EIM.pdf

 The Big Dogz know that with the global distribution of team members, global team leaders need to take advantage of fast and effective communication technology like Instant Messaging.

 What are some of your tips for using IM? What things do people do with IM that drive you nuts? Please respond to this post or send me and email at rbronder@gmail.com

Voice mail best practices for the global leader May 7, 2009

Posted by rickbron in Communication, Global communication, Global leadership, Grow your skills, Leading globally.
Tags: , ,
add a comment

 

 

 

 

The next communications technology we will examine is voice mail. The Big Dogz know to use voice mail when the content is simple and we want to impart some interpersonal component like tone to communicate not just the information, but perhaps a sense of urgency with tone.

 

Here are some best practices around leaving voice mail:

 

  • Plan your call

Most of the time when we call people, we get voice mail. When leaving a voice mail, you want to sound professional. Before you make that call, sketch out what you will say. I recommend you actually practice your message before making the call. Once you get voicemail, you have a short outline and will leave a professional sounding voice mail. If you get the person, you now have an outline of the discussion.

  • Always leave your name and number even if this is a person you leave voice mail on a daily basis.
  • Keep your messages short
  • If you want the person to take action, give them enough information so they do not need to call you
  • If you can not leave a short message, leave a message for them to call you.
  • Speak in a pleasant voice; smiling can make a big difference.
  • Speak slowly and clearly; having to replay voice mails to understand you is irritating!
  • When you are leaving important information, lead with “Here is the information about the new client.” Then pause to allow the person to get something to capture the information.
  • Some voice mail systems will let you replay the message you want to leave. If you are fortunate to encounter this feature, by all means use it. Sometimes we are not aware of the message our tone or language is sending. If your message is not what you want to send, erase it and leave a different message.

 

Here are some tips for your voice mail greeting:

 

  • Keep your greeting short, simple and informative
  • Include your name or function.
  • Let the caller know that if you are out of the office , who they should call
  • Let the caller know when you will return calls. I will get back to you as soon as possible is not as effective as I will return your call within one business day.
  • Some people advise updating your voicemail message daily. I recommend a general greeting that applies everyday. There is an advantage to updating your message every day because it lets people know you are at business that day. Consider the options and choose what works for you.
  • If your voice mail technology permits it, give the caller an early opportunity to skip to the beep.

 

Finally, some tips about processing voice mail:

 

  • Set aside a specific time each day to empty your voice mail
  • Take advantage of technology that will send you an email alert when you get a voice mail
  • Having a voice mail inbox that is full, really irritates someone trying to reach you

E-mail best practices for the global leader April 22, 2009

Posted by rickbron in Bronder On People, Communication, Global communication, Global leadership, Grow your skills, Leading globally.
Tags: , , , , , , , ,
add a comment

 

 

 

 

The Big Dogz match their choice of communication technology to the degree of interpersonal interaction required coupled with complexity of the topic. I discussed the technology choices in my last entry. This entry looks at some best practices for using E-mail.

 

·        Keep it short, no more that 1 scroll for the receiver. If you need more than that, it is probably too complex to use e-mail. Try a phone call instead.

·        Try putting your entire message on the subject line.

·        Use tags on the subject line.

 

Action: when you want the recipient to take action

 

Response: when you are responding to a request from the recipient

 

FYI (H,M,L): when you are just giving information to the recipient

 

It is amazing. When you start using these tags to send email to others, they will start using the same tags with you.

 

·        Use the subject line to get the attention of the reader without being melodramatic.

·        Consider the guideline “One e-mail, one topic.” It makes it easier for the recipient to focus.

·        If you are asking for information, leave a space between each request. The recipient can put the answer in the space. Make it easy for them to respond.

·        Use shared websites for large files. Sending large attachments clog the network. Just include the link.

·        Forget the background scenery. It just irritates most people.

·        Never send an email when you are emotional! Write your response and store it in the Draft folder for later reading. Once you have calmed down, read the email from the perspective of the receiver. A good technique is to read the e-mail aloud to make sure it is not threatening. In more sensitive situations, have a colleague read the e-mail and give you feedback. Make changes and then send.

·        Using caps, colors and other fonts can help the recipient focus on what is important. Be careful of over doing it.

·        If you are seeking information, use pre-defined forms to make it easy for the recipient to give you the information.

·        Run spell check. Look for other non-spelling errors like the use of form when you mean from.

·        Use cc and bcc sparingly. Make sure every person cc’d needs to be aware of the information. If you are using bcc too much, it may be a sign that you need to talk to the person.

·        Use “Reply all” only when everyone needs to see your response.

·        Stay out of flame wars. If you are the target, use the telephone to handle the situation.

·        If you send two emails on the same subject and the recipient still does not understand, make an appointment to talk to them

·        Using sarcasm in an e-mail will always get you into trouble. Sometimes we feel we are being cute with sarcasm, but the recipient does not think we are being sarcastic. They think we really mean it.

·        Never put anything in an e-mail that you would not want read in a court of law. For some of us, this also means never put anything in an email that you would not read in front of your mother!

 

I have special tip I want to share for those who communicate with people who have English as a second language. Try to keep your vocabulary and content at the eighth grade level or lower. For those of you in the USA and most of Europe, this means 13-14 year olds. Now, the vocabulary of a native English speaking 13-14 year old is very impressive. I am not suggesting you speak like a 13-14 year old; just use that level vocabulary. Here is how you can check the grade level of your e-mail to your global team members with ESL.

 

1.      Copy your e-mail and paste it into Word.

2.      Click on Tools

3.      Click Options

4.      Click Spelling & Grammar

5.      Click the box next to Show Readability Statistics

6.      Click OK

7.      Run spell check

 

At the end of the spell check, you will get a report of the readability level of the content. If you copy and paste this entry into Word, you will see I have written it at grade level 6.2.

 

To customize your readability to each global team member, run the readability statistics report for e-mails they send to you. You can improve the effectiveness your e-mail by using English at the same readability level.

 

If you have any tips or techniques for communicating more effectively using e-mail, please send me an e-mail (rbronder@gmail.com) with your tip.

 

Next, I will be looking at some best practices for communicating with voice mail.

 

Improving Your Memory April 2, 2009

Posted by David Dirks in Fixing performance problems, Grow your skills, Work/Life Balance.
Tags: , , ,
add a comment

David DirksAs I scanned my emails today, I found this piece on improving your memory.  I could use that as I’m sometimes moving as fast as the speed of light and invariably I’ll forget something along the way.  Sometimes its a small thing and sometimes it’s something more significant.  So when I caught this, I thought I’d pass it on to you too.  It’s provided by neuroscience researcher Mark Underwood.

Suffering from C.R.S. (Can’t Remember Stuff)?
5 Tips for Memory Fitness

While millions of us have resolved to make 2009 the year for getting our bodies into better shape, an expert on neurological fitness suggests we also make this the year to get our minds into tip-top condition.

“With Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases now starting to affect adults in their 30’s, it’s never too early to begin a simple program geared to maintain brain health and stimulate cognitive function,” says neuroscience researcher Mark Underwood.

Underwood says many researchers now believe brain health and memory can be positively influenced by simple things we can do physically, mentally, and nutritionally:

1. Stay physically active. Regular activity, not necessarily planned exercise, seems to relate to brain fitness. Activities like gardening, dancing and cleaning could increase chances of maintaining brain health.

2. Challenge your brain. Calculate, do word search games and crossword puzzles, and go to lectures, concerts and museums.  Learn a foreign language or how to play a musical instrument.

3. Stay socially active. People who are active in clubs and social networks may hold up better cognitively than those who are less socially active.

4. Feed your brain. The brain and nervous system are comprised of 60 percent fat, so ensure your diet is rich in the Omega 3 essential fatty acids found in coldwater fish, fish oil, and flax oil.  Google “brain foods” on the computer and try a few.

5. Lower brain calcium levels with supplements. Proper levels of calcium within the neurons are required for optimum brain function.  As we reach middle age, brain calcium levels begin to rise because our bodies stop producing a protein responsible for regulating calcium concentration within the cells.

“Too much calcium in a neuron will ‘short circuit’ it and it stops working,” says Underwood.

“When millions and millions of neurons become over-calcified and stop working, an individual can feel blank, forgetful, slow-witted, and begin to experience symptoms sometimes associated with diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.”

ABOUT MARK UNDERWOOD
Mark Underwood is neuroscience researcher and co-founder and president of Quincy Bioscience in Madison, Wisconsin.  Mark is responsible for researching the “calcium binding protein” found in jellyfish and developing it for use as a calcium regulator in the human nervous system. He is the author of the book “Gift from the Sea.”

An expensive lesson March 28, 2009

Posted by rickbron in Bronder On People, Fixing performance problems, Grow your skills, Keeping Your Customers, Performance issues.
Tags: , , , , , , , ,
1 comment so far

p5130012.jpg

You do not want to do this! This story is definitely not a Big Dogz story — it is about a learning opportunity I personally experienced. I hope you will learn from my mistake.

 

A client gave me an opportunity to lead a two-day workshop in the UK. This was an important engagement for me since this was my first workshop for this company and there was the possibility that I would get more work with them if I did well. I worked hard to prepare for this engagement. I created a couple of new exercises that I thought would add significant value to the experience. I felt well prepared and confident of success. The results were disastrous from my perspective.

 

About an hour into the first day, I was debriefing the opening exercise — having the participants introduce themselves and identify the top three challenges facing them in this topic area. One of the participants noted that in his group people were trying to solve the challenges instead of performing the assigned task of identifying the challenges, He noted this behavior detracted from the effectiveness of the group. This is where I started to get into trouble!

 

My response to his observation was a flip “Yes, that is one of the things about you Brits that irritate us.” Now why I would say such an idiotic thing is beyond me. It must have been the result of a dysfunctional synapse in my brain. After 16 years leading workshops on interpersonal skills, one would think that such words would never come out of my mouth. I have been working internationally for my entire business career spanning 39 years. I know such utterances are not effective. Nonetheless, I, in fact spoke those words. Now that incident was just the introduction to my lesson.

 

During the break, an observer from the HR department (yes, I said that in front of a person from the HR department) let me know that what I said was insulting to the participants. I agreed and I expressed my appreciation to her for bringing it to my attention. Even though I said those words, I did not actually remember saying them until she told me. Even I was appalled that I would say such a thing only 90 minutes into my workshop. Now is when I made the major mistake that caused the disaster. I know that the most effective action in this situation is to admit the mistake, apologize for it and ask for forgiveness.

 

Did I do that? No! I engaged the participants when they returned from the break and got caught up in the excitement of moving forward. They were asking questions and participating. The apology slipped my mind. As the rest of the workshop unfolded, I was very pleased with the engagement and learning of the participants. The engagement level was very high, there appeared to be a very positive rapport between the participants and myself. If there were any signs that people were insulted or offended, I missed them. I made a decision that an apology was no longer necessary and might even be counter productive.

 

At the end of the two days, I experienced a very warm close to the workshop. Many of the participants approached me personally to shake my hand and to thank me for helping them in the topic area. I felt very good about the workshop. In fact, I sent an email to the account executive telling him of the success of the workshop. The participants would do the workshop evaluations online in the next few days.

 

About a week later, I received an email from the account executive informing me that the client thought the workshop was successful, but I had offended some of the participants with my comments about British culture. As a result, I was no longer welcome as a facilitator at this company. I was looking forward to hearing about how pleased the customer was with the workshop; instead, I received this horrible news. You can imagine how that felt. After I recovered from the shock of this news, I decided to take action.

 

The first order of action was to admit to myself that this incident was a result of my actions and therefore my responsibility. There were no extenuating circumstances that I would blame. I did it and I did not recover like I knew I could have. Next, I sent an apology to the customer contact. You are reading the third action I took. If someone of my experience can make a mistake like this, then there must be a lesson that I can share with others.

 

The key lesson I learned in this experience is to stay focused on everything I need to do to be effective. I focused solely on making the workshop successful in terms of the participant learning but I lost focus on my interpersonal responsibility to respect the participants. That last sentence was really hard for me to write!

 

I paid a very high tuition for this lesson and I hope that you will take advantage of my learning opportunity. I know that I will never make this mistake again!

 

 

 

 

 

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.
Tags: , , , , , ,
add a comment

p5130012.jpg 

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

Sales down? Invest in Your Sales Teams January 13, 2009

Posted by David Dirks in Grow your skills, Recession: How to Beat It!, Retailer Store Strategies, Sales Strategy/Tactics.
Tags: , , , , ,
add a comment

David DirksAnother knee-jerk reaction to slower sales and revenues: cutting back on sales training.  Cutting into the training investment  you make to enhance skills and intellectual capital of your primary weapon for sales revenue is business suicide.  When times are ‘good’ (yesterday), sales seem far easier to bring in than they are when times are ‘bad’ (today).  When the money is flowing in and the business is riding along, investment in things like sales training doesn’t make anyone bat an eye.  That all ends when things get tight.  Then it’s cut, cut, cut.

I’m not advocating sales training for the sake of just training.  You can spend a lot of money on sales training and get very little bang for your buck.  The key to sales training effectiveness isn’t how much you spend.  It’s more about what you focus your on and how consistently you do it. One-shot sales training is a losing proposition for you and your sales team.

When does your sales team need training the most?  Two answers: 1) they need it on a consistent basis with enough frequency to help keep them focused on skill building and keep them learning. 2) THEY ESPECIALLY NEED IT NOW MORE THAN EVER.  When the economy cycles down as dramatically as it has during the last few quarters, it can absolutely frustrate and drain the energy from the best of sales professionals.  You cannot let that happen.

What do sales professionals need right now?  They need an infusion of new ideas/tactics/strategies.  They crave some fresh thinking.  They desire sales leadership that will keep the ball moving and facilitate the kind of learning draws fresh life into the sales cycle.  You don’t do that by cutting back on time and resources dedicated to sales development.

Remember, right now they are worried about the economy, their jobs, their houses, paying for kids college, and the fall their 401k just took.  Do you think they just arrive at your business all fresh and ready to go?  In times like these sales teams can wear down before they even get started.  Then enter the crunch of falling behind on sales that used to come to fruition in a regular basis. Here are a few ways to insure you give your sales professionals the care they need to sustain themselves and win in the market place for your business.

  • Make sure you have a good inventory of the skill levels of each person on your sales team.  Match their skills against the sales cycle for your business and take measure of how well each person performs along each stage of the sales cycle.  The idea is to create a list of sales skills that are matched to your sales cycle and can be the focus of a weekly, bi-weekly, monthly training plan.
  • Focus your training efforts on sales strategies and tactics that solve current sales challenges.   Ask your sales team(s) where they are experiencing the most problems along the sales cycle.  Map the sales cycle out from raw lead to closed sale and make sure that time is spent on brainstorming ways to overcome any challenges in the sales cycle.
  • Hold people accountable for learning.  Some people are self-motivated and directed to learning.  Some just need a little leading and prodding to move along.  Others just sit there like a load of sand and contribute nothing to their own sales skills and intellectual capital.  Those folks need to go.  My bet is that those in that latter category are probably the bottom performers in your business.  Get rid of them.  Sales is a motivational business and you need people who are motivated to both sell and continually learn.

My definition of both sales and marketing success is when you can truly differentiate your business from your competition.  This is in the context of being framed in the mind of your customer and potential customer as a business that provides more than just products and services.  You can’t do that if you sales efforts are just as bad as the rest.  Making a consistent investment in your sales development efforts will differentiate you from your competition.  How do I know that?  Trust me.  I buy products and services all the time and it always amazes me at just how lousy most sales efforts are across the board in businesses both large and small.

And that my friend, is your opportunity.

I don’t know it all…and I’m so thankful for that! March 18, 2008

Posted by David Dirks in Confidence, Creativity, Grow your skills, Solving Business Problems.
Tags: , ,
add a comment

dirksphoto.jpgAnyone who believes they have arrived and know it all, are just about DOA in my book. I don’t what your age is, you can always learn, do, read, think, and ask more about anything in life. Pity the people, and you probably know more than a few, who just can’t seem to invest anything into their business life that would give them an edge. The Big Dogz, at least the majority of them, invests in making themselves even sharper on the business edge.

Taking some time each week to read, watch, or study about some dimension of your business world is key to your long-term survival. Want to learn how to deal with a recession successfully? Then find out what the Big Dogz do to succeed in tough economic times.

I read a lot. In between career and kids, I read everything I can get my hands on.  Recently, I’ve been spending a lot of time readying books on leadership and innovation. These are two topics that I’m investing more time in understanding and learning about. Why? Because I’m interested in them and, while I know a lot about them, I don’t know it all. Not even close. So, while I do my morning commute, I’m listening to audio books on those subjects.  Thank goodness for Audible.com!

To stay on top of the latest marketing and sales trends, I read a lot of business magazines. I relish the opportunity because invariably, I’ll get some fresh insights into these subject areas. Ideas begin to pop up as I move along. It’s my SONY digital recorder that captures certain ideas/concepts as they come along in my reading time. Capturing thoughts and ideas has become a necessity; otherwise I’d lose most of those thoughts to memory loss of some kind!

Workshops or seminars are another great way I learn and invest in myself. It’s an opportunity to get out of the business mayhem and into a learning environment. Exchanging ideas with those who take those courses are invaluable to me.

What topic could you pick that if you invested some time for yourself to learn more about, would help enrich your overall business experience and success? If you can’t answer that question, you have other problems.

Find the time, no matter how small in amount, that each week you can call your own. Life is too short to have called it ‘quits’ on learning. When you finally check out of this world, you can stop learning (at least here). Until then, get going and get learning.

Grow your skills February 29, 2008

Posted by rickbron in Grow your skills, Uncategorized.
add a comment

p5130012.jpg  Want to become more effective or more efficient? The Big Dogz know how to do that. They use a three pronged strategy for improving their knowledge and skills.

  1. Read a book a month on management or leadership.
  2. Listen to CD’s or watch DVD’s about management topics.
  3. Associate with successful people.

 Read a book a month. I can hear your response — I do not have the time to read a book a month. Once you make it a priority, you will. If you can not find the time to read a book a month, subscribe to an executive summary service. There are plenty out there, just Google “Book summary service”. Most of them will let you try their service for free. Try them until you find the one you like. Once you get your summaries, be selective on what books you read.  Here is a tip to help you decide if a book is worth finishing. When you get the book, place a bookmark at the halfway mark. Now as you read the book, make notations on new things you are learning, especially new techniques you can use to improve your management ability. If you reach the original bookmark and you do not have at least five entries in your log, don’t finish the book. You can save a lot of time using this approach. Yes, you may miss some good suggestions, but you will be getting a high return on your time investment. Create a book club where you and others read a book then share what you thought was important from the book.  

Listen to CD’s or watch DVD’s about management topics. Use your commute time to listen to CD’s. Try to focus on motivational speakers since it is not a good practice to take notes while driving! Not all your CD’s need to be motivational. Some speakers are quite specific in what they prescribe as effective actions. With CD’s, you may need to listen to the speaker multiple times to get the message. Listening to motivational speakers can make a big difference in your effectiveness. 

Associate with successful people. Is there an AMA (American Management Association) chapter near you? If yes, join and attend networking events. If there is no AMA, then look for local business associations that sponsor networking events. One of the best ways to make sure you are associating with successful people is to create your own group. Meet once a month or once a quarter to swap best practices in management. 

The Big Dogz pay attention to these three elements of the strategy. They include others in their development and harvest ideas to improve. You can do the same thing. Start today by identifying a book you want to read. Order it. Ask around for suggestions on motivational speakers. People who have these CD’s will be happy to lend them to you if you are prompt in returning them. If you like a CD, buy it. Start looking for people to associate with. Soon, you will be running with the Big Dogz!