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Update: Announcing . . . Free training . . . June, 2019.

Engaging Your Team People Small.png

Teamwork through Gaming . . . free training in June

On Sunday, June 23rd from 3 to 4 pm central time Bryan Miller, Ph.D. will be providing an on-line training on the HSC process of using gaming to train work teams to be effective. This is a training we have done in 4 to 6 hour segments with nonprofits, ecclesiastical bodies, business owners, and governmental departments.

The training is for professionals in the behavioral health field who are interested in providing training to organizations and who would like to find new and innovative ways to deliver good value and work outside of their typical clinical practice.

May 13th Update: We are now opening the training to professionals beyond our subscribers.

Want to know more?

Watch our You Tube trailer.

Email Bryan

Reserve your seat at Gumroad. A $20 fully refundable fee required —to prevent no shows.

Or check out our website where you can Subscribe and get a free eBook.

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My Coach, and teammate respond . . . after 38 years!

My Coach and Teammate Respond . . . after 38 years!

An archaeological dig found . . .  these yearbooks from the "glory years."

An archaeological dig found . . .  these yearbooks from the "glory years."

 

I wrote a blog post prompted by my College Basketball Coach being named the Coach of the Year in 2017. The post was mostly about and experience that taught me a lot about what makes good and bad teams.

Well, as it turns out . . .  if you "shoot your mouth off" things happen. Even 38 yeas later.  And, if you are foolish enough to spout off publicly . . . I find it is a good thing to have good memory and a strong grasp of details. "I find" I say, not because I have a good memory and a mind for details . . . no!  I simply can imagine that it would be a good thing. As it is, the are a few additions and a record to correct. Yes, literally, a record.

I hesitated before writing the first blog, for this very reason, because my memory is often mostly about what I experienced and what it "felt like" not necessarily "the cold, hard facts."  So, of course, I did not remember some of the details--mostly after the events I related--and got one data point wrong in the earlier post (it was the record of the senior team. It has been corrected). I know this because I remembered . . . right after my old teammate, let's call him Sam, told me mind you, that the bad team won 5 games not just 3 and that they did beat the 3rd ranked team in the state--which illustrated their potential."

But, this a follow up to share more of the story and tell you about the Coach and Sam.

What I didn't say in the first post is that Coach was tough.  He told it the way he saw it. He was decisive and direct. i remember being in the locker room as a freshman and I was messing around with some equipment, Coach looked up from where he was sitting in his office, stood up, and started coming out where we were. Well, "My Momma didn't raise no dummies!" I knew he was coming to tell me to stop.  So, I stopped . . . and moved away. Not good enough for Coach. He continued coming. He walked up, barked "Miller, come here!." I came. He went on,"If you wouldn't have walked away and acted like you weren't messing with the equipment, I would have just told you to stop. Now, you can come and see me after school."

After school, I spent time doing "Burpies" in his office. It was a good lesson--be authentic. But since I was just convinced that I was penalized for being intuitive (smart) and being able to accurately predict what he was about to do, I really didn't learn the wisdom or that lesson until many years later.

Despite these kind of interactions, Coach's toughness was balanced. Coach also happened to be my Driver's Ed teacher. I took the class during the summer and I have fond memories of driving . . . to go golfing, fishing, and, one time, getting out of the boat to retrieve a treasured lure . . . for which I was rewarded by having my supper bought for me by the Coach. He was tough but fair.

But I digress. this is supposed to be a follow up and about Coach and Sam.

So, my Coach responded. I won't share what he told me but I will say that although I didn't know, or remember, all the details, his story reinforced what I already knew. I also heard from one of my former teammates . . .

So, Sam, an old teammate contacted me after reading the post about Coach. He told me about a moment when Coach influenced his life. He told me he had heard a sermon recently at his church and it prompted him to act--he was, at that very time, writing a letter to Coach to thank him for the influence he had on his life!  This teammate, one of the "good guys" of the older cohort, also missed on on the last two years of Coach in his high school career. But, he told me about an incident that change his view of things . . . He told me that one day he was hanging his head. Coach, asked him "What's wrong?" Sam said, "Coach, I keep messing up and you keep yelling at me." The Coach thought a moment, then said, "Do you see me yelling at "player x" or player y?" Citing two of the players low down on the list of talent on the team. "No." replied the player. "That's because you have potential," he said, "they don't."

Coach did see potential in my teammate. One day, my Dad was waiting for me after a scrimmage between our High School  team and the College team where Neal now was the head coach..  "You see anybody out there you are interested in?" my father queried.  I figured my Dad was "fishing" to find out if Coach had an interest in recruiting me.  "Yep. said Coach," fully aware, I am sure, of what my Dad was driving at, "Sammy," he replied.

 

 

 

HSC is a consulting firm focusing on organizational behavior. HSC publishes materials to help organizational leaders succeed. Check out our products (at Gumroad) or subscribe to our emails and get a free eBook like Engaging Your Team.

 

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Leadership Lessons . . . The Guys I Admire . . . and Getting Trained Up!

 
Our Save the Date Announcement

Our Save the Date Announcement

Hello there . . . again!  If you have been a long-time subscriber to my blog, then you know that I often talk about leadership issues. I've shared the story of my "Old Ball-Coach" who was selected as the National Coach of the Year (my most read post this year) and how the effect of losing this leader turned a very talented group of basketball players into a bad team. I've told you about the Greatest Leadership Lesson I Ever Learned. And, those who followed my old blog got to hear how my Dad got the team bus moving--rescuing this very same Coach when the Bus Driver Wouldn't Move the Bus. We're told you about "Broken Leaders" and finding the courage to continue to serve others. We've also shared our leadership resources and blog posts on ideas to help leaders communicate, and dealing with power struggles.

The fact is, I could tell you stories all day long about leadership simply because I have been "in the thick of it" my entire life--first as the oldest son of the man- who-is-running-the-college, then as college student leader (Resident Assistant, Club President), career manager (up to, and including. as Executive Director and President), current business owner . . . and the most critical leadership role . . . father of six children.

Now, we at HSC are partnering with a local church to put on our first Christian Leadership Conference! (Catchy name huh? I thought about calling it something cool--do we still say "cool?"--like "Prospect" reminiscent of the athlete that has great potential and is being recruited to play for the local school. But then I thought, "Who would have know what that conference was about?" Maybe I should have studied branding more. Maybe not.) 

More about the conference in a minute. But I'd like to tell you about how this conference came "to be" and why I am excited to promote it.

How it came about

A friend, and former college classmate, read one of my posts about leadership. This friend, the president of a Colorado bank branch in a family-owned firm, had recently been part of a consulting process that required him to go through training on crucial conversations and emotional intelligence. He said it was rigorous, excruciating at times, and very beneficial. Upon reading one of my blog posts, he concluded that Christian Leaders needed some of the same training . . . and he decided that I should be the one to do it.

So we are doing it September 30th, in Lincoln, Nebraska and those attending will get to hear my friend "Murph" talk about his own personal experience in becoming a person-centered leader. You;ll also get to hear from Jim Tuttle, the Minister of Heartlands Church, who, along with HSC is sponsoring this conference. Jim is a leader with a heart. He is focused on helping Heartlands reach out into the community to help people where they are. He has his own personal experience being served by a church at a conference he himself attended when he became ill and he will be sharing this, and Heartlands commitment, to helping leaders at the conference.

Why I am excited about the conference

But that's not the only reason, why I'm excited about the conference. The main reason I am excited about it is because of the "core" of what we are going to offer . . . .

First, I've asked a friend, David Ensign, whom I admire a great deal to talk about the biblical principles of leadership. Why David? Because I have seen his leadership and scholarship "up close and personal." When I thought about who I would want to listen to talk about leadership, David was the first person that came to mind. David's life has demonstrated great courage through loss (the death of his wonderful wife, Linda, and his own cancer). He continues to be a leader despite those losses.

A. Keith Miller is a man I know very well. He's my brother and my consulting partner. Keith has extensive leadership experience. A twenty-one year career in the Air Force leading teams of more than 100 (including working across branches) he has a person-centered style that was recognized and rewarded for its efficacy. These Lessons Learned Around the World (a training manual he developed for leaders) is strengthened by his masters degree in organizational behavior and the consulting experience working with organizations and leaders.

Then there's me. I'm going to present simply because, well, I'm an expert. Oh, did I just say that out loud? Did I just lose my "humble-midwesterner club card? Well, as uncomfortable as it makes me to say it, I am. Senior leadership positions for more than 20 years. Ph.D. in Human Development and Family Studies, Associate Professor, a professional counselor for more than two decades. Business owner. Consultant. You might say, I've done nothing to avoid the "expert label"--particularly when it comes to people issues--and you'd be right. So, I'm going to bring these experiences to the conference to talk about emotional intelligence and to engage participants in activities that will help them apply and learn about how to engage this critical element in their leadership actions.

why register?

Because we want this conference to be a powerful and practical learning experience. We are limiting attendance to the first 48 people who sign up. We will have some learning opportunities about leadership and emotional intelligence but one core element will be on getting some practical skills in communication and emotionally intelligent leadership.

Participants also have an optional opportunity to sit down one-on-one with an experienced advisor at the end of the conference to talk about their specific leadership challenges.(To take advantage of this, participants must register and then contact us to reserve a spot.)

Oh yeah, I'm also excited because we are going to have participants  "defuse bombs!"  No, of course not--not real ones. But we are going to utilize bomb defusal processes to teach some important lessons on communication and team work. We've done this with work groups and look forward to doing it again at the conference. Here is our Bomb Defusal Unit badge:

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So, here's the deal. If you are somewhere in "driving distance," you are available on September 30th, and you are one of the first 48 people to register, then you will be included in the conference and I promise you will have a bit of fun and your leadership will benefit from attendingt. 

 

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The Eclipse . . . Understanding People . . . and New Babies!

Photo by  nousnou iwasaki  on  Unsplash

The Eclipse . . .  Understanding People . . . and New Babies!

Of course, next week is the total eclipse. We are fortunate to live near "ground zero" only 40 miles from the point where it will have the longest duration. Facts about the eclipse are all over the internet, the news, even Bill Nye--the former "science" now political guy--is coming here to take in the phenomenon. The frenzy makes me think of the old shows, like Gilligan's Island, where some natural phenomenon was interpreted at some sort of sign. Now, as then, I think the most fascinating thing to watch will be the people.

How do you understand people?

It was 15 years ago, that my colleague and I sat reviewing the data of the international consulting firm. It was the first time we were going to get an inside look into what a "real" consulting firm--and a very powerful and well respected firm--was doing to understand the employees. 

What kind of statistical analysis would they be using? The goal had been to measure the employee satisfaction of the company's primary facility--about 3,000 employees--across many factors--supervision, company benefits, working conditions, training, etc. We wondered, as we opened the packet, what kind of statistical modeling would this leading company use to understand the data and compare this company to others in the industry and across the country? The answer was surprising.

We were already working with a manufacturing company when the head of HR suggested that our work be dove-tailed with the survey the company had completed recently. So, we had been given the raw data and were scheduled to meet with the primary consultants for the firm-a couple of Ph.D.s from Chicago. Our role was to conduct focus groups to turn the results into action plans. To do this we would be helping the company design a plan to get good "informants" from across the 9 plants and 3 shifts.  We would conduct focus groups on each of the areas in which the company was "below" the threshold of the comparibles--other U.S. manufacturing firms.

What kind of statistics did the consulting firm use for these comparisons? The most basic and simple tests available. As a graduate student I expected much more sophistication. The metrics they were using? T-tests and P-values. Humble little T-tests. The simplest and first statistical test learned by new students of statistics.

Yes, the qualitative analysis, had it's benefits. You could see exactly how much this company differed statistically from the average.  You could easily separate out the areas of strengths and weaknesses compared to a mythical average manufacturing firm. But, to explain the results, and to begin to formulate solutions they relied on talking to the employees themselves--thus the focus groups.


Speaking of numbers, this week we had some significant stats of our own. This week our family had 5.0 puppies born this week and 1.0 grandsons. A big week. But the stats hardly due it justice. It does not really explain "what it was like." Maybe it will help to have a little description . . . The pups are Dobie's--a Doberman/Collie mix and the grandson? Well, he's perfect. With dark hair, "monkey-toes," his mother's long fingers and his dad's forehead. Which tells you more about our week?

Here's our new momma, Scout, and the puppies!

Here's our new momma, Scout, and the puppies!

 

The experience with the international firm, taught me a couple of valuable lessons. One, there is no need to fear large, power-house consulting firms. Since I live in the shadow of one of the biggest in the country that is important.  Two, good tools are not always the most complex, or "showy" tools. In fact, when it comes to human systems I would trust the "gut" of a well-trained and experienced Psychologist over the technical prowess of most business consultants!

No statistics and quantitative analysis certainly have their place. But, if you really want to understand people, engage them in solutions, and get a deep understanding of the interactions of a work group or organizations, you'll need consultants with skills in qualitative methods.

After all, the results we care about, are the ones that impact people.  We love hearing comments from customers like these::

"The team just seems happier."

"I didn't even know there wasn't ventilation in our plant." (Follow up to action plans implemented 2 years earlier)

"We are communicating more."

"I don't dread coming to work anymore."

"The start-up has gone smoothly and the Director and Assistant Director seem to be working together."

"Mom and I are treating each other with more respect."

"The problem has gone away."

"We saw how well things went with the organization after the consult that's why we're asking you to work with this other team."

Going back the topic of understanding people. If you were stranded on an island with a number of other people. Would you want to consult with a "bean counter" who could tell you that the "likelihood of one of the team becoming superstitious--maybe even to the point of threatening your rescue--was 60% in the first 250 days." Or would you want the people-person to tell you if the newly arrived castaway, Ted, was in danger of "flipping out?" I want to know about Ted.

So, if you find yourself headed "our way" to watch the eclipse because you are mesmerized by the science of it all--very cool. If you can quote the numbers--how often this happens, the duration of the event, the percentage of people that will be able to view it, or others--again cool. For me, while the eclipse is of great interest, it's not the primary one. So, don't mind me, I'll just be enjoying the experience . . . and watching the people.

Have a "people question?"  Contact us and we'll see if we can help. We set aside time for free consults just for this purpose. There is no cost and no obligation. 

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What's brewing-eh . . . er . . . roasting-for this summer/fall?

Photo Credit: Mark Dayness (Unsplash)

Photo Credit: Mark Dayness (Unsplash)

My daughter, now 18 and readying herself to go off to college, announced to me the other day that she expected me to roast coffee for her to take to college. Fine. It's something I do and I am happy to do that for her. But, I haven't been roasting coffee for a while due to a number of complicating factors that have created access demand on my time. So, It means I need to find all my coffee-roasting equipment, order fresh beans from Sweet Maria's (a great source if you are interested in roasting your own coffee), and schedule times to get it done.

It reminds me of all the other things we have in the works right now at HSC. Here's a list.

June 4th: I will be doing an on-ling training on Private Practice through Contracting. It is "sanctioned" by the Kentucky board for Marriage and Family Therapy and includes CEUs (including 1 hour of Ethics). If you are interested, here's the brochure.

Summer: The Prairie Family Business Association (PFBA) will be highlighting HSC in it's publication. The article will feature HSC's history as a family business, include our observations on the annual conference, and announce . . .

September 7th: The first Nebraska Member and Prospective Member Social for the Prairie Family Business Association in Nebraska. Hosted by Midland's Scientific, a family business in Omaha, PFBA will be presenting to current members and prospective members about the association and the resources it provides for family firms and family business advisors.

September 30th: HSC is hosting a Christian Business Leader Conference in Lincoln, Nebraska. This is a a smallish, invitation only event. If interested or for more details, email Bryan at drbryanmiller@gmail.com.

Well, that's it for now. Oh yeah, I better remember to order those coffee beans.

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The Right Tools

For 18 months I have been working with a contractor remodeling a large three-season porch and kitchen in our home. We live in our town's old train depot--remodeled and moved to the country--where very little in the original construction conforms to your standard "balloon-frame" modern homes I am used to working on. The challenges encountered in the remodel have been multi-varied and . . . interesting. 

I say "multi-varied and interesting" because our discoveries, and the resulting discussions, go something like this . . . "Remember. the guy who moved the depot was a train engineer, used to working on motors, so he reversed the white and black wires." Did you know that wiring color--one "hot" and one "common"--in motors are the reverse of the colors used in standard house wiring? I didn't.  

Another one was, "What they did here was combine a patio, a small porch and a deck to make this three-season porch floor. Then they shored it up with extra posts." What?  Or another, "The floor boards here are planks instead of finished boards because this was the baggage area." How do you finish a floor with half-inch gaps between the boards? (Answer: You nail in strips of boards and spend $300 on wood putty.) "You see the ceiling here used to go all the way to the roof . . . you can see where they boarded up the windows and put in trusses to create a lower ceiling." Oh, that's why I have to duck under that 5 foot ceiling in the attic!

I mean it when I say "multi varied . . . and interesting!" 

But that doesn't preclude other words . . . frustrating, confusing, even maddening.

Suffice it to say that each change in the remodeling process has resulted in head-scratching and sometimes finding "out-of-the-box" ways to solve each new challenge. Some of these challenges would have stumped my limited ability and knowledge, were I on my own, to find a solution . . . thank goodness for a contractor who has the skills, knowledge, and tools to find a solution. But there is a "down side" . . . I find myself wanting, and buying, many of the tools we've used. Maybe its and "up side?"

One of these tools is a Kreg Jig. Do you know what a Kreg Jig is? Well, that's a "Kreg" as we call it in the picture at the top of the post. A Kreg jig helps you build cabinets, shelves and other projects where having tight, well fitting joints is important. What does it do? It simple helps you get the right angle and depth for your fastener (a screw) so that you have a strong joint. That's it.  A $100 tool to make sure you put your screw at the best angle and don't drill too deep. Now that's a specialty tool. I've been building for years and making do with the "eye-ball-it method" of setting my screws at an angle and drilling carefully. But, the results are not always what I hope for. The Kreg takes all the guess work out of it and produces a superior outcome.

It reminds me of consulting.

Organizational leaders can ask questions, conduct interviews, run focus groups . . . but the results are not the same. Consultants bring an expertise, technique, and the tools of the trade to the task. This enables them to help leaders come out with a better product.  These tools include consulting methods, business knowledge, business experience and a host of other features.  But consultants are more than just "tool providers" they themselves are "tools" leaders use to impact their work teams. As "outsiders" consultants contributions are different than the leaders contributions even if they are doing the same activity! 

As I said earlier, I have built shelves and cabinets which you can do without a "special" tool like the Kreg Jig. After all, the only thing this does is help you put screws in at an angle to make a strong joint. I can do that on my own can't I? The answer is "Yes," however the results speak for themselves.  Leaders do well when they consider, "Do I need a consultant for this job?" And if the answer is "yes," to further consider "which consultant is the right one to use?" In this consideration, the core discipline of the consultant, should be considered as well.  Do I need legal expertise, business knowledge, an understanding of the human dynamics? Focus on the consultant's core expertise as you ask . . . is this the right "tool" for this job?

Here are the cabinets and the plank flooring. . . the right tool is worth the cost!

Cabinets and plank floor. Floor sanding and finishing is pending. The stove?  It's called a "Flair" made by General Motors!

Cabinets and plank floor. Floor sanding and finishing is pending. The stove?  It's called a "Flair" made by General Motors!

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When they leave . . . it's really all about you.

Image from Wikipedia

Image from Wikipedia

Crickets. That's kind of what it was like after leaving the organization.

Crickets. It reminded me of how media sometimes uses the sound of crickets to imply a lack of response to a stimulus--a question, a statement, anything that you would expect a verbal response..

Despite the fact that I had spent as much time working for the organization as I had raising one of my children, it didn't really bother me. In fact it was kind of expected--yet illogically it was still a surprise.. More than anything it was a curiosity. How, and why, does this happen?  How is it that organizations fail to acknowledge the significant change of a long-term employee leaving? I'll tell you my story in a minute, but first, I want to emphasize that it's not just my story. Too often I hear others tell me very similar experiences; to wit, they decide to leave an organization and as one person described the experience "it was almost like I'd died" as everyone ignores, withdraws, or simply moves on with their work lives. Worse yet, I have had people, upon giving their notice, immediately dismissed or formally monitored and escorted off the premises on their final day, despite, by all external measures, never having been a problem as an employee. Don't think the other employees don't notice. (Sadly, for some managers that may be the point--that other employees see their power.)

I personally find it strange that some leaders demonstrate a lack of appreciation, or even a resentment, about employees who leave their company. (Perhaps it comes from growing up around a family-type organization in the "fish-bowl" of a small town.) Yes, I do understand that in a competitive environment it may seem to some that it is prudent to avoid "rewarding" anything that detracts from succeeding, but still . . . . the world has gotten "smaller" and information is far more readily available. I especially don't understand it if the company appears to care about their brand. Former employees can make or break how you are perceived by the marketplace.

One manager I worked with, and who, admittedly, was a terrific manager in most ways, actually told me that he would not ever have a "going away party" for an employee because he was "not going to celebrate them abandoning us!" Wow. Leaving a company as "abandonment." Wow. Sorry, but I just can't reduce the world to that myopic or self-centric view. In contrast, I can, even as a leader, imagine a world in which it is in that employee's best interest (for personal, financial, of family reasons among many) to leave my team. But even more importantly, to not be appreciative of the work they have done and supportive of them personally is . . . dare I say it? . . . a stupid business move. How you treat an employee who leaves reveals a lot about you as a leader.

I personally experienced this when I left a job where I had worked for over 15 years. My direct supervisor expressed appreciation for the work I had done and in fact tried to convince me to stay. But, that was it. There was no official "thanks for your service" appreciation from the organization itself.  In fact over the next six to nine months I found out that some of my colleagues in the department did not even know that I had retired. I personal email with some of the CEO's staff revealed that they also did not know that I was no longer working for the organization. Although it was a family based firm, who constantly talked about their appreciation for the employees, I did not officially hear a word from family members about the retirement despite having worked for them for more than a decade and a half. Crickets.

Don't misunderstand, I'm really not complaining.  My psychology doesn't include a high need for "inclusion" in the workplace and really didn't miss the attention of a more public event. I also was not overly surprised by what happened because before I even took the position with the organization many years earlier I had talked to a friend who had worked there before I had and he had warned me that, in his view, the organization only focused on what was good for them in the short term . . . which is one of the reasons he left and the point of this blog--but more about that later. 

One could ask the question, "What does the organization lose by not appreciating publicly a departing employee's service?"  I my case, not much.  My sphere of influence is small. I have no political or economic power that they could "fear," they certainly don't need my good opinion or approval to continue to succeed. But I think, organizations who operate this way lose far more than they are aware of in the long run. Once again, in my own case I had people warning me about the organization before I even accepted the position. Despite being generally a "company man" and trusting of leadership I was careful to not put to much trust in the organizational leadership due to the personal experiences colleagues reported to me. Even today, current employees of the firm have asked to switch our conversations over to non-organizational email servers for fear of the possibility of their correspondence becoming problematic for them.  In short, there is little trust.

Contrast this with the owner of a local IT company who employed my son. When he decided to leave his job to travel they celebrated his contributions to the company.  The owner personally emailed me, his father, to tell me how much my son had helped the organization and to reassure me that he would have a job whenever he wanted to return. When I thanked him for hiring a 19- year old self taught homeschooler, he turned it back and replied with "Thank you for raising such a son!"  As a father, he had me right there. My gratitude was sealed.

But it didn't even end there! The owner, who knew I was doing some consulting with a local company around leadership issues, even offered to give the leaders I was working with a personal tour of his operations predicated partly on my son's contribution to his business. Later, he proved to be true to his word when  my son returned to work for the company again.  In the mean time, this good will and appreciation has resulted in  almost everyone in my extended family talking amongst themselves and to others about how lucky my son, and now his cousin too, is to work for this organization and actively recommend the company to others.

You see, decisions that leaders make, especially ones "when the leaders have nothing to gain," reveal the core of what is really important to the leader.  

Do you tout your organization as a great team, call them a family, tell employees that they are the most valuable resource the organization has? When one of your team leaves then the rest of your employees are likely to evaluate how you treat them . . . you see, it really is all about you. Do you act like they are valuable? If you believe they are, then your actions should match your words. To do less will convince your employees that, to use the old adage, you only "talk the talk" but don't "walk the walk." Then, they will not entrust you with their full effort or support.

 

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May Toast and Jam

May's Toast and Jam . . . looking forward to fresh strawberry freezer jam!   

May's Toast and Jam . . . looking forward to fresh strawberry freezer jam!

 

In April I started a monthly series to provide "the single best article I have found" in the past month.  The idea is to share one influential article that you can read while you make toast . . . and, of course, add a little Jam. It's fun to find and share other's work that is insightful (or challenging) and that, I hope, will help you as well.  Please recognize that inclusion in the monthly Toast and Jam does NOT mean I agree with the author's opinions! In fact, sometimes it is quite the opposite! I plan to include cogent articles that challenge the current thinking and that, I hope, will get you asking "better questions" yourself.

So here is MAY's Toast and Jam . . .

Organizations and Business:

An interesting summary on supervising millinneals called "Kids these days" by Sergeant Darren Neal of the Arkansas State Police.

Should companies start offering voluntary benefits? (Entrepreneur)

Consulting:

Personnel Today focuses on the benefits of workplace counseling.

People Analytics?  How businesses are starting to try and measure the importance of their human assets.

Churches:

The debate about "seeker-sensitive churches" goes on . . . here is a little different "take."

Like small churches or not?  Either way, the reasons may be the same!

And the Jam: Fun and Curious:

Here's what your 2015 income taxes are buying.

I love hash browns, and grits, and sweet tea . . . it's my southern heritage.  Making crispy hash browns in just 3 minutes!

Questions?  Contact us!

Available eBooks:

Private Practice through Contracting: Decreasing dependence on insurance.

Engaging Your Team: A framework for managing difficult people.

Family Legacy: Protecting family in family business.

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You can't teach an old dog new tricks . . . meh!

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You can't teach an old dog new tricks . . . meh!

"I think I've figured it out . . . "

"I think I've figured it out . . . "

"You can't teach an old dog new tricks." It's one of those sayings I've heard all my life and one I refuse to accept.  Okay, grudgingly I will admit (only from observation of others of course!) that there may be some advantages to learning when you are a youth . . . but learning is not all about increasing your "fund of knowledge" (besides, who needs to know anything with Google around?) or developing a new skill set (I've learned a lot about wiring but I don't want to, nor will I ever have need of, becoming an electrician).

So, if "old dogs" don't need the knowledge or skills of new learning (except of course when they need to use the smart phone) then why pursue it at all? Well, it is my contention that those of us approaching the second half of our lives should pursue learning simply because . . . it changes you and how you will observe data all around you.

Those who study such things will tell you that knowledge and skill retention is directly related to the length of time and saturation one has with a certain knowledge area or skill.  Thus something you learned and practiced since youth (let's say for five decades) is not likely to be lost easily while a relatively "new" skill or knowledge with limited exposure can lead to quick reversal in the learning and potential utter loss.  Okay, but even this view, I think, still focuses on learning as acquiring a fund of knowledge or skill building.

I believe one of the greatest reasons to continue to challenge yourself with new learning then is that it changes what you will observe.  It may not measure on a test of content or turn into a new expertise but it will change you.

Have you ever had an experience like this? Several years ago my daughter decided she wanted to have a horse. At the time I thought horses in my part of the country were a rarity . . . a relic of the past or the domain of a few breeders, maybe a few rogue left-over "cowboys" and some wealthy owners with show horses.  Then we got horses and began to trailer them to various events.  Suddenly, it seemed, I was seeing horses everywhere! I could not believe how many horses (and trailers) I drove past daily that I had never noticed before.  (The same thing happened when I started keeping bees.)

Thus one of the things I have learned in recent years is to read music (at the advanced old age of 48).  I also continue to take guitar lessons to this day. Why? Because it changes what I observe and it changes me.  Flamingo-style and classical guitar music was something I could appreciate as a skill but did not enjoy as it sounded all the same to my ear.  Now, after working hard to become a trained classical guitar player it is something richer and more enjoyable than I ever dreamed it could be.

So faithful reader, whether you are a young pup or an old dog, go out and learn . . . to change!

Available eBooks:

Private Practice through Contracting: Decreasing dependence on insurance.

Engaging Your Team: A framework for managing difficult people.

Family Legacy: Protecting family in family business.

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