Service Matters

 

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Previously on The Porch, we talked about the importance of three key values: integrity, quality, and service.  We discussed in some detail the definition and important attributes of someone living a life of integrity.  We also looked at its importance in business.  Today, we look at the second of these values – Service.  We will explore what it means as an individual and what it means to our business.  We will look at service from an outside perspective and inside.  I hope that at the end, you’ll be re-motivated to ensure that service is important and a value that you will adopt in both your work and private life.

Service is simply defines as the action of helping someone.  There are three key elements of this definition:

  • Action – service is not a passive activity, it is active.  It is something we do, not think about or consider.
  • Helping – service is offering a favor, kindness, or something else that makes a difference to that person.
  • Someone – service is all about others, not self.

So, when we look at service in terms of this definition, it is something we do for others that makes a difference to them.  It is not at all about us.

“He thought how sad it was to be an Animal who had never had a bunch of violets picked for him.” ― A.A. Milne

What are the key attributes of an individual that has adopted the value of service in his/her life?  You might get a better idea of service from the quotes listed below.  To me, service has five key elements:

  1. Meeting the needs of others – Service is important to not only our customers outside the company, but our customers on the inside.  We all have internal customers – individuals or groups that rely upon what we do.  Providing excellent service in every aspect of our job makes a difference to those needing our products and to those needing our best work sent to them.  Being service-minded means that we always want to deliver what we say we’ll deliver on the schedule promised.  A strong focus on service helps establish our credibility and integrity as both a company and us as individuals.
  2. Service benefits others, as well as, our company – When we deliver as promised, many benefit.  Certainly, our customers benefit.  Their systems make assumptions on service risk and they build safety stocks of critical medical products based on their confidence in us.  When we fail to deliver, it costs them money PLUS we could jeopardize the health or safety of our ultimate patients.  So, there is a significant benefit externally when we provide excellent service.  We also enhance our reputation as a company that can be relied upon in the future.
  3. True service has no boundaries – When we serve others, we do so without artificial boundaries or biases.  We should serve others simply because we want to make a difference to them.  When we serve those unable to help themselves, we meet their needs PLUS we help give them hope.  I have a soft spot in my heart for our elderly.  It breaks my heart when our older adults spend their days, weeks, and months in care homes without ever having visitors or others to simply spend time with them.  Doing something special for someone that can never pay you back, makes a difference to them… and us.
  4. Service to others is a differentiator – In our businesses, being the company providing the best service often is the deciding factor for who gets the business.  Likewise, being the person that seeks to serve others is often the key factor in building relationships.  It is not every person that lives their lives with a bias toward serving others first.  When you seek first to meet others’ needs, your own are often met in ways you never could have expected.
  5. Service has a price; lack of service has a greater price – Yes, it does require a financial cost to have the best service.  But, the payback is often many times greater than the investment for our business.  Likewise, the price for service to others is often our own sacrifice.  However, when we give to others, the payback is usually much greater than anything we could expect.  Similarly, the lack of service or lack of desire to serve can leave a company struggling or an individual absorbed in his/her self-pity or aloneness.

How does this make a difference to us?  Certainly, service can be a differentiator to our customers.  If everything else is equal, they tend to go with the supplier that offers the best service.  Service to other functions within the company is important to help them do their job well and on time.  Finally, being an individual that strives to serve others and improve the lives of those around us, can make a difference in that person’s life AND it can change the way we view the world.  I have heard it said and experienced it for myself that when I am feeling the lowest, seeking to intentionally serve someone else can change my whole perspective from the focus on my problems to meeting their needs.  And, nothing can encourage us more when we are at that low point than having someone else pull us up.

The Golden Rule, do to others as you would want them to do to you, still is true today and it applies well to our need and desire to serve others well.

Let’s have a terrific and productive day!

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Here are a few quotes on service that might be of interest to you:

  • “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”  – Mahatma Gandhi
  • “To give real service you must add something which cannot be bought or measured with money, and that is sincerity and integrity.” – Douglas Adams
  • “You need an attitude of service. You’re not just serving yourself. You help others to grow up and you grow with them.” – David Green
  • “We are all here to be a service to those who can’t be a service to themselves. We can give people hope and more reasons for being human.” – Dionne Warwick
  • “A business absolutely devoted to service will have only one worry about profits. They will be embarrassingly large.” – Henry Ford
  • “For anything worth having one must pay the price; and the price is always work, patience, love, self-sacrifice – no paper currency, no promises to pay, but the gold of real service.” – John Burroughs
  • “The most important service to others is service to those who are not like yourself.” – J. Irwin Miller
  • “Always render more and better service than is expected of you, no matter what your task may be.” – Og Mandino
  • “The thing that lies at the foundation of positive change, the way I see it, is service to a fellow human being.” – Lee Iacocca

 

  • “Earn your success based on service to others, not at the expense of others.” – H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

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The Sixth Inning: A strong bullpen is key

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Today is the sixth inning of The Porch’s baseball series at the start of the 2016 season. Today, we look at the important concept of “A strong bullpen is key”. So, here is the full line-up for the series:

· First Inning: Everyone has a chance!

· Second Inning: Patient pondering, then frantic action!

· Third Inning: The aggressive team is often the winning team

· Fourth Inning: If you can hit….

· Fifth Inning: Many singles are better than one solo home run

· Sixth Inning: A strong bullpen is key

· Seventh Inning: Time to stretch

· Eighth Inning: Rally time!

· Ninth Inning: “It ain’t over till it’s over”

In baseball, the bullpen is the group of “back-up” pitchers that provide relief for the starting pitcher when needed. Why is this group of pitchers called the bullpen? One of the more likely theories goes like this: In the 1800s, a few innings after a game started, fans could get tickets at the box office for a big discount. But cheap tickets came with a, er, catch: you had to stand in a roped-off area off to the side of the field in foul territory. So the fans were treated a bit like cattle in a pen. When this area became the spot where pitchers warmed up, once relievers became part of the game, the name stuck.

Having a designated group of “back-up” pitchers is important in baseball to ensure that you always have a fresh pitcher throughout the game to give yourself the best chance of winning. When your starting pitcher weakens (or tires, or loses effectiveness, or becomes injured), you bring a fresh pitcher into the game. Thus, remain as strong as possible with a strong pitcher in the game. The bullpen pitchers actually finish the game most of the time and the team’s final pitcher is often called the closer.

Similarly, we need to maintain a strong bullpen in our own life or work operations. Having individuals that can pick you up when you become weak, or hurt, or ineffective helps ensure that we stay on pace and on target. Here are some example of having or developing a strong bullpen:

· For leaders, one of our primary responsibilities is to create more leaders that can carry on when we are not present or available

· Having friends that can lift us up when we experience struggles in our life

· Ensuring that every critical function or activity in our work is backed up by individuals that are trained and ready to carry the ball

· Knowing that you aren’t alone when you get that life-changing phone call

· Having redundancy in our operations or on our teams to ensure that critical issues do not shut us down

· Identifying and developing our own backfill (this also helps ensure that we don’t miss on promotional opportunities because there is no backfill for us)

· Serving as that bullpen ace to back-up your own teammate, a friend, or a family member when they need you most

A strong bullpen is often what differentiates a winning baseball team from a mediocre one. Similarly, have our own strong bullpen can make the difference between heavy burdens that we carry alone or that light load shared by many.

Have a great day and thanks for making a difference.

The Fifth Inning: Many singles are better than one solo home run

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Today is the fifth inning of The Porch’s baseball series at the start of the 2016 season. Today, we look at the important concept of “Many singles are better than one solo home run”. So, here is the full line-up for the series:

· First Inning: Everyone has a chance!

· Second Inning: Patient pondering, then frantic action!

· Third Inning: The aggressive team is often the winning team

· Fourth Inning: If you can hit….

· Fifth Inning: Many singles are better than one solo home run

· Sixth Inning: A strong bullpen is key

· Seventh Inning: Time to stretch

· Eighth Inning: Rally time!

· Ninth Inning: “It ain’t over till it’s over”

Everyone loves to see a home run! And, every baseball player enjoys hitting them. As a kid, my friends and I were always having contests to see who could hit the ball farther than anyone else. During our recess baseball games, the target was to see who could hit a home run on the roof of the school. When I think back to my baseball escapades, many of my favorite memories are those involving home runs. However, some of my most important baseball memories are those that involve singles. I remember that we won a conference championship once with a single barely out of reach of the second baseman. Home runs are dramatic, but a string of singles can make the difference in the game.

Colin Powell once said, “If you are going to achieve excellence in big things, you develop the habit in little matters. Excellence is not an exception, it is a prevailing attitude.” Though we all want to be successful in those big events or big projects or big initiatives, we develop the culture of excellence as individuals or as a company through those everyday small things… those day-by-day things that define who we are.

I once hosted a European regulatory inspection. In the first hour of the inspection, the investigators asked to visit the men’s dressing room where employees dressed into clean uniforms. The investigators asked to actually look into a few of the lockers. We obliged (with individual employee approval) and the investigators merely looked in without further comment. Later, we asked the purpose of the visit to the dressing room and locker inspection. The investigator said that it was his experience that if the dressing room is neat and clean and if employee lockers are orderly, they would invariably see care and pride in the work environment. By doing the little things well, the important things – such as product protection, following procedures, and documenting well – would also be well done. If we develop habits in the small things, we will see excellence in the big things.

Everyone wants the “big assignment.” Everyone wants to hit that home run at work. Everyone wants to hit the ball farther than everyone else. However, we also need everyone to make a difference with the small things. By doing those small things well, they add up to big things. Many singles add up to more than a home run with no one on base.

Have a fantastic day!

The Fourth Inning: If you can hit…

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Today is the fourth inning of The Porch’s baseball series at the start of the 2016 season. Today, we look at the important concept of “If you can hit….”. So, here is the full line-up for the series:

· First Inning: Everyone has a chance!

· Second Inning: Patient pondering, then frantic action!

· Third Inning: The aggressive team is often the winning team

· Fourth Inning: If you can hit….

· Fifth Inning: Many singles are better than one solo home run

· Sixth Inning: A strong bullpen is key

· Seventh Inning: Time to stretch

· Eighth Inning: Rally time!

· Ninth Inning: “It ain’t over till it’s over”

One of the true statements that applies in baseball at all levels is, “If you can hit, there is always a place on the field for you.” In short, this means that, because an excellent hitter is not in plentiful supply, the coach will always find a way to ensure that the excellent hitter is in the game. Every team values a strong offense and, thus, makes every attempt possible to keep those strong offensive players in the game.

In our business, the same principle applies, “If you are a top performer, there will always be an attempt to keep you in the game.” In other words, your pathway to job security and marketplace value is your performance. If you provide great value to the company, you will be recognized and avenues of opportunity will always be before you. I have heard it said (and, I have actually said this myself about some of you on this distribution list), “I believe that __________ (he/she) could do almost any job in this company, if given a chance!” When you have or find that kind of person, you must value them, nurture them, and demonstrate every day how much you appreciate them! And, when you become one of these individuals, you can work with confidence knowing that you have a bright and exciting future.

So, if you can hit, there will always be a place for you! Make yourself that person! And, have a magnificent day!

Integrity Matters

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Today and for the next couple of Fridays we will look at three key values — Integrity, Quality, and Service. These values may be more important today than ever before. Integrity is that value that so clearly permeates who we are that we simply cannot compartmentalize it. We are who we are whether at work, at play, or with others. A few quotes on integrity are listed at the bottom to help you see how integrity is viewed by others. So, everyone has something to say about integrity, but what is it? How can you define it? What does it mean to us today? To me, I think integrity mostly falls into these 5 buckets. A person with integrity will:

1. Inspire others by doing the right thing no matter what

The classical definition of integrity is living the right way, whether in public or private. Integrity is having a standard for living that you will not compromise. It is holding fast to your view of “true north” and staying the course regardless of the hurdles or the severity of the storm. I’m reminded of an example of integrity in the life of a friend of mine. He is a salesman. And, as is true with so many in his field, it is very competitive. Sometimes, salesmen may be tempted to cut corners or do things that might be deemed borderline. My friend said early in his career that he would not cross some lines. Despite being different than others, he has done very well. He has the respect of others for taking a personal stand. And, despite some opposition from others, he is often the top performer in his field. In the face of many temptations to compromise his personal values to get ahead, he maintains strong convictions that he will do the right thing no matter the outcome. I deeply respect him for that. He has integrity. A person with integrity will always to his/her best and inspire others to do their best… no matter what opposition is faced.

2. Live as though this is the only day you’ll ever have

Four days after my 16th birthday which include a surprise party and dozens of my friends attending, two of my very good friends and one of their mothers were killed in a tragic accident on the way home from basketball practice. One of the guys was my brother’s best friend. This was my first experience with this kind of loss. I was devastated and still think of them every February 10. This event changed me. It made me realize that tomorrow isn’t promised. I was with my friends at practice one minute and they were dead an hour later. Thus, I need to treat every situation, every conversation, every interaction with others as though it might be my last chance. I believe that having this viewpoint, makes a difference in how I treat others, how I handle commitments, and how I live. A person of integrity finds a way to cherish today and make the most of every opportunity. When you may not have a second chance, it gives you a new respect for doing things right the first time and dealing with others properly.

3. Respect others and always be kind

As we have said here before, “There is never a time when kindness is not warranted.” And, you can add respect to that. Answer this question, “When you think of a person with integrity, do you also characterize that person as a kind person?” An individual that thinks lowly of others, disrespects others, has unreasonable biases, or treats others unkindly could never make my personal “Integrity Hall of Fame.” If everyone believed and lived the principles expressed in the Golden Rule (“do to others as you would like them to do to you”), our world would be a very different place.

4. Be courageous

Part of always doing the right thing, is having the courage or boldness to actually do it. A person of integrity will stand strong in the face of opposition. This person is a mature oak in the storms that come. We need individuals that will challenge the status quo, that will stand up for what is wrong, or that will hold leaders accountable when needed. Integrity, by definition, is not compromising and this often means we put ourselves at risk. Courage by one always results in more courage for others, too. When you see one individual take a stand, you will likely see others join. You might be surprised how many others share your commitment to integrity, when given a chance. And, courage begets more courage… once you have taken a stand or demonstrated integrity, it becomes easier.

5. Serve others

I cannot think of integrity without thinking of service or selflessness. One of my favorite quotes is by John Wooden:

“You can’t live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you.”

Perhaps it is unexpected that service to others would be on my list of characteristics of integrity. But, to me, serving others is essential as a leader, as a parent, as a friend… in every aspect of life. Most people fall into either the category of “giver” or “taker”. No one in the “taker” category would enter my personal “Integrity Hall of Fame.” A person with integrity is one that lives to make life better for others. It is a person dedicated, not to his/her own desires, but to adding value to others. A person with integrity will do what no one else wants to do, go where no one else wants to go, or be that force of comfort needed to allow others to move forward. A person of integrity will be the first one reaching to pull you up when you fall.

So, I hope you have a better appreciation of integrity in your life and in our workplace. Let’s embrace it and aspire to demonstrate it in how we live and work. The quote below by H. Jackson Brown, Jr. speaks largely to me when I think of how I live and what integrity really means:

“Live so that when your children think of fairness, caring, and integrity, they think of you.”

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A few quotes on integrity that might help you better formulate your definition:

· “With integrity, you have nothing to fear, since you have nothing to hide. With integrity, you will do the right thing, so you will have no guilt.” – Zig Ziglar

· “If you don’t have integrity, you have nothing. You can’t buy it. You can have all the money in the world, but if you are not a moral and ethical person, you really have nothing.” – Henry Kravis

· “Integrity means that you are the same in public as you are in private.” – Joyce Meyer

· “Real integrity is doing the right thing, knowing that nobody’s going to know whether you did it or not.” – Oprah Winfrey

· “Integrity is not a conditional word. It doesn’t blow in the wind or change with the weather. It is your inner image of yourself, and if you look in there and see a man who won’t cheat, then you know he never will.” – John D. MacDonald

· “It is true that integrity alone won’t make you a leader, but without integrity you will never be one.” – Zig Ziglar

· “One of the truest tests of integrity is its blunt refusal to be compromised.” – Chinua Achebe

· “Have the courage to say no. Have the courage to face the truth. Do the right thing because it is right. These are the magic keys to living your life with integrity.” – W. Clement Stone

· “You are in integrity when the life you are living on the outside matches who you are on the inside.” – Alan Cohen

· “Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.” – John Wooden

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Thanks for all you do. Let’s together honor the Value of Integrity. Have a super day and wonderful weekend!

The Third Inning: The aggressive team is often the winning team

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Today is the third inning of The Porch’s baseball series at the start of the 2016 season. Today, we look at being aggressive. So, here is the full line-up for the series:

· First Inning: Everyone has a chance!

· Second Inning: Patient pondering, then frantic action!

· Third Inning: The aggressive team is often the winning team

· Fourth Inning: If you can hit….

· Fifth Inning: Many singles are better than one solo home run

· Sixth Inning: A strong bullpen is key

· Seventh Inning: Time to stretch

· Eighth Inning: Rally time!

· Ninth Inning: “It ain’t over till it’s over”

Being aggressive in baseball means you take more risks with your base running, you take more chances with your pitching, and you tend to work more for the big inning than play small ball (translation: you let hitters swing away more instead of bunt or hit behind the runners — it is OK if you do not understand the delicate nuances of baseball — just get the point that you can play less or more aggressive). Rarely, is an “aggressive” team a consistently losing team. It can happen, but often being successfully aggressive results in more confidence which results in better performance.

In the same way, there is a balance in our work between being too aggressive versus too conservative. For example, waiting until you are 99% confident in the answer may be too late when being 80% would have provided a perfectly good result. Or, taking some risks in R&D may be worth it to attain first-to-file status… often meaning the difference between a so-so product and a $1B blockbuster! Identifying and taking appropriate risks is an essential part of every job at our company. We all must assess risks, balance those against the benefits, and take needed action. We cannot work in a “zero risk” world. For example, if we never tolerated any risks, we would never release a batch of product for shipment.

So, just like in baseball, we need to be aggressive when needed. Being first can often make the difference. Making a decision, even when you might not have all the facts, may be prudent in some cases. Look for those opportunities to have an “action default” rather than a “pondering” nature. Be bold; be courageous. As we have said before, be a warrior, not a worrier!

Let’s make this a terrific and enjoyable day!

The Second Inning: Patient pondering, then frantic action!

Today is the second inning of The Porch’s baseball series at the start of the 2016 season. Today, we look at “Patient Pondering, then Frantic Action”. So, here is the full line-up for the series:

· First Inning: Everyone has a chance!

· Second Inning: Patient pondering, then frantic action!

· Third Inning: The aggressive team is often the winning team

· Fourth Inning: If you can hit….

· Fifth Inning: Many singles are better than one solo home run

· Sixth Inning: A strong bullpen is key

· Seventh Inning: Time to stretch

· Eighth Inning: Rally time!

· Ninth Inning: “It ain’t over till it’s over”

Baseball is not considered a fast game. It is a thinker’s game. It is one that might last two hours or five hours, depending upon what happens. The longest game in MLB history occurred on May 8, 1984 when the Chicago White Sox beat the Milwaukee Brewers 7-6 in 25 innings. Baseball is a game of strategy where the times of “patient pondering” may outnumber those moments of frantic action by 100:1. For example, the times where the batter or pitcher is getting signs or considering what pitch comes next or how to defend a batter can be literally minutes for one at bat. Yet, the ball might only be active, in play, for 5 seconds. Baseball is a game where patience is critical to avoid significant strategic mistakes and where one bad pitch can doom a game.

Our work is very similar. Planning is crucial. We must know where we want to go, how we’ll get there, and what we’ll do when we arrive there. Thinking through the special circumstances and intricacies is important to ensure we don’t “drop the ball” in critical areas. However, when the pitch is finally made, we need to be ready for action! Someone once said,

“Be decisive. Right or wrong, make a decision. The road of life is paved with flat squirrels who couldn’t make a decision.” – Unknown –

Think it through, consider the risks, mitigate the adverse risks, then, for goodness sake, make a decision and act! Baseball is a slow-paced game, laced with frantic action. The best teams plan, prepare, and act decisively. We need to do the same.

Have a great day! There is still that chance that it could be our best yet!

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The First Inning: Everyone has a chance

In honor of the “big inning” (e.g., beginning – get it?) of baseball season, The Porch will feature nine innings of sage baseball advice over the next two or three weeks. Sorry about that for you soccer fans, but, as you know, baseball is the only true sport. And, let’s admit it, I live in St. Louis. So, here is the line-up:

· First Inning: Everyone has a chance!

· Second Inning: Patient pondering, then frantic action!

DSC01814· Third Inning: The aggressive team is often the winning team

· Fourth Inning: If you can hit….

· Fifth Inning: Many singles are better than one solo home run

· Sixth Inning: A strong bullpen is key

· Seventh Inning: Time to stretch

· Eighth Inning: Rally time!

· Ninth Inning: “It ain’t over till it’s over”

The beginning of baseball season is special. Spring has sprung; flowers are blooming; birds are singing; and everything is fresh and new. The baseball season is long… 162 games, then the playoffs. If you win 100 of those games, you have had a tremendous season. But, on opening day, everyone is even. Everyone has a chance! Hope springs eternal with every baseball fan hoping and wishing that their team will play in the World Series in October. Every player believes this will be his year – the year he truly lives up to his full potential. Optimism is the word of the day!

In the corporate world, we need to occasionally take that same view… spring has sprung and everyone has a chance. Every team has an opportunity to excel. Every individual can have a great season. Everyone deserves a chance to contribute. We often fail to step back and take a fresh look at our work and our coworkers. We frequently see an individual “tagged” as a nominal employee because of an event that occurred ten years ago. Sometimes, this is referred to as the “doofus syndrome”- a bias unfairly assigned to an individual because of one or more prior events.

So, on this fresh spring day, opening day for some, let’s take a new look at our work, our teams, and our teammates. Everyone has a chance to be great! Everyone has a chance to win! Everyone has a chance to have a best day or best year! Think about what you can do to make today a special new start for someone or something. You would appreciate that fresh start for yourself, I’m sure.

Thanks for all you do. Have an All-Star day! Batter up!

Baseball Week at The Porch: Persistence

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There are many things that make baseball special.  It has a long and colorful history.  It is a leisurely game that allows the spectator time to watch, discuss, and savor (to the unsophisticated, this makes baseball boring).  But, one thing that makes it unique is that it is not timed, or played against the clock.  For other sports, such as football, soccer, and basketball, a large lead near the end of the game can be insurmountable simply because time will run out.  Not so, in baseball.  Baseball must be played to the final out.  Many games that are seemingly in hand are lost in the last inning.  Thus, you must be persistent and play with focus and vigor to the very end.

Our work in compliance-related industries is very similar.  There is never a time when we can say, “Time to relax, the game is won.”  A momentary lack of focus or inattention to detail can result in an injury, lost batch of product, or recall.  And, just like in baseball, a single person that fails to perform properly can turn the entire conclusion from “compliant” to “noncompliant.”  For those of you that have had the privilege of participating in an FDA, OSHA, or DEA inspection, you know that many of the records reviewed were completed months earlier.  The investigator will ultimately render a decision on our state of compliance based on how well every individual in the organization fulfilled requirements, followed procedures, and documented their actions.  A single error might completely change the outcome of the inspection.

So, a significant part of our job as leaders of compliance functions is to ensure that every participant remains persistent to the end.  We must ensure that every employee maintains the right level of focus to fulfill every activity with timeliness and accuracy.  Attention to detail to the very end of the game is critical.  Then, when the game is over, we can enjoy pizza and relax.  Creating the environment that allows and ensure that we persist to the end may determine our ultimate success.

Have an awesome day and thanks for everything you do to create and maintain a culture of compliance!

 

Baseball Week at The Porch: Coaching

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This week, we have looked at the links between business and baseball for teamwork, the basics, individual skill development, and, today, we look at the importance of coaching.  A baseball coach (or manager) performs many critical functions that essentially allow the team to perform at its maximum capability.  So, what are those critical coaching functions and how do they relate to what we do in business?  Take a look below.

A high-performing coach/manager/leader:

  1. Establishes strategic direction – In baseball, the coach/manager may take an aggressive approach regarding baserunning, or defensive positioning, or use of the bullpen.  In short, the coach/manager establishes the approach to be used to achieve the goal of winning games.  In the same way, leaders in our company must set the tone for how we will achieve our objectives.  We must determine how our teams will be organized, who will do what, and when.  We must determine how project assignments will be made, key priorities, and how resources will be used.  As a key leader in our organization, are you providing the direction needed for your team to be most effective?
  2. Manages tactical (day-to-day) details – In baseball, the coach/manager must determine how the details of the game will be managed.  For example, a coach/manager will determine when the batter should bunt or when the runner should steal.  However, the coach/manager must allow enough freedom for the players to most effectively use their talents.  A coach/manager cannot decide for the batter whether to swing except in rare cases.  The play must use his own skills to make those decisions.  In the same way, an effective leader sets the tone, but allows the team members enough freedom to make day-to-day decisions regarding their jobs.  Over-managing (e.g., micromanaging) limits the creative abilities of the individual, stifles progress, and dis-engages the individual.  Take a look at your own management/leadership style.  Are you over-managing?  Is your team limited because you cannot delegate key day-to-day responsibilities?
  3. Provides performance feedback – A great coach provides feedback on performance every game.  This helps the player make adjustments before the next game.  Likewise, a great leader provides continuous feedback to team members.  Routine feedback tells an individual what is working well and what is not.  It helps the individual modify behaviors, when needed, to maximize results the next time.  Do you, as a leader, make it a habit to provide feedback to your team members?  Could more frequent feedback help drive that steady progress we desire?  If the only feedback you give is at the end of the year, that is too late to help your team member.
  4. Drives continuous improvement – Great baseball teams and individuals continuously strive for improvement.  And, a great leader drives this.  Are you encouraging and helping to drive continuous improvement.  Are you satisfied with the status quo?  What are you doing today to make your team better than it was yesterday (you have to be specific)?
  5. Encourages and motivates – Many baseball coaches are rah-rah types that encourage and motivate with passion.  Others quietly do it and just as effectively.  Don’t try to alter your style of leadership to match someone else.  You are who you are!  But, one way or another, find a way to let your team members know how you feel about them.  Encourage them regularly.  Help them see the progress they are making and the value they are adding.
  6. Ensures that mistakes drive learning – Everyone makes mistakes, even professional baseball players.  A mistake, when used properly, can be the very best learning tool we’ll ever experience.  Learn from these situations.  Use them to prevent a similar future event.
  7. Solicits feedback and reacts – A good coach/manager will seek the opinion of others – other coaches, former mentors, experts, more experienced coaches, and, occasionally, his own players.  Likewise, we need to be open to the opinion of others.  We need to be willing to admit that we can learn from the experience of others.  Do you frequently and willingly seek the opinion of others?  One way to do this goes like this, “I have this situation that I am dealing with.  My current thought is to deal with it by _________.  Have you experienced anything in your past similar?  How did you handle it?  Am I completely off base with the approach I’m considering?”  Give it a try.  You’ll be surprised at the terrific feedback you get in return.
  8. Encourages innovation and individuality – Baseball is an individual performance game played in the context of a team.  Similarly, our teams may function in the same way.  Not every individual learns in the same way.  Not every individual works at the same pace.  Not everyone thinks in straight lines.  It is often because of the individuality of our team members that our team performs so well.  Are you seeking the individual contributions that each member of your team might contribute?  Do you treat every member the same?  Is there any way you can better solicit the innovation from team members?
  9. Establishes boundaries – A baseball coach/manager must establish limits and boundaries for his team members.  For example, most coaches/managers limit when an individual may steal second base.  Many managers limit the number of pitches or innings a pitcher may pitch.  We must also establish boundaries for our teams and members.  We must communicate our vision of the box in which they are to operate (that is, you can operate in the way you feel best within these boundaries, but you must discuss with me anything outside these boundaries).  We actually help our employees operate with freedom when they clearly know what decisions they can make and which must include you.
  10. Achieves winning results – A great coach/manager is a winner!  A coach/manager can do everything right, but if he does not win games, he cannot be consider great.  In the same way, we must never lose sight of our goal – and that is to achieve the results our senior management team expects.

In baseball, the coach or manager sets the tone and direction for the team.  In the business world, everyone that serves as a team leader or team member (e.g., all of us) should understand how great teams achieve great results.  By understanding and applying these principles, we improve our chances of producing winning results.   The key question is this, “What are you doing to make your team better?”  No matter what team we are on, no matter what our title might be, no matter how long we have been with the company, there is something each of us can do to make our team better.  So, the challenge is this…. Do one thing every day to make your team more successful.  Are you willing to accept this challenge?