How To Avoid Costly Mistakes: Top 3 Causes

 

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“But I thought….” is the lead-in to millions of lost strands of hair and even more dollars. Re-work challenges real work for primacy.

Why is it so difficult to give and receive instructions?

The ability to give instructions that get it done, when the task is to be done, in the way it should be done escapes even seasoned leaders.

I have distilled 3 recurring factors that disrupt the giving and receiving of instructions. Working on reducing their impact will bring greater peace of mind and reduce re-work losses significantly.

#3. Different starting points

I land at the Miami Airport and go to pick up my rented car. I ask for instructions as to how to reach my destination. Detailed instructions are given – Exit # off I-95 and the lane to take on nearing the Exit.

I get in the car and after circling the airport twice, I return to the parking lot and seek instructions as to how to get on to I-95.

The agent thought I knew how to navigate from the parking lot on to I-95 and I was too ignorant to realize the difficulty.

Assuming that the person receiving the instruction is further ahead of where they are in reality is a major cause of frustrating mistakes and failed attempts. Hubby bought the wrong brand – shucks!

The added problem is that this often takes place in situations where there is a need for urgency.

Beware “Go now!” … “Do now!” Mistakes lurk behind them.

Darling, run to the store and buy some salt. Now honey!

Oh, no what is this …you know we only use sea salt!

You assumed incorrectly.

The messenger is advised to break speed records to get a bid in before the deadline. His attempts at seeking clarification are rebuffed with the call for immediate action. Go now!

He does get to the building in time but the 15 minutes it takes to find the right bid box causes him to miss the deadline. The dispatchers failed to start where he was. The things he wanted clarified were blocked by the deceitfulness of urgency and wrong assumptions.

Solution: Make no assumptions. Correction – assume that the person receiving the instruction is clueless and needs to be guided from appropriate starting points. Treat urgent situations with caution… they mask costly mistakes.

#2: “I got it!”

Without giving away too much about an instructive exercise from our Time & Task Management workshops, I watched the equivalent of the following play out as a senior professional gave instructions to a colleague:

Giver: “Go to the left”

Receiver: Voices “Left” but moves to the right

Giver: “Move forward”

Receiver: “Forward” but moves backward.

This actually happened and I share why.

I presented an outcome that should achieve and demonstrated one way to get there. One person was designated to give instructions to their partner with backs turned. No questions were allowed.

The receiver had a clear picture of the procedure that I used and was replicating that even while acknowledging in words the contrary instructions being given. He knew what to do and stopped listening.

Failure to listen effectively causes many costly mistakes. Hearing is not equal to listening.

Solution: Engage in meaningful two-way exchanges of information until you are convinced that the instructions have been received without distortion. Monitoring execution is also critical.

#1. Failure to follow procedure

Nadad and Abihu grew up in the temple as sons of Aaron – the High Priest. They would have witnessed countless sacrifices and would have been trained how to offer sacrifices. Yet, they departed from established procedure and lost their lives. (Bible – Leviticus 10)

User error is a primary cause of costly mistakes – despite manuals and training.

Solution: Seek ways to make adjustments to SYSTEMS that reduce user error.

Examples: Insert verification processes or use physical devices. Align that with improved training, monitoring and supervision. Increasing penalties is also a deterrent.

Register now for the SHRM-accredited 3-D Leader Certification: Leading Difficult People or our on-demand “Time & Task Management” course. E-mail: info[at]swpacademy.com

 

The next cohort of the ICF-accredited Certified Behavioral Coach Award starts in January 2017.

E-mail: info[at]swpacademy.com

Trevor E S Smith is a Behaviour Modification Coach with the Success with People Academy, Extended DISC/FinxS.  The Success with People Academy is recognized by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) to offer Professional Development Credits (PDCs) for the SHRM-CPSM or SHRM-SCPSM Certifications.

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Where Did The Time Go?

Where DidTheTimeGo_selfcreated

 

Where Did The Time Go?

That expression is usually rhetorical. But, do you really know where your time is going?

If you are a normal human you can identify with that question. Sometimes we check the time and are struck by how quickly it has passed.

I recommend that you conduct an audit of how you spend your time. That action is one of the most transformational activities that you can undertake.

We hold mental images of who we are and what is important to us. However, it is what we do that defines us. How we spend our time is what gives us our true identity.

This time audit will expose the real YOU.

 

What is involved?

The requirement is that you track how you use each 24-hour day for 30 days.

The intention is not to place an additional burden on your time. Consequently, avoid using methods that take a lot of time.

It is important that you record events and activities as close as possible to their occurrence. Do not sit at night recording what you recall about the day’s activities.

You will get an amazing bonus from recording who initiates each action. Note down who made the contact or who gave the assignment. Slip in the nature and duration of each activity.

Here is one value of identifying who is involved in your activities – especially those initiated by others:

“Interruptions” are identified as one the major challenges to be overcome by my Time & Task Management participants. In many instances, the principal culprit is a supervisor who considers herself to be super-efficient. Reduce top-down interruptions with this strategy.

Some supervisors are guilty of blurting. Here is an example of blurting in action:

Jane starts her day by going through her incoming mail and To Do List. As she goes through she takes immediate action.

Item 3 requires John to do something. Jane summons John.

Item 5 involves John. Jane contacts John. And the process continues.

While Jane is being seemingly efficient, she is making it difficult for John to manage his time effectively. Organizations suffer badly from poor TIME TEAMWORK.

We must function as teams and the focus should be on how the team uses its time and not just the individual.

The time audit is the perfect antidote to blurting.

John might not have the luxury of telling Jane that she is negatively impacting his productivity. However, he could refer to this article and its recommended time audit exercise.

He can share from the audit the frequency, duration and content of his contact with Jane. He could translate that into dollars using his rate of pay x 2.

If Jane is a worthy team leader, the information should make compelling reading. The parties could then agree to meet at specified times during the day. Any issue that arises in between meetings will be held until the next session. Jane’s blurting would have been moderated.

Of course, Jane does not have the monopoly on interruptions. John’s time audit will identify the interactions that he has on a regular basis. He can then determine if that is the most effective use of his time and make the necessary adjustment.

True You

The Time Audit adds another dimension to self-discovery. It will highlight whether your professed commitments are supported by concrete action. It points to habits good and bad that have entered into your reality.

I strongly urge that you complete this 30-day, 24-hour audit of how you spend your time. Who, what, how often and how much are all laid out for your review and decision-making.

As an added incentive for men, John can also use the audit to highlight to his wife the absence of certain activities. Wives will point to the need for more quality time together.

BOMDAS followers we are at Addition: Brackets|Of|Multiplication|Division|Addition|Subtraction.

Access the series here: http://jamaica-gleaner.com/ Enter in search: Outlook Trevor E S Smith

Register now for the SHRM accredited 3-D Leader Certification course. November 6 & 7. Kingston/face-to-face.

The next cohort of the ICF/SHRM accredited Certified Behavioural Coach Award will be January 2016.

E-mail: info[at]swpacademy.com

Trevor E S Smith is a Behaviour Modification Coach with the Success with People Academy, Extended DISC/FinxS.

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How To Use A Math Formula To Improve Teamwork

MathFormulaForTeamwork

 

At school I learned the life-saving BOMDAS formula without which solving Algebra problems would be impossible.

The order of operation should be:

Brackets | Of  | Multiplication  | Division  | Addition |  Subtraction

Here is an example:

Solve: 7 + (6 + 3) x 5 – 4 ÷ 2

Step 1 [Brackets]:  7+ 9 x 5 – 4 ÷ 2

Step 2 [Multiplication & Division]: 7 + 45 – 2

Step 3 [Addition]: 52 – 2

Step 4 [Subtraction]: 50

Answer = 50

I want to explore with you its application in the realm of teamwork and healthy relationships. Applying the BOMDAS rules creatively could help address some of the challenges that produce a lack of cooperation in groups at a time when effective teamwork is critical for success.

Brackets

The brackets represent both inclusion and exclusion. It indicates that the things within the brackets have something in common that sets them apart from things outside. It also dictates that the things within the brackets should be given similar treatment.

Let’s now take the leap from the abstract to the real live challenge of working cohesively with others.

The first concept is “Belonging”.

One common problem in dysfunctional teams is the failure of members to identify with the team. They don’t see themselves as being part of the whole that is bonded by common objectives and shared goals.

The brackets say – there is a bond that ties us together. The on the ground reality is that many speak of their teams in terms of they instead of we.

Other tell-tale signs that the brackets are meaningless include the fact that team successes are not celebrated as personal successes. It is like a disgruntled player coming home to report that they won the match. After investigation you realize that it is actually his team that won. From the bench he does not see himself as belonging in the team and so he refers to his team as they.

Today’s crisis of low employee engagement has some of its roots in the fact that some team members feel like bystanders rather than being actively engaged in the field of play.

Do a bit of investigative work over the next days and listen carefully to the dialogue of colleagues – your team and other groups. See how often you can detect pride in the accomplishments of the group to which the individual belongs.

In cohesive and functional teams the pride comes from just being a part of the team. Members champion the cause of the team as a whole and each member individually. Team member Jenny’s graduation is ours. In a real sense it might be because we helped so much with her research projects and proof reading her submissions!

That is the spirit that fuels high performing teams and tightly connected groups.

Meanwhile, back in dysfunctional land, Desmond has been like a zombie since he was passed over for the Team Leader role. He might not openly tear down what Martha puts forward but his lack of interest cannot be missed. It is also noticeable that people who were close to Desmond and who felt that he should have got the promotion are also not engaged.  The separation is not only mental as they have now started to eat as a clique in a corner of the lunch room.

This team is on a downward spiral and the impact will soon be evident in their key performance indicators (KPIs).

Unfortunately, it is Martha’s responsibility as Team Leader to solve the problem. She may not have appointed herself but now it is her job to get the best from her team.

She needs to have a heart-to-heart talk with Desmond. She can share that she has observed that he is not the dynamic, vibrant person of three months ago and she would like to discuss the change. She needs to steer clear of even a hint of accusation with respect to his lack of support.

One strategy that might work well for Martha is for her to find some solution – a role, maybe – that helps Desmond to save face and feel better about himself. Could she identify a discrete part of her responsibility and invite him to take charge of it without weakening her authority?

That could produce the benefits of getting Desmond engaged once more while giving her the opportunity to focus on other areas. Of course, if Desmond messes up that would provide grounds for another conversation.

Leading teams is a challenging endeavor that requires a cross-section of well-developed competences. Formal ongoing professional development is essential.

Trevor E S Smith is a Behaviour Modification Coach with the Success with People Academy which is recognized by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) to offer Professional Development Credits (PDCs) for the SHRM-CPSM or SHRM-SCPSM Certifications.

Home of the ICF accredited “Certified Behavioural Coach Award.”

Joint venture partner Extended DISC/FinxS Caribbean …world leading behavioral assessment solutions.