The Rockstar Dilemma

The Rockstars: the great performers in your organization.

For a while it was you. Everything connected. Everything was going your way.

You were on top.

You were the one everyone sought out.

You were the first pick to help others, mentor them, and get them up to speed.

You helped develop others.

But things change.

They began to rise.

They started to perform.

Now, they are the ones everyone seeks out.

Now, they are the first pick to help others.

A shift in Rockstar status can be disruptive. The shift can leave you feeling unsure and insecure.

“Is there still a place for me?”

“What will happen if I build and develop others, and I am no longer needed?”

At some point in your career will most likely be faced with the Rockstar Dilemma: When you move from the top performer to another role as others rise up and take their place in the organization.

The Rockstar Dilemma presents us with a choice that usually takes two different paths.

  1. We see our role not only to perform, but to help build capacity in others, and to share what we know to help them succeed.
  2. We see our role to perform as sheer competition, and anyone’s gain is our loss.

Choosing the second path is easy. We just perform, and perform, and move ahead as long as we can.

Choosing the first path is hard. We face the dilemma of performing, while helping others develop and perform, knowing that there is a chance that someday they will surpass us.

There is insecurity in the first path.

There is risk in the first path.

I hear the response every time I introduce the first path of the Rockstar Dilemma.

“But, if I develop them, I will no longer be needed. You are essentially having me work myself out of a job!”

My response is always the same.

“If you are the kind of leader who can build teams who are better than you, and can out perform you, you will never be out of a job. Organizations will pay you a lot more than you are making today to build that kind of a performance culture.”

When faced with the Rockstar Dilemma, let’s pick the right path.

#Worthless

When you work with people and companies, you hear a lot of stories.

Some stories leave you a little speechless.

They are young, talented, and are always working. I don’t mean they work a lot, I mean they are always working: weekends, nights, and vacations.

They feel a little overlooked.

They give their all, making personal sacrifices, and not getting any relief.

No real promotions, no real raises, no additional help.

They receive an increased pace, increased workload, and increased hours.

One day they are called into the leader’s office. They are told that the company sees them, and wants to invest in them. They have a future.

Hope returns.

They work harder, more hours, and more projects.

They are working on a particular project that takes a lot of time, energy, and focus.

They need to get this right.

They return to the leader’s office.

They make a case for more time, help, and assistance.

No additional assistance is given.

No investment is made in them, just a simple statement.

“You know, none of this matters anyway. No one reads this stuff.”

Worthless.

They have been told and reminded of their value.

All the hours.

All the time.

All the sacrifices.

Worthless.

It should come as no surprise, that this company is struggling with high turn-over and a toxic culture.

Ironically they are trying so hard to bring value to those outside of the company, that they forgot about the value on the inside.

What message are you sending?

Do your people feel valued or Worthless?

Does your company have a high turn-over rate? Are you driving hard for results and forgetting something along the way? Does your culture promote appreciation and value, or do people feel Worthless?

If you or your company are struggling with conveying value, contact me today.

Let’s send a better message.

Permission

I have been wrestling with how to close out a project that has been consuming my mind, energy, and emotions. The project is a risk, and includes trying to help others launch their big ideas into the world.

I have learned a few things along the way.

Taking risks is hard.

Launching ideas is scary.

Fear of failing is paralyzing.

But.

We move forward despite the resistance.

We will have doubts during the entire journey.

We will feel stuck, get stuck, and periodically wiggle free.

So.

What do you do when you are at the end of a project?

How do you end one journey and make sure it closes out correctly?

How do we move from one project to the next?

I was recently talking to a close friend and they offered a great word.

Permission.

And not just any Permission.

Two specific areas of Permission.

Permission to Rest.

Permission to Celebrate.

Permission to Rest – to acknowledge that your efforts and energy that you put into this project will require recharging afterwards and to make space and allow yourself to rest without feeling guilty, lazy, or worthless.

Permission to Celebrate – to acknowledge that you did something, created something, and made something happen, and to give yourself some credit even if it wasn’t perfect or exactly what you had hoped.

Permission to both Rest and Celebrate is difficult.

We are so “busy” that natural Rest feels like we are doing something wrong.

We are so critical and/or trying to be humble that to Celebrate feels wrong as well.

Maybe all projects should end with Permission.

Go ahead and give yourself the Permission to Rest and Celebrate.

And just in case that is hard to do, we give you Permission for both.

New Ideas

There is a problem with trying to bring new ideas into the World.

The problem is the resistance.

The resistance tries to wear you down, so you will stop trying.

At first glance you may think that the resistance is only on the outside.

Systems.

Organizations.

Power.

Resources.

Surprisingly the biggest resistance may not be outside at all.

There is a group on the inside trying to stop you.

The resistance committee of fear, failure, shame, and pessimism do a fine job of wearing you down, and shutting down the new ideas.

The resistance committee wants to keep you isolated.

The resistance committee wants you to think that your new ideas are stupid, silly, and will never be welcomed.

The resistance committee wants to convince you that the World will never embrace you and your new ideas.

But the resistance committee is wrong.

The World is waiting to embrace you and your idea.

The World has Systems that will help you get off the ground.

The World has Organizations that need your new ideas.

The World has Power to move things forward and Power to share.

The World has Resources to invest in you and your new ideas.

Don’t let the resistance committee keep you isolated.

Don’t let the resistance committee convince you that the World is the enemy.

You have new ideas.

The World needs new ideas.

The World needs you.

The No Red Rule

Did you ever notice when you travel to a new place, there are local traffic rules that everyone but you seems to know? These rules are not written down, but you tend to learn them as you drive.

You can clearly see the stop sign, but everyone is just driving through without the slightest pause. You hear blaring horns or interesting gestures when you apply the break.

Organizations seem to have these local rules.

An unwritten code that everyone obeys.

Navigating or even learning about these local rules can be a challenge.

These local rules seem to be contrary to stated practices, or are sometimes just plain weird.

We encourage people to be flexible with their schedule. But don’t come in after the boss or leave before they leave for the day.

Fridays are dress-down days. But not really if you want to be promoted or taken seriously.

We encourage new fresh ideas. But don’t do anything risky that may fail.

But recently I learned about a local rule that is clearly my favorite: The No Red Rule.

Yes, The No Red Rule.

In reports, financial statements, and presentations there is The No Red Rule.

The No Red Rule isn’t printed anywhere, but it seems to originate from a senior leader.

People discover The No Red Rule when creating reports or presentations when someone else reviews and tells them.

“You know about The No Red Rule right?”

“The what?”

“The No Red Rule. Whatever you do, don’t use any red in this presentation.”

“Are you kidding? How am I supposed to show his without red?”

“I don’t know, try green, or maybe blue, purple may not be great because it contains red…”

As I reflect on The No Red Rule, I cannot help but wonder about the origin. Maybe the color red has some negative stigma. Maybe the color red seems too angry. Maybe the color red…

Whatever the reason, it is more fascinating to think about the amount of time, energy, and lost productivity The No Red Rule local rule seems to cause.

The No Red Rule creates uncertainty and fear.

The No Red Rule creates revisions and reviews.

The No Red Rule feels arbitrary and needless.

What local rules does your organization have?

Where are you not allowed to use red, try new things, develop new ideas, or be flexible?

The real problem with local rules is that you don’t really know they are there until you violate them.

If you do have a local rule like The No Red Rule (and it is important) make it official and explain the rule. In the absence of the explanation, we are left with uncertainty.

Rocks in the Canoe

(Image Courtesy of Imagekind)

We either build or inherit organizations. Either we started it from scratch, or we came into the organization once formed.

The organization is intended to move forward, presumably in an efficient, smooth, and relatively safe way: Like a Canoe. (Work with me here.)

You want your Canoe (organization) to get to the destination with ease of effort and maybe even enjoyment along the way.

You are trying to paddle your Canoe forward.

You are probably good at watching for rocks outside of your Canoe.

But there is a problem.

There is resistance.

Things are sluggish.

Instead of focusing outside, you look inside.

There are Rocks in the Canoe.

Some Rocks in the Canoe are employees who are not buying into the change of direction, strategy, or approach.

Some Rocks in the Canoe are rules and procedures that are working against your customers.

Some Rocks in the Canoe are having the wrong people doing the wrong jobs.

Some Rocks in the Canoe are distractions and procrastinations that move us away from our goals.

You didn’t notice it at first. Slowly those Rocks in the Canoe began to add up.

Maybe you have been spending so much time focusing on avoiding the rocks in the river, that you failed to notice the Rocks in the Canoe.

Your Canoe is heavy and weighed down.

Your Canoe is slow and sluggish.

Your Canoe is hovering dangerously close to the waterline.

Can you see the Rocks in the Canoe now?

The Rocks in the Canoe didn’t get there all at once. Some rocks started as pebbles, and seemed to grow over time. Some rocks were there when you first got into your Canoe, and you may not have noticed.

The Rocks in the Canoe need to go.

But, your Canoe may not respond well to quick motion and disruption.

Your Canoe may be a little wobbly.

It is important to keep your balance and not overturn or sink while removing the Rocks in the Canoe.

If you stand up and immediately start throwing rocks, you may tip over or crash.

Maybe we can learn from how the Rocks in the Canoe got there in the first place.

The rocks didn’t show up all at once, and our job is the methodically remove the Rocks in the Canoe.

Imagine what your Canoe could do if it wasn’t so weighed down.

P.S. Don’t be afraid of your competition picking up your rocks. If they want to put your rocks in their Canoe, let them. As you are moving quickly forward, they may be slowing down and not even realizing the cause.

Change, Loss, and Resistance

“They have a new building, a new workplace, but there is resistance, and I do not understand why they are not embracing the change.”

In other words, “hey we invested in a new building, a new space, and they should be happy!”

There was more than a building change.

A lot changed.

We talk more about the new building, the new workplace.

We learn that there were other changes.

They used to work together, now they are alone.

They used to have space to connect as a team, now there is isolation.

They used to be comfortable and a little distant from the direct issues, now they are directly in the middle of the problem.

All this change may be a better way.

All this change may be beneficial for the job.

All this change may workout in the long-term.

Now we can understand the resistance.

Now we can understand the disruption the new building caused.

Now we can understand the loss of connection with the team.

There is a great quote about change.

“Change is a form of loss. 

You need to let people grieve it.”

The resistance is grieving a loss.

The resistance is trying to adjust to the loss of team.

The resistance is getting used to working alone.

We need to understand that the change (even if that change is ultimately good) can also create a loss.

We may need to be patient while they grieve.

We may need to understand and recognize the resistance.

We may need to provide support in the process.

We will need to explain why this change is important, and acknowledge the loss.

We may need to explain it again.

We may need to provide more support than we imagined.

We may have caused other issues that we didn’t intend.

Change: It is much harder to manage than we may have guessed.

Wired for Solutions

We have already talked about being wired for problems. We all have different styles, and some behavioral styles have this uncanny ability to scan the environment for problems.

At first this sounds negative.

Always pointing out what is wrong.

But there is a flip side to having a style or mind that is wired to discover problems.

That same mind or style is also wired for solutions.

The more I work with people about their style, the more they need to see these two sides.

Not everything about our style is positive.

Sometimes we don’t always like everything about our style.

But our styles have two sides.

You may be more prone to follow the rules, and that same style promotes excellence and accuracy.

You may be prone to be talkative and social, and that same style can move people to believe, and hope, and dream.

You may be prone to be a little scattered or distracted, and that same style breaks out of the status quo and moves organizations forward through change.

You may be prone to focus on the task or the process, and that same style will build organizations that can scale.

Knowing who you are, and your style is the first step. If you haven’t taken one of these assessments, contact me and let’s find how you are wired, and how you can make the most impact in your world, your business, and your journey.

The Tribes

Winter here has been weird.

In a week and a half, the temps have varied from 65 to 8.

Running has been a challenge.

Some days are cold, some are warm.

My body and my attitude has needed to adjust.

Luckily I am part of a Tribe.

The Running Tribe.

The Running Tribe spends time together.

The Running Tribe encourages each other.

The Running Tribe is a little weird.

The Running Tribe laughs together, especially while waiting around for the start of strange races that get us outside despite the weather.

Life can be weird.

In a week and a half, I can go from confident to insecure, happy to sad, encouraged to frustrated.

Leading can be a challenge.

Parenting can be a challenge.

Partnering can be a challenge.

Friendships can be a challenge.

Some days are cold, some are warm.

My body and my attitude has needed to adjust.

We need more Tribes.

Tribes for each challenge.

A Leadership Tribe.

A Parenting Tribe.

A Partnering Tribe.

A Friendship Tribe.

Find the Tribes.

Create the Tribes.

Join the Tribes.

Join My Tribes.

Let’s try doing these things together.

 

Balancing Processes, You, and the Customer

Creating and running a business is not easy work.

You have competing demands of your time, attention, and energy.

Success increases that competition.

Success increases the demands.

You start to grow.

You start to expand.

Things start to break.

The old ways are not enough.

Processes.

Processes are created and updated.

Processes start to build the right foundation: forms, agreements, and structure.

Processes are designed to make things more uniform, more streamlined.

Processes are meant to free up time and energy.

You.

You need increased capacity.

You start to discover and learn your own style, skills, and “highest and best use.”

You are good at some things.

You are not so good at other things.

You may need to give some things away to others.

The Customer.

The Customer likes what you have to offer.

The Customer still remembers when they took the risk on you.

The Customer likes how they used to connect with you.

The Customer wants to continue without a lot of disruptive change.

Balancing Processes, You and the Customer can be a challenge.

Some Processes can upset the Customer.

You may resist the Processes because it feels confining.

The Processes may put a little distance between You and the Customer.

The Customer may always want to speak directly to You.

Building and scaling a business is not easy.

Sometimes we spend too much time focusing on just one of the areas.

When we focus only on Processes – we unleash rules, policies, and procedures that can choke off flexibility and creativity.

When we focus only on You – we can get lost in self-reflection, doubt, and self-criticism.

When we focus only on the Customer – we suffer, compromise, and become spread too thin.

Balancing Processes, You and the Customer is even harder when you grow.

What Processes do You really need? Which make our jobs easier with the least impact to the Customer, and the largest return on time/energy for You?

Where should You be spending the bulk of your time?

What does the Customer really want from You and any Processes?

As you scale, remember to ask questions and regularly spend time thinking about all three.

Putting Your Friends Out

We live near an airport.

When our friends fly, our home transforms into a park-and-ride.

When our friends fly, our home can also transform into a bed-and-breakfast.

We offer this service.

We are trying to be good friends, not bad friends.

Some participate.

Some don’t.

We hear similar reasons from our friends who don’t.

“We don’t want to be a burden.”

“We don’t want to inconvenience you.”

“We don’t want to put you out.”

Putting your friends out.

The intention is noble.

But helping is not Putting Your Friends Out.

(Unless you are that one friend with a pickup truck and everyone expects you to help move, then we are totally tracking with you.)

Is it a little inconvenient to drive to the airport at weird, early, or late hours? Yep.

It it always the best time? Nope.

Then why do friends offer to help?

Because everyone’s lives are so busy, sometimes the only time we get to connect and see folks are on those small drives to and from the airport.

Connecting with those around us that we care about is hard.

Find the small moments to connect.

The trip to the airport.

The errands.

The grocery store.

Waiting in some line.

Dropping off their car for an oil change/repairs.

The ride to and from [soccer, dance, hockey, or whatever] lessons.

Remember you are not Putting Your Friends Out.

Maybe they are just trying to connect.

Some of my fondest memories are small moments doing the most routine things with my closest friends.

 

Treat Them Well

Treat them well.

Who?

Your employees.

Why?

There are a few reasons.

Reason One: Well treated employees are more productive, engaged, treat customers better, and will contribute to your bottom line. Employees (the right ones of course) are great assets who provide service, innovate, invent, and create.

Reason One is the “right” thing to do, but somethings are interfering with it.

This is not a complete list, but here are a few interference observations.

The Recession. The fears associated with economic decline cause a retreating, and no or low investment in people. Years go by, and despite economic improvement, the pattern of retreat and non-investment continues.

Old Patterns and Mindsets. Recognizing only a certain type of employee performance or style. Thinking that employees are “lucky to have a job” or “don’t have the same work ethic as we did.” Having benefits structured in a way that access to them requires long periods of service. These patterns sometimes go unnoticed by those in the pattern, but have negative results on current employees.

The Incumbent Bargain. Not realizing that the person holding the job today is well below market price. Through a series of decisions (see other observations for insight) you may be completely unaware of the current one-sided deal you are getting.

On to the other reasons (as if Reason One wasn’t enough).

Reason Two: Unemployment rates have been steadily declining. When I assist organizations trying to find talent, it feels more like trying to pan for gold, long after the gold rush has moved on. With rates below 3% in my own State, essentially there is almost no-one left, and other companies are going to start stealing your talented employees.

Reason Three: The Old Patterns and Mindsets not only create dissatisfaction with current employees (essentially incentivizing them to look elsewhere) but also position your organization at a disadvantage to attract new talent. You may find your organization is in a death-spiral of employees leaving and no easy way to replace them.

Reason Four: It is going to cost you if you have not been attentive to the market shifting around you. If the Incumbent Bargain is not on your radar screen, you may be surprised what it will cost you to replace your experienced and knowledgeable employees. More and more today I hear “we are going to have to pay what?” when it comes to replacing existing employees. The “you are lucky to have a job” may soon be replaced with “you are lucky to still have me” dialogue.

Whatever reason you choose Treat Them Well, you may be surprised if you don’t.

 

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