Tuesday, May 27, 2008

How to stop making bad decisions

Emotions make you act. Logic makes you think. Notice the order I put those in.

Most people think they act out of logic but the reality is that you act out of emotion and you justify your actions by logic.

Understanding this fact is key to your success in stopping making bad decisions. In order to make a good decision you need to manage the emotions rather than have them manage you. In order to do this you need to remove judgement from your thinking and get clarity on the facts.

1. Remove judgement by looking at the problem from ALL sides. Write down what you are thinking as you ponder the problem from your point of view, then from all other parties point of view. Put these written thoughts down in columns so you can see them side by side.

2. Next go through and cross out all opinions, and judgemental words so all you are left with is concrete fact.

3. Scan the facts from all angles. If you need to buy some distance and time from the problem so you can get clear thinking.

4. Write down possible solutions that each party would want. Again cross out any judgemental or assumptive words.

5. Look at it and try to come up with a solution that embraces all sides.

You will be surprised how often you cloud your judgement by being assumptive about why people do what they do or by taking a fact plus opinion and turning it in to a different fact.

Take this riddle for example: A father and son are rushed to the emergency room. The surgeon walks in and says "I can't operate. That is my son in there." Who is the surgeon?

Many people automatically say it is the father of the father or, in other words, the grandson. The correct answer is it is the boys mother. Now I know that is an old riddle but 20 years ago it stumped people because no one thought about the Mom being a surgeon. Today that is common place so that hopefully didn't stump you. The point is that clarity comes from stepping back and taking all the facts, laying them out and then seeing what conclusions can be drawn.

Take Action: This week take a problem you are facing and try this method to see if you can see new insights you didn't see before.

Anne Warfield, http://www.impressionmanagement.com/

Friday, May 23, 2008

Can you have high accountability if you don't have consequences?

"What should I do if the leaders in the company whom I need to make the decision come in late to the meeting?"

My question back to this was, "does this happen often or only with one person?" The entire group yelled out, "our whole company is run like that. Everyone comes late to meetings." That comment alone let's me know the corporate culture is one that talks about accountability but doesn't enforce it.

You can not have high accountability without having consequences. I don't believe in juvenile consequences like if you are late you have to sing, or if you are late you put money in a jar. Both of those consequences make people feel like kids and worse yet, if the late person can tolerate them there is no need to change their behavior.

Your consequences need to align with your corporate vision and goals. They need to be reinforced from the top on down.

There are far better ways to deal with this. The first thing I would look at is the blatant message people are sending that we have too many meetings that are not important so I can come late.

Here are some things you can do:

1. Review which meetings are relevant.
2. Keep your meetings tight and too the point.
3. Avoid "book report" meetings where people just recite what they are working on.
4. Start meetings right on time and end on time.
5. Tape the meeting and if a person misses the meeting or arrives late then have them stay after and listen to the tape. They soon get the idea that they will spend the 30 min regardless so being late is not an option.
6. Address chronic late people privately and immediately. Then be consistent with marking down the times they are late and have it be a part of their review. Let them know it is unacceptable to be late.

Remember there are times that people will legitimately be late. The goal is not to eliminate lateness completely but instead to make meetings engaging and effective so all want to participate.

Take Action: Look at what you can eliminate from your meetings to shorten them up and keep them on point.

Anne Warfield, http://www.impressionmanagement.com/