Tag Archive for: thoughtLEADERS

The Secret to Motivating a Slacker on Your Team

This week’s guest post is from Mike Figliuolo, the co-author of   and the author of . He’s the managing director of thoughtLEADERS, LLC  – a leadership development training firm.

An honor graduate from West Point, Mike served in the U.S. Army as a combat arms officer. Before founding his own company, he was an assistant professor at Duke University, a consultant at McKinsey & Co., and an executive at Capital One and Scotts Miracle-Gro.

Mike regularly writes about leadership on the thoughtLEADERS Blog. His latest book, , has just come out and you can get your copy by . On a more personal note, Mike has been a good friend for many years and has generously shared his blogging expertise with me.

Brian Ahearn, CMCT®
Chief Influence Officer
Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes”.
The Secret to Motivating a Slacker on Your Team

Dave has a great résumé with the right education and expertise from brand name schools and employers. When he accepted your job offer, you felt like you made one of the best hires of your career.

Since Dave got the job, however, his talents haven’t translated into the results you expected. He’s a smart guy with great communications skills – at least his verbal communication skills. He’s outspoken in team meetings and has many ideas, most of which seem to have potential. Interestingly enough, however, those ideas relate to other peoples’ responsibilities. Dave’s willingness to comment on how others are doing or not doing their jobs is drawing complaints from your team. He has much less to say about his own area.

You hate the thought of losing someone as talented as Dave, but his lack of results is alarming. His teammates have picked up his slack. You’ve dedicated more of your leadership capital than you’d like harping on him to get his work done. There’s no doubt that Dave is a “Slacker.”

Approaches for Leading a Slacker

Leading Slackers requires you to “Unlock Motivation” within them. Slackers have the capability to do their jobs well. If they applied themselves, Slackers could be Exemplars on your team.

Turning a Slacker around reduces the team conflict they create when they talk about everyone else’s work instead of doing their own. To be sure you’ve got a Slacker on your hands, assess their performance and see if they’re delivering the results you expect.

To turn Slackers around, first let them know their behavior isn’t acceptable. If they’ve avoided deadlines in the past, give them a real deadline to hit or face the consequences. Connect with your HR representative to start the performance improvement plan process. Document the expectations for the Slackers’ role, their performance against those objectives, and the specific goals they need to accomplish.

Set deadlines for completing their performance improvement plan and keeping their job. Make it clear that delivery of results is a condition of their employment. You’re not looking to threaten them – you’re merely explaining the cold, hard facts of their situation. Coach them that being smart isn’t enough. Reassure them you believe they have the ability to do the job – if they set their mind to it. Provide them a picture of what success could look like for them.

The painful first conversation with Slackers might be enough to turn them around. Other times they say they’ll improve but they never do. That behavior requires you to escalate the situation and put them on a formal performance improvement plan.

After putting your Slackers on a formal performance improvement plan, have a frank discussion with them about how they want to rectify the situation. Don’t limit the discussion to their role on your team – discuss their career aspirations too. Let them know if they plan to keep slacking by relying on their smarts and reputation to get them through, they’re going to have a performance crisis that will be hard to recover from. If they don’t change their behavior, it will kill their career at some point.

If the combination of being put on a performance improvement plan and getting your frank assessment can’t motivate them to behave differently, ask them what it will take to get them to change. If they’re not interested in helping themselves, you can’t do it for them. These are potentially high risk, high return leadership investments.

Slackers have a decision to make that will determine your approach to leading them. If putting them on a performance improvement plan gets through to them, find the root cause of their problem.

All that’s holding them back is their motivation. They could be bored with their work. Maybe they lack the skills required to plan their work and manage their time. Perhaps someone else on the team is stealing credit for their work.

Your discussion about root causes could provide you insights on how committed they are to change. If they’re not going to work hard in their current role, help them find their next one. Work with them, in consultation with your HR team, to see what kind of referral you can give them. For external referrals, you can point to the Slackers’ strengths. Leave it up to them to explain why they’re leaving their role.



Coaches Aren’t Just for Athletes

I was invited by Mike Figliuolo to write a guest post for his blog, thoughtLEADERS, this week. Mike’s written several guest posts for Influence PEOPLE so I’m always happy to return the favor (reciprocity). The article focuses on the need for coaching to maximize each individual’s performance in the business environment. I hope you enjoy the article.Brian, CMCT


Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes”.

Coaches Aren’t Just for Athletes

I think you’ll agree with this statement; no athlete can reach their full potential without a great coach.

When you think of some of the greatest athletes quite often they’re synonymous with their coach. Michael Jordan had Phil Jackson, Tiger Woods started with Butch Harmon, and Mary Lou Retton worked with Bella Karolyi. None of them would have attained the greatness they did without the guidance and feedback from their coaches.Why is it in business we think we can reach our full potential without coaching? Great leaders are not just visionaries, they coach. They help their people develop so they can succeed in their role and get ready for the opportunities that may come down the pike. Over the years I’ve heard many reasons and have listed a few of the most common below:

To to read the rest of this article at thoughtLEADERS click here.

Making Your But More Powerful

This week I had an opportunity to write a guest post for Mike Figliuolo, Managing Director of thoughtLEADERS, LLC – a leadership development and training firm based in Columbus, Ohio. Mike regularly writes for the thoughtLEADERS blog and has written guest posts for Influence PEOPLE so I’m always happy to return the favor. Below is the opening for a guest article I wrote called Making Your But More Powerful.

Last week I read Mike’s article Managerial Miscues: “The But(t) Sandwich” (Reprise) and told him I really liked it but
The article addressed how people often blow it when it comes to bringing about behavioral changes because all too often they want to appear nice so they say something nice then finish with “but…” and take the other person to the proverbial woodshed. Not effective management.I teach classes on ethical influence and persuasion and one of the things I talk about with people is the power of transitional words like “but” and “however.” We focus on how to strategically use those words to make the most effective presentation because small changes can make a big impact!Here’s the basic teaching point for you to remember when it comes to transitional words – people forget what comes before “but” and focus on what comes after. For example, has anyone ever said this to you, “Honey, I love you but…”? Odds are, all you remembered was the hammer falling after hearing the word “but.” Click here to read the rest of the article at thoughtLEADERS.Brian
Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes!”

Lessons from Leonidas the Spartan King: Why Shrinking Your Business is Smart

I received another invitation from Mike Figliuolo at thoughtLEADERS, LLC to write and article for his blog. Because Mike’s been a huge help to me when it comes to blogging I jumped at the opportunity to reciprocate and help him. Some of you will recall Mike wrote a piece for me last month called An Influence Shortcut – What do you have to believe?

Lessons from Leonidas the Spartan King: Why Shrinking Your Business is Smart
I conducted a workshop recently called Principles of Persuasion. During a break, one of the students said she’d had a conversation with her five-year-old son and expressed parental surprise over something he said. She told him she was going to a meeting about leadership at work. He told her they had talked about leadership at school and he knew what a leader was. He said leaders were people who had followers. Simple and to the point, his definition was right on. Out of the mouth of babes! Click here to read the rest of Lesson from Leonidas the Spartan King: Why Shrinking Your Business is Smart.

Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes!”

An Influence Shortcut – What do you have to believe?

This week’s guest post is from Mike Figliuolo, Managing Director of thoughtLEADERS, LLC – a leadership development and training firm based in Columbus, Ohio. He regularly writes on the thoughtLEADERS blog (http://thoughtleadersllc.blogspot.com/). I know you’ll enjoy what Mike has to share.
Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes!”
Many times in business, we try to influence people with facts. Massive piles of data, reams of analysis, and countless presentations try to get people to buy, sell, or do something. We spend countless hours trying to influence others to take action because we have no direct authority over their decisions.

The thing is, many times all this effort is a total waste of time and energy. We try so hard to get someone to act by bludgeoning them with data. Another dynamic that surfaces is the “influencee” asks tons of questions about minute details because they know such data is available and the analysis is possible. Allow me to try to stop this insanity.

Repeat after me: “What do you have to believe?” It’s the greatest shortcut ever (and one of the most powerful ones to boot). I’ve covered aspects of this dynamic before in another post (http://thoughtleadersllc.blogspot.com/2008/01/getting-to-yes-does-it-change-answer.html) but this one bears some further elaboration.

When we sell our services to our clients, some of them want to quantify the return (and they should absolutely consider this point in their purchase decisions). Unfortunately, the nature of what we train people on is hard to quantify by virtue of the fact it covers soft skills (leadership, communications, strategy, etc.). That being said, we’re still able to demonstrate to clients that they get a phenomenal return on their training dollars. How? We use the “what do you have to believe?” technique.

Here’s how it goes:

  • Let’s assume a specific training event costs $500 for one person to attend. The course is focused on productivity (doing less irrelevant analysis, holding shorter and more effective meetings, etc.).
  • The client says “So if I spend that much money, am I making a good investment?”
  • I then ask “Do you believe if you send someone to this course they will be able to save 60 minutes of non-productive time per month?” to which the client resoundingly answers “Of course!”
  • I then say “Then the conversation is over.” The client says “Huh? I don’t understand.”
  • “Look, let’s assume the fully loaded compensation of the person you send to training is $100,000 per year. That equates to $50/hour ($100,000 / 250 days / 8 hours). The payback period of the training fee is 10 months. Your 1-year ROI is 20% ($600 saved / $500 invested).”
  • “Oh. Okay. I get it. It is a good investment.”
  • “No. It’s a GREAT investment because in year 2 you also save $600. And year 3 and so on. And you get those future savings with no additional investment. Doing a discounted cash flow of that time savings makes your return tremendous. On top of that, you have to realize the person will now do PRODUCTIVE work in that saved 60 minutes and that work has value we’re not even calculating here.”
  • “Okay. Let’s do the training.”

We got there with a simple “What do you have to believe?” The client very much believes they’ll save 60 minutes a month (which is a very low hurdle to get over). If they believe that, then the rest of the argument holds up.It’s basic break even analysis. I could go out and conduct massive research studies on all participants who have ever attended our training. I could develop statistical models to prove exactly what the ROI is. Doing all that work is a total waste of time. All the client REALLY wants to know is if they’re making a good investment. If we can show them they’re making not a good investment but a GREAT investment, any additional analysis done with the purpose of influencing them is wasted energy.Take a look at some of the decisions you’re trying to influence. Can you get to a compelling recommendation by simply asking “What do you have to believe?” I’ll bet you can. I hope I just freed up some time for you to spend on more value-added activities.Mike
Managing Director, thoughtLEADERS, LLC

Give Honest, Sincere Appreciation

Last week we looked at some simple advice from Dale Carnegie; avoid criticism, condemnation and complaining. That could be shortened to “Bite your lip” or “Shut your mouth.” This week we move on to Carnegie’s next fundamental technique for handling people — give honest, sincere appreciation. This is one simple way to tap into the principle of influence known as liking.

So the call is to express appreciation, a grateful recognition for something, with two caveats – the expression needs to be true and it should be genuine. While flattery does endear people to the flatterer…even when they know it is flattery…because this blog is about ethical influence being honest and sincere in your praise is a must. Flattery is disingenuous, whereas appreciation is real.

Who doesn’t like to be recognized in a positive way? I know I like to hear, “Well done,” and I bet you do too. I think we all want that. I’m of the opinion that the person who gruffly says, “I don’t need a pat on the back to know I’m doing a good job,” needs it more than anyone! I make that assertion because they probably never get praise and their reaction is a self-defense mechanism. It would stink to acknowledge you want praise but never get it.

So remember to give honest, sincere appreciation when appropriate. This benefits you too, because if you look for something genuine to compliment someone about, you tend to change your own thinking about that person. If you don’t particularly like someone but consistently make the effort to look for, and point out, good qualities they have, eventually you’ll find yourself thinking, “They’re not so bad after all.”

Here’s the really cool thing — if you keep it up long enough you might actually start to like them! That’s right; you will actually come to like them. After all, how can you not like someone you consistently find praiseworthy?

What naturally follows is they start to like you in return because they can tell you genuinely like them. Believe me, it’s much easier to persuade people to your way of thinking when you like them and they like you.

Wouldn’t it be great if every person you interact with tomorrow you actually like? Sure it would. While that might not happen 100% of the time it can occur a lot more than it’s happening right now but it’s up to you. If you take this advice and nothing else happens other than you come to like people more, even those who seem unlikable, then you’ll have better days.

Since this post is about honest, sincere appreciation I’ll put that advice into practice by taking time to express gratitude to people who’ve influenced me when it comes to this blog.

First let me start with those of you who read this each week. It amazes me that people in nearly 50 countries have taken time to read what I write each week. That excites me!If it were not for a coworker, James Seay, I never would have ventured into the online world. I took a personal branding class from James and he talked about the need for an online presence. He got me going on Facebook and LinkedIn. He’s also given me really good blogging advice. Click here to learn more about James.

Next is a man named George Black. I probably never would have started this blog had it not been for a conversation I was having with George about social media. Give him a follow on Twitter @GeorgeBlack because he’s a good man.

Mike Figliuolo, founder of thoughtLEADERS, gives me great ideas every time we have lunch together. Mike’s a smart, funny, insightful guy. We’ll be swapping blog posts so you’ll see more of him in the months to come. In fact, he will be the feature article next week. You can also follow him on Twitter @Figliuolo.

Thanks to my high school buddy Michael Franzese who’s given me some very cool drawings for this blog, like the one above. Take a look at his blog, Franzeseinklings, to see more cool pictures as well as his funny, interesting insights on life.

Debbie Conkel is a lady I’ve worked work with for many years. Debbie has proofread my work for more than 15 years and graciously proofreads every one of these posts on her own time. If you like my writing style Debbie has a lot to do with it. If you don’t like my style then it’s probably the parts where I didn’t take her advice.

Last but not least, I have to thank my wife, Jane, and daughter, Abigail, because they give me so much great content to write about and just roll with it. When I published the article on Reverse Psychology and the Vacation Bathing Suit Jane wasn’t thrilled. In fact, she emailed me to say, “You MIGHT want to ask my permission before writing a story about me. No girl wants her picture in a bathing suit on the Internet.” My response, “I’m just glad you’re a reader!” Really, I was just happy she was reading. Now she reads my posts every week…just in case.

As for Abigail, she hasn’t read many yet, too boring for a 13 year-old, so I can pretty much write what I want about her. You’ll learn all about raising a teenager in the years to come as I test all these psychological principles in the real world!

With all sincerity to any and all reading this week, thank you! I would only ask one thing before I leave you – would share this blog with a few other people? I’d love to write an article someday telling you people in 100 countries are readers.

Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes!”

Are You “An” Authority or “In” Authority

Okay, it’s not 5:30 PM on Monday so why the new post? Well, I received an invitation from Mike Figliuolo at thoughtLeaders, LLC, to write a guest article and I didn’t want to pass up a great opportunity.

I met Mike several months ago and we’ve become friends and colleagues. We regularly share ideas over lunch and he’s been a tremendous help to me as I’ve developed my blog. Look for some guest articles from him on Influence PEOPLE in the future. For now, click here to read Are You “An” Authority or “In” Authority.

Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes!”