Saturday, November 12, 2016

Mediocre At Best

Take a good look at your company, region, store, or department.  Is it outstanding?  Are you achieving most of your goals and heading for greatness?  Do you have wonderfully low turnover, with a line of the best people waiting to work for you?  Is your team full of those people that you would love to clone?  Are almost all of your customers appreciative and very happy with what they are getting from you?

Now look at other businesses… The ones your company buys from, as well as the ones where you and your family spend your money.  Are most of them doing an impressive job of exceeding your expectations?  Are they responsive to your questions and needs?  Do you believe that they really care about you and are working hard to meet or exceed your expectations?  Are almost all of the people you interact with in customer service wonderful to deal with, and obviously happy in their jobs?  Do they belong in customer service?

Very few of us can honestly answer yes to more than a couple of these questions.

Why?  Why aren’t businesses able to be great instead of just OK?  One of the biggest reasons is because most of the time

The People Who Do The Hiring Are In No Way Accountable For The People They Hire!

We will, of course, assume that those people are doing their best, and that they care as much as anyone about the people they hire as well as the success of the company.  And unfortunately

The people who do the hiring are almost never responsible for the actual behavior (the work) of those hires.  And…

They are totally removed from getting any actual first hand, real world and real time feedback on the quality of those people. 

They are doing the best they know how, and they are shooting in the dark.  I would also bet that most of the time the people doing our hiring are finding people who have what they are looking for.  Unfortunately… our own experiences in the world show us that they are clearing looking for the wrong things.

Even if the people doing the hiring are interested in the fate of their hires, it is all too easy to pass the blame when those hires don’t work out (or at least not up to our expectations). 

“They misrepresented themselves in the interview process…”
“Something must have changed, they were great when we hired them…”
“The manager/supervisor/leader must be doing something wrong because we are sending them great people…”

Unfortunately, most of the time the responsibility is laid on the person to whom those hires report, and sadly for them, they are usually already responsible for the team as a whole meeting its expectations.  We assume as well that these Leaders are also doing the best they can, so…

Where do we go from here with this conundrum?

Stay tuned…

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

This Is Why You Need A Friend/Mentor Who Is Absolutely, Brutally Honest With You

The are a couple of exceptions to every rule, and… I will still state that we are all pretty much the same. 

We can all find ourselves caught up in our success; in greed; in lust (or what we might think at the time is love); or in our arrogance and end up doing things that under other circumstances we would advise other people not to do.

My case in point is Bradley Wiggins.  He is arguably Britain’s most famous professional cyclist.  He won the Tour de France; he is an Olympic Gold Medal winner; and he is the current world cycling hour record holder, among other things!

Apparently he does not have a friend or mentor who cares enough about him to be brutally honest with him. 

Here is how we can know that…

In short:  professional cycling has very strict rules about what drugs a participant can and cannot take, both in and out of season.  Granted, many people feel that, as in many sports, doping is rampant in spite of the rigid rules, and that’s another story.

Some drugs that are normally banned can be taken legally IF the cyclist gets a TUE, or a Therapeutic Use Exception.  Many cyclists have gotten a TUE for something called Corticoids, a type of steroid often used for allergies.   Some claim that this is nothing but legal doping, and again that’s another story.

Bradley Wiggins, and Team Sky stated loudly and clearly they were leading the way in ‘Clean Cycling’ and showing that a clean cyclist could win the Tour De France. 

In his autobiography he stated that other than immunizations when he was young, he had never had an injection.  NEVER.

So…his whole career and the whole theme of Team Sky is clean cycling, no needles, and transparency.  Get it?

Now… the hacker group Fancy Bears gets into the data and shows the world that Bradley Wiggins had 3 injections, one just before the 2012 Tour De France (which he won).   He did have a TUE, so he had every legal right to take that steroid injection.

HOWEVER… remember that he stated in his autobiography that he NEVER had ANY injections.  So now the news is out that he did in fact have injections. 

What does he do?
What would you do??
What do I hope I would do???

Bradley Wiggins gets on the news, sticks with his story and denies having sports injections.  EVER!  Even though everyone can see for themselves, right there in black and white, he did indeed get 3 steroid injections!  Huh?

Now I learned when I was a young man that it’s one thing to do or say something stupid… and something else completely to then go ahead and try to cover up that mistake.  The person who covers up the mistakes ALWAYS gets in more trouble than the person who did not cover it up. Don’t ask me how I know that.

We all make lots of mistakes (or if we are not willing to admit that, we at least know lots of other people who make lots of mistakes) and we end up paying for most of them in one way or another.

However some of us, for some reason, cannot admit some of those mistakes, so we deny them and try to cover them up.  That is when the word disgraced comes up. 

We, people in general, can almost always get over the mistakes of others. 

What we cannot get over is being lied to.  We trust the people we care about, our heroes in particular, to tell us the truth, and when they lie to us we feel betrayed.  We are all vulnerable to falling into this trap.  We all have egos; they can be pretty fragile, and we can end up lying to keep that ego intact. 

No one who finds him/herself where Bradley Wiggins finds himself ever thought they would end up there.  We all believe that we would act differently, after all that is how we justify feeling so hurt.  “I would never…”  And yet A LOT of people end up lying about their mistakes.

So what can we do to prevent this from ever happening to us?

We need to already have a friend or mentor who cares enough about us to be brutally honest. 

That person would either have told me to be honest in my autobiography, as long as I was not so wrapped up in my ego that I allowed them to read it before publishing it.  I’m in the clear.


They would have told me to revise my autobiography, admit that I omitted those injections, and tell the truth.  I’m in the clear.


They would have told me to admit my injections and TUE’s as soon as the data breach was public.  I’m not quite in the clear, and I made a mistake.  For the most part we forgive our hero’s mistakes.  Eventually I’ll be in the clear.

If you do not have that kind of friend/mentor AND talk to them/get their advice regularly… find one OR roll the dice!

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

I Don’t Like Using The National Anthem As A Protest. And Yet…

I like to let the kids know what’s going on in the news, just so they know, and so I can attempt to give them what I believe to be both (hopefully all) sides of the story.

I explained that Colin Kaepernick was refusing to stand during the National Anthem because he was “not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.”   When he could not really explain why he might feel that way I went on to tell him that white police officers had shot and killed many unarmed black people (mostly black men) recently (or perhaps always and just recently it’s news!?). 

Many Police Departments lacked transparency, and many attempted to cover up what had happened, how it happened, and what they were (or were not) doing about it.  And it seemed that they believed a slap on the wrist was a just consequence for killing an unarmed black man. 

It also seemed that even the Police Departments that did investigate wanted to prosecute the officers much more leniently than many believe they would if the person killed had been white.

I explained that Police Officers have very stressful jobs, and that putting themselves in danger every day, for relatively very little pay, is what they signed up for.  Getting killed while at work is a regular thing for those who enforce the law.  So… I don’t feel that it is normally OK to second guess the split second decisions of the people who put themselves in very dangerous situations, since we are not willing to put ourselves in those positions.  I have never worked a job as stressful as being a Police Officer, and I still don’t like my actions to be second-guessed all of the time.

And with that said, I do believe that the people we trust to do that job should be held to a higher standard that the rest of us.  While we know they are only people and that they will make mistakes just like the rest of us, their mistakes also carry much higher consequences that our mistakes.

My explanation of why I did not believe Colin Kaepernick’s protest during the National Anthem was OK went something like this…

Our country, The United States of America, is anything but united. 

Over the years people have always protested what the people in Washington were doing.  People have always thought our politicians were in the pockets of big business.  There have always been very rich, some in the middle (pretty well off), and then the rest of us.  We have lots of reasons for divisions and splitting into groups to hate on another group.  Some people have always felt that they were being treated differently that the rest, and many times this was true.

However, I am having a hard time seeing how using the National Anthem as a weapon or tool can have anything but a negative outcome. 

We already have so many reasons to be divided against ourselves. 

Socioeconomic differences have always existed

Racial divisions seem to built into our society (perhaps humans?).

Our country is so large that important issues in one area can mean almost nothing in another.

Our educational system is absolutely broken and not only do the poor suffer for it throughout their entire lives but it also creates divisions between educated and uneducated.

The rise of the internet and this connected world has greatly reduced our face to face interactions, and enabled us to anonymously say whatever we want, as if it were fact.

Wall street (greed in general) brought us the worst economic downturn since the great depression.  Billions of dollars were made by the already rich, it is clear that some people were purposeful in their actions and knew the downside to what they were doing, and yet not one person was held accountable.  The very rich made out like (literal) bandits while everyone else in the country paid the price, and our government (also rich) stood by and watched (and profited).

What do we have that brings us together?  That unites us?  Other than our National Pride?

In the past century the issues that divide us were tempered by the larger issues that brought us together… united us as a people.  WWI, WWII and the bombing of Pearl Harbor united every citizen behind one cause, and everyone, no matter the color or religion, or socioeconomic status joined together to fight.

The problem we are facing today is that for the last 50 years we have had nothing big happen to bring us together (not that I’m wishing for a big problem to pop up).  The Korean War and the war in Vietnam were not widely supported, and while many thought we should be helping in Korea that was a long time ago… and not many thought we should have been in Vietnam.  It was a disaster and more divisive than anything else.

9.11 brought us together for a short while, and then we find that apparently we invaded Iraq for no good reason.  Our president our government lied to us about who was responsible and why we were sending our young men and women overseas.  So that failed to actually unite us.

So I ask you…

What brings us ALL together?

What unites us?

As far as I can see… nothing but National pride.

Which leads us back to protesting the National Anthem.

I believe that we ALL can and should be proud of the strength and actions of our parents and grandparents in building this country, fighting together against those who would threaten us, and working to give us a better life than they had.

And… what exactly can we be proud of lately?  Today?  Anything?

We can agree that something has to be done about the seeming ease with which many in law enforcement are willing to point their weapons at black men, and then pull the trigger when the black man is not holding a weapon of his own.

And if we don’t believe that violent protest is the answer, then what is left?  What can one person, who might has some exposure to the media as his only asset do to make a strong statement. 

He can use his media exposure to show his unhappiness with the way we as a people, our Police Departments, and our governments have reacted to the recent spate of shootings of unarmed black men by the Police. 

So… part of me hates the use of our National Anthem as a protest tool.  And, I also understand why many find this to be a reasonable recourse.  Something has to give, and since I don’t like to think about where continuing on our current path will lead us, this kind of protest has to be OK.

And just how does this all fit on  Well… I believe that Colin Kaepernick is showing extraordinary Leadership around this whole issue.  It is a simple yet powerful protest.  He is not using it for personal gain or glory.  He is not on a whirlwind tour of the news outlets/TV shows.  He is not asking for others to join in.  He is showing a lot of class throughout.