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How to Inspire Purpose in Your Team

April 25, 2017

TODAY’S TIP: How to Inspire Purpose in Your Team  

In our last post, we discussed that there are five key ingredients to creating a great team.

Inspiring purpose is the first ingredient that distinguishes great teams from good ones.

Ingredient #1: Inspiring Purpose

Whenever I ask a group of leaders, “What makes a great team?” I hear the same, accurate answer: a common goal.

It’s like saying the secret to great tomato sauce is tomatoes.

To delve into this a little more, let’s return to my grandmother’s kitchen.

On Sundays, we’d hover by the white stove stop, waiting for Nana to turn her back. When she wasn’t looking, we’d dip a torn corner of fresh Italian bread into the pot of tomatoes, basil and olive oil simmering into a boom of red sauce and sneak a quick taste.

The purpose of food is nourishment. More than that, Nana added love. She stirred frequently, added ingredients slowly, and probably smiled as she turned away from the pot and we swooped in. Her food brought us together and kept our Italian heritage alive. That’s what inspired us and made her food great.

In my experience, great teams feel great commitment to something beyond a common goal – they feel inspired by the greater purpose of their work. As a leader, you have an opportunity every day to connect people’s goals with greater purpose to their work. This is important for everyone, especially Millennials. If you want to accomplish great things together, regularly remind people of the inspiring purpose for their work.

Tips You Can Use:
Here are a few secrets from my toolkit to help you inspire your team to greatness.

  • Working One-on-One: When you delegate a project or task, be sure to explain the “Why” behind the person’s goals and how their work relates to the purpose or goals of the team or the organization. “When you do this task well, you’re contributing to the company’s vision to cure cancer for patients,” or, “By doing this project well, you’re helping the team innovate new ways of working,” or, “Even though this may seem routine, it matters because other team members are relying on your quality work product to achieve our team’s goals.”    
  • With your team: One of my favorite team development experiences that I designed is called “I am Here.” At your next team meeting, take five minutes out of your agenda. Ask people to take out a paper and write the reasons why they chose to work in your company or team. Then ask them to share their answers with the team. I’m always amazed by the common threads people offer. This experience works well in large groups as well.

In our next post, we’ll leave Nana’s kitchen and turn our attention to Palo Alto, California, where Google’s data-geeks uncovered the next key ingredient of great teams. I’ll offer more details on the other four key ingredients and actionable steps you can take as a leader to put them to work in your teams.

KEY TAKEAWAY: great teams feel commitment to something beyond a common goal – they feel inspired by the greater purpose of their work.

 

Stay tuned for our next post to learn about the next key ingredient to great teams.

The Secret Sauce of Great Teams

April 7, 2017

TODAY’S TIP: There are 5 key ingredients to building great teams

In my Italian family, food was love.

Sunday came with a big pasta dinner and my grandmother’s red sauce bubbling gently to a simmer in the pot on the stove-top. We have lots of wonderful cooks in my family, but no one could make sauce like my grandmother. Even if she gave you the recipe, your food would come out good, but not great.

Today, I confess to take-out more often than homemade meals. But I love my work and carry my grandmother’s ethic with me.  As I coach, I help leaders build a great culture to achieve bold goals.

Continue reading »

Enable Your Employees to Take Charge of their Careers

March 30, 2017

In our last post, we introduced three tips for moving people in to the Nexus at your organization. As a reminder, the Nexus is that brilliant place where company business goals and people’s passion meet for optimal performance.

Here we will dive deeper into these concepts so you can easily apply them at work:

  1. Be specific when communicating your vision.People want clear direction and meaningful work. In Jeffrey’s company we generated a list of projects and tasks that are specific to the company. Managers use the list in career conversations with people to match development goals with work that optimizes the Nexus.
  1. Strengthen your coaching muscle.As managers, we tend to give people advice but they learn more when we ask meaningful questions. At Jeffrey’s company, we trained managers how to coach for both continuous and career development
  1. People don’t learn from challenging assignments, they learn by reflecting on their experience.Schedule time for periodic conversations that reveal insight and lessons learned that people apply to improving both on the job performance, which prepares them for future roles and opportunities.

Remember, relationships are ongoing and there is no finish line.

We’ve been following Jeffrey in our recent posts, whose challenge was to keep people engaged who had worked at his company for more than three years. At Jeffrey’s company Prior Consulting piloted tools that enabled fresh career conversations. Some people left after realizing that the source of their burnout was the result of a small overlap between their interests and the company needs. This is healthy.
Jeffrey reports that managers, not HR, take ownership for building relationships with people, delegating more effectively and coaching people more frequently.

The benefit: people have a clear sense of their strengths and development areas. Managers and employees work together to close the gaps.

KEY TAKEAWAY: If you want to move your team into the Nexus, enable people to take charge of their careers.

3 Ways to Create Optimal Performance at Work

February 27, 2017

As a manager, you need to create optimal performance from everyone in your organization.

In our last post, we learned that quality relationships between managers and people leads to higher employee engagement and increased performance. We also learned that career development is the key to building these quality relationships between managers and their people.

Coaching and mentoring builds quality relationships and allows employees to meet the challenges of their work today while charting their future path.  Millennials, in particular, need to know they are growing in their role, to be satisfied and engaged with their work. Career development activities do just that.

The goal of all this is to move people into the Nexus: the place where company business goals and people’s passion meet for optimal performance.

Here are three tips for moving people to the Nexus:

  1. As an employee, be specific when communicating your vision.
  2. As a manager, strengthen your coaching muscle.
  3. People don’t learn from challenging assignments, they learn by reflecting on their experience.

KEY TAKEAWAY: When employees and managers work together on career development, everyone at the organization benefits.

In our next post, we will take a deeper dive into these three tips so you can learn how to easily apply them at work.

The Key to Higher Employee Engagement

February 13, 2017

In today’s post we will be talking about the manager/employee relationship and how that affects workplace engagement and productivity.

TODAY’S TIP: Career Development = Quality Relationships = Employee Engagement

Remember Jeffrey from our previous post? His challenge was to keep people engaged who had worked at his company for more than three years. He realized that the Nexus, that place where an organization’s goals and people’s passion meet, creates optimal performance for both the organization and the person, and that this is the best answer to employee engagement and company success.

Jeffrey discovered that the best way to reach the Nexus was for his organization to focus on the quality of relationships between managers and people. Quality relationships happen when mangers actively coach their people on their career development path, and this lead to high levels of engagement.  Career development happens on the job, when people have challenging assignments and managers that coach effectively.  The outcome: higher employee engagement and people’s willingness to give their extra time and energy

Why?

People long for coaching and mentoring, especially when it comes to feeling good about their work today and charting their future path.  In fact, career development ranks as the top reason why people switch jobs, especially Millennials. Show your employees you care, and they will show you that they care. When employees get grounded in their personal values, they perform better, says author Amy Cuddy. Career development activities, such as having employees create a personal vision to guide their life and work,empower people to uncover their passion and take charge of their careers.  


KEY TAKEAWAY: 
Actively mentoring your employee’s career development path is the surprising key to building quality relationships and engaging employees.  Stay tuned for our next post which will give you tips on moving people to the Nexus in your organization.

New Year’s Goal? A Win/Win Year

February 7, 2017

At this time of new year renewal and resolutions, I am very excited to launch the Prior Consulting blog. My goal is to bring practical tips and the latest trends on leadership and culture so you can increase your personal performance, efficiency and effectiveness.

TODAY’S TIP: Focus on the win/win at work to achieve more together

If you are like most of us, your list of resolutions is long and daunting. Here’s a tip to ensure success this year: whether you work for yourself or for someone else, focus on the win/win – this is the intersection, or the Nexus, between your personal goals and the goals of your organization.

The Nexus is the place where your performance and passion meet. It is the zone where your best-self aligns with your organization’s goals, to achieve big goals in 2017.  Developing a role at your company that targets your talents and passion creates the most satisfaction – and happiness -as you and your company work together to achieve audacious results.

Here’s an example:

Jeffrey had a problem. As head of Human Resources of a successful, Cambridge-based biotech firm, he found that people with more than three years of experience with the company were losing passion for their work, popping into his office voicing their dissatisfaction. Managers didn’t know how to develop people. People were unsure how to take charge of their careers. Managers complained that people seemed disengaged; work quality could be higher. What was the source of the problem?

Jeffrey and company managers were searching for the Nexus, where company business goals and people’s passion meet for optimal performance. Visualize a Venn diagram with two overlapping circles, with company mission and goals on one side, and people’s career vision and capabilities on the other. The bigger the overlap between these circles, the greater the outcomes for both the company and its people.

What moves a company and its people into the Nexus?

KEY TAKEAWAY: optimal performance is achieved when company business goals and people’s passion meet.  

Stay tuned for our next post to learn more about Jeffrey and how he helped his managers and company achieve more together.

 

Prior Consulting Gets a New Website

November 23, 2014

Welcome to the new Prior Consulting website. Months in the making, this website was created with you in mind.

When I first began thinking of creating a new website, I knew I wanted one with robust tools and other content that people could use to help change themselves, their departments, their business units or their entire organization. This new site is the first step toward that dream.

Here you’ll find:

New Advice Section — This is the piece I’m most excited about as I plan on adding to it significantly over time. For now, you’ll find articles, reports and e-books, and this blog. I’m currently working on a new P/M/L Self-Assessment survey which should be live soon.

Virtual Career Coach — Coming in late Winter/ early Spring is my new Virtual Career Coach self-assessment workbook. A dynamic tool, this self-assessment will help you chart your career path.  We’ll let you know as soon as it becomes available for sale on Amazon.

Expanded Services Information — To help you better understand how I can help your organization achieve its goals, you’ll find information about each of my services. These have broken into three tracks: Coaching, Consulting, and Workshops.

Take a peek through and let me know what you think!

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