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Author: Richard Lannon

7 Tips to Meet Challenge with Confidence

The business world is a demanding one. In times of uncertainty, it is essential to be clear, stay focused and commit. As a business leader and professional, you (we) must be able to understand and develop our best resource — people; extract the right information; comprehend numbers; facilitate, negotiate and manage change; make key business decisions; and seek and leverage opportunities all the while maintaining sanity. In order to achieve success, today’s business leader and professional must meet challenge with confidence.

There are no quick fixes for acquiring confidence, but there are manageable steps that can help build confidence. Here are seven jumpstart ideas to get you going:

1. Get the facts, Jack!

Ask questions of your business stakeholders, get feedback and the information needed, analyze it, and draw business conclusions. Try to neutralize your emotions but be aware of peoples’ needs. Interpret and present information that supports the business point of view and the long-term strategic commitment.

2. Believe in what you’re doing

If it is needed, go back to basics with your people and your business. Trust that you have what you need and move forward with it. If you believe it, so will others. Just be clear. Leverage what you know & believe in what you’re doing.

3. Relax and be patient!

Stop tapping your foot at every meeting while you’re watching other people process information. There is a lot going on in our business world right now and people are concerned. To the best of your leadership abilities, let things happen in other people’s time, not in your time. Believe that it is not if but when it will happen. Focus your energy on the overall goals and outcomes required and your people will follow.

4. Accept that sometimes confidence drops

This applies to confidence in you, confidence in the people around you and confidence in the work you are involved in. This is normal in business. Refrain from reacting. Regain your focus through stepping back, sitting down with your people and discussing the issues at hand, and enabling confident solutions to flow. Find breakthrough thinking and opportunities. Develop a call of confidence (COC) in your environment through a process of engaging your people in “confidence building leadership.”

5. Acknowledge what you don’t know

There is nothing worse than talking to someone who clearly does not know the answer to a question or problem but will not admit it. Don’t be that person. Be a straight shooter and look your people in the eyes and say “I don’t know, but I will find out” or “I don’t know, what do you think?” You don’t have to know everything, but you do need to facilitate answers.

6. Learn confidence!

Yes, confidence can be learned. Set a plan to build your confidence. Become aware of your body language: the way you speak, what you say and how you say it. Practice your skills in front of a mirror.

7. Interact confidently with your environment

Are you the stick in the mud or are you the can-do person? Build your journey; develop you and your people’s SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats). Set your goals, build through knowledge and experiences and, as your confidence grows, find ways to accelerate confidence development in others.

As we said, the business world is a demanding one and we must meet challenge with confidence. To do so, be clear, focused and commit. Once you demonstrate confidence, you will inspire confidence in others — be it in employees, bosses, stakeholders or in the people you serve. We need to be honest but confident as business leaders and professionals. Do not be afraid to embrace the importance of confidence in your business; it is the bridging force in times of uncertainty between you, the people you work with and the business in which you are engaged./

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Eight Steps to Make Better Business Decisions

Decision-making errors exist within all levels of organizations. Some common examples include:

Focusing on the symptoms instead of the problem

  • Having no clear picture of the desired outcome
  • Becoming fixated on only one option
  • Making decisions that do not align with the overall goals of the organization
  • Missing opportunities to set decision criteria
  • Failing to evaluate enacted decisions

It is important to recognize and accept (without blame or shame) that mistakes occur. Then it is time get over it, move on and apply a process that will enable successful decision making.
Here are eight common steps that can be taken to aid in making better business decisions.

  1. Define the Problem: Get clarity on the actual business problem by examining the symptoms and gathering input from all stakeholders. State the problem clearly in business terms. Avoid technical jargon.
  2. Know the Strategic Agenda: Find out what is on the strategic agenda of the organization. Ensure that the business problem outlined aligns with the direction of the organization.
  3. Identify the Desired Outcome:  Know exactly what you want to see happen. Know your goals and objectives before you consider the route to get there. Consider aligning with the strategic, tactical and operational levels of the organization.
  4. Establish the Solution Domain: Consider ideas that might work within the Solution Domain, that is, within the goals, objectives, rules and constraints of the organization. The Solution Domain establishes the context and approach for which alternative solutions can be considered. 
  5. Identify Alternative Solutions: Brainstorm ideas. Have an open session where all ideas are tossed into the ring with no judgment. Refrain from implementation thinking. Focus on solution alternatives. Choose a minimum of three possible solutions per business problem.
  6. Establish the Evaluation Criteria: Become clear on what is important by creating a list of criteria. Define each of these criteria. Establish the decision-making approach and ensure that the approach fits within the context of the organization. 
  7. Go for It: Choose one solution. Enact it. Allow time for it to work. 
  8. Evaluate. Investigate to decide if the solution has been successful. If a satisfactory result has not been achieved, revisit and rethink the solution. Make adjustments as necessary. For some things this is an ongoing process. 

Decision making is a challenge, especially in organizations and where people are involved. A clearly-defined, consistently-applied approach—one that spans all organizational lines—is the key to making better business decisions.

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12 Important Rules of Effective Delegation

Delegation is one of the most important skills. Technical professionals, team and business leaders, project managers, and executives all need to develop good delegation skills. There are many rules and techniques that help people to delegate. Good delegation saves money, time, builds people and team skills, grooms successors and motivates people. Poor delegation causes frustration, demotivates and confuses people and teams. Ask any employee!

The following 12 rules of delegation should help you out:

  1. Delegation is a two-way street. That’s right! Delegation is meant to develop you and the people you work with. Consider what you are delegating and why you are delegating it. Are you delegating to build people, get rid of work you don’t like to do or to develop someone?
  2. To delegate effectively, you need to let go. You can’t control everything so let go and trust the people you work with. Hand over those tasks to other people that are stopping you from reaching your full potential.
  3. Create a delegation plan. Use a delegation matrix that shows your people, the main task components and how you can develop your people and get the work done. This will help your people understand the expectations being set.
  4. Define the tasks that must be done. Make sure that the task can be delegated and is suitable to be delegated. Some things you have to do and others can be done by someone else. Be clear on what the task is and is not. People like clarity when being delegated. So ensure you are clear about what you expect. If you are not clear your people will not be and you will be disappointed. Worse, your people will feel like failures. Not cool!
  5. Select and assign the individual or team that should take on the task. Be clear on your reasons for delegating the task to that person or team. Be honest with yourself. Make sure you answer the question what are they going to get out of it and what you are going to get from it? Think of it as listening to the radio station WII-FM (what’s in it for them!). It’s a good motivator
  6. Make sure you consider ability and training needs. The importance of the task may need to be defined. Can the people or team do the task? Do they understand what needs to be done? If not, you can’t delegate it to them. If resources are an issue, sit your team down and move things around or develop a mentoring support program that enables your people.
  7. Clearly explain the reason for the task or work that must be done. Discuss why the job is being delegated and how it fits into the scheme of things. Don’t be afraid to negotiate points that are discussed when appropriate. Don’t say it is because we are told to do it. For your people to own the task you must own the task. Reframe and rephrase it so you have ownership.
  8. State the required outcomes and results. Answer questions like what must be achieved, what the measurements will be, and clarify how you intend to decide that the job was successfully done.
  9. Be prepared to discuss the required resources with the individual and team. Common challenges arise with every person and team including people, location, time, equipment, materials and money. These are important concerns and should be discussed and solved creatively. However, sometimes it is simply as it must be done. Be prepared.
  10. Get agreement on timeline and deadlines. Include a status reporting feature to ensure things are getting done. When is the job to be done? What are the ongoing operational duties? What is the status report date and how is it due?
  11. Remember the two way street? Well it is most likely a multi-directional intersection. Look around and support and communicate. Speak to those people who need to know what is going on. Check your stakeholder list and make sure you inform them what each individual’s or team’s responsibility is. Do not leave it up to the individual or team to explain their roles. Keep politics, the task profile and importance in mind.
  12. Provide and get feedback for the teams and individuals. It is important that you let people know how they are doing and if they are achieving their aim. Don’t get into blame-storming. You must absorb the consequences of failure, create an environment where failure is an opportunity to learn and grow, and pass on the credit for success. Pay it forward, if you can.

Delegation used as a tool develops you and your people. The better you are at delegation the better the people around you and your teams will do. It is an important command skill and should be used to let go and trust in your people. The difference between success and failure is often a matter of letting go. And delegating!

Richard A. Lannon partners with business and technology organizations to help clarify their goals and objectives and train their leadership and professionals on how to achieve them. He provides the blueprint for you and your organization to be SET (structured, engaged and trained). Richard Lannon can be reached at [email protected]; 403-476-8853 or visit 6/09

Do It Right the First Time; Get Measurable Results

Solid planning and implementation methodologies prepare business for the process of managed projects, improved processes and established change with measurable results. Doing it Right relates to the business objectives, the process and work discipline required to successfully achieve a change within an organization.

The desired change should be business driven beginning with requirements identification and shared business analysis. The business requirements could be any number of things. For example, decrease costs, minimize risk, enhance processes and improve productivity or increase revenue and profits. Identifying the business needs and required results helps in developing plans and making sound strategic decisions. Shared business analysis is the first key to creating success.

Once direction is determined, project management should emphasize accountability, shared implementation, mentoring and transition strategies. All operational resources should move towards the desired result as quickly as possible with the least amount of resistances. There are many methods of managing this process. Picking the right method, strategy and people during the upward swing of project implementation and resource development is critical to having small or large initiatives accepted and integrated. Often a combination of economic, organizational methods and influence must be applied.

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Project managers must consider operational resource’s abilities to provide the support services required to make changes and business improvements viable. You must consider corporate culture and the business mandate. If you need to get a project done, resistance or slow moving efforts get you nowhere. You should focus on communications in an enhanced way of making things happen. Provide mentoring and make it part of the corporate routine.

If the initial investigation phase, planning phase and execution phase are successful then there should be an improved measurable result. The organization capabilities should have shifted from the business operations perspective. Benchmarking should be used to measure the improvements that include both economic and organizational measurements with the appropriate business services support groups. Being departmentally inclusive is important.

The business project team accountable for the process needs to exit the environment with a pre-exit plan in place. They should ensure that the operations people can manage the changed environment. A training and transition plan must be implemented early in the process. The exit requirements should be identified prior to the project engagements with strict efforts on measurable results. Closure to the project and change process is critical for all parties involved. Once support teams take over operational responsibility, there should be a monitoring and measurement system in place to ensure that objectives are reached. By now the business project team is no longer involved but accountability still exists with key assigned members and stakeholders. There should be identified audit points that exist outside the project and into the operational departments.

Business departments that emphasize using best practices for projects and process change can establish themselves as innovative leaders by establishing work management discipline principals, measuring their activities, and showing the results that they made. This approach can be applied to any number of departments and projects; for example changes in technology, business processes, risk advisory or staff training.

When managing projects and business operational change it is important to keep your exit in mind with a disciplined approach. Measure your success and you will learn and achieve greater results.

Richard Lannon , founder of a BraveWorld, works with organizations to clarify their goals and objectives and train their leadership and staff on how to achieve them. He is a dynamic speaker, trainer and facilitator with senior management and leadership experience in business and the technology industry. Richard links organizations and professionals’ business brainpower with bottom-line thinking. His blueprint enables organizations to be SET for Success (structure, engage, transform). That’s why his client’s call him the Setability Expert. He can be reached at: 403-476-8853 or [email protected]

Copyright 2009. All Rights Reserved. Richard Lannon.