Word-Of-the-Week #688: Sorry

October 12, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Sorry – feeling or expressing regret, especially for a misdeed or mistake.

Have you ever felt guilt or remorse because you didn’t do the right thing? How good are you at owning up to a mistake? How quick are you to apologize for a misdeed?

Once again Neil Senturia has written a great article, “How do so many CEOs get apologies wrong?”I believe in second chances. It is one of the reasons that I spend time teaching entrepreneurship in the prison system.

My experience with the inmates is that the vast majority exhibit a deep sense of remorse; they both understand and can say that they are sorry. If they had it to do over again, they would not make that stupid, destructive, even deadly decision. They have looked at their own world and the world of their victim and they have said, “I am sorry.” And now they ask for forgiveness.

But what about our world? How do we apologize? How do we say I am sorry? For some insight, I turned to Arthur Collins Jr., former chairman and CEO of Medtronic.

Collins says, “Surprisingly, it is more of a rare occurrence when leaders own up and say, ‘listen, I’m sorry.’ ” He cites examples where the honest apology enhances the reputation of the individual, but it is not the norm. Mostly, leaders view the apology as a sign of weakness. For further examples on this topic, please study the current administration in Washington, D.C.

An example of an unhelpful apology (the diesel emissions-gate scandal) was issued by Michael Horn, head of Volkswagen Group of America, who said, “Our company was dishonest … we totally screwed up. We have to make things right … we are committed to do what must be done.” But before finally taking the fall, Horn first blamed the software engineers, saying they acted on their own. Six months later, he was fired.

Rather than go with the honest apology early, he chose to try the slip and slide. And he got caught. The reason people try to dodge the bullet is they think they can get away with it. Gary Becker, Nobel prize-winning economist, says that “criminal behavior is rational”; it is like parking illegally and not getting a ticket — the potential benefits outweigh the potential costs.

Collins advises that if you are going to apologize, do it quickly and sincerely. The longer you wait, the worse it gets. Now I need to pause here. What fascinates me is that everyone knows this rule — everyone from the age of 3 knows that fessing up is the best policy — so my question is: Why do so many people in high places get it wrong?

Look at the Tylenol contamination incident of 1982. James Burke, CEO, took personal responsibility, launched a nationwide recall immediately, (he did not wait to be challenged or found prevaricating, he just did it), returned to the market with tamper-proof lids and reclaimed 30 percent of the worldwide market (which had gone to 7 percent after the recall). Then Collins makes the comparison to Travis Kalanick, Uber co-founder, who was unable to apologize until the day the board removed him.

It seems the initial response is usually to try to cover it up or make up a bogus story. But today, in the age of social media, the ability to “tough it out” is essentially zero. There are cameras and recording devices everywhere. A lie lasts about a minute before it is challenged somewhere, somehow by someone.

Exxon CEO Lawrence Rawl (the Valdez spill) and BP CEO Anthony Hayward (Deepwater Horizon spill) got fired for delay, obfuscation and lack of compassion. This characteristic, namely the ability to quickly acknowledge your error, is a key component for a CEO. Avoid selective and partial disclosure. Transparency should prevail. In the case of the honest mistake, I want to be quick with the apology and beg for forgiveness.

But clearly, I am not giving a pass to fraud, deceit and dishonesty. In those instances, saying you are sorry may be nice, even therapeutic, but the bottom line is indelible — you lied.

In a final analysis I turn from commerce to religion and the Talmud, which states that God created repentance before he created the universe. The personal apology comes from a desire to relieve ourselves from a guilty conscience (you violated a moral norm) as well as a desire to restore some self-respect. An apology turns the shame of the offense and redirects it to yourself. Therein you give the offended the power to forgive, which is a gift most of us cannot refuse. I am continually astounded when the victim’s family forgives the person who committed the crime. I would hope I could do the same.”

Rule No. 526:  “Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong. – Gandhi

This week focus on the times you felt sorry for something you did. Did you try to cover it up or blame someone else? Does making an apology seem like a sign of weakness? How quick are you to forgive someone when they make a mistake?

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Word-Of-the-Week #687: Professionalism

October 5, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Professionalism – demonstrating a high degree of knowledge or skill.

Have you learned every aspect of your job? Are you performing to the best of your abilities? Do you inspire others with your work ethics?

These are the last 3 Values of Penny Loretto’s article, “The Top 10 Work Values Employers Look For.”

  1. Strong Self – Confidence

Self-confidence has been recognized as the key ingredient between someone who is successful and someone who is not. A self – confident person is someone who inspires others. A self-confident person is not afraid to ask questions on topics where they feel they need more knowledge. They feel little need to have to impress others with what they know since they feel comfortable with themselves and don’t feel they need to know everything.

The self-confident person does what he/she feels is right and is willing to take risks. Self- confident people can also admit their mistakes. They recognize their strengths as well as their weaknesses and are willing to work on the latter. Self-confident people have faith in themselves and their abilities which is manifested in their positive attitude and outlook on life.

  1. Professionalism

Employers value employees who exhibit professional behavior at all times. Professional behavior includes learning every aspect of a job and doing it to the best of one’s ability. Professionals look, speak, and dress accordingly to maintain an image of someone who takes pride in their behavior and appearance. Professionals complete projects as soon as possible and avoid letting uncompleted projects pile up. Professionals complete high quality work and are detail oriented. Professional behavior includes all of the behavior above in addition to providing a positive role model for others. Professionals are enthusiastic about their work and optimistic about the organization and its future. To become a professional you must feel like a professional and following these tips is a great start to getting to where you want to go.

  1. Loyalty

Employers value employees they can trust and who exhibit their loyalty to the company. Loyalty in the workforce has taken on a new meaning. Gone are the days when employees plan on starting out and retiring with the same company. It is said that most people will hold between 8 – 12 jobs throughout their career. What does this mean in terms of loyalty in today’s workforce?

Companies offering employee growth and opportunity will ultimately gain a sense of loyalty from their employees. Employees today want to feel a sense of satisfaction in their jobs and will do a good job when they feel that the employer is fair and wants to see them succeed. Although this may mean only staying for five or ten years in a position, employees can offer loyalty and make an important contribution during their time with the company.

  • More companies today encourage employee feedback and offer employees an opportunity to lead in their area of expertise. This gives employees a greater sense of satisfaction and a sense of control over their job. Empowerment encourages employees to do their best work since companies are displaying a trust and expectation that they believe in their employees to do a good job.

Offering jobs that encourage learning and the development of new skills also gives employees a sense of empowerment in the workplace. Aligning an employees values with the goals of the organization will foster loyalty and a bond between employer and employee. Fostering good relationships within an organization and offering constructive ways to handle conflict provides a win – win situation for both employer and employee. Creating an organization that values loyalty within the organization can also work to its benefit by using the same techniques and strategies to establish loyalty with customers; and loyalty from customers ultimately makes for a successful business.

This week is all about your level of professionalism. Are you proud of your behavior and appearance? Are you confident in your abilities and skill level? Do you have a sense of satisfaction and control over your job?

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Word-Of-the-Week #686: Motivated

September 28, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Motivated – inspired by a desire to achieve something.

How motivated are you to improve your job skills? How much supervision or direction do you need to get your work done? How strong is your desire to be successful?

This is part 2 of Penny Loretto’s article, “The Top 10 Work Values Employers Look For.”

  1. Adaptability

Employers seek employees who are adaptable and maintain flexibility in completing tasks in an ever changing workplace. Being open to change and improvements provides an opportunity to complete work assignments in a more efficient manner while offering additional benefits to the corporation, the customer, and even the employee. While oftentimes employees complain that changes in the workplace don’t make sense or makes their work harder, oftentimes these complaints are due to a lack of flexibility.

Adaptability also means adapting to the personality and work habits of co-workers and supervisors. Each person possesses their own set or strengths and adapting personal behaviors to accommodate others is part of what it takes to work effectively as a team. By viewing change as an opportunity to complete work assignments in a more efficient manner, adapting to change can be a positive experience. New strategies, ideas, priorities, and work habits can foster a belief among workers that management and staff are both committed to making the workplace a better place to work.

  1. Honesty and Integrity

Employers value employees who maintain a sense of honesty and integrity above all else. Good relationships are built on trust. When

working for an employer they want to know that they can trust what you say and what you do. Successful businesses work to gain the trust of customers and maintain the attitude that “the customer is always right”. It is the responsibility of each person to use their own individual sense of moral and ethical behavior when working with and serving others within the scope of their job.

  1. Self – Motivated

Employers look for employees who require little supervision and direction to get the work done in a timely and professional manner. Supervisors who hire self-motivated employees do themselves an immense favor. For self-motivated employees require very little direction from their supervisors. Once a self-motivated employee understands his/her responsibility on the job, they will do it without any prodding from others. Employers can do their part by offering a safe, supportive, work environment that offers employees an opportunity to learn and grow. Working in a supportive work environment and taking the initiative to be self-directive will provide employees with a better sense of accomplishment and increased self-esteem.

  1. Motivated to Grow & Learn

In an ever-changing workplace, employers seek employees who are interested in keeping up with new developments and knowledge in the field. It has been noted that one of the top reasons employees leave their employers is the lack of opportunity for career development within the organization. Learning new skills, techniques, methods, and/or theories through professional development helps keep the organization at the top of its field and makes the employee’s job more interesting and exciting. Keeping up with current changes in the field is vital for success and increased job security.

This week is all about being motivated. Can you do your job with very little direction from your supervisor? Are you interested in learning everything you can about your job? Are you motivated by a strong sense of honesty and integrity? Are you motivated when changes and/or improvements are made?

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Word-Of-the-Week #685: Willingness

September 21, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Willingness ready to act gladly; eagerly compliant.

How willing are you to do whatever it takes to get a job done? Are you looking for a new job? How about a promotion? Do you know the work values employers are looking for?

The next 3 WOW’s will feature Penny Loretto’s article, “The Top 10 Work Values Employers Look For.”

  1. Strong Work Ethic

Employers value employees who understand and possess a willingness to work hard. In addition to working hard it is also important to work smart. This means learning the most efficient way to complete tasks and finding ways to save time while completing daily assignments. It’s also important to care about your job and complete all projects while maintaining a positive attitude. Doing more than is expected on the job is a good way to show management that you utilize good time management skills and don’t waste valuable company time attending to personal issues not related to the job. Downsizing in today’s job market is quite common so it’s important to recognize the personal values and attributes employers want to improve your chances of job security should a layoff occur.

  1. Dependability and Responsibility

Employers value employees who come to work on time, are there when they are supposed to be, and are responsible for their actions and behavior. It’s important to keep supervisors abreast of changes in your schedule or if you are going to be late for any reason. This also means keeping your supervisor informed on where you are on all projects you have been assigned. Being dependable and responsible as an employee shows your employer that you value your job and that you are responsible in keeping up with projects and keeping them informed of the things that they should know about.

  1. Possessing a Positive Attitude.

Employers seek employees who take the initiative and have the motivation to get the job done in a reasonable period of time. A positive attitude gets the work done and motivates others to do the same without dwelling on the challenges that inevitably come up in any job. It is the enthusiastic employee who creates an environment of good will and who provides a positive role model for others. A positive attitude is something that is most valued by supervisors and co-workers and that also makes the job more pleasant and fun to go to each day.

This week is all about willingness. Do you have a strong work ethic? Are you dependable and responsible? Are you a positive role model for others?

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Word-Of-the-Week #684: Uncertainty

September 14, 2017 by · Comments Off on Word-Of-the-Week #684: Uncertainty 

Uncertainty – the state of being unsure of something.

Does uncertainty make you feel uncomfortable? Do you feel a need to be in control all the time? How much time do you spend worrying about the future?

Steve Strauss, author of STEVE’S 3-MINUTE COACHING, once again has great insight to share.

Great Fear: Uncertainty

(Great fears are barriers to experiencing your real life.)

[There are countless fears, yet few are of the level of the Great Fears. A Great Fear is noted by its commonness and its effect; it shows up in a large part of society and can have a numbing effect on one’s happiness.]

Life is uncertain. The next moment is uncertain. Always has been. Always will be. That may not be comfortable, but it is so.

Some people try to counter this Great Fear of Uncertainty by pretending to be in control. How’s that worked out for them?

When it doesn’t they do the blame game, blaming others, or even more damaging, blaming themselves for not being smarter/more aware/more cautious/less trusting/and such. Blaming, themselves or others, blinds and binds.

A healthier approach is to give up imagining you have your hand on the tiller of the Universe. You don’t, so letting go of the illusion is easy.

Uncertainty, unchecked, can feel uncomfortable. If you think you don’t have control of how you feel, it’s because of some conditioning or programming in your mind. You may not be aware of the many simple tools and techniques available today to let you ‘change your mind and keep the change’!

Coaching Point: When you were 6 years old, playing in the sandbox, life was just as uncertain as it is now – and you loved playing in that uncertainty! Discovering, wandering, and wondering. What would happen if you chose to take that approach now?

Copyright © 2017 Steve Straus, All rights reserved.

This week is all about uncertainty. How does it feel to be on the playground of life? Do you find excitement in discovering new things? How would it feel to embrace the uncertainty of life with enthusiasm?

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