For June, Jen at JVKom Chronicles is asking us a series of fitness questions, making it very easy to produce a Friday blog post. Thanks, Jen! Here are my answers to this week’s questions:
1. How many minutes of cardio did you do this week? Only about 60. Meant to do more but didn’t manage it, unless going up and down the stairs with baskets of laundry counts.
2. What is your favorite physical activity? Yoga. You’d think I’d do nothing but yoga all day long as much as I enjoy it, but I’m too busy feeling guilty for not doing more cardio.
3. How much water do you drink on a daily basis? Not enough. One of the things that helps me drink more is infusing it with fruit or herbs. Some of my favorite combinations: strawberry/mint, lemon/basil, and strawberry/ginger. Raspberries are good, too, but as my daughter found out you can create alcohol quite quickly if you leave them in your infuser too long. (I think her water bottle violated the school’s zero tolerance policy.)
4. What is your favorite healthy snack? Chocolate – just kidding. I like to spread goat cheese and olive tapenade on crackers or flatbread and top it with sliced cucumber, peppers and tomatoes. It’s fabulous. I think I’ll go make some right now.
5. What’s your favorite athletic shoe? My favorite pair ever was a shoe made by ecco, but they apparently burned the mold after I bought the only pair. I tend to roll to the outside of my foot which limits my options. The last time I shopped for shoes I had to go to a specific store and they only had two different shoes I could wear, both ugly. I bought one of them, but only after the salesperson agreed to swap out the garish laces for a nice, boring gray pair (to go with my ugly sweatshirt).
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For the last few weeks, I’ve been finding blueberries all over the house. On the kitchen floor. In the hallway. On the porch. If I’m lucky I find them before they are gracing the bottom of my shoes. While it might seem strange, the presence of the blueberries is no mystery.
My oldest son is a blueberry-eating fiend. He’s been known to down two pints of (expensive) organic blueberries for a post-lunch snack. Don’t get me wrong – they’re wonderful food, healthy and full of anti-oxidants. I’m glad he’s choosing wisely, but I don’t want the fruit strewn across the floors and ground into the rugs. The intent is good, but he’s falling down on the execution.
Anyone who has spent any amount of time in organizations large and small has seen significant, well-meaning initiatives fail for lack of proper execution. From my experience, some of the reasons this happens are:
- Failure to communicate. The initiative has not been adequately explained. As a former communications manager, I can assure you that people don’t necessarily “get it” the first time. Or the second. Or the fifth. You need to communicate the reasoning behind decisions and the desired outcome multiple times, and preferrably through multiple channels, to maximize the chance of success.
- Inadequate training. Just because you want something to occur doesn’t mean your employees are going to know how to do it. Make sure the people you are relying on have the skills they need to succeed.
- Lack of buy-in. One of the most discouraging things I faced was rolling out large initiatives that were embraced by both senior management and client-facing staff, but not middle management. In every case, someone forgot to tell them it was important and it became just another thing to do. Because they were unconcerned, they didn’t help or hold their own teams accountable and the initiatives fizzled before there was ever any real impact to the client.
OK, I admit, the first two do not really apply to my son. He knows what my expectation is – it has been communicated loud and clear. And he knows how to wash the blueberries and put them in a bowl, and pick up after himself. Which leads me to lack of buy-in. Whatever the reason, make sure that there are systems in place to reinforce the behavior you want and discourage the behavior you don’t want. I’m thinking of assigning him the chore of vacuuming for life.
Are you trying to roll out a new initiative? Send your stories to email@example.com – if I use them, I’ll feature your business.
My good friend Liz recently sent me a request:
I personally would appreciate guidance on how to make an unfocused employee (my son) a better worker. Since this is a family “business” and I can’t fire him, how can I make him more productive?
Like most kids, her young son has a tendency to go “off-task”, do things outside the scope of the project at hand, and perform tasks in the wrong order – all while ignoring the direction of his older brother. So here’s the question: If you are responsible for the job performance of others, how do you get them to do things the way you want them done without providing constant supervision?
The only way I know to maximize the possibility you’ll get the results you want is to clearly document:
- The specific outcomes you want your employee to achieve
- The steps most likely to achieve the desired outcomes
- The proper path to take when problems or inconsistencies arise
Then train them using the documentation as a basis. A pain in the neck, right? But necessary. Human beings are, well…human, and as such have a tremendous capacity for creativity that can result in an almost endless number of variables. None of which will guarantee you the outcome you want.
This is by no means just a kid’s problem. I once counseled a client frustrated with an employee’s handling of a piece of complicated manufacturing equipment to clearly document the way he wanted the machine run. His response to me: “I don’t want to document – I just want my employees to do things my way without my having to explain it.” Really? And just how are they supposed to know what your way is? Not to mention remember your way when they’ve been on another task for a few days or taken a vacation. And heaven forbid they are responsible for training another employee to perform the task.
Bottom line: There’s almost no way to ensure someone will complete something to your expectations if you haven’t clearly communicated what those expectations are. Documenting and training are not just things you do for your employee – they’re things you do for yourself to ensure quality, efficiency and peace of mind.
What have you documented in your organization? Send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. If I use them, I’ll feature your business.