Cure Frozen Dinner Syndrome by Setting Clear Expectations

We’ve all been there… And it’s usually not a proud moment. Something inside you gave in, and you brought home a frozen dinner from the grocery store.  Then, refusing to order pizza or Chinese again, you actually cooked it…  And a few minutes later, as you pulled it out of the microwave, you probably experienced FDS.   FDS has become an epidemic… Today though, Frozen Dinner Syndrome is not only affecting kitchens across America (and Canada, eh!), but the businesses and organizations where you work.   Frozen Dinner Syndrome is the result of flawed expectations.   Remember looking at the box there in the freezer aisle, and convincing yourself that it looked appetizing… even desirable? Those expectations from the picture on the box are the reason for your disappointment when you pulled the serving tray out of the microwave! The two did not look the same.  They seldom do. That is because Frozen Dinner Marketers are liars.  The make bold promises and set our expectations high, and then deliver less than we had hoped to enjoy. In your kitchen, that is one thing.  But in your business, on your team, that can be more than unappetizing – it can be dangerous and costly…  So how do you cure FDS? I’m glad you asked!   1. Realize that Everything starts with Awareness.   FDS is caused by faulty expectations.  When you expect too much from a Lean Cuisine box, you are often disappointed and frustrated. But in your business, when you expect too much from your people, the frustration and disappointment can lead to lost clients or poor performance.  And...

Make Team Feedback More Effective With COIN Conversations!

One of the most difficult parts of any team leader’s job is to have positive and effective feedback conversations.   Whether you are a coach, a sales manager, a school administrator, or a medical staff supervisor, The COIN model provides you a template for having feedback conversations that work and include 4 essential elements of effective feedback. But before you attempt to apply the model to your situation, be reminded that feedback is something that is best delivered in a timely fashion, and should be intended to help your team members grow. Feedback is not punishment, it is information and encouragement to improve… (focus on the next play!) And ANY tough conversation topic will be easier to navigate if you have invested time in building a relationship beforehand (here is a ten-cent secret to doing exactly that!)  People are much less defensive and are much more coachable when they know that you are aware of their challenges, interested in their growth, and appreciative of their efforts.      So… here is the COIN feedback conversation model:   C = CONNECTION First, connect with them personally and connect to the issue or project that you would like to discuss.  Provide context for the conversation and an emotional link to the topic.   O = OBSERVATION Second, share factual descriptions of their behavior.  It is important to be as specific as you can and to the point.  DO not waste time with dancing… just give them the numbers.   I = IMPACT ON TEAM Third, you must clarify the impact that their actions had on the team or business to inspire...

A Team Performance Chart to Improve Your Organization

If you are looking for a team performance chart to identify where your people are in terms of productivity or cohesiveness, the one below could truly help improve your organization. Team productivity is a measure of how successful your people are in terms of project completion or work efficiency.  Team cohesiveness is a measure of how well your people interact with each other and collaborate to accomplish team goals.  But not every team that displays productivity enjoys cohesiveness, just as not every team that enjoys cohesiveness displays productivity.   This team performance chart shows the four types of teams: The first and perhaps most disappointing team type you may have seen or been a part of is the team who displays poor productivity and lacks cohesiveness. These teams are identified as “Dysfunctional,” and they are often toxic mix of poor results and negative attitudes.   The second type of team we’ll discuss is one that may meet expectations or successfully complete a project, but has done so without much group interaction. These “High Stress” groups are not really teams at all, as they do not usually take advantage of other’s skills or insights, and are driven by pride or ego to do it their way.  This requires much more time and energy, though, and often becomes an environment of petty turf wars and personal conflicts.   The third type of team on the team performance chart can be frustrating to managers because they get along well and seem to be collaborating and sharing, but those collegial interactions simply fail to produce acceptable results. This group has built strong relationships, but...

Does Your Conference Need a Networking Facilitator?

So, now you are asking yourself… what the heck is a networking facilitator? I would have asked the same question 10 years ago. But modern conference goals and a good bit of research suggest that one of the most impactful parts of your conference may be the choice to add a networking facilitator to your schedule.   Quality speakers and relevant breakout sessions are important – they provide the valuable information and inspiration you want attendees to take away from the event… But, increasingly, conference attendees are showing up more for the hallways connections and conversations than the opening or closing keynote!   As a meeting planner, are you intentionally building things into your schedule that help your attendees to build and develop the relationships that will become a foundation for profitable collaboration after they leave the conference? As a meeting organizer, there are many ways you can help to encourage useful connections. – One idea is to pair up first-time attendees with more experienced community members, and to create a mentor / mentee relationship that offers an immediate relationship.  – Another possibility is to ask a few questions as part of the registration process, and then print a couple of interesting personal facts on the nametags that are provided.  Nametags should emphasize first names, hometowns, and business affiliation… but can also include information about the attendees’ favorite candy, or movie, or television show.  These are natural conversation starters, and offer a simple and fun opportunity for connection during your event. – The people at Velvet Chainsaw Consulting have suggested that another way to encourage networking is by posting a...

Chick-fil-A and Delta and Three Leadership Lessons

My daughter plays beach volleyball. So she was very excited when she learned about a week-long camp at Hermosa Beach, in California, that would be run by college coaches.  And she and my wife both think this is a great opportunity for her to get better and build relationships… But it was expensive.  And it involved travel.  And when I explained this to her and her mother, I was very clear that I didn’t think it would be a good idea. So, you can guess what happened. That night I registered her for the camp. I got her airplane tickets so she was on the same flight as a couple of her friends, and for the next two weeks she couldn’t think about anything else. My wife and the other moms arranged the transportation, and I was chosen to pick the girls up at the end of the camp when they got back to Atlanta. Another girl’s mom volunteered to take the girls to the airport – and their flight was scheduled to leave at 7:20 am on a Saturday morning. So Emily is up and packed and ready to go at 4:30 am. She can’t wait.  This is a kid that you have to wake up 3 times and drag out of bed to go to school – who was up and alert at 4:00 am completely on her own. So a couple hours later I leave, because I have an event that day, and I am presenting at a conference.  Twenty minutes before I am supposed to present to the audience, I get a call from my wife....

The 5 Word Phrase That Dooms Team Interactions and Individual Improvement

There is a 5 word phrase that dooms your team interactions. I have written before about how to benefit from the working with a “sandpaper person” on your team, and have also discussed the conflicts that can arise if your people are not aware of the strengths and challenges that different team personality types offer. But there is an issue even more dangerous to your team than either of those circumstances, and it involves a specific set of words that some people on your team may have been thinking or even saying out loud. The good news is that the condition is treatable.  The bad news is that often the people who suffer from the effects of this condition often do not realize the negative effects of their affliction. Of course, the “condition” that I am referring to is a repeated use and belief in a 5 word phrase that absolutely dooms team interactions and individual improvement. It is a phrase that you must never allow to be spoken – unless it is followed by a swift and passionate rebuttal.  Your silence would imply consent, and that would be devastating to your organization’s future. The 5 word phrase you need to train your ears to catch and correct is “that’s just how I am…” Think about that for a moment. “That’s just how I am” is a disturbingly common comment that becomes an excuse for poor team interactions and destructive behavior. Maybe you know someone who has used that phrase following a particularly unprofessional moment, where they said or did something that could really have no rational justification. That...