Diligence, Persistence and Stick-to-it-iv-ness

A recent trip to work with the amazing leaders at Carowinds yields a lesson in diligence.

What do YOU do when employees don’t listen the first time? What is YOUR plan B?

I’d love to hear your success stories, too!  Leave a comment below or email me at matt@performanceoptimist.com.

Thanks for watching!

Want to support a great organization AND learn some important leadership concepts at the same time??  Now you can!  I will be donating a portion of the proceeds from all book sales in 2019 to Give Kids The World!

No, no, no, no, no, no!

Maybe I am just different, but I get REALLY annoyed when I see very smart people do, what I consider to be, very short-sighted things.

This morning I saw a well-known and highly respected leadership authority talking about how to teach leadership to young people.  (First strike was calling them millennials, but I’ll let that slide this time.) His contention: put it on their phone, give them an app and let them text each other.

This is when I shook my head and said, “no, no, no, no, no, no, no!”  Just like Lego Batman.

If you want employees to get their eyes away from the screen, you don’t give them MORE REASONS TO LOOK AT THE SCREEN!!!  This is especially true when it comes to leadership. Want to build someone’s ability to deal with conflict?  Put them in a conflict situation and coach them through it. Want to build up someone’s skill in providing real, effective and genuine feedback? Put them in that situation and coach them through it.  Want to help develop a new leaders decision making skills?  Give them decisions to make and coach them through the outcome. Are you seeing a trend here?

I get this guys desire to jump on the app bandwagon, but that doesn’t mean its right for every situation.  Got an app to track your steps?  Sure! Got an app to help keep your travel plans organized? Absolutely? But an app to teach people how to interact with another human being? I’m a little skeptical.

Why the skepticism from an optimist?  Because I have seen first hand the difference between how people act and interact in person versus online.  It’s quite literally night and day in many cases.  And leadership is about communication and relationships, which are built and sustained in person (or phone, Skype, etc. – someplace where you are interacting with another human in real time).  Just look at how many people feel alone even though they have a bazillion friends and followers on social media.

I’ve said it before… leadership is a full contact sport.  You’ve got to get in there, mess things up, make some mistakes, get humbled, have some success and LEARN from every experience.  It’s a journey that takes a long time, and is never really finished (if you are doing it right). And in my opinion, cannot be learned by looking at your phone.

Related: If you’ll be at IAAPA’s IAE18 in November, I’ll be talking about how to create a supervisor training program that fits any budget.

Whether you will be at the expo or not, if you are looking for an non-app based ready-to-go Supervisor Training Program, check out The Myth of Employee Burnout Supervisor Training Program. 

Hoping to see many of you at the Expo! It’s going to be a great week!

Thanks for reading!!

Matt’s IAAPA Don’t Miss list:

Time management versus adding staff

I’ve recently started working with a new client, and have been conducting “discovery” calls with some of their management team members to assess their challenges and how I can best help.

Out of the 7 people I spoke to, all but one mentioned the same challenge. Time.

Time in the day to balance all of their tasks.  Somedays it would be great to have another “me”, they said.

I’m sure we’ve all been there, but what struck me was the consistency of this feedback among the people I spoke to.  6 out of 7.  Too much to do and not enough time. And they said that this was one of the things they all complained about when they got together, so it goes deeper than just this 6.  Hmmm…

So as I am hearing this I am noticing a trend.  This isn’t just one person that is feeling overwhelmed, it’s looking like the majority.  So my curiosity is piqued.

Do they need better time or action management skills, or is it time to expand the staff?  How do you know?

No, I’m asking.  How do YOU know?  We’re all trying to do more with less, but when does that reach the point where you are no longer effective because the demands of the job become unreasonable?  What measures do you look at to determine if spending more time or money up front would actually SAVE you money or allow you to MAKE more money as a result?

How many of you have felt this way… you’re just glad you made it through the day and that the facility didn’t burn down?  Many of us consider ourselves firefighters, putting out one fire as you wait for another one to flare up. We tolerate lower guest service levels because we just don’t have the time, staff tor resources to properly train and coach our frontline employees.  Something has to give. Budgets?  Nope.  Ordering supplies? Nope. Dealing with angry guests? No, but…

Couldn’t we reduce the number of angry guests if we had more time to train and coach our frontline employees?  And don’t angry guests impact our reviews which drive repeat and new visitors?

I think this is where we get into a bit of a catch-22. You know, “a dilemma or difficult circumstance from which there is no escape because of mutually conflicting or dependent conditions.”

Are we not CAUSING the angry guests (or at least lack-luster service) in some cases because we have cut our staff or training budget?

Speaking of your staff, have you noticed that they need and crave more of our time than ever? This is not a condemnation of the younger generation, it’s a fact across all levels of employees.  Yet, with tighter budgets and fewer resources, many managers find themselves with less and less time to spend with their team, having to dedicate a huge chunk of their day to meetings and admin work.  When I talk to people about coaching their employees, they are all for it, but then ask, “when am I supposed to do that?  I barely have time to walk by and say hi, let alone spend time actually observing their performance.”

I’ve always said that eventually we would hit a tipping point… where the more-with-less mantra would cease to be effective because employee performance would dip to the point of unacceptable.  Funny thing is, in many areas it has (how many times have YOU complained about the state of customer service today?), but no one wants to blame the more-with-less initiatives.  It’s got to be the employees fault, right?

If I had a nickel for every time a manager complained to me about their employees not interacting with guests, I’d need a few semi trailers to hold all those coins.  Here’s the catch-22.  So much of our training has either gone online, on a mobile device, or we’ve cut back the hours because we don’t think our employees have the attention span. So when are we teaching them guest service and interaction skills?  Oh right, their manager is supposed to teach them when they get to their jobs but wait, they’re in a meeting or putting out another fire.

SOAPBOX MOMENT: Regarding shorter training times… if someone is falling asleep in your session or it appears their mind is wandering, it couldn’t be because you’re delivering the material in a lackluster, boring way, could it?  No, it has to be their nano-second attention span.  If they aren’t engaging, change up what you are doing so they WILL engage.  Getting through it faster won’t help.

This is precisely why I made the decision to not make the Myth of Employee Burnout Supervisor Training program available as an app or an online course.  To learn to lead you have to get in there, mix it up, talk to people, make some mistakes, put your ideas out there…. and this takes TIME!  Leadership is a full contact sport… one that you cannot learn by looking at your phone. But I digress…

So I’ll get back to the original question… how do YOU know when it’s appropriate to polish up your time management skills or add more staff or resources?  Would love to hear your comments below!

Thanks for reading!!

www.performanceoptimist.com

No catch-22 here! :o)

 

Even new hires at TSA want to do their best

We’ve all heard the horror stories and jokes about TSA agents. Some of the ridicule and criticism is warranted whether on an individual or organizational level, some is not. One thing you can’t argue from a recent experience that I had… even TSA new hires have a desire to do their best.

The other day there were two trainees at my home airport in Asheville, NC. I could tell they were new right away because they both wore white, button-down shirts rather than the typical blue ones.

They were also behaving a little different than many TSA agents… they were smiling, friendly and attentive.  They were a little timid in their duties as their trainers looked on, but they seemed to be getting the hang of things. I saw one of them ask his trainer a procedural question, trying to understand the finer points of his new job.

Why are these observations so important?  Because jokes and criticism aside, these two were in it to win it.  They had undoubtedly heard about the bad reputation TSA had, yet still chose to seek employment there.  Maybe they would be the agents of change that would turn around the entire agency.

Or, in a few short months, maybe they will be just like most of the people we have come to expect who are checking our ID’s and boarding passes… gruff, unfriendly and unhelpful.

(I’m just going to leave this right here.)

(To be fair, not ALL TSA agents are gruff, unfriendly and unhelpful… the ones in Manchester, NH were very friendly today, but they are not the norm in my experience.)

But here they are as new hires, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, ready to take on the world.  Sound familiar?

In any job, new hires are generally engaged and ready to impress.  Their purpose is easy to identify and articulate… to learn their job and make a good impression so they can KEEP their new job.  Once they have accomplished that, then what?

They need a new purpose. But sometimes they don’t find one. And that’s our fault.

Once someone moves on from the honeymoon phase of a job, they need new challenges and to be reminded of how they fit into the big picture. To this point they have just been trying to fit in, now they need some context.  Sure, in orientation we talked about the company values and goals, but honestly for a new hire those don’t mean much until they see them in action.

Which is why, when I work various parks and attractions, one of the first things I ask about is their values.  Do they have them (most do) and what are they doing with them (some a lot, some not much).

Sometimes it’s that a company will have a set of values, but they only reside on a poster in the training room.  No one really knows what they are, what they look like, or as leaders, how to role model and enforce them.

So when I think about these TSA trainees, I wonder which set of values they are being exposed to after the initial training period.  Will it be the ones they talk about on the website: Integrity, Innovation and Team Spirit?  Or, will it be what the tenured agents have told them and demonstrated the values to be… gruff, unfriendly and unhelpful?

I don’t think ANY employee at ANY job starts off with the intent to be mediocre or to live a set of underwhelming values.  But if we don’t actively model and enforce the right values, who knows where that journey will take them?

Thanks for reading!

Want to train your SUPERVISORS to role model the right behaviors so your new hires don’t fizzle out?  We’ve got just the thing…

Why you absolutely, positively do NOT need a leadership coach in 2018

In 2018, business is slowing down.  We’ve got more resources at our fingertips than ever, and we have the time to use all of them to their fullest.  You just got out of a meeting where your boss said your budget was increasing and was reversing the “we’ve got to do more with less” directive.

Your applicant pool is deep and wide, and you get to pick from the best of the best.  Your current staff is 100% on board and all working together to reach your company goals.  There is no in-fighting, no dissension in the ranks, no drama, no insubordination.  Everyone works as hard as they say they do, and appreciates the uncompromising efforts of their co-workers.

No one is thinking of leaving for a different job, especially you. You’re ensconced.  Your boss listens to you, your ideas are met with open arms and you know exactly what it takes to communicate effectively with everyone you work with.

Oh, and everyone has a Unicorn as a pet and lives forever.

How nice would all that be? Maybe a little boring if it were ALL true, but that seems to be the utopian image we get when we think about the perfect workplace.

Of course it’s not real.  But you already knew that.

There IS drama, in-fighting and people who don’t listen. We DO have challenges with budgets, staffing and keeping everyone on the same page… and it’s never ending.

Because you are a leader, a problem solver and person who by-golly gets things done, you have found ways to make the best of those situations.

But what about the stuff that slips through the cracks?  Doing “more with less” is a popular mantra that doesn’t seem to be going away. And who has to do more?  That would be you.

But that doesn’t have to mean failure, pain and heartache.  Quite the opposite, it can present untold and unthought of opportunities that could take your leadership performance and your business to the next level.  But only if you are willing to ask for some help.

One of my favorite quotes about coaching comes from my friend Mike Auman.  We worked together at Universal Orlando Resort, and he used to say: “how many professional sports teams have coaches?  All of them.”  Of course highly paid athletes should have their stuff together, but even they need guidance, encouragement and course corrections.  What makes us think we are any different?

In just the last few weeks, I have gotten a number of calls from people who needed a little help. Maybe not enough to sign up for a full 6 or 12-month coaching program, but just a little push to get them over the cliff, as it were.

Exhibit A: A guest experience director at a museum called because she had been assigned the task of improving the culture in her facility, and didn’t know the best way to propose her plan to her boss.  We talked about the best ways to connect the dots and actually work the process backwards for him.  She did it, and told me it worked like a charm.

Exhibit B: A guest services manager at a theme park wasn’t feeling the passion anymore.  He was afraid to start looking in other departments because he was afraid his bosses would take that as a lack of loyalty and try to block his move. Turned out the fear was on him… he was afraid to rock the boat.  Once he realized that he knew what he had to do. He is now seeking another position in a different department.

So now you can probably see that I don’t really believe the title of this post.  I do think everyone can use a little help now and then, and we shouldn’t be afraid to ask for it.  The number of CEO’s seeking the council of an executive coach is growing everyday.  Why should a lead, supervisor, manager or director be even different?  A case can be made that people on their way to a CEO position need it even more.

If you need some help and are willing to ask, here are some options;

  • Ask your manager – either ask them to coach you (more strategically than they may be right now) or ask them to financially support your desire to seek a coach from outside the company.
  • Seek out a mentor – generally someone in a different department or even from a different company, they should be a leader you know and respect
  • Enroll in a specific coaching programlike the options I offer, a more formal coaching program can bring you incredible insight from a trained and experienced coach who knows how to get to the heart of the matter to find the best solutions. The best coach for you will be able to understand what you are going through while being able to offer viewpoints that you wouldn’t be able to see on your own. I like to tell people that I (or any good coach) will provide an outsiders perspective with an insiders insight.”

If you agree with me but not with the title of this post, give me a call and we’ll see if we’re a good coaching fit.  One-off, 90 minute sessions are available, along with more in-depth 6 and 12 month programs.

Related: The Power of A Trusted Network (group coaching program)

Related: NEW Facebook Group: ALL CLEAR – Private Learning Community for Attractions Leaders

Thanks for reading!

Just like you DON’T NEED COACHING, you don’t need this book on SUPERVISOR DEVELOPMENT, either!!

 

The right tools build confidence

It snowed the other day.  Not a snowmageddon that has impacted other parts of the country, but even a little snow (with the accompanying ice) can have a crippling effect on transportation here in Western North Carolina.  Exhibit A: our driveway.

Top of the driveway, looking down

Bottom of the driveway, looking up. Yes, that is Irving the Gnome to the right! #irventures

The next day, I went out to clear the snow off the pavement so the sun could do it’s job and melt the ice underneath.  It may be hard to tell just how steep the driveway is from the pictures, but remember this is what our neighbors call “The Beast”!

As I was shoveling, I was also slipping and sliding down the driveway because of the ice.  Then it hit me.  We have clamp-on spikes for our shoes!!  We hadn’t needed them yet since we got them 2 years ago, but now by golly I was going to put them to use!

I went back up to the garage, slipped on the spikes and walked back down the driveway… confident that I wasn’t going to fall. I was still careful, but every step I took was solid and stable, even on the steepest, iciest patches.  I finished off the driveway with relative ease, and thought about how this experience relates to leadership.

Having the right tools and knowing how to use them makes us more confident.  With the spikes, I could concentrate more on my shoveling, instead of trying to avoid toppling down the hill.

Think about a leader who is unsure of how to handle a situation.  Maybe there is bad news to deliver to the team, and they are ill-equipped to convey the right message in the right way.  The leader fumbles, stammers, and conveys little assurance that they know what’s going on, or that they have the teams’ back.

Their team gets confused, upset, rebels or shuts down, and the leader is left picking up the pieces and wondering what went wrong.  All because they didn’t have the right tools.

In this case, a tool might be information… maybe the leader didn’t truly understand the message, so they weren’t sure what to say.

Another tool could be a communication technique… as things spiraled out of control in this meeting, you can almost hear the inexperienced leader say, “I know, I agree with you. I don’t know why we have to do this, either.”  Knowing, from experience or though guidance, mentoring or coaching, that this is not the right approach, could have driven this leader to more diligently prepare, which would have built up their confidence so that the out-of-control spiral would have never started.

One last tool in this situation that could have bolstered confidence could have been meeting management techniques.  Setting the right mood and expectation through pre-work, your agenda and overall demeanor before and during the meeting can go a long way in preventing the above derailment.

So the questions you have to ask yourself are:

  • What tools do I need?
    • For example: Communication strategies, delegation, managing up, time management, admin/tech skills, planning, etc.
  • How can I learn to use these tools?
    • For example: Talk to your boss or peers, a coach/mentor, books, articles, videos, online courses, in-person courses, podcasts, etc.

Related: Nothing Happens Without Confidence

A few weeks ago, a Guest Services Manager from a museum called me.  She had been put in charge of turning around the guest service culture in her museum, but she needed to communicate her plan to her Executive Director who was a big picture thinker.  We talked through a possible approach (the tool), and that discussion gave her the confidence to go in and explain her approach and what she would need.

She later told me that the approach worked like a charm, and things are moving forward.  I would say it was her approach in addition to the confidence she showed when she explained her approach.  It’s all connected.

The tools you need will vary by situation and your role within your organization.  Wherever you are, be diligent about getting the tools you need so you can confidently move forward, lead your teams and make a positive impact.

If you need help figuring out what tools you need or how to use them, I’m happy to help. Feel free to give me a call!

Thanks for reading!

matt@performanceoptimist.com

407-435-8084

“Hey Matt! I wanted to let you know I loved your book (ALL CLEAR!)!! There are a few things in there I have experienced myself, and others I haven’t even thought about! Very good read! You’ve given me my goal for this next season of helping to develop more leadership skills and mindsets in my team!”

Adam Woodall – Holiday World and Splashin’ Safari, IAAPA Show Ambassador

Purchase your copy here!

 

 

3 Questions Live – Episode 3

Here we are again, with another episode of 3 Questions Live!  This is where I will answer 3 questions from you and ASK 3 questions that I would like for you to answer.

In this episode, I answer the following questions:

  1. How do you convey to a new leader that their role is not just about wearing a different colored shirt?
  2. How do you get respect from your leaders when they discount your ideas for being a “millennial”?
  3. How do you get respect from peers after a promotion, especially when one of them was up for the same promotion you got?

If you have thoughts or comments on any of these topics, I would love to hear your perspective as well!

My 3 questions for you are:

  1. How often should we do formal evaluations?
  2. What are the best ways to teach leadership skills?
  3. What are some of your favorite books, podcasts or resources that provide great insight?

Please enter your answers to the above questions, or your questions for a future episode in the comments below, or email me at matt@performanceoptimist.com.

Looking forward to your input!

Thanks for watching!

Want to SLEEP BETTER?  Ensure your Supervisors are ready to LEAD with these two resources:

The Myth of Employee Burnout Supervisor Training Program – takes the worry and stress out of supervisor development!

NEW BOOK – “ALL CLEAR! A Practical Guide For First Time Leaders and The People Who Support Them”.  Available NOW! (and makes a great gift!)

Use the coupon code POC10 for 10% off! Valid through Dec. 31, 2017!

Trying something new!

Many of you have seen my #3Questions video series. If you haven’t, it’s an interview series I did where I would ask 3 questions of a guest and they would ask 3 questions of me. The guests I had were INCREDIBLE, and I want to thank them again for their time and willingness to share.

For the fun of it, decided to change up the format a little to challenge myself and to get even more people involved.

So… #3Questions LIVE was born.  I’ll explain more in the episode below, but long story short, YOU are now the guest.

Here are the questions I answered in Episode 1:

  1. Was Renegade really the best coaster on CNC 17?
  2. What advice do I have for someone who wants to write and speak?
  3. How do I get a job with Universal or Disney?

And here are the questions I have for you:

  1. How do you deal with “difficult” employees?
  2. What is your best advice for new leaders?
  3. What is your favorite coaster, attraction, exhibit, or haunt?

You can respond in the comments here, on YouTube, or email me: matt@performanceoptimist.comYou can also submit YOUR questions for me to address in another episode.  

Thanks for watching, listening, and participating!!!

Founder – Performance Optimist Consulting

www.performanceoptimist.com

matt@performanceoptimist.com

407-435-8084

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Want to SLEEP BETTER?  Ensure your Supervisors are ready to LEAD with these two resources:

The Myth of Employee Burnout Supervisor Training Program – takes the worry and stress out of supervisor development!

NEW BOOK“ALL CLEAR! A Practical Guide For First Time Leaders and The People Who Support Them”.  Available for PRE-ORDER through Nov. 10!

 

 

 

“You should be a counselor.”

That’s what a friend said to me recently.

“You should be a counselor.”

What’s interesting is that I have heard that a number of times over the last few months from people I don’t normally work with.  This last time was just a few weeks ago.

Some friends from high school and I got together at a buddies lake cabin for a guys weekend. One friend and I sat down to have lunch one day and started talking about business.  He’s a business owner and he started sharing some things that had been going well and some things that had not been going so well.

I listened, asked some questions, and offered my perspective on a couple of his points. We spoke for about an hour and then he said, “man, that felt like therapy! You should be a counselor.”

I share this story for 2 reasons:

  1. If you are in a similar spot as my friend… maybe you’re stuck in a rut, or are looking to take things to the next level, but don’t know where to start, give me a call.
  2. This experience really solidified for me that if your personality, purpose and passions are fully aligned with what you do as a profession, work is no longer “work”, but an extension of your natural behaviors.

That second point really hit home because this conversation was not planned. We didn’t schedule a coaching or counseling session, we were just talking. But when my friend shared that something was bothering him, my mind immediately jumped to “helping” mode.

“How can I help him?  Or how can I help him help himself?”

And my PURPOSE, I believe, is to help people. It’s even in my tag line- Helping Leaders Lead. I learned early on that my greatest joy came when I could help other people be successful.

My PASSION is people (and the amusement park industry, of course!). I enjoy meeting people, hearing about their journeys and learning from their experiences. I could also talk for days about roller coasters, but that’s another story for another time.

And my PERSONALITY lends itself to serving my purpose and passion. I like having (and instigating) fun, but also enjoy listening to others, analyzing situations, and trying to connect the dots.

If your work is enjoyable and feels like a natural extention of what you do, there is a good chance your 3 P’s are in alignment.

Congratulations!!!

If that’s not the case for you, try this:

  • Passion – what do you care about? What do you go out of your way to learn about, or be involved with?  What are you constantly looking for or are aware of – no matter where you are? At a flea market recently, I found a tiny little toy bus that said Six Flags on it. It caught my eye right away and I had to have it. The people I was with said they never even noticed it. Probably because that’s not what they were looking for.  
  • Purpose – this is a big picture question… do you help people, build things (I.e. houses, roller coasters or kitchen cabinets), do you solve problems, do you communicate well or do you enjoy inspiring others? This is not an exhaustive list of “purposes”, but will hopefully give you an idea of what to ask yourself.
  • Personality– when are you at your most comfortable or productive? Are you on a stage, in an office or on a job site? Are you working with others or by yourself? Is the work largely cerebral or physically active? You can answer affirmative to more than one, and that’s okay. That means you can exist and thrive in many environments.

So if you are in a rut, trying to take things to the next level, or need help aligning your 3 P’s, give me a jingle.  We’ll see if my friend was right! :o)

Thanks for reading!

www.performanceoptimist.com

matt@performanceoptimist.com

407-435-8084

A bunch of Supervisors from Silverwood Theme Park went through the Myth of Employee Burnout Training Program – here’s what they had to say about it.

 

This story just keeps getting better

Stop me if you heard this before… Sara was trying to figure out if she should hire a sales manager or not.  If you missed that story, click here for the details.

If you heard that story, you know that Sara, with the help of her Mastermind group, ultimately decided to hire a sales manager rather than try to spoon those duties onto her already-full plate.

While that story was really about having a trusted group of peer advisors, that wasn’t the end of the tale.

After I published that post, Sara emailed me to tell me that the person they hired is really working out well… he’s full of energy, has tons of creative ideas and fits the team and culture beautifully.

Then she dropped the hammer.  In addition to all that, attendance is up 34%.

Um.  Okay.  Wow.  How’s THAT for return on investment?

Of course there are many factors that could impact this bump in attendance. The park did debut a new attraction, so that has to be figured in.  Even with that, Sara is pretty confident that their sales guy has had a significant role in their success.

And maybe even more importantly, he has taken a huge burden off of Sara’s shoulders.  She is now free to deal with the 9,073 other things on her list.  That story of the ROI is a little less straightforward, but there is no denying his impact beyond the sales department.

What decisions are you wrestling with?  What would it mean to you to have a group of people in your corner whose sole purpose was to help you succeed?  If you would like to learn more about the Mastermind process and how it helped Sara, give me call (407-435-8084), send me an email or click here for more details.

Thanks for reading!

www.performanceoptimist.com

Do you NOT play well with others??  Maybe individual coaching is more your speed.

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