Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Moved...Please Click: "The ExcitementProgram"

Blogger has been great training for me, but I wanted to change the name of my blog to "The Excitement Program" which is the name of my team achievement system and my only service that I am marketing through the http://TheExcitementProgram.typepad.com blog, seminars, videos of the seminar, and a book to be published next year.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

"Enthused and in gear" in short supply

Who are they training and what are they training? The relationship between managers and employees is the key to engagement, yet few employees are engaged.

Employee engagement still isn't a reality warns BlessingWhite

The latest Employee Engagement Report by global consulting firm BlessingWhite indicates that even though the majority of employees express positive feelings about their work, their employers and even their managers, less than one-fifth are fully engaged in their work. "Engaged employees are not just happy or proud. They are what we call 'enthused and in gear,' focusing their talents to make a difference in their employer's success," explains Christopher Rice, BlessingWhite's President and CEO. "We found that only 18 percent of our survey respondents had all the pieces of this engagement puzzle in place." There were 714 participants in the survey.

According to the report, lack of alignment is a primary reason for so few employees being fully engaged. Rice observes, "For the third year in a row, our survey results indicate that strategy isn’t getting very far out of the boardroom. Although more respondents this year indicate that their organization's strategy is well communicated (41 percent vs. 33 percent in 2005), only 19 percent indicate that they believe daily work priorities are linked to a clearly communicated strategy. Our findings suggest that a lot of well-meaning, hard-working employees are spinning their wheels on work that may not matter much to their employers. Sooner or later, their attitude will take a nose-dive or they’ll burn out."

Another key finding: Strong manager-employee partnerships lead to more engaged employees.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Recognition: Another Management Misunderstanding?

Add recognition to the list of "givens" that should be a constant in a business. Yet this article in management-issues, points out that it is often not the case. And it is just another area of motivation that common sense should rule the day, but seldom does.

People skills are the key to leading and managing people, but obviously many businesses don't invest in making certain they are a part of their culture.

Recognition is involvement.

It is equally the case that involving people in problem-solving and decision-making adds to their sense of value and worth.

Asking employees their opinions, asking them to help solve problems or implement improvement and providing them with opportunities to discuss important decisions goes a long way towards minimizing the social distinction of the management hierarchy.

But many organizations still don't get it. Instead, they try to persuade employees that they are respected by simply handing out snappy titles and business cards. But the realities of status are not mitigated by slogans that only profess equality.

If leaders do not value their employees, then calling them 'associates' – just like canned praise, cheap merchandise and clich├ęd mission statements - cannot camouflage that reality.

Is Common Sense the Latest Management Fad?

After a couple of months of gearing up to start my frontline leadership training business and, hopefully sooner than later, finish and market my book, I had to take a break to survey the current frontline leadership and management landscape.

It appears to be somewhat complex and confusing to my keep-it-simple mindset.

It all began the day it occurred to me that evidently it is new news to many that the reason many employees leave a company is because they are dissatisfied with their immediate supervisor. Or that engaged employees are significantly more productive than employees who are not engaged. (When did "engagement" replace "involvement?") Or that praising employees can be highly beneficial and motivational? Or that people who are treated fairly respond to direction better than people who are treated poorly. etc, etc...

After thirty years of leading highly successful "teams" through an educate, motivate, and appreciate philosophy, I assumed those "management concepts" were simple common sense that most people would have learned long before they became leadersa and mangers.

So when and why did they forget?

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Business Week "Competiton Issue"

What Makes A Winner

Great issue that should be stimulating to achievers. It so thrilling to read about excellence.

The Poll section , a survey of 2,509 Americans in middle management and above, was interesting in a number of areas, but the fact that 45% of young (ages 25-34) workers "think it's a good idea to fire the bottom tenth of the performers each year" was especially interesting to me.

I could find no explanation of why they believe that it's a good idea, but my guess is that they "get it." Educate, motivate, and appreciate your employees, but for the good of the organization (and the people that put up with their lack of performance) accept their resignation when the challenges of improving themselves prove to beyond their abilities.

As Jim Collins points out, not everyone qualifies to ride the bus.

Which part of your company has the most competitive employees? The results here were expected, but also further evidence of why "performance management" is so difficult for many businesses to do well, if at all.

Sales 38%
Operations 21%

Executive suite 15%
Marketing 9%
Human resources 3%
Accounting 3%
Legal 3%
Finance 3%
Strategy 2%
Research 2%

Customer service was not mentioned because??? No department? I'll cover that another day.

15% thought the Executive suite had the most competitive employees. A better question would have been, "Excluding sales....?" So, let's say 10% of votes that went to Sales would have been for corporate, that is still only 25% who believe top leaders are highly competitive people. In other words, few of them have the stuff found in books like "In Search of Excellence," "Built to Last," and "Good to Great."

I believe it. Super achiever arrive in corporate and immediately begin going through the motions, but not having the courage to lead. THEY DO NOT KNOW WHAT TO DO. They are still competitive, but it's hard to compete when you don't know how to win.

They are in a pickle. They had all the answers, but now they need new ones and they don't have a communication system that leads them to new strategies, solutions, and systems. They don't know how to ask for help and then listen, learn, and lead.

Performance leadership and management is driven by communication, cooperation, and competition and the will to win. If you are not in it to win it, if you lose your passion because tou are out of answers, you don't have a chance of creating something special.

So they don't. They create people and programs to blame poor performance on. Or they buy more software, take more surveys, do more team building games and exercises...

A communiaction system that allows the maintenance staff to take a crack at improving the status quo. Thank you JC Penney for teaching me the value of getting EVERYONE into The Game.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

New Title ? Performance Management Expert ?

There is a great seminar in Reno coming up in October with some big names in HR. I hope it's a full house. I hope I can get a copy of the attendee list.

Why is the HR department responsible for performance management? How do they interact with frontline team leaders? How do they make their jobs easier, more productive? How do they help them motivate, educate, and appreciate? How do they keep out of the way and allow someone to do their job?

The article in the previous post says it. Frontline team team leaders and managers don't have SYSTEM that motivates exceptional performance. Well, I do. It's easy, enjoyable, engaging, exciting, and energizing.

I am getting more excited every day! A week ago I set up google alerts for "performance management," "performance leadership," and "management performance leadership" fully expecting I would get a few articles a day similar to what my "engaged employees," "employee engagement," and "management training" alerts generate.

Wow! Was I mistaken. There are a lot of people going in the wrong direction in the performance leadership and management arenas. It's not a matter of better software, HR, consultants, theories, five things to remember, ten tips to keep in mind, etc.

It's frontline team leadership with a system that people respect and buy into because it is the right thing to do. The right, ethical, sensible, and intelligent thing to do. It's not for everyone (no jerks, crooks, or politicians) thank goodness, but for quality leaders and managers it is an awesome way to create, energize, and retain a team of achievers focused on excellence.

My plan was to finish my book before beginning my seminars and marketing my video. But now that I know what I am selling-a Performance Management System-I think I'll get on with the video and start marketing it.

Just imagine. Entire teams of people who enjoy working together and love helping each other achieve (improve). Team pride, spirit, and synergy.

I Just Love "Performance Management"

As an emotional, excitable Type A Aries, my heart just flutters when I read articles like this.

I had no idea that the "corporate world" was struggling with how to get people excited about doing their jobs well. I spent months wondering if anyone would care about "The Excitement Program" my Team Leadership Game that rapidly creates extraordinary business teams.

According to this article I'm a Genius. Cool....

You Could Be A Genius...If Only You Had A Good System

Performance management is one of those many management issues (leadership is another) that becomes more puzzling the more you look at it. At first sight it seems evident that teams and individuals should be managed to produce good performance. But that doesn't make it effective or easy. A recent report by the Work Foundation notes that despite intensive attention from academics and practitioners over the last two decades, for many organisations performance management remains a vexed subject with a 'grail-type quality' always out of reach. more...

It is not difficult to see where the "vexed subject" challenges people. Most businesses are so overburdened with a Human Relations department justifying its existence, continual upgrading of software that most often tells them what they already know, and a never-ending focus on more and more layers of management who are also often justifying their existence.

You want to learn how to motivate performance? Get the largest group of frontline team leaders you can squeeze into a room, tell them you want to lead your industry, tell hem you want to do it the right way, and you want to know how they will do it. Tell them you don't expect to get all the answers in this meeting, but you want to know what they think being the leader would mean to the company and how do you start the process.

Then invest in a copy of "The Enthusiastic Employee" for all of them. Send it to them three days later without any explanation (or warning) and see who brings it up.

You want to do The Performance Management Game? It takes a system, which takes getting their attention.

You get what you emphasize. Talk abou excellence ALL THE TIME and you'll get the ball rolling.

The biggest Big Hairy Audacious Goal of them all is to concentrate on becoming the very best. It elimates acceptance of OK, fine, good, etc. as a response to individual and organizational performance.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

"The Closer" is Team Leadership Extraordinaire

More on this later, but TNT's "The Closer" is a must see for anyone who wants to learn how to create an excellence-driven mindset in their troops. Myra had it down. Be real, be focused, be successful, be yourself.

If I had a team, I'd be talking about it daily. I'd have people saying, "Here he comes, good grief will this ever end?" (It ends when they "get it.")

I think it's the best management show I've ever seen. She just keeps them moving with a purpose that focuses on doing it right and getting it done today. We're in an urgent business and we're going to be urgent!

It is also a great show.

I don't like talking about myself, but...

I am the only one here. If I am going to change the way people lead and manage teams, it is time to start selling my beliefs, concepts, and systems for creating, energizing, and retaining entire teams of memorable sales and customer service achievers. Top quality employees entrusted with a daily mission to inspire customers to remember, return, and recommend.

I will soon be telling "The Dave Sovde Story" so you can learn to trust me.

For now, I want you to know I an a Golden Rule guy. I was blessed with the opportunity to work with JC Penney after I graduated from college. I was planning to become a lawyer. Primarily because I wanted people to know I had grown up and entered the game. (I was no longer a flake.)

I got my degree in January and Willamete law school began in September, so I contacted an employment agency for a job in the business world for a few months. I think his name was Jim Collins and he said, "The Penney company has the best management training program in America." I was still in a learning mode after a year of straight A's. So it was perfect.

Th first words i heard as a new recruit were, "we are a Golden Rule company. All decisions are based on the Golden Rule."

And I like to have fun. That means no "hu-hu's", a lot of truth, and constant smiles. Have you ever noticed that people who are learning how to improve themselves always seem to be having fun? Have you ever been a part of a group of people improving themselves together?

I like to be wrong. I love to be proven wrong. That means there is better way than i was doing it

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

OneByOne Team Achievement "System"

I have a number of people ask me, in the past few weeks, what exactly is my business.

This is the front page
http://www.OneByOneTeamAchievement.com of my website. It covers the benefits of my team achievement program which separates businesses from the competition with a system that is easily adapted to any team leadership style.

Michael E. Gerber, in
The E-Myth Revisited, speaks at length about the value of a system. He is definitely on point when he says, "And just as in the hotel we've visited, it is the system, not only the people, that will differentiate your business from everyone else's. Imagine trying to produce such a consistent result without a system! Imagine each manager in each of your future stores doing his or her own thing."

Managers doing their own thing is the way that most sales and customer service organizations are led and managed. They don't have a system, so they just accept the status quo of continual management and frontline personnel.

Frontline Sales or Customer Service Team Leaders: Optimize Your Revenues and Your Reputations

OneByOne Team Achievement is guaranteed to transform a sales or customer service staff into a unique, uncommon, and unconventional team with "Best of the Best" motivation, mindsets, methods, and mission that will:

Set High Standards and Goals For Individuals, Teams, and Businesses
Develop or Attract, Energize, and Retain Entire TEAMS of Memorable Achievers
Guarantee Exceptional Attitudes, Work Habits, Sales, Service, and Team Skills
Create the Contagious Energy of Team Pride, Spirit, Synergy and Chemistry
Optimize First-visit Results, Repeats, Referrals, Revenues and Reputations
Minimize Turnover Expense: Personnel Advertising, Training and Learning Curves
Eliminate Personnel Mediocrity, Excuses, Indecision, Laziness, Favoritism, Cronyism
Prevent Cliques, Apathy, Indifference, Controversy, Blame, Dissension, Boredom

Frontline team leaders make the difference. Is there a better return on investment than learning how to create, energize, lead, and retain an entire TEAM of sincere, friendly, and memorable frontline sales or customer service personnel?

Friday, August 04, 2006

In Sales and Service, Excellence is Uncommon

Tom Peters has discussed some interesting topics this week. Is "Passion" Optional was especially interesting.

To become the best of the best requires a strong desire to be extraordinary. In sales and service, that desire must come from the frontline team leader. However, it is rare because it is easier to just go through the motions and not bother with analyzing or altering the current leadership model, management system, and team achievement expectations.

Excellence is uncommon in sales and service because, in most cases, it is just blind luck when someone learns how to attract, or develop, energize, and excite a staff of frontline personnel. Companies don't teach motivation, mindset, and mission skills to frontline managers. So how does a person have a passion to be a great team leader without a system that personnel buy into without a purpose, a plan, and a system that accomplishes the purpose?

They don't.

A person is passionate about achieving great goals only after they know how to achieve them.

Like everything in life, most of us are doing the best we can with what we know at the time. Almost anyone-arrogant jerks have difficulty-can be a extraordinary leader when they know how to set high standards that everyone buys into. And then provides the daily education, motivation, and appreciation that inspires them to get involved, improve, and achieve beyond all previous expectations.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

PML - Performance Management Leadership

Well, I guess the message is finally getting out there. The good news is that this article puts a name on much of what OneByOne Team Achievement does. But the bad news (kinda bad) is that the discussion in this article is considered new news. Not all that bad because I now know the market is going to be really excited when I start marketing.

I have a hard time understanding that common sense about motivating people to give it their best, is not very common at all. When I read the the six dimensions listed below, my immediate reaction was "well, duh!"

Then I re-read the article again and realized, for the first time, that there are a lot of people that just don't know how to get people excited about excellence, or probably much of anything else. They don't know how to create a mission, or cause, to become the best of the best.

When I talk about performance management leadership, I describe it as the blocking and tackling of leadership," he says. "It's all about leadership that helps organizations to execute. It's the basic things that help leaders to be successful." The six dimensions of PML, and their definitions, are:

Support and coaching: The extent to which a leader instructs, directs and promotes employee effectiveness. This dimension includes such factors as providing employees with adequate resources, serving as a role model and providing guidance.

Communication: An "essential core competency for a successful leader," this dimension includes approachability and the ability to offer positive feedback.

Providing consequences: The extent to which a leader acknowledges employee performance through recognition and rewards.

Feedback: A measure of the quantity, quality and timeliness of performance information a leader passes onto his employees.

Process of goal setting: A measure of how well a leader establishes developmental and performance goals linked to the organization's goals.

Establishing/monitoring performance expectations: The extent to which a manager keeps track of how well an employee is meeting the aforementioned goals.

"PML is about executing on a daily basis -- where the rubber meets the road," Kinicki says. "That's what I'm talking about."

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Make the Manager the Team Leader

Reaching and Changing Frontline Employees
Larkin, T.J., & Larkin, S. (1996). Harvard Business Review.

It is argued that senior managers - and most communication consultants - have refused to hear what frontline workers have been trying to tell them: When you need to communicate a major change, stop communicating values, communicate face-to-face, and spend most of your time, money and effort on frontline supervisors. Despite research showing that frontline employees prefer to receive information from their supervisor - the person to whom they are closest - companies continue to depend on charismatic executives to inspire the troops. This does not work because frontline supervisors are the real opinion leaders in any company. Communication between frontline supervisors and employees counts the most toward changed behavior where it matters the most - at the front line

The above statement is from a great article that I recommend potential achievers, who sincerely want to be leaders, purchase if they don't already understand employees want to be lead by their immediate supervisor, not the Ivory Tower of Corporate Guessing that more often seems to be justifying their position (and paycheck) than striving to create and maintain a happy motivated workforce.

ninety percent of leadership and management is common sense. The problem of course, is that common sense not common. Nor is it taught to leaders and managers because people have this aversion to starting with the basics of human behavior and then ending with the teachings of the Golden Rule.

It's just people you are trying to energize. Treat them right and they will treat you right.

Buy a copy of
The Enthusiastic Employee: How Companies Profit by Giving Workers What They Want and learn the basics of how to communicate with employees and inspire them to improve themselves, their team, and their company.

Poor Leadership = Mystery Shoppers

"Customer service is something that's integral at Eddie Bauer. ... The customers expect it from us," says Lisa Erickson, a spokeswoman at the Seattle-based clothier.

To that end, mystery shoppers hired by an outside vendor visit every one of Eddie Bauer's 380 stores three times each month, she says.

"It is a data point that the store leadership team can use to see how consistent the customer experience is," Erickson says. Feedback is received almost immediately and shared among managers, though no salespeople's names are attached to the reports, she says.

Mystery Shoppers are a great concept for poorly lead and managed companies.

This is a great article on the value to employers and the fun of being a hired spy.

They need these spies-probably more to scare staff into good service habits than for information on service skills-because they have yet to learn how to develop and retain great frontline managers. They have yet to understand the value of a great frontline manager who can get a team focused on sales and service excellence.

A great team focused on winning the Sales Game or the Customer Service game has their own way of making certain customers are highly satisfied. And it doesn't need the corporate office, spies, or surveys.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Seattle Mariners Finally Have Team Chemistry

Here comes the M's. They have become team both focused on the prize and doing what they have to earn it. They finally have all the ingredients of a highly successful team. Leadership, talent, teamwork, training, and TEAM CHEMISTRY.

According to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Mike Hargrove, the team LeaderManager said, "Things are going good for us right now," Hargrove said. "Players know what they have to do, and they're doing it.

"If somebody sees a guy goof up, the veteran guys are pulling them aside and telling them what to do. It's the kind of thing winning clubs do, and it took us a while to learn it."
He is right, it took awhile for someone to teach it.

I am not certain it was Mike Hargrove, but knowing what it take to create a great sports team is not a mystery. The goal of every team is team chemistry. As college and pro teams prepare for the imminent football season, they are all working on their team chemistry.

I love watching Mariner games as the camera focus on the "bench" and dugout where you see players having fun (it is a game, games are fun) and talking each other about how to improve their skills. I especially enjoy watching veterans help the younger players.

It is all driven by the desire to win their Division, the American League West, and the knowledge that EVERYONE must contribute in order for them to win it. Team goals drive individual goals to improve and excel.

In team sports, team chemistry is the key to winning the "Best of the Best Trophy." Just as it is with a sales or customer service team.

Imagine the value of experienced personnel helping their peers improve their sales, service, and team skills. Imagine the vaslue of everyone talking about sales and service excellence every day, day after day, one by one.

Imagine the value of an entire team of frontline personnel who enjoy working together, helping each other, and providing a customer experience that inspires them to remember, return, and recommend.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Even The US Postal Service Doesn't Train Managers

As I read this article about the latest postmaster at the Apple Valley post office, I think about my current problems with the downtown Seattle post office which are too frustrating to waste time mentioning.

Leadership makes the difference in performance, yet few organizations see the value in investing in management training or having a successful management system in place at all locations.

Petras and other employees at the Apple Valley post office say it’s no secret that the town’s postal delivery service has been lackluster over the past few years, plagued with late deliveries and high employee turnover. But Petras — who started in January but was sworn in Tuesday— said changes are coming.

Apple Valley postal workers couldn’t put a precise number on management’s turnover rate the past few years, but they offered a guess.“It’d take me a while to count ’em,” said Dave Schloer, a postal worker and vice president of the local postal union. “Definitely in the dozens.”

In the dozens!!!

Just as most new frontline sales and customer service leaders receive minimal training-if any-before their first leading and managing opportunity, the government doesn't see the need for a leadertship model and a management system in the nation's post offices.

“I think it was just a lack of communication,” Petras said. “And a matter of putting some new rules in place.”

The postal service finally got lucky and stumbled across somebody to stop the waste of taxpayers dollars, but how long will this last? With leadership that allowed continual management the turnover to exist, what will they do next? If Mr. Petras is truly effiecient, do they cut the size of his staff?

I wonder how many frontline staff were blamed, through the years, for poor performance by their underperforming (untrained) postmasters? How many had a miserable employment experience? Day after day...

Monday, July 17, 2006

Bloggers, Help Groups, Consultants, etc: Thanks!

As I spent the weekend pondering exactly what to cover (and somehow survive my addiction to perfection) as I get back to posting on this blog, I read the sage words of Alan Alda I have framed on my office wall. "You have leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. You can’t get there by bus, only by hard work and risk and by not quite knowing what you are doing.”

I have never understood the bus part, but hard work, risk, and not quite knowing what I am doing is definitely applicable to this blog. His words make it ok to be wrong, which is music to the ears of a perfectionist.

I have finally decided what to do in a number of areas, but can't seem to solve the spamming in my of my "comments" that continues to happen every few days. (I have sought information in help groups, but no replies so far.)

I have to thank all of the people who are so effective in their efforts to help blog novices go through a rapid learning curve. They are too numerous to mention, but they are heaven-sent and greatly apprecated.

I am still trying to decide if I want to stay with blogger or go to typepad, but in the meantime I'll get back to consistent posting about sales, service, and team leadership excellence.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Exceptional Service = Exceptional Profits

This short article, Service is what keeps customers coming back for more, is spot on.

Provide exceptional customer service consistently and before long you will have a highly profitable reputation for great service. It's been that way for decades.

Jeffrey Gitomer says it well, "The bottom line is this: The products at department stores are about the same. The difference is the people, the service and the technology, not new signs and shelves. Create the atmosphere, and every employee will begin to hear ringing in their ears-the ringing of cash registers."

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Achieve: Ask - Listen - Learn - Believe - Act

I want to do things right on this blog. Asking questions begins that process. Anyone who has any comments about what this blog needs should feel free to speak up. I love criticism, suggestions, ideas, or anything else that would improve what I want to do here.

And that is...motivate businesses selling and serving products and services to the general public to get their act together. Specifically businesses that appear to be trying to be one of the best, but just don't get it. Multi-location companies that try to have a team-focused, excellence-driven, "something special" culture, yet they fail to deliver because when their customers judge, consciously and unconsciously, everything the see, hear, smell, and "feel" when they enter their selling or serving environments, things aren't held to high standards.

I love the thrill of an exceptional customer service experience. It doesn't happen often, but It is so much fun being sold and/or served by friendly, excited, enthusiastic, and energetic sales and customer service personnel.

The problem with the leadership and management of many sales and customer service teams is that they don't believe they have a problem with their employees, sales, or service.

Friday, June 30, 2006

More Truths About Employee Turnover

F. Leigh Branham wrote a short and to the point article, published in the American Management Association newsletter, that covers the subject well on one piece of paper which, of course, is extremely refreshing. The article covers six truths about employee turnover.

Truth No. 5 spoke to core of the situation, but not the core of the problem.

Truth No. 5: Managers Hold Most of the Keys to Keeping the Right TalentOne recent study showed that 50 percent of the typical employee’s job satisfaction is determined by the quality of his/her relationship with the manager. Many companies are floundering today in their attempts to improve employee retention because they have placed the responsibility for it in the hands of human resources instead of the managers. Many companies have begun to measure managers’ turnover rates and vary the size of their annual bonuses accordingly.

It just makes sense that the quality of the day-to-day interaction between managers and employees is important to both parties.

But the problem is that it is a culture problem. Companies that allow poor management are most often culturally corrupt. They say they stand for wonderful things. Perfect in all ways, but allowing bad management means you are also allowing favoritism, nepotism, egotism, celebrity and good ol' boy networks.

Turnover? Make It An Extraordinary Experience

This article tells a story about a restaurant owner with BIG problems that could be solved by doing one thing.

Attract, or develop, an entire team of frontline personnel focused on customer service excellence.

Create, energize, and retain an entire team of front-line employees that make such a satisfying impression on customers that they are inspired to remember the experience, return frequently for more, and make a point to enthusiastically recommend the experience to others.

If you don't know how to do that, find someone who can teach you how to do it. A book about creating a great team is yet to be written.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

US Army Basic Training: A Learning Experience

Well, as I have told many people, one of the things I want to talk about is those opportunities to improve ourselves through "learning experiences" that change our lives.

This is how I learned about the value of learning. And realized that becoming the best of the best was nothing more than having the desire and energy to learn how to become the best of the best.

By the time I entered the work force, I knew I wanted to manage and lead people. It had cost me time and money to learn, but I was ready at age twenty-eight. Because I was terrified to speak to groups, after six years in college I still hadn't completed Speech 101. Seven times i had dropped out of the class. So I volunteered for the draft and after a week in Basic Training I knew I was going to learn how to be a leader. Despite my begging to, as I had done all my life, just blend in, the Drill Sargeant made me the Platoon Guide (Platoon: 48 soldiers). I was the oldest, biggest, and, while he didn't tell me, he knew it was time for me to grow up.

A week later, the day I grew up, I was calling out commands, marching all over the place, and listening to every word that came out of Sargeant McClellan's mouth. He told me he was going to tell me how to become a leader and he did. After years of playing sports, including four years of college football (Pacific Lutheran University), I finally had a mentor that who interested in helping me determine what I was going to do with my life.

Actually he was the first person I truly, truly listened to when they tried to help me. My parents were educators so I got a lot of advice. But, of course, I knew it all. I had been the Principals kid in a small logging and farming town, so I had to resist learning or get my butt kicked every time (seemed like everytime) my Dad disciplined someone.

Sargeant McClellan was about a foot shorter than I am, but it took me a month and a half before I realized he wasn't towering over me. He drilled into me that it's "all about being the best of the best and the only way to become the best is learn how to do it. Every day, one by one, keep learning. I'm in the Army helping idiots like me because I flunked out of high school, but until I am the best Drill Sargeant I am going to bust my butt to learn how to become one. And you, Mr. Sovde, are going to learn how to be the best Platoon Guide (of 5 platoons). We are going to be the top platoon and we can't do it without you being the best."

We were number one, he was number one, and the learning experience was number one.

After two years in the Army, I went back to Pacific Lutheran for a year to complete the speech course (it was painful-learning how to speak came later) and raise my GPA so I could get into Law School. I took a heavy load and made the Deans List with a 4.0 GPA.

My teachers, parents, and friends were somewhat surprised, to say the very least. If they had met my Drill instructor, my first mentor, they would have expected nothing less.

He was an awesome individual. I am so fortunate I met him.

He's right. The best of the best is what it's all about. Doing it right is what that's all about.

Team Excellence: Leadership and Selflessness

Interesting article in this weeks Knowledge at Wharton on-line newsletter. While many of the article aren't about team leadership, I recommend the weekly newsletter to anyone who enjoys reading about business excellence. I am especially fond of the school after it published my favorite book on leadership and management.

The Enthusiastic Employee: How Companies Profit By Giving Workers What They Want is a must-read (own) for anyone who wants to create a great employment experience for themselves and their employees.

Having reached the summit of Mt. Everest five times, Breashears knows what he wants in a team. Surprisingly, he's not necessarily looking for the best climbers. "I look for talented people who believe in their craft, not those who are looking for praise," he said. "The most important quality is selflessness. I knew that no matter what, no one would leave me behind," he joked.

Sharing a common goal and vision is critical, and no one's ego can take precedence. "People who say 'me first' can be dangerous on Everest." Indeed, in Breashears' experience, the teams that operate best have a higher objective than themselves. Humility makes a great leader. "The kind of leader I want wakes up and asks, 'What did I do wrong yesterday, and how can I fix it today?' Your team doesn't need to like you, but they have to trust and respect you," he said. "A leader who puts his interests first is a highly demoralizing force."

Breashear makes a number of accurate statements about teams, leadership, and character, but few businesses have the ability to create teams that "have a higher objective than themselves."

Sales, Service, Sports: Ya Gotta Believe

I love the Seattle Mariners.

They are currently one of the hottest teams in baseball because of team leadership (much to my surprise), believing in themselves, and team chemistry (character).

This excerpt, from today's Tacoma News Tribune, is from one of thousands of articles written every year about how professional sports teams succeed.

Whats gotten into the 40-39 Mariners?

Just about everything.

The chemistry is very good on this team, Hernandez said. We are all in this together the pitching, the defense, the offense. We are together, and if one guy doesn't get it done, the next guy picks him up.

We believe in ourselves, we pick each other up and that the history of this month. That why we're winning.

The same is true for frontline sales and customer service teams, yet the majority of them are still going through the motions. The concept of an entire team of top achievers-that a team must have in professional sports-gets lost in the various forms of the 80/20 Rule that justifies the lack of teams comprised of achievers. Justifies failure to create a unified team focused on being among the best of the best. if not the best!

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Employee Surveys Hide Real Problem

I love reading these articles that point out an employee survey has faults, but it is important to the success of a company...or is it?

If you have to spend money on a survey to determine employee satisfaction, you need a new way to interact with your personnel. This article praises Gallup for their acclaimed 12 Question Survey, but it then goes on to discuss a consultants view point of surveys. She has her own 100 question survey, but what exactly does it tell a company?

They both seem to take the long (expensive) road to understanding the degree that management has failed to know what their staff thinks about them despite the fact that they see them every day, day after day, one by one, month after month.

I wonder what surveys Whole Foods, Nordstrom, and Costco have needed to spend (waste) money on in order to determine what their employees think about things.

Know, Grow... Learn, Earn...

As novice without a clue on a number of things about how to get a biz going, I have been reading two great books that I desperately needed to read if I am ever to get this under-funded (as in no-budget startup, not low-budget startup) dream off the ground. Thank you Seattle Library system for consistently bringing recently released business books to your shelves.

The awareness of "the condition my condition is in" has led to many changes thanks to
CrazyBusy Overstretched, overbooked, and about to snap! written by Edward M. Hallowell, M.D. The book was exactly what needed to re-focus my efforts to organize, organize, and organize. As I read the Amazon reviews, pro and con, I agree with most of them. As with most books, the information and advice is not always new news, but I felt the author was speaking directly to Big Dave and his ability to put things off until...whenever. I loved this book.

The other book written by Michael Port, Book Yourself Solid: The Fastest, Esasiest, and Most Reliable System for Getting More Clients Than You Can Handle Even if You Hate Marketing and Selling is full of excellent advice and interesting exercises.

On page 22, I was almost done with the book as it challenged me to give serious contemplation to the marketability for my management training service, this blog, and my future success in general with this exercise: Step 2: Identify the Urgent Needs and Compelling Desires of Your Target Market

My market, sales and customer service leaders and organizations, has few with urgent needs and compelling desires that translate to understandingng how a top quality "people management system" will solve all problems and generate optimum revenue levels.

The urgent need seems to be avoid change no matter what the situation.

The compelling desire isn't considered because of that same fear of change.

I am looking for the few with a compelling desire to be the best of the best and an urgent need to do it now!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

The Container Store: Smiles = Reputation

My copy of this weeks Newsweek had the interesting piece, Everyday Brilliance, about a company focused on doing it right. The Container Store has it nailed. Great merchandising, enthusiastic employees, and low turnover.

I love reading about "an employee-training program so intensive, the salespeople in effect, become the packaging." To many customers, frontline personnel are the business. Smiling personnel inspire customers to remember, return, and recommend.

THE CONTAINER STORE: On my latest shopping trip to the Container Store, the manager tried to recruit me. "Our best customers make our best employees," he smiled, slipping me a
card with the motto HIRING NEAT PEOPLE! Now wouldn't that be a bit of heaven, I mused, spending days in this clean, well-lighted place, dispensing hope in the form of robust plastic storage crates, linen-wrapped file boxes, sheer mesh baskets that glide into sturdy racks with the whispered promise: I will help you fight back the inevitable chaos of your life.
I could get into that, I thought, falling hard for the philosophy of the company's 37 stores devoted to storage and organization. Founder and CEO Kip Tindell calls it an "Air of Excitement: Three steps in the door and you can tell whether or not a retail company has it." Well, yes. Three steps in his doors and something inevitably hits you: unlike those overmerchandised mega-stores that come across so adorably on TV, people are smiling here.

If there's a design formula at the Container Store, it is to connect the customer directly with the merchandise. So they ripped the packaging off the products—revealing their essence—and created a prettier image of control and order. "But these products do not sell themselves," says Tindell. "They are too multifunctional." So he designed, too, an employee-training program so intensive, the salespeople, in effect, become the packaging: enthusiastic, informed and deeply familiar with the product line (their 40 percent discount encourages such familiarity—that offer's looking even better).
Tindell is the guru-in-chief, fond of motivational training concepts like "The power of the wake," by which he means being mindful of the effect you have on others. All full-time employees get immersion training, "240 hours, compared to the in-dustry average of eight," he adds proudly. He's rewarded with loyalty and low turnover. "This is solutions-based retail," he explains. "We have to transcend value by adding emotional response."
Sharon Tindell, who began with her husband in 1978 when they opened their first store in Dallas, and whose design sensibility touches every product, says it best: "We call it getting the customer to dance."
—Dorothy Kalins

Monday, June 12, 2006

It's Common Sense

If all of the most popular business books have been saying this ongoing theme for decades now, maybe they are right and it works. All the technology and systems will not be as important as a good front line of employees.

Common sense is still the greatest innovator.

Well said
Hal Becker

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

New Zealand Herald

How to build good teams
Wednesday May 17, 2006By Philippa Stevenson

Winner-take-all reality TV series suggest teams and teamwork are inevitably a dysfunctional mix of high-maintenance drama queens and kings, borderline personality disorder types, graspers, and backstabbers.
It's enough to make you swear allegiance to the adage that the best committee is a committee of one.
Fortunately, for an increasingly complex world, the group dynamics featured on TV shows such as The Apprentice and Survivor are about ratings not function.

Great article. One of the best I have ever read. Professor Wertheim had me interested the moment I realized that, after his accurate views of The Apprentice and Survivor, that was his last reference to either show. He got right down to talking about how being on a great team brings out the best in people.

He has the value of a team leader nailed.

* You cannot overestimate a manager's influence on team performance. As one executive who oversees a successful performance management system says, 'Over time, a team becomes a reflection of the manager'. Managers with a weak performance orientation produce teams with lacklustre performance. Managers who care little for their team member's engender conflict between employees and the organisation.
* Companies must invest the time and resources necessary to get the right person in the manager's position. Having no manager at all is a better choice than saddling a team with a bad manager.
"For better or worse, teams and organisations will succeed or fail based on the quality of their managers. Lousy managers drain productivity and morale. Great managers drive maximum performance. The principle is simple and straightforward. The hard work is finding and developing great managers to lead your teams."

There is nothing of value I can add to this other than "
Here, Here! Well-said" (written)

Team Leadership is the difference between ordinary staffs and extraordinary teams.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Whole Foods on 60 Minutes

John Mackey sold me. He has built a huge company by accepting nothing less than the best.

I love this article. Whole Foods is an awesome model for employee empowerment. As he said, "And I realized, why don't we let them decide for themselves... " Why not get everyone's opinions on everything. The frontline staff votes on who stays on the team and who doesn't fit the standards of "engaging, fun, and interactive with the customer." Everything he said during the interview was about striving to do the right thing for customers, employees, and the company.

You can feel the energy and excitement when you walk into a Whole Foods store. As a low to no budget team leadership trainer, I don't shop there myself (as in not yet), but it is where i take people to show them what OneByOne Team Achievement will no for their sales environment.

Customers judge, consciously and unconsciously everything the see, hear, smell, and "feel." A memorable experience in a Whole Foods-people and products-leads to customers inspired to remember, return, and recommend.

Camaraderie, Team Chemistry, Esprit d' Corps

Sunday afternoon thoughts.

A team, or an organization, that wants to become the best of the best has to learn how to create extraordinary levels of teamwork (camaraderie, team chemistry, esprit d' corps), get everyone working together for a challenging common cause, and it has to be a great place to work.

That's why most businesses don't even try. Those leadership tasks are all difficult to do without a plan, a team-focused management system, and the ability to sell the vision. And, most importantly, the ability to do-it-right with fair, honest, and ethical practices.

It starts with a Servant Leadership mindset and team-focused leadership system.

How many high-test frontline team leaders want to do anything as painful that? Be humble? Work for them, serve them, help them? Inverted pyramid leadership? Huh?

How many are willing to get off the Me Bus and hop on a We Bus?

The current reality is that there haven't been many, but in most cases it takes a very few minutes to explain how they benefit. All managers-no matter how power hungry, the size of their ego, or whatever else may be wrong with them-understand the benefits of an entire team of happy achievers. When they learn how easy it can be, they are sinners reformed. They know they are blessed with different leadership awareness and a new passion for team achievement.

There I go selling my biz. Well, tonight is the night. I am going to tell my world-potential clients, friends, family-that I am finally open for business.

I am looking for a multi-location sales or customer service organization that will allow me to implement The Excitement Program in an underperforming store. One location, one remarable team achievement story and I'm off and running.

It's interesting that this
article on team building covers a lot of ground, but says very little about the value and benefits of focusing on creating and maintaining extraordinary team skills.

Why doesn't it?

Saturday, June 03, 2006

It's Everywhere, Everywhere You Look

I just received my daily google alert for front line employees. There were 15 articles written about the importance of inspiring, educating, and retaining frontline personnel. They are the reputation of the business. How they impress people, or depress them, is what can make or break a business. In the minds of the general public, they are who you are. When they are not at the top of their game, customers don't blame them, they blame their employer, their leader.

As well they should.

I love Google Alert. Why don't you do one right now for "front line employees" and see if you get a little excited about thinking about being in it to win it. This article was the one on top. I didn't read the rest of them because this article broke it down pretty well. That and I already know about the topics. But you may not, so why sign up and see for yourself at
Google Alert.

My alerts-engaged employees, employee engagement, esprit d'corps, esprit de corps, camaraderie, team chemistry, team culture, frontline employees, front line employees, frontline leadership, frontline management, front line leadership, front line management, team leadership, team management, team building, teambuilding-give evidence to the huge importance of engaged employees.

They also give evidence to few companies actually knowing how to engage their employees-a huge source of information, insight and intuition-in a daily focus on improving the team and the business.

Leadership is the always the difference...

Well now, the moment of truth has arrived. Once again I loaded up the wagons and took off without giving much thought to the blind horses. As a solo operation, until my partner can quit his day job, that happens a lot. C'est sera, sera.

I've been reading about what goes into creating and maintaining a business blog. I’ve spent the last two weeks with the insights and opinions of Naked Conversations, Blogwild, and Blogging. I enjoyed them all, but now I have to follow their advice or come up with a better way than they suggest.

This weekend I am finally going to market my business. I am going to expose myself to a huge market that needs my help, but I have no idea if they want help becoming the best of the best.

I am also going to send it to my friends, many of which I met through my employment experience, because I want them to know I am still talking about the same things.

It just makes sense. The hours spent at a sales or customer service location busting your butt all day long for a commission, or just to keep your job, are the same whether you are going through the same motions every day or every day is the excitement and energy of being a part of a frontline team that is truly special. An entire team of achievers who love working together.

Another long day or a day of learning, improving, and achieving.

So the “follow their advice or come up with a better way” question has me pondering why I have a blog. Number one it is honey to
www.onebyoneteamachievement.com. There is no number two, but I'd be thrilled if people choose one of the programs I have listed. (As of this moment, none of them know my business exists or that I recommend them.)

In sales and customer service, leadership is the difference. Leadership that attracts.

Fact: I have never advertised for personnel because my teams were also responsible for recruiting potential achievers (Qualifications: Like to have fun and have a friendly personality.)

So, here we go. I have no idea if anyone is actually reading all the headlines about the value of engaged employees. My business, OneByOne Team Achievement, is an employee engagement program. It is like nothing you could imagine. It is simple. Everyone gets it. It is in their best interests to go back to work and make something of themselves. Team Leaders, managers, and frontline personnel doing their part to help each other.

Step # 1 Entire Team of Engaged Achievers

Sales or customer service teams seldom have an entire team of quality achievers. They seldom have the 20% of a team that is responsible-according to the 80/20 Rule-for 80% of the productivity, performance, revenues...whatever. The only twenty-percent number is usually the number of frontline staff coming and going, week after week, month after month.

In other words, there are few sales or customer service teams that are even close to having an entire team of excited, energized, and enthused achievers. There are few frontline team leaders with a plan to create an entire team of achievers. Few with a system for leading and managing them.

They don't know how how to do it. Most companies don't show them how to do it because they don't know how either. Even businesses acclaimed for great service, often have less than 100% achievers. Nordstoms, Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, and Costco are all highly focused on great service, but few stores have an entire team of achievers.

Most people don't think it can be done.

The achievement books I have listed are full of leadership tips, insights, and perspectives. Engagement, team skills, and a passion to be the best are some of the basic themes of the books. How to do is in everyone of those books. (A step-by-step approach is not there, but it will be in my book.)


People support, often with a passion, what they help create.
Ask your frontline staff what they think you need to do to create an entire team of achievers.

If it makes sense, do it.

Friday, June 02, 2006

The Mission: "The Best of the Best"

The goal is to be the very best. It's the goal of every business that actually becomes one of the best of the best. But few do because, as Jim Collins writes in
Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap...And Other's Don't, it takes leadership with more than a vision of becoming extraordinary. It takes "Best of the Best" motivation, a best of the best mindset, and methods that create great teams and organizations.

But most of all, it takes leaders passionate about success and winning. Leaders who will "burn the mills" if that's what is needed. When I read that in Good to Great, it gave the book credibility because that type of commitment is exactly what is sometimes required if you want to be the best.

"Do-It-Right" is the goal of every Level 5 Leader. Leaders who make decisions based on the "good of the team," the employees, and the organization. Leaders who are in it to win it, but want everyone else to win as well.

In a sales or customer service team, this type of leadership is rare. The reason is simply that they don't know how to become the best of the best. They have never seen it done or been taught how to do it. And even if they had, not everyone will rise to the occasion and go for it.

The experts on team achievement-professional baseball, football, basketball-know that to win it all in team sports requires motivation, mindsets, methods and a mission to accomplish the goal.
But it also requires something few leaders know how to do in sports or business. To be the best requires extraordinary team chemistry. In business and the military it's called esprit d'corps and it is the key ingredient to becoming a truly extraordinary team.

Anyone can do it, but it starts with a positive answer to "If you knew how to do it, would you want to create and lead a team focused on becoming the best of the best?"

I hope so. It's a lot more fun than just going through motions, day after day, one by one.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Finally, lets talk about team leadership...

June 1, 2006 Ten years of setbacks have been overcome. OneByOne Team Achievement is a reality and this blog is up and running thanks to all the advice I have been given in the past three weeks.

Thank you all.

You know I really appreciated your time, expertise, and caring about my problem. Caring about me. Thank you.

This blog is here to offer tips, tactics, and techniques for getting teams to buy into improving themselves and their co-workers (teammates) by engaging everyone in attracting or developing an entire team of top achievers who enjoy working together.

Early in my team leadership career, through the teachings of the J.C. Penney Company, I learned that when you give people what they want, they will give you what you want. For employees it is fairness, camaraderie, and personal and organizational achievement. For me it is a team focused on being a great team, being the best of the best.

The Enthusiastic Employee is so timely for me and my business because the book offers evidence, based on research results from over 2,500,000 employees, that explains why there is only one way-participatory leadership and management-to get top performance from all employees. One way to get everyone on the team to focused on doing what they can to help create, excite, energize, and retain an entire team of top achievers. Everyday, day after day, one by one.

Leadership skills that few sales or customer service teams ever realize.

Few frontline sales or customer service leaders have a passion to be the very best. How could they when they don't know how to become the best? Yet with new awareness and insights anyone can create and lead an extraordinary team.

I'm not a great writer. I know little about how to publish a blog daily. I do know, however, no one seems to be helping the most important person on a sales or customer service team.

And I know how to get every team member on the "Best of the Best" page.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Keep It Simple, Make It Fun, Make It Everyone

Please compare this recent article with the words of Jim Nordstom. Did the company become highly acclaimed as a benchmark for extraordinary service with the complexity of the approach to excellence outlined in The McKinsey Quarterly ?

Jim Nordstom said, "People will work hard when they are given the freedom to do the job the way they think it should be done, when they treat customers the way they like to be treated," observed Jim Nordstrom, the former copresident of Nordstrom. "When you take away their incentive and start giving them rules, boom, you've killed their creativity." (Robert Spector and Patrick D. McCarthy,
The Nordstrom Way: The Inside Story of America's #1 Customer Service Company, reprint edition, Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 1996.)"

I have shopped at Nordstroms for decades. Well before that HR department arrived. In the early years every frontline employee was excellent. Every one, no exceptions. All departments were led and managed by the department mangers. They had total control of all human relations. Walking into a Nordstrom store was exciting because what you planned to purchase as well as who knew you would be there to help you.

I live across the street from tha Nordstrom Flagship store. I love Nordstoms. I have especially liked their great selection in shoes for my size 15 feet. But they lost their high level of enthusiasm, sincerity and energy as the years went by and they recieved the acclaim they deserve.

They still have a mission to be the best of the best, but it's never quite the same after a business becomes extraordinary. HR departments are well-meaning, but they often get in the way of leadership. And after a few years of buying into the latest agenda, cause, management system, campaign, or whatever, many frontline team managers lose their passion to lead a winner. They are no longer in it to win it.

I am not a fan of HR departments or anything else that can take control away from frontline team leaders.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Do these conferences actually create excellence?

I get a reminder of this Sales Leadership Conference in my in box about every three or four days. I truly hope these go well for the attendees. I hope something they learn gets passed on the the folks at lower levels and it actually improves their organizations and the experience of their employees and customers.

Another one,
Leadership Conference, just arrived this morning. It will, if it can deliever on the sales pitch, rapidly change organizations with cultures, systems, and new software that is going to really, finally, get a company up to speed in sales and service excellence.

The ads for these are exciting, but how often does reality come close to their claims of improvement? Do they lead to excellence? The testimonials rave about them, but why does it seem like the same people give testimonials year after year?

Speading the word on excellence is what I hope to do with this blog. It has one topic. How to become the best of the best as a frontline team leader. How to create teams that are among the best of the best. How to personally have the motivation, mindsets, and methods for getting everyone to love working together and contributing to the success (passion) of the organization.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Keep it Simple, Make it Fun, Make it Memorable

I live downtown Seattle two blocks from the Pike Place Market. Right under the sign, is the Pike Place Fish Market which has been the topic of a plethora of books about having fun on the job. Fish!, Fish! Tales, Fish! for Life, Fish Sticks, Catch!, and-one of the few books I recommend that frontline team leaders buy-When Fish Fly:Lessons for Creating a Vital Energized Workforce from the World Famous Pike Place Fish Market.

Every day I see the crew in action. A daily show for their fans.

An entire team of memorable top achievers. None got their job through politics, favoritism, nepotism, or good ol' boy network. It's all about ability and making an impression that inspires people to remember, return, and recommend.

Hard working, smiling, energetic, excited, and enthusiastic employees making a challenging job an entertaining game, day after day, one by one.

Just Imagine an Entire Team of Top Achievers

It's been a long day of learning how not to do things with my new toy. (I'll save the good stuff until tomorrow.)

My business, and this blog, is about how to create an entire team of frontline achievers. (When my book is published, I'll expand that to any organization, but right now it's all about sales and customer service teams.)

This is the deal. A sales staff with ten top achievers-in a staff of ten-will generate more revenues than one with less than ten. A service staff with ten memorable top achievers-in a staff of ten-will generate more repeats, referrals, and revenues than a staff with less than ten.

If you understand that simple concept you are in a small group because most managers are comfortable with letting the principles of the 80/20 Rule determine their daily tasks-recruit, train, recruit, train-and using it as an excuse for not having an entire team of quality achievers.

That's what I do. Show people how to get everyone to buy into an exciting, enjoyable team building project focused on creating entire teams of top achievers and teams (businesses) that are among the best of the best, if not the best.

One location or one hundred, it's all about learning, teamwork, and achievement.

Welcome to Frontline Team Achievement

Welcome to my to Frontline Team Achievement. Please forgive me if I put up a number of posts that ramble on about who I am and how I plan to change the world, or at least the part of the world that wants to create great sales and customer service teams.

This blog hopes to get people excited about creating a great employment experience for their staff and improving their leadership skills so they can transform their staff into an extraordinary team. Or, if they need help doing it, get someone to help them.

The goal is an entire team of achievers who enjoy helping each other succeed and, in the process, provide an experience that inspires customers to remember, return, and recommend.