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Lucky's Blog

This blog has been created to keep our customers, partners and friends up to date with pertinent information relating to our industry, technical or otherwise. It will also keep everyone up to date with M.C. Dean's ever expanding capabilities. Thanks to all my followers and I hope you find this blog both helpfull and informative. Best Regards: Lucky Drake

Thursday, June 28, 2012

That Dog Won’t Hunt

I have expressed many times my belief that you need to spend the time and effort to train your team members. I have also explained that too many people expect to hire the perfect employee and are too quick to fire someone. I am a firm believer in the fact that most people want to do a good job, they just lack the direction, support, or skills to do so. As I have stated many times, I feel that if you provide a team member with the proper training and support, and they understand what the expectations are, most will perform and meet or exceed your expectations. This article is not about those people. This article is about those few people who cannot be taught. While this is not meant to be a negative article, I felt it was important to help others understand that sometimes, ‘that dog just won’t hunt’.

Throughout my career I have always made an effort to provide as much training, and support as possible. When a team member stumbles, I try to catch them and help them understand the meaning of a teachable moment. However, you do need to know when enough is enough. Over the years I have spent hours trying to teach and mentor people that just were not willing to learn. In most cases it was due to the fact that they believed that they already knew everything. As you can imagine it isn’t possible to teach someone something if they already know everything.

Recently I had an employee that was technically as good as you could find. The quality of his work was as high as any other team member I had. However, he had the misconception that he already knew everything and was bothered by the training meetings I hold every month. He would be the last person in the room, he spent most of the time looking at his Blackberry while I would be going through the training, and when I would ask for questions he would only ask questions like, “when can we all get a raise or a bonus?”, or any other question that would cause discomfort amongst the team members in the room. Most customers liked the quality of his work but didn’t like his attitude. This combined with his combative nature towards authority commonly put me in a difficult position.

One morning I received a call from our insurance company informing me of an incident where this employee was charged with a felony reckless driving offense, and that he would no longer be allowed to operate any company owned equipment, including the service truck he was currently using. He had done it to himself now. His contempt for authority had caught up with him. I had no choice at this point but to terminate his employment.

Upon reflection I knew I needed to remove this employee from my organization prior to this point, and I could have avoided the risk if I had properly analyzed the situation. However, I tend to error on the side of giving people a chance to improve and grow, rather than just removing them at the first sign of trouble. With that said, there has to be a point where you realize, that ‘that dog won’t hunt’, and all of your efforts are in vain.

Due to this particular turn of events, I have taken the time to look deep inside myself and come up with a new method to mitigate the risk of such team members. I have implemented this method, and if you are on the fence about a particular team member I suggest you do the following steps as well, to see if they are worth the time to train. First, give them some simple clear objectives to complete, make it something that doesn’t require any real skill, just follow through. Once you have tasked them with these simple objectives; then gauge their performance on completing those tasks. Did they complete the tasks in a timely manner? What was the quality of their delivered product? How much support did you have to give them before they completed the project? Once you have analyzed the results, the answer should be pretty clear. If the team member cannot perform on simple tasks that require little to no skill-set, what is the use of spending time and effort in training them further? Think about it for a minute. If they couldn’t complete something that was well within their knowledge base, then all the training in the world isn’t going to change their work practices. The tasks you gave them, they already knew how to do, since that was a prerequisite of the task in the first place, so training wouldn’t have helped the final outcome.

I hope everyone understands that I have not changed my beliefs one bit. I still believe that most people, with the proper training and support, will turn into highly effective team members. However, there has to be a time when you stop banging your head against the wall, stop expending so much effort in trying to drag someone to success, and just realize that, ‘that dog won’t hunt’.

In closing, just because ‘that dog won’t hunt’, doesn’t mean that dog can’t be a good guard dog, service dog, or just a good companion. Even when you realize that someone doesn’t fit into your organization, it doesn’t mean they can’t excel somewhere else. So don’t put the dog down just because it won’t hunt, help find a place where that dog can feel special. Not because it is your responsibility, but because it is the right thing to do.

Friday, June 15, 2012

The Poor Mexican Fisherman

Below is a story that has a very solid meaning for everyone who has a job, a company, or any responsibilities in life really. It is called the Poor Mexican Fisherman and it goes like this;

A very successful American businessman was on vacation in Mexico.

As he relaxed on the beach, he noticed a poor fisherman coming in on his old dilapidated boat, with a small stringer of fish. The American complimented the fisherman on his catch and asked him how long it took him to catch that many fish.

“Not long” was the reply from the fisherman.

“Then why didn’t you stay out longer” asked the tourist?

“Because this is enough for me and my family” explained the fisherman.

“So what do you do with the rest of your time the businessman inquired?”

The poor fisherman said “I sleep late, fish for a while, play with my children, take a siesta and spend time with my wife. Then in the evening, I go into the village to visit my friends, I have a few drinks, play the guitar and sing a few songs. I have a full life.”

The American was surprised at the poor man’s ignorance. “I have an MBA from Harvard and I can help you become very successful. You need to spend more time on the water fishing; then you can sell the extra fish, make more money and buy a bigger boat.”

“And after that, asked the fisherman?”

The businessman continued, “With the extra money from the bigger boat, you can buy two or three boats and eventually hire more people to operate a fleet of fishing trawlers. Instead of selling your fish to a middle man, you can start to negotiate directly with the processing plants. After a while you would be able to open your own plant. Then you could leave this little village for Mexico City and eventually, New York! From there you could operate the whole enterprise.”

“How long would that take,” asked the fisherman?

“20-25 years,” The businessman replied.

“And after that, asked the fisherman?”

The businessman continued, “Well my friend, that’s when the fun starts.” explained the tourist, “When the business gets really big, you can sell stock in the company and make millions!”

“Wow, millions. What happens after that,” asked the fisherman?

The highly educated man said “After that you’ll be able to retire and do whatever you enjoy.”

The poor fisherman looked perplexed and replied, “But, senor what I enjoy is to live on the coast, sleep in every day, do some fishing, play with my kids, take a siesta and spend time with my wife. And in the evenings I like to go out drinking and singing with my friends. Sounds to me like I am already...how do you call it.... retired?” And with that the fisherman turned and walked away.

The businessman with all his education and success was enlightened by the poor Mexican fisherman.

One of the biggest risks, we as managers’ face, is corporate burn-out. Since all good managers are highly involved in their operations, and hold a personal feeling of ownership in everything they do, they also have a tendency to never shut down the work side and keep balance between work, family, friends, and themselves. It is important to make sure that you include time for yourself along with the other big three.

While those that know me will call me out on this article, claiming that I don’t walk the walk when it comes to balance. Believe it or not I do feel that I have a good balance in my life. I really do love what I do, I consider the people I work with my friends and family, so in a twisted way I keep everything balanced.

Everyone’s idea of balance is different so it is up to you to decide what real balance is in your life. What works for me in many cases will not work for the majorly of the population. With that said you should take the time to understand where you have imbalance in your life and work just as hard to keep your life in a constant state of balance as you do to perform your job. You never know what tomorrow brings so enjoy every day as though you were ....how do you say it? .... RETIRED!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Perfect Play

Many of my followers know that I like to adumbrate my lessons in football analogies. For those of you who enjoy that platform, great! For those of you who are not fans of this platform, I apologize, but as David Coverdale would say, “Here I go again”.

The Perfect Play:

It was a sultry evening. The sweat was pouring off the player’s bruised and battered bodies. The field had been reduced to a giant mud pit from the war that these two teams had battled over the last 59 minutes. It was the fourth quarter with only seconds left. The home team was down by 5 points and this was the last play of the game for the championship and they needed 45 yards for a score. The Head Coach had known that this was going to be a close game and he had also suspected the weather conditions would be wet and oppressively hot. So in preparation for the conditions, during the past two weeks, the coach had run his team through grueling practices to prepare for these conditions. He had also developed a play that, in his mind was un-defendable, if executed properly. They practiced this play hundreds, if not thousands of times prior to game time, and this was the culmination of all of their efforts. As the Quarterback approached the line of scrimmage, he surveyed the defense. As the Quarterback called his check downs he positioned himself in the shotgun position. He called out “Blue 32, Blue 32, Hut, Hut”! The Center snapped the ball perfectly into the QB’s hands, who handed off the ball to the Fullback. Just as it appeared the Fullback would be tackled, he tossed the ball back to the Quarterback, who threw the ball cross field to the Tight-end. The Tight-end had three tiers of blockers ahead of him as he sprinted down the sidelines, the 30, the 20, the 10. All the time the Head Coach sprinting down the sidelines screaming, “go, go, go!” Just as the Tight-end reached the 5 yard line he leaped into the air, where he was hit by the Strong Safety which threw him into a helicopter spin, landing in the end-zone for six points. The Head Coach looked up at the clock which read 0:00. They had won the championship!

Recently I have experienced many of my coached plays, if you will, being executed to perfection as in the example above. And just like the head coach in this story, I feel myself figuratively sprinting down the sideline with pride screaming go!

There is no better feeling than when you invest your time and efforts into a team or an individual, and then see them execute your lessons flawlessly. Furthermore, it brings great pride when you hear your words being repeated by your team in discussions with others. In my case it is phrases like, “you are the face of the company”, “provide plus one service”, or “if you don’t feel safe then don’t do it”. The true pinnacle of leadership is creating tomorrow’s leaders and when you can see that your team is running the plays you designed, you know they are well on their way. Just as in the story above it takes extensive practice and preparedness, but in the end to watch your team score that figurative touchdown, well there just isn’t a better feeling I know. So take the time to plan and prepare. Coach your team tirelessly and give them the tools to succeed. Then sit back and watch your team score the winning goal.