I am always inspired by stories with a Horatio Alger touch. Like how impoverished young people can believe in a better future and work hard to improve their status in life. As a nation and world, we have been through months of impoverished circumstances and those organizations who have entered 2010 with their companies intact have undoubtedly implemented Horatio Alger success principles.
Success has two main elements: Positive expectation and hard work. My own Horatio Alger mantra is “Expect Success, then work as if there is no other option.”
Successful managers implement the Right Thoughts Plus Right Actions success principles in a variety of ways. Think about the techniques you implemented with your workforce to ensure your survival through 2009 to 2010. Perhaps your success tactics included some of the following I have documented as I have spoken with managers from a variety of companies.
These principles are:
1. Maintain a close connection to the customer.
A friend who manages at Motorola gave me this insight: “I asked my people to believe they could make a sale. Then I asked them to call each customer, ask about their situation and show empathy for their troubles. By listening to their problems, the rep had a good idea of what we could sell them to ease their pain, how we could structure payments, or add value to their order.”
• What you can do: As you assign projects, work with the belief system of the team members until they believe they can be successful.
2. Refine goals and objectives.
I have noticed that the major newspapers (my favorite is the Wall Street Journal) regularly carry news about companies jettisoning divisions or acquisitions that are not part of their core business, enabling them to focus on their recognized expertise.
• What you can do: Sponsor a luncheon with your team after everyone is in a good mood from eating delicious food, ruthlessly examine every standard product or service, all proposed products or services, and eliminate those that pull you off target of your core business. Focus your team on solid product lines that have the most potential for sales.
3. Focused work time.
When stress and uncertainty are high, concentration on tasks is difficult. Workers may exhibit short attention spans which cause them to wander aimlessly just to try to focus their minds or make frequent trips to the break room for coffee or a Hershey Take5Bar.
• What you can do: Reinforce solid time management principles, i.e. making task lists, setting deadlines, and collaborating with colleagues to avoid projects that veer in the wrong direction, wasting time and resources.
4. Eliminate negative thinking.
The economic conditions of the world have made it easy to give into victim thinking and retreat to a pity party. The book Wake Up The Winner Inside teaches strategies to implement the “Expect Success” philosophy. One of the strategies involves ridding yourself of negative thoughts such as:
“There is no way I’ll get that project done on time,”
“I know I won’t make quota,”
“Nothing in this economy is working.”
Negative expectations become self-fulfilling prophecies. I’ve never seen a study but I’d like to see figures on the hours of precious time that is wasted each day because of negative attitudes and discouragement. My guess is at least two hours – that is nearly 1/2 of an employee’s focused working time. Thus a monetary case can be made to use the power of positive expectation to eliminate pessimistic attitudes and increase productivity.
• What you can do: When employees make disparaging remarks or critical comments about how rough life is, encourage them to see what is possible, what the next positive step might be and where the silver lining may be shining. That silver lining may be a narrower but more profitable focus on products and services.
Karla Brandau is President of Karla Brandau & Associates.
She can be reached at email@example.com
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