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Caring, Consideration and Competence

by Kim Miller | November 24th, 2015

I’m a fan of alliteration, particularly when it is my own. These three traits – Caring, Consideration and Competence – strike me as central to long-term success in business. They form the base for a sustainable workforce. Add in some Creativity and Competition and you win!

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Trust is a Teeter Totter

by Kim Miller | July 18th, 2014

Trust is a teeter totter. In order to work, both parties must actively cooperate. If either one jumps off the teeter totter, the one at the other end goes down too, and quickly. So it is with trust. For a leader to succeed with his or her people, they must trust each other.

A leader must maintain the trust of their employees in order to keep them coming in and performing their best work. This is generally well understood. Without trust in the leadership of an organization, many employees will hold back effort, not wanting to invest all of their energy into an enterprise that may not pay off. Others will simply look for other places to go to work.

What is less well understood is the need for the trust that the leader must have in his or her people. Willing and capable people know when a leader is checking on them. An occasional query with a helpful suggestion is fine and usually appreciated. Too many queries at some point becomes the dreaded “micro-managing”.

So how does a leader avoid this lack of trust in their people? Set up and maintain periodic monitoring of business activity and results. This can be done in a variety of ways: monthly operations meetings, budget reviews, project planning sessions. Assign responsibility, including timelines for follow-up. Then butt out.

If you must, absolutely must check on progress, ask from a distance, figuratively. That is, send an email, leave a voice mail. Give the individual a chance to put together a complete response. Do not hover at a desk or an office door while asking a question and waiting for an immediate response. Once the response is received, consider it before reacting.

Are things going OK? Then give due credit and go elsewhere.

Is correction needed? Then be constructive. Offer a reasonable summary of the situation, and what you believe should be done. Then stop and ask if there is agreement or not. Do not attach blame or make personal comments. Focus on results, the things that you can see. Do not speculate on the reasons why.

In any event, you must back away again and give your people a chance to do their jobs without you looking over them. If you cannot do this, they will assume that you don’t trust them, and may jump off their end of the teeter totter.

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Improve, not Fix

by Kim Miller | November 14th, 2013

I coach senior managers and executives. Often I am asked if and how I “fix” them. The answer of course is that I do not, at least do not often, fix them. I improve them through the coaching process.

I am in the fortunate position of being able to work with talented and successful people. I do not regularly work with people who are early in their career. So my clients have already achieved much, and in many cases a great deal in their careers. They come to me to get better. To improve. To build on the strong business skills, activity and behaviour that got them where they are.

They want to continue the process of applying themselves to their work. They need to adapt; to new business challenges, to new people, and to new responsibilities. True success is the ability to keep it going. To improve as needed, not fix.

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Ego and Insecurity

by Kim Miller | August 7th, 2013

If you are successful in business, you have both – Ego and Insecurity – probably in substantial amounts. I am not postulating here, merely observing. I coach leaders of organizations. They all have healthy egos. They also all have significant insecurities.

Another way this is manifest is in the very human NEED to achieve, and the equally human FEAR of failure.

It is easy to confuse one with the other because they both provide motivation. But the former – let me call it “Achievement Ego” – is more likely to lead to action. for this reason, most of us in the business world would say that Achievement Ego is better than “Insecurity Fear”. Action is better than inaction, right? You can’t win if you don’t try, right? Generally, but not always.

If you take action with a high degree of competence, you are more likely to succeed. If you don’t know what you are doing – or if others simply do it much better – you are less likely to succeed. Your Insecurity Fear may be the thing to tell you when to hold off, even when your Achievement Ego is saying, “Go, go, go!”

By aware of – and use – both. Listen to your ego, and respect your insecurity.

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Labour Dispute Resolution, Guangzhou, China

by Kim Miller | July 3rd, 2013

I recently participated in a seminar, “Canada-China Joint Seminar on Labour Dispute Resolution”, in Guangzhou, China. Also participating were some 35 Canadian and Chinese academics, government, labour and employer representatives.

We exchanged our knowledge and experience in labour relations – dispute resolution in particular. The presentations and discussions were very active and open providing participants with a greater understanding of industrial relations systems in each countries. It was a fascinating opportunity to both teach and learn.

International and Intergovernmental Labour Affairs, Labour Program sponsored the seminar.

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