Some thoughts about performance

performanceFree association is a technique that I frequently use when teaching about communications. In an exercise, I ask members of a diverse group to write down, without censorship, everything that comes to mind when they see or hear a particular word. Today, that word is Continue reading

The gift of gratitude

 gratitude 2As I write this article, Valentine’s Day is on the horizon. It signals a time to pause and reflect on the need to express love and think about those, who to us, deserve our love. It is an act of gratitude. Never mind the fact that it has become commercialized and there are some prescribed rituals, which if not displayed, can cause disappointment.

In Barbados, there is a pall cast upon this commemoration because of widespread concern about the effects of Continue reading

We can do it!

we can make itUnited States President, Barack Obama is well-known as an inspirational speaker and leader. His State of the Union message, delivered on January 28th, received global media coverage. The consensus is that this was another inspirational tour de force, not just for Americans but many others who have been undergoing hard times.

It doesn’t matter that there are differences about the policies, programmes and political agenda; at one point or another, your heart was stirred Continue reading

Counting our assets

think outside the boxLast week, I was the guest speaker at a Power Breakfast event in Newark, New Jersey. This series attracts executives, business owners, legislators, educators and other professionals in the New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C. areas. Continue reading

Vulgarity at the core

corrupthear-no-evil_see-rudy-life-blogspot.com_I have had some very interesting conversations with a diverse group of people regarding what is most needed to restore Barbados to its former economic and social dynamism. Interesting, because many telling points emerged despite the fact that the insights came from parties who were of diverse socio-economic and political perspectives.

I am very saddened by the continued politicization of Barbados’ Continue reading

The high cost of patronage

barbados map flagThis time last year there was heavy public debate around the competing promises of parties vying to be elected. This year, the discussions are even more intense around a failing economy and how to fix it; quickly.

There is an age old adage: “to the victor goes the spoils” and six years ago, there were blatant statements of dividing up the “fatted calf”. The traditional methods of patronage have been in the creation and awarding of jobs. Certainly the previous government engaged in patronage and after three terms, the electorate decided to correct the imbalance. However, it has not turned out to be a ‘correction” but Continue reading

The Art of Collaboration

3d business men briefcaseMost plans for success call for collaboration among interested parties. Conversely, there are many examples of conflicts arising from the unwillingness or inability to collaborate. It seems we are programmed to look after our own self-interest regardless of the costs. The way most of us define “successful” communications is by being able to “get our message across”; which is essentially adversarial.

The range of situations is endless. Continue reading

A promise made is a debt unpaid

Stressed Over MoneyIn our work, our firm relies heavily upon clients and colleagues to contribute to achieving successful outcomes. Ideally, these contributions will meet agreed qualitative standards and be delivered on time. Unfortunately, there are more instances of unfulfilled promises than ones that are kept. Ironically, the ones in the greatest and most frequent deficits are service providers.

The promise “debtors” are often persons of high integrity who are fully capable of what is required. Certainly, when I am a “promise debtor”, I am filled with remorse and apologies. Nevertheless, the damage is done, especially when I become a bottleneck in the delivery of our famed “Supreme Service”. I know full well that reliability and responsiveness rank highest on the customer’s definition of quality but there are times that I miss.

In the “old days” of time and motion study, workers did mundane, repetitive work so it was easy to define productivity. Then, a good worker was someone who came to work every day, on time and responded promptly to the factory whistle that signalled times to start and finish. The assembly line kept moving. When I see awards given today for good attendance and long service, it represents a bygone era.

With the ratios of work becoming increasingly focused on the application of knowledge, there are more unpredictable elements in today’s work. Even tasks we might have performed frequently have nuances brought on by new information, which can delay our response times. Is it realistic to expect every promise to be kept? Where is the line drawn when we become unreliable and non-responsive?

We don’t expect perfect performance from professional athletes, doctors, politicians or any other group that earns our respect. We do get concerned if there is a high margin of error for pilots, surgeons, architects and others where public safety is involved and back this up with requirements for additional safeguards. Personal resilience, flexibility and a commitment to continuous learning have now become our assurance of authenticity.

How much of the decline in public trust can be attributed to an erosion of our commitment to bring our best game every time? I have seen many instances where the least productive employees provide orientation to new employees. They say them “Here’s how we do things around here; if you want to get along, you will work at the pace we set”. This always results in a de facto performance standard that is lower than that for organizational success.

What if we are now entering a period where there are no more employees and everyone was a freelancer? In truth, the demands of the marketplace are causing more functions to be outsourced and contracts are more specific about what is to be delivered and for how much.  With this trend, what does your “best game” entail?

Somehow the word “professional” comes to mind. Typically, we associate this term with fields that have prescribed educational and ethical criteria such as medicine, law etc. but it also serves to differentiate from amateurs.

Therefore, I submit that all of us should promise to be professionals in whatever we do. This means that we will strive to be reliable, responsive in our efforts to achieve goals that are mutually beneficial. We will recognize “stumbles” as learning opportunities for self-improvement and actively seek to improve.

God bless.