Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Should I stay or should I go now?

If I go there will be trouble

And if I stay it will be double

So ya gotta let me know

Should I stay or should I go?

 

I am pretty sure The Clash were not singing about career decisions, but the last time I heard this song on The Bat 105 – Austin’s Capital for Classic Hits, it inspired me to ponder a question that almost all people face at some point in their working lifetime.  The question of “should I leave my current job?”

Over my 25 plus years in management roles, I was often asked questions that were in essence “Should I stay or should I go?”  While I never answered the question by belting out lyrics the way Mick Jones did, more times than not I was able to provide some perspective or at least respond back with my own question. In some cases the person asking the question was a direct report or someone from within the same department. In other cases it was a peer in another department or even on rare occasions a person higher up in the organization.  And in yet other cases, the question was posed by a friend that worked for a different company.

In all cases, I am always impressed with the bravery to ask the question and have the discussion. Not everyone is comfortable having a dialogue about potentially changing jobs; so when people engage me on the subject I try and make a true effort to provide valuable insight.  I usually start by asking “why are you considering making a change?”  The answers vary from a desire for more compensation, to lack of career advancement, to too much travel, to boredom, to dislike of co-workers or company, to wanting to make a radical career change, and to long work days or stress eating away at family time.  Depending on the answer to the first question, I might follow up with something like “are you happy doing what you are doing?” or “does your current job make you feel fulfilled?”  or the ever popular “so what do you want to do when you grow up?” These will usually spur more conversation and in most cases that will lead to additional reasons for wanting to make a change or not make a change.

Depending on where the conversation goes, I might even use my own journey from which to pull examples of times I either made the decision to make a change or stay put.  Granted most of my job changes might seem radical to some, but there was usually some point in one of them that could fit the situation.  My first big change from government accountant to Big 4 consultant was driven by a desire to not do accounting, and to lesser extents much better compensation and making good on a “threat” I made to leave the agency I was working in if they moved me on to a team working on what I considered an already doomed project.  My next change to leave the interesting world of Big 4 consulting and land in corporate-America was driven by a strong desire to spend more time with my young family.  The grind of traveling 5 or 6 days every week was too much.  And my latest change from corporate CIO to independent management consultant was driven by the realization the corporate officer role I had chased for many years did not bring the expected feeling of joy.  In short, I was not happy and went back to the role, management consultant, that brought me the most happiness – this time without the extensive travel.

Not once did I look back and question my decision to make a change, but trust me, each decision was not made lightly.  Any time that “stay or go” question creeped in my mind, I stopped and assessed the situation.

What is making me ask the question?

Is my current role fulfilling?

Am I growing professionally?

Is my current job pulling me away from other more important things in my life?

Am I happy?

In most cases I tried to seek out the advice of others.  I also tried to balance that input from others with what my mind and my heart were telling me.  In the end, I always went with my heart because I knew that would lead me to make the right decision.  There were times the heart said “stay” and others when it said “go”; looking back the choice was always spot on.

Ultimately the decision to make a change is yours to make.  Getting advice from others can help bring it all into focus, but in the end you have to make the choice.  You can beg and plead for someone else to let you know, but only you can answer the question “should I stay or should I go?”

Glory Days

I think I’m going down to the well tonight

And I’m going to drink till I get my fill

And I hope when I get old I don’t sit around thinking about it

But I probably will

Yeah, just sitting back trying to recapture

A little of the glory of, well time slips away

And leaves you with nothing mister

but Boring stories of

glory days

 Glory days well they’ll pass you by

Glory days in the wink of a young girl’s eye

Glory days, glory days

If you recall from my last post, my 30th High School Reunion happened recently.  A part of me thought I would walk in to the opening night festivities at the VFW Hall  to something that resembled this Bruce Springsteen song – a room full of upper 40-somethings stuck in the glory days of the late 80s.

I am happy to report that was not the case.  Instead I walked into a room full of people that were genuinely happy to see old friends and in some cases meet new friends.  Sure there was plenty of talk about our high school antics, but there was also talk about families, jobs, sports, the weather, maybe some politics, and many other topics.  Not once did I talk to someone who thought their glory days peaked in 1987.

Due to family commitments (my own daughter was having her senior prom the same weekend), I was not able to stay for all the events of the weekend, but I was able to catch a couple of them.  After the Friday night VFW mixer, about 90 of us came together to walk the halls of our old high school on Saturday morning.  The campus, part of which was originally an elementary school, had been converted into a junior high school at some point after our graduation.  And as part of some upcoming construction projects, all the existing buildings will soon have a date with a wrecking ball.  Thanks to the current school superintendent, a fellow 1987 graduate, we were able to take a final stroll down memory lane through the halls of our school.  We also gathered in the gym to take a class picture and hear some thoughts from a few classmates.

One of my lifelong friends (Mary Olga) had asked a few days prior that I be one of those to share a few thoughts.  Not being one to shy away from sharing my wisdom, I promptly accepted.  While I totally adlibbed things that morning, I did actually have some thoughts jotted down, so I thought I would share those with you:

30 years ago I was given the honor of standing in front of you at Wagstaff Gym to lead us in the Pledge of Allegiance.  If I recall it was some form of consolation for not being quite smart enough to be our Valedictorian or Salutatorian.  So when Mary Olga messaged me to ask if I would say a few words this morning, I thought “awesome, these people are finally going to have to sit through a speech from me.”  Then she told me I was limited to 2 minutes, so I guess you are still getting off easy.

Being back here on this campus where many of us started and ended our time in Whitehouse schools brings back a flood of memories.  Not very many people can say they attended Kindergarten and Physics class in the same room – but I am blessed to say I did.  Thank you Dr Moran for letting us spend a few last moments here before you call in the wrecking ball next year.

And being in this gym especially brings back into focus my pedestrian, at best, basketball career.   Coach Nix was right, I was too slow and too short for the game. That said, I was able to turn that hoops experience into an impressive 13-10 record in two seasons as a volunteer coach for a  girls junior high basketball team , leaving me just a few victories shy of his win total.

Since leaving here in 1987, I have been fortunate to meet thousands of great people from all over the world, but this place and the people here hold a special place with me .  I don’t make it back to Whitehouse very often and I rarely talk to any of you, but the memories from my first 18 years of life are always top of mind. All of you had a hand in forming those memories –  For that, I say thank you. I sincerely hope you all feel the same way about our fellow classmates.

My oldest daughter just finished up four years of high school cheer and my other daughter will be taking her place on the high school squad next year, so I have become a bit of a cheer dad in recent years.  So, in conclusion I am going to ask for any cheerleaders that are in the house to come on down and join me.

We’re from Whitehouse, couldn’t be prouder, if you can’t hear us, we’ll yell a little louder   (3 times)

I need to once again give Heather and Kelly, my varsity cheerleaders, props for being called out of the stands on the spot and joining me in the cheer.

Sadly I had to bolt out of town back to Austin as soon as we were done at the gym, but I heard that the main event Saturday night was nothing short of awesome.  From the pictures posted on Facebook, it looked to be a party for the ages.  More props to all those that had a hand in planning the weekend.

As my oldest daughter prepares to graduate from high school, I only hope that 30 years from now she can attend an equally fulfilling reunion.

Oh, in case I have not told you:  I’m from Whitehouse and I couldn’t be prouder!

Most Likely to Succeed?

All hail to Whitehouse High School,

All hail to you,

For truth and knowledge,

We will ere be true,

Always in our memories,

Forever in our hearts,

We will remember,

Dear Whitehouse High.

WHS

My 30th high school reunion is coming up next month.  Even though I have not seen the large majority of them in many years, thanks to the popularity of social media apps, I have been able to keep tabs on many of my high school classmates.  That said, I am looking forward to attending the event and seeing people that were a huge part of my childhood.

As I started to talk about the upcoming reunion, my daughters had me drag out the high school year book so they could check out the teenage version of dad.  One of the things they noticed in my yearbook was the Senior Superlatives.  Specifically, they zeroed in on the page showing me (along with the awesome Mary Olga Ferguson) as The Most Likely To Succeed.  A few days later, my oldest daughter asked me if I thought I was the most successful person out of my high school class.

I am pretty sure the 18-year-old me thought of success only in terms of money.  I am certain I had visions of returning to my high school reunion by private jet, rolling up to the venue in a high dollar sports car while wearing a very expensive Armani suit. And then telling fascinating stories of my exploits as a retired multi-millionaire business executive.

Thankfully, the 48-year-old me knows that money and wealth are not the measures of success.  I may not be able to point to the perfect measure of success, but I know the size of my bank account is not it.  I also know that the only person who’s measurement of your success that is accurate and matters is you.  If you are happy with your life and content with yourself, then you more than likely see yourself as successful.  Your job title, the size of your house, the type of car you drive, the size of your retirement account does not matter.

So, do I see myself as being successful?  Absolutely.  I met and married the love of my life, have two teenage daughters that act like teenagers, have a dog that thinks I hung the moon (dogs have a way of making you feel loved), have had the chance to coach a  number of kids the basics of basketball and to a lesser extent soccer, have seen some interesting parts of the United States and a smattering of other countries, have attended a large number of concerts, have sang Sweet Caroline karaoke style on a bus going through the streets of Manila while drinking a beer at 7:00 in the morning, have been involved with supporting three different Catholic schools, and have met people from all over the world that I count as friends.  I feel like I have in my own small way made an impact on the world.  Life hasn’t been perfect, but it’s been good. So in my book, I’m marking it down as successful.

Do I think I am the most successful person out of my high school class?  That is a question that cannot be answered.  Actually, it is a question that should not even be asked.  No one can say that one person is more successful than another. One person’s success cannot be stacked and ranked against the success of others.  My hope is that there are 200+ fellow Whitehouse High School graduates of the class of 1987 that all see themselves as successful.  I plan on walking into a room full of successful people – none more successful than the rest. A room full of people in their late 40s that have weaved their way through life’s hills and valleys and are still bringing the good fight everyday.

So for any of my fellow classmates that thought they might see the class Most Likely to Succeed recipient flying into Tyler Pounds Field on his personal Learjet and jumping in a black stretch limo and walking in with a high-dollar slick-Rick suit on, I am sorry to disappoint you.  You will have to settle for seeing me roll into town in my well used 2009 Saab 9-3, maybe with an iced-down Yeti in the trunk and perhaps wearing faded jeans, a Ramones tshirt, and flip-flops with a built-in bottle opener.  That might get me kicked out of the Secret Society of Most Likely to Succeeders, but that’s OK.  I’ll be the guy smiling and laughing while reconnecting with my fellow Wildcats.

WHS!

 

The Bloody Project – Another Lesson From the Course

I’m alright and nobody worry ’bout me

Why you got to gimme a fight, can’t you just let me be?

These are the unmistakable opening lines of the theme song to Caddyshack.  As a fan of slapstick comedy and of the game of golf, I have to rate it as one of the classic movies from the 80’s.

One of the  benefits of my recent career changes was to have a little more flexibility in my schedule; a flexibility that would allow me to spend more time with my family.  Last week, I had the chance to exercise that flexibility and booked a round of golf with my oldest daughter and one of her friends.  With my less than spectacular golf skills, I highly suspected there could be a slapstick moment on the course.

It was a typical winter day in Central Texas – sunny, not hot but not cold, not windy – a day my friends in northern climates couldn’t even imagine exists in late January.  After working from the world headquarters of Nice Socks Consulting for the morning, I headed to our home course at Avery Ranch Golf to meet them when they got out of school that afternoon.  I was excited to spend some quality time with her before she heads off to a college yet to be determined later this year.

The course was not busy so we were excited about enjoying a casual round without anyone pressing on us.  As we teed up on the first hole, little did I know that our round would be far from casual.  My daughter’s drive pushed a little right of the fairway, ending up on a slight slope near a small outcropping of limestone just to the front and right of where her ball landed. She was about 120 yards from the green and confident she could be on the green in regulation. Unfortunately, the 2nd shot did not go as planned.  Her ball hit the rock outcropping (yes, she let the club face open up) and bounced directly back, striking her in the head.

At first I was not sure what had just happened.  I was watching for the flight of the ball and when I did not see the ball in the air, turned around to see her kneeling on the ground.  She had her hand on her forehead and when she moved her hand, I saw the blood.  Lots of blood.  I ran to my cart and grabbed a golf towel to apply pressure and slow down the bleeding. I won’t go into the gory details of the next few hours.  However, I will let you know that after 7 stitches expertly applied by a plastic surgeon, she was all good.  No concussion. No life altering injury.  Just a nasty wound that will heal and hopefully leave nothing but a faint scar.

As I am apt to do, once I knew for certain that this incident was not going to result in long-lasting impact on my daughter’s health and well-being, I started to think about what I could learn from this life event.  At first my mind went to thinking about being prepared for the unexpected. However, the more I thought about it, the more I began to see that the potential for a project management lesson to come out of this unfortunate event.  This angle is probably due to the fact that my first consulting engagement since going out on my own is focused on driving a significant solution platform rationalization project.

Most projects start off with a well thought out plan with well-defined milestones and details on the steps required to meet those milestones.  The approach to a round of golf is similar.  You know the par on each hole and know in general where you need each shot to go in order to meet or beat par.  But we all know that not everything goes according to plan on the course nor in the office.  Therefore, you have to be able to adjust as the round unfolds; you have to manage the round, just like you have to manage a project.

In the case of my daughter, she had planned for her tee shot to go up the right side of the fairway and land 100-110 yards from the middle of the green. She then planned to hit a nice easy approach shot into the green where she would do no worse than two putt and make par or better.  Instead her tee shot went a little further right than expected and landed in the rough, on uneven ground, near an outcropping of rock, about 10 yards shorter than expected.  Her second shot then proceeded to hit the rock outcropping and end her round prematurely after two strokes.

When assessing what to do after that first shot, she had five options. One option was to play the ball as is and go for the green to get back on plan. The second option was to chip out onto the fairway giving up distance to have a much better position for her next shot.  The other options (per rule 28 of the Rules of Golf) involved declaring the ball unplayable and 1) going back to point of her first shot and hit again under penalty of stroke and distance per rule 27-1; 2) taking a one stroke penalty and dropping a ball behind the point where the ball lay; or 3) taking a one stroke penalty and dropping a ball within two club-lengths of where the ball lay, but not nearer the hole.

The execution against her project plan for Hole #1 was off-track after her drive.  In this case, she decided to take an action to get back on plan with one swift action versus incurring an additional stroke.  I had seen her make similar shots  from similar positions on that very hole before, so in the moment I did not suggest she do otherwise. Sadly, that swift action ended the round and resulted in a trip to the ER.

In hindsight, the safer more practical play would have been to give up distance and punch it into the fairway to set-up her 3rd shot or perhaps declaring the ball unplayable and taking a drop with a penalty stroke.  In either scenario, she would have likely had a ball on the green sitting 3 with a chance to sink a putt for par or at worse bogey.

She made a decision to go for the green rather than take the less risky option of taking an extra stroke on the hole. While the reward for going for the green was large, so was the risks. They say hindsight is 20/20, and in this case I can’t help but second guess not suggesting she choose another option.

Those same decision points haunt project managers.  No matter how well-managed, there are usually issues arise that could potential get a project “off plan.”  Many of those issues are minor and can easily, without introducing more risks into the project, be identified and addressed quickly.  But at times the issues appear abruptly and are significant and can only be solved by either taking a risky bold action that could get your project back on plan in one swift action but also introduce risks of incurring further negative impact to the project (i.e. your project ends up in the ER); or taking a less risky action that has some short-term negative impact (i.e. you take another stroke on the hole) but sets your project up for long-term success.

In the early days of my career I was usually inclined to “go for the green” when faced with one of those decisions as a manager.  But as I gained experienced, I learned that sometimes taking the penalty stroke or just punching out to the fairway is the better course of action.  As a project manager (or any kind of manager for that matter) you have to assess the risks presented you and make a decision that gives you the best chance of achieving the ultimate objective of the project.  Sometimes that means going for the green and other times it means taking a penalty stroke.  The main thing is to keep yourself and your project out of the ER.

Fore!

 

 

Flashback: No Slam Dunks In IT

I was looking back through some of my early, circa 2012, musings and came across this gem. I can happily say that I survived my years of managing data centers without ever having to declare a disaster.  However, even with a constant focus on change management processes, I did see my fair share of self-inflicted outages.

I long ago learned that humans are fallible and that all the procedures in the world can’t prevent every mistake.  However, I still believe that following a structured change management process is critical to running a successful IT Operations function and that the key to a good change management process is communication.

While I am currently taking a break from being responsible for IT Operations, if I ever find myself back in that role, I for sure will subscribe to my: ” Plan –> Communicate –> Execute –> Test –> Communicate framework.

Here’s my original thoughts from 2012:

“There are No Slam Dunks in IT.”

That’s a saying I have thrown around for close to 10 years now. But one that I think too many people in technology fail to remember on a daily basis. They get caught up in the urgency of the moment, short cut change management procedures, fail to think about the downstream impact of what they see as a minor, isolated change. All too often the mindset of “the easy change,” “the lay-up,” or “the routine lazy fly ball” ends up as an unexpected outage. That break away slam dunk clanks off the rim and bounces out of bounds. That easy two points turns into a turnover.

As we kicked off 2012, a relatively new to the company network engineer noticed that a top of rack server switch had two fiber uplinks but only one was active. Anxious to make a good impression, he wanted to resolve that issue. It was an admiral thing to do. He was taking initiative to make things better. So one night during the first week of the fresh new year, he executed a change to bring up the second uplink. Things did not go well as the change, and I will not go into the gory technical details, brought down the entire data center network. It was after standard business hours – whatever that means in today’s 24×7 business world – but the impact of that 10 minutes outage was significant. A classic case of a self-inflicted wound from not following good change management procedures.

It was actually a frustrating incident for me, because as we put together the 2012 Business Plan for Corporate Technology Services, we were asked to list the keys to success for our operations and the actions we needed to take achieve success.

THE #1 key for success listed was: Avoid self-inflicted outages and issues that take away cycles from the planned efforts and cause unplanned unavailability of our client facing solutions.

So 30 days prior I had told our CEO, CFO and the rest of the executive management team that our #1 key to success in IT was to avoid such things, yet here I was four days into the new year staring at the carnage of a self-inflicted outage.

Outages are close to a given in the world of technology. Servers will crash, switches will randomly reboot, hard drives will fail, application will act weird, redundancy will fail, and there will be maintenance efforts that we know will cause outages. Given that, every IT organization must take steps to not be the cause of even more outages. Business leaders know that there will be some level of downtime with technology – have you ever seen a 100% SLA? Rarely. It is usually some 99.xx% number. But outages that are caused by the very people charged with keeping things running drives them nuts, and rightfully so.

The morning after that self-inflicted wound, I communicated out the following to every member of the IT organization:

We need to strive to make sure that we are not the cause of any unexpected outages. We must exercise good change management process and follow the five actions listed above. As our solutions and the underlying infrastructure become increasingly intertwined, we must make an extra effort to assess the potential unintended downstream (or upstream) impact as we plan the change.

When making a change we must always follow these steps:

Plan – make sure each change action/project we undertake is well thought out, steps are documented, risks are assessed. If disruption in service is expected, plan for when we make this change to limit the impact of the disruption.

Communicate – communicate each change action/project to the parties potentially impacted prior to executing the change

Execute – flawlessly execute according the plan developed

Test – test to make sure that the change executed resulted in the expected results and there are no unintended consequences from the change

Communicate – communicate to the potentially impacted parties that the change has been completed and tested

To keep this goal of avoiding self-inflicted outages top of mind, we implemented a ‘It’s Been X Days Since our Last Self-Inflicted Outage” counter. Basically taking a page out of the factory accident prevention playbook.

A Whole New World

A whole new world
A new fantastic point of view
No one to tell us no
Or where to go
Or say we’re only dreaming

I can still remember walking out of the church with my new bride on my arm to this song from Disney’s Aladdin movie back in the mid-90s.  That day was indeed the start to a whole new world; a world that continues to change to this day.

The latest change to that world came on December 2, 2016 when I walked out of a Harte Hanks office as an employee for the last time.  While leaving a company seems like a regular occurrence these days, for me it was a major decision for two reasons: 1) I had been at the company for 15 years, and 2) I was leaving to go out on my own.

I think back to the middle of 2001 when I was desperate to get out of the constant travel that accompanied my job as a Big 4 consultant. Travel that kept me away from my young and growing family.  Thanks to a former co-worker of my wife, I ended up with the inside track for a director level position at a company I had only vaguely heard of and in an industry that I knew absolutely nothing about.  But it was in Austin; had low travel requirements, and was at a comparable pay level.  I took the job thinking I would stick it out for a year while I found my dream job and more importantly enjoyed time with my family.

Fast forward 15 years and I was still at that company.  During that 15 years, I was exposed to all facets of what turns out to be a pretty fascinating world of data-driven marketing and customer support and was able to advanced my career to the point of being a corporate officer serving as the company’s CIO.  What started out as a somewhat desperate job move to get out of the misery of constant travel, actually turned into what many would consider a fantastic career.

However, the last four years of that “fantastic” career found me in the midst of massive change and upheaval in an 80 year old company – a company that was slow in some areas to latch onto the new digitally oriented marketing channels.  I’ll save the gory details of the change and upheaval for later posts, but in essence I was a part of multi-year turnaround effort that involved 3 different CEOs – 4 if you count an interim CEO.  While that type of environment is full of “professional life” lessons; it is also a pressure packed environment that can weigh on you mentally and physically.

They say that facing adversity and overcoming challenges “builds character”, but as a former colleague used to say after a streak of unfortunate events “I think we have enough character now.”  In mid-2016, I reached the conclusion that I had built up enough character from that extended turnaround effort and knew it was time to start the next chapter of my career.

While I was not a fan of the constant travel that went along with my first stint as a consultant, I did enjoy the work.  The idea of using my knowledge and experience to help others solve problems without getting sucked into the day-to-day administrative cycles that come with corporate leadership positions has always held an allure for me. Using that as a fundamental anchor, I set my sights on breaking free from the corporate leadership world and jumping back into consulting –  but not back into the world of major consulting firms.  This time I decided to make a run at being the independent consultant – a modern day version of the Lone Ranger.

Once again thanks to contacts I have made along the way, an opportunity to turn that idea into a reality presented itself.  So, I took that chance and gave up the “comforts” of corporate officer life.  In late November Nice Socks Consulting was born and on December 2, I took another walk “down the aisle” with that same Disney movie song playing in my head as I departed Harte Hanks for the final time.

A whole new world
(Every turn a surprise)
With new horizons to pursue
(Every moment, red-letter)

Business Performance: It Takes More Than Hard Work

I’ve got the brains, you’ve got the looks

Let’s make lots of money

You’ve got the brawn, I’ve got the brains

Let’s make lots of money

 

The Pet Shop Boys made it sound so simple back in the 80s.  But in the real world, achieving financial success in business is a little more complex.  I work for a publicly-traded company, so it is no secret that I am part of a leadership team at the helm of a company that has struggled to achieve the desired level of financial performance in recent times.

Leaders of companies that struggle to consistently show strong performance can become frustrated as they try and find the thing that will break the business free from the rut and set it upon a path of prosperity.  They constantly question what is at the root cause of the performance issues.  Is it the offerings or quality issues or economic headwinds or ineffective marketing or any one of a plethora of other reasons?  All too often one of the answers that pops up is “employee are not working hard enough.”

However, from what I observed at other companies and from what I have directly witnessed in my own career, the cause of financial performance struggles is rarely, if ever, the result of employees (at any level) not trying hard enough.    Several months back I ran into a former senior leader of my current company at a high school basketball game.  As we were talking he said “looks like you guys need to be working harder.”  I paused as he said that and then replied “if spectacular financial performance were as simple as having people work harder, I would have been able to retire years ago.”  He scratched his head for a moment and then told me I had a good point.

Unfortunately the premise of “we just need to have employees work harder” can easily lead to not recognizing and rewarding the work efforts of employees.  In fact during times of challenged performance, it common to see leaders blame employees’ lack of individual performance for the financial woes – alienating the very group of people that can get the company back on track.

One of the things I have been passionate about in recent years is making sure the recognition of employee efforts becomes and remains a part of the company culture.  Even in times when financial performance is not exactly celebration worthy, it is always time to celebrate the heroic efforts employees make to deliver for clients.  At the core of my current company’s employee recognition efforts is a quarterly awards program called “A Promise We Live.”  It is centered on the fact that we make promises to our clients and to each other to deliver what we sold; and that we have to live up to those promises every day.

The program involves employees submitting nominations for the efforts of their fellow employees. It is not a top down program where management determines those that are worthy of consideration; it is driven by employees recognizing the heroic efforts of their co-workers and taking the time to tell others about those efforts.  There is then a panel of managers that read and score the nominations using our published core values as the benchmark.  From that panel review, the best of the best efforts are selected as quarterly winners, but all those that were nominated are celebrated as well.

Each quarter I look forward to reading through the nominations to learn about the lengths our employees go to deliver on our promises.  I am constantly amazed at the level of dedication shown at all levels of staff and from all levels of tenure.  It reinforces for me the fact there are so many talented people throughout the organization and reminds me of all the early mornings, late nights, and week-ends employees sacrifice to service our clients.  It also provides data points that our issues are not caused by lack of effort by employees.  It were just about working harder, our stock price would be through the roof.

I may not have the brains (nor brawn) to know all the answers to all the questions about what holds back a company’s financial performance, but I have decided that simply imploring employees to work harder is not the solution.  I am also smart enough to know that taking the time to recognize and celebrate those truly heroic efforts made by employees every day is a key to performance success.

My closing thought to you is to recognize the extra efforts of those working around you.  Even if your employer does not have a formal recognition program in place, a simple “Thank You” can convey that efforts do not go unnoticed.