Monthly Archives: September 2011

You Can Run But You Can’t Hide – Overcoming the “This Too Shall Pass” Mentality


My high school gym class was at a small Midwest school in the late 1970’s. The torture of “attempting” to vault over a horse, serve a volleyball, run and swing a field hockey stick, shoot an arrow, and learn to square dance is something about which I could write a movie, a comedy to be more specific. Hitting any nerves?

Two weeks of each activity and it’s over, right? This too shall pass…

Fast forward to the meeting where you tell your team you want them to create awareness with each contact they encounter. You use all the suggested selling examples…the McDonald’s upsize, the Foot Locker sports socks with your new tennis shoes, even the beer guy at the ball game asking “need a bag of peanuts with that drink?” Your team stares at you like you have created a language incomprehensible to other humans. Their eyes say that they will humor you, while it lasts. You know they think that “this too shall pass,” but you want it to stick.

What do you do? Show them how and then observe. Woody Hayes, the legendary Ohio State football coach, once said that you tell a player once how to do a skill but you show them a thousand times.

  • Role-model it with a script that is clear, understandable, and transferable – “Mr. Garcia, has anybody told you how we can save you time and money with our newly enhanced on-line banking?”
  • Let them practice.
  • Set a goal – how many referrals should they obtain this week?
  • Observe the player (employee) for the skill or behavior looking for very specific positives and areas for improvement.
  • Provide feedback starting with the player’s own “self critique”. Positives first, please.
  • Continue to offer skill building as needed whether it is from you, a specialist, or a peer-coach.

By the way, I loved gym. I loved my gym teacher, Mrs. Nestor. She made me believe that I had some athletic ability. She gave me a passion for competition and spurred my confidence. Isn’t that what all good coaches should do?

Your thoughts?

Cynthia Whitmer Griffith is a Performance Results Network Results Consultant for Community Banks and Credit Unions at Cohen Brown Management Group, Inc.

The Opening Night Principle


opening nightIn the world of Theatre, actors await Opening Night with anticipation. It is their first night with an actual audience. The actors know that a great performance will mean an engaged audience, followed by a storm of applause and standing ovations.

But how does the Opening Night concept translate to the business world?

It applies to any industry where employees rely upon external and internal Client Relationships as much as actors rely upon an attending audience.

Think about it. Who is our audience? Who do we interact with on a daily basis when we’re leading a cause, coaching on skills, making a sale or servicing and retaining what we have? Co-workers? Direct Reports? Prospects? Clients? For those of us who have been in the same role doing the same thing for several years, like an actor who has played the same role 100 times, we can’t help but feel a bit stale in our interactions.

The first time we engage with a Prospect or service our first Client feels new and exciting. But once that initial excitement fades, the repetitive nature of the task kicks in, and our enthusiasm wears off. We may even find ourselves getting annoyed, as the 20th Prospect or Client in a row asks the same questions about the same Policy. We can’t help but want to scream: ‘WHY DON’T THEY JUST GET IT BY NOW?’

We forget that our Client’s experience is a first for them, every time.

So, what is one of the key things we could remember to make each business interaction a terrific one?

We can start by maintaining an Opening Night attitude, whether it is our 100th or 1000th interaction.

What’s in it for us?

The result is our ‘business version’ of a full house, applause, standing ovations and an audience that comes back to see our show over and over again. That is, the creation of a massive portfolio and black book of quality Clients and Prospective Clients—who will come back time and time again and refer others to us along the way.

Given the competitive nature of the marketplace today, to experience long-lasting success, an Opening Night Attitude is no longer a choice. It is our responsibility.

Your thoughts?

Neda Bayat is Global Business Consultant for Cohen Brown Management Group, Inc. and Breakthrough PerformanceTech, LLC.

The Adulthood Problem


On a recent trip to an amusement park with my 4-year-old twin nephews we wandered from ride to ride looking for ones that intrigued them, and we were confronted with the dreaded height ruler. They were not quite tall enough for the rides they were interested in, and those that met the height qualification were “for babies.”

It was about to become a day filled with tears and tantrums. Thankfully, the water park saved me, but I was reminded of a theme that follows us through life and provides a strong leadership and management lesson.

I call it the Adulthood Problem.

Think back. Like my nephews, you were probably impatient for the next stage in life and were sure that things would be better as soon as you…

  • Were old enough to get your driver’s license and experience the freedom that would give you
  • Finished high school and were able to leave home for college
  •  Stopped studying and were able to start working
  • Quit a job you disliked and found a new job or get a promotion
  • Stopped dating and found the right person to marry and settle down

Have you noticed that things don’t just get better? There’s always something more. How many of us have said things will be better once the merger or re-structuring in our organization is complete, or that sales will improve once the marketing team provides a decent advertising campaign or changes our pricing, or things will get better once we have a new operating system.

How many of us are either waiting for things to change or hoping for changes to stop? The given reality is that things never just get better and change never stops.

The solution to the Adulthood Problem is that you manage it. You manage change. You lead and manage with the resources, tools, products and pricing that you have today.

It’s that simple. As leaders and managers if you don’t demonstrate to your people that you can handle the challenges and changes facing the organization, then they will not. That’s the bottom line.

As a leader and manager your role is not to wish away challenges. It’s your responsibility to navigate through them, guiding your team, and making the most of your given reality.

Your thoughts?

Cynthia Leverich is Director of Global Business Development for Cohen Brown Management Group, Inc.

What are the real issues behind Poor Performance?


productivityAfter a not-so-successful day at home or work, did you ever find yourself asking:

• Why is my team performing so badly?

• Why is my child having trouble at school?

• Why am I not performing up to my own expectations?

Poor Performance is not such a difficult problem if you know how to identify the real issues behind it. Let me share something I’ve learned.

When you encounter Poor Performance, there are only three simple questions that need to be answered:

1. Was I, he, she clear in what should be done?

2. Was I, he, she capable in doing it?

3. Was I, he, she motivated to do it?

As a leader, manager, coach, or parent, you should ask yourself these three simple questions, and you should discuss them with the person(s) in question.

It is your responsibility to support, coach and help your team, your child, and/or yourself to create success and perform better.

Your thoughts?

Brenda Schäfer is a Results Consultant for Cohen Brown Management Group, Inc.