Category Archives: Leading Performance

What if… your performance fails “suddenly”?


TWP blogHave you ever been in a situation where your professional life seems to fall into pieces? You have been around for some time, you have been successful so far, you were even used as a role model for others, but suddenly the winds changed? Nothing goes right, whatever you try fails, and even those who supported you before now turn their backs on you.

Well, if you haven’t, congratulations! I hope your life continues without this experience. However, in case you have been in a similar situation, like I have, or even worse, in case you are in this difficult situation right now – here are a few ideas for how to get yourself out of this dip of misery.

  1. Get yourself out of the center of attention – sometimes the best move is to take a few days off if you can.
  2. Think about what led to the situation: What could you have done differently? Could you or should you have done more of certain activities? What other influencing factors do you recognize?
  3. Gather hard facts (e.g., data, reports, stats) about your performance.
  4. Obtain observational feedback from colleagues who know you and who can assess the particularities of your work environment.
  5. Once you’ve done # 2, 3, and 4, work on your personal list of what you would like to achieve professionally: What is important to you? What fills you with joy? Where have you been most successful before?
  6. Think outside the box – what would be best for you? Stay with your current employer or move on? If you should move on, what comes next? If you want to stay, think of other ways to improve your performance; the protocol What? How Much? By When? can be a useful guide.

The most important message though is: Do not doubt your abilities and capabilities! They are still in you, and you’ve proved yourself many times before – you simply need to re-discover them again! Good luck and all the best in your future career path!

Claudia Irmer is Senior Results Consultant at Cohen Brown Management Group and an expert in behavioral embedding. Claudia covers continental Europe and Russia.

Are your office meetings driving down productivity?


Meetings can be a serious time waster and lower productivity.

There are many obstacles that you have to deal with each workday, but to keep your staff on the right path, you need to make sure unnecessary interruptions are severely limited or eliminated all together.

Throughout a typical workday, some of you might think you spend the majority of your time in meetings. Unplanned interruptions that come from last-minute meetings can significantly impact your productivity and the staff beneath you. You have to control your staff’s and your own time to be a successful leader, but if you don’t take a hold of this, you cannot control unplanned interruptions.

According to a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report, approximately $37 billion is wasted in the U.S. each year due to unnecessary meetings. One of the fastest ways to tell if you’re spending too much time in meetings is if you have ever used an auto-reply saying “I’m in meetings all day,” Entrepreneur reported.

To know if meetings are driving down your productivity, here are a few questions you should be asking:

Do they really need to be here?
One question you should ask is who really needs to be on the attendance list for specific meetings. According to Entrepreneur, keep the attendance list short to make sure other’s time isn’t wasted. Productivity can be significantly affected when workers are constantly going to meetings they don’t need to attend.

When workers begin to feel overwhelmed by the amount of meetings each day, it can slowly manifest into lowered job satisfaction, self-esteem and confidence. Drop the meeting’s roster by as much as possible, so worker momentum is not lost with unnecessary and unimportant gatherings.

Can you move meetings to the phone or Internet?
If the meeting is a simple announcement, these interruptions should be moved to email, Time Management Ninja reported. However, if the meeting is necessary but doesn’t  require some attendees to fully participate, move the meeting to the phone or Internet by chat or webcam.

This will allow workers to attend but work on other things while in the meeting. Phone meetings are a great way for some of your workers to discreetly multitask. Again, being able to work partially is much better than getting to do nothing at all because employees’ momentum is lost when they are removed from their standard daily duties.

Do people take your meetings seriously?
If half the appropriate people show up to your meeting, you’re working within an unorganized system. If you take some of these helpful steps to clearly enforce time wasting prevention and the necessity of meetings, each gathering will be deemed essential.

According to Fast Company, you have to be prepared when you schedule a meeting because sometimes you end up with 20 people in a room talking loudly while you try to hook up your laptop to the large screen. Make sure equipment is ready to go for meetings to cut unnecessary and wasteful time.

Additionally, if you work in a smaller office, the meeting rooms are likely limited. Make sure rooms are appropriately scheduled to avoid interruptions from other employees.

Is the meeting trying to do too much?
Time limits on meetings are a good way to prevent them from going on too long. However, you should focus on whether everyone is on topic. According to USA Today, when meetings try to tackle multiple issues, original points get off subject and lost in the overall importance of the meeting.

Instead, keep meetings concise and to the point. If there are any other topics that could relate to the subject, have your workers email you their concerns to prevent wasting other employees’ time.

They Dress Up for Work Now


Tatooed BankerConfidence is a funny thing; it affects people in different and unexpected ways. For a client call center, I was helping to train a group of new and young team leaders, and we were focusing on a leadership week. The structure to the week and the detail needed for driving results through behaviors was sometimes a challenge.

As this client has a casual work environment, filled with tattoos, earrings, jeans, t‑shirts, sunglasses, and spiky hair, we didn’t have any plans to change appearance, just behaviors. The four individuals who I was working with were hip, young, team leaders in the call center who had recently been promoted from reps.

We wanted to demonstrate that a written weekly leadership plan could drive the right behaviors and the right results, so basically they were our pilot group within this large center.

When piloting a new initiative, we like to take people with positive attitudes who will give the ideas and concepts a real go. So we started with weekly teleconferences to define the right activities in their plans and commit them to paper. Getting a great plan that delivered results took about four months, as we incorporated a completely new structure with meetings, coaching sessions, daily briefings and debriefings, objections clinics, etc., to meet current business objectives.

After we got into the plans and their results improved, team morale improved as well, and, most importantly, their confidence in their new roles increased. With that came a remarkable and voluntary transformation, their appearance. When I returned for a visit six months later, they all greeted me in dress trousers, dress shirts—no sunglasses, no ripped jeans, and no t-shirts.

I asked if they had dressed up just for me, and, boy, was I wrong. “No,” they responded, “We dress up every day because we feel we have now earned the right to be team leaders and we want to look the part.”

I never suspected that writing down a weekly leadership plan would have such impact on someone in the workplace, but it really helped “dress up” these team leaders and their performance.

Your thoughts?

Johanna Lubahn is Managing Director of Call Center Services for Cohen Brown Management Group, Inc.

Customized Targeted Performance Solutions Podcast


Customized Targeted Performance Solutions – It’s a Continual Process

Johanna Lubahn is Managing Director of Call Center Services for Cohen Brown Management Group, Inc.

The POWER of Delegating


There is an unhealthy tree in my yard that I have been babying for the last two years. It finally bit the dust this spring. I decided to purchase a chainsaw and put it down myself. Off I went to my local home improvement store and back home to begin reading the instructions for my new equipment. Lots of cautions—“be totally covered”, “wear steel-toe shoes”—what had I gotten myself into? I filled it with oil and gas then tried to start it, but it wouldn’t even let out a putter! Way too much power for me! Into the store I went with this monster, and when the associate asked what was wrong with it, I replied “the user.” She smiled. Luckily, she allowed me to return it.

How does this relate to you as a coach? Delegation. You have to know when it is time to let someone else help you. Delegation is a great time-management tool. Another benefit of delegation is cross-training, which will increase results through specialization. What you will see is increased teamwork as others become capable of completing tasks. Delegation can also have an impact on the motivation of the team. Their skill levels increase, there is less frustration, and motivation increases.

You have to make delegation emotion-free. This means you have to let go of the control. That can be a big obstacle for many of us.

Let me offer you some tips for delegation.

  1. Pre-delegation Analysis
    • What will you delegate and why?
    • To whom (individual or team)?
    • When?
    • Duration of the delegation? (Permanent or time-limited as a “favor”?)
  1. Delegation
    • Clarify expectations
      • Provide specific instructions
    • Motivate with positive reinforcement
    • Train and coach
      • Share Proven Best Practices
      • Retrain when necessary
  1. Post-delegation Follow-up
    • Track results
    • Inspect what you expect
    • Build in sufficient lead time to check on progress

However, as we say at Cohen Brown, you can “delegate, but never abdicate.”

Let me know your thoughts.

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

Five Questions to Ask Your Team


It’s been a difficult few years in financial services. Trust in banks and bankers has been eroded, and consumers are coping with a new economic reality. In fact, all the media bashing of banks and the resulting customer unrest and churn has resulted in a huge opportunity for savvy bankers to acquire new customers and improve retention of their existing customer base.

Is your team prepared? To assess your frontline team’s ability to acquire and retain clients in the current environment, ask yourself these five questions:

  1. What are your bankers saying to clients to differentiate your bank from your competitors? Is there a consistent message that accurately reflects your brand?
  2. What type of customer-focused training has been provided to your bankers to address the public’s growing concern with the banking industry?
  3. How often is your frontline team observed and coached in the art of conducting a quality customer conversation designed to uncover needs?
  4. When was the last time your management team received training in coaching and customer-service skills?
  5. What formalized process is currently in place to reinforce and embed key sales and service behaviors?

Let us know your thoughts and the questions you’re asking your team.

Cynthia Leverich is Director of Global Business Development for Cohen Brown Management Group, Inc. Johanna Lubahn is Managing Director of Call Center Services for Cohen Brown Management Group, Inc.

Do You Really Care?


“You’re the absolute greatest asset of our company. You were carefully selected. We’ve invested in your training and success, and we really care about you. You, dear employees, are the key to differentiating us.”

Have you heard this speech, perhaps delivered by your CEO at your annual employee meeting or stated from the heart by your boss?

But how do you know they REALLY care?

Follow-up. That’s the answer in a nutshell. Follow-up is where the speech from the annual meeting meets the reality of the daily responsibilities.

Does your boss say nice things about you, give you goals and share the plans to achieve them and, then, send you off on your own? (Hmmm…not quite sure they care.)

Or does he or she also follow up with you frequently to find out how you are doing in achieving your goals and provide value-added advice to help you maximize your performance? (Yes, they care.)

If you are the boss, your follow-up has a huge impact on what your team members perceive regarding how much you really care.

Your thoughts?

Julie Freeman is Regional Director for Cohen Brown Management Group, Inc.