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Showing posts from June, 2008

Start Small, Think Big

I have long been a proponent of "Start Small, Think Big." (In fact, I think I might be the originator of that phrase. However, if anyone wants to use it, be my guest.)

It applies to so many areas of life. Starting a business. Investing. R&D. You name it.

Plus it's organic. I mean, look at nature. Everything starts small --for instance, seeds turn into trees; babies turn into adults-- but each little thing has within it the blueprint for something much larger, maybe even for greatness.

Perhaps the most exciting application of SSTB is the field of change management. Each word is key:

START - A lot of organizational change initiatives stumble because of late starts and false starts. Instead, just start. Start somewhere where you think the conditions are right for a promising beginning.

SMALL - Remember the baby analogy. It's OK to start small, even very small. The key thing is to get going. Small wins will help build momentum. And small is easier than big. Find out …

Igniting Commitment

I'm pleased to help market a new management seminar on employee engagement that I've been shepherding at AMA since last year, called Igniting Commitment - Engaging Employees for Breakthrough Performance. It debuts in New York on September 25 and 26, and then will be available all around the US into 2009.

The idea for Igniting Commitment came about last year when I met Dr. Judith Bardwick to do a webcast with her on her newest book One Foot Out the Door.

We had such a great time doing that webcast that we said afterwards, What else should we do together on this vital topic? Thus, the idea of a seminar for managers, on how to raise engagement levels, was born.

The course is based on ideas in Judy's book and will feature another one of my train ride brainstorms, the leader's "sparks" for igniting commitment and fueling engagement:

S - Set meaningful goals with each person

P - Provide plenty of opportunities for people to participate and play a part

A - Appreciate e…

Employee Engagement Conference in NY

I just attended the Employee Engagement conference run by Conference Board in NY this week at the Westin Hotel on 43rd Street.

Coupla observations:

- Lotsa good info and some good presentations about companies that have had remarkable success with EE such as AMEX, Nortel, McKesson, and Marriott...

But

- There was no mention at all of the Employee Engagement Network on ning that David Zinger started in January, that has grown to over 300 members in a few months, and is THE place in cyberspace to meet and talk about EE.

Where was Zinger? Where was Judy McLeish? Judith Bardwick?

Curious, eh?

Posted by Terrence Seamon, June 20, 2008

Values in Action

How do leaders establish and sustain a culture of high engagement? In a word, values.

In the 1990's, I was with a small but rapidly growing telecom company. The CEO had started the company in the 1980's after the breakup of Ma Bell. The company was truly "his baby." He cared about every detail and was passionately engaged.

His total engagement was translated to every employee and every new hire in various ways, chief of which was the company's values:

- have an entrepreneurial attitude and act like you own the business

- be continuously close to your client so that you are in touch with their needs and can provide solutions

- work collaboratively with others across functions

- take the initiative; don't wait; just do it

- have an "open door" (for open communication), an open mind (for new ideas), and an open book (share the financials and build financial acumen in all employees)

- never rest on your laurels; always look for a better way; always improve

Take…

Born in 1924

It's Father's Day here in the US and I'm thinking about my dad, George J. Seamon, born in 1924, died in 2003.

Thanks to wikipedia, you can see what happened in history in your birth year, or anyone else's. So here are a few events that occured in the year my father was born, 1924:

- Vladimir Lenin died
- Rhapsody in Blue by George Gershwin is performed
- IBM is founded
- Adolf Hitler begins writing his book while imprisoned in Bavaria
- The Winter and Summer Olympics are held in France
- J. Edgar Hoover is appointed to head the FBI
- Mercedes-Benz is formed
- Toastmasters is founded
- Silent film director Thomas Ince died
- The first Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade is held
- Andre Breton defines Surrealism
- Born in 1924: Lee Marvin, Marlon Brando, Doris Day, Buddy Hackett, Bobby Short, Truman Capote, Carroll O'Connor, Elizabeth (The Black Dahlia) Short, Jimmy Carter, Wally Cox, Ed Koch, Rod Serling, Henry Mancini, Eva Marie Saint, Don Knotts, leon Uris, Robert Bolt

My fathe…

Johnny Bunko

I just read a terrific little book called The Adventures of Johnny Bunko by Daniel H. Pink, the author of A Whole New Mind. Reading Johnny Bunko, which is done in manga style (art by Rob Ten Pas) took maybe thirty minutes.

Let me tell you that this thirty minute investment will pay huge returns!

In Johnny Bunko, Pink lays out six lessons for career happiness:
1. There is no plan.
2. Think strengths, not weaknesses
3. It's not about you.
4. Persistence trumps talent.
5. Make excellent mistakes.
6. Leave an imprint.

Excellent advice, presented with animated humor.

Get it for your college-age kids. For a recent college grad. Or even for yourself.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, June 7, 2008

Everything You Do Teaches

Sujatha Das, Quality and Learning consultant from India, asks some of my favorite questions at LinkedIn Q & A. For instance, I just answered this one:

""Consequences are Teachers" - Agree or Disagree? "Everything you do has a consequence, and every consequence has a lesson. Their lessons touch you profoundly and stay with you for life." Would you agree or not? Have you had experiences which are lessons learned from some consequences? Appreciate your response. Regards, Sujatha Das"

From the context of my church in NJ, my pastor, Fr. Doug Haefner, often says,

~ "Everything you do teaches."

Whether you are a parent, a teacher, a lay minister, a staff person, or volunteer at a ministry event such as our annual carnival, everything you do, everything you say, has the potential for leaving an impression on a child, on a neighbor, on a visitor. These impressions will influence what people do as a result.

I think this lesson is directly transferrable…

Moving the Needle

Have you ever trudged into your bathroom, flicked on the light, stepped on the weight scale, looked down at the needle...and sighed that the needle is not moving in the desired (downward) direction?

Moving the needle. I love that metaphor. It's about change in a desired direction.

In her excellent blog entry, Judy McLeish writes: "Everyone is working on engagement, yet we are NOT moving the needle."

So, to lose weight, or to raise engagement, the question is: What do we need to do differently?

There is an old but evergreen model for initiating productive change --Start, Stop, Continue-- that tells us that "doing differently" can take different forms.

- What can we Start doing that would increase engagement?
- What should we Stop doing?
- What should we Continue doing?

Posted by Terrence Seamon, June 6, 2008

Are Your Leaders Engaged?

Judy McLeish, at The Employee Factor, wonders if we've gotten it all wrong when it comes to engaging employees:

~ "...we have been talking about employee engagement since the early 1990s. And yet, depending on the source anywhere from 40-70 percent of employees continue to be classified as neutral, middle of the road or agnostic. What makes these numbers especially discouraging is that over the past two decades, we have been trying to realize the benefits of empowerment, teamwork, recognition, people development, performance management and new leadership styles. So why do we continue to report employee engagement levels that are sub-par at best? Maybe our approach is all wrong."

Then, in a posting that strikes me as a manifesto for change in the Employee Engagement movement, she suggests that the way to engage people in an organization is through the hearts of its leaders, at all levels.

She says: "We think companies need to shift their focus from engaging their entir…

Moving and Thinking

What is it about movement that promotes thinking?

I think I get my best ideas when I am moving. Walking for example. Or riding the train.

Wisdom Walks - I've always enjoyed a good walk-&-talk with someone important to me, such as my wife, or a colleague, or a fellow lay minister.

Several years ago, when I became a member of the Pastoral Council at my church, I was introduced to the "wisdom walk," where two people spend a couple hours walking the grounds of the retreat center, talking and pondering the work of the spirit in building up the faith community that we will help guide as a council.

In an interview with Ron Hurst, I talked about this concept of a "wisdom walk." Ron writes:

~ "He will go off with a trusted colleague or loved one and bounce ideas off of them seeking input and a reality check. I love this idea and often do the same on long vacation drives."

Train of Thought - Since starting this job with AMA in New York City, I've become …