Friday, August 13, 2010

The Start-Stop-Continue Method

Somewhere long ago in my journey as an Organization Development Guy, I learned an old but evergreen model for initiating productive change, The Start-Stop-Continue Method, that tells us that "doing differently" can take different forms.

It's a practicaltool for leaders, teams, and coaches, easy to grasp, and easy to implement. It asks three empowering questions:

1. What's not working? These are behaviors that we can STOP doing.

2. What might work better for us? What new ideas should we try? These are behaviors that we can START doing.

3. What is working well now, that we should keep on doing? These are behaviors to CONTINUE doing.

Here is one application, focused on helping a leader to improve employee engagement:

- Start: What can You Start doing that would increase employee engagement?

- Stop: What should You Stop doing that would increase engagement?

- Continue: What should You Continue doing that is supporting engagement?

Here's a website where you can find a worksheet for using this method.

Here's a blogger applying the method to a CEO looking to improve an entire company.

So, what are you waiting for? Pick an area of importance to you, such as your effectiveness as a leader, and ask yourself: What can I Start-Stop-Continue that would enhance my success?

Posted by Terrence Seamon on August 13, 2010. For more tips on change, effectiveness, and leadership, contact Terry and invite him into your organization.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

How to Improve Engagement? Just Do It

The gist of this posting, that Employee Engagement Is What You Do, came to me the other day when I found Tim Kastelle's blog entry about strategy called "Strategy is What You Do."Kastelle says:

"...your strategy is not what you say, your strategy is what you do. Strategy is the set of choices you make about what business you are in, and how you’ll win."

As I read this wise posting, I heard myself thinking, Yes! And that goes for Employee Engagement as well. Engaging others is a choice to act in certain ways.

Having explored this topic for the past several years, I know there is controversy about the definitions of employee engagement. Trouble is, if you are a business leader, and you are waiting for consensus on a definition, that day may never arrive.

A better path, in my view, is to start engaging people. Here is a fast start game-plan for getting the engagement engine going in your organization.

- Start with your hiring process. Are you finding the best people to achieve your company's goals?

- Look at the work environment. Is it bringing out the best in people? Does it promote interaction? collaboration? creativity? customer focus?

- Is yours a purposeful organization? One where the mission, vision, values and goals are clear and shared with all?

- Have you turned your people loose so they can bring their full selves to the tasks and problems of the day?

- How about your managers? Do they support the efforts of their staffs? Are they training, coaching, building teamwork, and mentoring?

- Do you continuously measure, and provide feedback, to all on how well they and the business are performing? Are people getting recognition for the work they are doing?

- Look at the culture. Have you created an environment where employees are encouraged to show initiative? to bring forth new ideas? to run with their own projects?

If you want a place where everyone is energized and enthusiastic for the work of the organization, where everyone is committed to the company's mission, and where everyone has a stake in its success, then start doing engagement today.

Want more ideas? Join the Employee Engagement Network. It's free and is loaded with smart people who are sharing ideas on how to improve the workplace and achieve success.


This post originally appeared August 11, 2010 on HR.Blognotions. For more tips on engagement, culture, and leadership, visit my website and invite me into your organization.

Saturday, August 07, 2010


I learned about the Hebrew word "teshuva" a couple years ago. It means return and repentance. Here's the story of how I learned it.

In 2008, some friends from Germany were planning to visit us in the States for a joint 25th wedding anniversary getaway to Virginia.

A few weeks before, our friends reached out to us with a special request. Could we add Baltimore to our itinerary as we drove from New Jersey to Washington D.C. and Virginia?

The answer was Yes, of course, since Baltimore is on the way to D.C. No problem, we said. Why?

They said, We want to look up a person who once lived in a nearby town in Germany. She left when she was a child. She is Jewish. Her family fled the Nazis in the late 1930's. We want to tell her that her synagogue has been restored and that she is invited to come back for the dedication ceremony.

How wonderful! we thought. We sprang into action. My wife called her cousin, Fr. Bill, a Catholic priest in the Diocese of Baltimore, and he immediately said he would love to help.

Using his Baltimore contacts, he tracked down the woman and called her up on the phone. (Imagine her wonder to have a Catholic priest on the phone!) He introduced himself, giving the story as he heard it from us. She was overjoyed by the news from home in Germany and could not wait to receive us.

The day finally came. Our German friends flew into Newark Liberty Airport. We drove together to Baltimore where we picked up Father Bill who had made the contact and knew the area. Using his GPS, we worked our way to the Pimlico area of Baltimore and found the street we were after. The 75 year old woman was standing in the middle of the street waving us down.

We had a lovely visit with her and her husband. Over lunch, she told us the story of her family's life in Germany. Of the rise of the Nazi party. And of her family's escape from the clutches of evil. If they had not left, they would surely have perished as so many did.

The next year, she visited her hometown in Germany for the celebration of the dedication of the synagogue as a cultural center in memory of the Jews who had once lived there.

She said in her letter, it was the process of teshuva:

"Germany has initiated the process of Teshuva, (the Hebrew word for return & repentance) I am a Nurse, and I can tell you the only way to fully heal a wound is to open and clean it. Germany is cleaning the deep wounds perpetrated by the Third Reich: it is baring its soul for all to see. And Germany is setting a high standard to make history right. Germany has placed a memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe at its heart, in Berlin. It is confessing to the world the wrong that was done and it has done so of its own free will. It has done what is commanded of every Jew on the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur; it is asking for forgiveness with a profound memorial and direct confession of the heart - a confession heard around the world. We can ask for no more."

A good friend of ours is a cantor at a synagogue here in New Jersey. She wrote:

"Living a period of introspection, taking stock of our lives, considering the changes we should undertake that would align our values and our actions, and thus bring us closer to God and to one another. Whether one actually believes that the Book of Life exists, the concept of Teshuvah – repentance, turning, and returning is connected to transformation. From the first blast of the Shofar on the first day of the month of Elul, we are called upon to look inward, to return to our best and highest selves, seek forgiveness of ourselves and others, and renew our connection to God."

Looking at this world right now, we need this transformation, badly. My prayer this day is that we all undertake a period of teshuva.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, August 7, 2010.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Time Is Life

The Spanish philosopher Jose Ortega y Gasset once said: “Living is a constant process of deciding what we are going to do.”

For me, there is no better opening thought for a Time Management seminar. “What are you going to do?” is the central question. At home. At work. In life. You have 168 hours in a week. What are you going to do with them?

With Ortega y Gasset in mind, here are a few of the things to think about that will help you manage time, improve your productivity, achieve success, and make the world a better place.

- What are you going to do today? – A central concept in time management is the Daily To Do List. The key is to sort out the trivia and nonsense (the “C” items in the ABC Priority System) from the few critically important “most do” things (via the 80/20 Rule). Ask yourself frequently: What do I have to get done today? Tomorrow? This week? The way to zero in on the “A” items is to identify and stay focused on your Goals and Values.

- What are you going to do next? - Each day, life hands you a lot of choices. Some are attractive. Some are unexpected. Some are interruptions in what you planned to do. How do you handle all these options and choose the right thing to do next? Classic time management expert Alan Lakein advises, Ask yourself this question: “What is the best use of my time right now?” The best use of your time on a moment-to-moment basis is almost always to do something connected to your “A” items.

- What are you doing to reach your goals? – Each year in December or January, we make New Years Resolutions, goals for improving ourselves. But sadly, many of us let these goals slip away and disappear. The Greek Stoic philosopher Epictetus once said: “First say to yourself what you would be; and then do what you have to do.” So, your future is up to you. Decide what you would be in life. Then do what you have to do to make progress toward your goals.

- What mark are you going to leave on this world? – Ever wonder, Why am I here? What is my calling in life? What is my purpose? Apple founder and entrepreneur Steve Jobs talks about making a dent in the universe. Others talk about a legacy. These are Big Questions. If you are wondering what sort of difference you could make in this world, do these two things. First, take a look around at what people need. Second, take a look at what you are really good at. Then put them together: your special skills and some pressing need. You will make a difference indeed.

Lakein once said: “Time is life. It is irreversible and irreplaceable. To waste your time is to waste your life. But to master your time is to master your life and make the most of it.”

Or as my mother was fond of saying, “Life is what you make it.”

Decide what you want out of life and pursue it.

A colleague of mine said to me recently, “I really don’t like to teach time management.” Not me. I love it. Time is money. Time is life. What better topic to spend time on?

Posted by Terrence Seamon on August 5, 2010. Originally published at HR.Blognotions on July 31, 2010. For more tips on time management, productivity and success, see Terry's website and invite him to speak to your team.