TRIPLE III TIME: “Soft Skills” … REALLY?

thumbnail_image1This TRIPLE III TIME message has been a long time coming.  No… not that I haven’t had ongoing thoughts about discussing this topic.  But instead, I have struggled with how to explain and appropriately share my position on a very special skill-set area traditionally referred to as “Soft Skills”.

I believe everyone has their own definition and specific list of what “Soft Skills” are.  But before we even start down that road… how about a new label like: BLENDED LIFE/WORK/RELATIONSHIP/PROFESSIONAL SUCCESS GENERATING Skills. Does this label of appropriate, necessary, survival skills in any way sound “Soft”?  And isn’t it true that most believe that this grouping of skills is something you historically learned at home? And finally, when was the last time you saw an advertisement that was offering: PREMIUM SOFT SKILLS TRAINING (FOR 99.99?)

OK… enough of the non-positive attitude!  It is time to modernize the “Soft Skills” challenge.  And maybe we simply start with a TOP 10 LIST OF BLENDED LIFE/WORK/RELATIONSHIP/PROFESSIONAL SUCCESS GENERATING Skills:

  1. Communicate with class
  2. Respect people and their opinions
  3. Show appreciation
  4. Don’t assume… just ask
  5. Be timely
  6. Apologize when you are wrong
  7. Offer quality suggestions
  8. Be a great team-member
  9. Accept responsibility
  10. Listen with full attention

Now I will agree that my recommended new label is a lot harder to memorize than “Soft Skills” … but the TOP 10 that define the BLENDED LIFE/WORK/RELATIONSHIP/PROFESSIONAL SUCCESS GENERATING Skills is much easier to place in your personnel policy handbook?!

LEARNING MOMENTS Podcast: “Job Comfort”

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“Job Comfort” … these two words are rarely put together… but for this month’s Inspiring Innovations LEARNING MOMENTS podcast they are a perfect fit.  I believe being comfortable in your job is critical and often builds extra productivity!  However, becoming too comfortable and taking job expectations and responsibilities for granted… goes against everything you promised when you applied for and were given the job.  Also, employers need to strategically encourage job creativity to curb the negative side of “Job Comfort”.

I hope you enjoy the message.

 

 

TRIPLE III TIME: Learning “TAKE AWAYS!”

This week I had the wonderful experience of attending a State-level professional conference and presenting a progressive workshop with a good friend and solid colleague. As a presenter, you always hope to deliver your session topic in a way that provides attendees with a good set of Learning “TAKE AWAYS!” You know what I mean? Ideas and concepts…and maybe even handouts that better explain your message and encourages those in attendance to go back to their day job and possibly replicate the innovation.

3-KEYBut as I took my long drive back home… I couldn’t help but think: Why are Learning “TAKE AWAYS!” only prioritized when you go to a conference or attend a special training?  Why can’t it be a priority practice to identify and record your KEY-3 TAKE AWAYS! at the end of every workday?

I believe capturing TAKE AWAYS from every workday that are positive, satisfying and worth sharing are critical for self professional development. I also believe personal growth TAKE AWAYS are under-rated, under-valued and under-recognized by leadership in every organization. Encouraging everyone to write down and share their KEY-3 TAKE AWAYS from every workday… costs the organization nothing. But that action would drive forth a strong message to dwell on the positives (not the day-to-day negatives) that truly is priceless.

BOTTOMELINE: Today… yes, I said TODAY… begin the practice of writing down the KEY-3 TAKE AWAYS from your workday. Then tomorrow do it again. And after one week of looking back at your assembly of KEY-3 TAKE AWAY learnings… decide if it is worth your time.

TRIPLE III TIME: Learning PROFESSIONALISM

Recently in my multiple roles of helping individuals, groups and organizations address developmental growing pains, the challenge of displaying PROFESSIONALISM… even during challenging times has become a major area of discussion.  Whether the issue was a personnel concern, trying to deal with the general public or addressing the problems that evolve via a change in leadership… “help me with my PROFESSIONALISM” was/is everyone’s greatest request.

So, before I offer a few ideas about the art of Learning PROFESSIONALISM… did you ever ask yourself: “Where Do I Learn Professionalism?” Did you:

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  • Take a class
  • Get instructions online
  • Read a book
  • Participate in a workshop
  • Watch a YouTube video??

Well, it may be possible that you could do all the above… but still fall way short in terms of actively Learning PROFESSIONALISM!

Let me explain.

I believe that Learning PROFESSIONALISM is only achieved when watching or participating in real-life examples. Observing professionalism “in action” via a mentor, colleague, co-worker, and/or boss… is the very best (or worst) way of assessing the handling of difficult/diverse situations.  No two professionalism events are or will be the same… so remember observational learning is key.

Additionally, it is VERY IMPORTANT to continually exercise your Learning PROFESSIONALISM “muscles”.  Remaining a student of quality professionalism actions is a daily responsibility.  However, practicing great professionalism in your workplace… EVERYDAY and EVERYWHERE will keep your professionalism muscles strong and at full capacity.

TRIPLE III TIME: Leading by Influence

thumbnail_image1First, I want everyone to know that I owe this excellent and timely TRIPLE III TIME message topic to a wonderful private industry leader and super friend.  Second, I will leave out his specific position business-related examples… but his leadership points are the key.  Finally, as you read this message be sure to stop at certain times and apply the key ideas to your world of work.  You will understand why as you do it!

When you are Leading by Influence you assume the role of THE example… not just an example of great leadership.  This action includes everything from knowing everyone’s time and role but also maintaining a product/service approach that says, “Let’s see if we can do something even better!”  everyday… EVERYDAY!

Next, as issues, problems and concerns arise… Assume Total Accountability and Responsibility.  Ducking away from or diverting responsibility as a leader often has a negative ripple-effect among staff and co-workers.  Think about it.  Will they feel like they can count on you and that you will “have their back” when questions arise?  Or will they believe that we are a “team” only when things are good? Or will you have a leader-ish reputation for always “taking the glory” when praise comes around?

Finally, Communication is key to success!  As a quality leader never assume you know all the facts about any issue.  Allow for open input, ideas, and challenges.  And Remember LISTENING is often the greater part of effective communication.

Thank you, R.W. for your Leading by Influence concepts.  I know it will help many!

TRIPLE III TIME: Offering Directions

1111111111How many times after you offer directions to someone… do they NOT do what or the way you instructed them to?  The unfortunate and uncomfortable reaction is: “I thought you said” … or “That’s not what I heard!” And there are always multiple excuses for “not hearing” correctly like: “People were talking in the background” … or “I listened but I thought we were just doing it the way we have always done it!” … or “I just have been getting so many messages I can’t keep them straight.”

Well as simple or common sense-ish as it may be, this week’s TRIPLE III TIME message is all about masterfully Offering Directions.

First, make no assumptions. Even if you are pretty sure someone has heard part or all the directions before… repetition is a good thing.

Second, finish with a request for direction interpretation.  Sometimes you will be amazed by the response and incorrectness that is returned.

Third, sharing a hand-out or requiring the listener to take notes is not inappropriate. Taking steps to ensure completeness and accuracy… is just responsibility building.

Finally, don’t be too confident in your verbal skills… and write down your directions and maybe even rehearse your discussion plan.  Take a look in the mirror when you practice, and you may learn something about your Offering Directions effectiveness.

(NOTE: I know I have!)

TRIPLE III TIME: “The Little Things”

option 3It is that time again when I begin preparing for and making special notes about teaching my American Government & Politics classes.  Understandably there are many areas that are similar semester to semester… but it is a BIG priority to consider ideas that will make each class experience unique.  So, as I thought back over the last year… a few “out-of-class” experiences seemed to stand out in my mind.

First, I bumped into a past student who was working in a local hardware store.  She greeted me with a huge smile and announced: “Hey Sir I got the scholarship that you wrote me a letter of recommendation for!  Like we talked in class… I tried to be just me in my application, and it worked!”

Next I was attending a local school function and felt a tap on my shoulder from a middle-aged female student who was working to become a nurse. I could tell she was in a hurry as part of the school event… but she asked if I could stay for a minute so I could meet her son.  She said: “Every week we talk at home about some of the stuff we talked about in class… and you know… he actually talked like a real adult!”

Finally, as I was entering a local restaurant, I observed one of my former dual enrollment students working as a waitress.  She was very diligently serving customers… and yes smiling a lot… but somehow in the midst of her responsibilities she properly excused herself through a line-up of people and shook my hand. There were no words… just a solid handshake, wonderful smile and a direct look into my eyes. And I instantly remembered the moments we discussed in class how important these elements of a professional greeting are.

I believe I don’t have to say much more to emphasize how important The Little Things are when trying to offer learning moments. Hearing and realizing these BIG payback appreciation experiences are beyond priceless… and yes they have made me a little more ready for the semester!

Learning Moments Podcast: The “Final 4” Emerging Leaders Skill-Building Topics

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Over the last 2 months, we have identified and discussed my TOP 10 Emerging Leaders Skill-Building Topics. This month we focus on the Final 4.  Separately and together I hope the ten professional development topic discussions I shared with you… will be helpful today, tomorrow and in the future.

 

TRIPLE III TIME: Staying “Open-Minded!”

mechanical-2033446_960_720 (1)During the course of my professional career, there have been many times when I wish I had a “mind-old-stuff-reduction” tool.  My dream was that this special tool would periodically remove old programs, services, information and habits that are no longer relevant and in fact have a negative influence on new cooler initiatives! I was NOT hoping that co-workers lose great learnings and good experiences… but rather attempt to make a real clear path and appropriate mind space for whatever new responsibilities were on the horizon.

Think about it! If there were a workshop on “Mind-Cleansing” … would you go? If it helped you rid yourself of old, negative, time-stealing, mind-space occupying stuff… do you think it would be a positive experience.

Bottomline: What I am trying to say is that it is critical to give new ideas a totally clean, fresh, open area in your mind to be professionally strong.  If you are a good listener but immediately attach old thoughts, historic challenges and bad experiences to any new concept… your creativity and development potential will NEVER be “open for business”.

TRIPLE III TIME: Delegating with Confidence

delegate 2When you look up the term “delegate” in my trusty Oxford Dictionary the definition states: To Entrust a Task to Someone.  Then if you take the next step and check the Thesaurus section words like: Pass on, Entrust, Assign, Devolve and be your Representative are all identified as terms similar in meaning. So, this week as you read the Delegation with Confidence TRIPLE III TIME message, be sure to revisit this first paragraph for guidance again and again.

First, when you delegate something to your coworkers (and even your children), do you fully ENTRUST the task to them? Is it OK if they do it differently than you would? What if they take more time than you thought they should… are you tolerant of the uncertain time factor? Do you make it clear and comfortable for them to “bother you” with periodic questions and/or request additional instructions?

Next, think about the final product.  Do you ENTRUST a level of support and confidence that “perfection” is not the expectation… just a high-quality effort? And if the individual is totally new in their position, do you constructively allow for alternative points of view and possible diverse product results?

Finally, as you go through the process of evaluating their work or products, what is your measuring stick(s)? Do you mainly measure them against your standards and expectations… or consider measurements that take into account experience, background, past skillsets, technology impacts, workplace evolutions and/or other leadership team influences?

I believe to be a high-quality leader… you have to commit to the ENTRUST factor.  Building coworkers with confidence and courage to make and learn from their mistakes… will only make you and your organization stronger.  Continually looking over everyone’s shoulder is a bad leadership habit.  It robs you of precious time… and weakens your ability to look strongly to the future!

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