How Square Wheels stop The North Korea Leadership Style in any company

The North Korea Leadership Style? You know, The Dictatorship. The cultures where The BOSS * tells people what to do because they know best, expecting people to simply follow along wholeheartedly.

It’s that style that Jim Clifton, CEO of Gallup was probably thinking of when he said that his data supported getting rid of “The Managers from Hell” and generating more of the behaviors we see with the top performing ones. (My article here and here and Clifton’s article here)

There is simply a lot of data out there, from a bazillion different sources, showing that supervisors and managers can simply do a better job of facilitation discussions about the workplace and working with their people to define better ways of getting things done. Involvement is so closely linked to engagement and alignment and discussions about issues and opportunities will relieve a lot of the frustration that most people report. If you had a situation where you simply had a better idea that would benefit you and others, wouldn’t you like the opportunity to share that idea and have it listened to by someone who could make a difference?

How would you define Facilitation?

For many people, based on the data, it would seem that a lot of people would liken it to Fear of Public Speaking, something dreadful and dangerous. Asking for ideas from people might open up that can of worms and cause all sorts of issues and problems. So, why would one possibly want to do that? (answer: engagement and motivation).

My own definition of Facilitation would stress that, in Spanish and other languages, facil means “easy” or “requiring little skill.” After all, it is the perception that asking for ideas generates worms and spiders and other creepy crawlies but that is not the reality. ASKING for ideas is really pretty simple.

To facilitate the process of such behavior (linking it to motivation, innovation, and involvement), we have packaged up The Stupidly Simple Square Wheels Facilitation Toolkit.

an engagement toolkit by square wheels guy Scott Simmerman

For $25, you get instructions and explanations, handouts, powerpoints of the concept, and all the tools you need to involve and engage people in helping to step back from the wagon, identify the Square Wheels® and generate round wheels solutions.

Help your leaders to escape from North Korea and move to the sunshine of one of the fine beaches of the world. Get them out of the ditch of despair and up on the road of improvement. It isn’t hard; Just Ask!

a Dr. Seuss poem by Scott Simmerman

For the FUN of It!

Dr. Scott SimmermanDr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant.

 
Connect with Scott on Google+ – you can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

Follow Scott’s posts on Pinterest: pinterest.com/scottsimmerman/
Scott’s quips and quotes on Poems on The Workplace is here.

Square Wheels® is a registered trademark of Performance Management Co.
LEGO® is a trademark of The LEGO Group

* By the way, BOSS spelled backwards is self-explanatory…

Best Practices – Performance Shortcuts that need sharing

My thinking for the past 30 years has been about people and performance, about innovation and peer support for change and all that stuff.

In LinkedIn this afternoon, Ingrid Kelada shared an image from Arvin Jayanake that caught my eye since it illustrated so much about how things really work in so many organizations. (I do not know the source for this, even after a search, so please advise if you know the ownership.)

shortcut

If you have spent any time on a college campus, you have seen this reality.

The best way to build drainage for a new road is to build the road and then watch how it floods… THEN, build the drainage. A desk is a dangerous place from which to view the world, especially when you are trying to generate optimal performance and “control behavior.” Do what works best; design from that perspective.

It is the same thing in organizations. The best way to operate is the best way to operate!

In reality, lots of organizations REALLY operate like the illustration above, with the exemplary performers using the shortcuts and doing things differently (to generate the exemplary results) and the average performers using the walkways like they were trained. We see these Best Practice paths everywhere, but a typical HR or management response to this situation is to build the wall across the shortcut!

My approach says that we simply need to step back from the wagon and look at how things are really working, finding those square pathways that can be improved in some way so that more people can operate more effectively. It looks like this when the top performers can get the attention of leadership:

Square Wheels and teambuilding games by Scott Simmerman

Don’t Just DO Something, Stand There! Those best practice ideas already exist and we simply need to take the time to share some of them with the people who are pushing the wagons forward.

POEMS For the FUN of It!

Dr. Scott SimmermanDr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant.

 
Connect with Scott on Google+ – you can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

Follow Scott’s posts on Pinterest: pinterest.com/scottsimmerman/
Scott’s quips and quotes on Poems on The Workplace is here.

Square Wheels® is a registered trademark of Performance Management Co.
LEGO® is a trademark of The LEGO Group

We just released our new toolkit for improving organizational communications. Check it out:

an engagement toolkit by square wheels guy Scott Simmerman

 

 

Stupidly Simple Thoughts on Employee Engagement

It took me about two seconds to come up with the title for this post, after looking at a number of different posts around ideas for engagement and ideas for improving performance this morning. I put up a couple of things on my scoop.it page on Employee Engagement and I was completing a chapter for a book, so some thinking around the issue was fresh.

the scoop.it page of scott simmermanThere is a lot of writing around what to do and how well things are working. Generally, the information provided by Gallup and Sirota and others suggests that little is actually improving. It begs the question, why not.

My belief is simple: there is not enough effective communications going on between the supervisor and the workers. There is not enough alignment to visions and goals and expectations, not enough or sufficient performance feedback (and I do not mean coaching here — see this analysis) and there is not nearly enough listening or asking questions by the management team.

So, why not?

• Is it task interference? Do the supervisors simply have too little time to devote to listening about issues and opportunities?

• Is it an actual lack of employee interest in what is going on in their workplace?

• Is it the reality of measurement, and that workers just do not have the scheduled time available to them to be in meetings with their boss?

• Is it somehow related to the overall training and development goals of the organization, in that these meetings should be produced and directed by the people in Training and Development or HR and that developmental and coaching discussions with people are not the role of the managers?

• Is it a disconnect between the manager and the supervisor when it comes to themes of productivity and employee retention and performance levels?

I am not really sure, but I do know that the opportunity for improvement absolutely exists and that it IS relatively easy to involve and engage people and get their ideas about workplace improvement and job performance skills and techniques. And I know that we can improve real teamwork and collaboration with this same approach.

Let me illustrate with two simple thoughts, expressed through my Square Wheels® theme and thinking:

Square Wheels illustration about playing with ideas

and then there is this reality:

square wheels illustration on supporting change

Is this really so HARD to accomplish? Aren’t you pretty sure that people have ideas for improvement and will share those ideas in a meeting and discussion? Sure, if the workplace has a poor history of engagement and innovation (“bad managers” abound, the research suggests), you should expect some initial venting of frustration. But most people DO have positive intentions and DO want to have a positive impact on things. They get intrinsic motivation from doing things successfully.

Implementing Round Wheels in a Square Wheels World is not all that difficult to accomplish.

If you don’t believe it, go ask somebody!

And if you are looking for a simple tool to better involve and engage, we just uploaded the new “Stupidly Simple Square Wheels Toolkit” on our website – $25 with instructions and tools.

an engagement toolkit by square wheels guy Scott Simmerman

For the FUN of It!

Dr. Scott SimmermanDr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant.

 
Connect with Scott on Google+ – you can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

Follow Scott’s posts on Pinterest: pinterest.com/scottsimmerman/
Scott’s quips and quotes on Poems on The Workplace is here.

Square Wheels® is a registered trademark of Performance Management Co.
LEGO® is a trademark of The LEGO Group

 

 

 

 

Perspective: Stepping Back from The Wagon

Life is funny. Seriously…

There is a great story about Scott Adams and how his Dilbert cartoons got started. It was shared in LinkedIn, which had the hotlink to the article. You can go to that story by clicking on this link. It is a laugh, and goes on to share some of the realities of “Corporate Life.” (Is that an oxymoron?)

I shared that HBR – Dilbert link with my partner and my son, who is getting involved with the business and my son reflected back to me with a simple email:

Very clever….sort of.  Funny how a lot of people could have done the exact same thing, but he was able to step back and disengage from it and see look at it from afar to bring it into perspective.  There’s a lesson here somewhere…

My partner / his mother saw his response and then emailed me:

Yes, I just read that from the email you had sent to Jeff and saw Jeff’s comments about it. Quite interesting and shows how one person can, as Jeff said, step back and take a different kind of initiative.

My reaction to the second, anchored in the first is an email back to her, saying:

THAT is the whole point of what I have been trying to teach for 20 years!!! The Round Wheels are already in the wagon!

I’ve been talking about the need to step back from the wagon to see things that might not normally be seen for 20+ years; this is one of the key learning points underlying my thinking around Square Wheels.

Don’t Just DO Something, Stand There!

Step back and see things from a different perspective. Take a few minutes to talk with other people who might see things differently. Everyone brings their own viewpoint to a discussion so ASK instead of TELL.

For example, there is this poster:

square wheels image by scott simmerman

And there is this one, about Team Perspective:

square wheels lego image by Scott Simmerman

Sometimes, it takes a whack in the side of the head to realize that one has maybe not communicated that well. A major point to all these images and themes that I have been sharing is that perspective is a most wonderful thing.

Ya think?

Generating a new perspective on things is an important skill for coaching, innovating and change. The skill of “stepping back from the wagon” acts to generate dissociation, the viewing from another perspective. Seeing things from different angles allows you to generate alternatives, and these considered alternatives form the basis of managing change and innovating services. If you keep seeing things the same way, change and improvement are simply much harder.

For employee engagement, can’t each of us figure out some way to get our people to look around and see things from a different perspective once in a while? That is what my tools are for, in part.

Square Wheels Icebreaker is simple to use

For the FUN of It!

Dr. Scott SimmermanDr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant.

 
Connect with Scott on Google+ – you can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

Follow Scott’s posts on Pinterest: pinterest.com/scottsimmerman/
Scott’s quips and quotes on Poems on The Workplace is here.

Square Wheels® is a registered trademark of Performance Management Co.
LEGO® is a trademark of The LEGO Group

 

Nobody Ever Washes a Rental Car – Ownership and Herding Cats

Nobody ever washes a rental car is a phrase I have been using in workshops and in my writings since the mid-80s to describe the basic issues around ownership involvement and engagement. The basic concept is simple: people do not take care of things very well unless they have a feeling of ownership about them.

The reason I bring this up is funny, in a way. I had written a chapter for a to-be-published book and the editor makes the change giving the attribution of this quite to someone who published an article in 2002. That was a bit insulting, actually, that she made the change without asking me. Just Do It is not always a good strategy when making changes to someone else’s hard work. Plus, she also added the comment that the phrase was actually “in dispute.”

Seriously? Of course, someone in a workshop will pipe up something like, “I washed one once” when referring to their own car-renting experiences, but under a followup question, they also admit that they did it because they totally trashed the car and were worried that the rental agency would fine them or something, or that their spouse was so appalled by the awfulness of the exterior that he or she would not get into that car!

The explanation actually reinforces my point precisely. People do NOT take very good care of things they do not own. The reality is that some people might actually wash a rental car, but they sure don’t take good care of them. It reminds me of the old joke:

What goes faster than any police car, handles speed bumps and potholes like a Humvee, corners faster with more screeching tires than a drifting WMV, and can crash through small trees and bushes like a tank?

Give up? It’s a Rental Car!!

If you have ever owned a house you rented, you will know precisely what I mean. Or, if you ever lent someone some of your tools or a book, you may come to understand that the ownership has just been functionally transferred…

“But Scott,” you might say, “You write on issues of people and performance, about organizational improvement. What is this “rental car” stuff?”

Simply put, you cannot expect the people to support you to buy into ideas for improvement and change unless they have some ownership involvement in generating those ideas or in putting together an implementation plan. It might look something like this:

square wheels image by Scott Simmerman

On the left, we have typical organizational reality – leader pulling and people pushing and not much alignment, engagement or communications.

On the right, we have people actively involved in making improvements to the situation, with the obvious support of the manager and others. Taking time to be involved generates engagement, can help to implement better processes, and can generate peer support and even more organizational successes down the road.

Lastly, let me end with the line-art illustration we first used in 1993 to illustrate this concept. The cartoon is actually named, Nobody ever washes a rental car, and it addresses one other issue of successfully implementing change and improvement. It looks like this:

square wheels image by scott simmerman

In this case, you might consider that the wagon is now  beginning to roll downhill faster than the wagon puller finds comfortable. When people feel pushed, they generally push back and resist the change. It is ownership, again, but in a situation reverse to the above. Managers can also resist changes and ideas brought to them from the teams. It is a natural thing for those who are facilitating change and innovation.

If you are interested, we sell a simple and straightforward toolkit for impacting employee ownership:

square wheels image toolkit

Leadership is not a simple thing. So, Heads up! Engage them where you can.

For the FUN of It!

Dr. Scott SimmermanDr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant.

 
Connect with Scott on Google+ – you can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

Follow Scott’s posts on Pinterest: pinterest.com/scottsimmerman/
Scott’s quips and quotes on Poems on The Workplace is here.

You can find some powerful tools for impacting corporate teambuilding and improving organizational performance at our website, featuring The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine and our Square Wheels tools:

teambuidlng products by scott simmerman

Square Wheels® is a registered trademark of Performance Management Co.
LEGO® is a trademark of The LEGO Group

Learning Skills, Note Taking, and Improving Performance

I will admit that I was never much of a student when in school. It was an 82 average in high school and a 2.23 in college and all that. On the other hand, my performance in classes and my effectiveness in research and my overall engagement in the things I was interested in was the flip-side of all this. I got into one of the finest educational institutions in the world for my doctoral work on behavioral neurophysiology because of my research publications, high SAT scores and my experiences in presenting at international conferences (as an undergraduate!). It was not because of classroom performance!

The key point I wanted to share is that I only learned how to learn about 10 years after graduating. No one ever pointed me to any sort of learning technology or job aids into how the brain stores and retrieves information. Only when taking courses in NLP from Jon Linder did this stuff really come together.

We knew a lot back then but we just did not share it with the students! Now, I would think we could be doing things differently to help our students as well as the workforce.

Sarwan Singh put out a pretty good slideshare on note taking and study techniques I thought to share. I would have added the mind-mapping visual tool to the set but it is what it is.

Take a walk through the ideas and see if there is anything that you might find useful:

Note Taking Cover of Sarwan Sing Slideshare

You can also find a lot of blogs out there that review mind mapping tools, which is an approach I use a lot when motivated to capture ideas or plan a presentation.

If we want to make our organization more of a learning organization, and improve the performance of our people, we should probably give the trainees some access and some experience about learning how to learn and how they can improve retention and memory. The above is a place to start,

For the FUN of It!

Dr. Scott SimmermanDr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant.

 
Connect with Scott on Google+ – you can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

Follow Scott’s posts on Pinterest: pinterest.com/scottsimmerman/
Scott’s quips and quotes on Poems on The Workplace is here.

 

Show and Tell and Ask for Engagement

My partner, Joan, surprised me with an email she sent out to those people who are subscribed to our postings. I thought it was so good that I simply repost it here:

PMC-logo-for Square-Wheels
Remember “Show and Tell” Time
in Elementary School?

Use it now for Workplace Improvement!

Just as “Show and Tell” time mixed learning with fun back in your school days, you can use that same premise, today, to kick off a meeting that will engage people in creating workplace improvements. Here’s what you do:

Show an image, Tell what it represents and Ask for reactions and thoughts.

•Square Wheels One LEGO MAIN short

It’s that simple. Gather your group together and “Show” our Square Wheels One LEGO (above) image as you “Tell” them that “This is how most organizations really work.” Then, simply ASK them for their reactions and thoughts.

Asking for ideas is the leverage point for involvement and engagement so when you ask everyone to reflect on what you’ve just shared, you are setting up an opportunity that will generate open communications, creativity and a serious discussion of issues and ideas that can lead to improvements and promote employee engagement.

People respond, enthusiastically, to the Square Wheels concept as they appreciate this occasion to comfortably offer their own input into how things can work better.

The Square Wheels Lego Icebreaker Toolkit is only $19.95 and comes with everything you need to facilitate an engaging and productive session. You can choose to use either the LEGO Square Wheels image or the original Square Wheels One line-art illustration, as both are included, as well as a leader’s guide, worksheets for participants and Square Wheels posters to use in the workplace. Click on the image below to watch the video for an overview.

=Square Wheels Icebreaker icon

Use this “Show and Tell” scenario today as a unique and bombproof way to mix fun with important learning around new ideas and ways of doing things to impact organizational improvement and increased workplace happiness.

Square-Wheels-Testimonial bubble Schmideg 100Useful tools that work in elegantly simple ways!

For the FUN of It!

Dr. Scott SimmermanDr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant.

 
Connect with Scott on Google+ – you can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

Follow Scott’s posts on Pinterest: pinterest.com/scottsimmerman/
Scott’s quips and quotes on Poems on The Workplace is here.

Square Wheels are a trademark of Performance Management Company
LEGO® is a trademark of The LEGO Group

Dance of Death, and other images of the workplace

I will blame my old friend, Bernie DeKoven, for this blog! (grin)

Bernie writes under the framework of Deep Fun and focuses on generating more fun in work and life as a practical matter of choice. I will let him comment more on his focus below. But you can see more about his thinking and a game frame using the image below by clicking on it.

This cartoon was done in 1493 for the Black Death Plague

I saw his post on this illustration and I had a different name / frame for the image. My email back to Bernie called the image, “Middle Management.”

Here is the worker, with no possibility of upward mobility, being “managed” by the middle managers, who also have limited upward mobility possibilities. As companies continue to become more efficient and more productive and use software for more and more operational processes, the requirement for skilled employees and for additional training and development becomes increasingly limited.

At least, that is one way of looking at things and looking at statistics, especially if one is focused on the older workers, those over 55 along with the shenanigans to limit access to things like social security and Medicare and similar resources for old age…

Another image that I have used before is this one. You can see some of my earlier thoughts on intrinsic motivation and innovation by clicking on the image:

Doom and gloom

Do you really think the average person wants to simply sit around and accomplish nothing? I think that goes against all the things I have learned about motivation over the years. But I DO think that people can be pushed and punished and beaten down repeatedly to make them less likely to try. That fear of failure and the loss of ambition and goals will generate conditioned helplessness.

An official publication of the US Army in how to sabotageThey can be dis-engaged and un-involved. We see that all the time in the workplace. But they can also take that abuse and become motivated to engage in organizational sabotage — there are many cases and examples of people becoming motivated to “get even.”

(see a detailed blog on this situation by clicking on the image of The US Army’s Field Manual to Strategic Sabotage (seriously) )

Motivation is a funny thing, and I would hope that we could do a better job of involving and engaging people in the workplace.

We need to pay attention to the choices we make about how we deal with people. And it is not rocket-science, it is about asking for their ideas and input on what might be done differently.

=Square Wheels Icebreaker icon

We can take the time to think about what we do and how our actions are perceived.

Stopping and Supporting Improvement, a Square Wheels image by Scott Simmerman

We can have more fun.
We can lighten up in our management style.
We can allow people some room to grow.

So, choose to rock and roll!

For the FUN of It!

Dr. Scott SimmermanDr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant.

 
Connect with Scott on Google+ – you can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

Follow Scott’s posts on Pinterest: pinterest.com/scottsimmerman/
Scott’s quips and quotes on Poems on The Workplace is here.

Square Wheels are a trademark of Performance Management Company
LEGO® is a trademark of The LEGO Group

 

A Square Wheels Quote on Meaningfulness

Since much of my thinking involves the workplace and engagement and productivity, and my blog IS about People and Performance, I thought to increase your understanding of how things really work with a simple illustration and quote.

It’s also Friday the 13th so I also thought that people might be searching for meaningfulness in the world around us. SO, here is a simple illustration of one of my most favorite and useful quotes when one is searching for meaning in the events of the workplace:

A Square Wheels quote about meaningfulness by Scott Simmerman

Remember that caterpillars can fly if they would just lighten up.

And remember that we all need a little levity and a better understanding of how things got to be how they are and where we are heading in the future. It should be obvious that we can make changes to make improvements,

For the FUN of It!

Dr. Scott SimmermanDr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant.

 
Connect with Scott on Google+ – you can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

Follow Scott’s posts on Pinterest: pinterest.com/scottsimmerman/
Scott’s quips and quotes on Poems on The Workplace is here.

Square Wheels are a trademark of Performance Management Company
LEGO® is a trademark of The LEGO Group

Engagement – The Day AFTER National Employee Appreciation Day

I popped up a short post on doing a Day of Un-Appreciation every year, with the idea that doing a day of appreciation is only one day of many and that it should certainly be more common. People are not being involved or engaged or motivated well in their workplaces, and managements are apparently choosing not to do things differently (or things would improve!).

poster of making every day a day of appreciating employees

This morning, I framed up another idea:

Celebrate the day after the day of employee appreciation

What if we simply doubled the days that we thought about appreciating employees, you know, those people that actually do the actual work of organizations and not the management of those people… (grin)

There is simply so much more that so many more could do to help the process of generating better workplace engagement.

As an addendum, let me share a graph from the Gallup organization that showed a recent high bump in engagement in the US, something that some people are apparently celebrating.

Gallup National Data on employee engagement levels
graph is linked to original article

The rise in apparent engagement is most assuredly not a “leap” and it also correlates with the drop in un-employment (so some new hires might appear in the survey data) along with a drop in the numbers of under-employed, meaning that additional workers started making more money.

So, don’t think that there have been a lot of improvements in how people are being managed nor in how people are being appreciated. There is a great need for companies to understand that managers can choose to do things differently to dis-un-engage and dis-un-empower their people on a day to day basis.

Check out our toolkit for involving and engaging people for workplace improvement. $20!

Square Wheels Icebreaker is simple to use

For the FUN of It!

Dr. Scott SimmermanDr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant.

 
Connect with Scott on Google+ – you can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

Follow Scott’s posts on Pinterest: pinterest.com/scottsimmerman/
Scott’s quips and quotes on Poems on The Workplace is here.

Square Wheels are a trademark of Performance Management Company
LEGO® is a trademark of The LEGO Group