Using SMART Questions to Hold Your Team Accountable

March 26th, 2013 by dennis

The success of any organization comes down to one thing:  How well it organizes it’s members to focus on and work towards the same purpose.  As leaders we have to continually define what is most important.  By using the SMART acronym we can clarify expectations and accomplish more.


The more specific the goal the more likely it is to suceed.  HOw many times have you said, “This is not what I meant!”  Specific goals take the wigle room out of accountability.  Try to avoid generalities.  Make it as clear and focused as possible.

  • What do I mean by theat?
  • What would success look like if I saw it?
  • What would I observe or hear?


Do your best to avoid subjective measurements.  Can you count what you expect from this goal?

  • How much, how well or what level or degree?
  • How will I know when it’s accomplished well?
  • What’s an objective way to evaluate this?


Goals that are action oriented help keep the focus where it should be:  on your team’s behavior.  Focus goals on what you observe:  results, action or behavior.  For example, the goal of maintaining an attitude of serving others, how would I know it when I see it?  What does it look like?  We cannot measure attitudes or intentions.

  • What would this look like or how could they prove it to me?


Avoid asking for perfection and the unattainable.

  • How likely is the employee able to accomplish this?
  • What is the probability of success?
  • How confident am I that this person can accomplish this?


“As soon as possible” is not a time bound statement.  Avoid making assumptions about priorities and urgencies.  This will remove the ambiguity of when it should be accomplished.

  • What time of the day does it need to be done?
  • What other work is dependent on this?

Using questions helps clarify expectations, which is the number cause of poor performance!

What type of questions do you need to work on?

The Coaching Skills Checklist

January 25th, 2013 by dennis

The Coaching Skills Checklist

My wife has taught me that I’m always more efficient when I bring a checklist to the grocery store instead of just randomly purchasing whatever comes to mind.  You know, this works the same with building a team.  Your coaching is always better when you have a checklist or guide to follow.  This way, you can stay on track, communicate and get the feedback you need to move forward.  Many times without a checklist, important points are missed.  Just like I missed the milk when I went to Publix the other day!

Use This Checklist to Optimize Your Coaching

  1. Do you seize learning opportunities and focus on immediate performance problems for your team?
  2. Do you try to develop a supportive, emotional bond with your team?
  3. Do you observe your team’s behavior?
  4. Do you have a process for driving your core values through your team?
  5. Do you separate observation from judgements or assumptions?
  6. Do you listen for your signals that your help is needed?
  7. Do you prepare employees for coaching sessions in advance?
  8. Do you listen actively when someone is talking to you?
  9. Do you paraphrase or use some other method to clarify what is being said?
  10. Do you identify causes of performance problems or look for ways to close skills gaps?
  11. Do you work with your team to reach agreement on desired goals?
  12. Do you customize your coaching approach depending on the person you are coaching?
  13. Do you give specific feedback?
  14. Do you give timely feedback?
  15. Do you always follow-up on a coaching discussion to make sure progress is proceeding as planned?

When your coaching skills improve, your team improves!

Which of these 15 skills do you need to develop?

Crafting a Mission Statement

January 20th, 2012 by dennis

Mission statements are those inspiring words chosen by leader to clearly communicate the direction of an organization.  This is a great method to communicate your intentions and motivate your team to a common vision.  With a mission statement you can define your organization’s purpose and objectives.  The key point to remember is that the primary function is internal not external.  Your mission statement need to define the key measurements of your organization’s success.

Here are some tips in defining your mission statement:

1. Work first to identify your businesses “winning idea”.

2. This is the idea that will make you stand out from the competition and it becomes the reason your customer’s come to you and not your competitors.

3. Identify the key measures of your success.  Makes sure you choose the most important measures (and not too many of them!)

4. Combine your winning idea and success measures into a tangible and measurable goal.

5. Refine the words until you have a concise and precise statement of your mission that expresses your ideas and desired results.

Crafting a mission statement first comes from defining your winning idea.  It takes a lot of effort to find, shape and test but the benefits far outweigh the cost and energy it requires in communicating your winning idea!

Define Those Expectations

December 27th, 2011 by dennis

For the last couple of years I have been hammering the fact that 90% of all organizational challenges are relational not technical. But what I’m beginning to see is that almost all relational challenges are either core values or expectations conflicts.

This week alone I’ve had three mis-communications which has highlighted the fact that I continually must work on clarity of expectations. The question that continously rolls around in my head is:

Is what I say, what other people hear?

I think I am beginning to understand that just because I say it does not mean other people are hearing it (finally after 42 years!). We all see life through our own expectations. I think the problem is sometimes we don’t even realize what those expecations are! Our assessments are a great training tool for defining expectations.  Ask yourself…What are my expectations for:

Career Growth

I know that when it becomes clear to me, I can communicate clearly to other people. There is more power in clarity than I think we realize. I’m working this week on being clearer with my expectations because those expectations become a vital piece in creating culture.

The Culture I Create…. Generates the Effectiveness I Enjoy!

Why Do I Need to Grow?

October 3rd, 2011 by dennis

This week I was asked the question, “Why do I have to grow?”  People normally discover that even though they say they want to grow, they don’t understand the price they have to pay to grow.  There is no growth without change and there is no change without pain.  This is why people usually grow only to their pain tolerance.  Many times I’m called in to assess personal capacity and one of the main questions I ask myself is, “How much pain is this person able to endure?”  Not a fun question, a valuable one to ask ourselves.

The critical reason is summed up in the phrase I call OUT-IN-OUT

Step 1:  OUT – To change something you first have to see it.  This is where you look outside of yourself you you notice what needs to change.  Awareness is the first step in improving anything

Step 2: IN – You’ve got to go inside of yourself and process your thoughts, feelings and ideas and actually make choices about what can be done.  This is where you’ve got to develop your personal capacity.  Here it’s helpful to ask yourself some key questions such as:  What is the next step?  What needs to be done?  If I don’t know the answer, who has that answer?

Step 3: OUT – Finally you act out of your decision to make the change or fix the problem.  Action requires energy and at the end of the day, it’s action that separates winners from losers.

Keep growing and developing.  I believe the prize is worth the price!

Elevate your Influence through Trust

August 6th, 2011 by dennis

Trust is never static.  Everything you do impacts others’ level of trust in you because there is a difference between being trustworthy and being trusted.  How you behave as a leader is always under the microscope, so be very conscious of whether you are building or diminishing trust.

Have you ever mistakenly mistrusted someone who was in fact trustworthy?  A common misconception is that honesty alone breeds trust.  Bridging the trust gap is a marriage of character and skill.  Four elements must be present for trust to increase:

Straightforwardness: I say what I mean and I mean what I say.

Openness: I am receptive to others’ ideas and opinions and give my own.

Acceptance: I do not judge other people.

Reliability: You can count on me to keep my commitments.

You can increase others trust in you today by:

1.  Identifying which elements you are strongest in.  These are indicators of your signature strengths.  Play them as your trump cards.

2.  Realizing which elements require more of your energy.  This is a clue to a personal constraint.  Push yourself to do the uncomfortable and operate within this element.

Increasing your trust level increases your impact, elevating your influence!

Top Behaviors of Highly Effective Sales People

July 19th, 2011 by dennis

Our research in high performance has proven to us that it’s behavior that drives performance which will determine our results.  We know that in order to get a new result we must have a behavioral change.  Our first step is to understand what are those key behaviors!

1.  Highly Effective Sales People are constantly learning and continually investing in themselves and their professional development.

2.  Highly Effective Sales People are masterful communicators.

3.  High Effective Sales People are creative.  They can create new solutions and possibilities.

4.  Highly Effective Sales People are passionate about what they do and deliver unconditional value just for the joy of it!

5.  Highly Effective Sales People have a positive and healthy attitude.

6.  Highly Effective Sales People are responsive, proactive and highly adaptable.

7.  Highly Effective Sales People are process driven.  They know where they are going and have specific measurable goals.

8.  Highly Effective Sales People are master of time management and organization.

Which behavior do you need to increase?  Not only do you need awareness but you must develop an action plan.  Contact us for more information about developing that coaching plan!

Building Trust

June 25th, 2011 by dennis

The essence of business is simply, people doing transactions.  This is why trust is at the core of all business activity and productivity.  In a high-trust environment, people depend on each other and rely on each other’s word.  When trust is missing, transaction time is slowed and costs begin to rise!

In a sales scenario, there are basically five obstacles:

No Need

No Money

No Desire

No Hurry

No Trust

While most companies teach people to overcome the top four, very few teach people how to develop trust.  In fact, the company, person or brand with the most trust owns the marketplace.  When people believe they can trust your brand, they assume your company is stable.  When they believe they can trust you, they assume your service is reliable.  Here is a quick checklist to develop your trustworthiness:

1.  Impression:  The first step in building deep personal trust is warmth, empathy and authenticity.  A person that appears trustworthy will gain the attention of a customer.

2.  Integrity: Customers don’t judge you by what you say when you are visiting face-to-face, they judge you by what you do when nobody is watching.

3.  Performance: Customers will judge our performance after every transaction.  Your competence leads to buyer competence.

The goal of optimal trust is comfort.  Do people feel comfortable enough with you to trust you with their problems and challenges?  Are they comfortable with the product or service that you deliver?  Assign a higher priority on increasing trust and your business will increase!

Solving Problems

May 31st, 2011 by dennis

In business we are all paid to solve problems.  In fact, your compensation is directly related to the problem you solve.  This is simple math, if you want better compensation, solve more complex problems!  In fact, without problems we would never reach our full potential.  It’s the challenges we fact that allow us to grow and expand!

One important principle we teach our clients to spend 80 percent of your time on the solution not just focusing on the problem.  A common practice, when issues occur is for people to spend time asking themselves, “Why is this happening to me?” or “Why do I have to do this?”.  All this strategy does is to whip you into an emotional frenzy called overwhelm!  When you’re in overwhelm, you can’t fix the problem!

Asking yourself these key problem solving questions will direct your focus to find the answer:

1.  What is great about this problem?/ What could be great about this? Solutions are found when you stay positive.

2.  What’s not perfect yet? This presupposes that it can be perfect.

3.  What am I willing to do to make it the way I want it? Action is what separates winners from losers.

4.  How can I do what’s necessary to get the job done and enjoy the process? Take action and monitor the outcome.

You have the resources inside of you to solve the problem, you just have to ask yourself the right questions!

Quick Tips in Driving Your Core Values

April 8th, 2011 by dennis

After years of parenting and years of working with organizations, I’ve realized that growing a company is very similar to growing kids.  There are basically three principles to follow:  Have a few rules, say them over and over again, and live by those rules!  Our results are produced by our performance and our performance is an outcome of our daily behaviors.  Defining those behaviors are crucial in developing a high-performance team.  After organizations define those values, it takes a process to drive them through your organization.  Here are few quick ideas to push those values to every team member.

1.  Develop a few corporate legends.

People remember stories, not just phrases.  What the specific examples where your personal values have increased the companies value?

2.  Apply them in the recruitment process.

Generally companies hire people for what they know, and fire them for who they are.  What tools do you have to help you understand who people really are?

3.  Make them a part of your appraisal system.

You never get the behavior you scream and beg for, you usually get the behavior you reward.  What is your reward process?

4.  Implement your training processes around them.

Training and coaching is a process that gives people a roadmap for improvement.  With a clear coaching process, people will behave their way out of your organization.  Do you have a coaching process for each team member?

Creating a high-performance culture takes an intentional process.  It doesn’t happen by chance, it really does take work!  The culture you are creating, is determining the results you enjoy!