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Follow this Japanese Proverb for Success

A clear vision of success is critical for any individual or company to succeed. It underlies purpose, strategy and values.

Executives, managers and individual employees need to be clear on the company vision and values, letting them guide decisions, engagement and consistent operations and priorities.

Most of all, a vision is more than some words on an internal memo or graphic. And this Japanese proverb sums up just how critical a vision is to success:

Vision without action is daydream

Action without vision is nightmare

Although this historical quotation speaks for itself, let’s break it down:

Any individual, team or organization can have a vision. But without a plan to reach the vision, and especially acting on the plan, the vision really is just a daydream, a wish. Successful self-starters put their vision to work. And the other big two success factors, passion and perseverance, help turn vision into action. For example, passion inspires, and having a passionate vision energizes. When employees share the passion for your work and vision, they remain more engaged and ultimately more successful. And it’s important to persevere when faced with obstacles or setbacks. Perseverance sets a person or team back on track.

Of course, what track do you jump back onto if you have no vision or direction?

Action without a vision leaves you rudderless, without direction. It’s like wandering in circles, with no end goal in site. You might have small successes, but likely will face more setbacks. Taking time to develop a vision statement paves the way for steady progress. A clear vision also provides a point at which leaders, managers and employees can refocus.

At Success Factors Inc., we help leaders and teams craft a vision for successful initiatives and develop a Success Strategy and Milestone Timeline, helping to maintain a vision for all actions and outline planned steps, or actions, to achieve the vision for an initiative.

Find out how you can create a passionate vision for project, individual or organization success from Success Factors Inc. And most importantly, let us help coach you and your team on the actions that bring your vision to life.

Learn more at (http://successfactorsinc.net/) or take action and call us today (425-485-3221).

Passion Fires Up Perseverance

An early season baseball game. A passionate objection, then an ejection. And ultimately, a win.

An April 16 baseball game between the Seattle Mariners and Texas Rangers showed how passion can fire up perseverance in one’s self – or in an entire team.

Mariners manager Scott Servais was upset by a call (or more accurately, a call reversal) in the bottom of the sixth inning. Servais ran from the dugout and had a “few words” with officials, who tossed him from the game.

The coach’s actions might have been seen as extreme had things gone the other way and the Mariners had lost the game. But his show of passion and support for his team gave a boost to the players, helping them persevere and win the game. As outfielder Jarrod Dyson told the Seattle Times, “When skip got tossed, that fired everyone else up.”

In the business world, bosses can’t just storm into the board room when something happens that seems unfair to their staff team. But a little passion can go a long way. Employees are much more likely to trust, follow and engage with the passionate manager who has their backs. And sometimes, a little burst of passion fires you up as well. Here are a few ways that passion helps members of your organization at every level:

  • Executives: Passion creates a powerful sense of purpose and excitement, which can engage employees.
  • Managers: Demonstrates enthusiasm for organization vision, mission and values. Models commitment to the job and the team.
  • Employees: Demonstrates commitment to and engagement in employee accountabilities.

Keep your team fired up by channeling positive passion to help teams and individuals persevere through competition or setbacks. We can help. Learn more about our services, including our Fast Track to Success program, that can spot, foster and formalize passion in you, your managers and your employees. Call us today (425-485-3221).

Just Do It: Business Mantras

There’s more to the famous Nike tagline, “Just do it,” than encouraging people to pay for cool shoes. The phrase subtly hints at performing, persevering and following one’s vision, the Big Three Success Factors. And Ekaterina Walker says in this article from Forbes  that “Just Do It” also is one of the best business mantras she’s seen. Why? Because it speaks to the urgency of getting things done, being the best and the first.

Mantras are concise messages that a person can repeat internally to calm or motivate. Teams and other groups also have mantras, mottos or messages, that help them persevere, thrive and succeed. A mantra should be brief and create a positive visual or action. Well-crafted mantras can support or summarize a company mission and vision. Here are a few examples from sports and business:

  • Duke University basketball coach Mike Kryzewski (Coach K) has won five national championships with various teams and more than 1,000 total victories. He has an effective mantra called “next play” that lifts players following an error and maintains their focus on the next play to come. It can keep them from lingering too long on negative thoughts about what could have gone wrong and puts focus back on the present. Wouldn’t it be great if every business could adopt a “next play” philosophy? It’s OK for leaders and employees to evaluate mistakes and learn from them. But those mistakes shouldn’t guide everyday work – teams should focus on the present and future.
  • Apple’s mantra of “Think different” reinforces a culture focuses on creativity. Regardless of whether your business is in the tech sector, it never hurts to support and reward innovation, such as new ways to deliver products, filling gaps in customer needs or simply working more efficiently.
  • Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson used his father’s past question regarding his NFL dreams of “Why not you?” to help motivate his team with “Why not us?” and Wilson helped lead the Seahawks in their 2014 Super Bowl win. Sure, we can’t credit the mantra for all of the team’s success, but it’s a great example of future vision. Further, it helps focus on actions to solve problems rather than complaining about a situation. (“Somebody has to take the lead on improving morale on the team. Why not me?”)
  • Google’s “Don’t be evil” mantra paints an excellent picture for staying on track and doing the right thing. Developed by engineer Amit Patel, the phrase has guided everything from keeping search engine results based on algorithms instead of sales to human resources department values.

 

Mantras don’t have to be catchy, but a catchy phrase might be easier to remember. Use brainstorming to develop your own company mantra. Chances are that your mantra is evident within your mission and vision or in recent strategy documents. Choose concise words that help employees focus and stay inspired. If you need help developing a personal or team mantra, contact Success Factors Inc. (http://successfactorsinc.net/)  (425-485-3221).

A Baker’s Dozen Tips

A Baker’s Dozen Tips

The baker’s dozen, or adding a thirteenth baked good when a customer orders a dozen, might have originated as a way to avoid weight penalty for orders of bread loaves hundreds of years ago, but today it’s going above and beyond to please a customer. A bonus, if you will, rather than a hedge against penalty.

When hiring, grooming or promoting employees, you can spot those who go above and beyond, who always throw in the extra bagel when given an assignment. At Success Factors Inc, we also go the extra mile for customers, and today we offer our own baker’s dozen of tips for individual and organizational success!

Tips from Success Factors, Inc: A Baker’s Dozen

  1. Never put off until tomorrow… don’t procrastinate! Even small steps toward your vision help.
  2. . . . but be patient, persevering through setbacks.
  3. Update your mindset and behavior. Believe in your vision and see success in your future.
  4. Approach challenges with the certainty that success will overcome these or other challenges in the future.
  5. Take stock of challenges you’ve already overcome and incremental success.
  6. Be fearless and take risks.
  7. Seek advice and support from mentors and those you trust and admire.
  8. Keep yourself from getting in your own way. In other words, examine your beliefs, circumstances and confidence. Don’t be your own worst enemy!
  9. Remember only you are in control. You choose how to approach your vision and how to react to others or to problems along the way.
  10. When stalled, record the reasons. Then listen, learn and be amazed.
  11. Take it day by day.
  12. Celebrate achievements.
  13. Get help from a coach.

We’ve talked to so many successful professionals and can help guide your Fast Track to Success. Learn more about our baker’s dozen tips and how a Success Factors, Inc. coach or program can help you grow and achieve your success initiative. Call us today! (425-485-3221)

Breakthroughs Make, not Break, Your Business

Think about the business successes and self-starters foremost in your mind. How many successes resulted from just plugging along and even getting lucky, and how many occurred following a breakthrough?

 Let’s look at an example or two: Microsoft could have continued selling packaged Office software, along with the associated manufacturing, design and packaging costs involved. But instead, the company had (another) breakthrough: Office 365, a Cloud-based subscription for the company’s popular Office programs and tools. The company reported a 10 percent spike in revenue at the end of January, and Office 365 is a big chunk of the consumer and commercial earnings pie.
Microsoft might have “shaved off” costs and improved their product, but Dollar Shave Club used a subscription service to revolutionize a segment of the personal care business. Founder Michael Dubin is more than an innovator; his breakthrough idea solved a problem for men frustrated by making it easier, and affordable, to buy razor cartridges. He started the business from his home and by year three, had $65 million in revenue. A simple problem with a simple, but breakthrough solution.

Is your business, or some aspect of it, in need of a breakthrough? Are you out of ideas? But wait, do you have a team of managers and staff? Hmmm… maybe one of them has the sort of breakthrough idea or solution you need to reach the next level.
Here’s what you most likely need for that big breakthrough:
  • A willingness to take a risk. Individuals and companies that stand out do so because they risk going beyond the norm or relying on soft data (because hard data might not be there for a truly innovative idea). This also means taking a measured risk on the intellectual capital in your company – your people.
  • Expert help from innovative people who know your company, customers or industry. Sure, you have experts in product development or sales. But have you ever asked a salesperson to help drive product redesign? Have your product development people ever talked to a customer? Think outside the norms of departments, protocols and pecking orders.
  • A desire to change “business as usual.” Unless you’re willing to let go of some tradition or structure, you might not reach the breakthrough you’re looking for.
  • A culture that rewards innovation and breakthrough thinking. The only way intrapreneurs and truly creative employees can come up with the next breakthrough solution is if they are empowered to do so, whether formally or informally.
If you need help getting to a breakthrough, we can help. Learn more about our services, including our Fast Track to Success program that can help you and your team be more engaged and innovative. Or check out our turn-key Success Factors Program for coaches, facilitators and consultants who can guide you long term. This exciting program with powerful outcomes can be yours! Call us today (425-485-3221).

Five Ways To Engage Employees from Day One

Engaged employees are positive, energetic and passionate members of your team who help you grow your business. When employees are engaged, they tend to perform up to or above their skill levels and support your organization’s vision. Here are five ways to help ensure new employees are engaged from day one on the job:

1. Review and modify your orientation. Employees want information about benefits and policies. However, if your employee orientation is nothing but paperwork and a repetition of the information they can read in the employee manual, you’ll likely drain some of the excitement and passion the new hires woke up with on their first day. Instead, capture their passion by also including their role in your organization’s vision as soon as possible when they walk through the door.

 

Engage new employees by getting them involved right away. Help them see how every task they complete or decision they make contributes to the vision. And let them know that their work is valued in your corporate culture.

2. Place a focus on the on-boarding process. If you get new hires involved early in their probationary period, you develop positive skills and minimize negatives. New hires should feel welcome and appreciated. For example, if you hire an employee who helped organize the holiday party at his last job, introduce him to the leader of the holiday party team, even if he joins the company in May. Use on-boarding software programs to offer new hires a menu of choices, including the ability to choose teams or activities that interest them most.

 

3. Create and support a culture of engagement. Engaging new hires only works if your culture supports it. Otherwise, your new employees and their ideas or participation can get shot down. To create a culture of engagement, nurture relationships and communicate openly. Recognize and reward evidence of passion, perseverance and vision in employees and teams.

 

4. Follow through on statements and promises. Having an engaged culture with feedback and open communication helps ensure that you follow through on “promises” made to new hires. That includes practicing what you preach. In other words, if you say during orientation or on-boarding that managers follow up on suggestions, develop the time or structure to make sure it happens. Otherwise, new workers can become discouraged if their early enthusiasm hits a dead end.

 

5. Start giving feedback right away. To retain promising new hires, make sure they get feedback right away. Waiting until they’ve been there a year and then presenting a formal evaluation ties more to compensation than success. Try to ensure that feedback is constructive and positive, but honest. And provide more detail than “You’re doing fine.” Consider coaching  for new employees who show promise and evidence of success factors.

I would love to hear from you about your success in your company. Please call at 425-485-3221 or email Montoya at montoya@drjuliemiller.com. You could also contact me if there is a topic you would like to hear more about. We love new ideas!

The Three Big Success Factors

You hear a lot in business news about improving company culture and keeping workers engaged to help improve employee retention. All sound advice. But I believe engaging employees offers leaders even more advantages than reducing turnover. Here’s why:

We’ve worked with groups at organizations to help team members bring together three factors we’ve identified as the foundations of success: vision, passion and perseverance. Vision leads successful people by offering a clear picture of personal and professional success. Passion energizes people, which often shows as engagement and commitment. People who have perseverance are masters at finding ways to succeed, no matter the obstacles.

Put these three big success factors together and watch for a breakthrough success. But there’s more to helping employees – even those who score highly in all three success factors – get from A to B. And most importantly, the employee’s engagement, planning, projects and success must align with those of the team and company. Here’s an example:

Let’s say a new marketing employee has some great ideas for improving your company’s social media presence and the proven record of sticking with initiatives. This potential star in your organization is a keeper, and managers should do all they can to keep the employee happy and engaged. The problem is how the new worker’s efforts align with company goals and the bottom line. For example, has the employee shown a clear link between social media followers and click-through to your products or services? Is your target market only semi-active on social media and more likely to respond to direct mail?

To get the most return on your employee investment and any projects teams and individuals lead, you must make sure that potentially successful staff keep the company needs and goals in mind. And helping them make a difference in their career as well as your organization improves their commitment and engagement for the long haul. Here’s how:

  • Share and reinforce your vision. The only way potential self-starters can align their passion and perseverance with your vision is if they have a clear idea of your company’s purpose and their role in achieving company goals.
  • Reward success and creativity. Workers who are committed to their jobs and employers and who are willing to innovate and take risks can get things done. Rewards aren’t always financial – simply asking for input and listening to ideas can encourage those already engaged and helps bring more committed, passionate people on board.
  • Empower employees. Listen to staff and then act. Involve employees in appropriate decisions or strategies, and empower them to take calculated risks. If that’s too risky for leaders, be sure to give employees some latitude, but under set criteria or guidelines.
  • Coach workers through an actual project. Often, leadership programs motivate individuals and teams but only for a peak time right after training. Combining structured process improvement and project planning ensures a more long-term commitment.

Our Fast Track to Success program requires a time commitment from participants and uses coaching and criteria to help employees generate and complete a work-related initiative. Learn more here . Give us a call (425-485-3221) today to find out how we can keep your workers engaged and to help improve employee retention.

How Do YOU Define Success?

In its most basic definition, success is achieving something you wanted, planned or attempted. But over years of working with self-starters, managers and their teams, we’ve learned that everyone defines success differently.

One of the first steps in our Fast Track to Success program is to help you and your employees spot the words and concepts related to defining success that most apply to you. Fast tracking to individual, team and company-wide success requires that you first define what success looks like. If you want your folks to work together toward a common vision and persevere during setbacks, you must define what success looks like.

For example, an entire basketball team wants to win, so including “winning” in the definition helps. But do you consider winning only a single game, a conference, the national championship? And if your team went 1 and 16 last season, do you adjust your definition of success accordingly?

Likewise, your team relies on the individuals within it. What if success for one player is making 90 percent of his or her free throws? And doesn’t achieving success at the free-throw line contribute to the entire team’s success?

When we help Fast Track to Success participants get started, we first explore how you see and feel success and the words or attributes that come to mind when creating your own personal definition of success. We work with people at various organizational or responsibility levels in your company to model their own definition of success and find a clear vision for how they contribute to team and company success.

Learn more about Success Factors, Inc.’s Fast Track to Success program and how you can get started defining success today on our website or call us at 425-485-3221.

How Important is Employee Perseverance?

Of the Big 3 Success Factors we’ve identified, Perseverance is one of the most critical to have in individuals throughout your organization. Perseverance doesn’t outrank Vision and Passion, but it’s much easier (with some guidance) to help a person and team create a vision and identify their passion than it is to teach what amounts to an innate characteristic.

That doesn’t mean you can’t foster perseverance in a team member. First, however, you need to take a few important steps. Among those is finding the people in your organization who tend to persevere in the face of adversity.

How to Spot Perseverance

There are a few ways to spot a person who perseveres: This is the individual who models self-discipline, even during the most trying times. You’ll see a focus and level of productivity that exceeds the norm, even when the employee faces personal or work-related adversity. And the focus is internal; you don’t have to remind this team member of the need to move forward. In fact, people with innate perseverance typically encourage others.

Use an Assessment Tool

Since you and your managers can’t be everywhere to monitor for people with this success factor, we can help! The Miller Success Factors Assessment (MSFA) provides a score on a continuum to easily see how one currently perseveres in the face of adversity. And for everyone, even those low on the continuum, we can help explore what sorts of setbacks make it more difficult for you and your employees to stay focused and work toward a shared vision. We also offer case studies and explore common or individual excuses for giving up, along with envisioning how persevering looks and feels.

Find out more about the MSFA and how to complete it, along with the Fast Track to Success program. Visit our website  or call us at 425-485-3221.

Bringing Together the Big 3 Success Factors

In our discussions with and study of successful people and organizations, we identified nine Success Factors common to successful self-starters. And then we found out something else – three of these factors stand out and rise above the other six in importance. Here’s why:

The only way to be successful is to have a clear Vision of what success looks like.

Having – or developing – Passion creates energy and movement toward the Vision.

Perseverance keeps the energy, focus and movement on track despite obstacles.

 

The Big 3 Are Common Among Successful Self-starters

At a recent “Celebrating Founders” symposium at Stanford University, a panel of successful university alumni, the Big 3 Success Factors were common themes. The founder of Kiva, a peer-to-peer site for microlending, mentioned how important it is to have a strong vision to pull your forward. And in general, panelists reminded attendees to only do what they enjoy and gave examples of setbacks they faced along the way and how they persevered.

Like Your Team, the Big 3 Work Together

These Big 3 Success Factors interplay with one another to lead to individual and organizational success. What’s key is seeing how they interplay in your situation and how to make them work for you and your company together. So think about how your organizational vision engages employees to use their passion and perseverance toward a common goal.

Success Factors, Inc. has an arsenal of tools to help companies with this critical interplay and in turn, be more successful. We can help you and your employees assess where you fall on the Big 3 Success Factors, and then guide you through a plan to reach your vision, engage employees with your passion and persevere through any setbacks you encounter. Learn more here or call us at 425-485-3221.