Looking Back, What Did 2018 Tell You?

By Jay Forte

Another year comes to a close. As with anything that we call the past, it has lessons to share.

I find that this time of year invites us to be reflective. If we can carve a few minutes out of the noise and busyness of the holidays, shopping and festivities, we could learn from our past to be ready to make wise decisions about our future.

Here are two great questions to ask yourself that are worthy of review at this time of year.

When looking back at the past year, what worked that I should probably do more of?

Our habit is to be more tuned into our failures than our successes. But your successes have a lot of information for you if you make the time and effort to notice them. As you look at 2018, what were your successes and victories – large and small? What improvements, growth and opportunities happened – and why? What do these events tell you about you – your attitude, your strengths, your dreams or even your goals? What do these events tell you about who you are and who you are becoming?

You are amazing at some things. Know these things and do more of them. You are passionate and inspired by some things. I imagine your successes were in these areas. Know them so you do more of them.

When looking back at 2018, what didn’t work that needs improvement for 2019?

Our challenges and failures – the job you didn’t get, the relationship that failed, the out of control finances, the poor eating habits – are all just information. You made decisions that resulted in these outcomes. Notice what didn’t work and ask why. This will give you great information to consider what you could do to make improvement(s). No need to waste any energy feeling upset or sorry for yourself. You made some decisions or had some events that didn’t work out. Simply notice that they need improving and use your energy to notice them, understand them and to come up with the first few steps to make a change. Know them so you can improve them.

Both successes and failures are life lessons. Successes teach you how to celebrate and remind you of your strengths, abilities and capabilities. Challenges and failures remind you of the areas that need improvement and greater attention. That’s it – it’s just information. But you can’t learn from these to make a better 2019 if you don’t make the time to review and reflect on what lessons 2018 has for you.

So, as you approach the end of the year, commit to making time to let 2018 speak to you. It has lessons for you. Learn the lessons – do more of what works and improve what doesn’t work – only you can do this for you. And when you do this, you will have a more amazing 2019.

Take Action
We learn how to celebrate and continue through our successes, or we learn how to improve from our failures or challenges. Either way, it is just life doing what life does – constantly giving us the ability to be better tomorrow than we were today.

Take five minutes today to think about the past year. What worked? What didn’t work?

 

Consider reading You Can’t Improve on Something You Don’t Measure

Return to the Blog

What’s Your Red Nose?

By Kristin Allaben

There’s been a lot of talk about the Christmas classic “Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer,” specifically about how he was bullied and how there are bad messages for kids in the movie.

But quite frankly, I think it is a powerful story that teaches us that many times, others don’t understand, support or appreciate what makes us different, unique and amazing. Their comments come from the constant pressure that we should all look, act and think alike, instead of discovering, developing and using our true abilities.

Think about it. Christmas was going to be canceled because of the bad winter storm, but Rudolph’s vibrant red nose was just the right amount of light to guide the sleigh.

Imagine if you hid your unique attributes — the things that you, for some reason, believe others won’t appreciate. What could come from sharing that with the world? How might your ownership of who you really are bring something remarkable to your world, your life and the people in it?

Prompted by watching Rudolph this year with my kids, I asked myself this question and held myself accountable to be honest. Turns out, my unique attribute that I often try to hide or tone down is my need to organize. People love to point out how organized I am (in both a loving and not-so-loving-or-appreciative way) and I realized I started to diminish it or even apologize for it. I stopped organizing family events, parties and outings. I didn’t want to be seen as being a micro-manager, obsessed about seeing things done a specific way, so I stepped away from it, convinced by the comments of others that something was wrong with me.

And you know what I realized? It made me miserable and it made others around me confused and unsettled. Being organized — and keeping things around me organized — is my red nose. People didn’t realize how much they needed my organization until it wasn’t there, or until a big event required a unique approach to managing every element. In fact, a family member once said, “Thank God you’re here! We can’t get this game started without someone to take charge.” And in a previous role, one of my managers referred to me as the person who “keeps the trains running on time.”

We each come equipped with great gifts and abilities that are part of who we are. Don’t cover the brightness of what makes you great, even if others don’t understand or support it. Go be you.

Take Action
Take 5 minutes to ask yourself about your red nose. What is the one attribute that makes you uniquely you that you feel like you need to hide or diminish? Why? How different would you — and your world — be if you were truer to yourself and less concerned with what others think and say?

 

Consider reading Your Personal Board of Directors

Return to the Blog

Stop Promoting the Wrong People into Management Roles

By Jay Forte

You have a great employee. So great, in fact, that you are afraid you will lose her if you don’t promote her. So, you promote her. And she fails in her new managerial role. Why? Because being great at her current job doesn’t mean she will be great as a manager.

This isn’t a one-off example. According to the Gallup Organization, companies fail to choose the candidate with the right talents for management positions 82% of the time. They let old ways of advancing employees override a wiser and more results-focused approach. Think of all the resources mismanaged in this situation and think of the unintended consequences of putting the wrong person into a managerial role: employee disengagement, low morale, workplace drama and the inevitable turnover.

Today’s workplace success comes from talent alignment. Since most of our jobs are thinking jobs, we must know the brain of the job to know whether those we want to advance or promote to the job have a similar brain. People excel in roles that need what they do and like best.

But so many organizations continue to believe in promoting from within without using a sound and intentional review process to assess the existing employee’s attribute alignment to those needed in the new role. Having a clear process that is used for both new hires and internal promotions can help you both get the right people in the right jobs and build a workplace cultural value of alignment as the key to performance success. Promoting with inadequate assessment of fit and alignment is the key to disengagement and poor performance.

To be able to make wise promotion and advancement decisions, consider the following.

  1. Create a clear performance profile for all management roles. Clearly define the tasks of the roles as well as the attributes (the strengths, skills, experience and education) needed to be successful doing the defined tasks. Be clear of what is required to be successful in the role. Don’t deviate.
  2. Build and use your interview process to accurately assess the abilities of any candidate, both internal or external, new or promotion. Hold every candidate accountable to demonstrate the required strengths and skills as these are what it takes to be successful in the role.
  3. Be honest with employees about why a role is or isn’t for them. Being upfront shares that your hiring process is designed to create role alignment and is committed to getting the right person for the right job for the success of the employee and the organization.
  4. Help the employee who does not get the management role develop a meaningful development plan (including new value-add tasks) that better aligns to her core strengths that she finds both engaging and important.

So many times we automatically promote employees based on either time with the organization or success in their current role. The failure comes by promoting them from a high-performance area to an area that may be out of their core strengths. Both the employee and the organization then suffer.

Change the mindset by showing that alignment matters most, whether that means bringing in new talent or promoting existing talent. Rethink how employees can stay in their high-performance areas, continue to add value and see a career path in your organization. This is the new way to engage employees.

Take Action
Consider a new manager job opening at your company. Do you have an internal candidate in mind? Why? Take the time to really understand the role and its success attributes, then interview your employee the way you would interview an external candidate. The goal of the interview is to assess whether the employee has what it takes to do this new role. Do this to set them up for success.

Need help with this? Contact us to learn how we help companies hire and promote the right people to the right jobs.

 

Consider reading Are You Rigid or Flexible? 

Return to the Blog

What Pasta Can Teach You About Having a Great Life in 2019

By Jay Forte

My family is Italian. In an Italian house, all good life lessons involve food. Here is one…

Life is like pasta because no matter how you serve it, it is always good. But with a little information about the shape of the pasta (what makes it unique) and the sauce that fits it, it can change the dish from good to great. This requires a quick pasta lesson.

Pasta is a “carrier” – the shape of the pasta is used to deliver, appreciate and celebrate its sauce. There are nine types of pasta – short/long, smooth/lined, flat/round, straight/cupped, or filled. Pasta – good. Pasta with the right sauce – great.

Consider:

  • Chunky sauces (think marinara, Bolognese, vegetable or meat sauces) require pasta with lines, edges and short lengths so they can carry the chunky sauce with each bite.
  • Oil or butter sauces (think pesto, garlic and oil, cheese and butter) require smooth or filled pasta of any length or size because they just need to be evenly coated and light to allow the taste of the filling to shine through.
  • Cheesy sauces (think alfredo, béchamel or any creamy sauce) require shorter pasta with large openings, curves or scoops to bring more of the sauce with each bite.

Think about the American favorite – spaghetti with meat sauce. A meat or tomato sauce does not stick to a slick, long and thin, slippery pasta. The result is when you finish the pasta, the sauce is still in the bowl. Unforgivable for an Italian! Instead, if you love meat or tomato sauce, use a lined ziti, penne, mostaccioli or rigatoni – you’ll enjoy the sauce and the pasta together. With this little bit of information, we can now better match the sauce with the pasta and go from good to great.

It is the same in life. To set the stage for a great and happy life in 2019, remember that we are each like a shape of pasta – we are unique in our personal combination of talents, interests and values. This combination works great in some places and not so well in others. When we know ourselves and connect ourselves to the places in work and life that fit us, we are like pasta connecting to the rights sauce – things move from good to great. When we align ourselves to what we do and like best, we become more capable, competent and confident. We have found our “thing.” We feel more successful and happier. Everything is better.

The more you know and appreciate what makes you unique, the more I am reminded of what my mother told us as she taught my five siblings and me how to cook, “When you know your ingredients, you can always make something great.”

Know your ingredients – your talents, strengths and passions – then select the things in life that need your amazing (and unique) ingredients. This is how to go from good to great in the kitchen, and how to have a great and happy life in 2019 and beyond.

One of my favorite pasta recipes: Ziti with Spinach and Olives

In a large sauté pan, sauté a finally chopped onion, pancetta (or smoky bacon) and crushed red pepper in olive oil. When cooked, add black and green olives (I’m Italian – I don’t measure things; we go by look and feel. Add as many olives as you like). In a separate pot, cook ziti (smooth, no lines; this is an oil-based sauce). Drain ziti and add to it to the pan with onion, pancetta and olives, and return it to the (low) heat. Add a small handful of fresh gently-chopped spinach for each person being served and stir until the spinach is wilted and the ingredients are blended. Pour into a large warmed pasta bowl to be set in the middle of the table. Top with fresh ground black pepper and freshly-grated parmesan cheese.

Total time – about 12 minutes.

Swap out the spinach for swiss chard, beet greens, arugula, kale or whatever is fresh. Serve with a salad.

Tutti a tavola!

 

Consider reading Embrace Your Face

Return to the Blog

3 Questions to Ask Yourself to Have a Great 2019

By Jay Forte

A new year is just ahead. The best way to continue your successes, or make important changes, is to reflect on 2018 and to use its lessons to see and do things differently in 2019.

I personally find the best way to reflect on most things is by asking questions. Questions guide you to explore and investigate, both of which are important to give you the information you need to determine your direction and plan for a new and great year.

Here are three questions I spend time with at the start of the new year that help me develop greater clarity and a plan to make the most of my time, effort, energy and impact.

1. What are my strengths?

We each come equipped with unique and amazing abilities. These abilities help us to be great at some things and not great at others. Having a successful year requires that I know and lead with my strengths. This knowledge helps me identify the areas in work and life that need what I am best at – I feel capable, confident and competent. Without this information, I may find myself in areas I struggle in, which leads to disengagement, disappointment and frustration – not the way to have a great 2019. Discover, develop and live your strengths in 2019.

2. What is a good day for me?

Each day, we get a blank canvas to add to it in a way that matters to us. We own our choices. Taking the time to reflect on what a good day is for me prepares me; I know what makes a good day for me so I can intentionally look to achieve it. Without this information, I move through life with less intention and therefore don’t make the things happen that really matter to me. Notice the language there as it means I take accountability for having a good day. I work to make good things happen for me, on purpose. Only you know what makes a good day for you; work with intention to make it happen, resulting in a better 2019. Define what makes a good day for you and build a plan to have it.

3. How can I make a difference?

I believe we are here to do more than just show up each day. We are not here just for ourselves; we each have a higher purpose – a requirement to know ourselves and to bring our best to our world to make a difference. Our uniqueness is what enables each of us to contribute something that only we can contribute, and by its contribution, we make our world better. It may be in how we teach, coach or parent. It may be in our ideas or thinking. It may be in our empathy and in the quality of our relationships. It is ours to discover and to live. Reflect on what difference you are here to make in 2019.

A new year is a great time for reflection, and questions are a good way to start the thinking and reflection process. Having a plan helps you navigate the speed and amount of daily change.

Be aware of what you want for yourself as you approach a new year. You are your life’s owner – you have the ability and responsibility to define what you want and the abilities to go get it.

Take action
How will you use these three questions to prepare for – and have – a great 2019?

 

Consider reading Want to Change the World? Engage a Coach.

Return to the Blog

Move Learning Off the Back Burner

By Jay Forte

What employees really want and need in the workplace is the ability to learn and grow. However, this doesn’t always have to look like formal education. In fact, some of the best learning is done in the moment, on the job and within the conversations between manager and employee.

There was a time when the role of the manager was to control and direct. Issue orders. Tell people what to do. Be responsible for results. That type of strong central manager made sense in a workplace of repetitive tasks, where the manager’s primary role was to drive efficiency and effectiveness.

But over time, manufacturing moved offshore and left us with a service economy, one that requires employees to be more interactive with customers. Managers today are still held accountable for efficiency and effectiveness when it comes to their employees’ output, but the process by which to generate those results is much different. Employees shouldn’t be micromanaged to such a degree that they feel stifled when directed. Instead, to connect wisely with customers, employees need to be guided, developed and coached.

This is why there is such great value in making learning and development a daily event.

Because your employees are the visible brand of your organization (to both customers and fellow employees), they need your constant conversation and development to be effective and adaptable in a constantly changing world. The demands of their jobs are always changing. The needs and wants of customers are always changing. The role of technology is constantly changing the experience. In all of these places, you – the manager – are the key to interacting with your employees to assess their abilities to determine what needs development or realignment. It is your role to assess through dialog, discussion and interaction what’s working and not working with your employees’ performance so you can help them develop a plan to improve.

This is a trend that won’t be going anywhere soon. Millennials (now 50% of today’s workforce) share that what they want and need in their jobs are the following:

  • alignment (connect them to jobs that need what they do and like best)
  • relationships (increase meaningful time with their managers in a supportive and value-based relationship) and
  • development (help them constantly learn, grow and expand their abilities).

Making learning a daily event helps to deliver all three of what employees say they want and need to be engaged and perform.

Think about the learning opportunities you offer to your employees and ask yourself these questions:

  1. What has to change in the way you engage with your employees to increase the frequency and focus on learning and development?
  2. What skills do you need to develop and what self-awareness do you need to have to be able to be a successful manager for your people?
  3. How will working with a coach help you become more successful with your employees – to help them become more engaged, more productive and more successful?

Take Action
Work with a coach to develop your greatest abilities, then transfer the lessons learned in your coaching to act more coach-like with your employees. This will help you make your daily conversations with your employees more focused on learning, growing and developing.

Move learning off the back burner and into your daily conversations.

 

Consider reading Leaders – Seek out, Accept and Act on Feedback

 Return to the Blog

Building Mental Toughness

By Jay Forte

Have any of these happened to you?

  • You worked hard on a report or proposal, but your manager found many errors and omissions.
  • You tried something new and different when you planned the office holiday party, but everyone commented they liked the old approach better.
  • You went through eight interviews for an ideal job, but were not chosen.
  • Your teen screams that she hates you, calls you a terrible parent and slams the door to her room.

There are some events we move right past, mostly unaware of them because things are going in the way we expect or want them to go. But then there are the moments that are difficult, frustrating, aggravating, irritating, challenging and disappointing. This is when we feel life is tough. We feel like a failure.

Failure registers on our internal danger meter; we instinctively react because it’s how our brains are wired.  Our brains are programmed to keep us safe and failure – or the feeling of failure – makes us think we are in danger, real or perceived, physical or emotional.

And when we fail, we sometimes just want to quit or avoid the situation. We feel defeated, helpless, hopeless or just numb. When this happens, we can either give in to our failures or learn to see that failures are common and are learning events. Developing the mental toughness to succeed in and learn from failures is required to make it through life..

Here are several things to develop the mental toughness when you fail.

  1. Stop and notice the failure. You can’t change what you can’t notice, so tune in when you feel helpless, hopeless, defeated or a like failure. Call it for what it is – failure. This creates the ability to deal with it.
  2. Understand it. Why did this failure or situation happen? What didn’t work about what happened? What do you need to learn from it?
  3. Change your thinking about failure. We all have failures. This is how life teaches us things. Learn to see failure as part of the way you navigate your way through life. Work intentionally to be optimistic and positive, even in times of stress or failure.
  4. Create a plan to move forward. Failure is tough once. Suffering through the same failure over and over is painful. Creating a plan to learn from and not repeat the failure teaches you to not to fear failure, but to accept it and use it productively.

We all fail; it is truly part of being human. It also helps us learn to see where our edges are. If we always play it safe by avoiding failures, we’ll never see how amazing and remarkable we actually are. Failure shouldn’t be an enemy; it is a wise teacher. Treating it this way helps us use it to move the needle of our performance to deliver something great.

Take Action

Be [mentally] tough. Be resilient. Keep a journal of your failures. Take the time to understand them, document your recovery or improvement plan and learn from them. With great intention, you can develop improved resilience and mental toughness.

 

Consider reading I Don’t Know is Ok (right now)

 Return to the Blog

Even in Low Unemployment, Great Companies Are Finding Great Talent

By Jay Forte

The unemployment rate across much of the country is 4% or lower. This means it is difficult to find great talent, right?

Wrong.

Consider this: The Gallup Organization has been tracking employee engagement for nearly 20 years. Employee disengagement has hovered at nearly 70% for most of that time, indicating that nearly three-quarters of the people you meet anywhere in work or life are either disengaged or actively disengaged in their jobs. These people are interested in new opportunities, opportunities that give them more than just a pay increase. These people are looking for organizations that are employee-focused, that have managers who act like coaches, have a hiring process that aligns employees to the right roles, that provide employees with the opportunity to learn and grow, and share the value and impact of every role so employees feel – and know – that the work they do matters.

If this is not you, be aware: your people are looking for organizations that offer these things (and that is a discussion for another time).

If this sounds like your organization, you are in great demand.

So, when looking at the unemployment rate, the real challenge is not as much about supply as it is about branding. How can you get the attention of those disengaged employees in other organizations to show them you are different – you are a remarkable place to work because you create an employee experience that amplifies engagement and helps employees succeed?

Create a dynamic workplace and then build a job center on your website that attracts people to see who you are, why you are remarkable and what your current employees say about working for you. This can create a talent pipeline, a constant source of talent who are disengaged in their current roles and could therefore be dynamically engaged in your organization because you offer the things they want and need, things they do not have in their current workplace.

Instead of fixating on the 4% unemployment rate that frequently has you accepting talent that doesn’t fit your roles or your organization (because you feel this is all that is available), focus on creating the kind of workplace that would attract the large number of highly talented and high-performing employees who are disappointed and disengaged in their current situations. Be employee-focused and let the world know it. Build it and they will come.

Take Action
How are you sharing what is unique, amazing and exceptional about your workplace to get the attention of disengaged employees in other organization who could be great in your workplace? Challenge yourself – and your hiring team – to develop ways to better spread the word about who you are and what you do, and why every employee does work that matters.

 

Consider reading Stop Managing and Start Coaching 

Return to the Blog

Living Life On Purpose

By Jay Forte

Most of us move through life too quickly. We rush from one event to another, barely aware of being part of them. We fall into bed at night, remembering very little of what happened during the day. Not only do we not remember our moments, but we didn’t use them to celebrate our successes or learn from our challenges. We actually miss out on our lives.

We don’t do this on purpose. And that is the problem: we don’t do a lot “on purpose.” Most of what we do, we do out of habit. The same ride to work. The same coffee in the morning. The same food for dinner. Same old, same old. Not that doing something over and over is a bad thing, it is just that when we allow ourselves to mindlessly go through life, we miss out on really experiencing what our world – and our unique lives – can offer.

So how do you start to live more purposely and intentionally? Here are three ways to start.

  1. Take a walk down memory lane. Our memories, when we take the time to make them and revisit them, give us a deeper connection to our lives. We reconnect to who we are and what we experience. We see things more clearly and show up more intentionally.
  2. Slow down instead of speed up. Do fewer things but be more involved in them. Rushing to get things done limits both how effective you are in what you do and the quality of what you experience. Commit to being fully present to where you are and to what you are doing. You will see more, feel more and connect more to your moments.
  3. Listen to your inner voice. Most of us let the outer voices direct us through our lives. Though it is important to have input and information from those in our lives, we each truly know ourselves best. Living life on purpose also means living your life – the one you have and the one you direct. You must learn to hear and trust your inner self – it knows you best. You are accountable for your impact and happiness.

Life is best lived with intention, so do things on purpose. Communicate on purpose. Celebrate on purpose. Learn from your mistakes on purpose. As you tune in with your greatest attention, you learn the lessons of life and participate more fully in each.

Take Action
What is one area of your life that would benefit from approaching it on purpose? Start small but start today. Show up like you mean it and in the process, take note of how everything about life will improve.

 

Consider reading Living Today on Yesterday’s Beliefs

 Return to the Blog

I Don’t Know is Ok (right now)

By Kristin Allaben

At The Forte Factor, we talk a lot about the importance of knowing who you are to discover, develop and leverage your natural strengths, talents and passions to be able to align what you love to do with your world. This alignment can lead to greater happiness, greater fulfillment and a greater life.

It all starts when you see the importance and make the time to intentionally tune in to you and your world. This is how you find your fit.

But what if your best fit doesn’t make sense for you right now? What if your fit requires a time or financial investment you just don’t have? What if it requires a big change your family can’t support right now?

You can learn everything about yourself from the inside and out, recognizing your talents, passions and natural abilities, but that is only part of tuning in to you. You must also understand and recognize what is an idea vs. what is acceptable, especially if you are part of something larger, like a family, a relationship or previous commitment right now. That is a crucial component. You need to be able to accept what could be, and what is. What has to work now, and what is possible for the future.

I strongly believe this is part of understanding who you are because greater knowledge of your strengths and passions should be paired with the knowledge of context, especially of what limitations may exist. This isn’t to say the perfect fit for you will never be, it just means that it might not be right now.

To clarify, I’m not giving you a pass. This is by no means an excuse to just accept what is and wait for something better to come along. Saying I don’t know right now, or I can’t right now is truly being tuned in to your world. It is being realistic. Sometimes not knowing or not being able to make a change is the best it can be at the moment. How can you see this, accept it and still stay focused on better fit things that could be part of your future?

As you’re learning more about yourself, as you’re tuning in and listening to you and your world, remember to also listen to your inner voice, listen to what is, listen to what is true. Then tune in to the world to be fully present to what is going on. With this awareness, ask yourself what else could happen in the next moment to bring you closer to what fits you.

Sometimes not knowing what to do is just a way that shares with you that more information is needed. Use that message to dig deeper into your understanding of yourself and your world. Perhaps a different focus or different direction would suit you better.

Take Action

If you had the opportunity to take a big step toward better alignment with your passions and strengths in today’s world, would you do it? What would give you pause? What needs to happen to make your perfect fit your reality? What does the “right now” look like for you to say I know?

 

Consider reading Go Center Yourself

Return to the Blog

1 2 3 12