Communication, Leadership, and Writing Your Own User Manual

Unfortunately, newborn children and team members don’t come with a set of instructions.  But here’s your chance to write your own “user’s manual.”  Creating your own set of instructions for yourself can be a great way to build stronger relationships in your organization.  It’s a technique we use at Performance Strategies Groupin which two or more people jot complete a series of sentences to identify ways to better coach and be coached, allowing team members to create a common baseline for behavioral and cultural dialogue.

This tool may be particularly useful to do so when new team members join an organization, enabling the parties participating in the exercise to accelerate an understanding about what is important to each of them.   Often, we employ this exercise to compliment our use of several behavioral profiles we use in leadership and teambuilding exercises and become the foundation for creating a coaching culture.  With that understanding, please complete the following sentences with the realization there may be one or more ideas that come to mind.  Try to identify the two or three things that are most important to you, rather than list all your possible responses.

  1. If you want to motivate or energize me, you should…
  2. If you want to frustrate or demotivate me, you should…
  3. I give you permission to….
  4. If I have done something well please…
  5. If my productivity, accuracy, or some other performance measure by which I am gaged falls short, you should…
  6. I would prefer…
  7. I like a work environment in which….
  8. It is difficult for me to…
  9. It is really important for me to…
  10. Conflict is…
  11. As I understand them my primary responsibilities by which my performance will be measured includes…
  12. I need help when…
  13. I get upset when…
  14. I am the kind of employee/manager who values…
  15. I think our organizational culture values…
  16. When I am under stress I tend to…
  17. I feel devalued when…
  18. I feel valued when…
  19. When our organization is undergoing change in policies, people, or processes, I would appreciate
  20. I am not sure who is responsible for…
  21. I am at my best when…

Keep in mind this is only a brief list of statements, not a comprehensive one.  When discussing your responses with someone else in your organization, you will likely find yourself adding to the list.  You should feel free to do so and revisit this dialogue regularly.

If you’d like more information about how Performance Strategies Group can help you and your organization improve your communication, sales and leadership skills, or with our strategic planning process, contact principal consultant, Jim Owens at


Performance Matters: Productivity and Doing Things Differently

Last week, we discussed how doing things the two or three thingswe need to do every day to move the dialtoward our goals is essential to improving our productivity.  To put it another way, if you think everything is important then nothing is important.  And if we live that way, we will never get the things accomplished we know we should.  We’ll be distracted, unfocused and living out the myth that multi-tasking actually being productive.  Prioritizing our tasks in the context of the “big three” (most important tasks) every day can be a way of doing things differently, which is what we want today.

Whether you’re a business owner, a corporate executive, or a sales person, discovering different ways to do things can make you—and your team—far more productive.  Here are a few examples.

Let’s say you have a team to lead.  Every week you probably have a meeting with them—which means you’ve taken your team away from fulfilling their responsibilities.  So you’d better have them leave knowing something that will help them be more effective.  So before you plan your next meeting, ask yourself, “What will my team or I leave with that will help them be more productive(lower risk, improve customer service, increase revenue)? Even better, challenge your teambefore the meeting to come with their own ideas about how to do so.  This will be uncomfortable for a bit, but do it anyway.  And by all means, place a time limiton your meetings and honor it.  This will insure you talk about what’s most importantand not get lost in the fog of distraction.

If you’re a salesperson, your biggest challenge may be getting in front of your prospects.  Chances are, you’re using email a lot to connect with them. But email is so easy to ignore. Sure, telephone calls can be screened, but using it seems like an almost lost art for many sales people.  So rather than use email, dial the phone.  Develop a concise scriptfor what you want to say, master it and then dial the phone.  And be sure to know how you will respond when someone tells you, “I’m happy with my current provider,” “I’m busy,” or “I’m not interested.”  And if you leave voice mails, simply say, “This is Mike Morris (or Jane, or whatever your name is!) please give me a call.”  That’s it. If people don’t know you, and you don’t over-disclose the purpose of your call, you will separate yourself from your competition, leaving the prospect curious about why you’re calling.  And you’ll be surprised about about who returns your calls.  You can always call back and leave a more detailed message.  We will talk about that next week.

The key message here is to look for things in your process and planning that aren’t working,or aren’t working as well as you believe they might.  So look for different ways to accomplish the same goals. Don’t keep doing the same thing over and over again.    Isn’t that what Einstein said was the definition of in insanity?

If you’ve found this information useful, encouraging or might see a way we can improve it, please let us know.  And if you thought it was encouraging, forward it to a friend so they can subscribe. If you want to find out more about how Performance Strategies Group helps organizations sharpen their sales skills and processes, builds more self-aware and resilient leaders, or equip more productive teams, find us online at, or call Principal Consultant, Jim Owens @ 256-426-0305.



Performance Matters: Jalen Hurts and Preparing for your “moment”

We’ve probably all dreamed about it…being the hero, I mean.  Whether it’s stepping in to a dangerous situation and saving someone’s life, leading a company out of a crisis, or scoring the game-winning touchdown, these fantasies do indeed, for some people, come true.  Such was the case a few weeks ago when Jalen Hurts, who had led The University of Alabama to a 24-2 record as a starting quarterback only to be benched last season and become Tua Tagovailoa’s backup this season.

For many a professional, the frustration and embarrassment of such a situation might have led us to disengage, maybe even look for another job.  But not Jalen Hurts.  He just kept his own counsel and quietly continued to work on mastering his craft, paying attention to the small details of his footwork and ability to look downfield for open receivers.  I

In short, Jalen Hurts was preparing for his moment.”

And when that moment arrived, late in the SEC Championship, he was ready and led his team to a comeback win over The University of Georgia. As leaders, sales-people, and teammates, we can all learn a lot from Jalen Hurts. When we are tired, frustrated, and maybe people are telling us we should quit, perhaps that’s the best time to focus on our craft, building our expertise, and demonstrating we have something to contribute. We can prepare a little more for that meeting, that sales call, or that difficult conversation we need to have with someone.  We can get ready for our own moment.

Preparation is not only a key to our performance, it’s a great way to lower our stress.  So when our moment comes, we know we will be ready to make our dreams come true.

And from all of us at Performance Strategies Group, we wish you holidays full of time well-spent with family and friends, laughter, good health, and a little bit of the joyful chaos of the season. 



If you’ve found this information useful, encouraging or might see a way we can improve it, please let us know.  And if you thought it was encouraging, forward it to a friend so they can subscribe. If you want to find out more about how Performance Strategies Group helps organizations sharpen their sales skills and processes, builds more self-aware and resilient leaders, or equip more productive teams, find us online at, or call Principal Consultant, Jim Owens @ 256-426-0305.



Transformational Leadership,Social Networking, and Getting the Best from Your Team

Here’s the second edition of PSG’s blog…let us know if this content is useful to you! And if it is, share it with a friend or two and invite them to subscribe. Now, down to business!

Leadership—Transformational Leadership
I once worked with a man who asked me, “Why don’t people like me?” Despite the fact he’d been enormously successful in his career, he felt like he wasn’t getting the best from his team. This was a man for whom I had great respect. So I was surprised by the question. My response was simple. “It isn’t that people don’t like you,” I said. “They don’t know you.”

He had a penchant for leading with reports, always focusing on “the numbers.” He never really seemed interested in a relationship with the people on his team. He didn’t ask about their families, their weekend adventures, or even their professional hopes and dreams. His style was what has been termed, transactional leadership. Now, there’s a place for that kind of leadership. Leaders have the responsibility of making sure people are executing their duties effectively. In that, they are winning their team member’s minds. But what about winning hearts?

To win the heart of a team member, what might be called transformational leadership, requires us to invest in a relationship with him or her. We have to work to build what I call relationship equity, meaning we have to know our team members, not just know about them. Sometimes, we have to be willing to be vulnerable about a problem we are trying to solve at work. Sometimes it means we ask someone what obstacles are in the way of their performance. It means we know their their hobbies, travel, trials, and enough about their families for them to believe we are invested in the relationship beyond just getting them to do their job well. If that’s difficult for you, just try this approach with one team member with whom you have some semblances of a relationship. Try to improve that one and then move on to others.

Sales—Getting More Appointments
Chances are you run in to people you’d like to meet at coffee shops, parties, community events, and lots of other places. Many of us, however, fail to recognize the value of these happenstance meetings as an opportunity to actually make an appointment. At best, we’ll say, “We need to get together soon.” Then we’ll return to our office and hope we remember to follow up. But there’s a better way!

Why not ask, “You know, I’ve been meaning to call you for us to catch up. Can we put something on our calendar right now?” Since most people use a digital calendar or carry one with them, that’s the most efficient way for your social networking efforts to pay immediate dividends. With this strategy, you don’t have to hope to catch someone on the phone or get them to reply to an email. And if it’s someone you’ve just met, simply ask for a business card and for permission to follow up with them later that day or the next morning. The longer you wait to contact them the less likely you are to get the appointment. If you’re wise enough to leave sufficient time between appointments and meetings, make that call or send that email when you get back in your car—before you put the car in drive!

Teamwork—Getting the Best from Everyone in a Meeting
Much of the research regarding group communication indicates the willingness of group members to share their thoughts, offer important insights based on their experiences, or dissent from “groupthink” is affected by both the facilitator’s style, and each member’s own cognitive tendencies, gender, and race. If you want to get the best thinking from your group, there are a few things you should know.

First, and this is fairly obvious, more introverted group members will be more likely to remain quiet during your meetings. Second, gender plays a subtle but significant role. Women in male dominated groups will often hesitate to speak up. Finally, minorities will do the same when they participate in non-minority dominated groups. Of course, there are always clear exceptions to these tendencies. But facilitator/leaders in these groups need to be aware of them. So what can you do?

Be sure to invite the opinions of these team members. The simple act of asking, “Let’s see what Jane (or any other member of your group) thinks” validates their membership in the group and allows them the platform to offer their perspective. If one member of the group has dominated your meetings in the past, open your next meeting with “Today, I’d like to make sure we get everyone’s perspective on this matter, so I may redirect some of our conversation to make sure we get the benefit of everyone’s thoughts.” Doing so sets the expectation that you might interrupt someone who is prone to speak up and who, perhaps, doesn’t realize his or her impact on the meeting.

If you want to find out more about how Performance Strategies Group helps organizations sharpen their sales skills and processes, builds more self-aware and resilient leaders, or equip more productive teams, find us online at, or call Jim Owens @ 256-426-0305


Performance Matters: Herding Cats, Prospects,and Better Meetings

Welcome to our first PSG Blog Post!

…and since everybody’s busy we’ve been careful to curate information that you can put into action in your role as a leader, professional sales-advisor, and as a team member,rather than publish an ad disguised as something else.


LeadershipHerding Cats

We want the people we lead to all go in the same direction, but that’s difficult to achieve…like herding cats.  Every leaders wants people to buy-in, right?But they won’t buy in until they get to weigh-inAre you struggling to get your team to committo execute on a strategy you’ve developed?  Maybe it’s because they haven’t had the chance to weigh-in. The absence of that opportunity adversely impacts employee retention, performance, and attitude. If you’re having trouble getting your team committed, the good news is it’s usually simple to find out why.  You just have to ask them, “What is it that seems to be in the way of getting our team committed to this strategy?”  If that’s not something they’re accustomed to being asked approach the boldest, most confident member of your team.  If he or she is generally a high performer, you can bet they have been approached by your competitors in an attempt to hire them away.  So getting them more committed is essential.  Once you’ve asked the question, just keep your mouth shut. Don’t try to explain.  There’s time for that later, if necessary.  (At some, point if all you do is listen and never act on what people express as concerns, we have another challenge to discuss.)


SalesProspecting and Centers of Influence

Need more prospects?  Well, maybe.   But what if you could just improve your closing ratio(number of sales/number of proposals you make)?  Wouldn’t that be simpler?  Prior to your next proposal, ask your centers of influence what they know about the decision-making style of your prospect. Better yet, when they referyou to someone, ask them if they have any information on how they have made decisions about your product or service in the past.  Some buyers are highly analytical.  They want facts and figures and may take a long time to make a decision.  Others will want to focus on the bottom line and focus on results. And they will make decisions quickly and may not give you a chance to clarify or modify your proposal.  How you present your proposal to those different stylesis critical to your success.  So learn all you can from centers of influence who can help you close on a trust-based relationship that benefits you and the buyer.


TeamworkLeading Better Meetings

Meetings: we all love to hate them.  But if you’re participating in a group or leading one there are a few ways to make them better.  Of course, you should have an agenda,but what else?  First, arrange your discussions around topics, rather than around individuals.  Nothing is worse than having to sit through (and try to look engaged) meetings during which two people are having a conversation while everyone else waits there turn.  Which leads us to our second point.  Only include people in your meeting who must be present(or want to be for some reason).  Finally, rather than ask “does anyone have questions?” before ending your meeting, ask them “What do you need to do next based on what we’ve discussed today?  Go around the table and ask everyone to commit to taking action.  When people leave a meeting without knowing “what comes next” then you’ve accomplished very little with your meeting.


If you’ve found this information useful, encouraging or might see a way we can improve it, please let us know.  And if you thought it was encouraging, forward it to a friend so they can subscribe.  If you want to find out more about how Performance Strategies Group helps organizations sharpen their sales skills and processes, builds more self-aware and resilient leaders, or equip more productive teams, find us online at, or call Principle Consultant, Jim Owens @ 256-426-0305