Hiring Millennials

Thanks to NeoMam Studios and Adecco for the infographic. Big data is not something that my clients worry about, but then not many of them are Fortune 500 (and I’m okay with that). However being web-savvy, mobile friendly, and having a culture you can promote do work.

Pay special attention if you have an aging workforce.



When I was a wet-behind-the-years newly-minted lieutenant in the Canadian Signals, I had the privilege of being mentored by an experienced Sergeant. One of the things she showed me was her two backpacks. She had two complete sets of personal equipment. One was for winter deployments, and one for summer weather. If you’ve ever been to Saskatchewan in February (at -40ºC and arctic winds) or July (at +40ºC and mosquitoes) you’ll understand that packing for these two different seasons are two very different tasks.

A laminated card was zip-tied to each pack. It listed what each pack contained. When she returned from an exercise she would re-pack it using the checklist and stow it in her closet ready to go for next time. Her gear was now packed and ready to go if there was an emergency and she was called-out on short notice.

If anything was missing or needed to be packed at the last minute (like energy bars or fresh batteries for her flash-light) she wrote them on the card using a grease-pencil. Developed over several years of experience, they contained everything she needed and nothing more. I wasn’t as connected with the Quartermaster as she was, so I never had two packs, but I did steal the idea of  self-updating checklists from her.

I’m a big fan of checklists. Pilots use them, as do surgeons and home inspectors. We all hope nobody forgets to do something they’re supposed to in these jobs. Especially if we’re the passenger, patient, or home-buyer.

I have many checklists for my different recurring tasks in my life. I have checklists for a weekend in the trailer, going to the rifle range, packing for Scout camp, starting my motorcycle,  or going kayaking. Over the years I’ve kept them in notebooks, in spreadsheets, and now I keep them on phone. When I forget something I add it to the checklist for next time. When I find I didn’t use or need something I drop it to the bottom in the “optional” section of the list or off the list. These lists are living, evolving tools that change over time.

At work or in the office I have checklists for running a meeting, going on a business trip, writing a monthly report, and making a presentation. That way I can focus on the content of the meeting, report, or presentation instead of what I might have forgotten. Like did I book the meeting room or not? I can make changes and incorporate lessons learned into each afterward, so I don’t forget the same thing twice. For example, on the presentation and report lists my last item is always spell-checking and proof-reading.

Over time I’ve learned what things I absolutely have to do, what I could do (the “optional” part of the list), and just as importantly what I can do without. Who wants to carry stuff around on a back-packing trip that you never use? There are exceptions like the first aid kit. I hope I don’t have to use it, but I take it along anyway. It has its own checklist.

I suspect everybody has some recurring tasks in their life. If you don’t already you may want to consider starting a set of checklists for yourself.

Mistakes Unhappy People Make

Lolly Daskal lists ten mistakes unhappy people make every day. I’ve been guilty of all of these at one time or another, but especially #8 Spending time with negative people and #9 Perfectionism (an effort to control something, anything, when I couldn’t affect the things that really mattered.) I’m better now.

If You Can’t Describe It, You Don’t Understand It

If you can't describe it, you don' t know it

If you can’t describe it, you don’ t know it

If you can’t describe what you are doing as a process, you don’t know what you are doing.”

– W. Edwards Deming

New Measurement Every Time

The only man I know who behaves sensibly is my tailor; he takes my measurements anew each time he sees me. The rest go on with their old measurements and expect me to fit them.”

– George Bernard Shaw

A sensible man

A sensible man

Setting Goals that Get Done #2

Child pulling down grandfather's hat

If you can see it, you can do it

Part Two of  Series that begins with Setting Your Intent and Deciding What You’re Not Going To Do

Visualize Your Goal

The part of your brain that makes decisions and drives all human behaviour has no capacity for language. So, if you want to motivate somebody, including yourself, you could literally draw a picture. Tell a story. Use concrete language. Have a tangible outcome.

Use all your senses. Imagine success. See, hear, feel, taste, and touch it, as if it is real to us already. When we know what success looks like, our brains starts filling in what we need to do to get there. Athletes have used mental rehearsal for years, and the performance improvement they get from visualization is almost as great as actually physically practicing.

This is where setting SMART goals get it right, mostly. The “S” in SMART stands for specific. But you can set very specific but intangible goals. Like (and I wish I was making this up, but I hear this all the time when coaching executive teams) “Increase EBITDA by 10%”.

Would everybody in a company be able to get excited about this? Would they even understood what it means? It’s certainly specific enough, but it doesn’t say anything about the why or the how, which are also important.

Here’s a personal example. When I was trying to quit smoking for the 99th time, what finally got me over the motivation barrier was imagining going for a hike in the Rockie Mountains with my grand-children. I don’t have any grandchildren yet, but I a) wanted to be around if and when they do show up, and 2) wanted to be able to carry them, not an oxygen tank. I can see the picture in my head. I can even show you on the map which trails I’d like to take them on first.

So maybe don’t get trapped by being specific about the amount of profit (or growth, or weight you’re going to lose). Instead fixate on what the specific outcome will allow you to do. If you can draw a picture, then you’re there.


Approximately right is better

Approximately right is better

Approximately right is better

When dealing with numerical data, approximately right is better than precisely wrong.”

– Carl G. Thor

What Gets Measured, Gets Done

What gets measured gets done, what gets measured and fed back gets done well, what gets rewarded gets repeated.”

– John E. Jones

What Gets Measured

What Gets Measured

It’s the Daily Grind

Any idiot can face a crisis

Any idiot can face a crisis

“Any idiot can face a crisis – its day to day living that wears you out.”

Setting Goals that Get Done #1

If you give people too many options, they won't take any

If you give people too many options, they won’t take any

In 1995, Professor Iyengar  set up a booth of samples of jams in a grocery store. Every few hours, he switched from offering 24 different jams to a group of six jams. More people stopped at the large display, but more people bought from the small display (12 an hour versus 2 an hour.) The original study concluded that  too many choices leads to “decision paralysis“.

So What?

Having a clear outcome in mind when you’re starting a new project (business, plan, meeting, exercise program) is one of the things you can do to give it a better chance of success. Having too many “objectives” on your list is worse than having none.

Having a few clear and concrete desired outcomes, or even just one, is best. Otherwise you end up like a mosquito at a nudist colony. Too many choices and you end up buzzing around, never landing.

Keep it simple and inspiring. Getting yourself or a group of people – even dedicated, intelligent, hard-working people – is difficult. Adding unclear or many outcomes does not help. “Stretch goals” do not help, unless you / they have a history of consistently setting and executing goals successfully already. 

Or you end up the bottle neck, making all the decisions, because nobody else knows what’s going on or what you want. You need a simple, inspiring vision that people can understand and buy into, and that you can communicate often and clearly.

Set Your Intent

Big or small, defining the outcome gives you a better chance of success. It makes it easier to plan, track, and execute, and burns far less time and energy. There is not point in climbing the ladder faster than anybody else if it’s leaning against the wrong wall.

This sounds overly simplistic, but it’s amazing how often there’s a vigorous debate amongst a client’s leadership team when I ask the question “What’s the definition of success?” or “What outcome are we looking for?”

This means you will also need to

Decide What You’re Not Going To Do

You can’t do everything. You certainly can’t do everything at once. So make a decision. What are you really good at? What do you (or your company) really love doing? Where is the biggest opportunity to apply that competency? Why do you really (no, really) want this?

If you haven’t made these kinds of choices before – if you haven’t had to choose what not to do – this can be exhausting and very uncomfortable, emotionally and physically. I promise it’s worth it.

Next: Visualize the Finish Line