The sky is blue. No, it’s not…it’s yellow. This technology is going to skyrocket our sales! No, it’s not…it’ll never work.

 

Do you have a skeptic on your team? A contrarian? Someone who feels the need to argue every point, question every decision, debate every issue, challenge every change, or do/say the exact opposite both in private conversations and in larger team meetings? Not only can a single skeptic shift the energy, morale, and culture of a team, but it can be downright exhausting for the leader to engage in these battles over and over again. A big part of being an effective leader today is creating psychological safety and a trusting environment where people feel safe to share their thoughts and opinions, and are encouraged to challenge the status quo in the name of growth and innovation. A team will never get to the next level if it is filled with all compliant, “yes” people.

However, not all “push back” is created equal. You also need to take into consideration “how” you do it, “where” you do it, and “when” you do it. There is a way to respectfully elevate or advance a conversation by asking powerful questions or providing alternative perspectives, but when the timing is wrong or the communication feels aggressive (or passive-aggressive), things can quickly escalate. The train gets derailed. At ON Point we know that successful teams need a good balance of cheerleaders and champions as well as skeptics and cynics to drive results. We also know that some leaders struggle with very outspoken and persistent nay-sayers that seem to stall or sabotage the positive momentum of the team or organization.

Follow the ON Point Action Plan to learn how to manage the skeptic on your team.

7 Ways to Manage the Skeptic on Your Team

  1. Know Thyself – be self-aware & understand if the contrarian personality trait is a trigger for you & how you react to it
  2. Set Expectations – let your team know the rules of engagement & how to have a healthy debate & exchange of ideas
  3. Assign a Role – give your skeptic the job of “poking holes” in a new idea, project or presentation to identify potential objections & obstacles
  4. Open & Shut – be clear about which topics/issues/decisions are open for debate & discussion & which ones are not
  5. Meet Before the Meeting – try to get the buy-in & alignment before the meeting starts by explaining the “why”
  6. Have a Hard Conversation – in a 1:1, be super clear and direct about the behavior you see & what you want to see change
  7. Coach – provide the skeptic with an executive coach or be the coach that helps the person with specific development goals & strategies

Did 2022 turn out the way you expected?

If there is one lesson we have all learned in the last three years it is that … We have no idea what’s around the next corner or what the year will bring.

At ON Point, we are heading into the new year embracing exciting innovation, bigger thinking, higher expectations, enhanced performance excellence, and next level results. We have always had this mindset, but this year feels different.

This year feels like the perfect time to adopt a new mantra and a new mindset. We have a clean slate and are embracing a new beginning. Our mantra is exactly what we do on a daily basis for our clients as executive coaches…THINK. TRAIN. BE.

THINK. Elite athletes focus on the mental game. Altering your mindset can change your entire world. We help clients develop a more positive mindset using positive psychology and other proven strategies. We reframe challenges and find ways to boost optimism, improve wellbeing, and strengthen resiliency. When you know how to master your mindset and build mental toughness, your results will reach the next level.

TRAIN. Championship teams train like a professionals not amateurs.  The best place a premium on practice, applied learning, training and they approach each day like it is game day. It is the best who strive to master their craft as leaders of people and as builders of high performing teams.  They commit to their continuous journey of growth and development, change actions and behaviors, and align with the best coaches.

BE. Top performers operate in “the zone” or “flow”. Finding that level of confidence and inner knowing is leadership nirvana … that allows you to take risks, make decisions, and perform at an even higher level.  This is when you learn to trust your skills, your experience, your expertise, and your judgement to react without doubt or fear of failure.

Like a sports coach, executive coaches help their clients make the best decisions for themselves and those they lead. We level-up our clients in their current roles, while also preparing them for the next role. Our purpose is to develop our clients to THINK TRAIN and BE elite corporate athletes and help them exceed their own expectations and get to the next level.

Forget the turkey, the Macy’s Day Parade, football games, and family traditions – for many, the highlight of last week’s Thanksgiving holiday, were the sales on Black Friday. Not sure when, why, or how the day after a national holiday became synonymous with elbowing your way into Walmart to buy a big screen television, but here we are. This event has evolved into such a consumer tsunami that Black Friday now starts the week before and extends afterwards with the new additions of Cyber Monday and Travel Tuesday. It is all masterfully designed by retailers to boost sales, but did you know that it can also boost your career? Yes, Black Friday as a super-effective career management tool is much more valuable than another tv.

The first Black Friday strategy is about planning. These are the people that plot, plan, prepare, make lists, do market research, set alerts on their phones, assemble a team of highly-trained shopping ninjas, and have very specific items in mind they want to purchase. They know the sale is coming and wait patiently to optimize this cost-savings opportunity…operating with military-like precision. This is about identifying a goal, making a plan, working the plan, and achieving the goal – plus incorporating a double dose of impulse control. Think about how this strategy could help your career. Do you have a goal in mind or a vision for your future? Are you doing your homework and laying the groundwork for a successful outcome? Do you have the laser-focus and discipline needed to optimize professional opportunities?

The second Black Friday strategy is about striking while the iron is hot. These are the people who know a time-sensitive opportunity when they see one; can spot a great deal a mile away; able to process information quickly and snap into action; born with an aversion to getting stuck in analysis paralysis; and are willing to do whatever it takes to win including braving crowds of rabid shoppers and sleeping out all night to be first in line. They know these opportunities will not last and these televisions may never be this cheap again. They are not bogged down with all of the “what ifs” and limiting constraints of perfectionism – is this the “perfect” time, is this the “perfect” tv, “ is this the “perfect” opportunity? They see an opportunity and seize the moment. When it comes to managing your career, think about where you are on the “carpe diem” spectrum. Do you overthink and opt out or do you raise your hand and jump in? Do you question your confidence and convince yourself that you’ll be ready for the next Black Friday sale? What if there is never another Black Friday? Knowing when to strike while the iron is hot is critical to taking your career to the next level.

Follow the ON Point Action Plan to manage your career like a “Black Friday” sale.

7 Ways Black Friday Boosts Your Career

  1. Encourages you to think ahead and plan proactively
  2. Measures where you are the risk-taking spectrum
  3. Challenges your commitment to the goal
  4. Tests your impulse control
  5. Stretches your strategic and creative thinking skills
  6. Rewards effort and hard work
  7. Forces you to have a Plan B

We all know that the “one-size-fits-all” tag on a t-shirt isn’t true, and it isn’t true in the workplace either. Whether you provide a product or service, lead a team or organization, or simply show up at work each and every day – personalization and customization are critical to success. Recycling is important when it comes to paper and plastic, but not when it comes to people. People want to feel seen, heard, validated, valued, special, and unique – not a nameless, faceless, and meaningless number or entity. This is true for everyone…clients, customers, colleagues, employees, managers, friends, and family alike. This is why we respond more positively when our name appears on top of our favorite birthday cake rather than when we receive mail addressed to “Resident.”

The most successful and effective leaders know that each person on the team needs something different. They know how to customize their style and approach to match each individual…how to best communicate, motivate, inspire, have hard conversations, deliver feedback, push, and to connect. Top leaders know it is never a “one-size-fits-all” situation. Some leaders know how to do this naturally and intuitively and already have high Emotional Intelligence (EQ) that enables them to “read the room” very well. However, if this is not a natural strength of yours, don’t worry. EQ is a skill that can be learned, developed and strengthened, and ON Point has administered the Assessment and coached many leaders on how to increase their proficiency in this area. Another incredibly helpful tool when it comes to customization is the DiSC Assessment. Understanding your unique style and approach allows you to then better understand and relate to others using very specific strategies, tips, and techniques.

When it comes to running a business that provides a service, like executive coaching or consulting, customization is the top priority. From a 1:1 coaching engagement and 9-Month Leadership Academies to team coaching, organizational development and keynote presentations, everything is customized – because one size never fits all! Our clients expect us to understand their needs, their goals, and their challenges. They don’t want a recycled or repurposed program…they want something specifically tailored for them. They want customized content, curriculum, success metrics, and deliverables designed just for them. For example, we are coaching sales teams at two different companies. On the surface it may seem like an “apples-to-apples” situation…two sales teams responsible for driving revenue for their respective companies. However, nothing could be further from the truth. These two sales teams could not be more different and, therefore, they require a very different approach, a different focus, and a different program entirely. It’s all about knowing your “audience” and/or client and designing a customized program, presentation, product or service that meets them where they are at and gets them to where they want to go.

7 Benefits of Customization

  1. Strengthens connections and relationships
  2. Increases loyalty and retention
  3. Drives revenue and referrals
  4. Separates you from the competition
  5. Builds trust
  6. Improves performance and results
  7. Enhances marketability
The calendar may say it’s October-fest time, but at ON Point it has been “promotion-fest” time for a long time. So many of our clients are on the rise and have been elevated to exciting executive positions. Whereas a new director, senior director, VP, or C-suite position may be the ambitious professional goal, a dream job for many, it also has its challenges. Climbing the corporate ladder is not easy – it takes a lot of hard work, a little luck, sacrifice, strategy, and careful career planning. Each elevated position requires a different skill set along with a steep learning curve – and that is just to do the day-to-day responsibilities. What about the additional, and often unforeseen or unexpected, obstacles of navigating the complicated dynamics that occur when you shift from a peer to a manager?
Yesterday you were in the trenches with your peers, commiserating or complaining about your manager, grabbing cocktails after work, traveling together to conferences, and sharing secrets, family dramas, and career aspirations. You were peers and sometimes even very close friends, and now you are their manager, their supervisor, their boss. The relationship changes as soon as your title changes. You are now in charge of their performance reviews, will need to provide constructive feedback, have hard conversations, select who gets professional development opportunities, and sometimes even decide who stays and who goes. This is the part of a promotion no one ever prepares for or anticipates – it’s not in the new job description and doesn’t come with a manual.
Follow the ON Point Action Plan to learn how to successfully shift from peer to manager.
  1. Be Aware & Acknowledge – the transition is awkward for everyone & feelings need to be recognized & validated
  2. Meet Up – schedule 1:1 meetings with everyone to have a private conversation
  3. Communicate Clearly – talk about your leadership style, expectations & what will change & what will not
  4. Use Inside Information – take advantage of knowing them so well to leverage their strengths & identify opportunities for growth
  5. Make New Friends – with each new position comes a new peer group; reach out & establish new relationships
  6. Set Boundaries – know where the line is when it comes to sharing information, socializing & behaving in a way that aligns with the new title
  7. Show Confidence – the “imposter syndrome” shows up with a promotion; keep it at bay & bring an extra dose of confidence

It doesn’t matter how old we are, or how many years it has been since we graduated, we all still operate according to the school calendar. Whether you are packing lunches and posting first-day-of-school pictures or returning to work after a long weekend, Labor Day is the official end summer, and it’s time to sharpen our number two pencils and get back to school and back to work. Hopefully the summer months were filled with some adventures, relaxation, and plenty of quality time spent with family and friends. Over the summer, everyone is on a physical or mental vacation…or both. All that changes once the temperature starts to drop and the kids break out the new backpacks, set early morning alarms, and organize their folders for an exciting new year at school. Kids or no kids, everyone has a renewed sense of excitement at this time of year and is ready to re-engage their brains, buckle down, and get back to work.

 

The summer at ON Point was action-packed! Vacations to Iceland, Colorado Rocky Mountains, and Virginia Beach; team development in Ames, Iowa; Top Performer Sales Academy in Chicago; and our annual Signature Leadership Summit was also in Chicago. We went on architectural boat tours in the Windy City, ate an endless amount of food on a stick at the Minnesota State Fair, and visited with family and friends from all over. In addition, our clients were celebrating promotions, new career opportunities, and a variety of rewards and recognitions. Overall, it was a wonderful summer.

 

Just like the kids have a new curriculum and list of school supplies to kick off the new school year, so should professional adults. Time to jump on the back-to-school bandwagon. Follow the ON Point Action Plan to make sure you are going back to work with a bang!

  1. Re-Evaluate & Recommit to Your Daily Routine
  2. Revisit & Refocus on Goals & Strategic Action Plans
  3. Reach Out & Reconnect With Your Network
  4. Organize Your Desk, Phone & To-Do Lists
  5. Get More Engaged Internally & Within Your Industry
  6. Participate in Professional Development
  7. Update Your Brag Book, Resume & LinkedIn Profile

Myth-busting alert! Many believe that if you just put your head down and do a really, really good job, then the floodgates will open up and you will be magically presented with endless opportunities and promotions. Don’t get me wrong, it is important to do a good job – but if you think someone will notice your efforts enough to tap you on the shoulder and catapult your career to the next level, then think again.  Your visibility and internal network are critical to your success and advancement within any organization especially in today’s remote work environment. Invisibility equals dispensability. If your manager doesn’t know or doesn’t have a clear line of sight into what you’re doing, the value you’re bringing, or the goals you are aspiring to achieve, then how is he/she going to be able to promote you?

Yes, a positive relationship with your manager is paramount, but what about the rest of your internal network? It’s easy to build relationships with people you naturally work with on a regular basis, but what about people from other departments, functions, and executive teams? This has been a true ah-ha moment for many of our ON Point clients and for various reasons. Some have hitched their wagon to a single individual and found themselves either let go when that person was fired or on an island completely alone. Others have realized how critical internal visibility is when they applied for a promotion and discovered they didn’t have the support because senior-level decision-makers didn’t know who they were. Success is a team sport that requires allies, advocates, champions, and cheerleaders to get ahead.

Your internal network will make or break your career, but it doesn’t happen by accident. There are a few “natural networkers” out there, but for most people it requires a mindset shift to make it a priority and a strategic action plan to make it a reality.

Follow the ON Point Action Plan to increase your visibility and to build a robust and effective internal network before you need it.

  1. Make a list of people you need to know within your organization
  2. Join special committees, projects, and employee resource groups to develop cross-functional relationships
  3. Pursue a senior-level leader from a different team to be a mentor or sponsor
  4. Reach out to another manager with a shout-out or praise about someone on their team
  5. Be a resource for others by providing information, introductions, or a heads-up
  6. Step up and lead a new initiative from start to finish that aligns with the organization’s goals
  7. Show genuine interest, empathy, and respect for other people, their time and their talents

Should I stay or should I go? Is this the right time to go for a promotion? Does this person deserve to be fired or better served with a PIP? Will my company get the needed ROI from this investment? Am I being too sensitive or is this issue worthy of a hard conversation with my manager? Chocolate or vanilla? Exercise or sleep in? From the minute we wake up to minute we go to sleep, we are in constant decision-making mode – from what to have for breakfast to what to watch on Netflix, we are making decisions all day long. Some are big and some are small, but all decisions have the ability to impact our lives and our careers.

 

Leaders are paid the big bucks to make the big decisions, but it doesn’t mean that it’s easy. At ON Point, we coach leaders everyday and help them with their decision-making process that has a ripple effect throughout their teams and their entire organizations. There is a lot to consider, a lot of pressure to get it right, and a lot of people watching. Individuals don’t have it easy either. We coach professionals to be proactive and in the driver’s seat of their own careers, and that means they are constantly evaluating opportunities, positioning themselves for promotions, navigating complex workplace dynamics, and every step requires confident decision-making.

 

What is easy, however, is getting overwhelmed and stuck in analysis paralysis – that’s when uncertainty sets in and every options feels like worst case scenario. Nothing happens except the expenditure of a lot of energy and many nights of restless sleep. Making decisions, big and small, are part of our daily lives that benefit from a daily practice and an efficient process. It’s a muscle that needs to be exercised in order to strengthen and to be effective. And remember, not making a decision is also a decision – just means that someone else is probably making it for you.

 

Follow the ON Point Action Plan and master the art of decision-making.
  1. Trust your gut but verify with facts
  2. Be aware of and manage your emotions
  3. Give yourself a deadline and create accountability
  4. Talk it through with a trusted thought partner
  5. Be objective and create a list of pros and cons
  6. Stay true to your values and brand
  7. Be confident enough to be wrong and resilient enough to pivot

The two most important days on the job are your first and your last. Your first day is all about making a positive first impression and starting off on the right foot. Your last day is all about the lasting impression you leave behind. Both days require a solid and strategic game plan, and then you need to execute on that plan. If you’re a tennis fan, you may have seen or heard about the unprofessional exit Novak Djokovic made after losing to Rafael Nadal at the French Open on Tuesday. Contrary to proper protocol, there was a lightning fast handshake at the net, minimal words of congratulations exchanged, and then Djokovic hastily left the court without acknowledging or thanking the crowd. The reaction was swift and severe in the press and in the court of public opinion. Djokovic displayed poor sportsmanship and his behavior tarnished his reputation even though he’s currently ranked #1 in the world. Key takeaway – even if you are a top-performer, how you leave an organization or a tennis court, matters.

 

Gone are the days when the only way you left an organization was on the day you retired. Today the average person will hold 12 different jobs throughout his or her career. That’s a lot of jobs and that’s a lot of goodbyes. It’s not a fun experience and it’s rarely easy. At ON Point, we have coached countless people through this period to ensure a smooth transition and to prevent the “dramatic exit” fantasy from becoming a reality. We all know the fantasy…tossing papers in the air while telling your manager what you really think about him/her, sabotaging your computer files, stealing a stapler and some post-it notes, and essentially burning every possible bridge. Think of Tom Cruise’s exit in Jerry Maguire on steroids – that’s what we want to avoid.

 

An impulse-driven last day will haunt you for many, many days afterwards. Even on a less dramatic note, it’s still critical to remember that you have the power to shape, influence, and control the perception by how you say farewell. Your brand and reputation are priceless and take years to build, but only take moments to ruin. Regardless of whether you’re moving onto greener pastures for an exciting new position or were fired from your current position, those final moments still matter.

Follow the ON Point Action Plan to help you say goodbye with grace.

  1. Be professional and always take the high road
  2. Co-create the narrative and terms with HR
  3. Refrain from gossip and negative comments about your manager or the company
  4. Set your team up for success with a smooth transition plan
  5. Introduce clients to the new point person
  6. Ask for recommendations on LinkedIn and references if possible
  7. Reflect on the wins, successes, and accomplishments you achieved
  8. Make sure you are connected online with your internal network
  9. Take with you everything that is yours being mindful of IP
  10. Get to a place where you can be grateful and thankful for the experience

This week is Teacher Appreciation Week, and we can all agree that teachers should be appreciated every week and all year long. We know it’s one of the hardest, yet most rewarding, jobs in the world. When we think of “teachers” we appropriately think of school teachers and college professors, but given that our learning extends well beyond graduation, this is also an opportunity to acknowledge, appreciate and celebrate the other types of teachers in our lives.

Think of all the executive and athletic coaches, formal and informal mentors, organizational leaders and managers, thought leaders and inspirational gurus, and the wise friends and even wiser elders in your life that have shared their wisdom with you in a way that encouraged you to think more critically, grow more expansively, elevate more exponentially, and dig more deeply. Think of the people who have challenged you, pushed you, and believed in you…those are all the “teachers” in your life.

At ON Point, we know how critical it is to be a lifelong learner committed to a lifetime of growth and development. The teaching and learning never ends, but the classroom and environment may change. Whether you are working 1:1 with an executive coach, joining your colleagues at a leadership retreat, attending an industry conference, or working towards a new degree or certification, the goal is the same – to learn.

There is no finish line or expiration date on learning. It is basic Darwinism – those who don’t evolve, change, and adapt become extinct and obsolete. With how quickly change happens today and with how complicated our lives have become, this is more true today than ever. From the introspective journey in learning more about ourselves to the future-forward vision about what is possible, the opportunities to learn from a wide variety of teachers, coaches, and experts is endless.

Recognizing that no one grows and develops on their own, follow the ON Point Action Plan and show some appreciation to the “teachers” in your life.

  1. Send a handwritten and heartfelt thank you note
  2. Provide specific feedback about how they helped you
  3. Give them credit and a shout out on social media
  4. Make a donation in their name to a cause they support
  5. Pay it forward in a meaningful way
  6. Support their passions and celebrate their successes
  7. Refer and recommend them or their program to others
  8. Connect or reconnect in-person or online and share updates
  9. Show genuine interest
  10. Continue to learn, grow, and develop