LME007 – Employee motivation: How does it work and how can you improve it?

I recently spoke to a young high-tech entrepreneurabout employee motivation. He was complaining about his employees. They didn’t contribute, lacked motivation, but were always looking for better pay. He rolled his eyes and asked me in a depressed mood:

“All I want is to have motivated employees showing commitment. Is that asking too much? “

No, it’s not. You will only achieve long-term success with motivated employees.

As a manager you impact the employee motivation and employee commitment in your company – but in ways other than what you may think.

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Could you possibly improve employee motivation?

This will work in the short-term, but it’s a dangerous game. Money may be attractive, but it has no sustained impact on employee motivation nor on employee commitment!

Please don’t take this the wrong way. If you don’t pay your employees an adequate income, then you’ll demotivate your employees! They will not be commited to work for you.

But the inverse conclusion will only work on an exception basis: If you pay an above average income, this will by no means result in your employees being more motivated or more commited over the long haul.

The crux with bonus payments

Some believe that they can master and control their employee’s motivation with bonus systems so called performance based bonus. A bonus is paid if the employee attains a certain performance. – How odd. Why does companies do this? Doesn’t the employee have an employment contract obligating him to perform this service, while the company is paying his income to do so?

If you wish to motivate with money, then you’re accusing the employee of not giving their best effort. You believe that he’s sandbagging a portion of his work performance. For example, then you are therefore only paying him 80%. By enticing him with a 20% bonus payment at the end of the year, you want to close this gap in his work performance, provided he performs.

The German motivation expert Reinhard K. Sprenger accurately called this type of bonus payment a mistrust discount. By making this type of bonus payment, you are suspecting your employees of an unwillingness to perform. This doesn’t exactly instill a trusting relationship. Does it motivate? Does this lead to real commitment? – Not really.

Then what exactly is employee motivation?

Employee motivation is one of those hard to grasp concepts. When is an employee motivated?

Generally put, my understanding of motivation is:

“The force of our psyche that drives and controls our behavior.”

Motivation then is the reason behind a person’s particular behavior. Motivational science differentiates between extrinsic and intrinsic motivation.

Extrinsic employee motivation

If you hold a carrot to a donkey’s nose, this is extrinsic motivation. This is how you would motivate the donkey to continue walking and carrying loads.

Employee Motivation?

Employee Motivation?
Image partly: deDMazay & phodopus/ source: www.bigstock.com

Applied to the business world: You simply replace the carrot with a financial enticement, a bonus or a promotion. Now you’re on your way to motivating extrinsically. By the way: if you threaten your employee with punishment, you are also motivating extrinsically, for instance:

“John, if you don’t start showing up at work on time at 7:00 a.m., you’ll get fired!”

It doesn’t matter if it’s a reward or a punishment: Extrinsic motivations involve actions that are initiated from the outside. Put bluntly: an extrinsically motivated employee will think:

“I’ll do it because I have to, otherwise …“

Intrinsic employee motivation

If someone takes an action for the action’s sake, he’s intrinsically motivated. He’s commited to his work. He either simply enjoys the activity, he believes it’s worth doing, or it represents an interesting challenge for him.

An intrinsically motivated employee thinks:

“I’m doing this because I want to! “

Extrinsic motivation is a source of focus

The expectation of a reward, but also the avoidance of a punishment is always dependent on the situation. Extrinsic motivation allows you to establish a focus.

But the extrinsic motivation will only last while the reward is anticipated, or the force is applied. When you motivate extrinsically, your employees aren’t working for the sake of the issue! They aren’t really commited.

But if an employee’s intrinsically motivated, no external controlling influences are needed. If you value creativity, self-reliance and reliability, then you need intrinsically motivated employees.

The anticipation of a reward or threat of punishment will only – and only then – motivate and be sensible if

  • Routine tasks need to be performed by following simple rules.
  • A clear-cut objective is set, and the path to achieving it is easily achieved.

A classic example for this is piece-work on an assembly line. It is quite possible to motivate employees to do such work extrinsically.

But extrinsic motivation squelches creativity!

However, extrinsic motivation will not work

  • with any task that is not routine
  • requires thoughts because the way to the solution is not clear
  • for tasks that call for creativity

Extrinsic employee motivation may even be counter-productive. The anticipation of a reward or threat of punishment will cause the employee to focus strictly on this reward or punishment. But the focus should be on creativity, right?

If you need commited, creative employees, you should not put them under pressure. Pressure kills creativity, regardless of whether it is in negative form as a punishment, or in positive form as a reward.

What kind of employee motivation do I need in my company?

Under normal business conditions, intrinsic and extrinsic motivation works in parallel. But the higher the intrinsic motivation, the better.

Why? For the most part, routine activity has fallen by the wayside in most companies. In today’s environment, companies automated most routine activities. They’re being performed by machines, not employees. This is why you need people who contribute, who work independently:

Employees who operate your expensive equipment.

Or are you able to specify each manual intervention and to show your employees in detail how they should operate the equipment?

Employees who call on your customers on your behalf.

You don’t want them to sell as many of your products at all costs. You need them to serve your customer in such a way that he will buy from you again.

Employees in the R&D department.

If they are not creative and develop new products, what will your company sell in the near future?

How can I motivate my employees intrinsically?

You can’t. I my opinion, Daniel H. Pink put his finger on it quite pointedly. He states that intrinsically motivated people have the following characteristics.

1. Desire for self-determination

They want to work independently on a task with the greatest possible elbow room.

2. Strive for excellence

Intrinsic motivated people want to grow with the task. They want to continue improving themselves on an issue that they feel is important to them.

3. Purpose

The things they do must have a purpose. In performing their task, they want to be part of something larger than themselves.

Watch that great video of Daniel H. Pink about intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Awesome!

What can you do for your employee motivation?

Don’t spend so much time thinking about how to motivate your employees. But instead, spend time making sure that you don’t demotivate your employees.

  • Don’t skimp on their pay! Pay your employees adequately and fairly.
  • Be consistent and predictable.
  • Do not micromanage!
  • Give your employees decision making authority and manage with objectives and trust.
  • Support your employees in their personal development and their desire to improve themselves.
  • Answer the question why your company is a great place to work. Have a great business vision, emplyoees can connect with.

If you behave in this way, I assure you you have motivated and commited employees in the long term.

The inspiring quote

“The very essence of leadership is that you have to have vision. You can’t blow an uncertain trumpet.”

Theodore M. Hesburgh

LME006 – How to create a vision statement for your company.

5 points how to create a vision statement

5 points how to create a vision statement

What’s needed to create a business vision statement and what’s needed for the vision to work? I’ll give you 5 crucial points which make a great business vision.

In the previous episode we spoke about why you should have a true business vision. Today we’ll focus on what makes a great business vision and what’s needed for the vision to work successfully.

Let’s think about why some corporate visions are perceived as strong and useful and others aren’t.

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What makes a vision successful?

What does really matters? Most managers agree: In today’s world, we need employees who are motivated, self-reliant and independent. We need employees who we don’t have to force to work and who think along with us.

We are talking here about intrinsically motivated employees. That means employees who’re motivated by themselves, cooperate and think creatively. Here a true business vision is a huge asset in helping to get intrinsically motivated employees.

Let me explain why: There are three points that are important to an intrinsically motivated employee:

1st autonomy

An intrinsically motivated person has a desire for autonomy. He says

“Give me a destination, tell me where we want to go, but please let me set the path.”

That’s what’s fun for him, he wants to decide for himself how to get there.

2nd striving for championship

An intrinsically motivated person has the inner need to become better and better at what he does.

3rd Purpose

“What I do must make sense to me and has to have a meaning for me.”

The intrinsically motivated person sees meaning in what he or she does.

Support autonomy, striving for championship and purpose

As a manager, you should therefore make sure that you support these three points in order to have intrinsically motivated employees: Autonomy, striving for mastery and meaning or purpose.

Of course, you cannot instill purpose into your employees. But you can proffer meaning and purpose in a true vision. If the vision is attractive to them you have a good chance that they connect and see the purpose behind the vision as useful and important. It’s their decision if they connect to the vision or if they don’t. You can’t force them to. But you can enthusiastically talk about it and help them to understand.

Viktor Frankl, a well-known psychiatrist said,

“The question of meaning never depends on what we expect from the world, but on what the world expects of us.”

In other words, meaning should always be linked to benefits for others. It isn’t just a benefit to us. It’s usually considered useful when it brings benefits to others.

The purpose isn’t money.

Therefore, It’s important to state: Contrary to popular belief, the real purpose of a company is never simply to earn money. Rather, it is about benefiting others – namely the customer. A company receives its money for this, but its purpose is not money.

Please don’t get me wrong: The companies need money in order to be able to operate, to function, to pay suppliers and employees and to provide interest and returns for the investors – shareholders as well as banks – otherwise it won’t survive.

But money is not the purpose of a company. Just as it is not the purpose of a person to simply earn money. The purpose of every company is to help customers, whether with a product or with a service. Only then does the company have a right to exist. Otherwise, this company would simply be a parasite in our society.

The answer to the question “why?” and clearly knowing the purpose of the company is cruicial. The business strategy with the company vision or corporate mission is closely linked to this.

The vision statement usually describes the future. That’s where we’re going. The big guiding star, so to speak. And the mission defines what  our task is. Many say:

“The mission is important to the outside world. It tells why we exist and what our job is.”

Personally, I don’t think this distinction is particularly useful, because people keep confusing mission and vision. In my opinion, it’s also not helpful to say that the mission is rather for the outside, while the vision is for us inside the company.

In my opinion, the smartest way to combine mission and vision is to say there is a vision and it has to answer both. That way I don’t need to make this distinction,either.

5 points to create a vision statement

Whether vision or mission: one thing is imperative. When I speak of a vision, I mean a guiding star, something that is vague but emotional. It describes a great picture for the future. It’s something people can connect to that you can inspire people with.

How to create a vision statement? What characterizes a good vision? In my view, there are five characteristic points.

1) The vision must be emotionally charged.

It must inspire, at least it must address a certain type of people and exactly the one I want to pick up with it. And that’s how it gives energy.

2. The vision sets a direction.

…but no details.

3. The vision paints a picture of the future.

“I have a dream.”


“I have a plan.”

Although it does not provide any details, it is nevertheless unmistakable. It positions and distinguishes from others.

Statements like:

“We will become the No. 1 in our market and offer the best quality at the lowest prices.”

are not only nonsense, because nobody can deliver the lowest prices at the best quality in the long
run. No, it’s also interchangeable. Such a statement does not position. It does not explain the “why”.

4. The vision is not fixed in time.

It has no deadline.

5. The vision is a desirable improvement of the current situation.

It includes and expresses a clear customer benefit. In the best case, it provides significant added value not just for a customer segment but for societyas a whole. This makes it desirable for a large number of people and they can connect with this vision.

These five points are the hallmarks of a good corporate vision. As a positive example for this I gladly take again and again the vision of Wikipedia.

“Imagine a world in which every single person is given free access to the sum of all human knowledge.”

This is a vision. It’s emotionally charged. It may not inspire all people, but some who then say:

“I think that’s great when everyone has access to all human knowledge. I want to support this or even be a part of this project.”

This vision sets a direction, but no details. It is not fixed in time. There’s no deadline. It clearly expresses the benefits and it’s a really high added value for society.

Why is it, that some business visions don’t work?

… even if they meet the 5 points I’ve set up?

If you as the company owner want your business vision to really function as a guiding star, then as a person who sets up the vision, you have to live this vision 100 %. You have to live the values that this vision implies.

For example: You want your company to be innovative. Your business vision implies innovation. Then you have to set an example. Your actions must reflect that you really want innovation – with all the consequences.

Let’s assume, that you are someone who attaches great importance to precise processes, goals and systems in your company. For you it’s very important that everyone behaves in accordance with the rules and everything is regulated and specified in detail.

For example, you want your employees to strictly abide by an 80 page guideline, which describes in detail how travel expenses are to be settled. – Well, then that doesn’t go with innovation.

This contradicts the value of creativity. If you want innovation, you cannot tell your employees exactly every step what they have to do. You need to have trust in your employees.

Don’t get me wrong. Of course, you can have rules. And these rules need to be followed. But an 80 page guideline just for the travel expenses? Come on!

“If the values lived don’t correspond to those in the vision, the vision is doomed to fail.”

You have to stand identify with and be behind your vision 100% – and that has some serious implications. If you have a big vision, then this has implications for your behavior. You need to be consistent.

The vision must have consequences…

Like Steve Jobs, for example, when he returned to Apple in 1996. Sales had fallen sharply, Apple was no longer profitable. Something simply had to happen. Steve Jobs had a vision with the development of iMac, iTunes and iPod.

However, implementing this vision meant that the company had to position itself and focus clearly. For this reason, he quickly closed 22 out of 24 product areas. This was a tough decision, but consistently aligned with his vision. He focused only on the two areas that were important for implementing the vision.

What we can learn here is this:

When you have a clear vision, then this must have consequences. All existing processes and rules in your company must be questioned. What aligns with the vision, and what doesn’t?

But keep in mind: If you want to consistently align your company with your vision, you need a lot of energy – and as business owner or CEO you probably only have this energy if your vision really is 100 % in line with your own values and your motivation.

The bigger the company, the more difficult this is. It’s usually easier if the entrepreneur is still in the company and is still in charge – at least if he really is a visionary. Because the company will at least initially be very strongly influenced by the entrepreneur.

Who is driving the vision?

However, as soon as a company grows, goes into the 2nd or 3rd generation, or goes public, it becomes difficult. Usually the formative visionary is then no longer there – or at least he no longer has a say in decisive matters and generally lacks influence.

The company’s focus and perspective, and with it the company’s culture, are gradually changing. Instead of an entrepreneur, employed managers rule now. It is less and less about customer benefit and the long-term goals and growth of the company.

Rather, managers – and even the CEO – are measured by achieving short-term goals. Sales, profit, quarterly results and the share price determine what the managers have to do.

Beware of Pseudo visions!

If high bonuses are paid for reaching short-term financial goals then it’s understandable that managers focus on just that. The words customer relations, long-term vision as well as longterm strategy degenerate to empty phrases in such enterprises. Usually such companies no longer have any real vision but only pseudo visions like:

“We want to be market leader!”


“We’ll be number one in our market segment and aim for a 15% profit!”

Benefits for the customer or for society? Not really our focus. Our shareholders want to make a good profit.

This is not to say that there can’t be any true visions in such large corporate companies or that real customer orientation isn’t possible. But my impression is that if only employed managers are in charge, a true business vision is hard to Sustain for the long-term.



The inspiring quote

“Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart. Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside awakens.”

Carl Jung


LME005 – What is a vision statement and do you really need one?

Do you really need a business vision statement? What can a business vision do for you? We’ll have some good and some bad examples of vision statements.

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Do you need a business vision statement for your company?

business vision statement

Business vision Statements are important!
Image: nruboc/ Resource: www.bigstock.com

I think so. With a good vision you can unleash the power of your team.

With a vision you paint a vivid picture of the future. You describe where you’re heading – both as a team and as a company. A true vision inspires people and creates a common understanding.

Do you have a business vision statement for your company? Do you know about a vision in your company?

I mean this kind of statement or phrase or description, which tells where your business is heading, what you want to achieve and why your company exists?

Pseudo Visions

Don’t get confused with those pseudo vision statements of big companies in the corporate world. Business visions like:

“As a reliable partner for our customers, we count on innovation, creativity and consistent customer focus as well as on top performance in all areas.“

Blablabla. Sorry, but that is just a bunch of buzz words. It doesn’t mean anything. It doesn’t say anything. How does this statement helps to distinguish your company from others? It doesn’t. Everyone wants to be a reliable partner. Every company wants to be customer focused.

Want another example of bad vision statements in the corporate world?

“We work hard to be a Company that Our Shareholders, Customers and Society Want!”

Oh, come on: That’s boring: That’s so generic: That can be true for almost every company.

Here is another “great business vision”:

“We will be the No1 in our industry and strive for double digit sales and profit growth over the next 5 years.”

What? Maybe the investors like this statement. But what’s about the customers, the employees and partners of this company? Does this statement inspires, energizes or motivates anyone? No, it certainly doesn’t!

The business vision isn’t about money.

Hardly anyone is inspired by helping someone else make money. Why would employees put their heart and soul into such a thing?

Sorry to all the CEOs in the corporate world who developed this kind of pseudo visions: These business vision statements are totally useless.

Difference between mission and vision statement

So what’s a good business vision then? Often people get confused with what the difference is between vision and mission.

Let’s answer that briefly: As part of a business strategy the vision tells where you are going and a mission tells why your business exists. But don’t think too much about these definitions and which one’s which.

Two important questions

If you are an entrepreneur and running a small business or if you are a manager in charge of parts of a business you should focus on these two questions:
1.           Why does your business exist?
2.           Where do you want your business to go?

Just to make it crystal clear. The first question is by far the most important one!

Why does your business exist?

What’s the purpose of your company?

There is a great Ted Talk by Simon Sinek about the why and about the purpose of a company. It’s called: “How great leaders inspire action.” It’s my favorite TedTalk. Simon describes in a wonderful understandable way how great leaders think, act and communicate and how important the “Why” is.

What makes a well-conceived business vision statement?

Successful entrepreneurs, such as Richard Branson or Steve Jobs live for real visions. They are or were not primarily driven by making money.

These entrepreneurs are in pursuit of other objectives and visions that are bigger than themselves. These are frequently business visions that carry a social or ecological value for the rest of humanity.

Some inspiring vision statements

Take Microsoft’s first business vision statement as a case in point. Microsoft’s revolutionary founding vision in 1975 was:

“Our vision is a computer on every desk and in every home.”

Probably, it addressed only a limited number of people back then. But they enthusiastically supported it. They were intrinsically motivated to contribute to this vision, which was viewed by these people as socially relevant.

Here are some other examples of great business vision statements:

The company Scooter:

“Our vision is to provide freedom and independence to people with limited mobility.”

Or Wikipedia

“Imagine a world in which every single person is given free access to the sum of all human knowledge.”

Just by listening to these visions, can you hear the difference to those pseudo visions?

What is a true vision statement?

If an entrepreneur or a company have a true business vision then they ultimately pursue an objective that is larger than themselves. The business owner isn’t just working to satisfy his ego and the company doesn’t purely exist to earn money.

A true business vision shows that the entrepreneur or the company strive to solve a meaningful problem. It is not about money, it is about solving a problem which makes the world a better place, which helps people.

And that’ll inspire other people. They’ll feel that the vision is important and useful.

And that’s why they want to support this business vision and be part of it – as an employee, as a customer or as a supplier.

What’s about making good money?

As an aside, this doesn’t mean that the company or an entrepreneur cannot make good money. On the contrary. In order to attain the purpose, to achieve something of value for the world, the entrepreneur as well as the company should and must make money.

If it’s important to the entrepreneur to live in a beautiful home and drive a luxury Porsche, then that’s ok. It may be necessary for him to be satisfied and content. The luxury then becomes a means to an end if he’s focused on his true vision.

His true vision is striving to solve a meaningful problem. It is not about money, but money is a means to an end. It’s about solving a problem which makes the world a better place.

What‘s your business vision statement?

What problem is your company solving to make the world a better place? If you don’t have a true vision yet or if you only have a pseudo vision in your company so far, don’t worry. You can work on it. Just click here to learn what exactly is needed to create an inspiring business vision.

The inspiring quote

“If you want to build a ship, don’t herd people together to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.”

Antoine de Saint-Exupery

LME004 – Upward Delegation: How to avoid this kind of monkey business

We are talking about how to avoid upword delegation, often also refered to as back delegation or reverse delegation. It’s a problem a lot of managers suffer from.

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upward delegation - monkey business

Upward delegation

When a task that you have delegated to an employee comes back to you – and you complete it. This is called reverse delegation or monkey business.

If you – as the boss – accept that an employee hands back the work given to him, then you do the work that your employee should actually be doing. That’s fatal, since you won’t have time for your own tasks.

In the following I’ll describe why so many executives have their problems with reverse delegation and how you can deal with it.

What exactly is upward delegation?

I can best explain it with an example:

Let’s assume that you delegated an important task to Jack last week. He was supposed to write the final report for Project XYZ by the end of next month. Jack knows this kind of project well and has all the information about it. You have complete confidence in him and in his abilities. That’s why you agreed with him that he only briefly reports back when he’s finished and sent the report.

Today you are very busy. You are on your way to an important meeting. Jack is talking to you in passing.

“Boss, I’m glad to see you. I’ve got a problem. I’m supposed to write that project report. I’ve put something together, but somehow I’m not getting anywhere. You know XYZ very well. Could you take a quick look at what I’ve written and perhaps add a few key words?”

So? How do you react?  In your mind you are actually somewhere else – namely already at your meeting. Yeah, sure. You’re the expert on Project XYZ, but you just can’t be bothered to do it right now. You just think:

“How do I get rid of Jack as quickly as possible?”

So you’re answering:

“OK. Jack, give it to me. I’ll deal with it later.”

Opps. – You have another task on your desk – a task that you had actually delegated to your employee, right?

Delegating back: Monkey Business

Many executives fall into this trap, called reverse delegation. As early as 1974 there was an article in the Harvard Business Review about it. The title:

“Management time: Who’s got the monkey?”

The authors compared tasks to be delegated with monkeys. Whoever is working on the task and who is responsible for it, is carrying the monkey on his shoulder. As long as he has the monkey he has to take care for him and feed him. This is expensive and takes time. If this becomes too much, you need to get rid of the monkey. Now the boss comes into play.

If the boss delegates a task, he puts the monkey on the shoulder of the employee. After a successful reverse delegation, the monkey sits again on the boss’ shoulder.

And if the boss has a lot of employees and does not resist, then very soon a lot of monkeys sit on his shoulder. Then he feels like a zookeeper. He’s in charge of feeding a lot of crazy monkeys.

The boss will then no longer be able to work properly on his tasks because he deals with tasks that he’s not supposed to do. He does the work of his employees.

The boss becomes the bottleneck.

It even goes as far as employees having to wait for their boss. The boss becomes the bottleneck. Then the employees complain:

“My boss can’t get anything done. He’s overdoing it. Our team can’t go on because we need his input but his work is piling up on his desk. He can’t manage at all. Who actually made this guy an executive?”

Why does reverse delegation take place? You have delegated a task and your employee tries to return the delegated task to you. The question is, why?

It can have many causes. For example, an employee is under a lot of time pressure, whether he’s just feeling it or not. The work just gets too much for him. He has taken on or promised too much, does not want to admit it and therefore tries to get rid of part of the work.

Perhaps the employee also has too little self-confidence in his abilities or feels overwhelmed. Here, too, he has accepted the task, but in the course of time he realizes it’s growing over his head.

In these cases your employee needs your help and support. But that doesn’t mean that you do his job.

What can you as a boss do?

Let’s assume you delegated the task correctly. You also made sure that the employee has the competence to solve the task. If there are problems, you told him, he can approach you – but not just in passing. You will help him, but always leave the responsibility with your employee and make an appointment to discuss the problem. Then ask:

“What would you do if I wasn’t there?”


“To solve the problem: what have you done so far?”


“What ideas do you have to solve the problem?”


“To make to solve the problem: What decisions do you need?”


“What exactly do you need from me now?”

With this kind of questions you coach your employee. In this way you ensure that he doesn’t remain on the problem side, but rather comes up with his own solutions.

Beware of your impulses.

Many managers are used to making quick decisions and thinking solution-oriented. However, in such a discussion with your employee you should suppress the impulse to work out the solution yourself.

If you solve the problem, it doesn’t train your employee’s solution behavior. You don’t really help him but you make him addicted. Because the next time he has a problem, he’d rather go straight to you than work on the solution himself. That’s not what you want, is it?

That’s why you support him with questions. Talk a little, explain a little, but ask. Help your employee by coaching him to find the solution. Suppress your problem-solving reflex.

Why are many managers being tricked into upward delegation?

Many managers fully understand the concept of reverse delegation, but sometimes it doesn’t work out. They keep finding out that they have somehow been tricked. Suddenly the monkey sits on the boss’s shoulder again. How could this have happened?

Some managers fear that if you do not solve the problem, their employees may consider you weak or incompetent. Others cannot say no, because you have a reflex of wanting to help or you are simply tempted to take on a complex task again.

Upward delegation because of incorrect behaviour

Sometimes, however, managers simply react incorrectly.

Let me give you an example to illustrate this:

You’ve been the expert in your field – and then you were promoted. Now you have the leading role and know that you should hand over the technical task to your employees. It is not your job to do the work of your employees. You realize that! But deep down inside you are proud to be perceived as an expert and not just a leader. You want to keep the status of an expert.

Normally, this need is not a problem for you. If you are concentrated or have enough time to think, you are safe. You decide rationally in favor of the leadership role and consistently hand over the technical work to your employees and you don’t allow reverse delegation.

However, it is different when you are under stress and have to make short-term decisions – without much thought – for instance when your thoughts are already in the next meeting and you are approached unprepared by your employee Jack on the corridor on the way there.

“Boss, can you take a look at this? I mean you are the expert. You know best about it…”

That’s something you love to hear from Jack. You enjoy the short-term good feeling of being perceived as an expert by your employees. It’s flattering. It’s good for your EGO, good to hear that you are needed and recognised as an expert. However, in the long run you have another monkey on your shoulder.

How can you avoid this upward delegation?

You could just block the conversation with the phrase:

“Do you want me to do your job?”

But this isn’t constructive. It’s frustrating and only leads to your employees feeling that they aren’t getting any support from you.

The solution is: You make an appointment with your employee to discuss the problem indepth:

“Jack, this is not a good time. I am already late for my meeting. But we can talk about it later in my office. Let’s say in half an hour. Is that ok with you?”

You kill two birds with one stone: On the one hand: You don’t let yourself be determined by Jack and you hold back your impulse slipping back into your expert role. On the other hand, you give your employee enough time to think again about his problem. Maybe he’ll find a solution without your help.

3 Tips on upward delegation

Let me give you some help when dealing with “monkey business”.

  1. Every monkey takes time!

Think very carefully about what you commit to. For example: If your employee asks you to participate in some unimportant project meeting because you are the expert. Don’t do it just because you want to please him or please your EGO. Think twice before you do it or before you make such promises. A meeting can quickly cost you several hours. Time you could probably make better use of.

  1. With every monkey comes a supervisor!

If you have accepted the task, very often you have someone who depends on your completion of this task. Therefore, if you take on the task, you become accountable to others. After all, you make a commitment – and it doesn’t matter on which hierarchical level your supervisor stands.

Think about it: If you take back a task then your employee becomes your supervisor. Now he has all the right to ask you:

“Have you finished the task yet?”

  1. A monkey rarely comes alone!

If you take on a task, your employee is rewarded for his or her behavior. He reverse delegated an unpleasant task to his boss. Now, he has more time for himself and is even allowed to supervise his boss according to the motto:

“Boss, have you finished the report yet?”

Oh, great! What’s happening? In the future, the employee will try to give you even more monkeys. That makes sense to him. That’s why I say: Don’t feed your employees’ monkeys!


Try to consistently avoid upward delegation. Not only in your interest but also in the interest of your employees.


The inspiring quote

“Delegating means letting others become the experts and hence the best.”

by Timothy Firnstahl

LME001 – What is leadership and how can you find time for it?


If somebody asked you to explain what is leadership? How would you respond?

It’s hard, right? The concept of leadership is vague – and the funny thing is as long as we don’t have a good definition how can we talk about leadership?

What is leadership?

What is leadership?Let me give you my definition of leadership. For me, leadership means defining where to go. Who leads deals with the future of the company and with the people in the company.

If you are  in leadership mode, you work on the vision of your company, you formulate goals and strategies. You reflect on innovation, positioning and customer benefits. You improve the processes in your company. And most important: You talk to and with your employees, you discuss, inform and inspire. All this is leadership.

If you are only managing

In recent years I’ve seen many managers who work hard – but they are unable to execute because they are trapped in their day to day work. These managers often feel frustrated and demotivated.

If you are in such a situation you start feeling like in a rat race. You work and work, but nothing important gets done. Your company is not growing, sales are stagnating and the mood of your workforce is low.

The reason for this is often, that most executives focus on management but not on leadership. They manage a lot but they don’t lead.

What is managing?

If you manage you focus on processes, you don’t work on the future and you don’t focus on people: You have no time for it. Managing is more about day-to-day business, administration, resource allocation, budgeting, costs and risk management, control, keeping deadlines. There is no time for other things. Numbers, data, facts! Pam!

Don’t get me wrong. Of course you have to do both: you can’t just lead. You have to lead and manage. But as a leader – above all – it is your job to keep track of the big picture. You have to deal with the future direction of your business and with taking care of your people.

If you don’t lead, who does?

I know many CEOs and managing directors who work around the clock and still feel they don’t really do their job. Many are trapped in the rat race of day-to-day operations.

They work a lot, but don’t take enough time for the real leadership tasks. Are you one of them?

The problem for most managers

The question is, why is that? Why do a lot of managers deal with so much operational stuff and administrative work instead of focusing on the most important tasks: leadership? I admit, that I also struggled myself with this problem for a long time.

This isn’t just a problem of CEO’s and managing directors. It doesn’t matter if you are a group leader, a team leader or if you were just promoted into your first managing role. Every manager seems to have more work to do than he has time for.

In my view, there are several reasons why managers think they don’t have time for leadership. The biggest challenge can be summarized in one sentence:

Leadership is important, but rarely urgent!

Developing a business strategy, talking to an employee, discussing the vision statement, thinking about customer benefits or improving processes – these leadership tasks are important, but they are not urgent.

If you develop the strategy today or only tomorrow, will not be a big difference. If you have this one-on-one meeting with your direct report today or only later next week, this doesn’t change the bottom profit line, does it?

In contrast, management tasks are usually urgent and have a deadline. But are they always that important? Not really.

Why is that so?

Management tasks are determined by others and they have normally a due date – a deadline. For example, the tax office needs documents at a given deadline, the participation in a trade fair must be decided until the end of the month. A customer urgently needs an offer by this evening. All these tasks have deadlines which were defined by someone else.

On the other hand, leadership tasks are generally self-determined and have no fixed date – at least, if you don’t define one.

Most people – and managers are no exception – have a tendency to focus on urgent tasks with a deadline and postpone tasks, which are really important, but not urgent.

Important or urgent? What is leadership?

As a result, many executives realize at the end of the day that they worked only on urgent tasks. This means that they didn’t find time to work on any leadership tasks. Too bad!

“But there are such a lot of urgent management tasks. They need to be done! They are all urgent and important.”

Really? Yes, a management task normally has a deadline. But keep in mind: Mostly this just means that someone else made it urgent. You may argue, that this management task is urgent and important, but very often it’s important for someone else – not necessarily for you.

If you’re a manager you should –  on a daily basis – question, if and what kind of management tasks you have to do. Ask yourself everytime: Is it really necessary to do it? If yes: Is it necessary that I do it? If you can delegate then do so. I know this can be difficult sometimes and we will talk about how to delegate successfully in one of the following episodes: “LME002 – How to delegate successfully”.

But for now: Keep in mind, that management tasks don’t need to be done by yourself. You need time for the important leadership tasks.

Is leadership really so important?

This question often comes up when managers are convinced that facts and figures are most important in business. I agree that facts and figures are important but you miss out if you only focus on them.

What about the vision and the purpose of your company or your department? Not important? Be careful. Some managers think that the purpose of any company is easy to define. It is clearly to make profit. What else?

In my opinion, these managers are wrong. They have never experienced how motivating a big vision can be, how important values are and that the ultimate purpose of a company is not to make a profit. No, the purpose of a company is to create customer benefit and then the profit will come.

We will talk about this in one of the next podcast episodes. If you want to be successful, it’s important that you have a clear answer to the question

“Why? – Why does your company exist?”

and your answer should not be just to earn money.

Only when managers have a clear vision and a bigger goal, they can communicate with their employees in a way that they carry their employees along. If they do, their employees work on the right things. Why? Because then your employees  know what is important. They understand what ‘s expected from them and only then will your employees be able to work independently. A true leader has a clear vision.

The problem is that managers often don’t believe this.

“Independently working employees? Forget it. Employees need to be told what to do in detail. Otherwise nothing gets done.”

The problem with micromanagement

That’s why this kind of managers are often at the mercy of “micromanagement“. Frustrated, they complain about the demotivation and inability of their employees. But they don’t understand: it’s their own fault.

If you don’t take the time to think and talk about vision, strategy and goals, how can your employees work towards these goals? How can they make decisions in your interest, if they don’t know your expectations?

That’s why you need to find the time for leadership.

3 tips how to find more time for leadership

You know by now, what is leadership. Here are three helpful tips to find more time for leadership.

Tip 1:    Track your time.

If you want more time for leadership in your daily work, you first need to be aware of how much time you are currently spending on it.

Most managers only have a very vague idea of ​​how much time they really spend on leadership. We all often underestimate the hours we spend with unproductive management instead of leading.

That’s why you should determine daily how many hours you have spent on leadership and how many on day-to-day management or on normal work.

You only have to log two numbers at the end of the day. Not more! Do this for 2 weeks and you have a good idea how much time you really spend on leadership.

Even if you managed all day long, if you write it down at the end of the day, you will at least realize that you did not spent any time on leadership that day. Realizing is the first step toward improving.

Just log your time. It costs you nothing but 2 min max at the end of the day. And it’s worth it. Just write it down on a piece of paper: How much time did you spend on leadership and how much time did you spend on management?

Tip 2:    Set yourself a goal.

Set yourself a measurable goal. What percentage of your working time do you want to spend on management tasks over the next 3 months? This motivates yourself. But don’t overdo it. If you have only spent 10% of your time for leadership, it will probably be difficult to reach 50% in the short term. However, an increase from 10 % to 20 % is quite realistic.

Experience shows that there is no point in planning significantly more time for leadership tasks as early as next week. Your schedule is so full, it’s hard for you to make it. Therefore, set yourself the target for a 3-month period. By the way: When you have reached your goal, reward yourself. You deserve it.

Tip 3:    Make important tasks urgent.

Since leadership is usually important but not urgent, we postpone it. Therefore, let’s outwit ourselves. Set fixed deadlines for leadership tasks in your planning and put them into your calender and your ToDo List. This automatically makes your leadership tasks urgent.

But sometimes you may find that this is not enough. After all, the appointment is self-determined and not determined by others.

In such cases it helps if you commit yourself to others. For example if you’ve always wanted to work on the important strategy for your company, you promise to present the results to your employees at the end of next month. Here’s the deal: a deadline for your important leadership task, which you just made urgent. It goes without saying that you must keep this promise. Stand up to your word. Through scheduling and commitment to others, you make an important leadership task urgent and the likelihood increases that you will actually complete this task on time.


This should help you to get started with leading more and managing less.


The inspiring quote

“Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.”

Peter F. Drucker


Best funny leadership videos! Enjoy and have a good laugh!

Funny LeadershipMaybe you think, that there is no funny leadership. But I believe your are wrong.

Laughter helps you to cope with stress, conflicts and pain. That’s why a leader should have a good sense of humour.

Nothing works faster to bring your mind and body back into balance than a good laugh. Laugh at yourself. That’s best.

Remember Monty Python’s song:
Always Look on the Bright Side of Life“?:

“…You’ll see it’s all a show.
Keep ’em laughing as you go.
Just remember that the last laugh is on you.”

Laughter promotes performance

Not only your own performance gets better, but also that of your entire team. Various studies have shown that people who have humour generally appear more likeable and are perceived as more competent.

Humour improves the working atmosphere, which leads to better functioning of work processes.

Better dealing with difficult situations

Managers who humorously defuse difficult situations enjoy great acceptance. Using humour as a means of communication in everyday work is a strategy for success. Because studies show wherever people laugh, employees feel comfortable and work is usually more and better.

Laughter, joy and happiness are terms that convey a positive and satisfied view of the world. People who surround themselves with a humorous aura are always perceived as positive by others.

Funny Leadership Videos

Below you’ll find the business videos on YouTube I find most funny. Enjoy and have a good laugh!

Sales are up

Truth is not really welcome in some companies.

Change Management

You can be certain: Your employees want to support your company.
But if you want an organizational change you have to explain correctly what you want.

Back Up Strategy

Can you really rely on your back up strategy?

Video Conferences

Leadership is not about technology, it’s about people.
Most managers have the employees they deserve.

Team Work I

Isn’t it amazing what you can do with a great team?

Team Work II

An example of bad team work:

Thinking outside of the box

Brainstorming solutions

How to avoid Death by Powerpoint

What makes a good business presentation? Should you use Powerpoint?  This video is for you, if you ask how to give a great business presentation.

Do you want to know how real leadership works?

How to stay focused on your goals and say “NO” if needed.

How to stay focused on your goals

How to stay focused isn’t easy.

If you want to be successful you must know how to stay focused on your goals in business as well as in private.

To focus means to direct time and attention to a limited number of issues. Things that are outside your selected area of focus become unimportant. Tune them out rigorously.

That’s an important part of learning about what leadership is. Great leaders focus on the most important things and delegate the rest. – But this is easier said than done.

Do you also have a tough time rigorously rejecting requests. It’s difficult to say “no” to calls for help or opportunities when these are outside of your area of focus.

Sometimes I catch myself saying “yes” when I should have actually said “no”. Someone asks me for a favor, and I agree without giving it much thought. This usually results in stress and unnecessary time pressure.

Why do we have such a tough time saying “NO”?

I can think of several answers to this:


  • Undereste the effort.
  • Fear consequences.
  • Are afraid that we will miss out on something.
  • Suffer from the helper syndrome.
  • Feel flattered.
  • Want to be liked.
  • Feel responsible, even though we are actually not.

How to stay focused isn’t easy. Especially if your boss demands impossible things. If this is a problem for you, check out my blog post on “How to deal with a demanding boss”

Which response best applies to you?

This is how to handle opportunities and requests!

The following tips help me to handle opportunities, request and favors that are outside my area of focus. They help me to work on becoming a more consistent leader. They may not always work for me – but I am getting better results all the time. This will help you how to stay focused on your goals:

1. Do not rush the decision!

Take the time to think about it, so that you can realistically assess the effort. Create a clear picture of the consequences for yourself if you agree. What does this mean in terms of time and stress?

2. When you say no, do so courteously but directly!

Do not beat around the bush. Your rationales should be brief and to the point.

3. Whenever possible, offer an alternative!

In this way you help the other party and stay focused.

4. Once you have made a decision, stick with it.

Remain rigorous!

Fear of change!

The fear of missing out on an opportunity is frequently stronger than the awareness to remain focused. I frequently can see this in companies that need to adjust or change their previous business model.

They develop an inspiring business vision statement and a good business strategy to improve their profitability. Everyone is in agreement that long-term profitability can only be attained by rigorous positioning. The new strategy is adopted and is ready for implementation – no sooner than that, a telephone call comes in and all the old habits fall back in place:

“Yes, I know! We want to focus on the profitable industry A, but here is this new customer from industry B who is dangling this order in front of us…..”

And just like that, the good intention to focus comes crashing down. Instead of saying “no”, the decision is made to take the path of least resistance.

The laboriously developed strategy is placed on the back burner. The new positioning to become more profitable falls by the wayside. It is best to generate revenue now at a low contribution margin. After all, it is possible that the new strategy might not work out.

Albert Einstein appropriately described this behavior as follows:

“The purest form of insanity is to keep doing the same thing and to also expect that something will change.”

This is how to stay focused on your goals!

Before adopting a strategy discuss its implementation in detail. Simulate various scenarios. Think about what could go wrong during the implementation process. Discuss what-if scenarios and how your company needs to respond to these.

Set a minimum period during which you and your company will remain true to the new strategy, for instance 3 months. Do not allow yourself to lose focus during these 3 months, regardless of what “opportunities” present themselves during this period. Change your focus during this time only if you are confronted with an unexpected critical issue.

You should then evaluate the results after 3 months and reassess the situation. Is it necessary to adjust the strategy and your focus? Now is the time to do so – but not before this period has expired!


How to stay focused at work when everyone wants your attention!

It is difficult to stay focused at work especially as a manager. Everyone wants your attention: clients, colleagues, your employees, your boss!

In this video I show you how you can stay focused and work on the most important things without distraction:

If you want to read about this just click here: How to stay focused at work 


The inspiring quote

“Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem. We all have twenty-four hour days.”

Zig Ziglar

Consistent leadership is key to success: How to act and stay consistent as a boss.

Consistent leadership is one of the most important strength of successful managers. As a business leader you are in charge of establishing a consistent culture and value system in your company.

Why consistent leadership often fails.

Consistent Leadership

Consistent Leadership can be exhausting!
Image: Lichtleister/ Resource: www.bigstock.com

The manager is annoyed: The business goals are not reached, decisions are not implemented and deadlines with customers are not met. It’s enough.

“We need to implement what we have agreed. We need to be more consistent in what we do. As a boss I must and will be more consistent! From now on I will consistently check results and take action if needed!”

Employees hear it and they understand the reaction of the manager. Inconsistency is a waste of time and money. A company can’t afford it long term.

Everyone agrees – but after a while everything is as it was before. The manager has failed to act and stay consistent. This is unfortunately a typical leadership mistake.

The question is why? Why is it so hard to be consistent as a boss? What can you do as a boss in order to be consistent in your daily activities?


The Managing Director called his 8 department heads for a meeting for 10 am. Now it is 10:15. Everyone is there – only he is missing. Suddenly the door of the meeting room opens. The Managing Director enters the room and apologizes briefly:

“Sorry for the delay, but I had to talk to John about the production figures for tomorrow.”

What goes through your head when you read that? You might think:

“I understand that. As a boss, I have so much work to do. My employees sometimes also have to wait for a few minutes.”

This short wait can be quite expensive. In the above example, each of the 8 department has 15 minutes to wait idly. At an assumed hourly rate of $ 150 for each head

$ 150 x 15/60 x 8 = $ 300 !

are wasted in this 15 minutes!

Perhaps you’re thinking now:

“$ 300 is not that much. That can happen even once. The meeting with John regarding production numbers was surely important! “

The point is: It is not about the $ 300 loss. It is crucial that the manager acts a role model. If you demand punctuality of your employees – and you should – then you need to be on time as well – always. No excuses.

If you want consistent leadership in your company you have to act consistently. The first thing is to be consistent with yourself. Walk the talk! The fish always stinks from the head!

Act consistently!

As an executive you have to act consistently. What does it mean? You must define the goals properly, agree measures and actions with your staff and check the outcome, control the results.

If you don’t control results regularly, you aren’t consistent – and you and your emplyoees aren’t neither effective nor efficient. You give a wrong impression. It looks like you do not care about the results. It look like that the work of your employees doesn’t really matter to you. That’s fatal!

But don’t act as a micromanager. Control results, but not the steps towards the result. Avoid micromanagement by all means.

How can you avoid being inconsistent in your day to day work?

7 Tips to achieve consistent leadership!

1. Your commitments are a word of honor!

Your deeds must follow your words. Little things count.

Keep your commitments – always – no matter whom you gave it, and no matter how seemingly unimportant it may seem to you. You gave the commitment voluntarily. No one put the gun to your head, right?

If you tell one of your employees, you send him the e-mail on Wednesday, your employee should not receive the e-mail on Thursday! Otherwise you destroy employee motivation. You don’t want that, do you?

Take any of your commitments seriously – as serious as a word of honor. That’s what true leaders do!

2. Focus! Ask only what is truly important!

If the boss wants to become consistent, he wants this change immediately. He changes his behavior and wants his employees to change immediately as well.

But change is mostly not working that quickly. It takes time to get all on board. The new rules must not only be heard but also understood and accepted. Your employees need time to realize that your behavior change is serious and will stay long term.

So do not change everything at once, but go to the things that are really important. Name the important things by name and be there consistently. But do not get bogged down with consistency in unimportant trifles.

3. Keep a written record of agreements!

If you make arrangements or give a commitment, write it down. No need for a comprehensive protocol. A short e-mail just mentioning the results is fine.

4. Define objectives and actions verifiable and transparent!

Qualitative goals can become a great danger. Pseudo Goals such as:

“We will improve our communication!”

“We will increase our supply rate!”

do nothing if they are not quantified or if at least measures and actions with deadlines and responsible are derived.

General calls for greater customer focus and for increase of competitiveness will not do any good. These calls are getting lost in the daily operating business. The manager has to make sure goals and actions are clearly defined: Who is doing what until when? Only then he can control the results later on.

5. Plan the dates for reviews well in advance!

As a manager you should regularly check milestones. Have the objectives been achieved? It is helpful to develop your own appropriate control structures to remove your own inconsistency and inefficiency.

One problem is often that managers understand that the regular control is important, but they do not classify them as a matter of urgency.

A customer call or a problem in the production is urgent. It appears suddenly. Are these things strongly important? Mostly not. In contrast, regularly checking results is crucial important, but has mostly no urgency. Therefore it often falls by the wayside.

You can change this. Just make important things urgent! How? Assign dates for important things – do it months in advance!

For example: Fix a date once a month for a review meeting. In that meeting your employees report on the progress of their projects and you review the departmental goals regularly.

With the start of the year fix all these monthly meetings for the next 12 months in advance. Instruct your secretary that these dates are important and should not be canceled or postponed.

In this way these review meetings will become a habit for you. Believe me you will make a big step towards consistent leadership if you do this.

6. Put sanctions for seemingly mundane missed deadlines!

A Meeting must start on time. You need to make that a habit. To force all participants – including yourself – to be on time you can do the following:

Have a piggy bank in the meeting room. Anyone who is late must interject $ 1 per minute he is late. You as the executive have to throw in $ 5 per minute!

If the piggy bank is full, donate all the money to a charitable organization.

You will be surprised how quickly you and your employees get used to be on time.

7. Celebrating Success!

If your team and you have achieved important goals, celebrate. This doesn’t need to be expensive. It can be a nice dinner at an Italian restaurant or just a chocolate cake that you bring to the meeting.

The celebration of success will not only strengthen the team spirit. Rather, it also means that you and your employees connect positive experiences with the consistent checking of results – and that helps to be more consistent.

Employee efficiency! How to create efficiency in the workplace.

How’s your employee efficiency? How is your efficiency in the workplace around them?

A lot of managers are unhappy with the performance of their employees:

“My employees often do not focus on the right things and they simply do not work efficiently!”

Many think that this can be changed just with proper training of the staff. Well, it’s mostly not that simple. It is rarely purely the fault of your employees.

Efficiency in the workplace? To be efficient or to be effective?

employee efficiency and efficiency in the workplace

Efficiency in the workplace depends not just on your employees.

It is crucial to distinguish between effectiveness and efficiency. If you are effective you are doing the right things. If you are efficient you are doing the things right.

In other words, effectiveness is the goal and efficiency addresses the way!

Effectiveness asks the “what” and efficiency asks the ‘how’.

Why is this distinction important?

First things first: First think about being effective and then being efficient. First ask what needs to be done and then how.

Let me give you an example:

You want to cut down a tree in the garden. Then it is not effective starting to cut off the branches or to mow the lawn around the tree. It helps you not eventually come closer to your goal – namely to cut the tree.

However, it is effective to cut the tree with a blunt axe. This may take some time, but eventually you will cut down the tree. Surely it makes more sense to use a sharp axe or even better to use a chainsaw.

All three methods are effective because they serve the purpose. The methods differ, however, in terms of efficiency.

What does that have to do with my employees?

If your employees are often working on the wrong things, they do not work effectively. If this is the case, usually the objectives are not clear.

Whose job is it in a company to have the vision and to set the objectives? Exactly: That’s your job as the executive.

If you complain, that your employees are doing the wrong things, make sure that the vision and the objectives of your company are clearly communicated and understood by all your staff. Otherwise they don’t know how to prioritize their work.

But I cannot specify everything…

You don’t need to specify everything. But you need to set the direction. You need to say what is important, otherwise employee efficiency will suffer.

Do your employees really know your company’s vision and the business objectives? Don’t answer with “Yes, of course” so easily.

Ask your employees. You will probably be amazed how little the answers coincide with your vision and your goals.

Prioritize only works if you know the goals!

If you want your employees to act in your best interests, business vision and goals must be clear. If your employees have to work on multiple tasks, they need to prioritize. You can help them to stay focused on their goals. But that is only possible if they know what the purpose of their work is, what is most important for the company.

As an entrepreneur and executive it is your task to define the business vision and goals and constantly talking about it.

Employee efficiency: But they know their goals …

OK, Now if vision and goals are clear and understood – but you still have the problem that your staff does not provide the expected output. What can be the reason?

In most cases the reason is not laziness of the employees. Think about the following three situations employees may have to cope with:

1. The desire to be efficient

Sometimes, an employee strives to be particularly efficient. Therefore he thinks he needs to work very quickly. This can be the case if the boss repeatedly stresses that the team needs to be more efficient. The result is that the employee starts to work in haste without first to clarify the goal.

An example:

The employee gets a new project. He just skims the description for the new project briefly. He successfully worked on similar projects for several other customers. In order not to waste time, he starts immediately.

It is just a pity that this project differs from the older projects slightly in a few points. Unfortunately he overlooked this. In the following days, he works very efficiently on the project. But the result is unfortunately not what the customer ordered.

His desire to be particularly efficient made him doing the wrong things. When he realizes that after a few days, he needs to put a lot of effort, time and money into correcting and reworking. Finally he is successful with the project – but was he efficient? Not at all!

2. Missing helicopter view

Many people find it difficult to cope with frequently changing requirements. If a new project gets on their desk, it is important that they do not ignore it and work on with their existing projects. They need to step back, get an overview about their new situation and clarify what is now important:

  • Does the project they are working on is still No1 priority or does it need to be postponed?
  • Having a new responsibility for the new project will they still be able to meet all the deadlines they committed to?
  • If not, do they raise their hand and tell their managers about it?

Often employees don’t change from their detailed work view into the helicopter view. They are bogged in details and try to work harder and quicker. They want to improve their situation by working more efficiently. But it would be necessary to firstly think about effectiveness.

Getting into helicopter view and thinking about effectiveness can be difficult – especially if you’re pressed for time and lost in details. But everyone can learn to regularly take the helicopter view.

As a Manager you can coach your employees to get into helicopter view. But take care that you don’t just tell them what they should do, but let them suggest their priorities. Discuss it with them. In that way you really coach them and they will improve their effectiveness over time.

3. Wrong priorities

Sometimes people just work based on wrong priorities. You may know it from yourself – at least I do. Instead of starting with the most important task, I often prefer to work on the ones, which are most fun or give instant rewards. Reading my emails seems to be more fun and joy than working on my tax declaration.

Acting like this is obviously not effective. Again, it helps to regularly take the helicopter view and to question actions and priorities regularly.

Do your employees know exactly your business vision and the business goals?

How to motivate yourself to reach your goals

motivate yourself

How to motivate yourself.
Image: LuMaxArt/ Resource: www.bigstock.com

“Setting goals” is part of how to motivate yourself, but it isn’t enough. You must define action plans to ensure that your objectives are attained – and you must also execute these action plans.

I am sure that you are familiar with this: The implementation and stamina is the tough part – especially when changing your own habits.

Motivate yourself to become more efficient!

Let’s assume you need to be more efficient. For this reason, you have decided to limit yourself to checking your emails only twice a day. You want to focus on the important issues and not be constantly distracted by insignificant emails. You want to prevent email overload. That is a great intention. You know why you want to do it. You’re intrinsically motivated.

You are full of energy in the first few days and vigorously stick to your own rule: You read your emails only twice a day: once in the morning around 11:00 a.m., and then again in the afternoon around 5:00 p.m.

The email software is shut down for the rest of the day. Terrific. You are getting much more work done during the first week, and are focusing on the actually important issues.

And now it gets tough!

But you cannot stick with it. You cannot resist after the weekend: You have barely entered the office, and the email software is up and running: All you want is to take a quick look at what came in over the weekend. – That’s unfortunate. You did not stick by your own rule.

The next day, you open your email software at 11:00 a.m., but don’t close it after you have read your emails. You’re waiting for an important email from your employee. He promised to send you the presentation for tomorrow’s meeting. And once more, you fail to stick by your own rule.

You can probably guess the rest: After no more than three weeks, everything is back to usual. Your email software is constantly running, you immediately read every incoming email, and your efficiency is back to rock bottom. You are back to focusing on a myriad of details in the operational part of the business. This is unfortunate! Motivate yourself failed.

To motivate yourself is difficult?

Why is it so difficult to break one’s own habits? For example, why don’t New Year’s resolutions typically survive past the second week?

The reason can be found in one’s own willpower. Almost no one can withstand it for more than 1-2 weeks. But a minimum of 4-6 weeks are needed to form a new habit. Some even say it takes more than 60 days.

What can you do to motivate yourself?

Before I reveal the solution for this problem, I want you to think about the following situation: What would happen if you knew that every time you violated your resolution,

• $ 1,000 are automatically deducted from your account


• Someone would hand you a resounding slap in the face.

Would that be helpful? This might just work, right? Avoiding the pain would be a decent motivator to stick to one’s own rule. This would even work when your own willpower begins to fail you.

And now think about the following: What would happen, if every day that you stuck with your own rule, someone

• would give you $ 1,000 as a gift


• you would be surprised with your favorite meal, wine or dessert in the evening?

Would that be helpful? Here again: This would probably work for most people.

Change is driven by strong motivation!

People want to experience pleasure and avoid pain! What you need is something that triggers an emotion in you. If you have that, then you don’t need discipline. Declining willpower then no longer threatens your good intentions.

To implement your own intentions and motivate yourself over a period of several weeks, you can use this kind of extrinsic motivation: choose between the flight motivation or the goal motivation.

You can either penalize yourself if you didn’t stick with your intentions at the end of the day, or you can reward yourself. Neither the penalty, nor the reward has to be as drastic as the aforementioned examples. It is strictly up to you.

Pleasure or pain?

Psychologists will say that flight motivation is the better of the two to break a habit or doctrine. But to instill a new habit, the goal motivation is probably the better choice.

My recommendation: Simply experiment to find out what works for you and how to motivate yourself. I wish you lots of success and stamina with your good intentions. Here are 3 tips to help you:

3 Tips to stay motivated

1. Put it in writing!

You already know that objectives and action plans should always be recorded in writing. But also draw on your motivation yourself. Think about your motivations, and write these down in advance for each day.

An example for flight motivation:

If I leave my email software up and running, then I am not allowed to watch my favorite show tonight.

An example for goal motivation:

If I am successful in only reading my emails at 11:00 a.m. and at 4:00 p.m., then I can watch my favorite show tonight.

You may think this sounds trivial or immature. This may be so – but it works. Give it a try! You only need to rely on these motivations for the first 6 weeks. After that you will have become used to the new rule, and will use it automatically.

2. Have an accountability partner

It is very helpful to tell others, for instance your partner, about your intentions, motivators and also how you try to motivate yourself. This approach will help you to rigorously implement the reward or penalty.

Try to find someone who checks in on you time to time how you are doing with your goals. This can be a mentor, friend or even one of your employees. Just openly ask him or her if they would be willing to become your acountability partner.

3. Find a routine for yourself

Create a schedule that works for you, but consistency is key. It will become much easier, if you work at your best time. For instance: schedule your routine for the morning if you are a morning person.