Wednesday, October 16, 2013

WEFTEC Behind Me...and An Update to My Website!

I just returned from WEFTEC, the largest water and wastewater trade show and educational conference on the planet!  I was honored to speak three times at this year's conference.

On Monday, Oct. 6th, I was the kick-off to a whole new program session at WEFTEC entitled "Meet the Experts".  This small and informal gathering is intended to give various speakers a chance to network with a smaller group and allow for extended discussions on various utility related subjects. 
During this session, I presented a VERY scaled down version of my "MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE" talk and then just had a relaxed conversation with the group gathered to hear me.  It was really a fantastic experience and I am sure it will be something that WEFTEC repeats in coming years!

On Tuesday, Oct. 7th, I alond with Jim Caudle (my plant manager) and Melinda Immel (top-notch engineer from Volkert) presented a talk on our headworks upgrade project entitled "Restoring Lost Capacity Through New Technologies". 

On Wednesday, Oct. 8th, I spoke to the elected officials / decision-makers track on "How to Deliver Oscar-Winning Performance at Your Utility Operation".  This session was open to all decision makers and management staff associated with the utilities industry and uses lessons I have gleaned from popular movies we have all seen to build great organizations.  (Anytime I can put all of those hours I've spent watching movoes at the house to work actually helping me develop a great utility, that's a great day in my book!)

I have also completely revamped my personal website so please stop by there if you have a minute: 

I have multiple ways to connect with you via this site so please reach out and make a connection!  I am more than happy to help YOU do something great in our industry...or business in general!

Get Them What They Need

GET THEM WHAT THEY NEED –  Imagine you are on the "Impossible Missions Force" from the classic TV show MISSION:IMPOSSIBLE.  Jim Phelps, your team leader, arrives to brief you on the mission.

“Okay, this will be a tough mission but I am sure you’ll pull it off.  The first thing you need to know is that each of you needs to be in Munich in the morning.  Now, if you’ll recall, we’re over budget at the moment so I had to cut out all of the travel funds to keep us in the black… so you won’t be able to buy any plane tickets…but you still need to be in Munich in the morning.

When you get there, you’ll need to show a expertly-made fake IDs with your secret alias names on them at the border.  They had better be perfect or the Immigrations Officer will have you arrested.  Now, I know I cut out a Documents Expert from the staffing budget for this year but I am going to try and plan for one next year…but you still need your new IDs for this trip.

Oh, one final thing… when you get there, the most crucial part of the mission is to precisely measure the distance to the target within less than 12 inches from over 2 miles away.  This is absolutely critical...that's why we always use our laser range finder.  Oh, but if you’ll remember, it broke a few weeks ago and the repairs were going to be over $800!  We’re a little short of funds until we get more in a few months so I haven’t been able to get the range finder repaired.  But you guys have been doing really good estimating (guesstimating?) your ranges lately so I am confident you’ll do find this time, too.  Now get out there and have a great mission!”   

How many of you would think that you were being set up for failure?  You would be absolutely right!

If you fail to get your people what they need at your utility, you are setting them up for failure…and your team knows it.  How do you think that affects morale?

“Getting them what they need” might mean a tool…but it could just as easily mean training…or enough people to do a job right…or it could mean support from upper management when a tough but right decision needs to be made like laying off a bad worker who might be related to someone high up in the company.  Your people deserve the tools to do their job right.  The only thing left to be decided is whether you will provide them…or set your people up for failure. 

ACTION:  Get your people what they need to be successful.  It is the only way for them to attack the mission with the confidence it takes to win.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Listen to the Team's Feedback

The one thing Jim Phelps did during his mission briefings was to listen a lot and let others answer the big questions.  “How will we get out of the prison once we have the General?”  “Well, Cinnamon, that’s where’s Barney comes in…why don’t you brief us on that Barney.” 
Even more than that, the IMF team often asked pointed questions like, “Do you really think you can convince him that you are his father, Jim?” 

They sometimes had to point out facts like, “That’s a time delay door.  It will take three minutes to open once we have input the code.  Your timeline won’t work as is.”  Phelps never got angry with the feedback he received.  He used it to refine the plan and allow others to feel more of a part of the overall success.  In addition to this, the act of listening to his people's concerns helped build faith in the plan as a whole.  This was vitally important in completing the mission because people who feel they are sent out to fail, usually do.  Likewise, people who have confidence in the plan and confidence in the person who scripted the plan, often succeed.

If your staff meetings and company meetings consist mostly with you talking about what you want to talk about, something is wrong.  Are you listening?  Are you sharing the stage?  Are you letting other people own their parts of the mission?

If you get angry when people question your plan, you are stifling valuable input that can make or break your mission.  Is it more important that you never be questioned?  Or is it more important that your mission be a success?

ACTION:  Listen as much as you talk and always be receptive to the feedback you receive.