behaviour, coaching, consulting, Implementation, recruting, results

What criteria would Nelson Mandela use to choose his employees? written by Rainer Tischler

What criteria would Nelson Mandela use to choose his employees? Written by Rainer Tischler

Would he look for years of “industry” experience and general Competencies or more for results, tenacity, discipline, tolerance and people skills? This is a hypothetical question since we will not get an answer from him.

nelson Mandela Senior leadership positions need the same “ingredients” irrespective of the industry. All  organizations live by delivered results. One should then be interested in how somebody  achieves his or her results and how long it takes for somebody to achieve the results. Lou Adler  stated in one of his articles that “To assess potential, ask candidates to describe their greatest  accomplishment with the least amount of experience. Reason: aren’t the strongest people  those who can accomplish more with less?

 Industry knowledge and specific experiences contribute to achieving results but are not the key  success factors of leaders who achieve results. 
Why is it then so difficult for ‘result delivering leaders’ to move into other industries? Is it because recruiters/hiring managers subscribe to the theory that in order to reduce risks, they need to focus on hiring somebody with industry experience?

Leaders  deliver results by aligning and managing employee behaviours of their organization and by being coaches. The employee behaviours at all levels must focus on achieving agreed business results. Managers are coaches for their supervised employees and as such coach them to improve the result driven behaviours for the next level. The focus must be on doing more of the behaviours which “work” for us (bring positive results) and refining them (make then better). It is important to recognize achievements and communicate them in a brief and precise manner to the team.  Feedback is crucial. Helping somebody to improve a result driven behaviour by asking the right questions is motivating and encouraging. Being told that we made a mistake without help/advice on how to improve is counter productive and is demotivating.
How can we find out whether somebody is result driven , disciplined, decisive and team focused (to name some “ingredients”)?
The right questions must be asked, after which some guts is required to make a hiring decision. Ascertain what behaviours the leader showed when he/ she had:
– Major achievements (results) and role in achieving them
– Demonstrated discipline
– Was decisive
– Donstrated leadership
– and implemented plans
It is more difficult to evaluate the relevance of such examples for a recruiter then the years of industry experience and other qualifications.
Not having had sufficient working experience, I remember the interview with my first boss. All I had were my certificates to prove that I would be the right person for the job. However, he did not want to see my certificates and papers (they had already been reviewed by his admin department during the shortlisting process). He was more interested on how I achieved my degrees as this was a clear indication of discipline to him. The hiring was based on his personal assessment of my demonstrated behaviours (what you can see, hear or feel) and the behaviours he thought I would demonstrate in order to contribute towards delivering results within his team. It worked out to be a very successful relationship and I was fortunate to have been given the opportunity to shine!

My guess is that Mandela would have tried to hire people with perseverance, discipline, tolerance and a main focus on achievements.  A lawyer with 20 years of experience in a prison would be difficult to find.

behaviour, coaching, consulting, Habits, Implementation, results, Uncategorized

Can you finish an Ironman? Are Business & Sports similar?

written by Rainer Tischler

Ironman blogYes you (*) can finish an Ironman (3.8km of swim, 180km bike ride and 42km run). I speak from personal experience. At the age of 44, I finished the Ironman in Langkawi in 15 hours. I trained for it for 12 months prior to the event. I was gym fit but had never cycled on a race bike before, didn’t know how to swim free style and had never run more than 10km. I had also never participated in a race before. What made it all possible?

  1. Personal Goals , status quo assessment, gap analysis, combined with a realistic plan with achievable sub goals
  2. Disciplined behaviours (actions) that became good  habits (positive results)
  3. Constant re-evaluation of status quo against plan with appropriate adjustments
  4. Input/Support and advice from competent advisors and friends
  5. Positive re-enforcement from achieving sub goals, friends

Doesn’t that sound like things we do at work daily?  The only difference is that the challenge of doing a sport is self imposed. Whereas we feel that the challenges & goals at work are imposed on us by others, without the personal link. The same process/method is applied to set-up and implement in both sports and work but we look at it in different ways (glass half full or half empty).  Why is that? If a concept/approach works for us and brings us positive results, we should embrace it and make it a habit for all of the situations in life (private life and work life).

In the beginning I needed a vision & a stretch goal that I could identify with. I had to “see” the benefits of the rigorous training (behavior) and time commitment. This had to serve as a re-enforcement.  A long time ago, I had  a terrible motor-cycle accident and it somehow hampered  my “ can do anything”  approach.  Completing the ironman was my way of regaining that and prove to myself that I can physically achieve something special and challenging. So after setting my mind to this goal of finishing an Iron-man in Langkawi (tropical island close to the equator; hot) I had to put together the steps for my project:

  1. I assessed my capabilities (measure and collect data to have a base case to measure against). Where was I in terms of fitness : I could barely jog 10Km, could swim breast stroke 2Km in a bit more than an hour  and no idea of my biking capabilities)
  2. I did a gap analysis (I realized that I needed to learn free style swimming,  buy a triathlon road bike , join a bike group, did research about training methods, training plans and nutrition [in the tropical temp, you burn between 700-1000Calories per hour]
  3. Developed a detailed training plan with mile stones (I had about 12 months to prepare for my 15 hour race plan. I participated in some mile stone races : an Olympic Triathlon in Thailand and followed by a Half Ironman in Desaru, combined with weekly training goals (6 days a week 2-3 days training of 2 different categories and 5-7 hours on Saturday and Sunday. Monday was my rest day)
  4. That was the easy part (as it is in companies). Developing a passion and disciplined execution is the most critical step.  Once the training becomes a habit, it becomes easy. I got positive reinforcement from the progress I made, the loss of weight, the increase of my fitness level and the encouragement of others. There was always this “I hate it but I love it” dialogue in my head. The getting up early in the morning before work and doing an hour of swimming or running was a challenge in the beginning but it became a daily habit and I missed it on my rest day. It became a part of my routine.
  5. I collected data about every activity, food intake and body weight (units trained, calories, intensity, etc) and “religiously” compared what I had accomplished against what was in my training schedule. If there were delays or deviations to the plan I adjusted the training plan.
    At the same time I paid attention to my “body, were there any pain points or injuries. The training needed to be complemented with a nutrition plan. I didn’t change my normal eating and drinking habits until the last 4 weeks before the race. However it became critical for me to add “nutrition” while I was training to give the body back what it needed to be able to endure these long training units.
  6. This intense endurance training of more than 20 hours per week during the last 3-4 months was the hardest part. After that point, it was “easy” to follow my 15 hour race plan and finish the Ironman. The disciplined training made it possible.

Was it worth doing it? I have to say of course! I proved to myself that “everything” is possible with the right mid-set, goal, set-up and disciplined execution.  Can you complete an Ironman? Sure you can! It all depends on your motivation to achieve it, just as in your work life. If you want to prove that you can do something ambitious/ “big” and you want to stretch yourself: yes go for it.
We should apply work proven concepts/processes in our private lives and we need to identify personal benefits in the company goals. In other words, how will achieving the company goal benefit me. Once we have identified a re-enforcer for our actions at work or in our private life, it will make it easier to do more of the actions/behaviours which lead to the intended results.

Where there is a will there is a way. You can do it!! Don’t limit yourself!

* under the assumption that you have no physical handicap and that you are healthy


photo written by Rainer Tischler

 In my last blog we talked about habits. Good habits “relieve” the brain from  unneeded activities (take a  proven approach; no thinking effort needed) and we  can focus on how to process the new information with the proven tools. To learn  and improve we have to examine ourselves with an “internal audit” and assess the  status quo, followed by a gap analysis. Is there a need for change and  improvement? What “bad” habits do we have and how can we change them to good  habits or eliminate them? How often do we assess ourselves and develop a plan for improvement and implement the plan? When was the last time you did a self assessment , followed by an implemented improvement plan? Most of us wanted to loose some weight at some point in our lives and to do this, we may have bought a new gadget to help us along, or joined a gym and did some exercise for a bit and then …… gave up. 

Repeat-ability and Habit Strength
We all follow documented processes and concepts in our daily business life. We assess where the company/division/project is (status quo), do a gap analysis, develop hypothesis for different solutions, choose the low hanging fruits with a pareto analysis (20% of solutions give 80% of results) and develop a plan. Unfortunately most of the time, that is where the process starts failing apart. I do not have any data on the percentage of planned projects versus implemented projects but my corporate and consulting experience indicates to me that most companies are in the 50-70% range (that includes partial implementations).
In our business life we implement processes and use concepts for the same reason as our brain uses habits. We want to apply a proven approach/concept, which is commonly understood and commonly used to avoid waste. Documented business-processes and proven concepts facilitate  repeat ability and build an even playing field.  It is a conscious activity. Most habits are created subconsciously. To improve our personal habits or eliminate them, we need to apply a conscious effort before they become an unconscious competency.  

Consequences shape behaviour
The implementation of plans is the main challenge in our private lives as in our business world. We accept that we have to use documented  processes, concepts and plans for the company but hardly do the same in our private lives. Why is that? The same individuals apply different approaches for their private lives and their corporate lives although work is where they spend most of their time. A company is a sum of individuals who show certain behaviours (something we can either see, hear or feel) which lead to a result. To optimize the result,  we need to adapt, eliminate or add to the behaviours of the individuals. To achieve a result we need to develop a change plan and it is better to break it in smaller linked sub plans with sub-results for different groups or individuals (we do that to an extent in the business world but we do not cascade to the individual level).  Cascading to a personal level makes it easier for the individual to adjust his or her behaviour to achieve a certain intended result.
Why is our success with implementation limited? Behaviours are to a large extent driven by the consequence. Positive feedback from co-workers, friends, self fulfillment at being successful at something, the supervisor and the environment are all the big re-enforcers that lead to the repetition of a certain desired behaviour.  Most people respond to criticism by creating a barrier. If we focus on the little things (behaviours) that brought us a successful outcome and try to replicate them, our chances of success are much higher. Telling someone what they have done wrong, will not help him/ her to do something better. However if we help someone identify a behaviour that leads to success and encourage him/her to repeat it, the chances for improvement are much higher.

Mini Goals and Alignment
Define the desired result and define the behaviours which will lead to these results. Start small and choose one behaviour you want to change. Set yourself a goal and break it down in smaller sub goals. It is critical that everybody understands their part in this process and how their behaviour contributes to the overall results. Building alignment at every level from the front line employee all the way up to the senior leaders is critical in ensuring that everyone does their part towards the goal/results.  Senior leaders role is to coach their direct reports to be better coaches. They should  support  their managers how to be better at coaching to get the right behaviours/results (coaching culture). Asking good questions is a critical skill that anyone managing performance needs to learn.  Questions like: “What worked well? “  How did you do that ? “  “ What did you say/do to get this result?”  help employees to connect with success and encourage them to repeat them and learn from each other .

The feedback (interest equals consequence) leading to a successful behaviour which leads to improved business results is the critical success factor for a successful implementation of change. The focus needs to be on consequences and asking questions to shape behaviour   with less “telling”.

This applies to every part of our live, not just work and it helps us get closer to our desired goals and shape our behaviour . Don’t forget to celebrate !

behaviour, coaching, consulting, Habits, Implementation, results

Implementation: What have habits, concepts and business-processes in common? written by Rainer Tischler



 The power of habits and behavior patterns.  (written by Rainer Tischler)

 Habits navigate us through life. Without it, our brain would be overwhelmed by the  details of everyday life. Habits happen in our      sub conscious.  We do not have to  think about how to brush our teeth,  how to dress, how to go to work, drive a car,  put on the seat belt how often  to check our e-mails, exercise, or eat sweets and  unhealthy things.
“Between 30 and 50 percent of our daily actions are determined by routines/habits  which are managed by our sub conscious brain.  The brain “saves” energy with these  routines and because of that it is difficult to  change these routines/habits.

The brain does not distinguish between good and bad habits. A behavior once established  is very difficult to change, whether good or bad. We can change our habits to our advantage once we understand the mechanism/process of these habits.

Habits, are behaviours (behaviour is what we can observe: see, hear of feel) that we perform regularly in a stable context – without thinking. Very often it is stated that something becomes a habit after you have done it 20 times (there is no scientific proof when a behaviour becomes habit strength; we know for sure that you need to do it often). Most of our habits are based on the choices we have made sub-consciously. We can rely on habits even in stressful situations (no thinking is needed). The goal is to create good conscious habits.

The learning theory teaches us that there are antecedents (something that happens before a behaviour occurs, such as training, rules, plans, etc) , followed by behaviours followed by consequences. Most of the efforts are put into antecedents such as training and instructions and limited efforts are put in the consequences.(80%/20%). The learning theory has shown us that the majority of the impact (80%) why somebody demonstrates a certain behaviour results from the consequence. A good example is Singapore’s low crime rate. The antecedents (laws; don’t do something; against the law) are the same in all countries.  The level of punishment and the probability of getting caught and being punished are different). Why is the crime rate lower in Singapore compared to Malaysia or other Western countries? Because the possibility to get caught and get severely punished (negative consequence) are significantly higher in Singapore. People are afraid of the negative consequences and therefore there is less crimes then in other countries. It is the classic learning process. , interaction between the triggering stimulus, routine action and reward. The trigger stimulus can be, for example, entering the bathroom in the morning or an unpleasant taste in your mouth. Without thinking, we pick up the toothbrush and start brushing our teeth,  following the same daily procedure (good  habit).

Children need to learn this behavior and  after a lot of repeats it will become a habit.  With age, the number of patterns increases. Adults get used to dress a certain way, how to behave in certain social contexts, communicate, do business/work tasks. We grow into structures and into certain roles. In the beginning, we have to think about how we can have these behaviors but over time many of them became sub-conscious driven habits where no thinking is required.

Habits are “small addictions”. If we have the experience that a particular behavior leads to a reward, we repeat it as often as possible. Rewards give us a feeling of security and stability. Therefore habits are good.

But habits also have a downside. Without our realizing it, they limit our perception. They can be inflexible and rigid. If a path is very familiar to us, for example, to go to work, we follow the same  route for years without paying attention as to what is happening around us. Sometimes ,without even questioning if there is now perhaps is a better route.

Spontaneity and curiosity are the opposite poles of a habit., It is important to find a healthy balance.

It is the principle by which the cognitive behavioral therapy works: learn to recognize patterns of behavior, stop them and replace them with new, more appropriate ones. The first phase is that of introspection. Habits get triggered by a stimuli from the environment. Usually it is not just one factor, but a whole context, a social practice in which the habit is embedded” like smokers smoke when they go out, drink or go with other smokers are. We tend to chew our nails when we are nervous or thoughtful. Many everyday actions are often repeated  in a very specific setting: in a special place, a usual time, in certain moods or with selected people. Situations and actions are very strongly linked. As a consequence: If you want to change behaviours who may want to change the context. You have a higher chances of change if you “stop” smoking when you start on a holiday. An alcoholic should not go to bars, if he wants to stay dry. If you are addicted to TV when you come home, put it in the basement where it is more difficult to access. Many stimuli cannot be avoided in our daily life. So we want to learn what drives us to the habit.

Short term positive reinforcement as a consequence have a higher impact then negative, long term ones. A good example is smoking. There must be a “good feeling” (positive reinforcement) related either to the taste or the social recognition (for young people) when they smoke. This is in the short term and you enjoy it for sure right now. We all know that smoking may lead to cancer and other health issues, but these are uncertain and in the  future. So we go for the short term certain reinforcement.  The smoking break outside the door brings not just the nicotine, but also a form of community. For all this, there must be something to replace the bad habit.

We need to find stimuli to reinforce a new behaviour. Try to make small changes and reward yourself. It is critical to have a plan and document your achievements. Define the plan and results you want and find the behaviours which will lead to these results.

It is easier to create a new behaviour then to change an existing one.

We are fortunate to have the possibility to make conscious decisions and that we have the luxury of saving “brain energy” with sub conscious driven habits (30-50% of our daily behaviours/actions). It is important to “review” our sub conscious habits. We do not want to get stuck with the same same. We know how important daily learning is and part of it is to “review” our habits and check whether we can improve them. A good balance of good habits and creative thinking will differentiate us and bring us more to the winner side

behaviour, coaching, consulting, Habits, Implementation, results, Uncategorized

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