Simple Template – how to record the “other things” our team members do…

As a leader, there is no question that the goals you set for your team members are of ultimate importance. High performance, growth, and development all come from effective goals and efficient tracking of accomplishments. A common approach to these ‘large goals’ in most companies is a regular cadence of some sort (quarterly, annual etc.).  Often compensation increases and performance ratings all tied to these goals as well…

We can talk about the complexities of these topics (and how they all connect together) a different time… But first, let’s tackle a really common problem when managing an engaged, high performing employee.

The problem is this: there is so much work done in between, or outside of, those goals set on a regular cadence.  How do we account for all that work, and all the “stuff” being done?  I mean, it wouldn’t be fair to exclude it entirely when talking about performance rating, compensation, promotion and career development, right?

Have you ever found yourself in this situation?

Here’s a simple idea I’m going to try on my team.  The concept is like a “journal” of sorts – capture stuff you have done over a period of time, and when it comes time to look back/review, you can have one simple document that allows a thorough view of performance.

The template looks like this (we are using a shared Google doc, but many different formats could work):

OCO template

There are three simple sections:

  1. Opportunities – what has come up that needs to be done?   What chances have I had to do great work, and contribute in a meaningful way, that isn’t necessarily captured by my regularly scheduled goals?
  2. Contributions – what did I do when these opportunities came up?  How did I “grab the bull by the horns” and demonstrate my skill and perseverance?
  3. Outcomes – what was the ultimate result of the work I did?  What positive impact did I have?  (this one is really important)

So, if you manage really good employees who are doing great things but may have a hard time capturing it, give this template a shot!

Please share feedback below!  I would love to share stories with others who may be in a similar situation!

The Key to a Successful Salary Increase Conversation

Salary adjustments.  Merit increases.  Annual salary reviews.

Call them whatever you want, this simple fact remains:  the process of reviewing and adjusting salaries for employees is a stressful one.  So much anxiety, tension and trepidation.

Many companies are focused on a standard process, a fair review that incorporates performance and potential, and hitting “the number” just right, to compensate employees according to the factors important to the company.  As a matter of fact, many companies do this very, very well.

Why is this, exactly?  Why does it almost never go well?

During my recent reading about Customer Experience, Employee Experience and how important Employee Expectations are in both of those equations, I had an epiphany.

I think I have discovered the key ingredient:  expectations.

Think of it this way – the success of a salary increase conversation hinges not on whether the process was fair or equitable.  It hinges on whether the employee thinks it is fair.  That is a fairly small, but at the same time HUGE difference.  Let that sink in for a minute…

It hinges on whether the employee thinks it is fair.


What am I saying, exactly?  Am I saying that the only successful salary increase conversation is one that the employee dictates entirely, and basically chooses what his/her increase will be?  Nope.  Not at all.

I’m saying this – understanding what your employee expects going into the entire process will help you understand their mindset coming in, and allow you to have multiple productive conversations to arrive at a point where trust is present, and the ultimate decision (even one that you may not have agreed with, or approved of) can be successful.

Here are a few tips on how to do that:

  1. Build trust first.  It starts early on in the relationship and needs to be sustained over time.  Trust matters.  Seeds of successful salary conversations are planted months before the actual salary conversation.
  2. Hold regular 1:1 conversations.  Become comfortable talking with each other about work topics, and “how do you feel about ______”.
  3. Introduce the topic frequently enough to make it a comfortable conversation.  In these private 1:1 conversations, talk openly about salary & compensation.  This will allow future conversations about compensation to happen much more easily.  #practicemakesperfect

Note:  countless managers talk about compensation/pay once per year (at salary adjustment time) and are shocked when it doesn’t go well… OF COURSE IT WON’T GO WELL!!! 

It takes effort and practice!

Now, I understand it’s never this simple.  There are so many complex factors and variables in each individual circumstance that it would be impossible to prescribe one “best practice”.  But start with building trust over time, and understanding expectations, and you will feel better prepared during the entire process.

(“What’s next?” after you understand their expectations is a future post… please share any thoughts/comments/questions below!)


Leadership is the ‘Platinum Rule’

The Golden Rule.  Feels like something most of us have known, and been taught, from when we were young – “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”  Basically, ‘treat others as you want to be treated’.  Simple enough, right?

While a very good concept as a basic thought & principle, to find success at work and in leadership, I always felt it needed to go one step further.

Several years ago I stumbled upon a concept called the Platinum Rule.  I will attribute my learning to a Dr Tony Alessandra (an originator of the concept, as far as I can tell, in this book from 1998).

The Platinum Rule simply states:  treat others as they want to be treated.

While a very simple concept, it is profound in its application in the workplace, in leadership, and in our personal lives.

A couple of simple personal examples:

  • Once I received a Christmas gift from someone I know fairly well, and am fairly close to.  The gift was well intended but was very obviously something this person would have chosen for themselves.  The sentiment was basically, “I would love this gift, so I know Scott will as well.”

Probably more of a ‘Golden Rule’ type gift (and for the record, it was not my wife.  She is an excellent gift giver! LOL!)

  • A few years ago at work, I was talking with a certain manager about some recognition he was giving his team for a job well done on a certain project.  He was very excited to call out excellent performance of these team members.  As he was talking through each person, he shared that for one lady on his team, he was going to pull her aside, and in a private, 1:1 setting, express how important her contributions were, and how much he appreciated her.  “Why not do that in front of the whole group?” I asked, thinking I was adding an element of excitement to his recognition.  “Because she would hate that.  She’s told me.” He replied, very matter of factly.

Wow!!!  True “Platinum Rule” recognition – he did it in a style that she preferred, and would appreciate.  I learned a lot about the Platinum Rule that day.

The best leaders I have ever known use this concept constantly – it is almost second nature to them.  The communicate in a way the other person prefers (thus increasing the effectiveness), or they assign tasks, follow up, and check in the way the other person prefers.  It’s awesome.

Please share comments below!  Have you ever worked with a leader who truly demonstrated the Platinum Rule on a regular basis?


6 ‘Must Read’ lists for a first time manager

Becoming a Manager is a big deal.  Like, a really big deal.

Far too often, the step from ‘individual contributor’ to Manager is glossed over, rushed, assumed, or forced.

The promotion into this step should be, in my opinion, done carefully and deliberately – with a proper amount of excitement, accolades, and support.

But regardless of how it happened, you may find yourself in that seat now.  It’s time to think a little bit differently, act a lot differently, and judge your own work and success differently.

To begin thinking this way, I have relied upon 6 pieces, from various authors and sources, that I share with first time managers.

Take a look at these wise pieces of advice and counsel from various experts:

  1. 7 Secrets First-Time Leaders Want to Know, Lolly Daskal
  2. 25 Tips for New Managers, Dan McCarthy
  3. 5 Essential Lessons for First Time Managers, ‘The Muse’ (contributor to
  4. 8 Tips to Help First-Time Managers Thrive, Craig Cincotta (on
  5. Top 10 Leadership Tips for First-time Managers, Profiles International
  6. Why First-Time Managers Fail, Andrew G. Rosen (U.S. News)

…after you read them (or at least skim them for key ideas & topics), think what you feel you should incorporate into your own leadership & management!  You know yourself and your situation best.

I recommend making a brief list of the topics/ideas that resonate with you right now, and write them down.  From that list, pick one (yes, ONE) topic you will focus on for the next few months.  Make that a part of your thought, study, learning and daily management practices!  Then, once you feel like you’ve almost ‘mastered’ that one, do it again!  Pick another, then another.  #onebyone #slowandsteadywinstherace

Eyes Wide Open Trust – the power of effective boundaries

(Guest Author Richard Fagerlin for Real. Simple. Leadership)

Trust must be given, not earned, but I’m not advocating blind trust.

My wife and I have four boys: Christian, Preston, Jackson, and Lincoln. When they were little, the street in front of our house was completely off-limits. The risk was too great. But if they were still afraid to cross the street as thirteen-year-olds, or twenty-year-olds, we’d have a problem. I want my boys to wisely take risks that are worth taking, and to not live in fear. But I don’t want them to walk across the street with their eyes closed. I want them to have their eyes wide open and look both ways. And then to walk forward.

In the same way, I’m not asking you to plunge ahead foolishly, but to make a mature, calculated, thoughtful decision to trust because you’ve decided the benefits outweigh the risks.

By all means, be aware of red flags when you sense that someone isn’t trustworthy–they don’t necessarily mean that there’s no way forward, but you should ask where they are coming from, take more careful steps, and set appropriate boundaries.

Not blind trust. Eyes-wide-open trust.

Have you ever known anyone who seemed to think that trust was a sign of weakness, and that putting themselves in a vulnerable position would make them needy? The truth is entirely the opposite.

The decision to trust is a profoundly free act.

Only a confident, secure, courageous person can choose to trust.

Far from being a sign of weakness, mature vulnerability can only come from a place of strength.

For those situations when it doesn’t seem reasonable to give trust or where there are areas of concern with other parties involved in your relationship, you can approach the situation with your eyes wide open.

  1. Determine what is not safe

If you find yourself in a situation where giving trust or entering into the relationship is questionable, determine what it is that makes it questionable. Get to the root and give it a name. Is there question with integrity, are there illegal activities, does violence or harm concern you? If you can pinpoint the area(s) of question, you will be better able to create the boundaries and plan going forward.

  1. Determine what is safe

What is the good or the safe part of the relationship? Just like you determined what is not safe, do the same for what actually is good. Is the integrity of the individual good? Are they fully competent? Do they have a good heart and a strong desire to do what is right? Whatever it is, focus on it and draw attention to the good.

  1. Create clear (but few) boundaries

Boundaries don’t keep you from playing the game (link to past post), they allow you to play the game. Creating boundaries is not easy but sometimes it is critical. Determine the few boundaries that will make the relationship safe and use them for managing the relationship. If you are in a position of authority, your boundaries may look very different from when you are not. If someone is verbally abusive, the boundary might be that you won’t accept the verbal abuse and when they do, you simply walk away. If someone fails to meet deadlines time after time, you may ask them to report on progress of their projects at various milestones along the way.

  1. Take a step

You will never get closer to someone if you don’t take a step towards them. Hoping and wanting doesn’t decrease the distance between you and another person. You must decide (you want high trust) and then do (take a trust step towards them).

In case you think that I can’t identify with the difficulty of boundaries, let me share a story from my personal life. In the post The Big Lie About Trust I promised I would address the crazies in your life. Many years ago we were friends with a couple and there were some areas of concern with the past of one of them. We were close and hoped for a life-long relationship with them. The concerns we had weren’t just questions or speculation – they were well founded and also shared by some of their own family members, several of their close friends and even the court of law had ruled and delivered a permanent restraining order to this individual. Without going into specifics, these areas of concern caused us to not feel comfortable leaving our children alone with them. The information that we had learned and our concerns alone didn’t make them bad people and we actually never thought badly about the individual. We just had discernment that it wouldn’t be wise or safe to allow our kids to be alone with them.

It is possible to love, respect and care for someone AND not allow your kids to be alone. The boundary that we created was that as long as I was there, the kids could be there. If I wasn’t there, it wasn’t OK. We didn’t expect them to do bad things or cause harm, we just weren’t willing to take the risk.

In this environment, we determined the boundaries and then within those boundaries, we could have a full relationship. These boundaries weren’t created to prohibit our relationship, they were actually created so we could have a relationship.

I wish I could report that this relationship is thriving and healthy. The fact is, about 6 years into our relationship using these boundaries, they felt hurt and angered and didn’t see the boundaries as protective, but rather as damning. They have chosen to not be in relationship with us and in the end, we both lose because of this.

Don’t go blindly into relationships. Don’t close your eyes and walk unaware into situations but also, don’t cripple yourself with doubt and fear. Walk into the relationship, look both ways and take steps forward with confidence.

Lead Well, Lead Often and LEAD STRONG!

richard-fagerlinRichard Fagerlin is the founder and president of Peak Solutions.

With over 20 years of leadership and organizational development experience, he is a sought-after speaker, consultant and facilitator. Richard travels internationally helping clients intentionally create a culture of high trust and to be on purpose with developing leaders at all levels of the organization. In 2015 & 2016 Richard was named one of the top 100 thought leaders on Trust in the world.

A Colorado native, Richard enjoys the beautiful Rocky Mountains with his wife and four boys. His favorite team is whichever one his four boys are currently playing on. He is active in his community while serving on the board of the Community Foundation of Northern Colorado and Mill City Church.

(Scott’s addition: Richard is also the author of a really good book, “Trustology: The art and science of leading high-trust teams”.  It’s one of my personal favorites.  Learn more at

Twitter:  @richardfagerlin   •   LinkedIn:

12 Practical Steps to Leading with High Trust

(Guest Author Richard Fagerlin for Real. Simple. Leadership)

We’ve talked about how high-trust relationships start with you, the person who wants high trust, giving trust to another person without knowing whether you’ll get anything in return. But what does it look like on a practical level to communicate trust?

People will believe that you trust them when you take time to know them personally, you respect them, and you let them have influence. Below are some practical ways you can show trust to individuals and create a larger team culture of trust.

Listen, Learn, and Like. It goes a long way with people when you sincerely listen to them with the intent to learn. If you want to give trust, show interest. Find out where they’re coming from, especially when you disagree. This communicates that you assume they’re a reasonable, well-intentioned person. Find something you like about them. You don’t have to become best friends, but it should be your goal to like them.

Relentlessly pursue their strengths. Figure out what they are good at and what comes easily for them, and draw that out. Draw attention to it. Give them opportunities to shine. The more they work in their strengths, the more value they add to the team and the more they value their work.

Create an Individual Development Plan (IDP) with goals and commitments from the employee and from their boss. Create a game plan for growing, learning, and adding more value.

Share your leadership responsibilities. Give your team members assignments to lead certain aspects of your team. Let them run meetings, plan events, coordinate customer site visits, or participate in the planning and budgeting process. Let go of the reigns a bit and give them some freedom.

Get over yourself. Let’s be honest. One of the key reasons why you may not like relinquishing control to someone else is that you believe you are better, smarter, or more qualified than they are. Stop that. How did you get where you are?  Likely by someone better, smarter, and more qualified getting out of your way.

Allow growth and expect failures.  Not everyone succeeds on the first try and nobody succeeds always. Be willing to push people to grow, and in doing so, expect failure. Celebrate it. Failure is education, and if we don’t fail we won’t learn. As Henry Ford said, those who never make mistakes work for those who do.

Expose them to the larger process. I intentionally introduce my boys to people and concepts that are above their current level of life. They might not understand a conversation about balancing a checkbook, but they’re seeing what it means to be an adult. The same holds true in business. Exposing your team members to decision makers, stakeholders, clients, macro-level discussions, and other aspects of your organization that are above their current job description communicates that you trust them, you expect them to advance, and you’re invested in their future.

Ask your team for ideas. Hold innovation bursts where you brainstorm ideas for improvements, find opportunities for efficiencies, create new ideas, and improve old ones. Collect these ideas and implement something. If you can’t implement something, let them know, but if you can, do!

Get good at defining projects. Give your team projects with defined time frames and goals, make sure they have the resources they need, and then set them loose. Let them know what you desire as an outcome, but let them figure out how to get there. This allows you to give more freedom and them to take initiative, while minimizing frustration for all involved.

Work when and where it makes sense. Not everyone can or should work from home (or at the lake, or in the evening, or from a coffee shop). But when it makes sense, allow flexibility in how your team gets their work done. Trust them to manage their results.

Look for opportunities to say yes. Instead of saying no to your team’s unusual requests, instead think, “what needs to happen so I can say yes?”

Support their passions. If you support volunteerism and corporate giving, come alongside your team members and allow them to direct where you give. Let them volunteer for a cause they care about, or provide some level of match to their existing giving.

Lead Well, Lead Often and LEAD STRONG!

richard-fagerlinRichard Fagerlin is the founder and president of Peak Solutions.

With over 20 years of leadership and organizational development experience, he is a sought-after speaker, consultant and facilitator. Richard travels internationally helping clients intentionally create a culture of high trust and to be on purpose with developing leaders at all levels of the organization. In 2015 & 2016 Richard was named one of the top 100 thought leaders on Trust in the world.

A Colorado native, Richard enjoys the beautiful Rocky Mountains with his wife and four boys. His favorite team is whichever one his four boys are currently playing on. He is active in his community while serving on the board of the Community Foundation of Northern Colorado and Mill City Church.

(Scott’s addition: Richard is also the author of a really good book, “Trustology: The art and science of leading high-trust teams”.  It’s one of my personal favorites.  Learn more at

Twitter:  @richardfagerlin   •   LinkedIn:


Beware of the ‘Friend Zone’ with your employees…

I think we have all worked with, or around, a boss who is waaaaay to impersonal, right?  Like, he/she doesn’t really take time to connect on a personal level, is always way too busy, and just doesn’t really seem to care, right?  It is a pretty common occurrence, unfortunately.

Many who have been in that position swear that, when given a shot at leadership, they will be the exact opposite of that person.  He swears he will be a personable, attentive, loving boss that always cares about his employees, much like a best friend would.  He remembers this commitment so fiercely, they are really quite committed to it.  Sounds good, right?

Well…  there’s a downside.  A serious downside, if you let that pendulum swing too far the other way.

You see, a boss who is too cold, and impersonal, and detached can fail to build trust and thus not lead effectively.  But a boss who goes too far in trying to build trust can actually damage his/her own reputation and trust with others by entering the “friend zone”.

I think of it like this:


The danger zone on the left side is obvious – that’s the one we see frequently and try to correct.  The danger zone on the right side (what I will call the “friend zone”) is much less obvious, but in some ways almost equally as dangerous.

Imagine you are a boss, who in an effort to build camaraderie and trust (in addition to satisfying your own desire for something ‘social’ at work, to create a fun work environment) goes to lunch, hangs out after hours, invites others on some weekend activities like concerts, sporting events or other non-work activities.  Harmless enough, right?  Well, let’s step back and take a look… Continue reading

Motivation and Discipline: a case in point

(Guest Author Thomas Petersen for Real. Simple. Leadership.)

Several years ago I had the opportunity to work closely with a United States Air Force (USAF) jet demonstration team for a number of air show events. This team was widely recognized as one of the most polished and coordinated single plane demonstration teams in the USAF. They had a particular “Esprit De Corps”; team members could seemingly read each other’s minds. It was not unusual to see extraordinary individual effort on the team’s behalf. This was done over and over every week between April and September across the country. Each event was just as spectacular as the previous one and the crowds were always amazed.

Jet demonstration teams hold a status somewhat akin to a rockstar. The flight suit, team uniforms and precision set them apart as special individuals. Attitudes and actions of team members inspired confidence and understanding. They were the type of men and women you could easily be proud of. Combined with a modern fighter jet, it was hard to not quickly become enamored with the experience of meeting and watching this team.


At a particular event the team and I attended, the senior enlisted team member had coordinated with a local Air Force Base to provide ground support equipment and an airman for additional support. The selected individual was very motivated by being asked to be special support for the team. Imagine being asked to help your favorite music star for the weekend and being a part of the backstage events! The motivation served well – the equipment arrived early, cleaned and polished beyond its usual condition and the airman was quick to help and do whatever was needed. Simple motivation worked through the arrival day, pre-show flights, and the event day. As the show ended, all seemed well and the team retired to their hotel.


Sunday morning with the crowd gone and the thrill dissipating into the early morning twilight, it was time to pack up and move out. Per the preset plan the team was at the airfield (5 minutes early) dressed smartly in their uniforms with the same precision as the day before. However, the ground support airman was nowhere to be found. The team checked, loaded, and readied their gear with the same vigor and enthusiasm they exhibited during the show the day before. Then the demonstration jet was checked, preflight inspected and readied for launch. Still no ground support airman in sight. The pilot, who was the officer in command of the team, firmly taught a lesson. He pulled the senior member of the team who had coordinated the additional airman for the show aside. “Discipline and commitment are the hallmarks of our team” he said. “When you pull in someone who you do not know has those same high ideals you risk having what has happened here this morning occur”. Then they saluted, shook hands and launched the jets, again with the same precision routine that thousands of spectators had watched the day before.

Though I was only on the sidelines I will never forget this lesson. Exciting, high profile projects and assignments bring their own special motivation. But simple motivation is not enough to see things through every time. What happens when the work becomes laborious and repetitive? What happens when the accolades and attention are gone and it is up to you to carry on? Discipline, the will to achieve the goal with or without attention or excitement, will get you to the finish line. I have found this to be true regardless of where you are working. Discipline to achieve a goal often comes down to not the recognition we receive, but to the desire to “do it right” this time and every time.

tom-petersenThomas Petersen grew up in Sandy, Utah and studied Art and American History at the University of Utah.  After graduation he worked in the fast paced world of medical laser sales.  His experience with technology and client satisfaction in this competitive environment made a move into project management a natural fit.  He currently applies his talents with the Utah Department of Workforce Services.  His long interest in aviation led to volunteering on the Board of Directors for a Utah aviation museum and organizing annual air show events.  Grateful for the support of his wife and family, Thomas balances his career, passion for aviation and family time, always looking for an opportunity to help improve his community.

A simple framework for Career Development

Several years ago I had an informal discussion with a fellow HR professional, Michelle.  She is an expert in Org Development, etc. who shared her expertise with me as we sat at a meeting room table.  (PS – shout out to Michelle, who I have lost contact with, and with whom I’m not connected with on social media).

I was asking Michelle about her thoughts on career development, and what model(s) she used to effectively teach these principles.  She excitedly scribbled the following venn diagram on a blank sheet of paper for me, and it forever changed my perspective on the topic:



Here’s the gist: every “thing” we have to do at work – every task, every assignment, etc. – will fall somewhere in this diagram.  Is it something the company asks you to do, but you’re not good at it, nor do you like it?  Blue circle.  Is there something that you are passionate about but aren’t yet good at it, nor does the company need it?  Green circle.

At times there’s an overlap – for example, something you’re good at that the company needs you to do is the area where yellow overlaps with blue.

The BEST area is the small triangle in the middle where all three overlap – this means it is something you’re good at (skill), something you like (interest) and something the company needs you to do (company need).  That’s the sweet spot.

That’s the area of pure motivation, engagement, performance, and joy at work.  That’s the gold standard.

In my experience, the most important circle to be aware of (and also the trickiest to manage) is the green circle.  If you were to ask your team where most of their job lies on this diagram, they will probably say blue, yellow, or the overlap of the two.  Why does this matter?  Because it is outside the green circle.  If it is something they aren’t interested in at all, they will likely burn out, or grow disinterested, disengaged, or just stop doing their job.  #thatsaproblem

So, use this model of career development to begin discussions with those on your team – evaluate where different pieces lie, on the diagram, and talk about how to get them into the middle triangle.

This approach will change the focus slightly, instead of thinking about career development in terms of getting promoted to the next level, next position, etc. – it becomes about bringing as many things as possible into that middle section.  This will bring additional skills, experience and results that benefit all involved.

(Next week, I’ll share some examples to help walk through this in more detail…)

Try it our!  See where it goes.  I think the hardest part about career development discussions is just getting started.  This is a great point to start!

Play the Odds – 5 strategies for overcoming your fear of trust

(Guest Author Richard Fagerlin for Real. Simple. Leadership)

Let’s address this difficult situation of people that will likely take advantage of you if you are willing to give trust. So let’s play the odds.

Even though trust is not safe it can still be a wise investment. The question is, do the rewards outweigh the risks?

Everyone will eventually disappoint you in small ways. (And guess what? You’ll disappoint them, too.) A few people may betray you outright. But consider for a moment how many people we’re really talking about. How many people, of all those in your life, are really going to take advantage of you if you offer trust before it is earned? Twenty percent? Ten? Two? I guess that, on average, the number is closer to two percent than it is to twenty. Yes, a few people may abuse your trust. But do you want to live and act for the two percent, or the ninety-eight percent?scale

Imagine a weights and measures scale. Put the risk of the two percent on one side, and the
benefit of a trusting, generous relationship with the ninety-eight percent on the other.

Which is heavier?

A Disclaimer

I know many of you are sitting there thinking of all the situations where giving unearned trust doesn’t make sense. Keep two things in mind:

First, I’m assuming the relationships in question are ones where you actually want to win, where you have a vested interest in the relationship being the best it can be, and where collaboration is critical. If that’s the case, let’s apply these ideas. If not, you don’t need to invest time or energy into building trust.

Second, I am not speaking to the extremes. If you have experienced a betrayal of trust amounting to psychological or physical abuse, address it appropriately. Ask a friend for help, get a counselor, talk to a mentor, or read one of the many great books out there that address healing and boundaries on a personal level.

But most of life should not be a crisis. I want to speak to the rest of the time, to normal person-to-person interactions.

If you are struggling with the idea of giving trust – consider the following 5 strategies: Continue reading